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June 30, 2017

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Mt 8: 1-4

When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Show, Don’t Tell

The English teachers at my Jesuit high school had a maxim for descriptive writing: “Show, don’t tell.” Instead of writing, “Mr. Gibson looked tired,” one might show how Mr. Gibson looked: “Wrinkled bags hung under Mr. Gibson’s eyes.” Such concrete language allows the reader to picture the scene and draw her own conclusions about Mr. Gibson.

Jesus gives similar instructions to the ex-leper in today’s Gospel: Show, don’t tell. The priest is likely skeptical about Jesus: Is Jesus actually holy, or just a troublemaker? So Jesus sends the leper not to tell the priest that Jesus is a good guy, but to “show [him]self to the priest.” Jesus, like a good writer, lets the details speak for themselves: A man’s skin, once covered in bulging bumps and rough scales, is now smooth as a baby’s bottom. What does that say about Jesus? You, like the priest, can decide.

—Dan Everson is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province, studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, by healing the man with leprosy and sending him to the priests, you allowed his life to be a witness to your healing power. May our lives also be witnesses of your love and grace to those we encounter.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 


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June 29, 2017

St. Peter and St. Paul

Mt 16: 13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Imperfect Saints

Today our Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles who led very different lives, but who shared the ultimate goals of bringing more people to Christ.  St. Peter was a fisherman who followed Jesus throughout his earthly ministry.  Peter seemed to alternate between really understanding what Jesus was saying, and completely missing the point.  We understand today’s Gospel as Jesus instituting the papacy under Peter.   Just four verses later, though, Jesus tells Peter to “get behind me, Satan.”  Peter wasn’t perfect, but Jesus chose him to lead his church on earth.  

Paul started out as a Pharisee and a vehement persecutor of Christians.  It took something as drastic as being knocked off a horse and struck blind for him to have a conversion and accept Christ.  Though he began as an opponent of Christ, his change of heart led him to become the “apostle to the Gentiles” and arguably one of the most important figures in Christianity.  

God took two people as they were, with all their sins and shortcomings, and stood with them as they led the early Church.  If God can forgive their sins and invite them to be co-laborers in his kingdom, what is God calling you to do?

—Jim and Lauren Gaffey.  Jim is a science teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep.  Lauren is the Charis Ministries Program Coordinator for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and does work for the Midwest Jesuits.  

Prayer

Loving God, as we celebrate the feast of St. Peter, our first pope, and St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, we ask you to give us the strength to live out the words of Pope Francis: “What gave me the strength to become a Jesuit is the sense of being a missionary.  To go out, to take part in the missions, to proclaim Jesus Christ. This is precisely our spirituality, to go out and spread the Gospel.”  May we each spread the Gospel through our words and our lives.  

—Jim and Lauren Gaffey

 

 

 

 

 


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June 28, 2017

St. Irenaeus

Mt 7: 15-20

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

By their Fruits You will Know Them

“So by their fruits you will know them.”  Jesus’ analogy to his disciples in this seventh chapter of Matthew was probably very familiar to the people in this agricultural society.  Jesus invites us, here, to reflect on the words and actions of others, as well as our own.  Jesus seems to be warning us against false prophets, and perhaps also inviting us to examine the fruit we are bearing.

How can we tell true prophets? How can we identify those who may be hypocrites? St. Ignatius writes that “love ought to show itself in deeds, rather than words.”  Our words and intentions are important, but our actions are really the “fruit” of our interior life.

Is there an area where God is inviting me to examine and realign in my own life and actions? Who are true prophets in my life, who exemplify “good fruit,” that I seek to emulate?

—Colleen Chiacchere directs Magis Catholic Teacher Corps, the post-graduate teaching service program, at Creighton University.

Prayer

Lord, help us to find prophets in our own lives who bear “good fruit” through their actions.  May we know them, may we emulate them, and may we ourselves be prophets to others.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 27, 2017

St. Cyril of Alexandria

Mt 7: 6. 12-14

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

The Narrow Gate

Today Jesus speaks of the “narrow gate” that “leads to life.” Elsewhere in the Gospels, he reveals to us the meaning of this passage, proclaiming, “I am the Gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9). Jesus is the narrow gate that brings salvation, and the narrowness of this way is the scandal of human history. One person–at one time and in one place–is the source of life for the whole world. The entire universe passes through the funnel of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, the realities without which there would be no hope for eternity.

This truth points to the beauty and simplicity of the First Principle and Foundation of St. Ignatius. Our purpose in life is to “praise, reverence, and serve” one person, Jesus. I contemplate my amazement at the Christ who is Alpha and Omega of all things. I let this contemplation give a sweet flavor to my day.

—David Inczauskis, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province; he is currently studying Spanish literature and philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Jesus, I praise you! You are more valuable to me than a precious pearl. Grant me the grace to see as you see. To you, everything I do is holy. May my day become a fragrant offering to you!

—David Inczauskis, SJ

 

 

 

 

 


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June 26, 2017

Gn 12: 1-9

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarah and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan.

When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Being a Blessing

I recently updated my resume and couldn’t help but notice that it was an exercise in unabashed self-promotion.

The call of Abram stands in stark contrast, both to me and to the self-promoters of the Tower of Babel, in the preceding chapter of Genesis. Remember, God confused the world’s common language when the people said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves…”

Abram, on the other hand, “went as the LORD directed him.” Abandoning security, Abram trusts God who assures him, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

In today’s world, I supposed we need things like resumes, but all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will, all that I have and possess have been given to me by God—not so I can make a name for myself. Rather, to be a blessing. For “all the communities of the earth [to] find blessing in [us].” Wouldn’t that look great on a resume?

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
all I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours;
do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 

 

 

 


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June 25, 2017

Mt 10: 26-33

“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Life Fully Lived

I once knew a woman whose constant refrain was “Who cares what other people think?” The answer to that question was her! She cared. A lot. And she put a lot of energy into keeping up appearances.

So many of us as adults fear that we’ll be “found out” to be the frauds we are, that others will discover that we don’t have our acts together. But Jesus makes clear that he’s onto us. He knows, and he loves us.

In Baz Luhrmann’s movie Strictly Ballroom, the characters discover the perennial truth that “a life lived in fear is a life half lived.” Jesus loves us, and his great desire for us is a life fully lived, confident in his love.

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

Prayer

“Love ought to manifest itself in deeds rather than in words.  Love consists in a mutual sharing of goods, for example, the lover gives and shares with the beloved what he possesses, or something of that which he has or is able to give; and vice versa, the beloved shares with the lover.”

—St. Ignatius Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises

 

 

 

 


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June 24, 2017

Nativity of John the Baptist

Lk 1: 57-66. 80

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.”

Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea.

All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Pointing toward Jesus

Today our Church celebrates the feast of the birth of John the Baptist, the prophet who went ahead of Jesus, preaching a baptism of repentance.  In the Gospel reading, we read about how John pointed to something greater than himself even from his birth.  Rendered mute after questioning the word of the angel who told him that he would have a son, John’s father Zechariah remained unable to speak until the day of John’s birth.  Only after announcing that his son would be named John, the name given to him by the angel, did Zechariah regain his speech.  It was this sign that caused people to ask “What, then, will this child be?”  In today’s second reading, Paul recounts how John himself answers this question by saying, “What do you suppose that I am?  I am not he.  Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.”  

In each account of John’s ministry, we hear him rejecting praise and acclamation for himself, turning the focus instead to Jesus. From birth, John pointed toward Jesus, the one who came after him.  Do our actions bring focus on ourselves, or do they point others toward Christ?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, I’m not turning back.
All that I have I now give to you.
Ask me whatever;
I never want to betray you.

—Carlo Maria Martini, SJ, All That I Have I Give

 


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June 23, 2017

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Mt 11: 25-30

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.“

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Jesus’s Suffering

One word that strikes me when I reflect upon the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the word “passion.” The flames and the wounds in the image depict the burning passion of Jesus’s love for us. As somewhat of a linguist, I’m drawn to the Latin root of the word, which means “to suffer.” Wait, suffering? Why do we have to go there?

If you ask St. Ignatius, understanding Jesus’s Passion is key to understanding God’s love for us. In the Third Week of the Spiritual Exercises, the retreatant is asked to pray with the Passion narratives. In this experience, we recognize that we cannot stop the soldiers who beat Jesus nor the crowd that yells for his death. Instead, through simply being with Jesus in his suffering, we come to know the depth of his love for us. How does the Sacred Heart of Jesus speak to you?

 —Jack McLinden, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province; he is currently studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, may your death be my life
and in your dying may I learn how to live.
May your struggles be my rest,
Your human weakness my courage,
Your embarrassment my honor,
Your passion my delight,
Your sadness my joy,
in your humiliation may I be exalted.
In a word, may I find all my blessings in your trials. Amen.

—St. Peter Faber

 

 

 


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June 22, 2017

St. John Fisher & St. Thomas More

Mt 6: 7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Praying from the Heart

Today’s Gospel reminds me of my mother. I recall being outdoors, playing with friends, and from a distance our mother’s call: “Ya metanse, es tiempo a rezar”; “Come in, it’s time to pray.” Our smiling faces dropped as we were the only ones in the neighborhood going inside to pray the longest rosary! I prayed with no devotion and rushed through our part so that we can go outside with our friends. But our mom took her time praying. I can see her face, her eyes, listen to her every word that she prayed with great faith. At the end of the rosary, she smiled and reminded us, “a family that prays together, stays together.”

As a child, I didn’t understand what she meant, but now I see all the blessings we have received through prayer and our mother’s faith. Just like Jesus, my mother showed us how to pray. I hope to be like my mother and show my children how to take time to pray and to pray from the heart.

—Cecilia Hernandez works in the Vocations Office for the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Our Father,
Who art in heaven hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

 


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June 20, 2017

Mt 5: 43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Mr. Nice Guy

Jesus talks a lot about compassion,  love, and doing good. It would be easy to take him for a big ol’ softy or just a “nice guy” gushing on about how we ought to be nice to people. Jesus was all about love and compassion, and the Gospels show that he was also tender, kind and merciful. But in no way was he just a “nice guy,” he said and did things that ultimately got him killed. Nice guys don’t’ get themselves killed, now do they?

Today he urges the disciples to love their enemies. This is a very disturbing thing to fathom. Why would you do something so crazy as to love and pray for those who actively oppose and are hostile to you? Jesus tells us that rain falls and the sun shines whether we merit it or not.

Jesus doesn’t want us to be nice, he wants us to love with the heart of his Father, who loves whether we merit it or not. This is how he challenges, no, commands us to do something that seems foolish and definitely makes us uncomfortable. Some nice guy, right?

—Alfonso Pizano, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic of the California Province, studying philosophy at Fordham University.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes,
to discern and test the spirits
that help me read the signs of the times,
to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others.
Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Ignatian spirituality reminds us that God pursues us in the routines of our home and work life, and in the hopes and fears of life's challenges. The founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, created the Spiritual Exercises to deepen our relationship with Christ and to move our contemplation into service. May this prayer site anchor your day and strengthen your resolve to remember what truly matters.

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June 30, 2017

First Martyrs of the Church of Rome

Mt 8: 1-4

When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Show, Don’t Tell

The English teachers at my Jesuit high school had a maxim for descriptive writing: “Show, don’t tell.” Instead of writing, “Mr. Gibson looked tired,” one might show how Mr. Gibson looked: “Wrinkled bags hung under Mr. Gibson’s eyes.” Such concrete language allows the reader to picture the scene and draw her own conclusions about Mr. Gibson.

Jesus gives similar instructions to the ex-leper in today’s Gospel: Show, don’t tell. The priest is likely skeptical about Jesus: Is Jesus actually holy, or just a troublemaker? So Jesus sends the leper not to tell the priest that Jesus is a good guy, but to “show [him]self to the priest.” Jesus, like a good writer, lets the details speak for themselves: A man’s skin, once covered in bulging bumps and rough scales, is now smooth as a baby’s bottom. What does that say about Jesus? You, like the priest, can decide.

—Dan Everson is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province, studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord, by healing the man with leprosy and sending him to the priests, you allowed his life to be a witness to your healing power. May our lives also be witnesses of your love and grace to those we encounter.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 


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June 29, 2017

St. Peter and St. Paul

Mt 16: 13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Imperfect Saints

Today our Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles who led very different lives, but who shared the ultimate goals of bringing more people to Christ.  St. Peter was a fisherman who followed Jesus throughout his earthly ministry.  Peter seemed to alternate between really understanding what Jesus was saying, and completely missing the point.  We understand today’s Gospel as Jesus instituting the papacy under Peter.   Just four verses later, though, Jesus tells Peter to “get behind me, Satan.”  Peter wasn’t perfect, but Jesus chose him to lead his church on earth.  

Paul started out as a Pharisee and a vehement persecutor of Christians.  It took something as drastic as being knocked off a horse and struck blind for him to have a conversion and accept Christ.  Though he began as an opponent of Christ, his change of heart led him to become the “apostle to the Gentiles” and arguably one of the most important figures in Christianity.  

God took two people as they were, with all their sins and shortcomings, and stood with them as they led the early Church.  If God can forgive their sins and invite them to be co-laborers in his kingdom, what is God calling you to do?

—Jim and Lauren Gaffey.  Jim is a science teacher at Saint Ignatius College Prep.  Lauren is the Charis Ministries Program Coordinator for the Office of Ignatian Spirituality, and does work for the Midwest Jesuits.  

Prayer

Loving God, as we celebrate the feast of St. Peter, our first pope, and St. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, we ask you to give us the strength to live out the words of Pope Francis: “What gave me the strength to become a Jesuit is the sense of being a missionary.  To go out, to take part in the missions, to proclaim Jesus Christ. This is precisely our spirituality, to go out and spread the Gospel.”  May we each spread the Gospel through our words and our lives.  

—Jim and Lauren Gaffey

 

 

 

 

 


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June 28, 2017

St. Irenaeus

Mt 7: 15-20

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

By their Fruits You will Know Them

“So by their fruits you will know them.”  Jesus’ analogy to his disciples in this seventh chapter of Matthew was probably very familiar to the people in this agricultural society.  Jesus invites us, here, to reflect on the words and actions of others, as well as our own.  Jesus seems to be warning us against false prophets, and perhaps also inviting us to examine the fruit we are bearing.

How can we tell true prophets? How can we identify those who may be hypocrites? St. Ignatius writes that “love ought to show itself in deeds, rather than words.”  Our words and intentions are important, but our actions are really the “fruit” of our interior life.

Is there an area where God is inviting me to examine and realign in my own life and actions? Who are true prophets in my life, who exemplify “good fruit,” that I seek to emulate?

—Colleen Chiacchere directs Magis Catholic Teacher Corps, the post-graduate teaching service program, at Creighton University.

Prayer

Lord, help us to find prophets in our own lives who bear “good fruit” through their actions.  May we know them, may we emulate them, and may we ourselves be prophets to others.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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June 27, 2017

St. Cyril of Alexandria

Mt 7: 6. 12-14

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

The Narrow Gate

Today Jesus speaks of the “narrow gate” that “leads to life.” Elsewhere in the Gospels, he reveals to us the meaning of this passage, proclaiming, “I am the Gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9). Jesus is the narrow gate that brings salvation, and the narrowness of this way is the scandal of human history. One person–at one time and in one place–is the source of life for the whole world. The entire universe passes through the funnel of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, the realities without which there would be no hope for eternity.

This truth points to the beauty and simplicity of the First Principle and Foundation of St. Ignatius. Our purpose in life is to “praise, reverence, and serve” one person, Jesus. I contemplate my amazement at the Christ who is Alpha and Omega of all things. I let this contemplation give a sweet flavor to my day.

—David Inczauskis, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province; he is currently studying Spanish literature and philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Jesus, I praise you! You are more valuable to me than a precious pearl. Grant me the grace to see as you see. To you, everything I do is holy. May my day become a fragrant offering to you!

—David Inczauskis, SJ

 

 

 

 

 


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June 26, 2017

Gn 12: 1-9

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram took his wife Sarah and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan.

When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Being a Blessing

I recently updated my resume and couldn’t help but notice that it was an exercise in unabashed self-promotion.

The call of Abram stands in stark contrast, both to me and to the self-promoters of the Tower of Babel, in the preceding chapter of Genesis. Remember, God confused the world’s common language when the people said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves…”

Abram, on the other hand, “went as the LORD directed him.” Abandoning security, Abram trusts God who assures him, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

In today’s world, I supposed we need things like resumes, but all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, my entire will, all that I have and possess have been given to me by God—not so I can make a name for myself. Rather, to be a blessing. For “all the communities of the earth [to] find blessing in [us].” Wouldn’t that look great on a resume?

—Sean Agniel is ending a term as the provincial’s assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education for the U.S. Central and Southern Province. This summer he will begin working at St. Louis University High School as the advancement chief of staff.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
all I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours;
do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 

 

 

 


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June 25, 2017

Mt 10: 26-33

“So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Life Fully Lived

I once knew a woman whose constant refrain was “Who cares what other people think?” The answer to that question was her! She cared. A lot. And she put a lot of energy into keeping up appearances.

So many of us as adults fear that we’ll be “found out” to be the frauds we are, that others will discover that we don’t have our acts together. But Jesus makes clear that he’s onto us. He knows, and he loves us.

In Baz Luhrmann’s movie Strictly Ballroom, the characters discover the perennial truth that “a life lived in fear is a life half lived.” Jesus loves us, and his great desire for us is a life fully lived, confident in his love.

—Fr. Martin Connell, SJ is Professor of Education at John Carroll University and Rector of the John Carroll University Jesuit community.

Prayer

“Love ought to manifest itself in deeds rather than in words.  Love consists in a mutual sharing of goods, for example, the lover gives and shares with the beloved what he possesses, or something of that which he has or is able to give; and vice versa, the beloved shares with the lover.”

—St. Ignatius Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises

 

 

 

 


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June 24, 2017

Nativity of John the Baptist

Lk 1: 57-66. 80

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.”

Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea.

All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Pointing toward Jesus

Today our Church celebrates the feast of the birth of John the Baptist, the prophet who went ahead of Jesus, preaching a baptism of repentance.  In the Gospel reading, we read about how John pointed to something greater than himself even from his birth.  Rendered mute after questioning the word of the angel who told him that he would have a son, John’s father Zechariah remained unable to speak until the day of John’s birth.  Only after announcing that his son would be named John, the name given to him by the angel, did Zechariah regain his speech.  It was this sign that caused people to ask “What, then, will this child be?”  In today’s second reading, Paul recounts how John himself answers this question by saying, “What do you suppose that I am?  I am not he.  Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.”  

In each account of John’s ministry, we hear him rejecting praise and acclamation for himself, turning the focus instead to Jesus. From birth, John pointed toward Jesus, the one who came after him.  Do our actions bring focus on ourselves, or do they point others toward Christ?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Lord, I’m not turning back.
All that I have I now give to you.
Ask me whatever;
I never want to betray you.

—Carlo Maria Martini, SJ, All That I Have I Give

 


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June 23, 2017

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Mt 11: 25-30

At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.“

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Jesus’s Suffering

One word that strikes me when I reflect upon the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the word “passion.” The flames and the wounds in the image depict the burning passion of Jesus’s love for us. As somewhat of a linguist, I’m drawn to the Latin root of the word, which means “to suffer.” Wait, suffering? Why do we have to go there?

If you ask St. Ignatius, understanding Jesus’s Passion is key to understanding God’s love for us. In the Third Week of the Spiritual Exercises, the retreatant is asked to pray with the Passion narratives. In this experience, we recognize that we cannot stop the soldiers who beat Jesus nor the crowd that yells for his death. Instead, through simply being with Jesus in his suffering, we come to know the depth of his love for us. How does the Sacred Heart of Jesus speak to you?

 —Jack McLinden, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province; he is currently studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Jesus Christ, may your death be my life
and in your dying may I learn how to live.
May your struggles be my rest,
Your human weakness my courage,
Your embarrassment my honor,
Your passion my delight,
Your sadness my joy,
in your humiliation may I be exalted.
In a word, may I find all my blessings in your trials. Amen.

—St. Peter Faber

 

 

 


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June 22, 2017

St. John Fisher & St. Thomas More

Mt 6: 7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Praying from the Heart

Today’s Gospel reminds me of my mother. I recall being outdoors, playing with friends, and from a distance our mother’s call: “Ya metanse, es tiempo a rezar”; “Come in, it’s time to pray.” Our smiling faces dropped as we were the only ones in the neighborhood going inside to pray the longest rosary! I prayed with no devotion and rushed through our part so that we can go outside with our friends. But our mom took her time praying. I can see her face, her eyes, listen to her every word that she prayed with great faith. At the end of the rosary, she smiled and reminded us, “a family that prays together, stays together.”

As a child, I didn’t understand what she meant, but now I see all the blessings we have received through prayer and our mother’s faith. Just like Jesus, my mother showed us how to pray. I hope to be like my mother and show my children how to take time to pray and to pray from the heart.

—Cecilia Hernandez works in the Vocations Office for the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Our Father,
Who art in heaven hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

 


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June 20, 2017

Mt 5: 43-48

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Mr. Nice Guy

Jesus talks a lot about compassion,  love, and doing good. It would be easy to take him for a big ol’ softy or just a “nice guy” gushing on about how we ought to be nice to people. Jesus was all about love and compassion, and the Gospels show that he was also tender, kind and merciful. But in no way was he just a “nice guy,” he said and did things that ultimately got him killed. Nice guys don’t’ get themselves killed, now do they?

Today he urges the disciples to love their enemies. This is a very disturbing thing to fathom. Why would you do something so crazy as to love and pray for those who actively oppose and are hostile to you? Jesus tells us that rain falls and the sun shines whether we merit it or not.

Jesus doesn’t want us to be nice, he wants us to love with the heart of his Father, who loves whether we merit it or not. This is how he challenges, no, commands us to do something that seems foolish and definitely makes us uncomfortable. Some nice guy, right?

—Alfonso Pizano, SJ is a Jesuit scholastic of the California Province, studying philosophy at Fordham University.

Prayer

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes,
to discern and test the spirits
that help me read the signs of the times,
to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate them to others.
Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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