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August 14, 2018

St. Maximillian Kolbe

Mt 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them,and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

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.

Becoming like children

The Gospel today presents Jesus speaking clearly and directly, leaving little room to argue over his words: “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones.” Caring for a child, who has little to no social standing in his society, is Jesus’ way to greatness, and he does not complicate this message. Feasibility, returns, and personal risk do not measure the depth of his concern and compassion for the wronged. Not only does he instruct us to be like him and care for the least in a way that magnifies their humanity, he also asks us to be like him and see the world from the perspective of the aggrieved.

Though direct, Jesus’ instructions today might rightly unsettle those who hear it. He asks much from us, but he also truly offers a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

—Joe Wotawa, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province completing his theology studies at the Xavier University Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive
All my liberty,
My memory,
My understanding,
And my entire will –
All that I have and possess.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
All is yours, dispose of it
Wholly according to your will.
Give me your love and your grace,
For that is enough for me.

—Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 

 


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August 13, 2018

Mt 17:22-27

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,”

Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”

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.

God’s all-powerful love for us

Modern day prophets like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the six Jesuit martyrs in San Salvador, and Archbishop Oscar Romero courageously took a stand against unjust government structures that authorized oppression of the poor and powerless – but not without a price! Jesus, too, often pointed out the oppressive tactics of unjust and merciless religious leaders in his time – but not without a price!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts that he will be “betrayed into human hands.” He knew that his efforts to bring about a world of peace, justice and love would likely bring opposition, but this did not deter him. The Gospel shows how his enemies were trying to entrap him by setting him up to risk a run-in with civil authorities, but he found a way around their scheme.

How might Jesus be inviting me to promote a greater sense of justice in my workplace? My parish? My country?

—Sister Ruth Hoerig is a writer and co-editor of Alive magazine and social media content developer for the School Sisters of St. Francis. She is author of Seeds of Hope: Catholic Sisters in Action Around the World.

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Amen

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 


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August 12, 2018

1 Kgs 19: 4-8

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep.

Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

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.

Gift of faith

What does it mean to say “faith is a gift”?  In our first reading, Elijah is ready to give up on life, crying out to God.  He is exhausted from running for his life into the desert. He falls asleep under a broom tree, a desert bush that must sink deep roots to reach water.  In a dream Elijah is told to get up and eat; when he awakens he finds at his side unexpected cake and water. He falls asleep again, and is encouraged again to eat and drink.  Then, and only then, is he ready to continue his journey to the mountain of God.

The ‘gift of faith’ is not a carrot-on-a-stick reward that leads us to God — rather, faith is the eyes to see God’s laboring presence, even in our desert experiences.  Elijah’s story reminds us that God has been faithfully sustaining and feeding us in light of — and in spite of — the circumstances of our lives. God offers Elijah renewal and refuge under a tree, and provides him strength to continue his journey to God.   But even Elijah needs a second reminder.

What, and who, has fed and sustained you in the desert experiences of life?  

—Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province and a proud alumnus of Marquette University High School and Marquette University.  He begins doctoral studies in theology and literature at the University of Oxford in October.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, you offer us the gift of faith and then encourage and sustain that gift throughout our lives.  When we feel despondent, exhausted, or ready to give up, strengthen our faith so that we may continue on our journey to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 


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August 11, 2018

St. Clare

Mt 17:14-20

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And

Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

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.

Overcoming fear and self-doubt

Stories of the disciples, the ones who knew Jesus so intimately and ministered alongside him, not getting it are rather comforting to me.  It’s nice to know that I’m not alone when I don’t measure up to where I would like to be in my faith life! The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles, why did they have “little faith?”

The disciples were likely afflicted with the same things you and I are: fear and self-doubt.  Watching Jesus heal someone and believing that they were capable of it themselves are two different things.  Talking about something and actually following through are different things. In many areas of my life, second-guessing what I am capable of is a full time hobby.

What is something in your life that you need to hand over to Christ and trust that he will accompany you through?  How can you begin to have faith the size of a mustard seed?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

What you hold may you always hold.
What you do, may you always do and never abandon.
But with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet,
so that even your steps stir up no dust,
Go forward, the spirit of our God has called you.

—St. Clare of Assisi

 


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August 10, 2018

St. Laurence, Deacon and Martyr

2 Cor 9:6-10

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

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.

Recognizing the gift

Trust. It’s one of those things that can’t be proven until it’s tried. And it’s awfully hard to trust that we’ll have everything we need when it feels like we’re going without. Often it comes down to expectations. What do we expect to receive? What should we expect to receive? If Jesus gave up his unlimited nature to enter into humanity and then lost his life on the cross, are we not called to surrender even the seemingly little we have into God’s care, to trust that God will take care of us? That doesn’t mean bankrupting ourselves for others, it means recognizing all that we have as gift, so that none of it is “deserved”, but rather all of it is “received.”

What am I holding onto as if it were my own, when in fact it is God’s gift to me to steward throughout this day?

—Ken Weber is interim director of University Ministry in the Office of Mission and Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord, grant me the grace to see all that I am and have as gifts from you, so that I can freely give them away when called on to do so.  Amen.

—Ken Weber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 9, 2018

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Jer 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

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.

Written on our hearts

Jeremiah speaks of God’s promise of a new covenant, superseding that which was made to our Jewish ancestors.  God commitment is so strong that the law will be written in our hearts. Think of that! A promise to be with us in such an intimate way that his law and love are at our very core.  We are not God’s mere acquaintances, God says “they shall be my people.”

Edith Stein, who became St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, understood the old and new covenants.  Born to a German Jewish family, she stopped believing in God as a teenager before encountering the writings of St. Teresa of Avila.  She was baptized, later became a Carmelite nun, and was sent to the Netherlands to try to protect her from the Nazis. Believing that she wouldn’t survive the war, she wanted to offer herself “to the heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace.”  God’s covenant was written on her heart. St. Teresa Benedicta ultimately died in Auschwitz.

The way we live out God’s promise in our own lives may not look as extreme as it did for her, but how are we fundamentally changed because God has written on our hearts?

—Lauren Gaffey is the Program Director of Charis Ministries, a part of the Ignatian Young Adult Ministries outreach of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality.  She also works with Jesuit Connections in Chicago and other programs of the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Whatever did not fit in with my plan
did lie within the plan of God.
I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing
is merely an accident when seen in the light of God,
that my whole life down to the smallest details
has been marked out for me
in the plan of Divine Providence and has a
completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes.
And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory
wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.
Amen.

—St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 8, 2018

St. Dominic

Mt 15:21-28

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

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.

Becoming fully formed in love

Jesus seems to rely upon his culture’s prejudice towards the Canaanites, as he initially dismisses the woman’s entreaty. He then recognizes the mistake of his cultural inheritance as the woman protests to be recognized as a fellow child of God. Jesus subsequently transcends his culture and grows in his understanding of the breadth of love he is called to offer.

We certainly dismiss some people outside of our “tribe” without hearing them. Would you agree? Can we adopt the humility of Jesus to recognize when our opinions are faulty? Can we grow in compassion? I never tire of contemplating this passage using Ignatian prayer of the imagination. Considering a Jesus who had to grow into his great love allows me to aspire to a more mature and loving version of myself. Have you tried contemplating a Jesus not yet fully formed as the one we’re accustomed to having presented to us?

—Michael Coffey is the Executive Director of Casa Romero Renewal Center, an Ignatian, urban, bilingual spirituality center in the central city of Milwaukee.

Prayer

Although unrecorded, Jesus spent most of his life as a work in progress, which is where we spend our entire lives. Keeping this in mind may lend new power to the Anima Christi prayer that Ignatius includes in the Spiritual Exercises. (This is a contemporary rewording of the prayer by David Fleming, S.J.)

Jesus, may all that is you flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer,
But hold me safe from the forces of evil.

Amen,

—Michael Coffey, including a contemporary rewording of the Anima Christi written by David Fleming, S

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 7, 2018

Jer 30: 1-2, 12-15, 18-22

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For thus says the Lord: Your hurt is incurable, your wound is grievous. There is no one to uphold your cause, no medicine for your wound, no healing for you. All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you; for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy, the punishment of a merciless foe, because your guilt is great, because your sins are so numerous. Why do you cry out over your hurt? Your pain is incurable. Because your guilt is great, because your sins are so numerous, I have done these things to you.

Thus says the Lord: I am going to restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob, and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound, and the citadel set on its rightful site. Out of them shall come thanksgiving, and the sound of merrymakers. I will make them many, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be disdained.

Their children shall be as of old, their congregation shall be established before me; and I will punish all who oppress them. Their prince shall be one of their own, their ruler shall come from their midst; I will bring him near, and he shall approach me, for who would otherwise dare to approach me? says the Lord. And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

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.

I will be your God

Today’s first reading includes a famous promise from God that echoes across both the Old and the New Testament: “And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” However, we must not rush to the promise from God without noticing what precedes it in the reading.

While I would like to shy away from the description of pain in today’s reading, the fact undeniably remains that a great many people do experience this pain and understand it as something God has done to them. As a follower of Christ, it is not my place to deny this very human reaction to hardship when others experience it. Rather, I must make myself available to help restore hope in God’s promise. I pray that I might also have the willingness to ask for such help should I feel the “incurable” or “grievous” hurt Jeremiah describes.

—Joe Wotawa, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province completing his theology studies at the Xavier University Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

Prayer

God of all mercies,
God of all consolation,
comfort us in our afflictions
that we in turn might comfort those who are in trouble
with the same consolation we have received.

—Prayer in times of Suffering and Needs, published on the USCCB website

 

 

 


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August 6, 2018

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Mark 9:2-10

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

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.

Recognizing the Glory of God in all circumstances

In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothing became dazzling white. All this brilliance was then overshadowed by a cloud – and it is from the cloud that a voice was heard: “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him.” Might the cloud be a reminder that there’s more to life than mountain top experiences?

This fleeting occurrence of Jesus’ transfiguration was a clear exception to the daily common place encounters with Jesus experienced by the apostles. In our own faith life, we are more likely to encounter Jesus as disfigured in the flawed human beings we meet on a daily basis and even in our own selves. Yet, every man, woman and child, bears the divine image and so bears within an inestimable dignity.

When I encounter Christ in others, what might I hear when I “listen” to God’s beloved Son in the faces of the homeless and rejected among us?

—Sister Ruth Hoerig is a writer and co-editor of Alive magazine and social media content developer for the School Sisters of St. Francis. She is author of Seeds of Hope: Catholic Sisters in Action Around the World.

Prayer

God of Glory, as you broke through the world of your early disciples, so break through to us. As a community of faith, show us where your glory is to be found, not only on the mountaintop, but on our streets and in our homes. Open our eyes to see the poor and the homeless as mirrors of your beauty and your suffering. Help us not to shrink from working with the less fortunate and broken-hearted.

Let us work for a world transfigured in the glory of God’s Kingdom, reaching out to victims of war, violence and human trafficking. Show us how to live our daily lives in such a way that others can experience your peace, justice, love and forgiveness. Amen.

—Sister Ruth Hoerig

 

 


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August 5, 2018

Jn 6:24-35

So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”

Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

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.

Simple bread

I spent the summer of 2016 studying French in a Jesuit community in Paris.  We each had house jobs. I cleaned our common bathrooms, hopefully burning off time in purgatory!  Another student’s job was to rise early and walk two blocks to the corner boulangerie. And each day he’d return with twenty long, crusty baguettes for the day’s three meals.  In the US, this would be an expensive treat. But in France — and much of the world — simple bread remains a staple to much healthier diets. No preservatives or special requests; just reliable, simple bread.

Jesus offers himself as the bread that will not perish.  And in the Our Father, we ask God each day to give us our daily bread.  These simple statements invite us to consider: what simple disciplines can I incorporate in my day to be nourished?  Perhaps simplifying what I eat and drink each day, savoring a new-found simplicity. Maybe a stroll over to church for morning Mass, or a few minutes of silence in the cool quiet of a pew.

What nourishment does God have to offer you today?  No preservatives or special requests needed – just reliable, simple bread.

—Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province and a proud alumnus of Marquette University High School and Marquette University.  He begins doctoral studies in theology and literature at the University of Oxford in October.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you offer yourself to us as the living bread that nourishes our souls.  Just as we are conscious of the food that we put into our bodies, may we take care to live by your word and your truth in our daily lives.  Nourish us so that we can continue to work with you in building the kingdom. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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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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August 14, 2018

St. Maximillian Kolbe

Mt 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them,and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

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.

Becoming like children

The Gospel today presents Jesus speaking clearly and directly, leaving little room to argue over his words: “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones.” Caring for a child, who has little to no social standing in his society, is Jesus’ way to greatness, and he does not complicate this message. Feasibility, returns, and personal risk do not measure the depth of his concern and compassion for the wronged. Not only does he instruct us to be like him and care for the least in a way that magnifies their humanity, he also asks us to be like him and see the world from the perspective of the aggrieved.

Though direct, Jesus’ instructions today might rightly unsettle those who hear it. He asks much from us, but he also truly offers a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

—Joe Wotawa, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province completing his theology studies at the Xavier University Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive
All my liberty,
My memory,
My understanding,
And my entire will –
All that I have and possess.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
All is yours, dispose of it
Wholly according to your will.
Give me your love and your grace,
For that is enough for me.

—Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

 

 

 

 


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August 13, 2018

Mt 17:22-27

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,”

Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”

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.

God’s all-powerful love for us

Modern day prophets like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the six Jesuit martyrs in San Salvador, and Archbishop Oscar Romero courageously took a stand against unjust government structures that authorized oppression of the poor and powerless – but not without a price! Jesus, too, often pointed out the oppressive tactics of unjust and merciless religious leaders in his time – but not without a price!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus predicts that he will be “betrayed into human hands.” He knew that his efforts to bring about a world of peace, justice and love would likely bring opposition, but this did not deter him. The Gospel shows how his enemies were trying to entrap him by setting him up to risk a run-in with civil authorities, but he found a way around their scheme.

How might Jesus be inviting me to promote a greater sense of justice in my workplace? My parish? My country?

—Sister Ruth Hoerig is a writer and co-editor of Alive magazine and social media content developer for the School Sisters of St. Francis. She is author of Seeds of Hope: Catholic Sisters in Action Around the World.

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.
Amen

—St. Ignatius of Loyola

 


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August 12, 2018

1 Kgs 19: 4-8

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep.

Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.

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.

Gift of faith

What does it mean to say “faith is a gift”?  In our first reading, Elijah is ready to give up on life, crying out to God.  He is exhausted from running for his life into the desert. He falls asleep under a broom tree, a desert bush that must sink deep roots to reach water.  In a dream Elijah is told to get up and eat; when he awakens he finds at his side unexpected cake and water. He falls asleep again, and is encouraged again to eat and drink.  Then, and only then, is he ready to continue his journey to the mountain of God.

The ‘gift of faith’ is not a carrot-on-a-stick reward that leads us to God — rather, faith is the eyes to see God’s laboring presence, even in our desert experiences.  Elijah’s story reminds us that God has been faithfully sustaining and feeding us in light of — and in spite of — the circumstances of our lives. God offers Elijah renewal and refuge under a tree, and provides him strength to continue his journey to God.   But even Elijah needs a second reminder.

What, and who, has fed and sustained you in the desert experiences of life?  

—Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province and a proud alumnus of Marquette University High School and Marquette University.  He begins doctoral studies in theology and literature at the University of Oxford in October.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, you offer us the gift of faith and then encourage and sustain that gift throughout our lives.  When we feel despondent, exhausted, or ready to give up, strengthen our faith so that we may continue on our journey to you.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 


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August 11, 2018

St. Clare

Mt 17:14-20

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.” And

Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

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.

Overcoming fear and self-doubt

Stories of the disciples, the ones who knew Jesus so intimately and ministered alongside him, not getting it are rather comforting to me.  It’s nice to know that I’m not alone when I don’t measure up to where I would like to be in my faith life! The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles, why did they have “little faith?”

The disciples were likely afflicted with the same things you and I are: fear and self-doubt.  Watching Jesus heal someone and believing that they were capable of it themselves are two different things.  Talking about something and actually following through are different things. In many areas of my life, second-guessing what I am capable of is a full time hobby.

What is something in your life that you need to hand over to Christ and trust that he will accompany you through?  How can you begin to have faith the size of a mustard seed?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

What you hold may you always hold.
What you do, may you always do and never abandon.
But with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet,
so that even your steps stir up no dust,
Go forward, the spirit of our God has called you.

—St. Clare of Assisi

 


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August 10, 2018

St. Laurence, Deacon and Martyr

2 Cor 9:6-10

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.

As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

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.

Recognizing the gift

Trust. It’s one of those things that can’t be proven until it’s tried. And it’s awfully hard to trust that we’ll have everything we need when it feels like we’re going without. Often it comes down to expectations. What do we expect to receive? What should we expect to receive? If Jesus gave up his unlimited nature to enter into humanity and then lost his life on the cross, are we not called to surrender even the seemingly little we have into God’s care, to trust that God will take care of us? That doesn’t mean bankrupting ourselves for others, it means recognizing all that we have as gift, so that none of it is “deserved”, but rather all of it is “received.”

What am I holding onto as if it were my own, when in fact it is God’s gift to me to steward throughout this day?

—Ken Weber is interim director of University Ministry in the Office of Mission and Ministry at Loyola University New Orleans.

Prayer

Lord, grant me the grace to see all that I am and have as gifts from you, so that I can freely give them away when called on to do so.  Amen.

—Ken Weber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 9, 2018

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Jer 31:31-34

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

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.

Written on our hearts

Jeremiah speaks of God’s promise of a new covenant, superseding that which was made to our Jewish ancestors.  God commitment is so strong that the law will be written in our hearts. Think of that! A promise to be with us in such an intimate way that his law and love are at our very core.  We are not God’s mere acquaintances, God says “they shall be my people.”

Edith Stein, who became St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, understood the old and new covenants.  Born to a German Jewish family, she stopped believing in God as a teenager before encountering the writings of St. Teresa of Avila.  She was baptized, later became a Carmelite nun, and was sent to the Netherlands to try to protect her from the Nazis. Believing that she wouldn’t survive the war, she wanted to offer herself “to the heart of Jesus as a sacrifice of atonement for true peace.”  God’s covenant was written on her heart. St. Teresa Benedicta ultimately died in Auschwitz.

The way we live out God’s promise in our own lives may not look as extreme as it did for her, but how are we fundamentally changed because God has written on our hearts?

—Lauren Gaffey is the Program Director of Charis Ministries, a part of the Ignatian Young Adult Ministries outreach of the Office of Ignatian Spirituality.  She also works with Jesuit Connections in Chicago and other programs of the Midwest Jesuits.

Prayer

Whatever did not fit in with my plan
did lie within the plan of God.
I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing
is merely an accident when seen in the light of God,
that my whole life down to the smallest details
has been marked out for me
in the plan of Divine Providence and has a
completely coherent meaning in God’s all-seeing eyes.
And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory
wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.
Amen.

—St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 8, 2018

St. Dominic

Mt 15:21-28

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

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.

Becoming fully formed in love

Jesus seems to rely upon his culture’s prejudice towards the Canaanites, as he initially dismisses the woman’s entreaty. He then recognizes the mistake of his cultural inheritance as the woman protests to be recognized as a fellow child of God. Jesus subsequently transcends his culture and grows in his understanding of the breadth of love he is called to offer.

We certainly dismiss some people outside of our “tribe” without hearing them. Would you agree? Can we adopt the humility of Jesus to recognize when our opinions are faulty? Can we grow in compassion? I never tire of contemplating this passage using Ignatian prayer of the imagination. Considering a Jesus who had to grow into his great love allows me to aspire to a more mature and loving version of myself. Have you tried contemplating a Jesus not yet fully formed as the one we’re accustomed to having presented to us?

—Michael Coffey is the Executive Director of Casa Romero Renewal Center, an Ignatian, urban, bilingual spirituality center in the central city of Milwaukee.

Prayer

Although unrecorded, Jesus spent most of his life as a work in progress, which is where we spend our entire lives. Keeping this in mind may lend new power to the Anima Christi prayer that Ignatius includes in the Spiritual Exercises. (This is a contemporary rewording of the prayer by David Fleming, S.J.)

Jesus, may all that is you flow into me.
May your body and blood be my food and drink.
May your passion and death be my strength and life.
Jesus, with you by my side, enough has been given.
May the shelter I seek be the shadow your cross.
Let me not run from the love which you offer,
But hold me safe from the forces of evil.

Amen,

—Michael Coffey, including a contemporary rewording of the Anima Christi written by David Fleming, S

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 7, 2018

Jer 30: 1-2, 12-15, 18-22

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For thus says the Lord: Your hurt is incurable, your wound is grievous. There is no one to uphold your cause, no medicine for your wound, no healing for you. All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you; for I have dealt you the blow of an enemy, the punishment of a merciless foe, because your guilt is great, because your sins are so numerous. Why do you cry out over your hurt? Your pain is incurable. Because your guilt is great, because your sins are so numerous, I have done these things to you.

Thus says the Lord: I am going to restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob, and have compassion on his dwellings; the city shall be rebuilt upon its mound, and the citadel set on its rightful site. Out of them shall come thanksgiving, and the sound of merrymakers. I will make them many, and they shall not be few; I will make them honored, and they shall not be disdained.

Their children shall be as of old, their congregation shall be established before me; and I will punish all who oppress them. Their prince shall be one of their own, their ruler shall come from their midst; I will bring him near, and he shall approach me, for who would otherwise dare to approach me? says the Lord. And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

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.

I will be your God

Today’s first reading includes a famous promise from God that echoes across both the Old and the New Testament: “And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” However, we must not rush to the promise from God without noticing what precedes it in the reading.

While I would like to shy away from the description of pain in today’s reading, the fact undeniably remains that a great many people do experience this pain and understand it as something God has done to them. As a follower of Christ, it is not my place to deny this very human reaction to hardship when others experience it. Rather, I must make myself available to help restore hope in God’s promise. I pray that I might also have the willingness to ask for such help should I feel the “incurable” or “grievous” hurt Jeremiah describes.

—Joe Wotawa, SJ, is a scholastic of the USA Central and Southern Province completing his theology studies at the Xavier University Institute for Black Catholic Studies and the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University.

Prayer

God of all mercies,
God of all consolation,
comfort us in our afflictions
that we in turn might comfort those who are in trouble
with the same consolation we have received.

—Prayer in times of Suffering and Needs, published on the USCCB website

 

 

 


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August 6, 2018

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Mark 9:2-10

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

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.

Recognizing the Glory of God in all circumstances

In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothing became dazzling white. All this brilliance was then overshadowed by a cloud – and it is from the cloud that a voice was heard: “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him.” Might the cloud be a reminder that there’s more to life than mountain top experiences?

This fleeting occurrence of Jesus’ transfiguration was a clear exception to the daily common place encounters with Jesus experienced by the apostles. In our own faith life, we are more likely to encounter Jesus as disfigured in the flawed human beings we meet on a daily basis and even in our own selves. Yet, every man, woman and child, bears the divine image and so bears within an inestimable dignity.

When I encounter Christ in others, what might I hear when I “listen” to God’s beloved Son in the faces of the homeless and rejected among us?

—Sister Ruth Hoerig is a writer and co-editor of Alive magazine and social media content developer for the School Sisters of St. Francis. She is author of Seeds of Hope: Catholic Sisters in Action Around the World.

Prayer

God of Glory, as you broke through the world of your early disciples, so break through to us. As a community of faith, show us where your glory is to be found, not only on the mountaintop, but on our streets and in our homes. Open our eyes to see the poor and the homeless as mirrors of your beauty and your suffering. Help us not to shrink from working with the less fortunate and broken-hearted.

Let us work for a world transfigured in the glory of God’s Kingdom, reaching out to victims of war, violence and human trafficking. Show us how to live our daily lives in such a way that others can experience your peace, justice, love and forgiveness. Amen.

—Sister Ruth Hoerig

 

 


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August 5, 2018

Jn 6:24-35

So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”

Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?”Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

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.

Simple bread

I spent the summer of 2016 studying French in a Jesuit community in Paris.  We each had house jobs. I cleaned our common bathrooms, hopefully burning off time in purgatory!  Another student’s job was to rise early and walk two blocks to the corner boulangerie. And each day he’d return with twenty long, crusty baguettes for the day’s three meals.  In the US, this would be an expensive treat. But in France — and much of the world — simple bread remains a staple to much healthier diets. No preservatives or special requests; just reliable, simple bread.

Jesus offers himself as the bread that will not perish.  And in the Our Father, we ask God each day to give us our daily bread.  These simple statements invite us to consider: what simple disciplines can I incorporate in my day to be nourished?  Perhaps simplifying what I eat and drink each day, savoring a new-found simplicity. Maybe a stroll over to church for morning Mass, or a few minutes of silence in the cool quiet of a pew.

What nourishment does God have to offer you today?  No preservatives or special requests needed – just reliable, simple bread.

—Fr. Joe Simmons, SJ, is a priest of the Midwest Province and a proud alumnus of Marquette University High School and Marquette University.  He begins doctoral studies in theology and literature at the University of Oxford in October.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you offer yourself to us as the living bread that nourishes our souls.  Just as we are conscious of the food that we put into our bodies, may we take care to live by your word and your truth in our daily lives.  Nourish us so that we can continue to work with you in building the kingdom. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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