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September 21, 2018

St. Matthew

Eph 4:1-7, 11-13

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

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.

Startled by Jesus’ call

Caravaggio’s famous painting of the Calling of St. Matthew depicts a man bewildered by Jesus’ attention. “Who, me??” the man seems to say. “Yes, you,” Jesus replies to Matthew and to each one of us. Today’s first reading invites us to respond to this invitation by leading a life worthy of that incredible call. It’s easy to separate our faith from our work and hobbies and friendships. But as St. Paul reminds us and St. Ignatius echoes, the one God and Father of all can be found in all things. That makes our work, our homes, our extracurricular activities and relationships a locus for God’s presence in the world. Do you live with an awareness and reverence of that presence?

Spend some time basking in God’s gaze today. Allow yourself to feel startled, amazed, and honored by Jesus’ call. And allow that call to transform the rest of your day.

—Sarah Otto is a Retreat and Program Director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA.

Prayer

O God, give me the courage and strength to be worthy of being called a Christian.

—Karl Rahner, SJ

 


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September 20, 2018

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, SJ, Paul Chong Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs

Luke 7:36-50

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.”

“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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.

Entrusting Jesus with what matters most

I learned from a Catholic archaeologist that women from Mary Magdalene’s time would collect their tears in tiny vials. He said that when women married, they would give this vial to their husbands—that is to say, they handed over to his care everything that was most precious to them, in sorrow and in joy. In tradition, we know Magdalene as the woman who anointed Jesus with oil and her tears and then dried him with her hair, she who, having been forgiven much loved much.

When Magdalene washed Christ’s feet, some believe it may have been with the tears from this little vial, tears that marked the most precious moments of her life. That in this gesture, she was giving to Jesus everything most precious to her, entrusting to him everything that mattered to her  heart.

This is the Magdalene I treasure most and so long to be.

—Liz Kelly is the author of the award-winning Jesus Approaches published by Loyola Press and trained as a director in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we know that we can come to you in times of joy and times of sorrow.  We offer you those things that are most precious to us, trusting that you will remain with us throughout our lives.  We pray this in the name of Jesus, our brother and friend. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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September 19, 2018

1 Cor 12: 31- 13:13

But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

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.

Open to growth

September is the month of parent meetings at school. Hundreds of parents flock into our assembly room eagerly excited, and perhaps a little anxious, for the start of a new school year and a new chapter in their son’s life. At each meeting, they get to reflect on what tremendous growth their son will experience the coming year in high school – both vertically, for most, as well as internally. The essence of what we as Ignatian educators and they as parents are hoping for, however, is that they grow mostly in love for one another and for God – for the greatest of these is love.

As a new academic year begins, how are you open to growth and change in yourself and those around you this year? What are the great examples of love in your life, and how can you seek to emulate them?

—Gretchen Crowder is the Director of Campus Ministry at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Dallas.

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.

—Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 


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September 18, 2018

1 Cor 12: 12-14, 27-31A

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

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 Body of Christ

I’m blessed to live with a Bishop Emeritus Carlos A. Sevilla, SJ. I told him this week that I would soon meet with benefactors in Southern California who support the works of our Jesuits West Province. I admitted my confusion about how to defend or explain the state of our Church. What mending words could I offer others out of my own upset and shame?

He said: “The Church is in one of the most challenging storms in its history. Assure those with whom you visit that Jesus is with us in the storm. I’m certain that the changes that must be made will make us a better Church and seen more clearly to be The Body of Christ.”

How this gentle man’s reassurance— along with that image— comforted me when I prayed with today’s readings. The Church has weathered storms from its start. St. Paul encountered them throughout his ministry: in Rome, Galatia, Philippi, Colossae, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and in Corinth, where today he gives the Corinthians the precise image that Bishop Sevilla shared with me: the Body of Christ. If any part of it suffers, the entire body feels it.

The Body of our Church suffers today. Pray with me that Jesus walks with us in the storm!

—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently starting his second year of Regency in the Advancement Office in Los Gatos, California.

Prayer

O thou, who at thy Eucharist didst pray
That all thy church might be for ever one,
Grant us at every Eucharist to say
With longing heart and soul, ‘Thy will be done’:
O may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.

For all thy church, O Lord, we intercede;
Make thou our sad divisions soon to cease;
Draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
By drawing all to thee, O Prince of Peace:
Thus may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.

—Excerpt from, “Thou, Who at Thy First Eucharist Didst Pray,” by W.H. Turton (1881)

 

 


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September 17, 2018

St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Lk 7:1-10

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.”

And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”

When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

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.

A reminder of where to place our faith

Because I am a teacher, I often find myself stressed about money. I think this feeling arises from time to time for most teachers, even the best investors among them. I remember venting this stress to my father-in-law right before I got married six years ago. I have always had a close relationship with him, so this conversation was not really out of left field. I remember how he laughed at me in response. He said of my wife and me, “You’re young, you’re poor, and you’re in love. There’s never been a better time to get married.” He had faith in me, faith that was slipping from my grasp because of my focus on my own material wealth. I mean, I was about to be married! Reading the story of the centurion provides me with a powerful reminder of what actually constitutes a strong investment.

Where might your faith be waning?  How can you place your trust in God?

—Austin Freeman is an English teacher and the Test Prep Coordinator for Jesuit High School in Tampa, FL.

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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September 16, 2018

Mk 8:27-35

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save 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.

Boldly proclaiming our faith

I teach theology at a Jesuit high school in Denver, Colorado, and the other day, while discussing the role of the Church in our lives, I asked my students “Who gave us the Sacraments – these wonderful tools to help us on our path to salvation?”. One student timidly raised her hand in the back of the room and whispered tentatively, “Jesus?”. I was hoping for a more brave, brazen approach, much like Peter’s in today’s Gospel reading! “You are the Christ!” Peter offers such a clear understanding of who Jesus was (and is) – our Savior – the Anointed One.

Why be timid? Perhaps we’re afraid of being wrong. What if we bravely proclaim Jesus’ saving power and somehow we’ve missed the mark? What if our faith is off base and our belief is misguided? If we wish to come after Christ, we have to take up his cross and follow. No doubt our eternal salvation is worth some possible humiliation here on earth.

—Marcus Fryer, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province and is the Pastoral Director at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver.

Prayer

Today, let us not forget the words of St. Faustina – “Jesus I trust in you!”

—Marcus Fryer, SJ

 


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September 15, 2018

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

John 19:25-27

And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

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.

Mary, a model for our suffering

My four year old asked me yesterday whether Mary could “make things and do miracles.” I told her that Mary was an amazing and holy woman, but she was human and not God, and only God can work miracles.  She accepted my answer and moved on to a different question, but our short conversation stuck with me. Mary, the woman who we honor and serves as a model of faithfulness, did everything that she did with no more extraordinary power than you and me.

Today’s feast gives particular focus to Mary’s sorrow as she stands at the foot of the cross watching her son be crucified, something no one should have to experience.  I can’t begin to imagine the agony she felt in those moments. Despite all that she suffered, her faith in God did not falter. How is Mary a model for how to live your life?  How can she offer comfort in the sorrows of your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of his own nation
Saw him hang in desolation
Till his spirit forth he sent.

O sweet Mother! font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Wounded with his every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In his very Blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In his awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.

Amen. (Alleluia)

—Stabat Mater, traditional prayer sequence recited at Mass today

 


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September 14, 2018

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Phil 2:6-11

Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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.

Using our power to serve others

Talk about Ignatian indifference! Jesus did not see his equality with God as something to be exploited. He surrendered it freely so that we, too, could share intimacy with the divine. Jesus modeled what power truly is: service to those in need. How counter to the models of leadership we’ve seen in our nation, in our world and in our own Church, where power has too often been used to dictate and abuse rather than to minister and lead. We may not have the same form of institutional power that a politician or a clergy member has. But we all have spheres of influence, from our families to our workplaces. Today’s second reading reminds us that true power invites us into the experience of others. Jesus took on our humanity. He ate with sinners, ministered with women, befriended the poor and the outcast. He emptied himself… How will you use your power today?

—Sarah Otto is a Retreat and Program Director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA.

Prayer

God of surrender, help me to let go of any unhealthy attachment to power. Help me to listen to the needs of those around me, so that I may better love and serve those you have entrusted to my care.

—Sarah Otto

 

 

 

 


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September 13, 2018

St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Lk 6:27-38

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.“

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

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.

Bold in forgiveness

This prayer was found in Ravensbrück concentration camp next to the body of a dead child:

“O Lord, remember not only men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us. Remember the fruits we have born thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgment let all the fruits that we have born be their forgiveness.”

What a startling challenge to every first reaction I might have to those who wrong me. What a wild and worthy clash this prayer is to my need to assert my rights, my importance. When Jesus asks me to pray for those who persecute me, could he possibly mean even this?

Jesus, make me brave, bold, and effective in forgiveness.

—Liz Kelly is the author of the award-winning Jesus Approaches published by Loyola Press and trained as a director in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Prayer

Lord Christ, help us to see what it is
that joins us together, not what separates us.
For when we see only what it is that makes us different,
we too often become aware of what is wrong with others.
We see only their faults and weaknesses,
interpreting their actions as flowing from
malice and hatred rather than fear.
Even when confronted with evil, Lord,
you forgave and sacrificed yourself
rather than sought revenge.
Teach us to do the same by the power of your Spirit.

—William Breault, SJ

 


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September 12, 2018

Lk 6: 20-26

Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

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.

Creating a piece of heaven for someone

The Gospel today can be paralleled with Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Except here, instead of concentrating on the spiritual trials, Luke is plainly defining the real, tangible woes of the poor. He mentions hunger, weeping, hatred, exclusion, defamation. It does not take long to search the news today and find mention of these same things building walls between people. Luke is inviting us today to wipe away tears, lessen the pains of hunger, speak out against hatred, work toward inclusion and build bridges of respect. Blessed are those who tangibly seek to change the world.

Where today can you work to create a piece of heaven here on earth for another person? Where today can you wipe away tears and celebrate the dignity of another?

—Gretchen Crowder is the Director of Campus Ministry at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Dallas.

Prayer

Lord,
Help me to see Your face in those I serve,
Your eyes through their eyes,
Your love through their actions.
Help them to see Your face in mine,
Your eyes through my eyes,
Your love through my actions.
Amen

—Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas Senior Service Prayer

 

 

 


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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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September 21, 2018

St. Matthew

Eph 4:1-7, 11-13

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

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.

Startled by Jesus’ call

Caravaggio’s famous painting of the Calling of St. Matthew depicts a man bewildered by Jesus’ attention. “Who, me??” the man seems to say. “Yes, you,” Jesus replies to Matthew and to each one of us. Today’s first reading invites us to respond to this invitation by leading a life worthy of that incredible call. It’s easy to separate our faith from our work and hobbies and friendships. But as St. Paul reminds us and St. Ignatius echoes, the one God and Father of all can be found in all things. That makes our work, our homes, our extracurricular activities and relationships a locus for God’s presence in the world. Do you live with an awareness and reverence of that presence?

Spend some time basking in God’s gaze today. Allow yourself to feel startled, amazed, and honored by Jesus’ call. And allow that call to transform the rest of your day.

—Sarah Otto is a Retreat and Program Director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA.

Prayer

O God, give me the courage and strength to be worthy of being called a Christian.

—Karl Rahner, SJ

 


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September 20, 2018

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gon, SJ, Paul Chong Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs

Luke 7:36-50

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “Speak.”

“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

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.

Entrusting Jesus with what matters most

I learned from a Catholic archaeologist that women from Mary Magdalene’s time would collect their tears in tiny vials. He said that when women married, they would give this vial to their husbands—that is to say, they handed over to his care everything that was most precious to them, in sorrow and in joy. In tradition, we know Magdalene as the woman who anointed Jesus with oil and her tears and then dried him with her hair, she who, having been forgiven much loved much.

When Magdalene washed Christ’s feet, some believe it may have been with the tears from this little vial, tears that marked the most precious moments of her life. That in this gesture, she was giving to Jesus everything most precious to her, entrusting to him everything that mattered to her  heart.

This is the Magdalene I treasure most and so long to be.

—Liz Kelly is the author of the award-winning Jesus Approaches published by Loyola Press and trained as a director in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we know that we can come to you in times of joy and times of sorrow.  We offer you those things that are most precious to us, trusting that you will remain with us throughout our lives.  We pray this in the name of Jesus, our brother and friend. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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September 19, 2018

1 Cor 12: 31- 13:13

But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

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.

Open to growth

September is the month of parent meetings at school. Hundreds of parents flock into our assembly room eagerly excited, and perhaps a little anxious, for the start of a new school year and a new chapter in their son’s life. At each meeting, they get to reflect on what tremendous growth their son will experience the coming year in high school – both vertically, for most, as well as internally. The essence of what we as Ignatian educators and they as parents are hoping for, however, is that they grow mostly in love for one another and for God – for the greatest of these is love.

As a new academic year begins, how are you open to growth and change in yourself and those around you this year? What are the great examples of love in your life, and how can you seek to emulate them?

—Gretchen Crowder is the Director of Campus Ministry at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Dallas.

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.

—Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 


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September 18, 2018

1 Cor 12: 12-14, 27-31A

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

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 Body of Christ

I’m blessed to live with a Bishop Emeritus Carlos A. Sevilla, SJ. I told him this week that I would soon meet with benefactors in Southern California who support the works of our Jesuits West Province. I admitted my confusion about how to defend or explain the state of our Church. What mending words could I offer others out of my own upset and shame?

He said: “The Church is in one of the most challenging storms in its history. Assure those with whom you visit that Jesus is with us in the storm. I’m certain that the changes that must be made will make us a better Church and seen more clearly to be The Body of Christ.”

How this gentle man’s reassurance— along with that image— comforted me when I prayed with today’s readings. The Church has weathered storms from its start. St. Paul encountered them throughout his ministry: in Rome, Galatia, Philippi, Colossae, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and in Corinth, where today he gives the Corinthians the precise image that Bishop Sevilla shared with me: the Body of Christ. If any part of it suffers, the entire body feels it.

The Body of our Church suffers today. Pray with me that Jesus walks with us in the storm!

—Joe Kraemer, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province currently starting his second year of Regency in the Advancement Office in Los Gatos, California.

Prayer

O thou, who at thy Eucharist didst pray
That all thy church might be for ever one,
Grant us at every Eucharist to say
With longing heart and soul, ‘Thy will be done’:
O may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.

For all thy church, O Lord, we intercede;
Make thou our sad divisions soon to cease;
Draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
By drawing all to thee, O Prince of Peace:
Thus may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest sacrament of unity.

—Excerpt from, “Thou, Who at Thy First Eucharist Didst Pray,” by W.H. Turton (1881)

 

 


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September 17, 2018

St. Robert Bellarmine, SJ, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Lk 7:1-10

After Jesus had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave whom he valued highly, and who was ill and close to death. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, asking him to come and heal his slave. When they came to Jesus, they appealed to him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy of having you do this for him, for he loves our people, and it is he who built our synagogue for us.”

And Jesus went with them, but when he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to say to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.”

When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

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.

A reminder of where to place our faith

Because I am a teacher, I often find myself stressed about money. I think this feeling arises from time to time for most teachers, even the best investors among them. I remember venting this stress to my father-in-law right before I got married six years ago. I have always had a close relationship with him, so this conversation was not really out of left field. I remember how he laughed at me in response. He said of my wife and me, “You’re young, you’re poor, and you’re in love. There’s never been a better time to get married.” He had faith in me, faith that was slipping from my grasp because of my focus on my own material wealth. I mean, I was about to be married! Reading the story of the centurion provides me with a powerful reminder of what actually constitutes a strong investment.

Where might your faith be waning?  How can you place your trust in God?

—Austin Freeman is an English teacher and the Test Prep Coordinator for Jesuit High School in Tampa, FL.

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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September 16, 2018

Mk 8:27-35

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.

Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save 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.

Boldly proclaiming our faith

I teach theology at a Jesuit high school in Denver, Colorado, and the other day, while discussing the role of the Church in our lives, I asked my students “Who gave us the Sacraments – these wonderful tools to help us on our path to salvation?”. One student timidly raised her hand in the back of the room and whispered tentatively, “Jesus?”. I was hoping for a more brave, brazen approach, much like Peter’s in today’s Gospel reading! “You are the Christ!” Peter offers such a clear understanding of who Jesus was (and is) – our Savior – the Anointed One.

Why be timid? Perhaps we’re afraid of being wrong. What if we bravely proclaim Jesus’ saving power and somehow we’ve missed the mark? What if our faith is off base and our belief is misguided? If we wish to come after Christ, we have to take up his cross and follow. No doubt our eternal salvation is worth some possible humiliation here on earth.

—Marcus Fryer, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits USA Central and Southern Province and is the Pastoral Director at Arrupe Jesuit High School in Denver.

Prayer

Today, let us not forget the words of St. Faustina – “Jesus I trust in you!”

—Marcus Fryer, SJ

 


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September 15, 2018

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

John 19:25-27

And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

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.

Mary, a model for our suffering

My four year old asked me yesterday whether Mary could “make things and do miracles.” I told her that Mary was an amazing and holy woman, but she was human and not God, and only God can work miracles.  She accepted my answer and moved on to a different question, but our short conversation stuck with me. Mary, the woman who we honor and serves as a model of faithfulness, did everything that she did with no more extraordinary power than you and me.

Today’s feast gives particular focus to Mary’s sorrow as she stands at the foot of the cross watching her son be crucified, something no one should have to experience.  I can’t begin to imagine the agony she felt in those moments. Despite all that she suffered, her faith in God did not falter. How is Mary a model for how to live your life?  How can she offer comfort in the sorrows of your life?

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, his sorrow sharing,
All his bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blessed
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs,
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying, glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
‘Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that mother’s pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of his own nation
Saw him hang in desolation
Till his spirit forth he sent.

O sweet Mother! font of love,
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with yours accord.

Make me feel as you have felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ, my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through,
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with you his pain,
Who for all our sins was slain,
Who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with you,
Mourning him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the cross with you to stay,
There with you to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of you to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share your grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of yours.

Wounded with his every wound,
Steep my soul till it has swooned
In his very Blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In his awful judgment day.

Christ, when you shall call me hence,
Be your Mother my defense,
Be your cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally.

Amen. (Alleluia)

—Stabat Mater, traditional prayer sequence recited at Mass today

 


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September 14, 2018

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Phil 2:6-11

Though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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.

Using our power to serve others

Talk about Ignatian indifference! Jesus did not see his equality with God as something to be exploited. He surrendered it freely so that we, too, could share intimacy with the divine. Jesus modeled what power truly is: service to those in need. How counter to the models of leadership we’ve seen in our nation, in our world and in our own Church, where power has too often been used to dictate and abuse rather than to minister and lead. We may not have the same form of institutional power that a politician or a clergy member has. But we all have spheres of influence, from our families to our workplaces. Today’s second reading reminds us that true power invites us into the experience of others. Jesus took on our humanity. He ate with sinners, ministered with women, befriended the poor and the outcast. He emptied himself… How will you use your power today?

—Sarah Otto is a Retreat and Program Director at Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta, GA.

Prayer

God of surrender, help me to let go of any unhealthy attachment to power. Help me to listen to the needs of those around me, so that I may better love and serve those you have entrusted to my care.

—Sarah Otto

 

 

 

 


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September 13, 2018

St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Lk 6:27-38

“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.“

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

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.

Bold in forgiveness

This prayer was found in Ravensbrück concentration camp next to the body of a dead child:

“O Lord, remember not only men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they inflicted on us. Remember the fruits we have born thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgment let all the fruits that we have born be their forgiveness.”

What a startling challenge to every first reaction I might have to those who wrong me. What a wild and worthy clash this prayer is to my need to assert my rights, my importance. When Jesus asks me to pray for those who persecute me, could he possibly mean even this?

Jesus, make me brave, bold, and effective in forgiveness.

—Liz Kelly is the author of the award-winning Jesus Approaches published by Loyola Press and trained as a director in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Prayer

Lord Christ, help us to see what it is
that joins us together, not what separates us.
For when we see only what it is that makes us different,
we too often become aware of what is wrong with others.
We see only their faults and weaknesses,
interpreting their actions as flowing from
malice and hatred rather than fear.
Even when confronted with evil, Lord,
you forgave and sacrificed yourself
rather than sought revenge.
Teach us to do the same by the power of your Spirit.

—William Breault, SJ

 


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September 12, 2018

Lk 6: 20-26

Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. “Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep. “Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

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.

Creating a piece of heaven for someone

The Gospel today can be paralleled with Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. Except here, instead of concentrating on the spiritual trials, Luke is plainly defining the real, tangible woes of the poor. He mentions hunger, weeping, hatred, exclusion, defamation. It does not take long to search the news today and find mention of these same things building walls between people. Luke is inviting us today to wipe away tears, lessen the pains of hunger, speak out against hatred, work toward inclusion and build bridges of respect. Blessed are those who tangibly seek to change the world.

Where today can you work to create a piece of heaven here on earth for another person? Where today can you wipe away tears and celebrate the dignity of another?

—Gretchen Crowder is the Director of Campus Ministry at Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Dallas.

Prayer

Lord,
Help me to see Your face in those I serve,
Your eyes through their eyes,
Your love through their actions.
Help them to see Your face in mine,
Your eyes through my eyes,
Your love through my actions.
Amen

—Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas Senior Service Prayer

 

 

 


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