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June 30, 2019

Lk 9:51-62

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 

When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 

But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom 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.

On a lonely path

Have you ever felt alone on your path?

Jesus surely felt this way often. While he had gathered a group of friends around himself, and they seem to have spent a great deal of time together, they still struggled to understand who he truly was. They were often distracted by their own desires, not inspired by his.

Jesus “set his face” to follow the will of God and go to Jerusalem. He was “resolutely determined” (NAB translation). Jesus knew his destiny, yet he obeyed the will of the Father.

A favorite statue of St. Ignatius depicts him leaning into a strong headwind. He was resolute to go wherever Jesus called him to go, even in times of struggle.

The headwinds of our lives often evoke responses like those of the followers of Jesus. We say we want to do what Jesus did, but that may lead us down a lonely path.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, is completing his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, may our hearts be filled with gratitude that you have set your face to do the will of the Father: to love us, even when we fail to truly understand your will. Help us be resolute in following you wherever you lead and, in so doing, love others as you do.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


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June 29, 2019

Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles

Mt 16: 13-19

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

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

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

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

How do you answer Jesus’ question?

When in a crowd, we are less likely to feel accountable.  Surrounded by people, it feels easy to hide. This is true of any group, and the Church is no exception.

If we listen, Jesus’ questions today cut through this paralysis.

“Who you people say that I am?…”

“Who do you say that I am?…”

Imagine the Lord asking you these questions. Does your heartbeat not quicken at the second one?

This tension we now feel can help us focus on the remarkableness of Peter’s answer, that God became human for us.  Let’s pray today for the remarkableness of this answer to sharpen our curiosity to know Christ more fully. Curiosity in this arena leads to an inexhaustible adventure.

Have you been putting off a habit of daily prayer? Perhaps the 19th Annotation retreat of the Spiritual Exercises? Wait no longer!

Paul Mitchell is a Jesuit educator who has stepped out of the classroom into full-time care of his two young sons. He is the author of Audacious Ignatius.

Prayer

Lord God, you see me as an individual, you love me in the midst of a crowd. Help me to grow in my desire to be close to you, so that I can answer for myself who I say that you are. May I grow ever deeper in my relationship with you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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June 28, 2019

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Rom 5: 5B-11

And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

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.

Assurance

Upon first reading this passage I was struck by how logical Paul’s train of thought is; if it takes great courage to die for a good person then how much more generous to die for a sinner. If God was willing to die for a sinner, how much more must he care for us now that our sins have been removed? Paul, the good student of Jewish law, has become an excellent Christian theologian.

Upon further reflection, however, I wonder if this isn’t much more personal for Paul. He was, after all, the “good” Jew who was not a very good person, the persecutor of Christians. Perhaps this passage is Paul realizing that Christ loves him despite his own sinful past.

Then I wonder how I might live this day if I too was unshakably rooted in the assurance that God loves me infinitely and unconditionally?

—Jerry Skoch is a Spiritual Director and Vice President & Chief Mission Officer at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

To the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I give myself and consecrate to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, my person and my life, my actions, pains and sufferings, so that I may be unwilling to make use of any part of my being other than to honor, love and glorify the Sacred Heart. This is my unchanging purpose, namely, to be all His, and to do all things for the love of Him.

—Excerpt of the Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque


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June 27, 2019

Mt 7: 21-29

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

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.

Putting words into practice

Jesus explains to his disciples the difference between speaking of God and doing the will of God. More importantly though, Jesus emphasizes that it is not enough to simply speak; one must practice what they preach. The man who builds his house on a rock is both listening to the words and acting on them. In God, we can find strength, stability, and security during storms, whether meteorological or not.

Are there times when you could have built on rock but instead opted for sand? How can you go out into the world this week while both proclaiming and practicing the Good News?

—Mikayla Lofton is the Grants Program Manager for the Cristo Rey Network and was a Jesuit Volunteer in Atlanta (‘15-’16).

Prayer

Love consists in sharing what one has and what one is with those one loves. Love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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June 26, 2019

Gen 15: 1-12, 17-18

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.”

He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”

He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, to the river Euphrates.

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 gifts of today

“Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield.”

I love how today’s reading begins: “Do not be afraid!”  We hear these words again and again in Scripture. When the future is questionable, be not afraid.

While Abram’s faith in God is strong, his patience with God’s timing is growing thin.  My waning patience with God’s timing takes a hit every time I turn on a newscast. Sometimes I shout at God.  For me, like Abram, anxiety about tomorrow overshadows the gifts of today.

As a high school educator, I spend my days looking into a future not my own.  In a very real sense, the students I see every day are tomorrow’s heirs – as numerous as the stars.  This passage reminds me that God’s covenant is not only hope for tomorrow, but also a promise that changes the way I appreciate today.  Be not be afraid.

Jen LaMaster is an Assistant Principal at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN.

Prayer

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ


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June 25, 2019

Mt 7: 6, 12-14

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

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

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

An understanding heart for others

It’s easy to hear Jesus’ commands today—two of which are tough—and to focus on the middle one, the familiar Golden Rule. I think, though, that I often mistake the simplicity of the Golden Rule for easiness. I think of traffic: I only accidentally cut people off, but others who cut me off must be selfish jerks.

St. Ignatius knew this temptation in the Golden Rule and in interpreting actions. He noticed that we tend to desire mercy for our mistakes, but justice on those of others. His advice was to reverse this and to hold ourselves to the demands of justice for our actions while praying for a softer heart and mercy for others.

As I reflect on the Golden Rule, what kind of heart do I bring to understanding others’ actions? Do I show the same mercy to others that I often desire in my own struggles?

Nick Courtney, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the USA Central and Southern Province currently working at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, TX, where he teaches history and coaches football.

Prayer

Lord, help me to reach for understanding and forgiveness for others rather than condemnation. Open my eyes to see your face even in those who hurt me. Give me a heart of patient love for others, just like the heart you have for me. Amen

—Nick Courtney, SJ


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June 24, 2019

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Lk 1: 57-66, 80

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

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

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

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

Prepare the Way

The story is well-known: as Inigo de Loyola (St. Ignatius) convalesced in his family’s castle after the cannonball injury, he asked Magdalena, his sister-in-law, to bring reading material – preferably tales of daring warriors serving gorgeous ladies – to pass the time.  Magdalena, who likely had access to many texts given her family’s status as minor nobility, brought him only The Life of Christ and The Life of the Saints.  The rest is history.

Magdalena looked upon Inigo with love, (deliberately?) delivered the “wrong” books, and prepared the way for his conversion.  John the Baptist, looked upon the people of his time with love, barked a message of repentance, and prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry.  In both cases, neither strived to win a popularity contest. Through prayer, they were able to deliver truly what was needed. In this era of instant gratification, how, where, or for whom might we be called to do the same?

Bill Kriege serves as the director of campus ministry at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.

Prayer

Teach Me Your Ways

Teach me your way of looking at people:
as you glanced at Peter after his denial,
as you penetrated the heart of the rich young man
and the hearts of your disciples.

I would like to meet you as you really are,
since your image changes those with whom you
come into contact.

Remember John the Baptist’s first meeting with you?
And the centurion’s feeling of unworthiness?
And the amazement of all those who saw miracles
and other wonders?

How you impressed your disciples,
the rabble in the Garden of Olives,
Pilate and his wife
and the centurion at the foot of the cross. . . .

I would like to hear and be impressed
by your manner of speaking,
listening, for example, to your discourse in the
synagogue in Capharnaum
or the Sermon on the Mount where your audience
felt you “taught as one who has authority.”

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ


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June 23, 2019

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Lk 9: 11b-17

When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.’

But he said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ They did so and made them all sit down.

And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

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.

We are welcomed and fed

“Jesus welcomed them…” (LK 9:11a)

When I see a scripture notation such as Lk 9:11b-17, I wonder why verse 11a was omitted when it offers an important insight: Jesus welcomed the people, while the disciples were quick to dismiss them.

On the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we remember that Jesus not only fed the five thousand men (and many uncounted women and children), we celebrate that Jesus gave himself to us as the most blessed sacrament, the Eucharist.

Jesus welcomed the people to hear his word and worried about their well-being when the disciples wanted to dismiss the people to fend for themselves.

Christ welcomes us to share in the Eucharist because our Savior worries that we, his body, may find ourselves easily dismissed to fend for ourselves.

Thank you for welcoming us and feeding us, Lord.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, is completing his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know that we are hungry in both body and spirit. Create in us our hunger for you, for your body and blood, for your salvation. Only you can satisfy our hunger. In your most holy name we pray: Fill us with your love.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


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June 22, 2019

Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher

Mt 6: 24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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.

Trusting God as our master

At our school we have a program where we feed and interact with those in some of the poorest areas of Toledo every Monday. A prayer we recite many times is “Poor in the eyes of men and women, rich in the eyes of God, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, pray for us.”  St. Benedict Joseph Labre is the patron saint of the homeless. To be rich means something very different in our Lord’s eyes than in society’s eyes.

The translation of today’s Gospel that we hear at Mass begins “No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon in Biblical times meant wealth as an evil influence, a false object of worship.  In medieval times, mammon was the name of the devil. St. Ignatius wrote of the wiles of the devil which he called “the enemy of our human nature.” The “enemy” leads in subtle ways: first riches, then honors, finally pride, that deep personal satisfaction derived from one’s achievements.  Once pride sets in, the “enemy” has separated us from the Lord.

We are rich if we have complete trust in God; poverty is trusting only in one’s self.  In today’s reading Jesus reveals what the world does not see. St. Ignatius says we should “desire and choose poverty with Christ poor, other than the world’s riches, insults rather than worldly honors…being a worthless fool for Christ, rather than be esteemed as wise and prudent in the world.” (Spiritual Exercises, 167)

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

Prayer

Lord, may we take to heart the words of St. Paul, “Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).  Help us to choose that which leads us closer to a richness of life with you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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June 21, 2019

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ

Mt 6: 19-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

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.

Concerning Treasures

The text of this Gospel fascinates me. The images are stark (“the eye is the lamp of the body”). The rhythm of the passage is gently musical; each sentence is a tidy parallelism. The effect is soothing, almost like a chant.

But the imperatives of each parallel! Am I up for this challenge?

Less eloquently put—stop accumulating stuff; start cultivating yourself for eternal life.

These two passages in tandem are a chance to question how my vision may be clouded by the things I surround myself with, to consider whether my consumption brings me closer to or further from God.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

Prayer

A Consumer’s Examen

What did I purchase this week?
What motivated these buys? A need? An impulse to surround myself with comfortable goods?

Did they make me more capable of being available to others and to God?
How can I consume more effectively with God tomorrow?
May I remember the simple need for daily bread.

—Claire Peterson


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Welcome to Pray.ignatius.org

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

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June 30, 2019

Lk 9:51-62

When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 

When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 

But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom 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.

On a lonely path

Have you ever felt alone on your path?

Jesus surely felt this way often. While he had gathered a group of friends around himself, and they seem to have spent a great deal of time together, they still struggled to understand who he truly was. They were often distracted by their own desires, not inspired by his.

Jesus “set his face” to follow the will of God and go to Jerusalem. He was “resolutely determined” (NAB translation). Jesus knew his destiny, yet he obeyed the will of the Father.

A favorite statue of St. Ignatius depicts him leaning into a strong headwind. He was resolute to go wherever Jesus called him to go, even in times of struggle.

The headwinds of our lives often evoke responses like those of the followers of Jesus. We say we want to do what Jesus did, but that may lead us down a lonely path.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, is completing his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, may our hearts be filled with gratitude that you have set your face to do the will of the Father: to love us, even when we fail to truly understand your will. Help us be resolute in following you wherever you lead and, in so doing, love others as you do.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

June 29, 2019

Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles

Mt 16: 13-19

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

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

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

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

How do you answer Jesus’ question?

When in a crowd, we are less likely to feel accountable.  Surrounded by people, it feels easy to hide. This is true of any group, and the Church is no exception.

If we listen, Jesus’ questions today cut through this paralysis.

“Who you people say that I am?…”

“Who do you say that I am?…”

Imagine the Lord asking you these questions. Does your heartbeat not quicken at the second one?

This tension we now feel can help us focus on the remarkableness of Peter’s answer, that God became human for us.  Let’s pray today for the remarkableness of this answer to sharpen our curiosity to know Christ more fully. Curiosity in this arena leads to an inexhaustible adventure.

Have you been putting off a habit of daily prayer? Perhaps the 19th Annotation retreat of the Spiritual Exercises? Wait no longer!

Paul Mitchell is a Jesuit educator who has stepped out of the classroom into full-time care of his two young sons. He is the author of Audacious Ignatius.

Prayer

Lord God, you see me as an individual, you love me in the midst of a crowd. Help me to grow in my desire to be close to you, so that I can answer for myself who I say that you are. May I grow ever deeper in my relationship with you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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June 28, 2019

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Rom 5: 5B-11

And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.

Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

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.

Assurance

Upon first reading this passage I was struck by how logical Paul’s train of thought is; if it takes great courage to die for a good person then how much more generous to die for a sinner. If God was willing to die for a sinner, how much more must he care for us now that our sins have been removed? Paul, the good student of Jewish law, has become an excellent Christian theologian.

Upon further reflection, however, I wonder if this isn’t much more personal for Paul. He was, after all, the “good” Jew who was not a very good person, the persecutor of Christians. Perhaps this passage is Paul realizing that Christ loves him despite his own sinful past.

Then I wonder how I might live this day if I too was unshakably rooted in the assurance that God loves me infinitely and unconditionally?

—Jerry Skoch is a Spiritual Director and Vice President & Chief Mission Officer at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

To the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I give myself and consecrate to the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ, my person and my life, my actions, pains and sufferings, so that I may be unwilling to make use of any part of my being other than to honor, love and glorify the Sacred Heart. This is my unchanging purpose, namely, to be all His, and to do all things for the love of Him.

—Excerpt of the Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque


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June 27, 2019

Mt 7: 21-29

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”

Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

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.

Putting words into practice

Jesus explains to his disciples the difference between speaking of God and doing the will of God. More importantly though, Jesus emphasizes that it is not enough to simply speak; one must practice what they preach. The man who builds his house on a rock is both listening to the words and acting on them. In God, we can find strength, stability, and security during storms, whether meteorological or not.

Are there times when you could have built on rock but instead opted for sand? How can you go out into the world this week while both proclaiming and practicing the Good News?

—Mikayla Lofton is the Grants Program Manager for the Cristo Rey Network and was a Jesuit Volunteer in Atlanta (‘15-’16).

Prayer

Love consists in sharing what one has and what one is with those one loves. Love ought to show itself in deeds more than in words.

—St. Ignatius of Loyola


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June 26, 2019

Gen 15: 1-12, 17-18

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.”

He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”

He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, to the river Euphrates.

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 gifts of today

“Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield.”

I love how today’s reading begins: “Do not be afraid!”  We hear these words again and again in Scripture. When the future is questionable, be not afraid.

While Abram’s faith in God is strong, his patience with God’s timing is growing thin.  My waning patience with God’s timing takes a hit every time I turn on a newscast. Sometimes I shout at God.  For me, like Abram, anxiety about tomorrow overshadows the gifts of today.

As a high school educator, I spend my days looking into a future not my own.  In a very real sense, the students I see every day are tomorrow’s heirs – as numerous as the stars.  This passage reminds me that God’s covenant is not only hope for tomorrow, but also a promise that changes the way I appreciate today.  Be not be afraid.

Jen LaMaster is an Assistant Principal at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN.

Prayer

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ


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June 25, 2019

Mt 7: 6, 12-14

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

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

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

An understanding heart for others

It’s easy to hear Jesus’ commands today—two of which are tough—and to focus on the middle one, the familiar Golden Rule. I think, though, that I often mistake the simplicity of the Golden Rule for easiness. I think of traffic: I only accidentally cut people off, but others who cut me off must be selfish jerks.

St. Ignatius knew this temptation in the Golden Rule and in interpreting actions. He noticed that we tend to desire mercy for our mistakes, but justice on those of others. His advice was to reverse this and to hold ourselves to the demands of justice for our actions while praying for a softer heart and mercy for others.

As I reflect on the Golden Rule, what kind of heart do I bring to understanding others’ actions? Do I show the same mercy to others that I often desire in my own struggles?

Nick Courtney, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the USA Central and Southern Province currently working at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, TX, where he teaches history and coaches football.

Prayer

Lord, help me to reach for understanding and forgiveness for others rather than condemnation. Open my eyes to see your face even in those who hurt me. Give me a heart of patient love for others, just like the heart you have for me. Amen

—Nick Courtney, SJ


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June 24, 2019

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Lk 1: 57-66, 80

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

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

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

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

Prepare the Way

The story is well-known: as Inigo de Loyola (St. Ignatius) convalesced in his family’s castle after the cannonball injury, he asked Magdalena, his sister-in-law, to bring reading material – preferably tales of daring warriors serving gorgeous ladies – to pass the time.  Magdalena, who likely had access to many texts given her family’s status as minor nobility, brought him only The Life of Christ and The Life of the Saints.  The rest is history.

Magdalena looked upon Inigo with love, (deliberately?) delivered the “wrong” books, and prepared the way for his conversion.  John the Baptist, looked upon the people of his time with love, barked a message of repentance, and prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry.  In both cases, neither strived to win a popularity contest. Through prayer, they were able to deliver truly what was needed. In this era of instant gratification, how, where, or for whom might we be called to do the same?

Bill Kriege serves as the director of campus ministry at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.

Prayer

Teach Me Your Ways

Teach me your way of looking at people:
as you glanced at Peter after his denial,
as you penetrated the heart of the rich young man
and the hearts of your disciples.

I would like to meet you as you really are,
since your image changes those with whom you
come into contact.

Remember John the Baptist’s first meeting with you?
And the centurion’s feeling of unworthiness?
And the amazement of all those who saw miracles
and other wonders?

How you impressed your disciples,
the rabble in the Garden of Olives,
Pilate and his wife
and the centurion at the foot of the cross. . . .

I would like to hear and be impressed
by your manner of speaking,
listening, for example, to your discourse in the
synagogue in Capharnaum
or the Sermon on the Mount where your audience
felt you “taught as one who has authority.”

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ


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June 23, 2019

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Lk 9: 11b-17

When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.’

But he said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ They did so and made them all sit down.

And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

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.

We are welcomed and fed

“Jesus welcomed them…” (LK 9:11a)

When I see a scripture notation such as Lk 9:11b-17, I wonder why verse 11a was omitted when it offers an important insight: Jesus welcomed the people, while the disciples were quick to dismiss them.

On the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we remember that Jesus not only fed the five thousand men (and many uncounted women and children), we celebrate that Jesus gave himself to us as the most blessed sacrament, the Eucharist.

Jesus welcomed the people to hear his word and worried about their well-being when the disciples wanted to dismiss the people to fend for themselves.

Christ welcomes us to share in the Eucharist because our Savior worries that we, his body, may find ourselves easily dismissed to fend for ourselves.

Thank you for welcoming us and feeding us, Lord.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, is completing his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know that we are hungry in both body and spirit. Create in us our hunger for you, for your body and blood, for your salvation. Only you can satisfy our hunger. In your most holy name we pray: Fill us with your love.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


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June 22, 2019

Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher

Mt 6: 24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

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.

Trusting God as our master

At our school we have a program where we feed and interact with those in some of the poorest areas of Toledo every Monday. A prayer we recite many times is “Poor in the eyes of men and women, rich in the eyes of God, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, pray for us.”  St. Benedict Joseph Labre is the patron saint of the homeless. To be rich means something very different in our Lord’s eyes than in society’s eyes.

The translation of today’s Gospel that we hear at Mass begins “No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon in Biblical times meant wealth as an evil influence, a false object of worship.  In medieval times, mammon was the name of the devil. St. Ignatius wrote of the wiles of the devil which he called “the enemy of our human nature.” The “enemy” leads in subtle ways: first riches, then honors, finally pride, that deep personal satisfaction derived from one’s achievements.  Once pride sets in, the “enemy” has separated us from the Lord.

We are rich if we have complete trust in God; poverty is trusting only in one’s self.  In today’s reading Jesus reveals what the world does not see. St. Ignatius says we should “desire and choose poverty with Christ poor, other than the world’s riches, insults rather than worldly honors…being a worthless fool for Christ, rather than be esteemed as wise and prudent in the world.” (Spiritual Exercises, 167)

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

Prayer

Lord, may we take to heart the words of St. Paul, “Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).  Help us to choose that which leads us closer to a richness of life with you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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June 21, 2019

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ

Mt 6: 19-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

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.

Concerning Treasures

The text of this Gospel fascinates me. The images are stark (“the eye is the lamp of the body”). The rhythm of the passage is gently musical; each sentence is a tidy parallelism. The effect is soothing, almost like a chant.

But the imperatives of each parallel! Am I up for this challenge?

Less eloquently put—stop accumulating stuff; start cultivating yourself for eternal life.

These two passages in tandem are a chance to question how my vision may be clouded by the things I surround myself with, to consider whether my consumption brings me closer to or further from God.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

Prayer

A Consumer’s Examen

What did I purchase this week?
What motivated these buys? A need? An impulse to surround myself with comfortable goods?

Did they make me more capable of being available to others and to God?
How can I consume more effectively with God tomorrow?
May I remember the simple need for daily bread.

—Claire Peterson


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