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October 31, 2019

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ

Rom 8: 31B-39

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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.

Christ’s presence in the midst of obstacles

Paul comforts us in the face of suffering: Christ’s suffering in his supreme act of love on the Cross has negated the power of every obstacle to God. We cannot be separated from his love, even if we suffer, fail, or do not see it. St. Augustine echoes this in Confessions: “You were with me, but I was not with You.” 

Sometimes, obstacles cause us to stumble and forget God’s presence, whether from ourselves (internal obstacles) or from circumstances beyond our control (external obstacles). Even in the face of these difficulties, God’s love remains with us and gives us strength. “Neither death, nor life…nor things present, nor things to come, … nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What obstacles are you facing today? Can you find Christ closer to you today in those struggles?

Beau Guedry is a former Alum Service Corps volunteer who now teaches science and coordinates liturgy at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston. 

Prayer

Jesus, you are my true friend, my only friend. You take a part in all my misfortunes; You take them on yourself; You know how to change them into blessings.

—Excerpt from “True Friend” by St. Claude La Colombière, SJ


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October 30, 2019

Lk 13: 22-30

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 

Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. 

Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

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.

Responding to God

As a kid in Catholic grade school, I remember hearing this “first shall be last” passage in class.  For the rest of the day, classmates would fight for the last place in our single-file line, responding to Jesus’ words quite literally. 

Now praying with this Scripture as an adult, and in the context of the whole passage, it doesn’t seem so simple.  In fact, the weeping and gnashing of teeth even induce a little anxiety – enough to lead me to evaluate how I’m living my life. 

Today’s Gospel shakes away complacency, turns logic upside-down, and invites us into something deeper.  Jesus calls us to stay alert and active in our prayer life and in our service to God and others, in order to strive for eternal life with God in Heaven. 

How can we receive today’s Gospel with childlike simplicity, allowing for a deeper response to our life in God?  Does our life praise, honor and serve God?

—Amy Ketner is the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministry at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

Dear God, the goal of our life is to live with You forever.

You, who love us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows Your life to flow into us without limit….everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in You.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to You deepening Your life in me. Amen.

—St. Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation, prayer adaptation by Amy Ketner


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October 29, 2019

Lk 13: 18-21

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

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.

Christ brings us gradual growth

One thing this parable teaches us is that Christ, as King and Lord, is the one who brings the growth of the Kingdom within our hearts. Christ brings about the gradual growth of the Kingdom within our hearts as we seek to know his will and carry it out. Moreover, he brings about this growth in a hidden manner. This hidden growth is illustrated in the parable of the mustard seed. The tree starts out as a tiny mustard seed and becomes a great tree. We don’t see the gradual steps of the growth, but eventually we may realize that there is a noticeable change in size. Christ brings about this hidden growth within us in a special way through prayer and the sacramental life of the Church. This growth is especially brought about within us when we bear our hearts to Christ in the sacrament of Confession and at the Mass.

Alex Coffey, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Grace of Communion (a prayer to be used at Mass)

Thou come to me at holy Mass. Let me at Holy Communion approach Thee with awe and love in whom resides all perfection and from whom I am allowed to gain it. Let me come to the Sanctifier to be sanctified. Let me come to Thee to learn my duty and to receive grace to do it. At other times of the day I am reminded of watching, toiling, struggling, and suffering; but, at this moment I am reminded of Thy gifts towards me a sinner.

I am reminded that I can do nothing, and that Thou do everything. This is especially the moment of grace. I come to see and experience Thy mercies. I come before Thee as the helpless beings during Thy ministry, who were brought on beds and couches for a cure. I come to be made whole.

May each Holy Communion, as it comes, find me more and more like Thee (who at these times becomes a little child for my sake)—more simple-minded, more humble, more holy, more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of Thee. Amen.

—St. John Henry Newman


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October 28, 2019

Sts. Simon and Jude

Lk 6: 12-16

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

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.

Accept the challenge to live extraordinarily

We take a break from the 30th week of Ordinary Time to celebrate the feast of two apostles, Sts. Simon and Jude.  Their feast is joined today because their names are together in St. Luke’s gospel. The invitation is for us to remember that Jesus called his twelve Apostles after a period of prayer.  What things do you do that would require your prayer beforehand?

In the Gospels, we are told some things about some of the Apostles. We are not told anything regarding the lives of these two.  These apostles are called to remind us that they are ordinary people living ordinary lives. Jesus calls them to live ordinary lives in extraordinary ways.  Would Jesus have called you to live extraordinarily? What might that mean to you as a follower of Jesus?

Will you accept today’s challenge to live life in extraordinary ways?  May you be blessed.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ, is director of Adult Spirituality Programs at Creighton Preparatory School, Omaha, NE.

Prayer

O God, who by the blessed Apostles have brought us to acknowledge your name, graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer from today’s Mass


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October 27, 2019

Lk 18: 9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 

I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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.

All set?

Today’s Gospel acclamation proclaims that God is busy reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor 5:19). Indeed. Though there’s only so much God can do to draw us closer to himself. In every divine invitation to reconcile, the ball is put in our court and we are faced with a decision of how to respond. Reconciliation only works if both parties show up with soft, humble hearts and an openness to move forward. This is why the sinner is ultimately deemed righteous, for he admits his need, and in humility, opens himself to movement, to transformation. Compare this with the self-identified righteous man who stands before God with no need of anything. He is self-sufficient, as if saying to God “Look, I’m all set.” There is no movement because apparently none is needed.

Do you know of people who present themselves without need, who are immovable, and “all set”? Are you like this?

——Christopher Alt, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Jesuits. He writes for The Jesuit Post and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

—The Jesus Prayer


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October 26, 2019

Rom 8: 1-11

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. F

or those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

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

Flesh versus Spirit

In translation of this reading that we hear at Mass, Paul writes: “The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.”  We have the opportunity, throughout our days, to recognize the power of the spirit that exists not only within ourselves, but within others.  It is this spirit that allows us to celebrate the gift of each day, and to celebrate the peace that such a gift brings. For if our concern is truly death, how does the beauty of life manifest and how is it recognized?  May we be open to the concerns of the spirit, and to life and peace each day.

Bernadette Gillick is a Marquette University alumna, and a former Clinical Instructor for Creighton University’s Institute for Latin American Concern.  Her ministry continues as a clinical researcher discovering treatments for stroke during infancy.

Prayer

Dear Lord, may I live by the concern of the spirit, and be wise to the life and peace that surrounds me. Amen

—Bernadette Gillick


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October 25, 2019

The Martyrs of England and Wales

Rom 7:18-25a

For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 

For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

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.

Do we have courage?

On October 25th in the year 285, St. Crispin preached Christianity to the Gauls, attracting the ire of the governor, and was beheaded during the reign of Diocletian.  The date is also the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, Catholics executed for accused treason during the English Reformation.  Many were sentenced to death at show trials with no due process.  St Crispin’s Day today may be best remembered owing to William Shakespeare’s 1599 play.  On the eve of the battle of Agincourt (1415), Henry V urges his men – “From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be rememberèd— We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother… And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”  

As we reflect on these martyrs who gave their lives for their faith in Christ, where is my own mortal courage, as Paul asks?

Fred O’Connor is an alumnus of Loyola Academy and College of the Holy Cross and is a member of the JFAN Advisory Board in Chicago.  He works as a financial advisor living in Evanston, IL.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we draw strength from our ancestors in faith who have gone before us and we ask you to give us the courage to stand up for our belief in you.  May we never be afraid to show our love for you, no matter the situation. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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October 24, 2019

Rom 6: 19-23

I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? 

The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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 can we respond to God’s will for us?

Today’s reading reminds us of the great gift God offers us in Christ: eternal happiness and closeness with him. Paul tells us that those vices we think make us “free” only harm us; our God-given freedom is not for us to use for whatever purpose we see fit; it is for us to use for good! Further, the Church helps us to understand how God’s commands that we become “slaves to righteousness for sanctification” are precisely the things that will make us truly happy! We are miserable when we go our own way; the well-worn path of virtue Christ laid out is the best way to true joy—not always comfort, but joy. Thus it benefits us to seek out God’s will in our daily lives to find the joy he desires for us. 

How are you asking God about his will today? What does he show you in response?

Beau Guedry is a former Alum Service Corps volunteer who now teaches science and coordinates liturgy at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston. 

Prayer

May it please the supreme and divine Goodness, to give us all abundant grace, ever to know his most holy will, and perfectly to fulfill it. 

—St. Ignatius of Loyola, added to the end of many letters that he wrote


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October 23, 2019

Lk 12: 39-48

‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’ And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming”, and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. 

That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded

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.

Paying attention to the magis

Have you ever missed your exit or bus stop on a daily commute because you zoned out? The combination of the routine’s familiarity and the busy day clouding your head can make it easy to do.

So too can habit, busyness, stress, or boredom affect our collaboration with Jesus in our daily life.

We enter the routine: start the day in prayer, be kind to strangers we encounter, have patience with our coworkers and family, attend Mass on Sundays, donate to a charity we support, and so on.

But are we really awake?  Are we attentive to the new and creative ways Jesus might be asking us to collaborate with him?  Are we using our time, gifts, energy, talents and voice to care for our master’s possessions, that is to say God’s world and God’s people?

Are we paying attention to the magis Jesus calls us to today?

—Amy Ketner is the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministry at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

Dear Lord, help me keep my eyes on you…To you I want to give all that I am.  Let me be generous, not stingy or hesitant. Let me give you all – all that I have, think, do, and feel.  It is yours, O Lord. Please accept it and make it fully your own.

—Henri Nouwen


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October 22, 2019

Rom 5:12, 15B, 17-19, 20B-21

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 

If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 

But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification* leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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.

Christ, the New Adam, and Mary, the New Eve

In my room hangs the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. As in most depictions of Mary, she is holding the child Jesus. In this particular image, two angels are depicted above her shoulders. The angel above her left is holding the cross and nails, and the one above her right is holding the spear with which Jesus was pierced and the wine-soaked sponge. Mary’s countenance is sorrowful, giving the impression that it is she who will one day give her son over to the cross. But the life that came from this cross, and that continues to come from it through the life of the Church, especially through the sacramental life, is that very life that Paul speaks of to the Romans. 

As Adam and Eve brought death and sin into the world through their disobedience, Jesus, who takes flesh in the womb of Mary, reverses this by going to the cross. The “yes” of Mary, the new “mother of all the living,” brought about the abundance of grace that gives us life. May she always help us say “yes” to the will of her Son.

Alex Coffey, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Holy Mary, my Queen, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son.

Amen.

—Adaptation of the Prayer of St. Aloysius to the Blessed Mother


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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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October 31, 2019

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ

Rom 8: 31B-39

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all day long;
we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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.

Christ’s presence in the midst of obstacles

Paul comforts us in the face of suffering: Christ’s suffering in his supreme act of love on the Cross has negated the power of every obstacle to God. We cannot be separated from his love, even if we suffer, fail, or do not see it. St. Augustine echoes this in Confessions: “You were with me, but I was not with You.” 

Sometimes, obstacles cause us to stumble and forget God’s presence, whether from ourselves (internal obstacles) or from circumstances beyond our control (external obstacles). Even in the face of these difficulties, God’s love remains with us and gives us strength. “Neither death, nor life…nor things present, nor things to come, … nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What obstacles are you facing today? Can you find Christ closer to you today in those struggles?

Beau Guedry is a former Alum Service Corps volunteer who now teaches science and coordinates liturgy at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston. 

Prayer

Jesus, you are my true friend, my only friend. You take a part in all my misfortunes; You take them on yourself; You know how to change them into blessings.

—Excerpt from “True Friend” by St. Claude La Colombière, SJ


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October 30, 2019

Lk 13: 22-30

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 

Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. 

Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God. Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

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.

Responding to God

As a kid in Catholic grade school, I remember hearing this “first shall be last” passage in class.  For the rest of the day, classmates would fight for the last place in our single-file line, responding to Jesus’ words quite literally. 

Now praying with this Scripture as an adult, and in the context of the whole passage, it doesn’t seem so simple.  In fact, the weeping and gnashing of teeth even induce a little anxiety – enough to lead me to evaluate how I’m living my life. 

Today’s Gospel shakes away complacency, turns logic upside-down, and invites us into something deeper.  Jesus calls us to stay alert and active in our prayer life and in our service to God and others, in order to strive for eternal life with God in Heaven. 

How can we receive today’s Gospel with childlike simplicity, allowing for a deeper response to our life in God?  Does our life praise, honor and serve God?

—Amy Ketner is the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministry at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

Dear God, the goal of our life is to live with You forever.

You, who love us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows Your life to flow into us without limit….everything has the potential of calling forth in us a deeper response to our life in You.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to You deepening Your life in me. Amen.

—St. Ignatius’ First Principle and Foundation, prayer adaptation by Amy Ketner


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October 29, 2019

Lk 13: 18-21

He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.” And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

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.

Christ brings us gradual growth

One thing this parable teaches us is that Christ, as King and Lord, is the one who brings the growth of the Kingdom within our hearts. Christ brings about the gradual growth of the Kingdom within our hearts as we seek to know his will and carry it out. Moreover, he brings about this growth in a hidden manner. This hidden growth is illustrated in the parable of the mustard seed. The tree starts out as a tiny mustard seed and becomes a great tree. We don’t see the gradual steps of the growth, but eventually we may realize that there is a noticeable change in size. Christ brings about this hidden growth within us in a special way through prayer and the sacramental life of the Church. This growth is especially brought about within us when we bear our hearts to Christ in the sacrament of Confession and at the Mass.

Alex Coffey, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Grace of Communion (a prayer to be used at Mass)

Thou come to me at holy Mass. Let me at Holy Communion approach Thee with awe and love in whom resides all perfection and from whom I am allowed to gain it. Let me come to the Sanctifier to be sanctified. Let me come to Thee to learn my duty and to receive grace to do it. At other times of the day I am reminded of watching, toiling, struggling, and suffering; but, at this moment I am reminded of Thy gifts towards me a sinner.

I am reminded that I can do nothing, and that Thou do everything. This is especially the moment of grace. I come to see and experience Thy mercies. I come before Thee as the helpless beings during Thy ministry, who were brought on beds and couches for a cure. I come to be made whole.

May each Holy Communion, as it comes, find me more and more like Thee (who at these times becomes a little child for my sake)—more simple-minded, more humble, more holy, more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of Thee. Amen.

—St. John Henry Newman


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October 28, 2019

Sts. Simon and Jude

Lk 6: 12-16

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

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.

Accept the challenge to live extraordinarily

We take a break from the 30th week of Ordinary Time to celebrate the feast of two apostles, Sts. Simon and Jude.  Their feast is joined today because their names are together in St. Luke’s gospel. The invitation is for us to remember that Jesus called his twelve Apostles after a period of prayer.  What things do you do that would require your prayer beforehand?

In the Gospels, we are told some things about some of the Apostles. We are not told anything regarding the lives of these two.  These apostles are called to remind us that they are ordinary people living ordinary lives. Jesus calls them to live ordinary lives in extraordinary ways.  Would Jesus have called you to live extraordinarily? What might that mean to you as a follower of Jesus?

Will you accept today’s challenge to live life in extraordinary ways?  May you be blessed.

—Fr. Kevin Schneider, SJ, is director of Adult Spirituality Programs at Creighton Preparatory School, Omaha, NE.

Prayer

O God, who by the blessed Apostles have brought us to acknowledge your name, graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

—Collect prayer from today’s Mass


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October 27, 2019

Lk 18: 9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 

I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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.

All set?

Today’s Gospel acclamation proclaims that God is busy reconciling the world to himself (2 Cor 5:19). Indeed. Though there’s only so much God can do to draw us closer to himself. In every divine invitation to reconcile, the ball is put in our court and we are faced with a decision of how to respond. Reconciliation only works if both parties show up with soft, humble hearts and an openness to move forward. This is why the sinner is ultimately deemed righteous, for he admits his need, and in humility, opens himself to movement, to transformation. Compare this with the self-identified righteous man who stands before God with no need of anything. He is self-sufficient, as if saying to God “Look, I’m all set.” There is no movement because apparently none is needed.

Do you know of people who present themselves without need, who are immovable, and “all set”? Are you like this?

——Christopher Alt, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Jesuits. He writes for The Jesuit Post and is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

—The Jesus Prayer


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October 26, 2019

Rom 8: 1-11

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. F

or those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 

But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

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

Flesh versus Spirit

In translation of this reading that we hear at Mass, Paul writes: “The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.”  We have the opportunity, throughout our days, to recognize the power of the spirit that exists not only within ourselves, but within others.  It is this spirit that allows us to celebrate the gift of each day, and to celebrate the peace that such a gift brings. For if our concern is truly death, how does the beauty of life manifest and how is it recognized?  May we be open to the concerns of the spirit, and to life and peace each day.

Bernadette Gillick is a Marquette University alumna, and a former Clinical Instructor for Creighton University’s Institute for Latin American Concern.  Her ministry continues as a clinical researcher discovering treatments for stroke during infancy.

Prayer

Dear Lord, may I live by the concern of the spirit, and be wise to the life and peace that surrounds me. Amen

—Bernadette Gillick


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October 25, 2019

The Martyrs of England and Wales

Rom 7:18-25a

For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 

For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.

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.

Do we have courage?

On October 25th in the year 285, St. Crispin preached Christianity to the Gauls, attracting the ire of the governor, and was beheaded during the reign of Diocletian.  The date is also the Feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, Catholics executed for accused treason during the English Reformation.  Many were sentenced to death at show trials with no due process.  St Crispin’s Day today may be best remembered owing to William Shakespeare’s 1599 play.  On the eve of the battle of Agincourt (1415), Henry V urges his men – “From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be rememberèd— We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother… And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”  

As we reflect on these martyrs who gave their lives for their faith in Christ, where is my own mortal courage, as Paul asks?

Fred O’Connor is an alumnus of Loyola Academy and College of the Holy Cross and is a member of the JFAN Advisory Board in Chicago.  He works as a financial advisor living in Evanston, IL.

Prayer

Good and gracious God, we draw strength from our ancestors in faith who have gone before us and we ask you to give us the courage to stand up for our belief in you.  May we never be afraid to show our love for you, no matter the situation. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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October 24, 2019

Rom 6: 19-23

I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? 

The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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 can we respond to God’s will for us?

Today’s reading reminds us of the great gift God offers us in Christ: eternal happiness and closeness with him. Paul tells us that those vices we think make us “free” only harm us; our God-given freedom is not for us to use for whatever purpose we see fit; it is for us to use for good! Further, the Church helps us to understand how God’s commands that we become “slaves to righteousness for sanctification” are precisely the things that will make us truly happy! We are miserable when we go our own way; the well-worn path of virtue Christ laid out is the best way to true joy—not always comfort, but joy. Thus it benefits us to seek out God’s will in our daily lives to find the joy he desires for us. 

How are you asking God about his will today? What does he show you in response?

Beau Guedry is a former Alum Service Corps volunteer who now teaches science and coordinates liturgy at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston. 

Prayer

May it please the supreme and divine Goodness, to give us all abundant grace, ever to know his most holy will, and perfectly to fulfill it. 

—St. Ignatius of Loyola, added to the end of many letters that he wrote


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October 23, 2019

Lk 12: 39-48

‘But know this: if the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.’

Peter said, ‘Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?’ And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions. But if that slave says to himself, “My master is delayed in coming”, and if he begins to beat the other slaves, men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and put him with the unfaithful. 

That slave who knew what his master wanted, but did not prepare himself or do what was wanted, will receive a severe beating. But one who did not know and did what deserved a beating will receive a light beating. From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded

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.

Paying attention to the magis

Have you ever missed your exit or bus stop on a daily commute because you zoned out? The combination of the routine’s familiarity and the busy day clouding your head can make it easy to do.

So too can habit, busyness, stress, or boredom affect our collaboration with Jesus in our daily life.

We enter the routine: start the day in prayer, be kind to strangers we encounter, have patience with our coworkers and family, attend Mass on Sundays, donate to a charity we support, and so on.

But are we really awake?  Are we attentive to the new and creative ways Jesus might be asking us to collaborate with him?  Are we using our time, gifts, energy, talents and voice to care for our master’s possessions, that is to say God’s world and God’s people?

Are we paying attention to the magis Jesus calls us to today?

—Amy Ketner is the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministry at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, MI.

Prayer

Dear Lord, help me keep my eyes on you…To you I want to give all that I am.  Let me be generous, not stingy or hesitant. Let me give you all – all that I have, think, do, and feel.  It is yours, O Lord. Please accept it and make it fully your own.

—Henri Nouwen


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October 22, 2019

Rom 5:12, 15B, 17-19, 20B-21

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. 

If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. 

But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification* leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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.

Christ, the New Adam, and Mary, the New Eve

In my room hangs the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. As in most depictions of Mary, she is holding the child Jesus. In this particular image, two angels are depicted above her shoulders. The angel above her left is holding the cross and nails, and the one above her right is holding the spear with which Jesus was pierced and the wine-soaked sponge. Mary’s countenance is sorrowful, giving the impression that it is she who will one day give her son over to the cross. But the life that came from this cross, and that continues to come from it through the life of the Church, especially through the sacramental life, is that very life that Paul speaks of to the Romans. 

As Adam and Eve brought death and sin into the world through their disobedience, Jesus, who takes flesh in the womb of Mary, reverses this by going to the cross. The “yes” of Mary, the new “mother of all the living,” brought about the abundance of grace that gives us life. May she always help us say “yes” to the will of her Son.

Alex Coffey, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the U.S. Central and Southern Province studying philosophy at Saint Louis University.

Prayer

Holy Mary, my Queen, into thy blessed trust and special keeping, into the bosom of thy tender mercy, this day, every day of my life and at the hour of my death, I commend my soul and body; to thee I entrust all my hopes and consolations, all my trials and miseries, my life and the end of my life, that through thy most holy intercession and thy merits, all my actions may be ordered and disposed according to thy will and that of thy divine Son.

Amen.

—Adaptation of the Prayer of St. Aloysius to the Blessed Mother


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