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October 18, 2013

St. Luke, evangelist

2 Timothy 4: 10-17b

Do your best to come to me soon, for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful in my ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds. You also must beware of him, for he strongly opposed our message.

At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Old and New

What is it that makes us want to pursue the new thing, but at the same time relish in the comfort of the old?  I enjoy and embrace new technologies as they roll out.  I am a big fan of tablet computers and the myriad apps that make the information that I desire accessible.  There is an emotion that is satiated in following these new things.  But also, I simply love wearing my old pair of jeans, faded sweatshirt, and broken-in gym shoes that just always seem to fit just right.  I feel consoled but ready to work in these old clothes that have been with me through many experiences.

We appreciate this new versus old theme today in Paul’s second letter to Timothy.  What a different emotional state Paul must have felt while writing this letter than from his initial conversion on the road to Damascus.  His newly experienced faith in a risen Christ enflamed his chase into the outer reaches of the known world.  We find him today suffering from abandonment and persecution.  He reaches out to a friend to bring his old coat and old books.

Was this the coat Paul was wearing when the Lord asked Paul to stop persecuting him?  Maybe not, but in any case, he desired the warmth and comfort that this particular old coat would bring to him.  He wanted to read again the words contained in his old books that they might resonate anew within him.  His pursuit towards sharing with others a new life in Christ needed a personal infusion from the old.

Our church too shares this necessity for new and old.  We are a procession of the faithful.  Some are out front leading the charge towards newer horizons, some are in the rear carrying the treasure trove of past experience, and some are in the middle.  The church needs it all and all those in the procession.  We trust as Paul did that the Lord stands with us and gives us strength wherever we are.  Are we always charitable to those who belong to a different part of this Christ-centered and universal procession?

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

“I ask myself:  am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time?  Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith.  God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life.  In his mercy, God never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength.  This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins.”

—Pope Francis:  Homily for Marian Pilgrimage, Year of Faith. Oct. 13, 2013


October 11, 2013

Luke 11: 15-26

But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.“ When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

“I’m Fine” … or?

One of the most often asked daily questions is: “How are you doing?”  And the most usual response is “I’m good” or “I’m fine.”  We seem to ask and answer this question so often that there is little meaning in these exchanges.  We are busy people and we do want to engage people in a friendly way, but we may not feel we have the time to express our true feelings or also have the time to really listen.  Personally, whenever I use my default answer “I’m good”, what I really mean to say is “I feel the crushing weight of the world coming down upon me and I am grateful to God for helping me hold it all together.” (Well, mostly that’s a Monday response.)  More to the point, I tend to hold onto the baggage in my day;  I disregard my emotions or I dismiss them altogether;  and I withhold these things from friends and family.  When I act in this way an accumulation begins to happen, and it is not with the things that God desires for me.

This is the predicament of the man we find in today’s gospel.  In this extreme case we see that what has accumulated has also possessed.  In a display of compassion and power, Christ empties the unholy mess of spirit and desire that has accumulated within the man.  This is the same healing love we encounter in the sacrament of reconciliation.  We reconcile ourselves to Christ. We empty ourselves of our own will so that the Holy Spirit may dwell in that place. It will always be this ongoing process of accumulation, emptying, and reconciliation that defines what it means to be in relationship with God. We may lack the stamina to continually ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but God never tires from granting it because it is God’s favorite thing to do.

So I ask you on this Friday in the 27th week in Ordinary Time, “How are you doing?”  If there’s a deeper movement than the normal, share it with our Lord in your prayers.  Or possibly, it may be time to re-enter the holy ground of the confessional?

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

Lord, let the words of Saint Ignatius guide me as I journey through this day. Let me commit his words to my soul and let me wait with great expectations for the graces I will receive.

I pray, Lord, that my “only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me.”

—Saint Ignatius of Loyola

 


October 4, 2013

St. Francis of Assisi

Luke 10: 13-16

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Everything is Gift

An artist friend to the popular American physicist, Richard Feynman, remarked that the scientist’s view of a flower (a rose) was dull and boring because a scientist deconstructs physical objects into ever smaller parts and thus lacks appreciation of the object’s beauty itself.  Feynman replied that being a scientist didn’t subtract from the experience of appreciating the single rose, but only added to it.  He understood the excitement and mystery of the minuscule world that produced such an object, and thus gazed in awe at the beauty that goes unobserved.  Not everyone views the things of this world as we might expect, and history takes notice when someone drastically departs from our common world views.

St. Francis of Assisi was just such a person.  We celebrate the life of this most beloved son of the Church today, whose name currently and deservedly occupies the chair of Peter.  The man who stripped himself bare in the middle of town, renounced the riches of the world, and became an itinerant preacher perceived the Gospels much differently than his contemporaries.  Where most saw beauty in the Jesus of scripture, this man saw the unnoticed beauty of Christ alive and staring back at him in the faces of the poor men, women, and children he dedicated himself to serving.  He lived and loved like no other.

The call to radically shift one’s lifestyle, as St. Francis did, is most likely not our same call.  We may not be able to imitate his lifestyle, but we are able to easily imitate his world view:  It’s all gift.  From a red rose, to the first sip of wonderful coffee in the morning, to that feeling of satisfaction from a job well done, to the comfortable silence in the presence of another, to the fragrance of a crisp and fresh autumn day–to the….you name it….it’s all gift.  What might be God’s reaction to seeing us view all creation as gift?  How do we respond?

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

—St. Francis of Assisi


September 27, 2013

St. Vincent de Paul

Luke 9: 18-22

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Who do you say that I am?

“We must endeavor to have God reign sovereignly in us, and then in others. The trouble with me is that I take more care to have Him reign in others than in myself.” These words by the “Great Apostle of Charity” – St. Vincent de Paul, whose feast we celebrate today, are especially poignant when juxtaposed with today’s Gospel. Jesus asks the apostles what other people say about him, but more importantly he wants to know who the apostles think he is. Peter instinctively answers correctly that Jesus is the Christ; the Son of God; God incarnate.

As we read this passage we may recognize that a question was asked and answered – it’s good stuff, but time to move on, right? Not so fast. There is significant and immeasurable weight to Peter’s answer for those of us who have first answered the question that many people still struggle with today, “Does God exist?”

A universe with a Creator is a magnificent leap of human faith worthy of considerable existential reflection, but then we name the enfleshed Jesus as this very same entity and our notions of Creator take on ever more relational and intimate knowledge. The enormity and grandeur of this revelation should always give us pause and never escape us in our day. It is our saints, like St. Vincent de Paul, who help remind us by their lives of the responsibility we have to answer the question our Lord asks each and every one of us, “Who do you say that I am?”

St. Vincent de Paul, champion of the poor, helps us with what comes next: “Be acted upon rather than active. In this way, God will do through you alone what all men put together could not do without Him.”

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

Holy Vincent, patron of charitable works
and spiritual father of the abandoned, while on earth you extended a kind hand to the needy.
Through your merciful intercession, obtain help for the destitute, relief for the abandoned,
solace for the unfortunate and comfort for the sick. May your example of charity encourage all of us to work for the spiritual and material welfare of others. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Vincentians


September 20, 2013

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions, Jesuit Martyrs

1 Tm 6: 2c-12

Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

The Lord’s Peace and Pursuit

“…Peace I leave you, my peace I give you…” is a part of the communion rite invoked at every Mass.  How do we receive these words?  Our first reading today from Paul to Timothy helps us enter more deeply into our Mass during this time of peace.  The peace that our Lord wishes to share with us is more than a general happiness or fleeting euphoria, but a lasting contentment.  We are content because it is our Lord who is the active agent securing our peace.

This divine peace pursues us throughout the  day, and Paul exhorts us to be content in this awareness.  It is God who pursues us so that we might rest in this peace.  When we pursue, we are often sidetracked by the material world.  When we pursue, we lack the discipline to turn off our televisions and phones or disengage from our social media appetites. We may be foolish in our pursuits, but God is not.

Francis Thompson, the English poet and author of “The Hound of Heaven,” brilliantly describes the tenacity with which our God pursues us as we choose all manner of distraction and escape:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, …

Are you content with God’s pursuit of you?  The next time you attend Mass, use the sign of peace as a moment to surrender to your pursuer and rejoice in the love that sought us first.

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

Lord, we pray for hope when so many suffering people around the world or right next door seek justice. We  pray for courage to be faithful to the right path when it might be risky to speak out. We  ask for mercy since there may be times when our courage cannot be found.

We ask for the ability to see the world as it really is, in its beauty and misery, its love and hate, and to see through your  eyes.  We  pray that we will never grow too tired, too skeptical, or too complacent, to experience outrage in the face of atrocity

—Invocation for the 20th Anniversary of the Jesuit Martyrs and  Companions

 


September 13, 2013

Luke 6: 39-42

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Pushing the Buttons of Gratitude

“I will pull this car over right now!” was an    oft heard summer expression spoken by my father to me and my quarreling siblings riding in the back seat of the family station wagon during our childhood vacation getaways.  Like all brothers and sisters we loved each other dearly, but with this love also came the knowledge of which pushed buttons activated the launch sequence towards mutually assured emotional destruction.  And no doubt about it, we were button pushers.

As I read today’s Gospel, I imagine Jesus grimacing into a rear view mirror at the twelve button pushers in his back seat.  Jesus, in Luke’s previous passage, had just finished explaining how we should love our enemies, but today we are told how to act towards those whom we already love. It is with great ease that we can sometimes cut down those we care about and love the most. It is just as important to nurture the love that is nearest to us as it is to embrace the radical call to love our enemies.

Today, examine those relationships that  may have been taken for granted. Pray for loved ones who have made themselves vulnerable to our slights by entrusting us with their deepest selves.  Seek ways to push the buttons of gratitude.

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in my eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking.
God be at my end and at my departing.

—Sarum Printer, 1527


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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October 18, 2013

St. Luke, evangelist

2 Timothy 4: 10-17b

Do your best to come to me soon, for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful in my ministry. I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will pay him back for his deeds. You also must beware of him, for he strongly opposed our message.

At my first defense no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Old and New

What is it that makes us want to pursue the new thing, but at the same time relish in the comfort of the old?  I enjoy and embrace new technologies as they roll out.  I am a big fan of tablet computers and the myriad apps that make the information that I desire accessible.  There is an emotion that is satiated in following these new things.  But also, I simply love wearing my old pair of jeans, faded sweatshirt, and broken-in gym shoes that just always seem to fit just right.  I feel consoled but ready to work in these old clothes that have been with me through many experiences.

We appreciate this new versus old theme today in Paul’s second letter to Timothy.  What a different emotional state Paul must have felt while writing this letter than from his initial conversion on the road to Damascus.  His newly experienced faith in a risen Christ enflamed his chase into the outer reaches of the known world.  We find him today suffering from abandonment and persecution.  He reaches out to a friend to bring his old coat and old books.

Was this the coat Paul was wearing when the Lord asked Paul to stop persecuting him?  Maybe not, but in any case, he desired the warmth and comfort that this particular old coat would bring to him.  He wanted to read again the words contained in his old books that they might resonate anew within him.  His pursuit towards sharing with others a new life in Christ needed a personal infusion from the old.

Our church too shares this necessity for new and old.  We are a procession of the faithful.  Some are out front leading the charge towards newer horizons, some are in the rear carrying the treasure trove of past experience, and some are in the middle.  The church needs it all and all those in the procession.  We trust as Paul did that the Lord stands with us and gives us strength wherever we are.  Are we always charitable to those who belong to a different part of this Christ-centered and universal procession?

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

“I ask myself:  am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time?  Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith.  God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life.  In his mercy, God never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength.  This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins.”

—Pope Francis:  Homily for Marian Pilgrimage, Year of Faith. Oct. 13, 2013


October 11, 2013

Luke 11: 15-26

But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? —for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.“ When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting place, but not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

“I’m Fine” … or?

One of the most often asked daily questions is: “How are you doing?”  And the most usual response is “I’m good” or “I’m fine.”  We seem to ask and answer this question so often that there is little meaning in these exchanges.  We are busy people and we do want to engage people in a friendly way, but we may not feel we have the time to express our true feelings or also have the time to really listen.  Personally, whenever I use my default answer “I’m good”, what I really mean to say is “I feel the crushing weight of the world coming down upon me and I am grateful to God for helping me hold it all together.” (Well, mostly that’s a Monday response.)  More to the point, I tend to hold onto the baggage in my day;  I disregard my emotions or I dismiss them altogether;  and I withhold these things from friends and family.  When I act in this way an accumulation begins to happen, and it is not with the things that God desires for me.

This is the predicament of the man we find in today’s gospel.  In this extreme case we see that what has accumulated has also possessed.  In a display of compassion and power, Christ empties the unholy mess of spirit and desire that has accumulated within the man.  This is the same healing love we encounter in the sacrament of reconciliation.  We reconcile ourselves to Christ. We empty ourselves of our own will so that the Holy Spirit may dwell in that place. It will always be this ongoing process of accumulation, emptying, and reconciliation that defines what it means to be in relationship with God. We may lack the stamina to continually ask for God’s mercy and forgiveness, but God never tires from granting it because it is God’s favorite thing to do.

So I ask you on this Friday in the 27th week in Ordinary Time, “How are you doing?”  If there’s a deeper movement than the normal, share it with our Lord in your prayers.  Or possibly, it may be time to re-enter the holy ground of the confessional?

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

Lord, let the words of Saint Ignatius guide me as I journey through this day. Let me commit his words to my soul and let me wait with great expectations for the graces I will receive.

I pray, Lord, that my “only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me.”

—Saint Ignatius of Loyola

 


October 4, 2013

St. Francis of Assisi

Luke 10: 13-16

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But at the judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be brought down to Hades. “Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Everything is Gift

An artist friend to the popular American physicist, Richard Feynman, remarked that the scientist’s view of a flower (a rose) was dull and boring because a scientist deconstructs physical objects into ever smaller parts and thus lacks appreciation of the object’s beauty itself.  Feynman replied that being a scientist didn’t subtract from the experience of appreciating the single rose, but only added to it.  He understood the excitement and mystery of the minuscule world that produced such an object, and thus gazed in awe at the beauty that goes unobserved.  Not everyone views the things of this world as we might expect, and history takes notice when someone drastically departs from our common world views.

St. Francis of Assisi was just such a person.  We celebrate the life of this most beloved son of the Church today, whose name currently and deservedly occupies the chair of Peter.  The man who stripped himself bare in the middle of town, renounced the riches of the world, and became an itinerant preacher perceived the Gospels much differently than his contemporaries.  Where most saw beauty in the Jesus of scripture, this man saw the unnoticed beauty of Christ alive and staring back at him in the faces of the poor men, women, and children he dedicated himself to serving.  He lived and loved like no other.

The call to radically shift one’s lifestyle, as St. Francis did, is most likely not our same call.  We may not be able to imitate his lifestyle, but we are able to easily imitate his world view:  It’s all gift.  From a red rose, to the first sip of wonderful coffee in the morning, to that feeling of satisfaction from a job well done, to the comfortable silence in the presence of another, to the fragrance of a crisp and fresh autumn day–to the….you name it….it’s all gift.  What might be God’s reaction to seeing us view all creation as gift?  How do we respond?

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

—St. Francis of Assisi


September 27, 2013

St. Vincent de Paul

Luke 9: 18-22

Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.” He sternly ordered and commanded them not to tell anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Who do you say that I am?

“We must endeavor to have God reign sovereignly in us, and then in others. The trouble with me is that I take more care to have Him reign in others than in myself.” These words by the “Great Apostle of Charity” – St. Vincent de Paul, whose feast we celebrate today, are especially poignant when juxtaposed with today’s Gospel. Jesus asks the apostles what other people say about him, but more importantly he wants to know who the apostles think he is. Peter instinctively answers correctly that Jesus is the Christ; the Son of God; God incarnate.

As we read this passage we may recognize that a question was asked and answered – it’s good stuff, but time to move on, right? Not so fast. There is significant and immeasurable weight to Peter’s answer for those of us who have first answered the question that many people still struggle with today, “Does God exist?”

A universe with a Creator is a magnificent leap of human faith worthy of considerable existential reflection, but then we name the enfleshed Jesus as this very same entity and our notions of Creator take on ever more relational and intimate knowledge. The enormity and grandeur of this revelation should always give us pause and never escape us in our day. It is our saints, like St. Vincent de Paul, who help remind us by their lives of the responsibility we have to answer the question our Lord asks each and every one of us, “Who do you say that I am?”

St. Vincent de Paul, champion of the poor, helps us with what comes next: “Be acted upon rather than active. In this way, God will do through you alone what all men put together could not do without Him.”

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

Holy Vincent, patron of charitable works
and spiritual father of the abandoned, while on earth you extended a kind hand to the needy.
Through your merciful intercession, obtain help for the destitute, relief for the abandoned,
solace for the unfortunate and comfort for the sick. May your example of charity encourage all of us to work for the spiritual and material welfare of others. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

—The Vincentians


September 20, 2013

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions, Jesuit Martyrs

1 Tm 6: 2c-12

Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

The Lord’s Peace and Pursuit

“…Peace I leave you, my peace I give you…” is a part of the communion rite invoked at every Mass.  How do we receive these words?  Our first reading today from Paul to Timothy helps us enter more deeply into our Mass during this time of peace.  The peace that our Lord wishes to share with us is more than a general happiness or fleeting euphoria, but a lasting contentment.  We are content because it is our Lord who is the active agent securing our peace.

This divine peace pursues us throughout the  day, and Paul exhorts us to be content in this awareness.  It is God who pursues us so that we might rest in this peace.  When we pursue, we are often sidetracked by the material world.  When we pursue, we lack the discipline to turn off our televisions and phones or disengage from our social media appetites. We may be foolish in our pursuits, but God is not.

Francis Thompson, the English poet and author of “The Hound of Heaven,” brilliantly describes the tenacity with which our God pursues us as we choose all manner of distraction and escape:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, …

Are you content with God’s pursuit of you?  The next time you attend Mass, use the sign of peace as a moment to surrender to your pursuer and rejoice in the love that sought us first.

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

Lord, we pray for hope when so many suffering people around the world or right next door seek justice. We  pray for courage to be faithful to the right path when it might be risky to speak out. We  ask for mercy since there may be times when our courage cannot be found.

We ask for the ability to see the world as it really is, in its beauty and misery, its love and hate, and to see through your  eyes.  We  pray that we will never grow too tired, too skeptical, or too complacent, to experience outrage in the face of atrocity

—Invocation for the 20th Anniversary of the Jesuit Martyrs and  Companions

 


September 13, 2013

Luke 6: 39-42

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

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 http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Pushing the Buttons of Gratitude

“I will pull this car over right now!” was an    oft heard summer expression spoken by my father to me and my quarreling siblings riding in the back seat of the family station wagon during our childhood vacation getaways.  Like all brothers and sisters we loved each other dearly, but with this love also came the knowledge of which pushed buttons activated the launch sequence towards mutually assured emotional destruction.  And no doubt about it, we were button pushers.

As I read today’s Gospel, I imagine Jesus grimacing into a rear view mirror at the twelve button pushers in his back seat.  Jesus, in Luke’s previous passage, had just finished explaining how we should love our enemies, but today we are told how to act towards those whom we already love. It is with great ease that we can sometimes cut down those we care about and love the most. It is just as important to nurture the love that is nearest to us as it is to embrace the radical call to love our enemies.

Today, examine those relationships that  may have been taken for granted. Pray for loved ones who have made themselves vulnerable to our slights by entrusting us with their deepest selves.  Seek ways to push the buttons of gratitude.

Richard Schuckman, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago

Prayer

God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in my eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking.
God be at my end and at my departing.

—Sarum Printer, 1527