Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday word, 23 Oct 16

Thirtieth Sunday of the Year C (23 Oct 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during 40-day Institute, Guelph, Ontario
…the Lord will rescue...and bring me safe...
...those words from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy moved me to wonder if I could join St. Paul in his conviction. Do I believe the Lord will rescue and bring me safe to enjoy God’s life? “Believe” is more than a mental nod to our triune God’s desire to save us. Christian believing welcomes and inhabits God’s desire to save us. This welcoming and inhabiting may register as focus—I let my waking thoughts return often to what God is doing for me; they may activate personal memories of being saved that I cannot explain—I savor saving memories more than search to understand them.

To live convinced God preserves us every moment notices that saving is God’s attitude, stance and disposition toward us and all creation. God’s heart becomes our attitude, our stance, our disposition. We are in God’s presence, confident God accompanies us in everything, inviting us to a more intimate relationship. God, creating and blessing us each moment, calms and centers us amid life’s chaotic storms. Our graced poise may register as feeling accompanied in doubt and dismay, clothed in joy, wrapped in relief—to name a few.

To approach this mystery head-on is not easy. Jesus helped with a parable. His familiar parable illuminates God’s heart and our hearts. Its characters open and deepen our perceptions of God saving us. Each had a different disposition. One of them truly welcomed and inhabited God’s desire to rescue and save. The other approached God differently.

The Pharisee was convinced he was not like the rest of people; humanity was a vicious lot: greedy, dishonest and adulterous. We know from our experience the Pharisee was mistaken. Who of us hasn’t felt greedy, dishonest or adulterous? We may have restrained ourselves from acting out those and other trespasses yet all of us fight temptations; and we give in to some. One’s virtues coexist with other human qualities. Blind to that the Pharisee disdained others: I am not like the rest of humanity.

He measured his difference from humanity by distinct practices of his class. Tithing was encouraged and practiced, but Pharisees were scrupulous not to omit it. Nor was anyone obliged to fast twice weekly. It was a distinct practice of Pharisees. The Pharisee’s contempt for others let him claim he surpassed others. He made himself the norm of religious practice. He told God—as if God did not know!

The tax-agent made no claims about himself. Nor did he give God a speech; he prayed, O God, be merciful to me a sinner. He was clear about that alone. He was honest. His attitude, his disposition, clearly differed from the Pharisee, who spoke [his] prayer to himself: Jesus uttered no throw-away phrases. The Pharisee had no need for God: his pious efforts—not God—were his salvation. He also had an eye on the tax-agent: not only am I not like the rest of humanity I’m not even like this tax collector. Giving God a speech while looking over his shoulder at whomever was in the temple: that’s talent! It isn’t prayer. The tax-agent did not presume to tell God anything; he only implored God’s mercy.

Jesus presents his parable to us at a fitting moment during our retreats. Do we continue to beg for the grace of each spiritual exercise? Do we catch ourselves forging ahead on our efforts alone? Is our praying more important to us than its fruits? By his parable Jesus taught a fruit of prayer: sincere prayer opens onto Jesus’ way of being humble: alert; active; and aware God accompanies us each moment so we may enjoy God’s life now and freely share it.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask the tax-agent to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for being our God’s presence in our flesh and blood.
  • Ask Jesus for help to be his disciple who is more alert, active and aware of Jesus saving you and inviting you to be his heart, hands, head and feet as you journey through life.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, forgive we forgive others on our lips, shape us to live the compassion we ask Jesus to show us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Fast Approaching

Next week in Lund, Sweden, Pope Francis will be present at a “joint Catholic-Lutheran commemoration of the five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation.” The occasion is the opportunity for which both churches have longed. English bishop William Kenney summarized it: “the Reformation was a great misunderstanding, we all got it wrong, on both sides, and we’ve lifted excommunications and condemnations and apologized.” The event will help more Catholics and Lutherans know it.
Wiki-image of pillars in Lund crypt CC BY-SA 4.0

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday word, 17 Oct 16

St. Ignatius of Antioch (17 Oct 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during 40-day Institute, Guelph, Ontario
Begging More Ardently
The scene in which Jesus spoke is the same one we entered last week: as he made his last journey to Jerusalem a massive crowd pressed around Jesus. We sense them hearing Jesus teach his disciples: the Prophet urged courage in the face of threats to their lives. Out of the air a question—off-topic; asked by one in the crowd who was unaware a prophet spoke. Teacher—might as well be Attorney, sir—settle a property dispute I have with my brother. How easy in any time and place to be inattentive to Prophet Jesus!

That irrelevant question did not sidetrack Jesus as he taught, Do not fear when life is threatened. Jesus knew fear moved the questioner. Fear caused people to be owned by their possessions. A judge or arbitrator operated within this logic of fear; not a prophet! Fear still is one of those powers of the air, to use Paul’s phrase. Fear, like its sibling powers, has idolatry as its goal: it creates distance between people and God.

It works as it always has: fear dulls awareness. Without knowing it, possessions lure humans to need for more. As possessions come to own their owners, owners not only amass more things; they guard them out of proportion to the immeasurable gift of life and the gifts of hope, faith and love—the foundations and contours of relationship with God and others.

Jesus teaches us as he taught his disciples. His teaching was not about eliminating fear; it is about not being con-trolled by fear, not allowing our inmost selves to be dis-torted by it. Jesus’ gift of his Spirit allows us to know in our bones that we receive life and all we have from our Creator and Redeemer. Praying to continue receiving our true selves helps us resume our retreats.
Images: by PDP from a chapel at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House, Bloomfield Hills, MI

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday word, 16 Oct 16

Twenty-ninth Sunday of the Year C (16 Oct 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Distractions? Or, Holy Spirit?
Recently Pope Francis offered encouragement about something very real yet not easy to identify: interior, spiritual, restlessness. Two kinds exist, the pope said: “it’s possible to experience [in our deepest selves] two types of restlessness: the good one, which is the restlessness of the Holy Spirit, which the Holy Spirit gives us, and unsettles the soul in order to do good things, to move forward; and there is also the bad type of restlessness, the one that is born of a guilty conscience…[causing us] to live with[out]…peace…with fear.”1

The pope’s insight helps because we may discount good restlessness that surfaces when we pray and think about our prayer and daily living. We may consider it one more distraction rather than sift it and notice it may be God inviting us to live a fuller life in closer relationship with God and others.

When it comes to praying, we’re quick to name various things distractions, even things that may be promptings of Jesus’ spirit—especially when they register in us as restlessness, tension, feeling something more on the horizon of my life. Yet, our triune God offers us more of God’s life even while calling us to accept and to choose God’s more abundant life.

To accept and to choose God’s more abundant life is to want what Jesus wants: I came, he said, so [people] might have life and have it more abundantly.2 Jesus desires we enjoy his more abundant life. It has an inviting, promising, uplifting, forward-leaning feel. It may also register within as that Spirit-given restlessness Pope Francis encouraged us to notice and foster.

As we more eagerly want what Jesus wants for us it becomes our attitude, our stance toward life. Today’s responsorial psalm gave us an opportunity to voice together our Christian stance toward life: I lift up my eyes toward the mountains…to the Lord…my help…my guardian…beside me…to guard my coming and going.

This expectant, forward-leaning attitude invites us to more; challenges us to live Jesus’ gospel better; deepens how we give flesh and blood to his gospel. Our expectant, forward-leaning attitude helps us want what Jesus wants for us and for our world. Even desiring to want what Jesus wants fixes our attention on Jesus; it lets the pattern of his living, dying and rising refashion us. Prayer cultivates our expectant, forward-leaning attitude.

To help our praying Jesus offered his parable about the necessity for disciples to pray always without becoming weary. Most of us may empathize with the widow and hope to emulate her: to persist and to persevere in both our praying and Christian living. We may focus exclusively on the widow because the dishonest judge was no congenial character. Yet, Jesus insisted the dishonest judge was the central character: The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.” God outdoes humans, even unsavory characters: God joins persistent petitioners as guardian, advocate and help.

Any takeaways to help us as we enter our week? Here are three: first, sift everything we notice in our praying so we may grow aware of Holy Spirit drawing us closer to Jesus; second, ask for the grace to turn our attention toward Jesus and share more deeply his inviting, uplifting, forward-leaning attitude; third, count on his mercy whether it is convenient or inconvenient in our daily living. Those three can help us live Jesus’ gospel with renewed vigor.

To make these takeaways yours give Jesus 15 minutes each day this week. Rest in our triune God. Ask the dishonest judge, who acted from restlessness in Jesus’ parable, to present you to Jesus. Chat with Jesus: praise him for transforming you through subtle movements as well as dramatic moments in your life; ask Jesus for the grace to keep your attention on him and share more deeply his inviting, uplifting, forward-leaning attitude. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, on earth as it is in heaven, on our lips remind us that Jesus, his Father and Holy Spirit work toward our good in all things.

  1. His weekday homily on 22 Sept. 2016
  2. John 10.10.

Friday, October 14, 2016

After Election: Tasks Ahead

A Jesuit General Congregation [GC] addresses tasks after its initial ones. When a general superior resigns a congregations first task is accepting the resignation; the second is electing a successor. The election follows the plan Ignatius devised. Under the leadership of Fr. Arturo Sosa GC36 will address matters of mission, internal governance and the state of the Society of Jesus.

The contours of those matters reflect the “signs of the times”; they may well reflect the interests of Fr. Sosa. Among them are: Jesuit spirituality; collaboration with others; solidarity with the most vulnerable; migrants and refugees; reconciliation and dialogue; and the intellectual apostolate. [Source: Jesuits in Europe]
Image of Ignatius Jesuits of Canada

New General Superior of the Society of Jesus

Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, of the Venezuelan Province, was elected today in Rome. Father Arturo Sosa was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He was serving as the Delegate of the General for the International houses and Works of the Society of Jesus in Rome.

He is a Doctor in Political Sciences from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Father Arturo Sosa peaks Spanish, Italian, English and understands French. The General Congregation website has posted more about the 31st General Superior.
Image by the Society of Jesus

Monday, October 10, 2016

Expressing Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving! Canada

Citizens as well as migrating peoples enjoy a national opportunity to be grateful and celebrate it. A story of a Syrian family Winnipeg welcomed echoes in communities across the nation.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Daily word, 06 Oct 16

27th Thursday (06 Oct 2016) Gal 15. 1-11; Ps 118; Lk 2. 33-35
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during 40-day Institute, Guelph, Ontario
Trusting Experience
We heard a most exasperated St. Paul. The reason? People denied their experience. Those who had heard his preaching of the cross of Jesus experienced its power within and among them; Paul no sooner left, and in the face of challengers they denied what they had experienced by their faith. The news astonished Paul: he trusted risen Jesus.1 He witnessed they did, too. That the Galatians would deny their experience was foolish—unwise, indeed.

Trust is vital on retreat. I trust St. Ignatius of Loyola. My trust deepened from my first Ignatian retreat. His Spiritual Exercises let me experience our triune God in ways I can access daily. I can’t repeat my experiences, but I do live from them—some days better than others.

You are realizing your desire to make Ignatian Exercises. You have done much to be here; the greater power is God’s: you have cooperated with the gift God has given you. As they empower you, your retreats will challenge you—they challenge everyone. They will reward you, as well. Most challenges people generally do not invite; some are unwelcome. Certain unwelcome challenges profit us immeasurably. Usually we recognize our profit after a while.

On retreat, as in the gospel, Jesus is our friend who challenges. To me a friend’s challenge feels sharper than another’s. At the same time, I feel more secure at a friend’s challenge. During retreat Jesus visits us always as friend. He may visit in the midnight darkness of our soul; still he visits as friend. Opening ourselves to Jesus gains us more than our self-preservation—like the one visited at midnight in his parable. Opening to Jesus is the doorway to our transformation: as individuals in our human relationships; as disciples Jesus called and continues to call to deeper friendship and more effective ministries and lives.

Do let Jesus befriend you these days. Place yourselves in the care of Jesus, his mother, your patron saints. Become absorbed in them and in all sainted people you know and have known. Those are great helps on retreat. Ignatian exercises are another experience of the holy Spirit from heaven2 given to everyone who freely enters them.

Beg for deeper trust.Trust Jesus, his Father and Holy Spirit. Trust St. Ignatius: every moment give yourselves—mind, intentions, deep desires. Trust your spiritual directors guiding you. Especially trust your experience.

  1. Galatians 1.6-12, Monday’s reading at mass.
  2. The Greek also may be translated this way. Also, Luke’s gospel describes Holy Spirit as power from on high (24.49; Acts 1.4, 8; also Lk 1.35). 

Wiki-images: by Pjposullivan of Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario CC BY-SA 3.0; by Thelittlethings Love of Wald im Naturpark Taunus CC BY-SA 3.0