Friday, November 17, 2017

First World Day of the Poor

Earlier Pope Francis had announced he would dedicate a day to highlight the poor. The first one this Sunday, 19 November. Francis closed his message with his desire that:
this World Day of the Poor a tradition that concretely contributes to evangelization in today’s world. 
This new World Day, therefore, should become a powerful appeal to our consciences as believers, allowing us to grow in the conviction that sharing with the poor enables us to understand the deepest truth of the Gospel.  The poor are not a problem: they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practise in our lives the essence of the Gospel.
Image Vatican website

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Daily word, 02 Nov 17

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed A (02 Nov 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during the Spiritual Exercises
Affectionate Practice
When October 24 and April 10 come and go I feel something before I recognize it. Its texture has been somber; other years weighty. I have felt an ache; I have felt a subtle, insistent tug. This year assurance recurred. Those dates offer me a bittersweet peace. October 24, 2001, and April 10, 2010: my sister and I buried our parents. I feel their absence as each was with me; I also feel them present to me in new, more real ways. Their absent-presence, if I may join those words, shapes my reflection with you according to Catholic contours of practice and affection.

Praying for the departed faithful is an ancient practice of the church. The church prays “for all in Christian and catholic fellowship departed, even without mentioning… their names, under a general commemoration.”1 Each mass allows us, at once locally and universally, to plead for all the dead: Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light and peace.2 

In time another practice emerged: a day to commemorate the faithful departed. An 11th-Century French monastery set aside the day after remembering all the saints to commemorate all the faithful departed. Its custom became universal practice.

Its logic is plain: the saints remain patrons of those who died. At the funeral and before we bury our dead, we invoke angels and martyrs to greet them on their way:
May the angels lead you into Paradise.May the martyrs come to greet you on the way. May they lead you home to the holy city, to the new and eternal Jerusalem.3
Affection for the dead is as nearly as ancient as Catholic practice. In ancient times much threatened care for the dead. Because of that a 5th-Century bishop wrote St. Augustine about caring for the dead. In replying St. Augustine frequently mentioned affection: the affection of the living for their loved ones and friends.4 Very significant, St. Augustine replied, is
where a person [inters] the body of [ones] dead…because both the affection [in life] chose a spot which was holy, and after the body is there...the recalling to mind of that holy spot renews and increases the affection which had preceded.5
Affection and remembering are intimately connected. Our affection chooses, and our remembering increases our affection. That is true throughout life not only after it.

Commemorating All the Faithful Departed involves not only our affection for and remembering our dead. It includes the Trinity’s affection for us and remembering us. When the Trinity remembers us their remembering surpasses our memory. When the Trinity remembers us Father, Son, Holy Spirit create us—create us each moment.

Jesus made divine remembering concrete by the affection he showed. Jesus shows deep affection for his disciples of every age by giving his body and blood. They nourish us on our pilgrim way through life6; they strengthen our shared identity as created in the divine image and redeemed to be saints.

Our share in his eucharist
  • recreates us;
  • keeps us closely connected with Jesus and one another, living and deceased;
  • and increases our affection for Jesus and one another, living and deceased.
The affection of our beloved dead abides with us; their affection for us cannot die; it increases and flourishes. Our prayers for the dead need not numb us to the ways they affectionately remember us; or their desire to present us to Jesus. One way to grow more sensitive to their affectionate desire is to pray like this: as we close our prayer for them, let them present us to Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer. Entrusted to him lovingly, speak with Jesus about the ways our beloved dead have presented us to him; how our affection chooses Jesus and Jesus’ affection chooses us each day we sojourn on earth.

  1. St. Augustine, On the Care To Be Had for the Dead, 6.
  2. Eucharistic Prayer I. Each Eucharistic Prayer remembers the faithful departed with different wording.
  3. Order of Christian Funerals 176, 203, 294, 315, 339.
  4. On the Care To Be Had for the Dead. Seventeen times in its 23 sections: Sections 1; 5; 6 (3 times); 7 (4 times); 9 (3 times); 10; 11 (2 times); 22 (2 times).
  5. Ibid., 7
  6. Prayer after Communion, Order of Christian Funerals, 410


Wiki-image Ancient funerary inscription PD-US Praying to God for Christian martyrs, saints, and all the faithful departed PD-Release

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Daily word, 25 Oct 17

Twenty-ninth Wednesday of the Year (25 Oct 2017)
Rm 6. 12-18; Ps 124; Lk 12. 39-48
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during the Spiritual Exercises
Freedom Transformed
The mystery of sin wormed itself into the world by deception: the tempter deceived the first humans. In the fullness of time1 Truth itself visited St. Paul; risen Jesus revealed to him God responded to sin’s deception by raising the Son of God from the dead. He concluded the heart of his Letter to the Romans that: Jesus’ rising undid sin’s deception unto death; and that we have been given this power to new life: just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.2 A purely gracious gift with awesome effect—freedom!

Before risen Jesus visited St. Paul people had steeped themselves in this real gift of grace through baptism. It really participates in Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is effective, accomplishing what it symbolizes. The life-project of each of us is to translate our baptism into behavior for the way we live. For St. Paul this life-project was Christian obedience: attentiveness to the pattern of risen Jesus and shaping our living after his pattern of living.

Jesus’ pattern of living among us was as one who freely served. Jesus modelled it; his parable expressed it in a way that was shocking (though maybe not to our ears): the owner of a house would do for his slaves what slaves did for their master. That was an unimaginable use of human freedom. During his ministry Jesus transformed human freedom; by grace his risen life transforms our freedom: we are empowered to live like him: [to] present []ourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and []our bodies to God as [instruments] for God’s justice.

God’s gracious gift—grace—empowers us to pattern our living on the pattern of Messiah Jesus. To pattern our living on Jesus’ pattern of living reorients human choosing. This was freedom for St. Paul: not our notion of individual preference; it was serving what ennobles humans, helping us become as God created us.
  1. Galatians 4.4; Ephesians 1.10.
  2. Chapter 5.19, the last verse of yesterday’s reading.
Wiki-image Hospitality of Abraham PD-US

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Daily word, 21 Oct 17

Twenty-eighth Saturday of the Year (21 Oct 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during the Spiritual Exercises
Open More
At mass we read snippets of scripture of varying lengths. Reading snippets allows us to appreciate better the truth words convey. Reading snippets risks losing connection with the setting or mood that colors them. Two moods pulse at this point in Prophet Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem: hostile and charged. Hostile because Prophet Jesus had accused the scribes and Pharisees of murderous malice against earlier prophets who had voiced God’s wisdom; when they parted the religious elite held a grudge against Jesus, nursed it and plotted against him.1

How different the crowd! The crowd that followed Jesus and hung on his words grew larger—so large people stepped on one another.2 Surely the mood was tense: charged with worry about personal safety as well as an electric anticipation. Jesus addressed the moment: he taught disciples not to fear. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear.3

A consolation rests in that: anxiety and following Jesus co-exist in us, too. We may not think of it. Retreat may allow us to be more aware of anxiety then feel confused—even frightenedbecause we came on retreat to be with Jesus. If we’re anxious, Jesus accepts us that way and desires to help us. Jesus does not eliminate life’s anxiety and fear but helps us not be controlled by them.

Fear leads us to betray our values, our principles—ourselves. Fear undoes our freedom to act, to choose. Fear not only involves natural forces we can touch; it also involves spiritual forces: fear of death is perhaps our greatest. A modern Catholic reflection described us in the face of [the mystery] death. …Not only [are we] tormented by pain and by the advancing deterioration of [our bodies], but even more so by a dread of perpetual extinction. This most real fear is a spiritual force, not one we grip with our hands; and the ever-advancing marvels of technology, though useful in the extreme, cannot calm [our] anxiety.4

Friends of Jesus appreciate this spiritual force. Our trust in Jesus and moving closer to him—our faith—calms our anxiety and offers us hope to share divine life endlessly.5 He works that in us by his Holy Spirit. Anyone can reject his gift. The scribes and Pharisees did that—slandering the Holy Spirit is how Jesus put it. Though they had rejected Prophet Jesus, conversion and repentance—even to the apostles’ word after Jesus rose from the dead—would have won them forgiveness as it has for us. But their conscious, willful rejection of the Holy Spirit closed them to Jesus’ Gift of gifts.

What can we do? Continue asking Jesus for help to open more to all his gifts; esp. his gift that allows us to be like Jesus—and Abraham before him—and place our trust in unseen power beyond what any human power can offer us.
  1. Luke 11.53-54.
  2. Luke 12.1.
  3. Luke 12.4-5.
  4. Vatican Council II, Church in the Modern World, 18.
  5. Ibid. Also Ignatius’ Principle and Foundation.
Wiki image by Distant Shores Media/Sweet Publishing of Grumbling Pharisees CC BY-SA 3.0

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Daily word, 10 Oct 17

Twenty-seventh Tuesday of the Year (10 Oct 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. during the Spiritual Exercises
Martha and Mary are misunderstood. Let’s recall what we know. We know they were sisters. We know they welcomed Jesus into the safety and comfort of their home. Travellers depended on hospitality of others, especially in hostile territory; the Roman road system was good, but bandits commandeered some stretches. People in some districts did not welcome everyone: aiming to take the direct way to Jerusalem Jesus tried to pass through Samaria; Samaritans did not welcome him because they did not welcome Jews. Martha and Mary’s hospitality feels more tender because the episode recalling it follows immediately after the Good Samaritan parable.

We also know hospitality in the Mediterranean world has two very important rules: first, to pay attention to the guest; and second, not to demand guests intervene in their hosts’ affairs.

Martha and Mary both received Jesus, the Prophet-Messiah. When the guest is a prophet, one’s attention is both to the person of the prophet and more to the word of God the prophet announces.

We know from Martha herself serving this time overwhelmed her. Overwhelmed yet also blessed for welcoming Jesus. Overwhelmed she tried to impress him with more than her welcome and attention. In that moment Martha violated hospitality’s second important rule: she demanded her guest settle the rivalry that emerged between her and her sister: between serving Jesus and listening to him offer God’s word.

What do we know about us? No choosing between Martha and Mary can exist for us. Why? Because each of us is both Martha and Mary. We extend our welcome to Jesus as both sisters did. In better moments we focus on the word of life Jesus revealed by his person. In more frenzied moments we perform for Jesus with more flourish than Jesus expects or desires. For us frenzy has an air of normalcy about it—experiences on my first repose day awakened me to that. We know in our bones Frenzy is in fact hostile territory: it distracts us from our true selves; it distracts us from Jesus creating, redeeming and inviting us; it confounds and distorts our relationship. Ignatius helps us reorient ourselves simply and deeply: how have I been with Christ? how am I with Christ? how can I be with Christ and want what my Creator and Redeemer wants for me? The colloquy1 not only sharpens self-awareness; it allows us to experience Christ Jesus’ life-sustaining hospitality, then model our hospitality on his.
  1. Spiritual Exercises [53], my paraphrase.

Wiki-image Kitchen Piece PD-US