Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sunday word, 05 Jul 15

“Seeing God’s Face”
Fourteenth Sunday of the Year B (05 Jul 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Over half century ago benefactors gave property in northern Michigan to the Jesuits. Jesuits gather there, especially in summer. We connect with Jesuits that ministry locations separate. We cook and dine together and celebrate eucharist. We relax and enjoy the area’s natural beauty—individually and together. I just returned.


My brother-in-law expresses beholding natural splendor with a phrase: “seeing God’s face.” His phrase echoed in me each day I enjoyed our gift to us Jesuits. I think it opened my inmost self to our psalm response today; particularly the words
To you I lift up my eyes [O God] who are enthroned in heaven—As the eyes of servants [and maids] are on the hands of their masters [and mistresses], So are our eyes on the Lord, our God.
We may not immediately identify with the image; we are after all heirs of our self-reliant culture. The image reflects not our culture but that of the bible. In its culture heads of households provided food, shelter and other essential needs for all who lived with them, their children and help alike. Those verses of the psalm describe a healthy attitude: confident in generosity, of God and others.

The verses extend from human experience—flawed as the best human care always is—to God enthroned in heaven. Another psalm reveals God’s enthronement to be no distant, insensitive sitting: God judges the world with [God’s] justice…The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.1

To you [O God] I lift up my eyes was one of 15 psalms pilgrims sang on their way to God’s temple in Jerusalem. Not every pilgrimage was carefree. Crises of different sorts accompanied, even motivated, pilgrim journeys. The psalm that let us respond to the first reading at mass today suggests that refashioning or deepening confidence on God may well have filled those who sang it. One way someone would not depend in a healthy way on God—or others—registers as claiming things as in one’s control. One who claims control over things is called arrogant. If I am arrogant, I assume, I take for granted, gifts given me by others and God. When natural splendors give me a partial glimpse of “God’s face” but I see with haughty eyes, I remain un-awed by the Creator’s kindness to me. Not filled with awe can register as overly self-assured2 and nonchalant3—words used for arrogant in the psalm.


Aware that we are unable to supply all our needs; seeing as if for the first time things that nature surrounds us with  often, even daily; recalling when others paused to see if we were O.K.; and narrow escapes after our inattention or health changes: those and other experiences protect us from living arrogant, unhealthy self-assured and nonchalant lives.

Arrogance, unhealthy self-assured and nonchalant attitudes distance, even disconnect us, from our Creator and Redeemer. Our Creator and Redeemer favors us yet never forces. Obstinate of heart is one more way scripture describes arrogant, unhealthy self-assured, nonchalant people. Such people do not unmake prophets like Ezekiel and Jesus; even in the presence of prophets they do not respond to God’s desires and life-giving, healing power.

Very different are those who respond. St. Paul witnessed the living power of risen Jesus operate in him as Paul opened himself to Jesus; the living power of risen Jesus surged in him in his weakness and other constraints. Psalm 123—To you I lift up my eyes [O God]—names a grace to desire: a healthy dependence on God. The grace is an attitude helping us be filled with awe; notice God’s many gifts; and use them for good. That grace frees us to be ambassadors of risen Jesus and the power of his life.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask the communion of saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for creating and redeeming you.
  • Ask Jesus for his grace to be in awe that Jesus creates you, everyone and all things at each moment and lavishes us with so many gifts. 
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words allow us to deepen our awe before God and others; it lets us look afresh at nature and other humans; it helps us grow more confident in God’s generosity and glorify God by our care for the world and others.


Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

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  1. Psalm 9.9-10.
  2. Psalm 123.4, NET version.
  3. By Mitchell Dahood, S.J., The Anchor Bible, Vol. 17A.
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Wiki-images: Omena Bay by PDP; Jesus did no miracles... PD-US

Monday, June 22, 2015

On Vacation

Rest, walking, friends, food and more rest through 02 July.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday word, 21 Jun 15

Wonder and Awe at All God Creates
Twelfth Sunday of the Year B (21 Jun 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
I recalled that six years ago this month Passionist Fr. Thomas Berry died.1 The natural world fascinated him from boyhood. He explored the natural world as an act of faith; his exploration led him to see that humans are intimately related to it.2 He sought to make people more aware of that.

Three days ago Pope Francis issued his encyclical on caring for creation.3 Fr. Berry was well known; Pope Francis is better known worldwide. He recognizes humans’ intimate relationship with creation, too. To focus our part in that relationship Francis recalled his namesake. St. Francis of Assisi loved creation, the pope wrote, the way “we fall in love with someone.”
[W]henever [St. Francis] would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”…for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection.4
That all creatures reveal God was not unique to Francis; he was no aberration among Christians. My spiritual father, St. Ignatius of Loyola, allowed “little things to lift his mind to God, who even in the smallest things is great.” A Jesuit who lived with Ignatius recalled that when he saw “a plant, foliage, a leaf, a flower, any kind of fruit; from the consideration of a little worm or any other animal, he raised himself above the heavens and penetrated the deepest thoughts…from each little thing he drew doctrine and the most profitable counsels for the spiritual life.”5

Pope Francis hopes we integrate our spiritual life with the rest of living. Today we recognize that caring for creation involves science. Sts. Francis, Ignatius, and Jesus, trained in a builder’s technology, remind us care of creation exceeds science, too6: it holds more than science can fathom.

Jesus is the model of Sts. Francis and Ignatius and Pope Francis. The pope recalled in his encyclical that “Jesus lived in full harmony with creation [and it caused even his disciples to react as our gospel remembered]: ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’”7 We hear them and know what they did not. Their attraction to Jesus had yet to become the commitment of faith-love. Their reaction urges us to rekindle our commitment to Jesus; to love him the way we love family and dear ones: with loyalty and faith.

Loyal, faithful loving moves us to focus on others not ourselves. That is always a challenge. Consider Job. We know him as one felled by sharp calamities. Job sought to understand them; yet they turned him on himself. His sorrow had an edge; that edge morphed into arrogance toward God; and Job could not dismiss God from his heart and mind. The first reading began God’s cross-examination of Job. In it God heaped image on image of God creating: in feminine imagery of womb as well as builder’s imagery. Job got hung up where we and all humans do—on power. Our power has limits8; to act otherwise focuses us on us. Attending to God Job moved from self-concern to awe.

Commitment to another begins in awe and wonder. Awe becomes love; love leads to relationship; relationship to respect. The movement deepens commitment. Sts. Francis, Ignatius and Jesus model that movement and free us to consider creation more reverently. Pope Francis reminds us our commitment to care for creation cares for the vulnerable.9 Science bolsters his insight. Awe and wonder at creation pave pathways to God. Not to care for creation leaves us to think and act as if each of us is the center of everything. God is our center. Acting out of awe, respect and commitment to God, others and to the least creatures lives faith in Jesus and his compassion.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Job, Sts. Francis and Ignatius to present you to Jesus so you may pledge again your loyalty to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for inviting us to join his mission; tell him anew your commitment to him and his creation.
  • Ask Jesus for his grace to be in awe that Jesus creates you and everyone and all things at every moment.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Praying it slowly allows us to deepen our awe before God and others; it lets us look afresh at our earth, its energies and its bounty given us to love God more easily and wholeheartedly.10


Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

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  1. A website is devoted to him to continue his efforts.
  2. His eleventh of “Twelve Principles for Understanding the Universe and the Role of the Human in the Universe Process.”
  3. Laudato Si. Links to what an encyclical is and helpful preview of the most recent one may be found here.
  4. Laudato Si, 11.
  5. Pedro Ribidinera’s recollection.
  6. See, for example, Laudato Si, 11 and 190.
  7. Laudato Si, 98.
  8. Laudato Si, 122, 130.
  9. Laudato Si, 10.
  10. Paraphrase of St. Ignatius of Loyola: his Spiritual Exercises, [23].

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Encyclical—What It Is; and a Guide to the One Francis Issued Today


With the official release of Pope Francis’ second encyclical Vatican correspondent Inés San Martín offered “a quick refresher on what an ‘encyclical’ actually is, and why it matters that Francis is devoting one to this subject [“the care of creation].” She also explained the correct spelling of the second word of its title.

To help read it Vatican Radio issued a “press guide.” It is a “useful guide for an initial reading of the Encyclical. It will help you to grasp the overall development and identify the basic themes.”

Archbishop Kurtz, President of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued this brief statement welcoming the encyclical.
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Sunday, June 07, 2015

Sunday word, 07Jun15

Our Participation
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (B) (07 Jun 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Musical compositions can close with a few measures that echo melodies in the main body; the closing can be a separate section. A musical close of any length is called a coda. A coda makes musical remarks about an entire composition. The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus provides us with a liturgical coda before we resume the numbered Sundays of the Year. The solemnitys remark urges us to give ourselves to the One whose suffering, dying, rising and exaltation to share the very life of God we celebrated over three months. The bible names our giving covenant. Covenant was rooted in ancient Middle Eastern life.

Life in the ancient Middle East was dangerous. Clan leaders and kings held power. They offered protection and support in return for loyalty and service. The relationship was a covenant. To enter a covenant was a sacred event; symbols of life sealed it. The premier symbol of life in the ancient Middle East is not alien to us: blood sustains our lives, too.

God initiated the covenant with God’s people this way. God had liberated God’s people from Egypt before they knew God. They met God after God led them to freedom under Moses’ leadership. In the wilderness God spelled out to Moses God’s demands to be God’s people: all the words of the Lord. They expressed how to live as God’s people.

To seal the covenant Moses erected…an altar; it symbolized God. Moses splashed half the blood of sacrificial offerings on it: God sealed God’s side of the covenant. Moses read [the book of the covenant] aloud to the people, who answered, “All the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Then he sprinkled [the blood] on the people. Their words alone did not seal their side of the covenant; the sprinkled blood did. Sharing God’s life and giving their lives to God—ritually expressed in blood—sealed their covenant; later worship began in this sacred event; so does our participation in the saving passion of our mediator Jesus and the new covenant in his blood.

The suffering, dying, rising and exaltation of Jesus focuses our annual Lent-Easter worship. The suffering, dying, rising and exaltation of Jesus is central to mature Christian faith. The new covenant in Jesus’ blood does what the first covenant could not: it cleanses our interior selves—our consciences. Our interior cleansing happens as we give ourselves to Jesus; as we join our lives to his.

Joining our lives to Jesus’ passion, dying and risen life is no slight thing. His disciples resisted hearing him say he would suffer and die.1 They seem to have resisted celebrating Passover with him: “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” Surely they did not expect Jesus to insert himself into its ritual; he did as he said over the cup, “This is my blood of the covenant.” Then they all drank its cup. Because blood symbolized life Jesus gave them his life. By drinking it they participated in his self-gift: and not only then; they would participate by future worship as well as how they lived—even how they died. So with us.

Our talk may distract us and keep us from maturing in Jesus. We say we receive communion, and we do. Communion is not only a gift received. By communion we give ourselves to Jesus and participate in him. His blood, his life, is his new covenant, new relationship with God. When we drink it we participate in it.2 Participation promises Jesus our loyalty and to donate our lives freely. The Solemnity of Jesus’ Body and Blood reminds that participating in his new covenant fashions us after his manner of life for the sake of our world. Participation in his body and blood forms us as his body in the world. To let Jesus shape us as his disciples-on-mission is the essence of Christian worship, service and evangelizing in his name.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask Moses, who sealed the first covenant, to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; tell Jesus what moves you when you share his body and blood; then pledge your desire to witness to his new covenant.
  • Ask for his grace to live your desire with courage.
  • Close saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. When we say it we do not only recall God’s love and Jesus’ counsel about praising and forgiving. Each time we pray it we refashion ourselves into Jesus’ presence where we live, work and play.


Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

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  1. Mark 8.31; 9.31-32; 10.32-34.
  2. 1Corinthians 10.16, 18-21.

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Wiki-images: Chalice window by GFreihalter CC BY-SA 3.0 Chalice sculpture, detail by Roger Wong CC BY-SA 2.0

Thursday, June 04, 2015

100 Lifters

Think crowds of people. The thought often conjures actions not helpful, harmful or worse. In a district of London, England, a crowd formed and saved a person. The BBC correspondent offered insight to crowd formation and action in describing this good news.
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Wiki-image of double decker bus by sv1ambo CC BY 2.0

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday word, 31 May 15

Familiar With Strangers
Holy Trinity (B) (31 May 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Words never capture God. We speak in images about God; and God is beyond all images. Scripture depicts God in various ways to help us imagine God vividly and personally. From soaring eagle1 to mother hen2 and comforting human mother3 to loving father4 the images help us appreciate qualities of God we may miss without them. Of these we are certain: God cares for us in ways beyond human parents; God creates us in the divine image.5 Let’s allow one image Jesus used for God to draw us closer to God.

Jesus, God become human for us, called God his dear father—abba, in his language.6 Words in all human languages express thoughts. Jesus’ thoughts of God were not solemn in the sense of dignified and serious. His thoughts of and his relationship with God were the opposite—familiar, close. Abba expressed Jesus’ thoughts and feelings. Little Jewish children called their fathers abba; we say, daddy. Daddy is familial and familiar; its two syllables drip affection and bind children and dads close.

From the lips of Jesus Abba became a Palestinian Christian address for God. They shouted it at baptism: those who came up from their triple immersion in water made holy by Jesus’ Spirit cried, Abba! Father! The phrase was not limited to the sacrament. Christians pronounced it as they were aware of all God’s gifts in Jesus by Holy Spirit.7

With ease flowing from shared sacramental worship, St. Paul used the phrase in his letter to the church at Rome. He did not establish the church thriving there. He wrote Roman Christians to ask them to support his travel to Spain, a missionary journey Paul longed to make: I hope to see you as I pass through and be helped on my way there by you, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.8 He wrote strangers; yet their shared tradition of word and sacrament made Jesus’ image of God familiar to Greek speaking Christians. Abba sealed Paul and Roman Christians into one family. The Christian family enjoys an inheritance: Jesus’ identity! Jesus’ Spirit…bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Inheriting Jesus’ identity, his Holy Spirit, makes us daughters and sons of God. We understand readily St. Paul’s word to describe God’s graciousness, adoption.

His closing point, though, may perplex: having Jesus’ identity includes suffering. Jesus…foretold we would share in the persecutions that brought [him] to a violent death.9 We may not suffer for sharing the faith of Jesus. Yet we are more aware than ever that many in our contemporary Christian family suffer intensely for their share of the faith of Jesus.10

Jesus suffered; God in Jesus suffered. The Author of life11 was killed so you and I may also be glorified with him. What does that mean for our Catholic living day to day? It means suffering, indeed any weakness, shapes us more like Jesus; it imprints Jesus’ identity on us most deeply. God became human in Jesus to serve and not to be served.12 Serving is an exercise of human freedom.

When Christians serve they donate their freedom as Jesus modeled. Holy Spirit, the identity of Jesus, animates us the more we: do not hide behind defenses; do not let our hearts grow cold and hard; do not put ourselves above others. Doing the opposite lets Holy Spirit work godly power through us: when we act sincerely not perfectly; when we act warmly, humanely; when we respect others as equals or even more deserving than ourselves. Acting in those ways is weak, foolish, even pathetic as the world measures human action. Jesus measured differently, according to the selflessness of his abba, his dear father. God’s Son gave us his Spirit so we may measure with his measure.13 Living our faith moment by moment opens us to welcome Jesus’ Spirit and express it with greater ease, vitality, freedom, familiarity and sincere affection.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask St. Paul and your patron saint to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for empowering you with his Spirit to make him known to the world.
  • Ask him for grace to live more freely as his disciples, as children of his dear father.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Each time we pray his prayer we let the voice of Jesus echo with our voices. His words guide Catholic living; his Spirit frees our freedom and lets our smallest actions embody his compassion and love.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
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  1. Exodus 19.4; Deuteronomy 32.11.
  2. Matthew 23.37 || Luke 13.34.
  3. Isaiah 66.13.
  4. Deuteronomy 32.6; Isaiah 63.16; Jeremiah 31.9.
  5. Genesis 1.26.
  6. Mark 14.36: and this before his suffering and death!
  7. Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), pp. 152-56.
  8. Romans 15.24.
  9. Psalm Prayer, Office of Readings, Week IV, Thursday, Liturgy of the Hours.
  10. John L. Allen Jr., The Global War on Christians: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Anti-Christian Persecution (NY: Image, 2013). Necessary reading and painful. Its Amazon site offers an excerpt.
  11. Acts 3.15.
  12. Matthew 20.28; Mark 10.45.
  13. Matthew 7.2; Mark 4.24; Luke 6.38.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday word, 24 May 15

Confusion: It Can Be a Door
Pentecost (B) (24 May 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Today’s responsorial psalm was portions of Psalm 104. I’d like to reflect with you on that psalm. It is most appropriate for Pentecost, and it is not limited to it. I hope its limitless quality will find a home in us.

The psalm praises God as Creator of the world. We credit God as maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.1 The creating energy of God is so full and rich that it is God! We name God’s creating energy Holy Spirit.2 The psalm expresses God’s personal creative energy in words familiar: When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

God’s creating is no one-time event. God creates each moment each and everything: every creature; every person. The psalm crisply surveys creation—from God’s being to the universe, to winds, to nature, to animals and humans constantly created by God. Under God’s providence and within the world ever created by God, people go out to their work, to their labor till evening falls.3

Noting living creatures the psalmist praised God: you open your hand…they are filled with good things. Take away your spirit4 they perish. God’s spirit creates moment by moment. God locates humans in a network of created gifts: various created things nourish bodies, gladden and sustain hearts, and aid our work.5

God creates humans to share God’s likeness.6 Jesus revealed that clearly and in action. He befriended others, especially those no one would.7 Jesus, Lord and Master, called his disciples in every age his friends.8 Because friends share who they are and what they possess, Jesus did the same. Our share in Jesus is his promised spirit,9 who fulfills Psalm 104 in an ongoing way.

The Sequence echoed the psalm. The Sequence makes deeply personal and accessible the creative action of Jesus’ spirit within us and for us. The Sequence is our voice to call on Holy Spirit as we need to be recreated each moment: to comfort and refresh us; to be our rest and our solace; to light our ways; to free us to befriend Jesus and others; to heal, strengthen, cleanse, guide.

Jesus bestows his Holy Spirit on all peoples—yes, even those who do not know Jesus. If that astonishes, puzzles or makes us curious, then we stand a bit closer to the first Pentecost. The Jews staying in Jerusalem had migrated to it from all parts of the Roman empire. Their native languages did not hinder their life and travel in the empire. Greek and Aramaic were common languages to Jews; they allowed them to communicate freely. The miracle at the first Pentecost was not about translation so the Jews understand about Jesus. The miracle was this: they enjoyed personal access to Jesus in and by his Holy Spirit. It registered as understanding: those who had relocated to Jerusalem or were visiting for the feast understood the speech of Galileans as they spoke their Galilean language—not the Greek or Aramaic languages it would have been normal for the apostles to have spoken to visitors and new residents.

That they were confused lets us take heart when you and I are confused. Someone may be confused when choosing her vocation. Among other things her confusion may mean Holy Spirit is near at hand.Welcoming Holy Spirit to guide her choice is wise action. Another may be confused at Jesus’ invitations or unsettled by the mission of the church or our diocesan Pastoral Planning Process. Among other things his confusion may mean Holy Spirit is near at hand. Welcoming Holy Spirit to warm his heart and free his mind is wise action.

Welcoming Holy Spirit in our personal experiences is always wise. It is also wise because Catholics have “become the most racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse religion in the nation.”10 Holy Spirit recreates each of us and all together to share in all Jesus is and does.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask the apostles and those who heard them to present you to Jesus. 
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for empowering you with his Spirit to make him known to the world.
  • Ask him for grace to welcome his Spirit who recreates us each moment as Jesus’ friends. As his friends we extend his mission where we live, work and play.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. By it we praise and petition God; and we ask to be forgiven as we forgive. Those hallmarks of Catholic living are equally Jesus’ Spirit enlivening and recreating us each moment.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
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  1. The Nicene Creed.
  2. The Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC], 253, 258.
  3. Psalm 104.23.
  4. Breath, spirit, wind translate the same Hebrew word.
  5. Psalm 104.14-15.
  6. Genesis 1.26.
  7. See Matthew 11.19 || Luke 7.34.
  8. Luke 12.4, and especially John 15.13-15.
  9. John 14.15-16:13.
  10. Mark M. Gray, “Your Average American Catholic: a Model Citizen for a Diverse Church, AMERICA, 18 May 2015, p. 16, print edition.

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Wiki-images:  Pentecost statue by Kala Nag CC BY-SA 3.0 Pentecost—stained glass window by Kunstwerk von Max Rüedi CC BY-SA 3.0 CH