Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Join me in making two connections to help us appreciate better a well known phrase of St. Ignatius, “to the greater glory of God.” Some of us may have written its Latin initials on schoolwork when we were young: A.M.D.G. The connections begin with Moses.
The first connection is that the covenant experience of Moses and the first Israel was one that was already...in your hearts. Ignatius grew convinced that God enters into a covenant with each human in a personal and direct way at the core of one’s being, which the word heart symbolizes. Our lifelong vocation is learning how to carry...out the covenant in deed and word. To carry out the covenant day to day glorifies God.
The second connection asks, What is glory? I don’t know what first comes to your minds. I know I was surprised to learn that for Moses and for the first Israel the Hebrew word for glory connoted weight not something ethereal, which the word glory later came to suggest. Its connotation renders glory something abstract.
Scripture reminds us that God’s glory filled the temple/1/. God wore it as a garment. Even contemporary author Rod Gragg entitled his book about the 26th North Carolina Infantry Division, which engaged union troops at Gettysburg, Covered With Glory./2/ Glory suggests majesty, and majesty suggests power, authority or dignity which others can feel./3/
That is one great contribution of St. Ignatius: humans can feel God’s glory not merely see it or have an idea of it. We, who feel God’s glory in a sustained way and keep alert to it, are able to speak, think, worship and behave in ways which extend God’s glory. As St. Paul put it, whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God. St. Ignatius focused us even more concretely: everything we do is glorify God more solidly.
Our lifelong vocation of giving “greater glory to God” according to each one’s way of life makes God’s loving presence felt more concretely and covers us and others with divine glory and make us better witnesses of God’s glory. Ask God for a more concrete feeling of God’s glory already alive in you.
/1/ 2Chronicles 7.1 and elsewhere
/3/ Hebrew words for honor and majesty share the wearing in the lovely opening verses of Psalm 104: O Lord my God...you are clothed with honor and majesty, you have covered yourself with light as with a garment.
Wiki-image of St. Ignatius of Loyola is in the public domain.
The scriptures for the Jesuit Solemnity of St. Ignatius are from the Jesuit Lectionary for Celebrations Proper to the Society of Jesus.
Monday, July 30, 2007
|Share the Good News About Your Work in the Community|
Members of Congress will be home in their states and local districts in the month of August during the Congressional recess. As Congress will be considering a number of issues this fall, including funding for a wide range of social programs that help families and individuals living in poverty, we urge you to invite your Representative and Senators to visit your agency and experience for themselves how the programs you run serve people and improve your community.
Help spread the word about your good work and Catholic Charities USA's
Why is this important? When elected officials are able to see a program working to help people in the communities they represent, they are often more likely to connect with an issue and be more supportive of programs. Such visits can have a direct impact on legislative decisions made in Washington.
How do I get started? To initiate the invitation, write a brief letter to the Member at his or her local district office (find contact information for the office here). Briefly introduce yourself and your organization and state the purpose of the letter, inviting the Member of Congress to visit on a specified date, or that you would like to arrange a time for the Member to visit your site while he or she is home. Explain why you would like the Member to visit your program (to see how an example of a good social service program can work in the community, being specific about the benefits it provides those you serve and the community in general.). Include specific information about the visit (date, time, location, others who may be invited, whether the media will be invited, what activities are planned for the visit). We encourage you to invite the media to maximize the impact of the visit and exposure for your good work.
You should then follow-up with a phone call to the scheduler in the local district office. Inquire if your letter has been received and if the Congressperson will be able to attend. If possible, also ask to speak to the person on staff who deals with the related policy issue (e.g., child welfare or housing) issues so that he or she is also aware of your request.
If the Member of Congress will be attending your event, ask if there are any questions regarding the visit that you can answer for the office or the Member, or if there are any special arrangements you need to make. Reiterate the specifics of the visit or event to the scheduler if needed.
Today's the day: When the legislator visits your program, let him or her know the scope of the program: how many people you serve, what impacts the program has on families, the community and the local economy. Explain why supporting programs like yours is important to their district. Encourage interaction between the lawmaker and staff and those you serve. It is helpful for Members of Congress to make connections with those who benefit from the program and see the changes in people's lives that good service programs make. Be prepared to answer any questions that might be asked about your program.
Follow up: Provide any follow-up materials that may have been promised during the visit. After the event, send a brief thank you letter to the Member of Congress and any staff who were instrumental in assisting you. Keep the relationship going with periodic communication with the Congressperson and his or her staff.
Who can I call for assistance and more information? Please contact Christin Driscoll, Senior Director for Policy Development and Advocacy, at cdriscoll@catholiccharitiesusa
Download a copy of our new advocacy manual for more tips!
Learn more about the Campaign to Reduce Poverty and blog about your experiences with your Members of Congress this summer!
For more legislative and policy information, please visit the Catholic Charities USA website.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Driving back from vacation Friday I passed a church sign, which contrasted our love with God’s love. “God’s love is always faithful,” the sign proclaimed. That was a welcome reminder because at times I disappoint God. God’s faithful love is God’s mercy. God’s mercy is faithful love without strings: we may turn our backs on God, but God never turns away from us or ignores us--never.
Abraham knew that and his back-and-forth with God over the fate of people, who discounted the dignity of others and used them, testified to his deeply felt knowledge of God’s faithful mercy. In the Mediterranean world even today, bargaining is based on a knowledge of one’s limits and the other’s need. One may spend a long time “looking.” Once a customer mentions an amount of cash that person has established a covenant of purchase with the vendor. Bargaining continues, but by mentioning a price the shopper has agreed to a sale.
Abraham’s knowledge of God’s mercy allowed him to persist in calling God to remember God’s mercy. Abraham was not coercing God to Abraham’s whim. We Christians, as Jesus taught us, do likewise: we bless God and praise God and call on God to be mindful of us. When we pray our model prayer, which Jesus gave us, we call on the mercy and love of God which we receive in the eucharist.
Far from coercing God when we pray, we seek deeper awareness of how our lives intersect with God’s desire for us. “God’s desire for us” describes the will of God in a way, which is both personal and affectionate. God desires us always, which is why God created us and keeps creating us at each moment.
God desired a deeper personal bond with us and became human with us and for us in Jesus. Jesus’ prayer, which his disciples sought to learn from him, expresses Jesus’ own relationship with God, whom he called his dear Father. Our Lord’s Prayer allows us to appreciate that in five ways: 1) Jesus always endorsed the holiness of God, which the oft-recited affirmation asserted: the Lord is one, the Lord alone, whom we love with our whole being and others because the Lord loves them; 2) Jesus proclaimed the reign of God with every fiber of himself; 3) Jesus did not rely on other things only God. Jesus used created things to help his prophetic witness; 4) Jesus linked forgiveness of sins with his ministry to individuals and to the world, his blood was the new covenant for the forgiveness of sins; and 5) Jesus encouraged his disciples to pray for courage and freedom from testing, which he knew often from his desert temptations through his agony in the garden.
Luke alone remembered Jesus’ tiny parable of the friend at midnight. Placed at the conclusion of Jesus teaching his disciples to pray, it offers us a vivid image to encourage us to persist: the sleepy friend responding to a crisis in the dead of night. God’s way of responding and giving always exceeds the ways humans give, and never with spite nor any snake-for-a-fish or scorpion-for-an-egg trickery.
Recently Pope Benedict reminded us that the attitude prayer shapes for Catholics is not either God or created things. It synthesizes both: “to be truly [human, people] according to their own gifts and their own charisms love the earth and the beautiful things the Lord has given us, [and] also [are] grateful for the light of God that shines on the earth, that gives splendor and beauty to everything else.”/1/
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, allow St. Ignatius to guide your prayer. Praise the Trinity for constantly creating and redeeming you. Next, ask the disciples to encourage you to ask Jesus their question, “Lord, teach [me] to pray just as John taught his disciples.” Then as St. Ignatius recommended, pray the Lord’s Prayer by reciting each word between breathing in and breathing out./2/ Reflect on each word or the relationship it creates for you or the humility or trust it engenders or the relationship with God you notice more clearly. After praying the Lord’s Prayer rhythmically according to breathing, say it slowly once again aware that you are praying our model prayer which Jesus gave us. Close by praising Jesus for allowing you to know more deeply God’s faithful, merciful love for you.
/1/ This was one response Pope Benedict gave to a question from one of 400 priests with whom he met in Italy. http://www.zenit.org/article-20222?l=english
/2/ Ignatius’ Third Method of praying in his Spiritual Exercises, #258.
Wiki-images of Albrecht Druer's Praying Hands and Carl Bloch's Sermon on the Mount are both in the public domain.
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Our Mixed Field
We heard at masses this week of weekdays ending today parables Jesus. Jesus’ parables have variety of purpose. Matthew offered 17 of them. Jesus addressed the first set to his disciples and even, as we heard, Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds.
The purpose of his parable of the weeds is to enlighten and to make faithful confidence stronger. The commitment of faith is the understanding Jesus asked. Faithful understanding grasps the significance of Jesus’ words for oneself, and more importantly, so that disciples in every age can pass Jesus’ words on to others.
The kingdom Jesus announced involved growth, decision and judgment. Jesus’ parables helps us grasp those three. This parable of the weeds makes clear the judgment aspect. Reward or punishment depends on one’s choice.
The parable enlightens, and it encourages faith, by describing the world as a field with mixed produce, namely wheat and weeds together. That is liberating, especially for those of us who tend toward perfectionism, for those of us who want to see things, people and events in neat and sealed compartments and for those of us who forget that how we choose has consequences for the kingdom or for the enemy.
It is easy for all us, maybe easier for us living in religious orders, to echo the fledgling people of Israel liberated from Egypt: “We will do everything that the Lord has told us.” We know the bible narratives and chronologies prove their statement false. Other desires overcame their desire to do everything that the Lord...told them. We are no different.
The difference we enjoy is that Jesus, the new covenant grew up among us, in the same mixed field we call humanity. The old covenant, which Moses related from the Lord, had its time. It helped, but it could not save. God visited humanity again in Jesus to help it grasp what humans had missed. Jesus will return again in glory and harvest the world depending on our choices for him and his gospel. It is not only a matter of pulling up wheat with weeds. We can mistake weeds for wheat and even see wheat as a weed. When we grasp that we are grasping the significance of Jesus' words and life well enough to pass it on faithfully.
Wiki-image of healthy and diseased wheat is in the public domain.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Moses, Captain Kirk and the NASA Effect
Those three probably sound like a strange trio. I think they’re more familiar in that they stress both limitless and nearness, making possible the impossible, beholding what the eye cannot see.
Humans prefer certainty, especially about things which we need to do, or about things for which we’re responsible. The immature voice, or worse, the cynical voice sounds this clearly: “Just tell me what I have to do. I can’t be bothered thinking about it!” “Thinking about” in order to choose then act was one signature success of the Second Vatican Council. No matter who one is among the baptized, one can no longer be Christian in the modern world without thinking or without choosing to witness the gospel to the world. In short, the Second Vatican Council continues to encourage us, “Grow up.”
Of course, we tend to remain immature or grow cynical, which to me seem contradictory because cynicism distrusts life and results not in growth but in dread. Moses was aware of that human tendency when he gave the way of the covenant. To live the covenant isn’t something beyond us so that some expert would have to go up in the sky...or cross the sea...to get it for us and tell us [how] we may carry it out. We already possess the covenant within us. We can carry it out daily with all our heart and all our soul.
That phrase implies our entire selves. It described one’s attitude toward God and people. Yet humans then also preferred certainty, something more definite, when they were obligated. The lawyer, the expert in the way of the covenant, questioned Jesus because the lawyer wanted something definite, more limited, something that wouldn’t tax his life yet count him blessed. Jesus answered the lawyer’s “who” with “how,” suggesting the more important question is, “Am I a neighbor to others?”
That question marked the often agonizing choices Captain Kirk confronted and decisions he enacted as he fulfilled his mission to explore “space: the final frontier” aboard the Starship Enterprise. One might think StarTrek was about going up in the sky, precisely what Moses said wasn’t necessary. StarTrek was less about space travel and more about relationships of humans with other planets, their inhabitants and with one another. Again & again Captain Kirk realized he and all humans were neighbors to all creatures. His question was not Who but How would he represent humanity best and be neighbor in that galaxy or that planet or guide those under his command to respect and care for each other. This, too, is our enterprise especially now that we, in fact, go up into the sky and visit the ocean depths, to science the final frontier.
The NASA effect benefits us daily, and we’re often unaware. Each time humans explore space our daily life changes eventually. Is it because we have things we once didn’t have, like: Tang; Teflon; velcro; freeze-dried foods; and pens that write when held tip up? Perhaps. I think our daily life changes because our perspective changes. When we saw the earth as a globe, whole and entire, through the window of an Apollo craft, we gained a felt knowledge of our planet we could not have had before. We ought not pooh-pooh this NASA effect of changed perspective. Nor ought we exalt it too highly.
Our blue sphere flecked with white did move an astronaut to read from Genesis. Yet its image reproduced ’round the globe has not moved people to live more humanely. The human heart remains the final frontier, and neighbors and our response to them bring it nearer to us, take us deeper into it and make the invisible Christ visible to our hearts by giving us new access to him. We make our Messiah visible by our lives.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, grow more alert to the Trinity creating you and all things. Ask the Good Samaritan or Moses to introduce you to Jesus so you may speak with him. Praise Jesus for being your new covenant and for giving you a share in his life and work. In your words tell Jesus how...you read his words, and ask Jesus to help you to live them more clearly. Resolve to live one of them concretely in the next hours. Close your prayer time by slowly saying the Lord’s Prayer, which fashions us as closer friends of Jesus and more confident neighbors, who make Jesus more clearly felt and known by others. Our neighbors, who may need us most to act as disciples, we may pass along our way and never see again.
Wiki-image of Moses receiving and giving torah is in the public domain. Wiki-photo of the StarshipEnterprise used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
In his weekly All Things Catholic post, John L. Allen Jr. helps us appreciate the "continuity school" of thought in the Catholic Church today. He also offers an excerpt of his forthcoming book on MegaTrends in Catholicism to make himself clearer. It's devoted to Catholic identity. That makes his column a premium this week!
His excerpt begins
Anyone who regards the statement, "I'm a card-carrying Catholic" as a mere metaphor clearly has never met Marian Mulhall.So meet Marian and understand more clearly how identity "is currently driving [church] policy."
Wiki-photo of John L. Allen Jr. is used under the terms of the GNU Documentation License.
Links to the four resources may be found at its page at the U.S. Jesuit website.
Dear Companions in Jesuit Ministry,
Peace of Christ!
This is a traditional greeting on Jesuit letters, and it takes on special meaning in these days when our nation is struggling over how best to find an elusive peace in war-torn Iraq. We are all painfully aware of the great consequence and complexity of the current policy deliberations. They are not only political and military decisions, but moral and ethical ones as well. Our Catholic faith calls us to participation in the national debate, especially in its moral and ethical aspects. That call is not only to us individually but as community - whether that be family, neighborhood, parish, school, retreat house - and we write to encourage and perhaps facilitate further discussion and participation.
The search for reconciliation in Iraq and here at home over these frequently divisive issues will only bear fruit through thoughtful discernment and informed dialogue. Yet, complicated by politics and self-interested agendas, much of the current public discourse can be contradictory and confusing. Many of us struggle to sift through it all to find good and helpful material. As a contribution to our common effort at good citizenship, we would like to offer a series of collected materials from various sources that we think helpful . We encourage you to consider these materials individually and in community.
Perhaps you would want to ask yourselves these questions:
- Does this material and particularly its assumptions coincide with my own experience?
- What are the moral and ethical norms that underlie the argument? Are they applied appropriately?
- How is this helpful for my own understanding and my own discussion and action, however informal, regarding our national decisions regarding Iraq? . . .
As Companions of Christ's Mission, may we pray for guidance from the Spirit He has sent to be with us always.
James R. Stormes SJ
Secretary, Social and International Ministries
Friday, July 13, 2007
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Allowing Ears To Hear
Israel set out with all that was his, opened the first reading. Like Abraham and Isaac, his grandfather and father, Israel-Jacob was a pilgrim. But did he really set out with all that was his? The last line of the reading suggests not. After their tearful reunion north of the Pyramids, Israel said to Joseph, “At last I can die, now that I have seen for myself that Joseph is still alive.” Possessions were not worth Israel’s life, but his son, Joseph, was.
When the new Joseph, Jesus, sent his disciples on mission he prevented them from depending on possessions. Possessions could not empower them to announce the gospel of God’s reign.
Announcing that gospel was risky. Jesus was candid about the trials they would face for confessing faith in him. With courtroom imagery Jesus promised them their defending attorney, his holy Spirit. Indeed they would give voice to God’s speech as they confessed their “guilt,” that is, their faith in Jesus.
Their human speech would be inseparable from divine speech. To make this spirited testimony is the reason Jesus sent and continues to send his disciples like sheep in the midst of wolves.
The concern of these trial situations is whether the defendants give voice to the word of God, which ears cannot hear.
We are more comfortable than they because of our freedom to profess our faith. So the question for us is: how do we give God’s word voice? Do we stop at voicing our own needs, one thing Jesus taught us to do in prayer?
Jesus message is about the cross, which he would model with his life. An ever-deepening friendship with Jesus includes making his cross real in contemporary crosses, so that each of us can grow more confident in his Spirit defending us. Our reunions with Jesus often move us to tears. Tears remind us that we feel deeply the joy of his life alive in us for the sake of our world.
I am indebted to Paul S. Minear, Winkley Professor Emeritus of Biblical Theology, The Divinity School, Yale University, for helping me appreciate the role of Holy Spirit as “attorney for the defense.” Professor Minear died this year.
Wiki-image of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers is in the public domain.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
When I'm reading, I hate to stop to look up unfamiliar words. Fortunately, I don't need to rely on a dictionary. I can figure out the meanings of words using my extraneous knowledge of English word roots, prefixes, and suffices.From his "extraneous knowledge" he realizes that the word "'salacious'...refers to specially discounted prices."
Enjoy his complete list! No doubt he will pick up a red pencil again in September.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Washington Weekly Special Edition
July 10, 2007
Breaking Health News
The U.S. Senate Finance Committee has reached a tentative agreement on a framework for reauthorization of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), according to today’s issue of Congressional Quarterly.
The bipartisan agreement would expand funding for SCHIP to an additional $35 billion over five years. This falls significantly short of the $50 billion increase sought by Democratic congressional leaders and included in the congressional budget resolution. Reports are that the expansion would be paid for by a 61-cent increase in the current federal tobacco tax, bringing it to a $1 tax per pack.
While the compromise might have the support of most of the Finance Committee, it is likely to be politically difficult for other members on both sides of the aisle to support.
Look for more detailed information from Catholic Charities USA in Washington Weekly on Friday. Also, to read the article from Congressional Quarterly, click here.
More News on Medicaid
According to today’s Congressional Quarterly, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to clear a three-month extension of a program that allows families to continue receiving Medicaid temporarily as they transition from welfare to work. The Senate had passed by voice vote on June 27 its bill (S.1701) to extend the Temporary Medical Assistance (TMA) program until Sept. 30. The program, which expired June 30, is designed to ease the transition from welfare to work by allowing families to continue their Medicaid coverage for up to twelve months as their income levels rise above the normal allowable ceilings.
The bill also would keep alive through Sept. 30 a $50 million grant program for abstinence education that House Democrats have sought to terminate. A leadership aide said before the July 4th recess that Democrats instead “will address permanent reforms in the abstinence program” when the House renews the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
For more information, please contact Desmond Brown, Director of Health and Welfare Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Karen Wong, Legislative Policy and Research Analyst, at email@example.com.
Washington Weekly is a publication of the Social Policy Department of Catholic Charities USA and is published regularly when Congress is in session.
Catholic Charities USA
1731 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
For information about advocacy, please contact Christin Driscoll at (703) 236-6245 or cdriscoll@catholiccharitiesusa
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Jacob, grandson of Abraham, received the name Israel. The people, Israel, became identified with one man and his struggle. The people Israel see their varied struggles through the ages in Jacob. Or better, the story of Jacob’s struggle with God reminds them--and us--to be alert for God’s presence in every struggle.
One struggle percolating within us 21st-century people may be phrased as a question: how can this and other bible episodes so removed from our time and experience fit with our structures and ways of living?
The answer is "interpreting," which is a struggle not to produce something, but to have a felt knowledge of the ways God is active in individual lives and within the world.
Jesus’ instructions to his disciples called them to pray the Lord of all things first before entering the harvest to proclaim the kingdom, to teach, to exorcise, to heal--Jesus’ own work. We may not think that God needs anything, but Jesus demonstrated by sending his disciples that God needs us to care lovingly and to announce the kingdom by our words and deeds.
Our compassion traces back to Jesus’ compassion andto his Father’s compassion. We struggle at times to trace those connections. Single bible-lines are not as helpful as the dramatic movement of entire scenes. And more, placing ourselves in the scenes and noticing what impulses they trigger in us leads us to continue the work Jesus needs us to do in his name.
Monday, July 09, 2007
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
On behalf of Gesu Parish and personally, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Diane, at the passing of “the love [your] life”; to you, Heather, at the passing of your “amazing father,” who was your “really patient, really forgiving” “best friend”; and to you, Jessica, for whom words fail you at the loss of your Dad as he was with you in this life.
Your brother- and sister-parishioners and I grieve, too, because Jeff only recently joined us at the Lord’s table, receiving communion for the first time. It is difficult to see Eucharistic life cut short. That’s especially true for Jeff because he searched for God long before he celebrated his first communion. I offer a few words to console and to strengthen you; to help you appreciate God’s astounding compassion by noticing that Jesus’ victorious dying and rising were present in Jeff’s life and in you as well./1/
Heather and Jessica I want to address you first. Each of your life-journeys will be difficult without your Dad in your life as he once was. It will take time and be different for each of you. Nevertheless, your Dad always wanted what was best for you, “starting,” as your Mom recalled when we four were together last week, “with [your feet], with shoes.” I knew your Dad enough to understand that he knew that anyone’s life-journey is more than the body, as important and sacred as bodies are. Your Dad’s interest in and love for you desired you to be able to negotiate the twists and turns, ups and downs with which life challenges our hearts and our spirits as well as our physical selves.
Diane, you and I were together with Jeff from the first time I met Jeff in Hillcrest Hospital last summer. I knew well before you informed me that Jeff was your great support. Jeff and his companionship with you helped you negotiate life. Jeff’s strength and Jeff’s wisdom shaped you to be his strength and his wisdom through his long illness and in these final months with the agonizing decisions they demanded.
Now, as Ecclesiastes reminded us, the “time to die” sharply alerts us to the fact that it, too, has it’s time. However, what is timeless never dies. What is timeless is of God. Your spouse’s strength and wisdom will abide through you, Diane. His patient, forgiving, deeply concerned and big hearted ways will live through you, Jessica and Heather.
Jesus reminded us that his Father’s presence is like a mansion with many rooms, as many as needed for the number of people who desire to live in their presence. Loving, not labeling, and sincerity of heart, not suspicious envy of others, shape that desire to live in their presence now and always.
Your husband and father has known the address of their mansion. It is the Golden Rule: treat others as you would have others treat you. Living by the Golden Rule gave Jeff confidence to laugh at what was humorous; to cry at what was unjust and harmful to people; and to care for his family, his friends, neighbors, colleagues and to be willing to give and do for others.
People live the Golden Rule lovingly. If any of us merely observe it or observe it glumly, then we keep from harming others, but we really do not give ourselves to life and to others. Not observing it but living the Golden Rule in friend-
ship with Jesus is know-
ing the address of the heavenly mansion Jesus assured waits for us.
Jeff’s refused to categorize people. That’s how he personalized living the Golden Rule. Jeff was free to consider each person because God refused to categorize Jeff. God’s patience with Jeff allowed Jeff to search and find God in Jesus in a reasoned way. Jeff tested faith with experience. Jesus reassured us that experience can affirm faith. Because Jeff gave himself to both faith and experience his inner self was being renewed day by day long before his outer self [began] wasting away.
On the night that we celebrated Viaticum, the sacrament for the dying, the Eucharist as food for the journey from this life, Jeff was agitated. I asked Jeff to try to put it and its cause into Jesus’ hands. Jeff whispered hoarsely, as Diane recalls, “I’m trying.” He need try no more. Jeff, the good cook, now enjoys the heavenly banquet and prays for each of us to enjoy more deeply its foretaste and promise at this mass in his memory and in every mass as often as possible.
/1/ Cf. Order of Christian Funerals, 27.
Wiki-images of the "Light-window" and the Dominican chant setting of Psalm 27.6b are used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The Future Is Now
Someone recently mentioned to me an aching concern for us in the church. With permission I phrase it as a question: how can we better pass on the experience of encountering Jesus to each other and to succeeding generations? That isn’t only that person’s concern. Luke reminded us in today’s gospel selection it has been the church’s concern from the beginning. Jesus personally sent disciples to do his work of preaching, healing and peace-bringing in order to further his mission. Each of us Christians is his ambassador.
Jesus encounters us and desires to send us. We pass on better the experience of encountering Jesus by pausing each day to consider how Jesus encountered and desired to send us. Do we have misgivings about being sent by Jesus to extend his healing and peace-bearing work? Certainly! I am apprehensive about it, and I’m more like you than different. We all have our misgivings about being sent by Jesus.
One misgiving is fueled by feeling unable. As ambassadors of Jesus we don’t do our work. Jesus sends us to spread his word and cultivate the peace of the reign of God Jesus announced. Acting in the name of another frightens me.
Jesus repeatedly encouraged, “Do not fear!” as angels and prophets often encouraged before Jesus. Not to fear is to be confident. Confident in what? We heard Isaiah express an answer well: the Lord’s power shall be known to his servants. Jesus’ instructions to his 72 other disciples called them to dig deep and stand confident that God would indeed look after them. They personalized that confidence as they carried nothing extra, focused on their mission and their relationship with Jesus and [ate] what was set before them. Indeed through them divine power was felt and seen.
The disciples rejoiced at that. They didn’t dwell on of their privations and restrictions: Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Nor did they object to being vulnerable from the start, like lambs among wolves. Their success was not due to their efforts. Jesus counseled them to know their success as being chosen by God in Jesus by their Spirit when he told them, “do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you. . .rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
This Christian confidence in an empowering God, who responds positively to humans even when we are undeserving, shapes our encounters of God in Jesus in a unique way. It stimulates us to desire Jesus to send us to do his work so that more people can encounter Jesus. Encountering Jesus also unites us to our crucified Messiah. Many find his cross and death offensive. The cross unites us to Jesus, who fully joined our humanity.
Our union with Messiah Jesus inspires how we live. Our union is the Christian mystique, and the energy it offers us. Jesus’ Spirit is the energy of the Christian mystique, inspiring us more and more to be what our shared name of Christian calls us, flesh and blood ambassadors of Jesus for the sake of the world in which we live.
We know the word mystique implies energy by the way we use it: cowboy mystique or feminine mystique or Hollywood mystique. A modern poet said a poet’s speech “often depends on a mystique, on the spiritual freedom that finds itself enslaved on earth.”/1/
The cross of Jesus releases our spiritual freedom if we let it. The cross reminds us that in the human from Nazareth our God died and was raised to absolutely new life. We heard a few weeks ago in his letter that St. Paul indicated he preached to the Galatians with a physical restriction, a personal cross. It united him to them and especially to Jesus/2/: I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. He allowed the power of God to work through him to make many more ambassadors of Jesus. All of them are the reason we are here.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week become more aware of Jesus loving you and choosing you as one of his ambassadors. Praise and thank Jesus for choosing you. Speak to Jesus in your own words, telling him how you feel because he chooses you to continue his mission. Ask Jesus to renew your energy as his disciple and for the grace to look forward to extending his healing and peace-bearing work. Close by slowly saying the Lord’s Prayer, our program of living: more united with Jesus, even in his cross; and more joyfully sharing his risen life even now. The future of others and their encounters with Jesus depends on how we encounter Jesus and join his mission.
/1/ Salvatore Quasimodo, 1901-1968. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/salvatoreq374526.html
/2/ ...you know that it was because of a physical illness that I originally preached the gospel to you, and you did not show disdain or contempt because of the trial caused you by my physical condition, but rather you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.
Where now is that blessedness of yours? Indeed, I can testify to you that, if it had been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me (Galatians 4. 14-15).
Wiki-images of the Apostles Going Forth and of the beginning of Galatians are in the public domain.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
That phrase was Pope John Paul's when he called for that conversion in the 1990s. Individual and local initiatives are here and there. "Yet so far no single defining moment has come along to crank up Catholic activism in a way that changes the social and political equation," wrote Mr. John L. Allen Jr. in his analysis to which he devoted his Friday column.
As usual, Mr. Allen provides some historical perspective after getting our attention early.
If there's such a turning point taking shape, it may well be in the Amazon rainforest. If Catholicism can't make a stand in the Amazon, there may not be much hope for it anywhere else.Mr. Allen draws both parallels and divergences with the Polish movement, Solidarity, as he helps us appreciate "the time window for a concerted Catholic effort is closing fast. Were it to somehow succeed, however, it could have a powerful effect on the church everywhere."
Wiki-photo of John L. Allen Jr. is used under the Gnu Free Documentation License.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
"We have to step out of this charity model, and as nonprofits, we have to start being involved in the political discourse. Hunger's not about food."
- Robert Egger, anti-hunger activist, founder of D.C. Central Kitchen, and recent recipient of the Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award. (Source: The Washington Post)In that brief interview in the Post Mr. Egger explains what he meant by his quote above. He also offers his insight on young people's attitude toward helping others.
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Independence Day celebrates our national freedom from a monarchy that oppressed the first colonists, beginning in Europe--the reason why they left it. Britain even reached across the Atlantic with domineering laws and influence.
The event leading to our independence was the American Revolution: the colonists turned the tables on the British government, wresting itself to live freely and to uphold freedom, which remains the mantra and stated purpose of our government today. Jesus compliments and transforms our independence. We “Catholic independents” strive to depend more and more on the Trinity, who creates and redeems us. As Catholic independents on our Independence Day, we recall our vocation is to live more under the influence of the gospel. I want to reflect with you on what that means in our lives.
Living under the influence of Jesus’ gospel is revolutionary. Living under the influence of Jesus’ gospel turns tables, too, first within our hearts. We name that ongoing conversion. Then with renewed hearts we consider the tables of the world and which of them needs to be turned for the sake of the poor and the vulnerable; and other tables turned to promote human dignity and to foster peace and progress among peoples.
On the one hand this is our God-given, human vocation. We are stewards of the entire world, which God entrusted us to cultivate and care for it. Christian stewardship always sees people in every scene and every situation. As stewards nothing is solely ours; rather it is in our care to promote people, to foster human dignity. If nature is beautiful--except for the places humans have scarred--then, the gospel reminds us that human dignity is glorious, indeed godly. Christian stewardship seeks to help people to “live the experience of self-giving and of the formation of...authentic human community [which is] oriented towards [our] final destiny, which is God”/1/.
Authentic humanity is a unity of our two characteristics of body and spirit. Our bodies link us to the world, and our senses mediate everything to us. Our spirit, the image and likeness of God, gives us life and opens us beyond mere human striving. The likeness of God does not despise our bodies; it also opens us beyond “a mere materialism that considers [our] spirit a mere manifestation of” our bodies./2/
Body and spirit are in the fore of our worship. Worship reminds us of our God, who lovingly entrusts to each of us our vocations as stewards of the earth and guardians of human dignity. Jesus is our model. At the last supper, Jesus taught his disciples at table by turning the table, asking: who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? Then Jesus turned the table: I am among you as the one who serves. Jesus’ revolutionary leadership does not take up arms, nor does it act with any other violence. It isn’t concerned with being first or last but being as the youngest. In Jesus’ words: let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. Who is the youngest?
The youngest is especially favored by God. The bible is filled with them. The younger like Jacob; the younger like Joseph and Ephraim; the youngest like Benjamin and the youngest like David; and like the lost, younger son in Jesus’ parable of the Lost Son and Prodigal Father. The dream of God was for them: Nevertheless, his younger brother shall surpass him, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations./3/ The youngest also are the poor and vulnerable of every age.
Our human striving moves us to be the elder ones reclining at table. Jesus, our model, invites us to imitate him and “to wait on tables.” While hospitality is a hallmark of Christian life, we imitate Jesus, our model, best when we promote human dignity and foster peace and progress among peoples by the ways we live. That is how we make our faith alive and active. The more we help to shape a society that invites each person to participate in it, the more we imitate Jesus, the model of our faith and the pioneer of our salvation.
/1/ Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, © 2004 Libreria Editrice Vaticana, #47. Online version:
/2/ Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, #129.
/3/ Genesis 48.19--of Ephraim, but it summarizes well the others.
Wiki-Images from the Hubble Space Telescope and Hildegard's, The Trinity is the True Unity, are in the public domain.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
|Write to your local newspaper today!|
WHAT: When Congress returns from its week-long July 4th recess, committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate will begin debating legislation to reauthorize the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
SCHIP provides high quality, vital health coverage to 6 million children whose families would otherwise be unable to afford insurance, but more than 9 million children in America go without health insurance. It's time that all our nation's children got the health coverage they need. We need your help to raise awareness in your community about this critical program and the need to ensure that all eligible children receive health coverage by sending letters to the editors of your local newspapers.
We need your help to spread the word!
ACTION NEEDED: Click on "Take Action" and enter your zip code to find contact information for your local media outlets and a sample letter to the editor to get you started. We strongly encourage you to personalize this letter to paint a picture of issues in your community and what you may be doing to help.
BACKGROUND: Improving public policies that promote the health of our nation's children is a key issue area of Catholic Charities USA's Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America. Click here for more information on Catholic Charities USA's positions on SCHIP.
For more tips on writing letters to the editor and working with the media, check out our advocacy manual, Taking Action, Catholic Charities USA's Guide to Effective Advocacy.
For more information, please contact Christin Driscoll, Senior Director for Policy Development and Advocacy, at cdriscoll@catholiccharitiesusa
Did you send a letter to the editor? Tell us about it on the poverty campaign blog!
Thank you - you efforts make a difference!