Monday, April 30, 2007

Monday word, 30 Apr 2007

4Easter Monday (29 Apr 2007) Ac 11. 1-18; Ps 42; Jn 10. 1-10
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Passing Through

Our psalm, As the hind longs for the running waters...Athirst is my soul for God, the living God, reminds me to tell you about Easter in Milan when St. Ambrose was its bishop.

While those being baptized gathered where there was water, in the baptistry building nearby, the faithful prayed for them in the church. When the newly baptized processed into the church they sang today’s psalm, As the hind longs for the running waters...Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.

Not only did those in the church hear them coming, but when they entered the church they smelled them, too, because each was generously anointed with the aromatic oil, chrism, which is named for Holy Spirit. Risking sounding like an early-a.m. t.v. commercial: there’s more--more than hearing and more than smelling them coming. When the faithful saw the newly baptized they appeared lustrous in their white, lined garments over their anointed bodies.

They had passed through the gate of heaven, namely risen Jesus himself, when they died and rose with him in baptism.

Their hearts became an even larger territory of the divine love. The more they drank it in, the more they thirsted to be like their Messiah in their daily lives. Jesus desired to spread his love to every corner of each heart. More welcomed his life-giving love than rejected it, which is the pattern in the Acts of the Apostles we’re reading through the Easter season. More welcomed his life-giving love than rejected it, which is why we are here.

To thirst for God is a way of living. No one’s thirst for God can be completely satisfied this side of heaven. Yet its partial satisfaction is a gift because the Messiah’s way of living leads us and others to show more clearly that God has made clean, that is, made worthy to represent God’s desires in our world, no less than each one of us.

Wiki-image of Ravenna mosaic is in the public domain.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday word, 29 Apr 2007

4Easter (29 Apr 2007) Ac 13. 14, 43-52; Ps 100; Rv 7. 9,14b-17; Jn 10.27-30
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
More Aware

Some of us are avid readers of the funny pages. We find all sorts of truths expressed in the antics which earn those pages the name funny.

Others forgo the funnies and prefer the political cartoons on the op-ed pages of newspapers. Caricatured impressions of contemporary people at times speaking, at times silent, do not blind us to the truths--serious, sad and ironic--those visual ways of knowing and communicating convey.

Because cartoons of both varieties appeared in the papers I read as a boy, I thought that the cartoon was as new as I was. My middle- and high-school history classes taught me cartoons had been around a long, long time.

Ancient literature didn’t have cartoons as we know them. Ancient authors drew images with words. One convention portrayed humans as animals. Sound familiar? Hint: ...a great multitude...from every nation, race, people, and tongue ...stood before the throne and the Lamb.

Writers also expressed truth in contradictions. Does that sound familiar? Hint: those who survived the time of great distress... washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb.

Yes, cartoons as we “read” them can help us appreciate the imagery of the Book of Revelation, John’s vision which he wrote down to console and encourage Christians suffering for living their faith.

Rather than be distressed and distracted by his vision, we can absorb its truth by allowing much of its imagery to convey truth in twists and turns, the way we absorb cartoon-images and the truths they convey. If we can’t get our minds around Jesus’ resurrection from the dead --the message of the Book of Revelation--we need not get our bowels in a stir over John eating a scroll printed on front and back or a great red dragon with seven heads and 10 horns or other bizzare images. Truth isn’t for experts only.

That is not to say that we will ever exhaust the symbolism of the Book of Revelation. It is to say that our best approach to it lets the vision reveal Jesus to us.

That has many consequences for our lives of faith and action for God’s justice. All of them shape each person’s vocation: the way each of us in each one’s way best lives as a disciple of Jesus and bears his truth to the world.

The church designates this weekend to greater awareness of vocation. While we pray ardently that young people discover the ways in which the Trinity has created them to live their Christian discipleship--as spouses; in the nobility of single life; as deacons, priests or members of religious communities of women and men--vocation awareness also means everyone’s growth in the vocations they have accepted with God’s grace. Vocation awareness means choosing again, day by day, to grow more generous as spouses, single people, priests, sisters and brothers of religious communities.

Our primary vocation is common to us all: we are to allow the word of God to be spoken to us again and again, day in and day out. Vocation awareness means hearing Jesus’ voice; and it means allowing the Lamb, who was slain yet lives for ever and ever, to shepherd us and help us persevere as disciples. We sophisticated people do not easily lend ourselves to that. Yet the vision of heaven revealed in the Book of Revelation is not for sophisticated people, it is for persevering people.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, dedicate your time to becoming more aware of how very much the Trinity desires you. Ask the entire communion of saints to present you to the Lamb, our crucified and risen Jesus. Converse with Jesus about his awareness of his vocation as Messiah and Savior as well as your own awareness of your vocation. Ask for light, courage, conviction and generosity to live it more freely and with gusto. Close your time by slowly saying the Lord’s Prayer, our compass for living as disciples: men, women and children, who are more keenly aware that they belong to Jesus with a desire to be more aware that we do.

Wiki-images of the Lamb and the Resurrection of the Dead are in the public domain.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Saturday word, 28 Apr 2007

3Easter Saturday (28 Apr 2007) Ac 9. 31-42; Ps 116; Jn 6. 60-69
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
An Effect Which Makes the Spirit the Spirit

If we never have met a person, but if we have seen how the person is in the world, at least in a sliver of it, we can have a knowledge of who the person is by how the person behaves or acts or by the demeanor of the person.

For example: when I worked at a large city hospital I commuted by bus. I saw other regular commuters already on the bus before me and others who boarded after me. Their demeanors, the manners, even how they composed them-selves gave me insight into them.

Some of those insights were confirmed upon talking with them or meeting them on the lunch hour. Other insights remained speculation. However, watching people over time, has been confirmed often enough to let me feel assured that we do obtain what I call action-knowledge: meeting people by seeing them in action.

The gospel today contains John’s version of Peter’s confession of faith. Did you notice how it differed from the confession shared by the other gospels? In them Peter responded to a question about identity: Jesus had asked: Who do people say I am?

In the Fourth Gospel Jesus asks his apostles, the Twelve, a question about their desired action: Do you also want to leave me? Others were so shocked by Jesus and his claim to be the bread of life, life that people gained by eating his flesh, that Jesus wanted to know if the Twelve were shocked, and wanted to return[] to their former way of life and no longer walk[] with him.

The Twelve observed Jesus; they observed others and their negative reaction to Jesus. Yet, they decided that whatever they felt and thought Peter spoke for them: “Master, to whom shall we go? We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” They let God be God in Jesus.

Something similar can be pointed to in the selection from the Acts of the Apostles. After the violence Saul inflicted against the church, which soon all of it knew, a peace settled over it and it grew with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

To appreciate the action here, think of the title by which we invoke Holy Spirit in the Divine Praises: Blessed be the Holy Spirit. . . . Yes! the Paraclete.

Paraclete is the Greek word for consolation. The word Jesus used to describe the action of the Spirit was the Consoler. The Paraclete was being itself, and its paraclete-ness, to coin a word, gave the church growth.

To allow God to be God and to allow God’s spirit to be itself and to act one of its ways, giving consolation, both in peace and in violent upheaval is our faithful response. God is greater than we are. To allow God to be God, to be greater than our logic, allows us to abide with Jesus even when Jesus and his promises shock us. We encounter Jesus through the actions his holy Spirit effects in us and in others.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Virtual March on Washington

From Catholic Charities:

Hunger Alert: Join Our Virtual March on Washington

Tell Congress We Need a Hunger Free America Take Action!

WHAT: Congress will soon begin debating the Farm Bill, which includes rules regarding the Food Stamp Program. Food stamps are our nation’s first line of defense against hunger for children and families, working adults, and the elderly. The reauthorization of the 2007 Farm Bill is an opportunity for Congress to take proactive steps toward eliminating the prevalence of hunger in our nation.

WHY A VIRTUAL MARCH? Catholic Charities Directors from communities across the country will be in Washington on April 26th to meet with legislators about hunger in our nation and what Congress can do about it. At the same time, Catholic Charities USA will be holding a briefing for Members of Congress and their staff on the issue of hunger.

You can join in! Lend your voice and amplify the message to Congress about hunger in America by taking action TODAY!

ACTION NEEDED: Starting TODAY, click on “Take Action” and enter your zip code for a sample letter that you can customize to send your legislators to ask them to help reduce hunger in America.

BACKGROUND: Addressing hunger in our nation 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 hunger. In addition, Catholic Charities USA works closely with other Catholic organizations on the Farm Bill, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. To read the policy priorities developed by these groups for the 2007 Farm Bill, please visit: and

Thank you – your efforts make a difference!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday word, 25 Apr 2007

St. Mark, Evangelist (25 Apr 2007) 1Pt 5. 5b-14; Ps 89; Mk 16. 15-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Strong and Gentle

The final verses of Mark’s gospel resume several facets of the first Christians: baptism; spiritual utterance and prophecy; protection from harm; healing by laying hands by believers; Jesus’ ascension and sitting in glory at the right hand of God. All these are bookended by risen Jesus’ command to evangelize everywhere and fulfillment of his command by his disciples.

We are here because of their evangelizing. Mark was the first evangelist who wrote what we honor as gospel. Mark’s gospel is unique because at every turn it has us encounter the mystery which Jesus embodied. It relentlessly confronts us with the mystery who is a person, the mystery which takes hold of us before we are aware of it; the mystery which shapes our lives.

This mystery, our crucified and risen Messiah is a commanding presence and a compassionate, concerned, loving friend at the same time. Our Messiah is always both, never one or the other.

Commanding presence only and God would remain distant. Loving friend only and Jesus would not be Messiah. Both together call for faith: our trust to do the gospel with our lives, trusting that we are saved by it as we do it.

Peter, whose long-held association with Mark assured Mark’s apostolic witness, described what faith did: faith resisted temptation and suffering. An early call not to intellectualize or even spiritual-ize faith but to employ it in standing against whatever would seek to move us outside of Jesus’ circle.

Mark’s symbol is the lion. In pop culture lions are strong and gentle at the same time. To be a disciple of our risen Messiah Jesus is to resist strongly what seduces us away from living his gospel and to treat gently all people. For Jesus’ gentle respect of us restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us. To evangelize, after all, continues Jesus’ work which he does in us.
Wikiphoto is in the public domain.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tuesday word, 24 Apr 2007

3Easter Tuesday (24 Apr 2007) Ac 7. 51-8.1a; Ps 31; Jn 6. 30-35
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Yet Another Connotation

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit...for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me. Lead Me, Guide Me is a title of a Catholic, contemporary, African-American hymnal. Ever since I discovered it, I began to become more aware how crucial that phrase from Psalm 31 is for living our individual vocations. While each of makes our way, we are always in need of the leading, guiding help of our risen Messiah Jesus.

The portrait painted by the Acts of the Apostles of the earliest community of the crucified and risen Messiah can accurately be called a lead me, guide me account or our beginnings.

The parallels between Stephen and Jesus in the stoning of Stephen are difficult to miss, no? Both of them confronted opposition to the Holy Spirit, God’s energythroughout history. Both of them sided with the Holy Spirit, indeed Luke describes them both--Jesus in his gospel, Stephen in his Acts of the Apostles--as filled with the Holy Spirit.

As both died, they prayed that God would not hold their murders against their killers.

A quick response of most of us is: “I could never do that!” On our own we could not. Jesus and Stephen were able to that because God’s Holy Spirit led and guided them. They were by no means puppets, jumping to the string-pulls of a divine puppeteer.

On the contrary, they were autonomous agents who gave themselves into God’s leading, guiding Spirit. This reading and its psalm paired with today’s gospel offers a new connotation for believing. To believe, is joined with eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lord. To believe is to allow oneself to be led and guided by the Spirit of our risen Messiah.

That may rankle us or even frighten us. The more we give ourselves to that the freer we become. Freer disciples more readily offer their entire selves to the Lord in life not just at death.
Wiki image is in the public domain.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday word, 23 Apr 2007

3Easter Monday (23 Apr 2007) Ac 6. 8-15; Ps 119; Jn 6. 22-29
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
That Abiding Word

The Jesus of the Fourth Gospel is most human. The passage we just heard glimpses Jesus when he felt irritated: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”

The people, who ate of the five loaves and two fish which Jesus multiplied for thousands, were impressed by magic and missed the sign of God which Jesus revealed to them. That is why Jesus continued to say, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that abides for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”

That word is crucial in John’s gospel. It reappears with more than a single connotation: to abide in a place: to dwell or live; to endure; to last; to join oneself to another in a lasting way. When we believe in the Son of Man we are not performing a mental exercise as much as we are forging anew the relationship which offers us life and hope.

Relationship with Jesus is abiding nourishment. Relationship with Jesus makes us authentic. That means that we live with authority.

Service flowing from praying, not from a desire to please or to impress others: service flowing from praying speaks more eloquently than our words. Service flowing from praying completes our praying. People notice that.

The deacon who is listed as first among all the deacons, Stephen was recognized has having this authentic authority, if I may pile those two words on each other. Even his opponents recognized that, which is what the phrase, the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel, communicates. We have been baptized to pray and serve to reflect God to others, never to impress or to manipulate others.
Wiki image of St. Stephen is in the public domain.

Beware Truisms

It has become so common that many accept it as true: Islam is reacting, even violently, against "the West." Is is that simple? Does that commonplace contain the whole truth?
No: with utmost certainty, the terrorist violence of the islamists, contrary to what many believe in the West, is not a reaction to “western aggressions”. The cause is found within a certain current of Muslim thought.
Those words of Jesuit Fr.
Samir Khalil Samir are in his recent, concise article, "Islamic terrorism, a disease within the Muslim world."

While prayers for those we love, who are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, are necessary, praying for them only forgets wide swaths of people and cultures also sorely affected.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday word, 22 April 2007

3Easter (22 Apr 2007) Ac 5. 27-32, 40b-41; Ps 30; Rv 5. 11-14; Jn 21.1-19
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Risen Is Real, Not Romantic

Every three years the second reading on Sundays of Easter is from the Book of Revelation. It isn’t about dating the world’s end. The Book of Revelation is about seeing. In its 22 brief chapters the phrase, “I saw,” appears more than 50 times. The Book of Revelation is one person’s graced vision of heaven. That disciple’s vision is not only the revelation about risen Jesus, the vision reveals risen Jesus: “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.”

One shape in which John saw the risen Lord, the first and the last, the one who lives [forever though he] was dead, was the paschal Lamb. Paschal means “having suffered,” and John saw standing in the midst of the heavenly throne, angels, living creatures and elders, the Lamb who was slain yet lives. That paschal Lamb is worthy of our worship and our very selves because that Lamb first won victory over evil and death. What is even more worthy of our worship is that this Lamb, standing alive though seemingly slain, assures us of his life and heritage now and offers us glimpses of heaven.

The Eucharist, the sacrament which sustains baptism, nourishes this vision and deepens it in all who let it. To see this vision, to soak oneself in it, consoles and comforts despite appearances to the contrary around us: war; hunger; pestilence; disease; vandalism; racism; and fears we can’t imagine afflicting others.

The first audience of the Book of Revelation suffered severely for their faith in the dead and risen Messiah Jesus. We differ from them in that, a good reason why we find this vision so alien, not to mention its very different symbolic world of expression. John wrote down his vision in order to comfort those suffering for their faith. That comfort does not remove suffering; rather, it assures us that the heritage of the Lamb is also ours. Jesus went through death, and the God of our ancestors raised Jesus.

The message of this heritage is straightforward despite the elaborate imagery of the Book of Revelation. People have been and still are steered away from its straightforward message by its menagerie of beasts, angels, living creatures, elders, locusts, four horses, eagle, as well as earthquakes, plagues, eclipses and its doorway to heaven. The straightforward message of the Book of Revelation is this: God is in charge of the world. By no means a new message, yet how easily we forget it!

Throughout his ministry, Jesus warned that experiences of suffering mark the Christian life. Our suffering will probably pale in comparison with the first audience of the Book of Revelation, the disciples before it, as well as Jesus himself. Instead, subtle temptations surround us and vie for our allegiance not to heed and obey God, that is, devote ourselves to God, but devote ourselves instead to what opposes Jesus’ ways.

The Book of Revelation prevents us from romanticizing the ways of Jesus. To forget that our risen Lord still carries the marks of his death romanticizes our Messiah Jesus. When we romanticize Jesus; his body, his church; our communion together in his Body and Blood; and the mission on which our Eucharistic communion commits us daily: we lose touch with the heritage of the paschal Lamb, th communion of his saints, and risen Jesus’ desire to nourish us.

Risen Jesus’ desire to nourish his friends is intimate and without pretense. We encountered the disciples still getting used to their risen Lord. Risen Jesus shattered the fear which impriso them, yet they gravitated to their familiar, former fishing lives. Risen Jesus met them there once again.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week grow more alert to Jesus meeting you. Ask his disciples to present you to our risen Lord. They know well how to do that. Speak to Jesus about your life and how it moves toward and away from Jesus; of the temptations which vie for your allegiance. Be alert to how Jesus desires to communicate to you in light of your review of yourself. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer to hear and to see more clearly risen Jesus communicating to you.
Wikiphoto of Risen Jesus is in the public domain. Wikiphoto of the paschal Lamb is in the public domain.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Latin Mass Document Is Coming

But read John L. Allen Jr.'s column of this week before you get storm-tossed by all the media frenzy which is sure to follow its release.

Mr. Allen, as usual, offers a good and accessible way to appreciate the facts and what Pope Benedict's letter will mean in both the short- and long-terms.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

America at a Crossroads

The PBS series, "America at a Crossroads," is most compelling. Much of the TV films can be viewed online. The website offers more complimentary information.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wednesday word, 18 April 2007

2Easter Wednesday (18 Apr 2007) Ac 5. 17-26; Ps 34; Jn 3. 16-21
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

When someone writes history--a family history; a personal history; a medical history; or a church history, as in the case of the evangelist Luke and his Acts of the Apostles: people move histories forward through the use of transitions.

A simple, personal example: I studied philosophy in Detroit, then I worked at a large city hospital. After that, I studied theology, moved back to Michigan, where I was ordained for the Archdiocese of Detroit. After serving it for several years, I realized Jesus was calling me to complete my priesthood in a religious order.

Then; after that; then moved; after serving
.... You get the idea. Transitions move a story forward, and transitions, turning points in our lives, move us forward. Transitions are the way Luke moved forward his portrait of the infant church.

Peter not only proclaimed the crucified and risen Messiah, he refuted opinions (e.g., that the disciples were drunk on wine at Pentecost). The number of those being baptized and filled with the Spirit steadily increased. Today we heard the apostles’ influence grew more prominent.

The captain and the court officers feared being stoned by the people. No throw-away line! That signaled a significant transition. Stoning punished blasphemy! The people were handing authority to the disciples above the temple-court officials. It was blasphemy to oppose them!

All this suggests a pattern of prayer for us. Invite Jesus to sit down with you during your day. Speak to Jesus about your transitions in your personal history. Notice which ones moved you toward Jesus, our Light, or away from him. Notice how those movements happened; then tell Jesus how you want to take refuge in him. That sort of praying is a wholesome transition.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cover the Uninsured Week

These seven days are "Cover the Uninsured Week." Find out more at its website.

Tuesday word, 17 April 2007

2Easter Tuesday (17 Apr 2007) Ac 4. 32-37; Ps 93; Jn 3. 7b-15
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Another Unifying Effect

Yesterday we heard that the first Christian community spoke with one voice in praise of what Peter and John told them they had done and had suffered for preaching the name of Messiah Jesus. Unity is a feature of the early Christians which has never left us.

Today we heard an effect of this unity: friendship. Luke did not use the word, but that is clearly what he meant. The community of believers was of one heart and soul, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.

We know that because friends in the ancient, Greek speaking world had been defined as having one soul. This definition was in use so long before Aristotle that when he cited it in one of his writings, he cited common knowledge. Luke shaped it in a biblical way by adding heart: one heart and soul.

Similarly, friends held in common all they possessed. Luke was advancing friendship, as it was honored and sought in his time, to describe one more effect of Holy Spirit on the community of the crucified and risen Messiah. To hold everything in common was a new self-understanding, one to which Christians today are still adjusting.

While we are not ancient Mediterraneans we have inherited this friendship imagery without realizing it. On some levels we believe that friendship is, to use Jesus phrase, an earthly thing[]. If we do not believe and practice it on earth, how will we believe Jesus when he communicates to us about heavenly things, in particular that he is risen from the dead?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"Anniversary of a Catholic victory over a dictator"

This week's column of "All Things Catholic" by John L. Allen, Jr., is required reading. It narrates the story of bishops in Malawi, Africa, who stood up to the country's "iron-fisted" dictator 15 years ago. In Mr. Allen's words:
If you don't know the story, you should. What happened in Malawi deserves to rank alongside the Solidarity movement in Poland, and the "People Power" movement in the Philippines, as a victory for the Catholic church in its late 20th century confrontations with totalitarian regimes.
Photo of John L. Allen, Jr., used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Friday, April 13, 2007

Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America

Catholic Charities has launched a blog to accompany its Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America.

Catholic Charities USA described why it launched this blog:
The new Campaign blog allows anyone interested in reducing poverty in America to read what's new, instantly respond to messages and retrieve current, valuable ideas and resources. Blogging allows you to easily search and archive a comprehensive anthology of Campaign activities, news stories, field events, etc.

The success of the Campaign blog hinges upon current, compelling content that encourages you to return day after day. We will strive to include interesting and thought-provoking content so that you will be compelled to voice your opinion, share your ideas and express your concerns. CCUSA hopes that this Campaign blog will help to create a sense of community and serve as a way to learn what agencies and individuals across the country are doing to reduce poverty in America.

CCUSA hopes this blog will continue the discussion on poverty and move more people to take action.
Visit its Campaign blog to learn more about poverty and how someone's dinner might reduce poverty.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

New PBS Religion & Faith Program

Jonathan Oglesby, Producer, This Is America, announced "I Believe," a new PBS Religion/Faith program.
The first of 26 episodes focuses on Roman Catholicism through an interview with William Cardinal Keeler in Baltimore.

It is also available for online viewing now via our website at
Check local listings for viewing on television.

Ned McGrath, Communications, Archdiocese of the Detroit, made this recommendation.
This information came to my office late Wednesday. Had not heard of the this program and was hesitant to give it a plug, which is what the producer wanted, especially on such short notice. But the fact that former Detroit broadcaster Dennis Wholey is the host piqued my interest enough to look at this week's premier episode, which happens to be about Catholicism and includes Baltimore's Cd. Keeler. It's really quite good. A nice pace and conversational flow. The broadcast time is not the best, providing yet another occasion to put your VCR or DVR to work. It's also available online.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wednesday word, 11 Apr 2007

1Easter Wednesday (11 Apr 2007) Ac 3. 1-10; Ps 105; Lk 24. 13-35
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Mutual, Lest We Forget

Peter and John worked a miracle in the name of Jesus the Messiah the Nazorean. The man who had been crippled from birth not only was able to walk, he went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.

The people there recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. This is one more instance of a real person in a real place who was affected by the power of the risen Jesus.

The beautiful encounter of Jesus and the two disciples on their way to Emmaus is that again: real people in real places. Nor was risen Jesus a phantom or a ghost. The disciples both marveled and recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

In Luke the appearance of risen Jesus combines matter-of-factness with mystery, as my teacher put it. Discussing, grieving, hospitality, eating and drinking mesh with the disciples’ difficulty to recognize Jesus. Here they mistook the Lord for a stranger on a journey. Others are incredulous with joy* when risen Jesus appears.

Unconstrained by space and time risen Jesus appeared to many, and they hastened to tell each other. This mutual experience and sharing are no mere natural result; they form the community of the risen Lord.

Most of all, the consequence of meeting risen Jesus is action. In particular, experiencing the risen Lord led to proclamation. Each of us is to discern how we meet the risen Lord during our lives in order to proclaim him at home and away. Proclaiming Jesus makes us more alert to his presence and sharpens our vision of him.
* This phrase in chapter 24 verse 41. The two hastened to tell the Eleven. While they were speaking, risen Jesus appeared among them, and the Eleven and those gahtered with them were incredulous with joy.

Image is in the public domain.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tuesday word, 10 Apr 2007

1Easter Tuesday (10 Apr 2007) Ac 2. 36-41; Ps 33; Jn 20. 11-18
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Peter’s Pentecost speech after Holy Spirit rushed on the disciples and emboldened them to speak of Jesus crucifed and risen to all who would listen is the context of the first readings from the Acts of the Apostles early in Eastertide.

The Acts of the Apostles is the second part of Luke’s writing. His gospel, part one, paints a portrait of Jesus. Acts of the Apostles, part two, paints a portrait of the early church. In both portraits some listeners were touched by what they heard. In his gospel Luke reminds us of many who responded to John the Baptizer’s call to repentenance. They asked him, What are we to do [
now that we have heard you]? The same question echoes from many who listened to Peter’s proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection.

In both groups their question indicates a desire to transform the ways they lived their lives. In church lingo that desire and trying to act on it is called repentance.

To repent has twofold meaning. It means to turn away from sin and its way of living and to dedicate oneself to living a new way, the way of our risen Messiah Jesus.

Jesus told Mary Magdalene not to cling to him. In her grief and shock May examined him to see if it were really Jesus, really the body she had helped to anoint for burial.

Risen Jesus speak to us through her: we aren’t to cling to any childish notion of risen Jesus nor to what prevents us from living confidently that Jesus’ risen life courses through us.

We are to let go of such things and rededicate ourselves to proclaiming by our deeds that Jesus is risen from the dead. That way we demonstrate our Christian relationship with all people, including those who are far off. That’s not a geographical term. We Christians are especially related to all who are far off in their ways of living.
Image is in the public domain.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Praising the Lord in Song of Old

Here's a quick read about the renowned Benedictine abbey at Solesmes (pronounced so-LEM) in France. The study of liturgy and its practice flourished in Solesmes. It continues to employ chant in praising God.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Sunday word, 08 Apr 2007

1Easter (08 Apr 2007) Ac 10. 34a, 37-43; Ps 118; 1Co 5. 6b-8; Jn 20.1-9
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Rolled and Unrolled

Out of the chaos of Holy Week, when God seemed absent, God acted definitively. The Psalmist phrased it: This is the day the Lord has made. Out of the chaos of Jesus’ passion and death, something absolutely new, absolutely different and without rival happened: Jesus exhausted death by going through it and God, whom he called my dear Father, delivered Jesus and raised [Jesus] on the third day and granted that he be us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. Peter’s words also apply to us because we eat and drink Jesus’ body and blood at his table. Our communion with and in Jesus makes us his witnesses. What might that mean for us? I take my cue from the cloth that had covered his head while his body was in his tomb. Hasten with me in the steps of Peter and John that morning.

Peter and John found a tomb empty of Jesus’ body with burial cloths strewn around save one. That one was the cloth that had covered the face and head of the dead Jesus. In his tomb, the Fourth Gospel reminded us, that cloth was not with the others but rolled up in a separate place.

That suggests a few things to me I’d like you to ponder: first, our relationship with death. Jesus’ resurrection was no resuscitation. Jesus did not resume his mortal life. Jesus lived in an absolutely new way, which the word glorious, in his glorious resurrection, conveys. The cloth rolled up in a separate place reminds us that because we have already died and risen with Jesus in baptism we can live free from death’s frightening, fearful control. Our bodies will die, of course, but Easter-hope reminds us that we are far more than our bodies.

Second. not only was the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head while he was in the tomb separated from those which had absorbed the smell and shape of death, it was rolled up. One can readily imagine what John and Peter saw: a jumble of hundreds of strips of linen winding-sheets, which the ancients used to bury people. Yet the cloth that had covered [Jesus’] head was rolled up. Out of the messy confusion, stench and pain of death God’s action for life, raising Jesus in the power of their Spirit, blesses each person who believes in Jesus with the new order, fresh vigor and sweet aroma we name a share already in the life to come.

Last, this explosion of divine life within us and around us often escapes our notice. It stretches us and gives our Christian personalities a smooth and inviting texture. Yeast raising dough into bread is an image of this easily unnoticed divine stretching. This image complements the image of the burial cloth, which Peter and John saw rolled up in a separate place, because we are to unroll, to open and to appreciate divine life within and around us each day. Easter and its hope and vision of Jesus never more to die free us to appreciate ourselves, others, indeed the entire universe in new ways. Easter hope and its vision of our risen Jesus point us forward and encourage us to live lives of sincerity and truth, as St. Paul encouraged us.

In your 15 minutes each day with Jesus week, ask for the grace of a new and renewing relationship with the Trinity. Becalm yourself in the presence of the Divine Persons. Ask Mary of Mag, Peter and John to present you to our risen Jesus. Speak with Jesus about your fears or resentments, any discouragement or energies which discourage others. Focus on one of them: offer it to Jesus so that he may take from you and roll it up and free you of it. Praise Jesus and resolve to reach no more for what you offered Jesus in your prayer. Close your time by slowing saying the Lord’s Prayer to sharpen your vision of how to live Easter hope each day.
flickr photo by Jordon Cooper used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday word, 06 Apr 2007

Good Friday (06 Apr 2007) Is 52. 13-53. 12; Ps 31; Hb 4. 14-16,5.7-9; Jn 18.1-19.42
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
“Lightening Marks”

The Passion According to John makes its unique point: the cross wasn’t simply an instrument of suffering and death; the cross was the throne of our King’s glory. Yet, the God-man who died on this throne did so in a most gruesome way--asphyxiation. Hanging with arms outstretched on a cross, one’s lungs could never fill enough or empty enough to sustain life. Anyone crucified lasted only as long as that person could repeatedly inch up by one’s feet, fighting against gravity, in order to fill the lungs with gulps of air. The cruel mercy of breaking the legs of the crucified guaranteed death to the most long-suffering victims.

Christians the world over remind one another today that our God died in his human nature on a cross. Christians also remind one another that we are called to see suffering and death and to look through human anguish to life. So that this vision can be our ever-new vision, Jesus’ cross is our lens. How can we better appreciate Jesus’ cross? venerate it? and carry it? A contemporary writer offers a helpful image.

Annie Dillard has written about American
Indians who used to carve long grooves along the wooden shafts of their arrows. They called the grooves ‘lightning marks,’ because they resembled the curved fissures lightning slices down the trunks of trees. The function of lightning marks is this: if the arrow fails to kill the game, blood from a deep wound will channel along the lightning mark, streak down the arrow shaft, and splatter to the ground, laying a trail dripped on broadleaves, on stones, that the barefoot and trembling archer can follow into whatever deep or rare wilderness it leads.
Lightning marks of other kinds are all around us. Lives scarred by suffering and death scar us and cut us deeply. Hearts and bodies get broken. We break hearts and sometimes contribute to breaking bodies. Blood is literally poured out in so many places near and far. The cries of the poor and oppressed, and our affirmation of them in deed as well as prayer, call beyond anguish and despair.

This call beyond ourselves received clear voice from the cross. Can we not say then the cross of Jesus is the lightning mark of God? Might this be a word you and I seek? Carrying the cross we see ourselves anew: we realize each of us is “the barefoot and trembling archer,” who follows the trail through life’s wilderness to find the very heart of God. Jesus’ cross graces us with the divine spirit and pioneering love. God’s pioneering love dots the trails of our lives and trains us and forms us as God’s scouts.

Trained scouts see what other folk cannot. The cross of Messiah Jesus trains us and makes us God’s scouts for the sake of the world. Each dot, each drop of blood says, “God loves forever”: God reaches into and beyond the grave as well as each valley of death which prevents us from adopting the attitude of Christ,/1/ which is “forgetful of self in...generous and ready service of all the abandoned”/2/.

That is often difficult for us to do consistently. We need Jesus because of his attitude, and he desires to need us to promote divine justice and steadfast love everywhere we find ourselves.

This cross of Jesus’ death, which was the throne of his glory because God raised Jesus to absolutely new life, helps the lightening mark of God’s love shine brilliantly in our world. God ever desires to save our world by the cross of Jesus, God’s son and our brother. To those who give themselves to Jesus, Jesus transforms into living lightening marks for the sake of the world. It is a “trembling” task, yet Jesus counts on our willingness each day to bring our world out of the “wilderness” of anguish and lead it into the bright hope of more humane and godly life.

Ask Jesus to help you stay close to him and his cross. Ask Jesus to help you see the cross as he does: the “lightening mark” of God’s pioneering love for which Jesus has chosen us as his trained scouts for the sake of our world.

/1/ Philippians 2. 5: the Greek word often translated as mind connotes feeling and emotion in addition to intellectual activity, therefore, attitude translates the Greek word well.

/2/ Society of Jesus, General Congregation 32, Decree 12.4 (Poverty), [260]
I received the Dillard quote in the past and saved it. I cannot locate the citation.
The detail from the church in Barcelona, Sagrada Familia, The Judgment, is a photo by Son of Groucho.It is used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License. So also is the Crucifixion.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Plan To Celebrate the Triduum in a Parish Nearby

The Easter Triduum (from the Latin for three days) begins Thursday evening. It is an inspiring way to conclude Lent.

An accessible, not to mention informative, description of the meaning of Holy Thursday's single mass, The Mass of the Lord's Supper, of Good Friday and of the Easter Vigil may be found in a single place. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., begins this tour with Passion Sunday. Scroll beyond it about half-way to "The Easter Triduum."

God bless your Triduum!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Why Not Without a More Positive Effect?

"The problem is not that Catholicism has failed, but that authentic Catholicism has never been tried." This is the answer to the question John L. Allen Jr. asked in last Friday's column entitled "Why hasn't Catholicism had a more positive effect"? His lens is Honduras, and his column is revealing.

It also reminds us this Holy Week that Jesus did not avoid struggle and difficulty. To call ourselves Christian means to model our lives on his.
Flickrphoto by ramoo76 used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 License.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Passion Sunday word, 01 Apr 2007

Passion Sunday C (01 Apr 2007) Is 50. 4-7; Ps 22; Ph 2. 6-11; Lk 22. 14-23.56
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Imagining Our Role

We stood at the gates of Jerusalem as the Messiah King entered it. Our hearts are those very gates. How did you welcome the Messiah King? He is a very unlikely king, nothing like the messiah for which we long, not to mention Jesus’ contemporaries.

We do stand at the gates of Jerusalem because Jesus desires to enter our hearts and take possession of us. How do we respond today? Perhaps we might be like Peter and announce our faith with our lips but refuse to allow our hearts to own him in his suffering. Perhaps that is our typical struggle. Take courage because Jesus never disavowed Peter. Jesus sought him ought to restore him and build his church on him and his brother apostles.

What is your role in the Messiah’s Passion? Third-century bishop Gregory of Nazianzen suggested that each of us participate in it by finding who we are. I cannot improve on his suggestion to help us find ourselves:
“If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your cross and follow Christ. If you are crucified beside him like one of the thieves, now, like the good thief, acknowledge your God. For your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must cease to sin. Worship him who has hung upon the cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself. Derive some benefit from the very shame; purchase your salvation with your death. Enter paradise with Jesus, and discover how far you have fallen. Contemplate the glories there. . .

“If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body. Make you own the expiation of sins for the whole world. If you are a Nicodemus, like the man who worshiped God by night, bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for burial. If you are one of the Marys, or Salome, or Joanna, weep in the early morning. Be the first to see the stone rolled back, and even the angels perhaps, and Jesus himself.”*
What you do is your role in his passion as much as it is in his resurrection. Take up your cross and follow Christ through your darkness into the light and the life Jesus desires to give you.
* Homily 45, 23-24 in Office of Readings for Fifth Lenten Saturday, Liturgy of the Hours, vol 2, NY: CBP, 1976, p. 393.
Flickr photo by paPA.JACK and Flickr photo by Anuko both used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0