Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ignatian Wikipedia

Here's a portal visited by people from about 100 countries with over 4,000 articles about things Ignatian. It uses Wikipedia software with freely licensed content to aid all constituencies of Jesuit institutions to understand better and to further their Catholic, Jesuit identity.
Wiki-image of St. Ignatius by Dr. John Workman Jr. is used according to the GFDL 1.2.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday word, 28 Sep 2008

26th Sunday of the Year A (28 Sep 2008)
Ez 18. 25-28; Ps 25; Phil 2. 1-11; Mt 21. 28-32
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Choosing Divine Life

The prophet Ezekiel preached a revolutionary message that marked an evolutionary change in a belief, which the people Israel had long held. God through Prophet Ezekiel challenged it: the word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, what is the meaning of this proverb that you recite in the land of Israel: “Fathers have eaten green grapes, thus their children's teeth are on edge?”/1/ People used this proverb to claim that they were being punished for their ancestors’ sins rather than for their own. God challenged that, and the prophet preached a message of personal responsibility, and he received resistance to his message: If my parents were godly, then I deserve their blessings even if I live in ungodly ways. If bad things befall good people, they get what they deserve because of their ancestors’ sins.

We can understand the selection we heard from the Book of Ezekiel as our first reading when we know that. Without knowing that, we can only wonder why people cried, “The Lord's way is not fair!”

The personal responsibility of our Jewish-Christian heritage has nothing to do with our national rugged individualism. Rugged individualism is a “belief that all individuals, or nearly all individuals, can succeed on their own and that government-help for people should be minimal.”/2/ In our Jewish-Christian heritage each of us is responsible to sanctify the world, that is, to impart by our actions traces of God’s presence. We don’t succeed on our own when we do that. We cooperate with God’s grace, we ally ourselves with God’s life, which God lavishes on us regardless of our circumstances.

Allying ourselves with the divine life pulsing within us is our choice. We can choose not to ally ourselves with divine life, not to cooperate with God’s grace. No one here hasn’t refused to cooperate with God’s grace at one time or another. All of us have made new choices to ally ourselves with God’s life and begin again.

Just as we are free not to cooperate with God’s grace, we are free to change our minds and ally ourselves with God’s life God always extends.

Jesus’ parable of the man [who] had two sons illustrates that. Entering the parable, the parent stands for God, and we are God’s children, who sometimes are one with God’s desires for us; sometimes are not; and at other times choose to reconcile ourselves with God and God’s desires.

Jesus’ parable also pointed to the destiny of Jesus and Israel, namely Jesus’ rejection by leaders and the transfer of God’s kingdom to others. The parable is transparent: the hearts of the chief priests and the elders of the people were hardened; and the tax collectors and the prostitutes--scripture-labels for all who reject God’s life and seek to live strictly on their terms--were truly repentant.

Some of us are here to remember and celebrate God’s life has redirected and completes ours. Some of us are here to reconcile yet again with our God and seek the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus. Some of us are to let Jesus nourish and increase our resolve to follow him more closely. Some of us are here because strength in numbers exists in common worship: communal worship informs personal praying. All of us are here to rediscover how Jesus is inviting us to be his agents of the kingdom, making it more accessible to others.

Each sabbath we convene to remember Jesus has risen, rises in us and transforms us. Our transformation includes an always new and revolutionary attitude: welcoming God’s life to influence, redirect and guide our living moment by moment.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, place yourselves in the company of the Trinity,
who create you in each moment and impart their life to you. Ask Mary and your patron saint to present you to Jesus. Speak to him and implore Jesus to refashion you to be like the parable’s son, who changed his mind. Praise Jesus for his attitude and desire the same attitude that is also his. Close your time with Jesus and slowly say the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus gave us to help us to have his attitude daily and to live by his way.
1. Ezekiel 18.2
2. Entry in Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3d Edition, 2002.
Wiki-image of David imagining Jesus is in the public domain. Wiki-logo by Augustodj is used according to the Creative Commons Attirbution ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Secularism Has Healthy Form

The word, secularism, has the connotation in common usage, which suggests having no religious or spiritual basis. During his visit to France, though, Pope Benedict encouraged the French President that more than that connotation exists, saying, “I am firmly convinced that a new reflection on the true meaning and importance of laïcité is now necessary." [One can detect the root for the word laity in the French word which we render as secularism.]
“In fact, it is fundamental, on the one hand, to insist upon the distinction between the political realm and that of religion in order to preserve both the religious freedom of citizens and the responsibility of the state toward them,” the pope said during the encounter with Sarkozy and other officials of the French government.

“On the other hand, [it is important] to become more aware of the irreplaceable role of religion for the formation of consciences and the contribution which it can bring to – among other things – the creation of a basic ethical consensus within society,” the pope said.
Mr. John L. Allen Jr., in his weekly online essay examined the implications of these remarks.

In addition, his essay concludes with links to several moments of the trip in reverse chronology.
Wiki-image of French President Nicolas Sarkozy by Aleph is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday word, 22 Sep 2008

25th Monday of the Year (22 Sep 2008) Prv.3. 27-34; Ps 15; Lk 8. 16-18
Homily of Rev. Paul D. Panaretos, S.J.

Light Years

The Book of Proverbs alerts us to its purpose: to hand wisdom, ranging over a wide area of both human and divine activity, to the young prince: Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and reject not your mother's teaching. It closes with a king’s memory: The advice which his mother gave him./1/

St. James reminded us that we live according to our Messiah-king’s royal law./2/ The wisdom Jesus reveals also empowers us by his Spirit to make our lives hand wisdom on to one another.

Jesus' image of light, the light of a lamp to illuminate the way we follow him, is personal. We are no less than light for one another and for our world. Our lives make Jesus visible or they don’t. Making Jesus visible does not always happen instantly, like turning on a switch. Often it’s gradual.

Think of stars. Their light travels astronomical distances, and when it reaches us we see their past existence in our present vision. To measure such vast distances we use a time-related word, year, because miles and kilometers are no longer practical measures.

Light-year may not intuitively make much sense when we think of distance. In a similar way, we may not think how we individuals act affects our world let alone another person. Our national heritage of vast freedom may blind us to the effect we can have on a person; and the proportions of the world stage may decrease our confidence in affecting it.

Yet Jesus asks us to take him at his word. Our Living Light, Jesus, has transformed us. How we live him and his light allows others to recognize him, though it may take years. Our Christian living also sheds new light on Jesus and who he is for us each day.

1. Proverbs 1.8 and 31.1.
2. James 2.8.
Wiki-image of Star trails by Chad Miller is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 license.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday word, 21 Sep 2008

25th Sunday of the Year A (21 Sep 2008)
Is 55. 6-9; Ps 145; Phil 1. 20c-24,27a; Mt 20. 1-16a
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
More Generous and Attentive

A shorthand way to summarize the scriptures before Jesus is this. They tell parallel stories: of God’s loving fidelity to people by means of God’s covenant; and people’s not-always-faithful response to God.

When things go well and when our lives are not interrupted by crises, people have an easier time of attending to God and God’s desires. However, when our lives are lacerated by pain or upended by unexpected happenings, attending to God and God’s desires is not as easy.

We can appreciate Isaiah’s words, Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts, if we at least sympathize with those whom the prophet addressed. God’s people had been exiled and lived captive in a foreign land with alien deities. Their exile had grown long. Some may have grown accustomed to life in Babylon; some may have ignored Prophet Isaiah’s message. Others may have forsaken the covenant with the God of Abraham. In their grief still others may have found God’s desire of renewal after exile too difficult to believe: [God’s] thoughts are not [human] thoughts, to use Isaiah’s language.

In one way or other, God calling people through Isaiah’s language, suggests that some, if not many, exiles may have found other patrons for their lives and abandoned the Lord who had commanded Moses, “Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”/1/ To live in God’s image is to walk each moment with a sense of God as Giver and Patron of our lives.

The image of God by which we live and operate is crucial. The memory of Jesus of the early church knew this was a fact. It remembered that it in first-century Palestine-- and we in our 21st-century sophistication--could reject or accept Jesus’ description of God as a lavishly generous Mediterranean Patron. The early church--and we--could welcome a lavishly generous, patient and seeking-for-us God, or go through life straightjacketing ourselves with an image of God as an accounts-reckoning employer, trying with all our might to limit God to a contract of our making.

Isaiah’s words focus us on generosity of the landowner of Jesus’ parable. The landowner is God, and we are those in his parable’s marketplace, standing there. Not every contemporary Catholic is standing idle, yet my American upbringing moves me first to take stock of my efforts. God’s efforts are far more important than my most accomplished ones. If not our efforts, then what? God’s desire to intervene and come to our aid.

God does not change our circumstances as the prosperity preachers of today would have us believe. Rather, God accompanies us, even when we distance ourselves from God. When we do distance ourselves from God, God seeks us and desires to stand with us as we are. That is the image of God Jesus continues to offer us, the divine image Jesus invites us to allow to be our operative image of our God, who renews us and offers us what the world cannot give us.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause and rest in the creative love with which the Trinity embraces you. Ask those who stood in the marketplace, waiting for someone to show interest in them, to present you to Jesus. Speak to Jesus as you are--whether confident or timid;
advantaged or bereft; closed-handed or open-handed--and name your greatest need. Praise Jesus for choosing to give his life for you and for modeling greater confidence in his Father and ours. Bring your prayer to a close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which each time we say it, helps us conduct []ourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of our crucified and risen Messiah, and transforms us into his more generous and attentive contemporary disciples.
1. Leviticus 19.2
Wiki-image of Michelangelo's Isaiah is in the public domain.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Saturday word, 20 Sep 2008

Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and Companions,Martyrs
(20Sep2008) 1Co.15. 35-37, 42-49; Ps 56; Lk 8. 4-15
Homily of Rev. Paul D. Panaretos, S.J.
That Pregnant Question

Fine nuances in Luke’s parable of the sower exist. Often they make more precise some of the figures expressed by his source. One difference, however, may be more akin to us sophisticated moderns. In Matthew and Mark, the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parables at all./1/ In Luke’s gospel the disciples asked what his parable might mean.

If we pause, we can recall we heard that question before in the gospel. It fell from the lips of Mary, when the angel greeted her to announce she would be the mother of God. Mary was utterly confused by the angel’s speech and wondered what the greeting might mean./2/ I call her wondering a pregnant question.

We often risk reducing the Mystery to something we might understand--two lovers never completely understand each other; on some levels they remain mysteries to each other. When we imitate the disciples and ask Jesus what he means--before asking a commentary or a footnote in our bibles--when we ask Jesus what he means for us, we begin to learn and live the mystery of his risen life in us.

Pope John Paul II canonized in 1984 the 100 Korean martyrs we remember today. Of them 92 were lay people. Speaking at that time the pope recalled the mystery that is growth from persecution:
The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by lay people. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today’s splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians in the Church of silence in the north of this tragically divided land./3/
They lived the meaning of the mystery as St. Paul proclaimed in our hearing again: Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. How our bodies and our lives bear the heavenly image now, even slightly, is the most pressing and pregnant question we Catholics can ask. We are wise to ask Jesus to join his Spirit to ours as we ponder how we may live the Mystery more effectively.

1. Matthew 13.10 and Mark 4.10.
2. Luke 1.29.
3. Paragraph 3 of his homily in Seoul, 06 May 1984, original emphasis.
Wiki-image of the Korean martyrs is in the public domain.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Both/And of Catholicism

"In Rome this week, a blow was struck for the sane middle on the most vexed issue in the modern relationship between faith and science: the theory of evolution."

Mr. John L. Allen Jr. included more in his weekly online essay. The lead story is about the announcement of
a major academic conference in March 2009, organized by the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome and the University of Notre Dame in the United States, and co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture. The title is "Biological Evolution: Facts and Theories," to be held at the Gregorian in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the Origin of Species.
Learn who was responsible for this by reading Mr. Allen's online essay.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday word, 14 Sep 2008

Triumph of the Cross (14Sep2008)
Nm 21. 4b-9; Ps 78; Phil 2. 6-11; Jn 3. 13-17

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Most Beautiful Cross

Our responsorial psalm was a call for us to remember: Do not forget the works of the Lord! The Lord’s work we recall today is the cross, our badge, our insignia. When you hear me echo the psalm and call,
“Do not forget!” you shout, “We remember!” Very good!

After Jerusalem was destroyed two generations after Jesus rose from the dead, the place of his death and resurrection faded into the shadowy mists of time and memory. In the 4th Century Emperor Constantine and his mother had a deep desire to say in more than words,
“Do not forget!”

St. Helena went to Jerusalem in search of the places where Jesus lived and walked. In Jerusalem a temple to Aphrodite was atop the place of Jesus’ tomb. She said to herself,
“Do not forget!” // and had it torn down. Her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. As they dug, workers found three crosses. A memory has it: the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman. “Do not forget!” // ...Jesus heals us by transforming us.

People immediately venerated that cross. An eyewitness of a Good Friday celebration in that basilica recalled its wood was taken out of its silver chest and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus. Then “all the people pass by one by one, all bowing themselves, they touch the Cross and the title, first with their foreheads and then with their eyes; then they kiss the Cross and pass through.”/1/ We do that, too, so that we,
“Do not forget!”

Our images and replicas of the holy cross are things of beauty. They lead our processions, and they shield our hearts. Yet the tree on which Jesus died for us had no beauty,
“Do not forget!” To the first Christians and to many others crosses appeared as things of horror. “Do not forget!” But appearance did not stop the first Christians from echoing Jesus, who spoke of the cross as his glory. “Do not forget!”

We make crosses beautiful and noble today because their sign no longer threatens us--although others in the world do not tolerate it, as we sadly know.
“Do not forget!” Yet nothing is more beautiful than the cross we trace on our own bodies. When we trace the cross on ourselves, we allow God in Jesus by their Spirit to transform us. “Do not forget!” We are crucified with our Messiah, as St. Paul reminded us./2/ “Do not forget!” We still live our human lives, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us./3/ “Do not forget!”

Our life of faith is no theory; it is not abstract.
“Do not forget!” Our life of faith affects the world! “Do not forget!” Our life of faith is for the sake of the world! “Do not forget!” Our life of faith changes the world beginning with how we choose to live in it! “Do not forget!”

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause in the light of the Trinity, who decided from their eternity that the Second Person would become one of us in order to enlighten us and save us. Ask St. Paul, St. Helena and your patron saint to welcome you into the bright shadow of Jesus’ cross so you may remember with your heart and feel more deeply Jesus’ dying and rising for you.
“Do not forget!” Praise Jesus for giving his life so that we might have eternal life. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus gave us so would remember his works and do them by the power of his Spirit. “Do not forget!”

1. The Pilgrimage of Etheria. M.L. McClure and C. L. Feltoe, ed. and trans. London: SPCK, 1919, pp 74-75.
2. Galatians 2.19.
3. Galatians 2.20--I rendered it plural for this homily.
Wiki-image of the Triumph of the Cross is in the public domain.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wednesday word, 10 Sep 2008

23d Wednesday (10Sep2008) 1Co.7. 25-31; Ps 45; Lk 6. 20-26
Homily of Rev. Paul D. Panaretos, S.J.
As Though Not

Luke moved his gospel along by means of speeches and soliloquies. Zachary, Mary, Simeon Jesus and others gave voice to God’s way of upsetting the measures of the world to reveal God’s consolation of Israel made new, which Mary sang in her Magnificat early in the gospel./1/

Jesus revealed that consolation of God in his words of blessing on the poor and hungry of the world. Jesus called hearers of his word not to a spiritualistic attitude but to be attentive to God’s new way.

Human life hurls ambiguities at us with an exhausting consistency. Their consistency distracts us from God’s consolation. How are we to respond? St. Paul reminded the Corinthians that no simple solutions existed, which they preferred--as do many of us. No better treatment exists than Paul’s response to sexual relations./2/

The Corinthians had distorted the gospel Paul preached to them. They interpreted it by slogans:
All of us have knowledge/3/; food for the stomach, the stomach for food/4/; and, it is better not to [have relations with] a woman./5/ Paul began with their slogans but disagreed with there simplistic meaning. Yes, God is doing a new thing in the world, but we are in the world and cannot flee from it.

To live by a slogan is to consider one thing as ultimate and to discount everything else. St. Paul’s words, the world in its present form is passing away, means that no transitory thing is ultimate, only God is ultimate.

From both words and example of Jesus as well as counsel from people filled with the Spirit of Jesus, like Paul, our Christian vocation is to use the world "as though not." Because the world in its present form is passing away, ours is not to abuse it--the New American translation renders his words not use it fully. We abuse the world when we treat it as ultimate. Christians do not treat it as ultimate; instead we remember by our actions that God is ultimate, God who is doing a new thing in us and for our sake.

1. Luke 1.46-55. Simeon was...awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him (Luke 2.25).
2. The verses today close Chapter 7. Reading the entire chapter makes St. Paul’s response more accessible.
3. 1Corinthians 8.1.
4. 1Corinthians 6.13.
5. 1Corinthians 7.1.
Wiki-image by AJ Alfieri-Crispin
of the Apostle Paul is used according to Creative Commons Attribution and ShareAlike 2.0.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sunday word, 07 Sep 2008

23d Sunday of the Year A (07Sep2008)
Ezk 33. 7-9; Ps 95; Rm 13. 8-10; Mt 18. 15-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Need and Fruit

When it is our turn to watch--for someone or something--if you are like me, you probably feel responsibility. It may be lighthearted as in a game such as Capture the Flag. It may be formal as in babysitting or loving as in taking care of younger brothers and sisters. It may be serious as in a roadway flagman letting traffic flow alternately on a one-way road along which workers are aloft on power-lines. However we are vigilant, responsibility describes us.

Prophet Ezekiel was aware that God had given him the responsibility, the mission, to watch for the house of Israel. Ezekiel was responsible to announce to them what would deepen their love and quicken their response to the God of the covenant. If the prophet announced and warned and others paid no attention, God would call them to account. If the prophet shirked his responsibility, God would hold the prophet accountable for the people’s failing.

This mission of the prophet gave believers in the God of Abraham new insight into personal responsibility. It helped them to appreciate their vocation as God’s people was prophetic, to attract and lead others to God.

Jesus sharpened this prophetic focus. He formed and sent his disciples to continue his work of announcing the reign of God, which continues dawning in our world. Jesus deepened and personalized this responsibility: Jesus established the norm of negotiations and reconciliations to be personal before they became communal or bureaucratic.
If [a member of the community] sins against you, go and discuss the fault between the two of you. If [the person] listens to you, you have won over your brother [or sister].
Jesus had earlier in his ministry said that reconciliation was a matter of the heart before it was bureaucratic.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother [or sister in faith] has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother [or sister in faith], and then come and offer your gift./1/
The purpose of pointing out a fault was and is to lead people more deeply into the heart of Jesus and of his community of faith, the church. That includes the one who is doing the pointing! If entering more deeply into the heart of Jesus is not the result, then it is something other than Christian reconciliation.

Jesus embraced this teaching to and for the church with another: where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Together, his first and second teaching bookend his words about our mission of reconciliation. I call the first bookend the need for reconciliation; I call the second the fruit of reconciliation. The prophetic goal of both is to live more deeply in the heart of Jesus and as the heart of Jesus for the sake of our world. That is each Christian’s prophetic responsibility, one that is both crucial and a joy.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause in the presence of the Trinity, aware of the Trinity creating you in reconciling love. Ask the disciples listening to Jesus to welcome you in their circle so that you may hear Jesus clearly. Praise Jesus for teaching you. Speak to Jesus in your own words about how you have been reconciled or about how you reconcile. Hold nothing back from Jesus as speak to him. Then, close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It keeps us vigilant and prophetic as it reminds us that God forgives us as we forgive others.

Link to the spiritual exercise for this homily.
1. Matthew 5.23-24.
Wiki-images of Ezekiel and of Christ, the Teacher, are in the public domain.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

About the Pope's Visit to France

Pope Benedict has a lot going for him among people in the U.S. However, he is one thing that the U.S. is not these days, pro-French. In the words of Mr. John L. Allen Jr. in his Friday online weekly column, All Things Catholic, "He's far too pro-French."

The pope has his sights on and beyond France:
Benedict XVI will encourage these signs of life, and not simply because France has a rich Catholic tradition. A revitalized French church could also be a key point of reference for Francophone
Catholicism around the world, especially in Africa. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, is destined to be one of the Catholic powerhouses of the 21st century. By 2050, it will be the fifth largest Catholic country in the world, at 97 million Catholics, behind only Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, and the United States. Other sizeable French-speaking Catholic populations are found in Burundi, Madagascar, Haiti, Rwanda, Vietnam and Cameroon, in addition to Belgium to Quebec.
Read Mr. Allen's column and learn what "signs of life" Pope Benedict "will encourage" on his visit to France later this month.
Wiki-image of Our Lady's Chapel, Lourdes, is used according to the GFDL.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Vatican newspaper article challenges 'brain death' notion. . .

. . .but it did not create new church teaching

Serious thoughts deserve respectful interest. Serious as they may be, not all thoughts preempt or create new church teaching. A recent example is the article in L’Osservatore Romano about the moment of death as reviewed by Mr. John L. Allen Jr.
Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi was quick to say that while the L’Osservatore article was “interesting” and should be taken seriously, it does not create new church teaching.
This is a good way to read many serious thoughts about many things.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Violence Against Christians in India

Islamic radicalism takes center stage. Vigilance is necessary. However, it is not the only extremism. Hindu extremism continues to assert itself with dire consequences as recent events in India have demonstrated.

Mr. John L. Allen Jr. examined Hindu extremism in his column at the end of last week.