Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday word, 31 May 2008

The Visitation (31 May 2008) Rm 12.9-16; Resp Is 12 verses; Lk 1. 39-56
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Very Old and Very Current

The church celebrates this moment in the life of Jesus in the womb of Mary, a moment after learning that she would be the Mother of God. Undoubtedly, Mary pondered that for a good while, but time was not so important because she had replied that she would play her part in God’s providential plan for our salvation.

The church invites us to focus on this moment often, when we pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. I want to share with you something very old and very current.

In the middle ages in Germany people praying the rosary had a custom of adding the mystery after the word, Jesus, in the Hail Mary. The example given in the history book I was reading was the scourging of Jesus. Thus: “Hail Mary....your womb Jesus, who was scourged for [me]....” I pondered that for some time, and it seemed I could appreciate the mystery more if I did that. I tried it, and I continue to do it.

Sometimes a mystery requires adaptation. The Visitation is such one. This is what has become second nature to me:“Hail Mary...your womb Jesus, with whom you hastened to Elizabeth as a model of hospitality for me. Holy Mary, Mother of God....” I never realized until now that that interpolation was 13 words. It doesn’t seem long at all because that same interpolation allows me to enter deeply into that mystery of the rosary.

Entering the mystery--the entire paschal mystery or aspects of it--plunging into the mystery shapes us more and more into Christian missionaries who transform the world by sincere love, mutual affection, fervent spirit, patient endurance, showing honor, rejoic[ing] in hope, persever[ing] in prayer and excercis[ing] hospitality.

The Christian mystery exercised by Mary or another saint or sainted person is not a past event. It has present effects in the lives and hearts of all who open themselves to the Christian mystery. Jesus always extended hospitality, especially to those others forgot or ignored. Its no wonder because he learned such conscious care in his mother’s womb. The Christian mystery is our womb of wisdom, and gives us new birth in order to transform our world.
Wiki-image of the Visitation is in the public domain.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday word, 30 May 2008

Anthony C. Amaddio funeral (30 May 2008) Ws 3. 1-9; Ps ; Rm 14.7-9,10b-12; Jn 11. 17-27
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
“How Are You Doing?”

On behalf of Gesu Parish and personally, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Mildred, at the passing of your dear spouse; to you, their children, Lynn, Mark, Gregory, Anthony, Teresa, Janet and Michelle at the passing of your father. Your children and theirs grieve, too. I want all of you grand-children and great- grandchildren to remember how much your Papa loved you. It will be hard not to have him in your lives as you did; however, Papa will continue to be with you in different and new ways, which each of you will discover.

The Catholic church bids farewell to a faithful and devoted friend of many years. I offer a few words to console and to strengthen each of you in your grief; to help you appreciate God’s astounding compassion by noticing that Jesus’ victorious dying and rising were present in the life of Tony and in you as well./1/

I preface my remarks with a thank-you to you Mildred and to your beloved spouse of 62 years. Not long after my arrival at Gesu, the three of us stood where Tony’s coffin stands, and you renewed your vows to celebrate 60 years of marriage. That moment I became aware of something I had noticed when I saw you on another occasion. The loving way you were with each other mirrored the way my parents were with each other. As Tony and Michelle told me earlier this week, “[Mom and Dad] were inseparable.” My parents so enjoyed their 60 years of married life that they couldn’t imagine not being one.

Plus, Tony reminded me of my Dad because they both carried themselves with a quiet manner, a quiet which dignified them and possessing smiles which brightened their dignity.

That is far more than coincidence, Mildred. It’s a grace, and it allows me better to appreciate your loss because I have a son’s share in my Mom’s loss of her beloved husband. That same grace also helps me share more in your loss, you sons and daughters of Tony. It’s a grace that also gives me new vision of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and to see Tony in them.

Tony “quietly got things done.” That’s the image of Jesus the gospels convey: focused with people, not without a sense of humor nor a passionate concern for relatives, friends, disciples and especially the poor. Tony intersected with Jesus those ways.

That kind of focused care may well have appeared foolish to those whose faith-vision was clouded. We know that was one way Tony shone in the world. He shall shine even more brightly in the presence of our risen Messiah.

The Book of Wisdom is not our only reminder of how Tony practiced his faith. St. Paul chimed in with words you, Tony’s family and friends, will always hear with clearer, richer meaning: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. Hearing those words may evoke Jesus as an ideal person to imitate. The risk of viewing Jesus as an ideal person is losing a felt knowledge of Jesus as a real person. Tony’s family, especially, know and will remember a spouse, father, grandpa and great-grandad who had all of them and others in his heart. As Tony put it when you thought he was only napping, “I’m just keeping track of everbody.” Tony did not live for himself. Beyond his family Tony was interested in how others were doing.

The Fourth Gospel also confirms that Tony and Jesus intersected in life. The Fourth Gospel portrays a very human Jesus, who hungers, thirsts, conversed with real people, enjoyed close friendships, and longed for his followers to respond to his invitation--to name some human qualities.

The opening of the selection from this gospel invites us to notice another human quality Jesus had in spades. When Jesus arrived in Bethany he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days...and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. You and I may know those words so well that we may not feel the stormy bustle they describe. Divine, yes, and also fully human, Jesus arrived in Bethany like the eye in a storm. He consoled Martha, and he encouraged her to know him for whom he truly is: the resurrection and the life.

Again, Tony’s family and friends, who visited Grand River cottage, saw him in the midst of such stormy bustle--“lots of chaos ensuing” is how Tony, Jr. expressed it moments ago. Tony’s children and grandchildren saw the other chaos, the chaos of care in which Tony provided for his father, his Aunt and Mildred’s father, in Tony and Mildred’s home. That is an invaluable lesson in love which will abide with you always.

The bond which Jesus forged between you and your spouse, father, grandpa, and friend, does not unravel with death. We are called to nurture it in a new way, until Jesus returns to reunite us with Tony forever. The way to nurture it is the way you will keep Tony alive in a different, though very real way: to cultivate serenity; to focus on one another and all in need of care more than on yourselves. I’m certain that is how Tony sought to bind you to Jesus and to help your faith grow more alive, better to “understand truth” and “abide with [Jesus and all people] in love.”/2/

/1/ Cf. Order of Christian Funerals 27.
/2/ Order of Christian Funerals, 398.30: prayer for A Parent.
Wiki-image of an icon of the Resurrection is in the public domain.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Christianity & Islam: Breathing space as well as exercising the intellect

"Oasis" suggests a spot where one can breathe easier and find refreshment. Oasis is also the name of a project,

an attempt to foster a global network of contacts among Christians and Muslims, attaching special importance to the voices and experiences of Christians who live in majority Muslim nations across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. While Oasis sponsors academic conferences and a journal, it's also devoted to giving voice to real-life experiences of ordinary people, not just intellectual experts and the professional artisans of dialogue.
Angelo Cardinal Scola, Archbishop of Venice, is this project's lead sponsor. Four other cardinals--not
identified with what one might consider "soft" positions on Catholic teaching or practice. That distinguishes Oasis from some other initiatives, which bring the avant-garde of different traditions into conversation, but not the mainstream. Among other things, Christian leaders who gravitate around Oasis are often willing to challenge Muslims on issues of reciprocity and religious freedom more forcefully than one sometimes finds in other inter-religious forums.
The above quotations are from last week's "All Things Catholic" by Mr. John L. Allen Jr.

Cardinal Scola is all for both the populist expression of religions buttressed with strong intellectual support. The 66-year-old Cardinal Scola also has the future of humanity in mind:
Where is the future for humanity? It is certainly not the dogmatic religion or the purist expression of religion, even in the United States. In the United States, there is a populist expression of religion exactly as we have it in Egypt, or in India, or in Pakistan. There's no difference sociologically or culturally between the discourse of the American televangelists and the discourse given through Al-Jazeera. If you respect that kind of faith and you want to promote this, it's a mistake. It's not working for the future, and it's not working for the young generation.
Read Mr. Allen's complete column to appreciate the Oasis Project better and even gain a breath of fresh air around the necessary Christian-Islamic dialogue still in its infancy.
Wiki-image of an oasis by Hendrik Dacquin aka loufi is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Touching Origins of Memorial Day. . .

. . .began with women, in particular Emma, Sophie and Elizabeth.

Wiki-image is used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday word, 25 May 2008

Solemnity of the Body & Blood of Christ A (25 May 2008) Dt 8. 2-3,14b-16a; Ps 147; 1Co 10. 16-17; Jn 6. 51-58
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
More Vital Participation

I want to reflect briefly with you today on Jesus’ body and blood from this perspective: participating in Jesus shapes how we participate in the lives of one another.

For all the differences between St. Paul’s time and culture and our own, the way people choose to associate with others today is remarkably similar. Corinth, a large city had a broad diversity of people due in large measure to the city’s port, as well as a gateway to the interior of the country. Sounds like Cleveland of old, doesn’t it. In both Corinth and Cleveland of old--and now--people voluntarily associated with others moved by similar interests.

Then and now: clubs, ancient and modern; guilds of workers with the same materials and people who shared similar crafts; people with similar tastes in art, music; athletes and soldiers; even the poor and sick--then and now people with similar interests and intersecting roles in society easily participated in each others lives. Ancients' strict class-distinctions--something foreign to our American heritage--made similar interests all the more binding.

Any of us can operate out of similar interests only, because of fear of the unknown, distrust of anything new or a desire to be comfortable. We all know that never to explore ensures a dull life; that never to trust ensures no reward of intimate satisfaction and growth; and to choose only comfort is a springboard to emotional and; spiritual flabbiness. Associating only out of similar interests guarantees listless lives.

The good news St. Paul brought to Corinth, the good news St. Paul offers us, is that Jesus offers himself to us so that we may lead vital lives and associate with those who are different, chiefly the poor, the infirm and those we keep at the margins of society, not to mention our hearts. The ones at the margins were those with whom Jesus had a particular friendship. Jesus’ friendship with humans was not shaped or defined by similar interests. Jesus came inviting sinners, then and now; he came setting free those in bondage.

Jesus’ friendship with humans embodied his friendship with God. Jesus’ friendship with humans allows us to see, hear, touch God’s heart. Even better news is that Jesus refused to be the only channel of God’s heart and God’s freeing, healing love to the world. Jesus gave himself to nourish us and strengthen us to channel God’s freeing, healing love we experience to others.

Jesus’ body and blood are the life and love of Jesus and transform us more and more like him. We become the one we receive! We come more and more to live and breathe an atmosphere that flows not out of similar interests or comforts but from Jesus' very self.

The body and blood our Messiah Jesus is not some representation of Jesus or symbols of his love and self-gift for the life of the world.

Jesus’ vitality, his very being as our Creator and Redeemer, is his Holy Spirit. By Holy Spirit we participate in Jesus’ friendship with God and friendship with humans. As we partake in Jesus we participate in the lives of all people as Jesus commissions us each day.

Understanding St. Paul’s use of friendship language--participation, fellowship--and that we are together within the spiritual borders of the church offers us new insight to the sacrament of the eucharist. That new insight is that our share in Jesus’ body and blood deepens our friendship with Jesus and shapes how we participate in and with the lives of others. In a word, our desire for Jesus’ eucharist moves us beyond ourselves to serve others in order to glorify him.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, begin by asking the Trinity to see yourself, others and the world as they see. Ask St. Paul to deepen your awareness of Jesus and how he abides with you in his body and blood. Speak to Jesus about how you would rather be comfortable and feel no challenge; then about how you hunger for Jesus, thirst for his justice and desire to make him better known. Resolve to receive the eucharist with your new awareness Jesus gives. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which transforms our request for “our daily bread” into power to become the one we receive.
Wiki-image of the Gulf of Corinth is used under the GFDL. Wiki-image of procession at a Eucharistic Congress is in the public domain.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday word, 24 May 2008

7th Saturday of the Year (24 May 2008) Jms 5.13-20; Ps 141; Mk 10. 13-16
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
On the Verge

Today we complete our continuous reading of the Letter of James at daily masses. James encouraged Christians to practice a godly life in contrast to a worldly life. "Worldly" meant this for James: that grasping way of being, which manipulates people by envy, which leads to murder. In contrast, God gives gifts from above,/1/ in James’ phrase. James encouraged his hearers to become a community aware of its gifts and to share their gifts and restore life to the sick.

Sickness may first suggest physical or emotional illness to us. James never discounted either. The church continues to use these very words of his in each celebration of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. One may be hale and hearty in body and mind and still be spiritually sick. For James one suffers spiritual sickness by speaking with a cutting tongue, when swayed by greed, succumbing to envy and by cultivating a hard spirit. The truth is we are always on the verge of lapsing into spiritual sickness of one sort or another. This is far from being a failing or our fault. Our Creator and Redeemer as well as the “enemy of our human nature”/2/ both desire our loyalties.

Divine grace, when we allow it to enter and take possession of us, makes our hearts more supple and enables us to feel and show compassion. By contrast, following the lures of the enemy of our human nature hardens our hearts and makes us resistant and intolerant. We begin to feel most everyone and everything is unworthy, that nothing measures up to me. We grow to feel that way chronically, and that infects our relationship with God.

That was why Jesus quickly rebuked his disciples. Although spiritual sickness often smolders more than it blazes, it is nevertheless a fire that we need help to extinguish. As sophisticated people we need help, too, because our sophistication, not to mention our culture, quickly downplays spiritual smoldering. The best way we can extinguish it and prepare better to resist future spiritual smolderings, which seek to infect us, is to be childlike as Jesus counsels. To be open, to be readily awed by all things and to be gracious for the least person and thing heeds Jesus’ counsel and restores us to the spiritual health which truly satisfies us.

/1/ James 1.17; 3.15; 17.
/2/ This was a favored way St. Ignatius of Loyola designated Satan. His title reminds us that Satan operates through our human tendencies as does God.
Wiki-image from above the clouds by Vyacheslav Stepanyuchenko is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday word, 11 May 2008

PentecostA (11 May 2008) Ac 2. 1-11; Ps 104; 1Co 12. 3b-7,12-13; Jn 20. 19-23
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Recreated To Transform our World

One may briefly--and faithfully--describe scripture as recounting in various ways God’s relationship with humans. God began the relationship; humans rebuffed God over and over; yet God never ceased to welcome humans into relation-ship with God, God’s reason for creating us.

St. Ignatius of Loyola equated our creation with the divine purpose and goodwill toward us:
Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this save their souls.

The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings, to help them in the pursuit of the [goal] for which they are created./1/
Those of us who grew up long after St. Ignatius but before the Second Vatican Council recognize the saint’s expression in the response we learned to the question, “Why did God make me?”
God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven./2/
All created things are gifts of God to help us better to know, love and serve God now and enjoy divine life for ever. Creation is a constellation of created gifts to help us live godly lives, our most important reason to care for it.

Above all created gifts is one gift without par, divine life. God’s life is so rich, so powerful, so vital that we celebrate it as a Person of the Trinity. Pentecost celebrates Holy Spirit as the gift of gifts, “the Lord, the giver of Life,” as we profess in the Nicene Creed.

Like ordinary gifts the divine gift of Holy Spirit is unearned. The graciousness of God is something we humans from our beginnings have been slow to appreciate. Not far along in scripture’s account of human development the Tower of Babel vividly described human striving and our stubborn wills to achieve soaring heights and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth./3/ We know their striving made names for them quite different from what they desired: scattered and confused.

Pentecost reminds us that God in Jesus by their Spirit ends the confusion and unites peoples by the bond of Holy Spirit, more powerful and vital than blood-ties. The condition, the posture of disciples were drastically different from ambitious striving. Jesus had told them to go Jerusalem and “stay in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.”/4/ We tend to overlook the disciples’ posture of attentive waiting, no doubt because waiting is not comfortable and our society shapes us to gratify ourselves at once. We prefer to marvel at the driving wind and the tongues as of fire. The disciples’ posture of waiting dramatically reminds us that we cannot coerce the Uncreated Gift, who is freely given to us for the sake of the world. As God breathed life into the first humans at the dawn of creation, Jesus breathes new life into all his disciples with the commission that we proclaim his peace with our lives.

Pentecost completes the Easter season by summarizing the awe, the doubt, the presence--both mysterious yet concrete--of the numerous exchanges risen Jesus had with his disciples. Pentecost celebrates the completion of what God began with us, of what Jesus accomplished for us, of what their Holy Spirit continues in us and, miraculously, through us, who are not always aware or even welcoming of God’s living activity within us.

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, allow yourself to feel and savor the light and loving warmth of the Trinity, creating you each moment. Ask the disciples and Mary to present you to Jesus. Praise him for rising from the dead for you, and ask him for a share in his joy. Consider with Jesus how you have experienced his Spirit in the last 24 hours, and resolve to be more attentive, and more open to the ways Holy Spirit prompts you to live as Jesus’ friend and coworker. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which teaches us both how to wait for the Lord to give; and to live as a person recreated by the Lord’s forgiving Spirit.
/1/ Spiritual Exercises, 22.
/2/ Baltimore Catechism, Part 1, Q&A 6.
/3/ Genesis 11.4.
/4/ Luke 24.49.
Wiki-image of ElGreco's Pentecost is in the public domain.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Communications Lessons Learned from the Papal Visit

In his weekly column Mr. John L. Allen Jr. considered what Pope Benedict's visit to the U.S. can teach those who communicate via mass-media.

As usual, Mr. Allen sheds light on many things. Accusations that the press is anti-Catholic are not true:

With regard to the press, the problem is not bias against Catholicism or religion, although one can find isolated cases. The real problem is that religion is not taken seriously as a news beat, which means that it does not draw the same systematic, daily coverage as politics, finance, sports and even entertainment. The secular press covers big religious events, in addition to controversy or scandal, but often ignores the daily warp and woof of religious life.
Read Mr. Allen's column to learn about what 83% of Catholics agree.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday word, 05 May 2008

Chester Lesinski funeral (05 May 2008) Ws 4. 7-15; Ps ; 1Jn 3.1-2; Mt 11. 25-30
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Unbroken Bond

On behalf of Gesu Parish and personally, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Dorothy, at the passing of your dear spouse; to you, Jim, Mary, Ann and Tom at the passing of your father. Your children grieve, too. I want all of you grandchildren to remember how much your grandfather loved you. It will be hard not to have your grandfather in your lives as you did; however, he will continue to be with you in different and new ways, which each of you will discover.

Ann and Stella, I do not yet know a sibling’s grief. I do know your grief for your brother, Chet, is unique, and I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you both.

The Catholic church bids farewell to a faithful and devoted friend of many years. I offer a few words to console and to strengthen each of you in your grief; to help you appreciate God’s astounding compassion by noticing that Jesus’ victorious dying and rising were present in the life of Chet and in you as well./1/

I want to begin by recalling a word: religion. Its root meaning means to bind. Many bonds affect us in our lives. We recall today the bond of 52 years that joined you, Dorothy, with Chet. Unlike some bonds, which constrain, your marriage union was one of love and opened you to each other and to your family. Family trips will always be memories, and the fact that you never employed baby-sitters is an accolade. They are but two examples of how your bond helped you become more flexible and free.

Sports, which was so prized by Chet, creates and deepens bonds between players and fans. I don’t know if Chet thought of it, but sporting allegories, which he used to teach his children, are very at home with religion’s root meaning. Religion was never out of fashion for Chet.

The bond our religion fashions is deeply personal. It is risen Jesus, who draws near to us and binds himself to us and us to him, and through him each of us to another.

Last year this month I visited Chet in the hospital and two weeks later at Hamlet Manor. Despite both his physical condition and being in unfamiliar surroundings, he was not as anxious as a person in similar circumstances could have been. Perhaps I was fortunate. I tend to think otherwise because, “he never complained,” Dorothy and Tom reassured me.
The bond forged by Jesus and by Chet’s family and friends has very practical effects on our daily living.

The Easter season reminds us of Jesus’ solemn promise: “I will not leave you orphans.”/2/ Chet experienced that fidelity of Jesus. It registered for him, especially in these last years, as comfort and easing of his burden of illness. Jesus drew and remained close to Chet through you his family.

The comforting bond of religion is no fiction. Nor is it unrelated to daily living. Chet knew that in his bones. He has passed that to you and desires many others to come to know that through his support of Catholic education. You extend his desire by binding Chet’s memory to the Fr. Dietz Scholarship Fund.

We take comfort that we are God’s children now. Jesus will reunite you with Chet with a bond that can never be broken. His love for you and your love for him preview that bond, which Jesus will forge forever.

/1/ Cf. Order of Christian Funerals 27.
/2/ John 14.18.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday word, 04May2008

Ascension (04 May 2008) Ac 1.1-11; Ps 47; Eph 1.17-23; Mt 28. 16-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Nearer By Far

The Word of God became flesh when Jesus was born into our history. Heavenly messengers announced his birth. That seems to explain the shepherds’ response to the angels announcement: “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”/1/ God’s nearness to us could not be any closer, could it? Or could it?

Throughout his time on earth, Jesus lived with great humility, a word that recalls the earth. Webster reminds us that if people are not “high and mighty,” then they are down to earth and near its people. Jesus’ modest means, his compassion, his dependence on others’ goodness and his remarkable silence before his accusers make Christlike humility a virtue. In Jesus, divinity couldn’t have drawn closer. Or could it?

By dying Jesus rose to his life unlimited by time and space. Risen Jesus appeared to his disciples in doubt, disbelief and paralyzing dismay before much, much joy. Surely Easter was a reunion: of God and humanity, of Jesus and his disciples! God could not have drawn closer; or could God have?

A silly question, someone may wonder. No, a most important question; indeed a crucial one. It’s crucial because anyone who wasn’t present at the birth of Jesus or intersected with his life or was not at his death or didn’t see him risen from the dead could not enjoy that divine closeness. That leaves out all of us and countless others.

Could these be reasons why the disciples stood there looking at the sky as Jesus disappeared from them: that they would no longer enjoy his company; that they reasoned no one else would enjoy it, either?

Perhaps at the moment they felt that way. However, trusting Jesus they went to Jerusalem to “stay in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.”/2/ His promise was his Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit was no ordinary clothing but power to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Holy Spirit is power to learn him, power to teach him; power to baptize and make others part of Jesus, part of his body, part of the church, which is his body.

By departing, ascending, by being taken from his disciples’ sight and ours, Jesus makes himself our home. By departing, ascending, by being taken from his disciples’ sight and ours, Jesus makes himself our life. By departing, ascending, by being removed from our sight Jesus is closer to us than he was while on earth. By Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent from his Father, God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves. So near to us is Jesus that our testimony to him in deed and word continues to make him present. Jesus’ Spirit, God’s power, makes us agents of God’s reign, which continues to dawn in human history.

Being agents of the God’s reign expresses Jesus’ solemn promise to his disciples before his ascension: Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. Making Jesus known and making others part of Jesus, part of his body, the church are among the greater works.

We abide in Jesus, our home on earth, through prayer and the sacraments, most frequently the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. We Catholics bring people into Jesus, into the church. We rejoice over our Neophytes, baptized and confirmed at the Easter Vigil.

You inspire us; you remind us of our purpose and of our responsibility/4/ to be loving ministers of Christian initiation, and to make disciples of all nations With you Jesus sends us to be his witnesses, to make him more clearly known and felt. Each mass commissions us to go forth in his name empowered by Holy Spirit to transform our world, beginning with ourselves. We are leaven of the world. Christian daily living works the world like hands kneading dough so that its leaven will spread throughout it. The disciples at the ascension remind us to keep working, to keep transforming our world by our greatest and graced means we have, his Holy Spirit.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week begin in the presence of the Trinity, who creates you with your gifts and your purpose. Ask the disciples to present you to Jesus so that you may converse with him. Praise Jesus for empowering you with his Spirit to make him better known by your daily living. Speak with Jesus about how you follow him and how you can be his his better witness. Close by saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. It unites us with the heart of Jesus and makes us more powerful leaven to transform our world.
/1/ Luke 2.15.
/2/ Luke 24.49.
/3/ John 14.12.
/4/ Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, 9.
Wiki-images of Garofalo's Ascension and of Christ in majesty are in the public domain.