Monday, June 29, 2009

Closing Year Opens More About Encyclical

Pope Benedict closed the Year of Paul with Evening Prayer I of the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul. The pope presided at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls. His homily Sunday evening also previewed his forthcoming encyclical due for release in next month.

Mr. John L. Allen Jr. pointed out at that the appearance of the encyclical "may well seem largely anti-climactic." Extracts of it have been appearing in the Italian press; however, the "pontiff actually scooped himself by devoting his remarks for the close of his “Pauline Year” to the theme of Caritas in Veritate, “Charity in Truth,” also the title of his long-awaited meditation on the economy."

Read Mr. Allen's remarks today to appreciate the forthcoming encyclical and its cosmic dimension for each Christian.
Benedict argued that because Christ’s love extends to the entire universe, Christian concern for the world must likewise have a cosmic dimension. Though the pontiff did not develop the point last night, on previous occassions that insight have provided the basis for a strong environmental message.
The link also redirects readers to more analysis of the soon-to-be-released encyclical.
Wiki-image by Jakob Øhlenschlæger of statue of St. Paul at the basilica over the place where was martyred is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday word, 28 June 2009

13th Sunday of the Year B (28 Jun 2009)
Wis 1. 13-15; 2, 23-24; Ps 30; 2Co 8. 7, 9, 13-15; Mk 5. 21-43
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Faith First
I don’t know about you, but I remember hearing more than a few times in my religious training that the miracles of Jesus proved his identity and instilled faith in those who witnessed them. Had any of you heard those or similar words? I thought as much.

Such points of view get accepted into common understanding. The common understanding (which in this case is “misunderstanding”) overshadows any challenge to it, even ones that come from scripture itself.

Faith comes from hearing, as St. Paul wrote./2/Today’s gospel selection offers such a challenge.The woman, who said “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured,” demonstrated faith in Jesus before she tasted Jesus’ healing power. The woman was a flesh-and-blood challenge to the misunderstanding that miracles preceded faith. Skeptics might muse that surely she was on the fringe of one or another large crowd in which Jesus had performed a miracle. Scripture doesn’t muse: she had heard about Jesus, and her learning was one that came to her ears not from witnessing Jesus at another time./1/

We are hearers, who have never seen Jesus in the flesh. Our faith-hearing is more significant than we may think. The woman in the gospel reminds us of that. The fact that she is unnamed has this advantage: we can easily lend our names to her experience: “When Kathy had heard about Jesus”; or, “When Kevin had heard about Jesus.”

That advantage is of great value when it comes to our relationship with scripture: In whom do we see ourselves as we read it? Our seeing changes as we grow and develop as humans and as people of faith. Also certain things remain constant, a sinful tendency as well as a fruit of the Spirit, to which any of us may be inclined. The Book of Wisdom voiced God’s undying purpose and the lurking of the Enemy of our human nature, always vying for our allegiance.
God fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome [and humans are] the image of [God’s] own nature. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.
The drama of Christian living is seeking to appropriate God’s desire and brighten the image of God’s own nature in ourselves. That begins by hearing and is deepened by hearts open and receptive to God and skilled at noticing what the Enemy of our human nature subtly and shrewdly has us think is wholesome and godly but is not.

St. Paul put this in practical terms of excelling: As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse, knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love Jesus and the saints have for us. Every respect includes excelling in generosity, supplying others’ needs, in Paul’s language.

Even more practical are the many ways that Gesu Parish and School assist us throughout our development to live our faith. Those many, varied ways help you and me to keep hearing Jesus address our hearts; to keep touching him; and to keep drawing others close to him and to his recreating love.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week pause in the love and light of our triune God. Ask the unnamed woman in the gospel to present you to Jesus. With her to help you, draw close to Jesus, and speak clearly to Jesus about what surrounds your heart or pours from it. Ask Jesus to embolden you to draw near to him—even to run to Jesus—so that Jesus may renew your life. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which Jesus gave us to praise God for rescuing us, and to allow God to provide for us and to change[ our] mourning into dancing. Jesus’ prayer takes courage: courage to praise God; and courage to allow God to transform our lives to be ever more wholesome and brimming with faith.

1. The Greek verb specifies what “comes to one’s ears.”
2. Romans 10.17.
Wiki-image by Michael Manas of Jairus and the woman touching Jesus' cloak is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license. Wiki-image by Yoruno of a blessing Jesus is used according the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Saturday word, 27 June 2009

12th Saturday of the Year (27 Jun 2009)
Gn 18. 1-5; Resp Luke 1; Mt 8. 5-17
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Miracles of the Servant

Matthew’s gospel was composed for a community of Jewish-Christians, people of the covenant God initiated with Abraham. They were different from others because they came to believe in Jesus as revealing and fulfilling in his person that very covenant. God had come close in Jesus, proclaimed by them to be Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”/1/

The community for which Matthew composed his gospel defined themselves as distinct from those for whom the Mosaic way of living in the world was ultimate. In Jesus’ time and after, the Pharisees and then the rabbis interpreted Moses to and for the people.

Believers in Jesus and believers in Moses were neighbors. Believers in Jesus inhabited the symbolic world of Moses, and they sought to explain, both to themselves and to those, who worshiped in the synagogue down the street, why they no longer worshiped there.

That’s why the First Gospel brims with explicit references to the Hebrew scriptures. These references are indicated either after an event: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet.../2/; or before a statement: It is written…./3/

For the community of Matthew’s gospel these statements indicate that it truly breathed the atmosphere of the covenant. For us the statements are clues. First, they are clues to how the community reread their scriptures in the new light of Jesus. Second, some of them even help us faithfully interpret Jesus’ actions as in today’s gospel selection. Jesus healed to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.

Chapters 8-9, which we began hearing at mass yesterday, contain 10 miracles. Matthew interpreted them with this verse from Isaiah./4/ The one who took away [human] infirmities and bore [human] diseases was the Servant of God. Several rabbis interpreted the Suffering Servant as “King Messiah.” Rabbi Moshe Kohen Ibn Crispin of 14th Century Spain noted
if anyone should arise claiming to be himself the Messiah, we may reflect, and look to see whether we can observe in him any resemblance to the traits described here; if there is any such resemblance, then we may believe that he is the Messiah our righteousness./5/
A record of rabbinic discussions begun 500 years before Jesus noted
The Messiah—what is his name?…as it is said, “surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God and afflicted….”/6/
The First Gospel reminds us of who we are and strive to be: sisters and brothers of Messiah Jesus, women and men who seek to live in ways, which point to reconciling as well as model it. That is no option! By Jesus’ Spirit you and I are servants after the manner of Jesus. We provide our world with the link to God with us, who our world still needs.

1. Matthew 1.23.
2. Matthew 1.22 and following.
3. Matthew 4.4 and following.
4. Isaiah 53.4.
5. From his commentary on Isaiah, quoted in The Fifty-third Chapter of Isaiah According to the Jewish Interpreters, Ktav Publishing House, 1969, Volume 2, pages 99-114.
6. Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 98b. Find both of these citations and more here.
Wiki-image of Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law is in the public domain.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vatican Eye on the Heavens Moving

This month the Vatican Observatory, housed since 1939 at the papal summer palace in Castel Gondolfo. Its move there--after 300 years--was necessary because of increased "light pollution" in the city of Rome. The observatory will move to Albano, Italy. Its new home

will give the Jesuits who work there better living and working space, and better accommodate visitors to the Observatory. ...
The move is an undertaking that involves the 22,000-volume library, which includes a collection of ancient books, as well as works by Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Kepler and others.
The Vatican Observatory has its own website full of information about its history as well as current events, research, instrumentation, publications and activities.
Wiki-image of a piazza near Albano's cathedral is in the public domain.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday word, 21 June 2009

12th Sunday of the Year (21 Jun 2009)
Jb 38. 1, 8-11; Ps 107; 2Co 5. 14-17; Mk 4. 35-41
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Honor Not Power

On the first day of this month a Passionist Priest, Fr. Thomas Berry, died. The natural world fascinated him from boyhood. Fr. Berry deeply explored the natural world and history of cultures. God is not abstract but always making self-revelation through the natural order. Fr. Berry’s First Principle (of 12) stated:
“The universe, the solar system, and planet earth in themselves and in their evolutionary emergence constitute for the human community the primary revelation of that ultimate mystery whence all things emerge into being.”/1/
I quote Fr. Berry to emphasize his point that the universe needs no context; it cannot have one for us. Individuals need contexts: family of origin; faith; spouse; personal vocation; and the like. For example, I’m a Panaretos, who is a celibate, a Jesuit, a priest. Things, too, are mediated to us via our senses in the context of our experience. Yet the universe tells its story on its own, which may be why it awes us.

Fr. Berry’s insight offers entry into today’s scriptures to help us appreciate them more. In the Sunday lectionary the first reading is chosen to harmonize with the gospel reading, in which Jesus revealed and fulfilled what God had revealed in early heroes and heroines of faith.

Job, whom we know better because of the calamities the befell his family, property and his body, sought to comprehend his grievous misfortune. That is the movement of the Book of Job. His sorrow morphed into anger, and his anger into arrogance toward God, whom Job could not dismiss from his heart and mind. We came in on Job realizing his arrogance by appreciating that God’s power is “primary,” which humans experience as akin to the sea, because our puny power cannot enclose it.

In the divine cross-examination of Job, God speaks of creating. Genesis speaks about God creating. We just heard God speak in the first person about creating. God heaped image upon image: God spoke in feminine imagery of womb as well as builder’s imagery, and where Job got hung up—like all humans—on power.

In the ancient Mediterranean world power deserved proper honor. After the divine cross-examination, Job admitted his angry arrogance. I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things...which I cannot know. ...Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes./2/ Scripture is clear that Job had no need to honor God with any thing more!

The disciples saw Jesus exert power over a stormy sea. They didn’t scratch their heads over his identity. Their question, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” did not flow from puzzling over Jesus’ identity but what honor Jesus deserved from them. Mediterranean peasants appreciated an extensive order of spirits and people who possessed power to do what ordinary humans could not do. People needed to show proper honor to such powerful beings. Not only that day on the sea, Jesus often behaved beyond his lowly human origins, always increasing his disciples’ concern to honor him properly.

A particular way people demonstrated honor was by showing loyalty. We hear faith and think propositions first; Hebrew- and Greek-speaking people thought loyalty first. Our loyalty to Jesus, as our Christian service clearly demonstrates, is not about our power. It’s about entering into new relationships with each other, with those in need, indeed with the earth itself. Jesus invites us, like God invited Job, to reconsider our loyalty to our Creator and Redeemer so we may live as the new creation, which baptism has recreated each of us and by which Jesus’ eucharist sustains our baptisms.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, quietly present yourself to our triune God. Ask the disciples to present you to Jesus so you may pledge again your loyalty to Jesus. Tell Jesus what your heart moves you say about his re-creation of you at each moment. Ask Jesus for his help to grant you peace in your tumult and awe in being created anew by him and in him. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Praying it slowly allows us to deepen our awe before God, one another and even to look afresh at our earth, its powers and its bounty given us to love God more easily and wholeheartedly./3/

1. From his “Twelve Principles for Understanding the Universe and the Role of the Human in the Universe Process.”
2. Job 42.2-6.
3. Paraphrase of St. Ignatius of Loyola: his Spiritual Exercises, [23].
Wiki-images of Job and Jesus calming a storm are in the public domain.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

This Ignatian LIfe

This blog states its purpose at the tab, About This Project:
The Ignatian Life web site is dedicated to exploring how to live Ignatian Spirituality. Much of what is “out there” about living in this tradition regards how Jesuits live and practice the faith. But Ignatian spiritual practices have implications not only for Jesuits, but also for lay men and women, single and married, young and old.

At this web site we seek to capture some of that diverse perspective.
Readers of this blog may find helpful This Ignatian Life: Ignatian Spirituality in Real Time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday word, 17 June 2009

Dominic Lonardo funeral (17 Jun 2009)
Is 61. 1-6; Ps 23; 1Th 4. 13-18; Jn 14. 1-6
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Divine As Well As Human

On behalf of Gesu Parish, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Joseph and John at the death of your dear brother, Dominic. In part I pray that you be more courageous than your grief is sharp. Your confidence in our risen Messiah will help you grieve well. Dominic’s nephews, nieces and their families grieve, too. You will all experience his presence in real and new ways.

Today the Catholic church bids farewell to one of hers. I offer a few words to console and strengthen you in your grief; to help you appreciate God’s astounding compassion by noticing Jesus’ victorious dying and rising were present in Dominic./1/

I am at a disadvantage because I did not know Dominic. You moved away from Gesu well before my arrival. I am grateful to Joe and Pat for drawing a portrait in words of Dominic for me. Because Joe coordinated things from Washington so well, John, you were present in spirit on Monday when Joe and Pat met with me.

We gather in University Heights, the home of your youth, in your boyhood parish of Gesu. While we gather people near and as far as Milwaukee, both Carolinas, Floridian cities, of course, California and New Jersey have expressed their condolences to you and their fond memories of and how Dominic affected their lives on the Plain Dealer guestbook webpage. Some of the people who expressed their sentiments on it may be only a few of the many with whom Dominic kept in touch.

I’d like to reflect with you on one aspect of our life with Jesus, which Dominic enjoyed. What moved me in getting acquainted with Dominic through you was the aspect of Jesus we call prophetic. Baptized into Jesus incorporates us into our Messiah, whom we describe as Priest, Prophet and King. Those titles are remembered as each of us was anointed with fragrant chrism, that oil named for Jesus’ Spirit. As the priest anointed the newly baptized Dominic—indeed as priests anoint all infants—with the chrism of salvation, he spoke:
As Christ Jesus was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life./2/
Membership in Jesus’ body is not passive. It’s an active incorporation into the risen life of our Messiah Jesus. That means that by baptism our Christian living is priestly because our living sanctifies our world; our Christian living is royal because it imparts new values to all for the sake of our world; and our Christian living is prophetic because our living communicates divine life to our world.

Prophet and prophetic may suggest doom and gloom because we so often use the words in that context. That use limits their first meaning because prophets are megaphones for God, who uses human speech and living to communicate with humans. Prophets channels divine life to us: at times prophets challenge; they also affirm and inspire godly living.

Prophets are “thoughtful” and “deliberate,” two words, you Pat, used in describing Dominic. In recalling Dominic’s youthful career as Mr. Magic, Joe, you summarized by saying that one of your brother’s outstanding gifts as “he captured the hearts and feelings of people in addition to their attention.” Those are prophetic features. “thoughtful” and “deliberate”; “captured the hearts and feelings” are prophetic qualities.

All of us baptized into Jesus and into one another—his body—are called to focus on Jesus and to reshape our lives according to his life, to make our way of choosing ever more in sync with his gospel. That kind of focus we call praying, and the act of praying helps our spirits to follow the promptings and the lead of Jesus’ Spirit.

Paying attention to Jesus’ heart and to our hearts allows God to recreate us at each moment, as oaks of justice and ministers of our God, as Isaiah reminded us.

The ministry God gives each of us connects people. Dominic “connected with people,” which is why people were attracted to him and why so many kept in touch. What I hope you will always remember and cherish is that while connecting with people is a human quality, it’s a divine quality at the same time, a grace given to us so that we can make a return of love to God more easily each day we live on earth./3/

Isaiah offered us a litany of the effects of God’s Spirit in action: to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal broken hearts, to announce... [God’s] liberty...and to comfort all who mourn. We tend to think of Isaiah’s words as a prophet’s job description, and so they are. They also describe effects on people God’s Spirit accomplishes through us when we give ourselves to the Spirit.

Artis Claudle of Charlotte, North Carolina, one who used the Plain Dealer Guestbook, expressed the concrete effect Dominic had on him: “I miss him, love him, and will never ever forget the impact he has had on my life all these years.”/4/ Dominic gave himself to Jesus’ Spirit, who empowered him to effect Artis and many others in concrete ways.

Dominic’s hugs, his smile, his warm, voice-mail messages, his joy with his family gathered are more concrete effects. Dominic allowed himself to be moved by Jesus’ Spirit, which is why he was able to affect the lives of people the ways he did.

These effects allow us to taste God’s love here and now. Tasting God’s love now can limit our hope in its fullness to come. Yet God’s love is both present and future as Jesus reminded us. Jesus reminder we heard in his words to his disciples: I am going to prepare a place for you...and I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.

Fortunately for you, his family and friends, Dominic pointed the way for you to continue your travel—even for me, who only knows him through your kindness. Dominic will continue to guide you as you experience his presence in those real and new ways which God promises each of you, ways you will discover.

1. Cf. Order of Christian Funerals, 27.
2. Rite of Baptism for Children, 141 & 63.
3. Paraphrase of St. Ignatius of Loyola: his Spiritual Exercises, [23].
4. Plain Dealer online Guest Book, p. 1.
Wiki-images of Isaiah and Jesus' farewell to his disciples are in the public domain.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Year of Prayer for Priests

Following on the Year of St. Paul, which closes with Evening Prayer on the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul, Apostles (29 June), will be a Year For Priests. It will begin on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on 19 June. It will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with Pope Benedict on June 19, 2010.

Pope Benedict announced the year in an address about the "missionary dimension of the priesthood." The description on the U.S. Bishop's website also lists events connected with it and encouraging everyone to pray for priests, transitional deacons and seminarians.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday word, 14 June 2009

Body and Blood of Christ Jesus (14 Jun 2009)
Ex 24. 3-8; Ps 116; Hb 9. 11-15; Mk 14. 12-16,22-26

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Water-Jar Living

We consider the Sacrament of Jesus’ Body and Blood from many angles. His Body and Blood has shaped us in many ways and will continue to shape us differently and anew in our futures. This year in our annual festive celebration our scripture selections invite us to consider the Eucharist by noting covenant and remembering.

Very briefly about covenants: in the ancient Middle East a covenant was a relationship of unequals, the greater providing for the lesser partner. In return for protection or for use of water of an oasis, say, the one who offered privileges expected certain behavior as well as tribute in return. That’s the covenant-significance of the people’s acclamation to Moses, “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.”

Jesus’ entire ministry prepared and shaped his disciples to live their covenant with God more wholeheartedly. Loving God and loving others summarized covenant-living. Few words, which we know, challenge us all.

At the end of his life, dining at their most sacred meal, Jesus transformed covenant by giving his disciples himself:
he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”
His phrase, blood of the covenant, would not have sounded at all strange to his disciples. Biblical covenants were ratified in blood. Blood normally evokes death in our minds, but not to the Semitic, and thus, Jesus’ mind! Jesus offered his disciples himself! Jesus, who transformed the covenant, asked his followers to remember him each time they broke bread and shared a blessing cup of wine.

Biblical—thus ancient Middle Eastern culture generally—biblical remembering was and is much richer than recall. Recall retrieves a fact, a face, a phone number: recall retrieves data. Ritual remembering—remembering in the context of a ceremony—makes present an event which occurred in the past. Our liturgical remembering is not recall.

Our liturgical remembering makes Jesus present in our midst and within our hearts. Distance disappears between us and Jesus & his first disciples, who ate with him his last Passover meal. Thus, covenant, the new covenant ratified in Jesus’ blood, emerges for us. It invites us to practice which Jesus taught, to more wholeheartedly and more freely honor God and respect and care for all people, especially those in need.

That’s what the new covenant ratified in Jesus’ blood, his very blood we drink at his altar, invites us to do. Our longings to do that and to see others do that are themselves gracious gifts of our Creator and Redeemer! How well we know that those graced longings clash with other longings: to live more conveniently; not to be bothered; desiring to be the center of our universes. When that clash exists, when we feel it inside, when we’d rather not do the Christian thing because we’ll stand out or look odd: we will love God and others when we choose to do what may go against the culture’s tide.

When Jesus sent two of his disciples to get things ready for their Passover meal and said to them,“Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him,” they would not have missed him. Why? In that culture women ordinarily drew water and carried it in jugs from wells./1/ Will loving God and others always make us stand out like him? No, but at times it will. Will we usually feel it will make us stand out? Yes. That’s recalling our new covenant and being reshaped by it. When we do follow Jesus’ lead, we remember him and become his real presence wherever we are.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause in the love of our Triune God. Ask the disciples who prepared the Passover to present you to Jesus to converse with him. Tell Jesus what moves you most about sharing his Body and Blood; then tell him how you desire to witness to his new covenant. Ask for his grace to live your desire with courage. Close by saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. When we say it we do not only recall God’s love and Jesus’ counsel about praising and forgiving. Each time we pray it we refashion ourselves into Jesus’ presence where we live, work and play.

1. See Genesis 24.11.

Wiki-image of the Last Supper is in the public domain. Wiki-image of water jar by Marie-Lan Nguyen is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license.

Monday, June 01, 2009

On Retreat. . .

. . .from 31 May through 08 June

Wiki-image of Rock Outcrop is in the public domain.