Thursday, July 23, 2009

July Sky

The site may be consulted most often for temperature and weather patterns.

The site also has an Interests tab along the top and near the right-end of the series of tabs located their.

Astronomy is the first of several categories. With data from the Hubble Telescope, one can enjoy a good video-preview of the night sky. Of course, automatically one checks the day's weather to see if clouds or rain will frustrate the anticipation of viewing the sky with the human eye.
Wiki-image by Vinish K Saini of a view of the moon and Venus is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license 2.0.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No Casual Calamari

In San Diego, California, divers and cruising pods of Humboldt squid (also called "flying squid" and diabolos rojos [red devil]) had surprising and even frightening encounters.

The CSM article also boasts a 2008 photo of other Humboldt squid out of their element. No mention of Jules Verne and his imagined squid suggests these squid were also out of the running for giant category.
Wiki-image of a stamp bearing an image of a squid is in the public domain.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On Vacation

A recent opinion column about Pope Benedict's most recent encyclical.

Monday, July 20, 2009

On Vacation

A 2008 story of Bellarmine House, the villa of the Jesuit Community of Boston College, has an intersecting history of architecture, names and uses.

Wiki-image of Minot Light House is in the public domain.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday word, 19 Jul 2009

16th Sunday of the Year (19 Jul 2009)
Jr 23. 1-6; Ps 23; Eph 2. 13-18; Mk 6. 30-34
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Offering What We Receive

Scriptures grace us provided we are open and do not read them according to our categories of thinking. The ancient Mediterranean people and their culture—Jesus’ kin and culture—differed from ours in many ways. I’m about to leave on vacation and rest, relax and enjoy the time with others at the ocean. I can count on an easy pace in a quiet setting, but if I need something, I can walk to a market to get it.

The less hurried place I will visit is not at all like the deserted place to which Jesus called his disciples, who returned from their mission of preaching repentance to prepare Jesus’ way. People lived in small hamlets of not many people. A town like Nazareth may have ranged from 50 to 150 people. People knew one another too well for our liking—and maybe for theirs!

Between their towns and hamlets were large open spaces, undeveloped by nature or humans. Moving through them was no walk in the park, nor was moving through them anything but hostile: no CVS, Target or Giant Eagle to get a much needed bandage, new dish or food to fill it.

Great was the need to take care and to care for children, older people as well as animals when traversing deserted places. Jesus noted necessity to enter such a place. People were coming and going in great numbers, and [Jesus and his apostles] had no opportunity even to eat. If people could be nosy and interfering in ordinary circumstances, then the comings and goings of great numbers of people probably to gawk at Jesus and his apostles would have been too much to take.

The gospel injects humor into the scene, adding, People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. How they kept their eyes on Jesus and his followers!

Jesus responded to them all with compassion. The image of shepherd, long before Jesus and Jeremiah, was united with royal leader in the person of David, the shepherd-king. The union of shepherd and leader emphasized care for people, suffering with people—compassion. God desired all rulers of God’s people to embody compassion. Because we share in our Messiah Jesus’ royal leadership by baptism, God desires us to show compassion in all our dealings.

Compassion does not call anyone to be a doormat for others. It does call us to imitate God’s heart as much as we humans can. How do we imitate God’s heart?

First, we can do that by being in touch with God. Cultivating our relationship with our Creator and Redeemer includes allowing ourselves to be embraced by Jesus, being nourished by his word and his sacraments, aligning ourselves with Jesus’ banner of cross-leading-to-resurrection. Allowing ourselves to be embraced by Jesus, nourished by him and aligning ourselves more closely with Jesus take many forms of personal prayer, public worship and Christian service. We are fortunate that Gesu Parish and School offer us so much assistance in all those ways.

Second, we imitate God’s heart when we extend to others what God has done in and for us. Living as one reconciled by God in Jesus by their Spirit; extending to others the goodness and kindness they offer; and inviting others to enjoy what we enjoy, that access [we have through Jesus] in one Spirit to the Father. That is how we live divine love through our frail, human bodies. Christian love is not about being perfect, it’s about freeing ourselves to be led, nourished, guided and perfected by our Good Shepherd.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause in the love our triune God shines on you. Ask the apostles to present you to Jesus so you may converse with him. In your words thank Jesus for his patience with you; savor one way you have enjoyed his goodness and kindness he has offered you. Ask for Jesus to help you deepen your desire to welcome his faithful love at each moment. Close your time saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. Praying it allows Jesus to transform us to be his apostles of reconciliation today.

Link to this homily's Spiritual Exercise

Wiki-image of Jesus and apostles is in the public domain.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Israeli Soldiers

What do some Israeli soldiers think about the January 2009 Operation Cast Lead?

Gaza was the objective of that operation. The website, Breaking the Silence, offers soldiers' Testimonies divided into several categories. This is not the first time some Israeli soldiers have protested and objected to their orders.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Road Map for the Pope's Newest Encyclical

Jesuit Father James Hug has made available on the Center of Concern website a precis to the encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth).

It downloads as a portable document file (.pdf). It is in sentence-outline format and is a great help to read before, with and after reading the pope's full text.

Jesuit Father Brendan MacPartlin wrote a briefer overview of the encyclical at the British Jesuits e-zine, Thinking Faith. He
considers the vision delivered in this long awaited document, which picks up on the themes of Populorum Progressio to look at issues of development and social action: ‘Charity in truth drives the authentic development of all persons.’

Wiki-image by Odder of road sign is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday word, 12 Jul 2009

15th Sunday of the Year (12 Jul 2009)
Am 7. 12-15; Ps 85; Eph 1. 3-14; Mk 6. 7-13
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

We may not see much for us in the Word today. Amos was one of the prophets, Jesus sent out apostles with him to prepare his way by preaching repentance and St. Paul praised and thanked God in an extended way in his letter to the Ephesians, a single letter originally meant to be read in many churches.

Popes write encyclicals for the world church. We don’t preach dramatically like Jesus’ apostles or cry out like the prophet Amos. Popes, apostle, prophets: they all seem out of our league, don’t they? Nevertheless, the scriptures do address us. The common denominator is that God chose and continues choosing unprepossessing people like us.

Amos was a shepherd and pruner of trees. Many of the apostles were fishermen. All St. Paul’s learning and religious zeal were no antidote to his human weakness. God’s way of operating throughout the ages has been consistent: to choose ordinary people for the extraordinary desire of God, the salvation of the world. Jesus fulfilled God’s desire as he set ordinary people in motion to do just that: Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.

If we think in our western and modern ways, we miss how extraordinary was the authority Jesus gave them. You and I think nothing of traveling. However, in the ancient Mediterranean one would not travel unless one had to leave the extended family and the village because both provided a social network and the necessities of daily living.

Further, the ancient Mediterraneans believed in nonhuman beings and ranked them according to power: our God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—other gods, archangels, angels, spirits and demons. Jesus’ people called demons unclean spirits, who disturbed human well-being in all manners of ways. Jesus, authorizing his apostles to have power over unclean spirits, gave them new power.

You and I may be mesmerized by power and miss how Jesus sent them: two by two. Each was an extension of the apostolic band, and each was an extension of the other’s extended family, providing the social network so important to living a human life.

Jesus transformed our humanity by his death and resurrection. Jesus sends us, too, ordinary people that we are, to continue his transforming work. By baptism we
share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ [Jesus] and therefore have [our] own role to play in the mission of the whole People of God in the Church and in the world. [What is our mission? We]...bring[] the gospel and holiness to [all], and [transform all] things through the spirit of the gospel./1/
We are one another’s support to continue the mission of Jesus. Travel today, as popes, presidents and ordinary people like us testify, is not the limited or even dreaded activity of Jesus’ culture. Our closeness, support, encouragement and companionship are just as important for us as in his culture. Perhaps it is more important because we tend to privatize faith and to go it alone because our culture values individualism so highly. Yet, God continues to work through individuals, calling them first into communion with Jesus and with one another so that we may allow Jesus to send us for the sake of our world.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause, aware of being in the presence of the Trinity. Ask the apostles to present you to Jesus. Speak to Jesus your hesitation at being his apostle today. Affirm your trust in Jesus and ask for the grace to infuse your world with Jesus’ Spirit by the way you live. After several minutes, close your prayer by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which is our going-on-mission prayer. Saying it keeps us close to the apostles, whose mission we extend as we put into practice our faith, hope and love.

1. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity 2.
Wiki-images of the Prophet Amos and the Twelve Apostles are in the public domain.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday word, 11 Jul 2009

Julie Beran-Brice Westhoven wedding (11 Jul 2009)
Gn 2. 18-24; Ps 128; 1Co 12.31-13-8a; Jn 15. 9-12
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Two Making One LIfe

Julie and Brice, you give us an opportunity to appreciate more God’s word as we join in your celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony. You chose St. Francis Chapel of this university because you enjoyed your first date at John Carroll. Together you made history with your first date. Because yours is the first wedding I witness here, this is our first date at John Carroll to make new history.

Making history: to begin history is part of making history. Weddings celebrate history begun as well as history yet to be lived. Your wedding is about your early history growing into this present moment and opening onto your future, as two individuals making one life together.

In choosing the selection from the Book of Genesis, you confess and proclaim that God, who has created you, has brought you together, and you implore God to favor you in your mutual love and life. The scriptural phrase, one body, is expressed by mutual love and living.

Jesus gave new emphasis to mutuality. It was a new emphasis because from the beginning God made men and women partners. Humans ceded more to men than women from the beginning, too, which frustrated God’s desire for humans. The new emphasis Jesus gave rested in his word abide: abide in my love, which was and is a mutual love sealed by divine love. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”

You allowed St. Paul to remind you and all of us that abiding, mutual Christian love is practical. It will challenge you, at times with some surprise. Christian love St. Paul reminded is patient and kind, but sometimes lovers are not. Christian love does not envy or boast, but sometimes lovers do. Christian love bears...[and] endures all things, but sometimes lovers do not. Christian love does not insist on its own way but sometimes lovers do.

That last, that Christian love does not insist on its own way brings us back to the hallmark of Christian love: it is mutual. Brice and Julie, I want to affirm what you have allowed me to see: your desire to live a Catholic marriage. I also want to remind you that at each step of making one life together, Jesus accompanies you, drawing you and your love for each other into the mutual love, which his Father and Jesus and their Spirit enjoy. You’ll never lack for Jesus’ companionship blessing your love with the love of the Trinity.

Your mutual compassion for one another will fashion you from today as a domestic church./1/ Your married life will help you save each other’s souls and welcome “children lovingly from God”/2/; your married life will also allow Jesus to work through you for the sake of the world. You will never lose your individual selves. Instead, both of you will strive to make one life together.

Even more than the way you give love, the way you receive love from each other will allow Jesus to guide you on that still more excellent way, your mutual compassion. Jesus embodied and models compassion for you and for all, and continues creating you to be the man and woman God desires you to be for each other.

I’m very proud of you and, I wish you every good thing. I congratulate you on behalf of the church. It is true that Jesus created you for one another. It is even more true that Jesus will create you each moment for everything ahead of you. Please remember that in pledging yourselves to each other you allow Jesus to work through you for the salvation of each other as well as our world. As you forge one life together Jesus begets something new: a new harmony to feel Jesus creating you and your mutual love for each other, and to help us and others feel Jesus recreating the world as the world sees you receive love as well as give it and abide in it.

1. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 11, of The Second Vatican Council.

2. Rite of Marriage, Ch.2: 42.
Wiki-images of Jesus' farewell to his disciples (when he said, "Abide in my love") and of wedding rings are in the public domain .

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sunday word, 05 July 2009

14th Sunday of the Year (05 Jul 2009)
Ezk 2. 2-5; Ps 123; 2Co 12. 7-10; Mk 6. 1-6
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Seeing Beyond a Conversation

Cultures assess themselves with different criteria. We tend to assess ourselves and others using economic criteria. What we possess or lack shapes our social standing and self-worth. We use other criteria, too, but we seem to give socioeconomic data first place.

My visit over 20 years ago to the mission-parish of the Archdiocese of Detroit in Recifé, Brazil, allowed me to see how wealthy poor people are. The people I met were wealthy in hospitality, happiness and faith. My visit opened my eyes to wealth that is more valuable than money. Those among us who have visited Honduras over the years can say something similar. My visit to Recifé, Brazil, opened my eyes to God at work now in me. My visit helped me see one way today’s readings are related. Let me begin with the gospel.

Wealth affected ancient Mediterraneans. Yet, they assessed themselves even more by honor and shame. Honor came with birth, and people rarely moved beyond the status bestowed by birth. Craftsmen, for example, took pride in making things so that without them no city could be lived in, and that they did not need to worry about hunger./1/ Jesus’ father was a craftsman; carpenter suggests to us a more specific occupation using wood, but in Palestine stone was more available than wood and less costly.

The social expectation was that Jesus, like any son, would continue his father’s work. Craftsmen were necessary, and the idea of doing something different was an alien thought in that culture. Yet, a Jewish man was free to study torah and become well-versed in those holy writings. Still a craftsman—who spent hours at his work and often traveling—did not have the time other men, like scribes or those born into affluence, had to devote to studying the holy writings and the discussions of rabbis preserved for generations.

While Jesus astonished many by his ability to cite scriptures, as well as to converse about and teach them, the majority of people could not give Jesus any more honor than that of a craftsman.
If honor was key in assessing self and others in Jesus’ culture, then shame was its other side. The gospels make clear that Jesus held his own in all kinds of conversations. In the one we just heard in which some withheld from Jesus a prophet’s honor, Jesus quickly took the wind out their sails: A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.

If I stopped here I would be simply rehearsing cultural history and how people ascribed honor or not, and how people defended it. What does it offer us now? As fully human, Jesus felt the sting of honor withheld, even though he could defend himself. Defense doesn’t always guarantee acquittal, after all. Jesus was not immune to human hurt or the need for affection. When others left Jesus and he asked his apostles, “Do you also want to leave?”/2/ Jesus was not speaking rhetorically. He felt vulnerable and its painful effects.

Vulnerability in any culture is not easy to tolerate and more difficult to manage. St. Paul also knew vulnerabilities, and one in particular haunted him. Its more than difficult to diagnose someone dead for almost two millennia, plus the distance between his culture and ours makes the effort extremely hazardous. What we can learn from St. Paul is that he used his weakness to remain closer to God, who had vindicated God’s son from a shameful death by raising Jesus to unending life!

The value for us in both Jesus and Paul—with his constant focus on Jesus—is the courage they give us to look differently at our vulnerability: our limits; our foibles; our compulsions; our sinfulness. That difference is to see our vulnerability as a grace to taste God’s consoling presence, instead of how the world would have us see it, as worthless weakness and a shameful blot on our humanity. That is wealth more valuable than money.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause in the presence our triune God. Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus, who was intimately acquainted with human weakness. Converse with Jesus: renew your confidence that Jesus was often vulnerable; then speak to him about your weakness. Ask for new courage to see your weakness honestly and to appreciate it as an opening for Jesus to work in and through you. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, savoring its phrase deliver us. With that phrase we pray not that God change our circumstances but that God work more powerfully and make us channels of God’s life for and with others to honor and glorify God.

1. Sirach 38.32. Chapters 38.24-39.11 vividly describe honor and people’s roles in life.
2. John 6.67.
Wiki-images of Jesus teaching in a synagogue and of a most important papyrus of Paul's words about weakness and grace heard today are in the public domain. [Learn more about
Papyrus 46.]

Friday, July 03, 2009

Encyclical Key

Entitled, "A key to reading Benedict's social encyclical," Mr. John L. Allen Jr.'s recent post offers a guided preview of the pope's encyclical due next week, Tuesday.

In this "key" Mr. Allen makes a point that news media may either miss or not elaborate.
Though the pope may not spell it out quite this way, much of Caritas in Veritate could well shape up as an attempt to synthesize three of the most persistent -- and, Benedict would doubtless say, artificial -- dichotomies in recent Catholic experience:

* Personal conversion versus social reform;
* Pro-life versus peace and justice commitments;
* Horizontal versus vertical spirituality.

All three points can be understood as partial versions of one "grand dichotomy," that between truth and love.
Christian love is active, something it has always been and will always be. The Christian desire aims to love genuinely and not in an "artificial" way. Reading Mr. Allen before reading Pope Benedict may help to that.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

More Popular + A Quiz

Citizens of which two countries gave a rating of 'more popular' to President Obama than his own country?

  • A poll included the question, "'[Would President Obama] do the right thing regarding world affairs?'”
  • At the end of June the Christian Science Monitor noted that in its brief summary of some of the results of the poll

The poll targeted "countries that make up 62 percent of the world’s population," according to the CSM report; and

The two countries are not on the same continents.

Find the answers in the CSM report.