Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday word, 29 Aug 2010

22d Sunday of the Year C (29 Aug 2010)

Sir 3. 17-18, 20, 28-29; Ps 68; Hb 12. 18-19, 22-24a; Lk 14. 1, 7-14

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Pilgrim Preview

The parish theme for the next 12 months is “Ignatius, the Pilgrim.” You will have opportunities to align your hearts and minds with Ignatius and dispose yourselves to receive gifts of God—graces—to live in transformed ways. To align your hearts and minds with Ignatius and dispose yourselves to receive God’s graces to live in transformed ways is a taut description of making the Spiritual Exercises,-which came from the experience of St. Ignatius, who welcomed God’s life into his and lived life anew.

The content of the Spiritual Exercises is accompanying Jesus through his life as Scripture unfolds it. The method is a focus on his cross. Jesus is not a past personality or a dead person from the past. Not at all! Jesus is the Living One, who moved through human life by dying on the cross, whom God raised to unending life as Messiah and Lord. Jesus’ cross is a mystery: in our Christian sense known only by the Trinity; yet the effects of Jesus’ cross are available to people in every age. The cross and its effects are available when we open ourselves to them and the life the cross offers.

Opening ourselves describes an interior journey or personal pilgrimage with life-transforming fruits. Pope Paul VI offered a list of some, and his list shows that they allow us both to conduct our affairs with humility and to approach the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem...and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant with both feet on solid ground. See if you find your desires in Pope Paul’s list:

[a treasury of] values...a thirst for God which only the simple and poor can know. ...capable of generosity and sacrifice even to the point of heroism, when it is a question of manifesting belief. acute awareness of profound attributes of God: fatherhood, providence, loving and constant presence. ...interior attitudes rarely observed to the same degree elsewhere: patience, the sense of the cross in daily life, detachment, openness to others, devotion.1

This list contains goals many hope to reach, goals not completely out of reach as we make our pilgrim way through life. A word about the process of the Spiritual Exercises to remind us that it isn’t scripture study but a different kind of knowing: it’s a personal relationship with Jesus, accompanying Jesus through the mysteries of his life as Scripture unfolds them. My example is the Crusades, precisely those who could not go crusading.

The Crusades had a spirituality. To appreciate it you and I have to work hard to see beyond the military and moral disasters they often were. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection made the land he walked holy. To regain entry to the holy places was the purpose, and the crusades were under the banner of the cross. The Franciscans, the custodians of the Holy Land, had remembered and maintained the Way of the Cross, enshrining within that holy way, 14 stations or stopping points to praise Jesus and his cross and to recall a specific moment associated with his movement toward his death.

Those who did not go crusading to the Holy Land were really there in spirit by making the Way of the Cross. That 13th Century devotion, around the time of the Sixth Crusade (of seven), is how the holy way, the Stations of the Cross, became part of every church and chapel. In its way the Spiritual Exercises allow us to accompany Jesus through his incarnation, boyhood, baptism, temptations, public ministry, passion, death and resurrection. We really accompany Jesus by the power of his grace, which overcomes time, distance and culture.

If you have a thirst for God, a desire to be more aware of your gifts and more generous with them, seek to know and feel God creating you at each moment or desire interior attitudes rarely observed to the same degree elsewhere: patience, the sense of the cross in daily life, detachment, openness to others and devotion, then consider making your personal pilgrimage through the Spiritual Exercises. Visit McAuley Hall after mass to learn more.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, compose yourself in the Trinity and become more alert to the Divine Persons continually creating you. Ask St. Ignatius to present you to Jesus. Praise your Creator and Redeemer for dying on the cross and rising to indestructible life for you. Ask Jesus for the grace to accompany him in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, thy kingdom come, on our lips remind us that although not fully present, God’s kingdom continues to dawn in us, our homes, in University Heights and the world.


1. His Evangelization in the Modern World, #48.


Wiki-image of statue of St. Ignatius by ECastro is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license. Wiki-image by David Blaikie of detail of a door of Sagrada Familia is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday word, 22 Aug 2010

21st Sunday of the Year C (22 Aug 2010)

Is 66. 18-21; Ps 117; Hb 12. 5-7, 11-13; Lk 13. 22-30

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Christian Character

Unlike the letters of St. Paul the Letter to the Hebrews is read in church infrequently. The first hearers of the Letter faced temptations not to live their Christian, prophetic vocation. Their temptations ran from imprisonment, loss of life and property to daily pinpricks, which lured them not to proclaim [God’s] glory among the nations and fulfill Jesus’ desire: Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.1 Today’s selection speaks to temptations adversities work and affirms that difficulties educate us, and God works in them for us. My mentor’s story from early in my priesthood illustrate what I mean.

My mentor was superb. Denny shared his life’s experiences in a way which placed me in them. Denny opened a window on my future. One story was a lasting education, which scripture meant by discipline, and the Letter to the Hebrews conveyed with athletic imagery: strengthen one’s body pointed to strengthen one’s character; but I get ahead of Denny’s story.

Denny helped a couple prepare for marriage. The wedding day arrived. Denny waited as the last guests took their seats. At the appointed time the first bridesmaid did not take her place; no bridesmaid did. Denny waited patiently but not for them. The groom had not arrived! The groomsmen had but not the groom. After several minutes, which to the wedding party seemed like eternity and to the bride even longer, Denny walked to the bride’s room. Denny told her the groom had not arrived, and he asked the bride what to do. She cooly replied they ought to wait for him, so they did.

After several minutes Denny repeated his walk. He asked the bride what she wanted to do. She replied they ought to wait some more. Denny concurred; more waiting. After another interval Denny repeated his walk and his question. The bride paused. Denny asked her if she wanted him to do anything. The bride said they had waited long enough. She asked Denny if he would inform her waiting guests. Denny calmly did.

His experience illustrated two aspects of our Christian, prophetic to me. First, the bride endured her personal cross in that time. Talk about embarrassment, shame, pain and feeling abandoned! All tempt us not to proclaim the Good News by our lives. Second, Denny stood with her. You noticed as did I that Denny did nothing without her consent and direction: he asked her if she wanted him to do anything.

The bride was not totally surprised by the groom’s failure to appear, nor was she as angry as she might have been. She was invested in her wedding, in her plans for her future, which soured at the final moment. She didn’t rage, blaming him on the spot for ruining her life—her day, yes, but not her life. If she had raged, she would have impeded her suffering, suffering which offered her education for her life.

My education in Denny’s story connected me with an ancient Greek, wise saying well-known to early Christians: to learn is to suffer. The ancient Greeks intuited it in reverse: suffering is learning, teaching valuable lessons about life. Not at all masochists, ancient Greeks were realists, who puzzled about suffering in the world and found lessons for endurance. Our saying, “no pain, no gain,” captures their sense, less something from outside us and more from within, essential to strengthening character, to which the Letter to the Hebrews’ athletic imagery aimed.

The bride left alone at the church by her no-show groom probably did not know that pithy phrase, to learn is to suffer. Yet, she tasted its truth, and I’ve long hoped she profited from it instead of choking on it. The words of this truth the Letter to the Hebrews applied to Jesus: Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered. Jesus learned from what he endured. His cross was not only his glorious education; Jesus made it our identity; our present; and its glory our future.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, compose yourself within the Trinity. Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus. In your words praise Jesus for enduring the cross to be raised in glory as Messiah and Lord. Ask Jesus for the grace to stand against temptations to numb sufferings instead of to learn from them. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus’ words, lead us not into temptation, on our lips remind us no one is exempt from challenges or suffering. His words also dispose us to allow Jesus to do what we cannot and gain his victory by imitating his faith. Along the way we can profit from adversity rather than choke on it.


1. Mark 16.15, Jesus farewell to his apostles.


Wiki-image by Toby Hudson of window depicting Sts. Paul and John the Baptist is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license.