Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Plant 10 Trees

A recent symposium met in Washington, D.C., to discuss “the implications of Pope Benedict XVI’s biblically based ecological vision for the church.” Yesterday’s “Signs of the Times” article in America Magazine quoted Dan Misleh. He noted that even though cause and effect of climate change and storms like Hurricane Sandy still cannot be proved,

most scientists believe that climate change has a multiplier effect on such storms,” droughts and other adverse climate events. [link added]

Planting trees sounds more wise at home and not only in Papua New Guinea, as its bishop encourages.
Wiki-image by Dewi of tree planing used by CC BY-SA 2.0.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Faith & App

Loyola University New Orleans has teamed with CNS to use electronic media to promote the Year of Faith. Its Year of Faith Resources have recently begun to be assembled. An app is also available to help people schedule practices, which enrich them and help them grow in faith.

Copyright for Year of Faith logo belongs to Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday word, 25 Nov 2012

Giving to God’s Truth
Christ the King (25 Nov 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
When a child is born healthy parents rejoice, free to imagine a future with grand potential for their youngster. When someone lands a new job, the person rejoices to have financial and work security and is free to imagine and set goals and contribute to family and society. Our rebirth in baptism not only made us alive in Jesus Christ…the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead and ruler of the monarchs of the earth. It initiated our freedom to rejoice that we share our Messiah Jesus’ royal, priestly prophetic mission.

“Priestly people” is a royal title: God set us apart in Jesus to glorify God. It’s a prophetic title, too: we are free to note new life dawning in the darkness and humdrum of daily existence until new life shines as the son of Man...on the clouds of heaven. He will present us to our Creator’s throne.

Priestly people know challenges. A child’s birth; beginning a new job; being reborn in Jesus and the future’s far reaches: much unexpected lay between. A healthy infant can develop a condition in childhood which changes life for the youngster, parents, the entire family. A job’s financial and work security do not insulate workers from challenge, frustration, even agony. Life in Jesus does not rule out suffering now. Jesus not only indicated his life would ultimately end on the throne of his cross; Jesus repeatedly alerted his disciples that witnessing to his cross and his kingdom involves lives of cross-bearing. We’d rather deny that. Denial is strong. It happens in spite of ourselves.

When a chronic condition appears without warning and begins to dog a formerly healthy child, parents struggle immensely to cope, often denying it’s happening. When unexpected adversity tarnishes the luster of a new job, we can feel we’ve made a mistake with our lives. So, too, all of us always confront our tendency to deny Jesus in one form or other. A person may feel deluded by the people who passed on the Christian faith. Another may feel Jesus is never in season in one’s time, life or circumstances. Still another may feel it impossible for the crucified Jesus to be the almighty, let alone the Beginning and End.1

That means we are no different from Jesus’ contemporaries. Those who staked their lives and hopes that Jesus was the Expected One: he was not the one they thought he’d be. Pilate demonstrated that was not only the disciples’ problem. It was a human problem. My kingdom does not belong to this world. How would a ruler make sense of this? Jesus’ mission to testify to the truth stirred in Pilate no idle question, “What is truth?” Pilate may have asked it from his position of his power rather than from genuine desire.

To ask Jesus what truth is asks Jesus who he is. No human response satisfactorily answers that. Yet all power finds its meaning in Jesus. Someone once rearranged the letters of a Latin translation of Pilate’s question, What is truth?2 The person arrived at this answer: The man who stands before you.

Yet Jesus never is precisely who we think him to be: nor are our children, our jobs, even our church. God does not abandon us to our chronic conditions, our poor selves, even our strengths. Rather, God’s perpetual graciousness reveals to us God’s truth and the truth of ourselves. When we allow God to reveal our truth we experience a release, even while we feel captive in a world of illness, dysfunction and rejection as was Jesus.3 Jesus is our King precisely because he commanded no things. Giving himself to God’s truth, he gained his. This is the essence of our solemnity of Jesus as King: we remind ourselves to be open instead of grasping, and to rely more on the perpetual grace of his redeeming glory.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Bask in the life of the Trinity.
  • Ask your patron saint to present you to Jesus. Chat with Jesus:
  • Thank him for creating you and redeeming you.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to surrender to him so you and your life will be a faithful witness to his Spirit alive in you.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave it to us to help us live our royal, priestly, prophetic mission with renewed courage and conviction.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. The meaning of Alpha and Omega in Revelation 1.8.
  2. Quid est veritas? Est vir qui adest. This appeared in Ripely’s Believe it Or Not in the 1950s.
  3. Romans 8.21.
Wiki-image by GFreihalter of Jesus before Pilate, and Wiki-image by John Stephen Dwyer of Melkite Christ the King are used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Extending Thanksgiving

The recently departed Jesuit John Kavanaugh once suggested how to make Thanksgiving last well into December. At dotMagis Jim Manney recalls Fr. Kavanaugh’s “litany of gifts” exercise.
Wiki-image of poster with cornucopia is in the public domain.

Monday, November 19, 2012

More Lethal Rockets

In his CSM “back-channels” post of 17 November, Dan Murphy noted a disparity in the increasing violence in Gaza.

Israel’s fire into Gaza has been far more lethal than vice versa. In another tweet on Thursday, the official IDF spokesperson’s account shared a video of a rocket being fired from a residential area inside Gaza with the comment, “Would you raise your child in such a neighborhood?
“Muscle-flexing” and attributing terror to each side continues to cost lives.
Wiki-image by Mr.david.w of Gaza skyline used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday word, 18 Nov 2012

33d Sunday of the Year B (18 Nov 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Entering Kingdom-Time
As each liturgical year closes the weeks before Advent, the scripture selections at the liturgies challenge how we view and read the bible. End-of-the-year scriptures challenge us about time, and time shapes how we think. We remark: ‘Is it time to go?’ ‘Are we there yet?’ ‘I’ve another meeting in half an hour.’ ‘The Year 2012 will end in 44 days, 1062 hours, 63,762 minutes, 3 million, 801,600 seconds.’1 That one was over the top, yet time shapes how we think about the future, even the near future. Time can straightjacket us, and who doesn’t long to be free?

So we leave our time, 60 minutes of it each weekend, to enter together kingdom-time. The Psalmist described it: A thousand years in [God’s] eyes are merely a yesterday [to us].2 Our notion of time contradicts that of the bible, so we set aside the bible; or we refuse to take it seriously; or we feel it’s not for us because it’s outdated—time again!—just not in tune with us.

That’s high and mighty! We are quick to treat the bible arrogantly and think little of it. Then Jesus makes us think with his image-intense language about time and place:
Then the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken….then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory, and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.
Those thens—three of them: who doesn’t want each to be a ‘when?’ When will the heavenly lights be darkened? When will we see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory? When will Jesus send out the angels and gather his elect...from the end of the earth to the end of the sky? With the certitude and exactness of our atomic clocks, we want to know those times so we won’t be caught off guard; so we won’t miss Jesus, the divine Son of Man; so at the very least we’ll have a “date with an angel,” who’ll lead us to freedom.

We don’t taste freedom because we refuse Jesus’ witness that then—his word; and ‘when’—our puny desire—are secret from us who know so much: ...of that day or hour, no one knows, neither angels...nor the Son, but only the Father.

What to do? Enlarge our desire; not figure out Jesus’ image-intense language and read it like a train schedule. How? The Letter to the Hebrews, also dripping with image-intense language, offers this. God raised from death our high priest,3 the divine Son of Man, who took his seat forever at the right hand of God. And the psalm reminds us the faithful person will join Jesus, sharing the fullness of joys in your presence, [O God], the delights at your right hand forever. 

We’ll never know how Jesus took his seat forever at the right hand of God. Yet we have experienced it: healing; forgiveness of sin; living faithfully; showing compassion, receiving compassion; feeling grace embrace us, guide us and inspire us to choose, act and speak faithfully.

Those and other revelations of God’s heart are ours! Sitting at the right hand imagines them and stirs us to imagine them. Not a cold fact, no ticket-stub Erie Playhouse gives: sitting at the right hand of God invites us to desire the delights of God here, now, moment by moment. God will take care of the future: [God] will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds.

To desire God’s delights is a strong and great desire! That desire transforms our minds, our hearts, how we choose and what we choose. As God’s desire become our desire we enjoy the freedom of the children of God4 even as we wait to enjoy it completely. Now I’m sliding into earthly time, which mutes great desires, and I’m dragging you with me. So. . .

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Step out of time to enter the life of the Trinity.
  • Ask your patron saint to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise Jesus for proclaiming the delights of the kingdom dawning among us even when we’re unaware.
  • Beg Jesus for the grace to take him at his word; to trust God’s secrets and to desire them rather than figure them out to the last detail.
  • Close, saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave it to us to recognize our needs; to ask God to supply them; and to give true freedom to us needy folk enslaved by time, which cannot save.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. At 5:00 p.m., 17 Nov 2012. Check this Countdown Clock.
  2. Psalm 90.4.
  3. Hebrews 4.14, from Second Reading, 29th Sunday of the Year (21 October in 2012).
  4. Romans 8.21.

Wiki-image by Evelyn Simak of a fig tree used by CC BY-SA 2.0. Wiki-image of the Throne of God is in the public domain.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Nature of It

Last month began the Year of Faith. Pope Benedict offered it for the entire church. One hope is that Catholics grow in faith. How did Jesus present it in his ministry? How do the gospels continue to present faith? Jesuit Peter Edmonds helps us by “analysing the references to ‘faith’ in Matthew, Mark and Luke” in his contribution at ThinkingFaith today.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Listening Begins Respect

Two quotes:

“In fact, far more veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have been lost since coming home than have died in combat. Their suicides are a silent carnage: 18 every day; 6,500 a year.”

“‘Churches need to be more proactive about educating themselves about the issues vets face when they come home,’ Hansman says. ‘No one expects pastors to cure post-traumatic stress. But they’re gatekeepers, pointing people in the right direction.’”

They are from a U.S. Catholic article worth attention. It helps to activate respect for U.S. Veterans.
Wiki-image by Jim.henderson of Women Veterans Monument was entered into the public domain.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday word, 11 Nov 2012

Human Parable
32d Sunday of the Year B (11 Nov 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Over a liturgical year we together immerse ourselves in the mystery of our Messiah Jesus. As Jesus neared the end of his ministry, he came to Jerusalem to suffer, die and be raised on the third day.1 As we begin to close another liturgical year, today’s gospel recalls Jesus in the area outside the temple,2 its treasury. It was a spacious area with terraced walls. Jesus would have seen many people moving about near the temple treasury and been near enough to notice their facial expressions and other body language.

Jesus saw the crowds. He saw religious professionals: scribes; Pharisees; elders. He saw wealthy and poor; and his disciples. When we hear and read Jesus speaking to his disciples, Jesus addresses us, his disciples now, the church. Let’s hear him.

Jesus spoke in two scenes in today’s gospel selection. Jesus remarked about the scribes (scene one) and about a poor widow (scene two). His remarks may seem connected by a slender thread of coincidence. So we may ask, “Do Jesus’ words speak to us?” I suggest they remind us that God protects God’s faithful, and they urge us to act with confidence in that protection.

When Jesus addressed the crowds, his disciples heard him, too. His disciples knew that scribes had the legal right to administer estates. They earned that trust by their standing as religious leaders. Some scribes were trustworthy. Yet by Jesus’ day some had squandered the estates of many to enrich themselves. The temptation of greed was not limited to the scribes. Jesus knew that. He named them as only one example of what to beware, much the way people warn friends to beware people who won’t be fair with them. As we hear, “Watch out for scam artists who…,” Jesus warned his disciples about people who made a show of their faith instead of living it and living by it.

Greed is a symptom of a need to control rigidly one’s life. The word life includes human existence and one’s possessions. From the vision of faith our existence and all we have are gifts to us from our Creator. Life and possessions are given us to manage and manage well. It’s false to think 90% is mine and 10% is God’s. All is God’s, who gives to us to manage as best we can.

Confident faith frees us to manage well. Confident faith has practical aspects of honesty and fairness not exploitation and greed. Honesty and fairness  fit Jesus' teaching of the crowds that 
day. In the crowd Jesus saw the poor widow. She was his parable! The poor widow modeled confident faith because she came to the treasury and put in two small coins worth a few cents. She did not put in one and keep one for herself. Her confident faith that God would safeguard her and guide her journey through life freed her. Jesus saw how she and the crowd put in their offerings. As it happens so often, we with more have more to distract us from giving freely and faithfully.

Jesus was not distracted. He freely and faithfully gave his life in his passion. His passion soon followed the scene of the poor widow giving her offering in the temple that day! Jesus’ confident faith freed him to die to live anew and give our lives new purpose. What is our purpose? Like the parable of Jesus our purpose is less about money and more about our ways of living. To eagerly await him shapes our new purpose: we desire to make Jesus’ faith ours and to put Jesus’ faith into action until he comes to bring salvation to us and to many who will come to know him because of our manner of living.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Ease into an awareness that the Trinity recreates you.
  • Ask the poor widow to present you to Jesus.
  • Praise and thank Jesus for your faith and consider how freely you live your faith: Am I a good steward of God’s many gifts? Am I a loving steward? Or am I an anxious steward, who needs to manage anxiety more than God’s gifts?
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to live your faith more freely.
  • Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave it to us to say daily so we might live more freely this day, this hour, this moment given us. Not by our schemes but by faith’s freedom are we parables for each other and everyone we meet.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Mark 8.31-33; 9.30-32; 10.32-34.
  2. Read a brief overview of the treasury.

Wiki-images by Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum of Jesus teaching in the treasury and widow’s mite were released into the public domain.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Like Ghosts Hugging You"

That’s one description for a city in the dark. In the video below Jared Levy sums up New York City’s Superstorm Sandy blackout pointedly and with ease.”

Friday, November 09, 2012

Joining Forces To Aid Suffering Christians

ith the election in the U.S. over, can Christians, “so-called ‘progressives’ and ‘conserva-tives’ in the American church...set aside their differences” and unite to defend “innocent Christians in places such as Congo, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, India and so many points beyond, where Christians literally take their lives in the hands every time they go to church, open their business or just walk down the street?”

So asks Mr. John L. Allen Jr. in his All Things Catholic post today.
Wiki-image of Jesuit Rutilio Grande was released into the public domain.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Jesuit Prayer Website

Jeremy Langford, Director of Communica-tions for the Society of Jesus, Chicago-Detroit Province, passed along this information today:

A prayer site...launched on July 1: www.jesuitprayer.org [Also added are] a daily email and App [available on the homepage masthead]. JesuitPrayer features daily readings, Jesuit reflections, and prayers. I also allow people to make prayer requests, which we respond to within a day and have the Jesuits at Colombiere pray over each week. To date we’ve had 20,000 visitors, 500 email subscribers, and lots of App downloads.
Visit the site and learn more at its About page.
Wiki-image of Jesuit emblem was released into the public domain.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Remember to vote in the United States and its territories!
Wiki-image by Tom Arthur from Orange, CA, USA, of directions to polling place used by by CC BY-SA 2.0.

Jesuit General Superior on Evangelization

Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, the General Superior of the Society of Jesus, was present during the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. He began his intervention at the synod:

Coming from a Missionary Order, I feel the obligation to reflect on our past history. We can hardly think of a New Evangelization, unless we are sure we have learnt something from the First Evangelization, from the things we did well and from the mistakes we committed as well as the insufficiencies we suffered in our desire to communicate the Gospel.
A summary article is at the National Jesuit News with link to his intervention text.  
Wiki-image by Jessie Eastland aka Robert DeMeo of moon art sunrise used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Sunday word, 04 Nov 2012

Coming and Going: Equally Important
31st Sunday of the Year B (04 Nov 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
A wise way to begin to appreciate the messages scripture carries is to recognize the convictions they profess. Take today’s gospel selection: what are its convictions? First, God is one. The one God is the God of Israel and our God; to God both Israel and we belong. Second, oneness requires our total response of love: with all your heart Deuteronomy urged, and Jesus echoed. Third, oneness of God, of Israel, of us, the church, and singleness of heart include love of all others and the rest of God’s creation. All others are the neighbor in scripture’s language.

Not only are those the convictions revealed by scripture. Jesus, the revelation of our triune God in flesh and blood, identified himself with this command of our God and its convictions. Mark’s first hearers would have heard Jesus’ perfect loyalty to God and Israel. It brought Jesus and the scribes closer than ever in his mounting debate with them near the close of his ministry. The scribe we heard question Jesus made that clear when he answered Jesus, “Well said, Teacher...You are right in saying that the Lord is One and no other...And to love the Lord with all your heart...understanding…strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is the most worthy worship.

That conviction does not devalue our worship here. Here we gather and worship our God around the tables of God’s word and God’s son. We worship one way our one God in two styles. The styles are word and eucharist. To echo St. Augustine, word and eucharist “are so closely connected with each other that they form one single act of worship.”1

Nor is our worship here our only worship. Our worship here commissions us to leave here so we may worship in deed and truth. We hear our commission variously: Go in peace! Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord! Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life! Each of them sends each of us “to do good works, praising and blessing God.2 They make clear going from church is as important as coming to church.

Clarity about convictions, though, does not erase our need to make decisions as we live our lives as Christians day to day. Our decisions include:
  • Who is one’s neighbor?
  • How do we understand love?
  • How do we maintain the link between our God, our neighbors as well as the non-human members of our God’s creation?
  • Do we have a deepening felt knowledge that glorifying God by our lives between masses is truly worship, one which is better than any of our devotions?

The church’s liturgy—the Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours—and all our devotions serve to make us more eloquent, faithful, active friends and disciples of Jesus, our high priest who lives forever to make intercession for us to God. His intercession is our messiah Jesus’ unending, priestly action. To approach our God is at once an act of faith and an act of service. Remember what Jesus echoed: to ‘love the Lord with all your heart...understanding…strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is the most worthy worship.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Begin by giving loving praise to our one God in three Persons. 
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus: praise him for the gifts Jesus lavishes on you each day to help you walk more closely with Jesus. Offer our High Priest whatever causes you to resist his invitation to share his faithful, loving concern for others.
  • Ask Jesus to help you love with greater singleness of heart our God, our neighbors and all created things in which our God acts for us.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. To pray slowly his prayer we know so well engages heart, understanding and strength. When the three are engaged, they make us more agile and affectionate lovers with Jesus of others and all creation. That, after all, is most worthy worship!

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. Constitution on the Liturgy, #56, of the Second Vatican Council.
  2. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Third Typical Edition, #90c [the conclusion of its Chapter 2].

Wiki-image of a scribe and Jesus was released into the public domain. Wiki-image by Polimerek of Christ All-powerful is used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Smiling Pope

Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, was born 100 years ago on 17 October. He was pope for only 33 days in 1978. Mr. John L. Allen Jr. debunks some myths about him in his AllThingsCatholic post.  


Wiki-image of John Paul I is in the public domain.