Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good Question

During the Age of Exploration travelers discovered peoples and forced on them what the travelers thought was good: their good was good for everyone. "Why didn't [the travelers] leave them alone?" The members of the Society of Jesus today see their vocation as reconciling all people. Jesuit Tony Herbert reflected on the question his nephew posed and on the Jesuit vocation through the lens of his work in India.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday word, 26 Aug 2012

Accepting Jesus’ Challenge 
21st Sunday of the Year B (26 Aug 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
What if we stood at Shechem with Joshua that day. What if we knew the rest—thats 87%—of the scriptures of the people of Israel would call people again and again to fidelity and deeper intimacy with God? If we knew that, then Far be it from us to forsake the Lord for the service of other gods would come from our lips more as a prayer than a declaration. Many things tempt us to make them our gods.


What if we knew by personal experience the culture of the world of St. Paul, one in which the accepted order was women were less than men, not just paid less than them? (In that culture women and children were property. Women played no legal role; no one would call them to give official testimony!) What if we all were eager to hear what this Saul-become-Paul, this Jew-become-Christian looked and sounded like, maybe what he had to say?

What if we walked in on him speaking as we heard the echo of his voice today? Respect one another, don't think oneself greater than another: sensible; it makes for a good society. Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. If we stood inside that time and culture, we couldn't disagree at best, we might nod off at worst. This hotshot apostle wouldn't be telling us anything we didn't know.

What if we were nodding off, when Paul said, Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her sanctity? We would snap awake so fast, especially the men. Love our wives? What! would be our response. Or, This is new; or, Hey, that makes them our equals! That was what Paul realized in Messiah Jesus.

And if we had been hanging around listening to Paul already while he was in town, then his words about diversity is united in Messiah Jesus would become personal. The diversity of male and female helps each man and each woman know our Messiah better as each one responds in love. As a Canadian woman expressed, “Yet too many women still haven’t experienced this love and too many men have missed the challenge.” 

What if you and I took up that challenge more often? Here’s one way to begin to do that each day this week. Give Jesus 15 minutes each day. Set aside that amount of time and quiet yourself. Sit with open hands.

In your 15 minutes each day this week


  • Quiet yourself in our Triune God.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • In your words chat with him: consider the way Jesus has created you in love for loving. Consider what you may have chosen to do or not to do. Consider people you have encountered. Share with Jesus how you have responded. In your considerations of your experiences and your choices up to that moment instead of declaring, “See what I have done!” ask Jesus, “Where did I meet you?” and, “How did I respond to you?”
  • As you grow more aware of meeting Jesus in your daily rounds, ask Jesus for the grace to be more free with your love. 
  • Close, saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus invites us not to say only the words, hallowed be thy name; Jesus invites us to enact them by the choices we make and the ways in which live.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


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Friday, August 24, 2012

Tongue in Cheek

Jesuit Fr. James Martin portrayed Jesus having a bad day. The irony of his the not-so-social gospel” is that many consider the challenges of Jesus to be “just metaphors.”

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Anatomy of Scam

No inbox is immune. Some e-mailbox owners fall for e-scams. A scammer tried to lure Lance Utanoff with the Spanish Prisoner. Mr. Utanoff contacted a security director, who “offered to pick apart my email, which he called ‘bait,’ to see if we could learn any truths about the heart of a digital flimflam.” Wonder about the names used? Ever notice the origins of the senders? Get these and more answers.

Closing In on Tiny

Anyone using GoogleMaps* and GoogleEarth and focuses from sky-view to ground is amazed. More amazing is this GIF which pinpoints a single bacterium.


*Some “behind-the-scenes facts about GoogleMaps”

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Wiki-image of electronic microscopy of Walnut leaf was released into the public domain.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mapping the Mess

The disaster in Syria continues apace. Refugees number over 120,000. The carnage dismays anyone. For Westerners the variety of families and clans is daunting. The BBC has offered help.
...based on detailed analysis of rebel and regime activity since October 2011, a map showing an assessment of the general situation on the ground has been produced by Washington-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
See several maps and read the commentary.
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Wiki-image by *drew of Damascus by night used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What Does a Jesuit Do?

What does a Jesuit do at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe? If not chaperoning, he does comedy—of course. Read about Jesuit Jake Martin’s dream come true.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Personal Gift

Not a few people admit to an imagination that is crimped in some way. “Letting it go” is not easy. Yet imagination is crucial in human development. Children without the ease to wonder and entertain it may short-circuit their growth.


When it comes to prayer, for adults as well as children, imagination plays a prominent role. Jesuit Paul Brian Campbell noted, “From the time of Ignatius until today, some people are very nervous about the use of imagination in prayer.” Prayer is less about prayer and more about being transformed. Composing oneself is part of Ignatian praying. Fr. Cambell shared what helps him.
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Wiki-image by Josep Renalias of Manresa Pont nou used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday word, 20 Aug 2012

Swamps
20th Sunday of the Year B (19 Aug 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
When I was a boy neighbors across the street were Mormon. They wondered aloud to my parents what use was going to church. Mom and Dad mentioned their question to me.They wanted me to learn early that people were different and that variety of belief colored our society. My young mind knew that because most of my Greek cousins are Greek Orthodox. Learning our neighbors’ question helped me appreciate less how we differ from others and more that we are a sacramental church. Sacraments use familiar things—water, oil, fire, bread, wine, words, touch—to remind us of the Trinity’s relationship with us and help us deepen our relationship. We worship together to help us all grow in it.

Sacraments are more than signs. Sacraments are not signs because signs have one meaning. Take an eight-sided red sign. It means stop and only stop. So clear and fixed is that that stop signs are not only on streets. Their images appear on web pages and on directions packaged with equipment. Sacraments are richer than signs. They offer more.

Sacraments offer more than single meanings: dying and rising (baptism); sacrifice and meal (eucharist); healing by sharing in Jesus’ cross (anointing the sick); two people making one life with both their personalities (marriage). Yet, those combinations don’t exhaust the meanings of sacraments. Sacraments are richer than signs. They are “swamps of meaning and swamps of being,” as my teacher vividly expressed it.1

Sacraments also make real and present what they express through their swamps of meaning. They have their hazardous sides: we enter swamps at our own risk. Jesus invites us to live differently, always a risk. All the while Jesus promises to stand beside us as we stand against whatever oppresses, whatever mocks life or harms people and whatever defies God’s justice and wisdom. As swamps of being, sacraments soak us in genuine life, divine life. Jesus announced with authority that he was both that life and the giver of his life to all.

Jesus expressed that with scripture familiar to his contemporaries and befitted his feeding them: God saved their ancestors and nourished them with manna.2 Bread from heaven it was, yet manna nourished the body. Jesus is the living bread which came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. 

Jesus is true food and true drink by which we abide in Jesus and Jesus in us. But does not a person always enjoy Jesus’ presence within one’s heart? So our Mormon neighbors questioned my parents. Of course we do! Our eating and drinking at the Lord’s table is always a communal feast: first with our ears and eyes during the liturgy of the word; then by each one’s personal communion during the liturgy of the eucharist. Our eating and drinking at his table help us intensify the relationship Jesus already has with us.

To feast on our Messiah’s body and blood saturates us with Jesus’ Spirit and connects us with what is genuine, godly and wise. Many other things intoxicate us with the folly of the world, leading us to debauchery, to use St. Paul’s word. Debauchery is riotous living keeping us from our relationship with Jesus. Debauchery, too, results in killing—human spirits as well as human beings. Debauchery is also—this is so subtle to notice readily—a killing pace, against which all of us, adult and child, student and worker, spouses and friends and ordained ministers need to guard.3 Our greatest guardians are Jesus and deepening our relationship with him. Jesus’ body and blood is a key help to remain filled with [his] Spirit and not intoxicated by other things.

After communion we pause to pray privately.4 Our words, or the words of another we make ours, help us taste and savor the One we have eaten and drunk to become the One we have received, as St. Augustine taught his parishioners.5

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week,
  • Quiet yourself in the Trinity.
  • Ask Lady Wisdom and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with Jesus about what you notice Jesus is doing in you and for you by his communion with you.
  • Thank Jesus and ask him for the grace to live more intently as his friend and disciple and to live in a more friendly way with others and the entire earth. Don’t be surprised if Jesus challenges you. Do remember Jesus graces us to live his challenge.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Our daily bread is Jesus and his Spirit; it also is our way of living.


Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


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  1. I first heard Fr. Aidan Kavanagh, O.S.B, say that in class in 1980. No doubt he used it in his lectures and published work
  2. John 6.48-50, immediately before today’s gospel.
  3. Nearly six years ago to the day, Pope Benedict quoted St. Bernard of Clarivaux during in his midday Angelus address. The saint addressed his former disciple, Pope Eugene III. "The dominant theme of [his message], extremely personal, is the importance of interior recollection—and he said this to a Pope—an essential element of piety. ¶This admonition is valid for all kinds of occupations, including those inherent to the governance of the Church. The message that, in this connection, Bernard addresses to the Pontiff, who had been his disciple at Clairvaux, is provocative: “See where these accursed occupations can lead you, if you continue to lose yourself in them—without leaving anything of yourself for yourself”
  4. General Instruction to the Roman Missal, 88.
  5. Augustine’s conviction of divine indwelling his Confessions make clear: “Why, then, do I ask thee to come into me, since I also am and could not be if thou wert not in me?” (I.2.2). His eucharistic teaching elaborates on the sacrament’s effects on us. In Sermon 57.7 Augustine taught Christians “are what they receive.” Also, Sermon 272 is often cited. Another line of his Confessions is telling: “You do not make Me into yourself, like the food of your flesh into you, you become Me!”—my paraphrase of Book 7, ch. 10.
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Wiki-image of the Tabgha mosaic was released into the public domain. Wiki-image by Jim Wroten of the Bethsaida medallion is used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Silent Riches

What does silence offer? Here’s one young Jesuit’s take, and why he needs it.


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Wiki-image by Mind meal of mountain retreat house used by CC BY 2.0.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Moving Forward

Specifically, moving forward into a world-church. Mr. John L. Allen Jr. noted Friday in his All Things Catholic:

Once upon a time, when the tone-setting camp among the bishops came out of center-left circles, it was the conservatives and the center-right that had to be intentional about building relationships. Today the shoe is on the other foot, and showing “surprising support” at least seems a possibility worth pondering.
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Wiki-image by Aaron of open Dutch door used by CC BY 2.0.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday word, 12 Aug 2012

19th Sunday of the Year B (12 Aug 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Matters Most
Different forms of literature use language differently to express best what authors seek to convey. Video-literature is a good example. In movies’ visible language villains can be dressed in dark clothing; innocent people and heroes in light colors. Actions at night or in shadows may be murky, mysterious or malicious. If you’re like me and enjoy suspense films, sinister music—even a single, unresolved note colored with a touch of vibrato, “mmmmmm!”—is a clue as bright as daylight that something ominous is around the corner.
Biblical literature is similar because God’s revelation is clothed in human language. The Fourth Gospel exploits language in order both to convey meaning and deepen it. The word world in the Fourth Gospel connotes more than geography. The world includes the way of living we know well: the familiar; the customary; and what human minds can grasp.

The other realm is not familiar; it is not bound by our customs, our surroundings nor measures by social standing. That realm is the realm of God. The realm of God challenges our presumed, often comfortable, secure ways of living. God’s realm invites us to live in new ways, ways in which we grow to appreciate the standards of the world as less satisfying, less secure, less substantial. St. Paul, responding to practical concerns about living Christian lives, offered examples of ways of the world to avoid. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. Jesus, we recall, had placed them on a par with murder.1

Another aspect of the realm of God is that it is unfamiliar to our usual way of diagnosing and perceiving. The Fourth Gospel placed this conviction in the context of Jesus’ self-identification as the bread that came down from heaven. Many of those who heard him say that thought that they knew who he really was. “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven?’” Despite Jesus’ miraculous feeding of thousands,2 they were not debating doctrine. They were presumptuous: because they knew his parents and where he grew up, they thought they knew Jesus’ origins.

When we celebrate the sacrament of Messiah Jesus’ body and blood, we shift our focus from the world—what is customary and familiar to us—to Jesus’ origins and self-giving. We focus in a more alert fashion on the presence of Jesus first in his word, which is offered to whet our appetites for his eucharist. Its God-provided nourishment sustains us in unmatched ways. An angel of the Lord provided Elijah’s bread and water, which he needed at the very moment when he gave up on his vocation and even prayed for death.

Elijah’s desolation sharpens our focus. The eucharist of our Messiah’s body and blood is communion which nourishes and strengthens us for what matters most. It is no mere part of the order of mass. Nor is the eucharist an extra, like an optional accessory to our autos or add-ons for computers.We come to share our story,”3 the song sings, that is, who we are in God as the scriptures unfold that to us and God’s passion for us. We partake of the broken bread to live the godly life to which Jesus invites us for the sake of the world. Equally important, “We come to know our rising from the dead”4—what matters most.

Yet, we humans are tempted to complain often about what matters little or not at all. In the winter, it’s the cold. In the summer, it’s the heat. Such irritations differ vastly from complaining to the point of death. We can’t compare them with parents grieving the death of children by rickets or rockets, disease or drowning. People terrorized by war’s inhumanity have a greater claim on God and a greater right to complain to God than we do about cold, heat, even the price of gas. Jesus did not come to save us from such things but from sin and its consequences.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our Triune God.
  • Ask the communion of saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Consider how Jesus is creating you to change the world.
  • Ask him for grace to have felt knowledge of what matters most and how Jesus nourishes you to change the world, one deed, one word, one day at a time.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, give us this day, remind us that our Triune God slakes our deep thirsts.


Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


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  1. See, Matthew 5. 21-22.
  2. The multiplication of loaves and fish is the context for John 6.
  3. “Song of the Body of Christ,” words by David Haas, which he arranged to a Hawaiian traditional melody.  It may be found in Gather at #613.
  4. “Song of the Body of Christ,” #18 at this iTunes Preview.
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Wiki-image by BĂ©ria Lima of an azulejo of Jesus feeding thousands and Wiki-image by Walters Art Museum of life of Elijah (incl. being fed by God) are used by CC BY-SA 3.0.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Almost .00018%

That is an approximate percentage of 62 in 39 million. Sixty-two was the number of alleged cases in Texas of impersonating voters in elections over the past decade. AARP went beyond numbers and examined how procuring photo-IDs to vote is difficult or impossible for older citizens.  

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Wiki-image by a Smithsonian Institution employee of ballot box is in the public domain.

Why A Nail-Biter

NASA employees leaped jubilantly when Curiosity landed on Mars a week ago. Members of NASA explain why: Curiosity—and they—survived “seven minutes of terror.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Quilt Now Quilts Except in One Place

The memorial AIDS quilt debuted in 1987. As the number of people who succumbed to AIDS grew so did the use of the quilted memorial. At the 2012 International AIDS Conference thousands of quilt panels appeared on the National Mall. Jesuit Tim O’Brien revealed the one place tens of thousands of panels can be safely displayed in all seasons.

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Wiki-image by Bluerasberry of AIDS quilt used by CC BY-SA 3.0.