Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Visit Faith Sites

Jesuit Sam Sawyer, cofounder of The Jesuit Post, remarked on some faith sites worth visiting. In his run-up to them he mentioned this CARA data: “Slightly more than half of the Catholics surveyed (ages 18 and up) said they were unaware of a significant Catholic presence online; only one in 20 reported reading or following a Catholic blog. Learn his picks.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Why It Never Sleeps

So explains the first map in this collection. The upper right corner shows the elapsed time on a day in NYC and part of its transit system use. How long does it take to map city streets so other can get around more easily? Years! Check map 18 to cover six years in just over a minute.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday word, 28 Apr 2013

Bumper Sticker Evangelization
5Easter (28 Apr 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
If no one has heard that phrase, it’s because I made it up in Du Bois. During this month’s spiritual direction with clergy my host told me a bumper sticker he noticed on a car ahead of him that day. “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
The mystery of Jesus’ cross-resurrection is divine love’s power on behalf of humans. The mystery of Jesus’ cross-resurrection is not divine love separate from us. The mystery is divine love embodied in our humanity. Jesus embodied the fullness of divinity along with the fullness of our humanity. Freely and for all Jesus powerfully transformed us to be our redeemed selves. Freely and for us says selflessly. Selfless, free, for another describe love and name its power.

When we are compelled—by things or others—we are not free. Unfree we are unable to be for another’s good. If I behave kindly toward you so I gain something, I am neither free nor selfless, am I? Not selfless is obvious: I am behaving kindly with myself in mind not you. Not free is also true: if I behave kindly to get something, then I’m in the control of something or someone. Humans are inclined to behave neither freely nor selflessly. Our inclination finds expression in scripture in its phrase of the world. For us and for the world Jesus gave us his new commandment: love one another.

We appreciate Jesus’ words when we recall their entire scene. Our gospel selection happened during Jesus’ Last Supper. He had washed the feet of his Apostles—all of them; his betrayer Judas, too. Jesus grew troubled in spirit over his betrayal.1 When the disciples learned who Jesus meant, Judas left.

The gospels do not describe Judas as selfless; he certainly was unfree: he dithered a lot about Jesus’ ministry then colluded with the chief priests, who wanted to get rid of Jesus.2 He finally decided to hand over Jesus. Money seemed to sway him.3

When Jesus gave his new commandment to love one another he did not say to do it they would have to be crucified as he was. Yet to love is not easy. Jesus warned that suffering, even cruelty inflicted by others for his name, would be part of Christian living. Early the disciples realized that was so for they preached, It is necessary to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God. While every Christian’s particulars to fulfill Jesus’ commandment vary, the manner of loving is the same: Âs I have loved you, so also you ought to love one another. Freely and selflessly is our Christian way to love.

So, if free and selfless loving is our way, why are we here? The answer: the mystery of our Messiah’s cross-resurrection. Jesus reminded us in last week’s gospel that he and his Father are one. Jesus used the word abide4 for their living unity. Because Jesus abided in his Father he was able to lay down his life and take it back again.5 By his divine nature Jesus abides in his Father. The mystery, though, is not one way. By our human nature, which Jesus shared fully, we abide in Jesus, and he abides in us through the sacraments.6 Here we allow Jesus to nourish, strengthen and comfort us to live his commandment anew each day. Comfort well describes love’s power. When we weep, for example, we feel power from those who comfort us, unique power that is not of the world.

We easily forget Jesus wept. After he wept and died and rose, Jesus returned to wipe every tear from his disciples eyes. Jesus did not return to shock and awe with power. He returned to do what he had done in other ways: to comfort; to reassure; to enliven; to bless; to rejoin; to enkindle; to inspirit; to empower; to companion—in a word, to love. To wipe away tears scripture states is God’s vocation, how God continues creating us. When we comfort, we are powerful in a new way, the way of our crucified and risen Messiah. Making his power ours heals not only individuals; it heals our world.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause and rest in our triune God. Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus. Chat with him: praise Jesus for abiding with you even when you are unaware he walks with you; thank him for the privileged way he abides with you in his sacraments and shares his divine nature with you. Ask Jesus for grace to grow freer to following him more closely and to love more selflessly. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer.  His words guide us to live his new commandment with others and for our world.

In your daily 15 minutes this week
  • Rest yourself in our triune God.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to risen Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for abiding with you even when you are unaware he walks with you; thank him for the privileged way he abides with you in his sacraments to share his divine nature with you.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to grow freer to follow him more closely and to love more selflessly.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words guide us to live his new commandment with others and for our world.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. John 13.21-30
  2. Matthew 26.14-16; Mark 14.10-11.
  3. The woman anointing Jesus’ feet precedes Judas‘ decision in both Matthew and Mark.
  4. It appears 41 times in the Fourth Gospel. Its primary meaning, to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy), is translated variously: abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for).
  5. John 10.17-18.
  6. These three sentences closely follow St. Hilary of Poitiers and his On the Trinity, Book 8.15.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Legal No! to GMO

Peru enacted a law to ban genetically modified foods. To preserve its ancient agriculture Antonietta Gutierrez, a biologist at Peru’s National Agrarian University, said the law is “in favor of biosecurity. The idea is that there should be a responsible way of using technology, so that it helps us develop resources – and at the same time, doesn’t destroy what we already have.”
Wiki-image of locally grown tomatoes in the public domain.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

From Sayings to Story

The evangelist Mark was the first to arrange the circulating sayings by Jesus and about him into a narrative, a gospel. On his feast Jesuit Peter Edmonds considered Mark, his story, characters within it and “suggests what encouragement it might have given to early Christians.”
Wiki-image of icon of St. Mark {PD-old-100}.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday word, 21 Apr 2013

Already and Not Yet
4Easter (21 Apr 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The Gospel of John, prominent in Lent and Easter, opens in its unique way. No genealogy, annunciations or nativity like Matthew and Luke. Nor like Mark, who painted the Baptizer’s ministry to prepare the way for Jesus. John began with 18-verses about the Word of God,1 who is God’s only begotten son.2 Jesus both revealed God3 and offered life;4 Jesus continues revealing God and offering life by his Spirit. The opening verses of the Fourth Gospel work as a table of contents. Later chapters expand the gospel’s opening images and convictions.

Our gospel selection highlighted Jesus as giver of life. Jesus gives no ordinary life but eternal life. We may quickly think “everlasting,” but the point is not time but a share in divine life. Jesus can give that because the gospel’s table of contents cued us that Jesus was in the beginning with God.5 So we grasp that, Jesus said to us in today’s gospel, “The Father and I are one.” 

We also heard Jesus say, “I give them eternal life.” His grammar is telling: I give is present; now. You and I already share the divine life risen Jesus offers. None of us needs anyone to tell us that our share in divine life is partial. We are well aware that the effects of sin still mar us and all creation. Yet our desire to know6 and welcome Jesus into our lives; our sharing in worship and the sacraments; our belief in his name give us new life as children of God,7 shorthand for being reborn by God.8

Along with this already—sharers in God’s life—is a promised not yet. The community of the Book of Revelation already shared in God’s life. Many suffered alienation and persecution for it. Their present share in divine life would not be snuffed out even if their human lives were violently ended. A great tribulation appeared to annihilate them, but Jesus, the Lamb, who also had suffered the tribulation of his cross, shepherded them will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water. Jesus, who had suffered the tribulation of his cross and was raised to absolutely new and indestructible life, assured their future life like his.

John on Patmos, we heard, received a graced vision of that future:

I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.”

What might we take from this portion of his vision? Two things suggest themselves.

First: those who suffered for giving witness to Jesus, shared the witness of Jesus, who was slain but now lives9 and ransomed humans—past, present and future—by his blood.10 “But it is not only the martyrs who share in his passion by their glorious courage,” St. Leo reminded us; “the same is true, by faith, of all who are reborn through baptism. ...our sharing in the body and blood of Christ [changes] us into what we receive. As we have died with him, and have been buried and raised to life with him, so we bear him within us, both in body and in spirit, in everything we do.”11 

Second: our already and not yet. Both fairly respond to any who ask us to describe our Catholic faith. Because risen Jesus lives among us now by his Spirit his victory is ours already. We experience it without now living the heavenly life. It registers in daily living as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.12 The not yet of Jesus’ victory he guards for us. It is more than we can imagine. Even if we received a vision of it, like John on Patmos, our words to describe it would fall over themselves and fail to do it justice. Instead, we begin anew each day and desire to know and welcome Jesus into our lives; to share in worship and the sacraments; and to live in ways that respect others, protect them and creation and act in peace to build peace. Our already is not less important than our promised not yet. Living our already is how we gain our promised future.

In your daily 15 minutes this week
  • Rest yourself in our triune God.
  • Ask John on Patmos to present you to risen Jesus.
  • Speak to Jesus: about your life and how it moves toward and away from him; and how Jesus is leading and guiding you.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to be more alert to him walking with you and to follow him more closely.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his words for us to keep close the already of new life in him and the not yet of its promised fullness.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
Wiki-images of the Good Shepherd and of adoration of the Lamb in the public domain.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Identity: Jesuit First

Mr. John L. Allen Jr. released a great piece on the Jesuit identity of Pope Francis. A Roman Jesuit calls him “profoundly Jesuit.”

Friday, April 19, 2013

On Shelves Today

Mr. John L. Allen Jr. reviewed the book available now in English. It was a dialogue between Pope Francis, when he was Cardinal, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka. On Heaven and Earth appeared in 2010. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Beware News

Boston’s citizens and visitors need continued support in the face of this week’s tragedy. Inexplicable violence seduces people to seek meaning anyway. Lest we get overwhelmed by any who claim to be able to explain the inexplicable and make sense of the unreasonable, Jesuit Jayme Stayer considered a poem and the “the subject of appropriating tragedy to our own uses.”
Wiki-image by Jose P Isern Comas of aerial view of Boston CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday word, 14 Apr 13

Risen Is Real, Not Romantic
3Easter (14 Apr 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Every three years the second reading at Sunday masses in the Easter Season is from the Book of Revelation. It isn’t about dating the world’s end. In its 22 brief chapters the phrase, I saw, appears more than 50 times. The Book of Revelation is about seeing: it is a graced vision of heaven given an early scriptural witness. That disciple’s vision was not only the revelation about risen Jesus, the vision reveals risen Jesus: “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.” Its seeing seems strange because it communicated in ancient Jewish symbols of prophecy and worship.

One manner John saw the risen Lord, the first and the last, the one who lives [forever though he] was dead, was the paschal Lamb. Paschal means “having suffered,” and John saw standing in the midst of the heavenly throne, angels, living creatures and elders, the Lamb who was slain yet lives. That paschal Lamb is worthy of our worship and ourselves because that Lamb first won victory over evil and death. Even more worthy of our worship is that this Lamb, standing alive though seemingly slain, assures us of his life and heritage now and offers us glimpses of heaven.

Risen Jesus is our paschal Lamb. Risen Jesus lives with us now and gives himself to us not as a feast for our eyes but as food for our journey each day. The Eucharist, the sacrament which sustains baptism, nourishes this vision and deepens it in all who let it. To see this vision is to soak oneself in it. It consoles and comforts despite appearances to the contrary around us: war; hunger; pestilence; disease; vandalism; racism; and fears we can’t imagine afflicting others.

The first hearers of the Book of Revelation suffered severely for their faith in the dead and risen Messiah Jesus. We do not, one reason we find John’s vision so alien, not only its very different symbolic world of expression. John wrote down his vision to comfort those suffering for their faith. Its comfort, like all comfort, does not remove suffering; rather, it assures us that the heritage of the Lamb is also ours. Jesus went through death, and the God of our ancestors raised Jesus.

The message of this heritage is straightforward despite the elaborate imagery of the Book of Revelation. From the 2nd century people were and still are steered away from its straightforward message by its menagerie of beasts, angels, living creatures, elders, locusts, four horses, eagle, as well as earthquakes, plagues, eclipses and its doorway to heaven. The straightforward message of the Book of Revelation is this: God is in charge of the world. Not at all a new message, yet how easily we forget it!

Throughout his ministry Jesus warned that experiences of suffering mark the Christian life. Our suffering will probably pale in comparison with the first audience of the Book of Revelation, the disciples before it, as well as Jesus himself. Instead, subtle temptations surround us and vie for our allegiance not to heed and obey God. To obey God is scriptural language to devote our-selves to God. Often we devote ourselves instead to what opposes Jesus’ ways.

The Book of Revelation prevents us from romanticizing the ways of Jesus. To forget that our risen Lord still carries the marks of his death romanticizes our Messiah Jesus. When we romanticize Jesus; his body, his church; our communion together in his Body and Blood; and the mission on which our Eucharistic communion commits us daily: we lose touch with the heritage of the paschal Lamb, the communion of his saints, and risen Jesus’ desire to nourish us.

Risen Jesus’ desire to nourish his friends is intimate and without pretense. In today’s gospel we met the first disciples still getting used to their risen Lord. Risen Jesus shattered the fear which imprisoned them, yet they gravitated to their familiar, former fishing lives. Risen Jesus met them there again to include them in his mission with familiar words, Follow me. Transformed by his resurrection Jesus’ words, Follow me, are new each moment. Jesus’ words renew us. They make us disciples not romantics duped by spiritual fads or fantasy.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest yourself in our triune God.
  • Ask John on Patmos to present you to risen Jesus.
  • Speak to Jesus about your life and how it moves toward and away from him; of the temptations which vie for your allegiance. Be alert to how Jesus desires to communicate to you after your review of yourself.
  • Ask Jesus for grace to be more alert to him walking with you.
  • Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It is Jesus’ living charter for all his disciples.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More on Members of Pope's Advisory Council

Rocco Palmo offered insights about some of the cardinals chosen by Pope Francis to advise him on governing the universal church.

Verses on Capitol Hill

The halls of U.S. government lately often resound with versus: party against party; coalition against coalition or individual; lawmakers against executive. On Wednesday, however, verses rang instead. Jesuit Fr. Sean Carroll alluded to scripture in his testimony regarding immigration reform. This link includes a video of some of his words.
Wiki-image of U.S. Immigration and Customs logo is in the public domain.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Building of a Cathedral

Each diocese has its principal church. The Basilica of John Lateran, is Rome’s cathedral and the pope’s church. Pope Francis celebrated his first mass in it on Sunday. Elizabeth Lev offered a glimpse of martyrs’ standing against the [ancient] Roman machine” built John Lateran.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hope and Film

The series, Virtue on Film, at ThinkingFaith continues during the Easter season. This week it highlights hope in Roberto Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful.”

Also this week the movies lost a great promoter-critic. The Jesuit Provincial of the British Jesuits offered a tribute to Roger Ebert.
Wiki-image of Hollywood sign is in the public domain.