Monday, June 22, 2015
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Wonder and Awe at All God Creates
Twelfth Sunday of the Year B (21 Jun 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
I recalled that six years ago this month Passionist Fr. Thomas Berry died.1 The natural world fascinated him from boyhood. He explored the natural world as an act of faith; his exploration led him to see that humans are intimately related to it.2 He sought to make people more aware of that.
Three days ago Pope Francis issued his encyclical on caring for creation.3 Fr. Berry was well known; Pope Francis is better known worldwide. He recognizes humans’ intimate relationship with creation, too. To focus our part in that relationship Francis recalled his namesake. St. Francis of Assisi loved creation, the pope wrote, the way “we fall in love with someone.”
[W]henever [St. Francis] would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”…for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection.4
That all creatures reveal God was not unique to Francis; he was no aberration among Christians. My spiritual father, St. Ignatius of Loyola, allowed “little things to lift his mind to God, who even in the smallest things is great.” A Jesuit who lived with Ignatius recalled that when he saw “a plant, foliage, a leaf, a flower, any kind of fruit; from the consideration of a little worm or any other animal, he raised himself above the heavens and penetrated the deepest thoughts…from each little thing he drew doctrine and the most profitable counsels for the spiritual life.”5
Pope Francis hopes we integrate our spiritual life with the rest of living. Today we recognize that caring for creation involves science. Sts. Francis, Ignatius, and Jesus, trained in a builder’s technology, remind us care of creation exceeds science, too6: it holds more than science can fathom.
Jesus is the model of Sts. Francis and Ignatius and Pope Francis. The pope recalled in his encyclical that “Jesus lived in full harmony with creation [and it caused even his disciples to react as our gospel remembered]: ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’”7 We hear them and know what they did not. Their attraction to Jesus had yet to become the commitment of faith-love. Their reaction urges us to rekindle our commitment to Jesus; to love him the way we love family and dear ones: with loyalty and faith.
Loyal, faithful loving moves us to focus on others not ourselves. That is always a challenge. Consider Job. We know him as one felled by sharp calamities. Job sought to understand them; yet they turned him on himself. His sorrow had an edge; that edge morphed into arrogance toward God; and Job could not dismiss God from his heart and mind. The first reading began God’s cross-examination of Job. In it God heaped image on image of God creating: in feminine imagery of womb as well as builder’s imagery. Job got hung up where we and all humans do—on power. Our power has limits8; to act otherwise focuses us on us. Attending to God Job moved from self-concern to awe.
Commitment to another begins in awe and wonder. Awe becomes love; love leads to relationship; relationship to respect. The movement deepens commitment. Sts. Francis, Ignatius and Jesus model that movement and free us to consider creation more reverently. Pope Francis reminds us our commitment to care for creation cares for the vulnerable.9 Science bolsters his insight. Awe and wonder at creation pave pathways to God. Not to care for creation leaves us to think and act as if each of us is the center of everything. God is our center. Acting out of awe, respect and commitment to God, others and to the least creatures lives faith in Jesus and his compassion.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
- Rest in our triune God.
- Ask Job, Sts. Francis and Ignatius to present you to Jesus so you may pledge again your loyalty to Jesus.
- Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for inviting us to join his mission; tell him anew your commitment to him and his creation.
- Ask Jesus for his grace to be in awe that Jesus creates you and everyone and all things at every moment.
- Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Praying it slowly allows us to deepen our awe before God and others; it lets us look afresh at our earth, its energies and its bounty given us to love God more easily and wholeheartedly.10
- A website is devoted to him to continue his efforts.
- His eleventh of “Twelve Principles for Understanding the Universe and the Role of the Human in the Universe Process.”
- Laudato Si. Links to what an encyclical is and helpful preview of the most recent one may be found here.
- Laudato Si, 11.
- Pedro Ribidinera’s recollection.
- See, for example, Laudato Si, 11 and 190.
- Laudato Si, 98.
- Laudato Si, 122, 130.
- Laudato Si, 10.
- Paraphrase of St. Ignatius of Loyola: his Spiritual Exercises, .
Thursday, June 18, 2015
With the official release of Pope Francis’ second encyclical Vatican correspondent Inés San Martín offered “a quick refresher on what an ‘encyclical’ actually is, and why it matters that Francis is devoting one to this subject [“the care of creation].” She also explained the correct spelling of the second word of its title.
To help read it Vatican Radio issued a “press guide.” It is a “useful guide for an initial reading of the Encyclical. It will help you to grasp the overall development and identify the basic themes.”
Archbishop Kurtz, President of the Unites States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued this brief statement welcoming the encyclical.
Sunday, June 07, 2015
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (B) (07 Jun 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Musical compositions can close with a few measures that echo melodies in the main body; the closing can be a separate section. A musical close of any length is called a coda. A coda makes musical remarks about an entire composition. The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus provides us with a liturgical coda before we resume the numbered Sundays of the Year. The solemnity’s remark urges us to give ourselves to the One whose suffering, dying, rising and exaltation to share the very life of God we celebrated over three months. The bible names our giving covenant. Covenant was rooted in ancient Middle Eastern life.
Life in the ancient Middle East was dangerous. Clan leaders and kings held power. They offered protection and support in return for loyalty and service. The relationship was a covenant. To enter a covenant was a sacred event; symbols of life sealed it. The premier symbol of life in the ancient Middle East is not alien to us: blood sustains our lives, too.
God initiated the covenant with God’s people this way. God had liberated God’s people from Egypt before they knew God. They met God after God led them to freedom under Moses’ leadership. In the wilderness God spelled out to Moses God’s demands to be God’s people: all the words of the Lord. They expressed how to live as God’s people.
To seal the covenant Moses erected…an altar; it symbolized God. Moses splashed half the blood of sacrificial offerings on it: God sealed God’s side of the covenant. Moses read [the book of the covenant] aloud to the people, who answered, “All the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Then he sprinkled [the blood] on the people. Their words alone did not seal their side of the covenant; the sprinkled blood did. Sharing God’s life and giving their lives to God—ritually expressed in blood—sealed their covenant; later worship began in this sacred event; so does our participation in the saving passion of our mediator Jesus and the new covenant in his blood.
The suffering, dying, rising and exaltation of Jesus focuses our annual Lent-Easter worship. The suffering, dying, rising and exaltation of Jesus is central to mature Christian faith. The new covenant in Jesus’ blood does what the first covenant could not: it cleanses our interior selves—our consciences. Our interior cleansing happens as we give ourselves to Jesus; as we join our lives to his.
Joining our lives to Jesus’ passion, dying and risen life is no slight thing. His disciples resisted hearing him say he would suffer and die.1 They seem to have resisted celebrating Passover with him: “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” Surely they did not expect Jesus to insert himself into its ritual; he did as he said over the cup, “This is my blood of the covenant.” Then they all drank its cup. Because blood symbolized life Jesus gave them his life. By drinking it they participated in his self-gift: and not only then; they would participate by future worship as well as how they lived—even how they died. So with us.
Our talk may distract us and keep us from maturing in Jesus. We say we receive communion, and we do. Communion is not only a gift received. By communion we give ourselves to Jesus and participate in him. His blood, his life, is his new covenant, new relationship with God. When we drink it we participate in it.2 Participation promises Jesus our loyalty and to donate our lives freely. The Solemnity of Jesus’ Body and Blood reminds that participating in his new covenant fashions us after his manner of life for the sake of our world. Participation in his body and blood forms us as his body in the world. To let Jesus shape us as his disciples-on-mission is the essence of Christian worship, service and evangelizing in his name.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
- Rest in our triune God.
- Ask Moses, who sealed the first covenant, to present you to Jesus.
- Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; tell Jesus what moves you when you share his body and blood; then pledge your desire to witness to his new covenant.
- Ask for his grace to live your desire with courage.
- Close saying slowly the prayer Jesus taught us. When we say it we do not only recall God’s love and Jesus’ counsel about praising and forgiving. Each time we pray it we refashion ourselves into Jesus’ presence where we live, work and play.
Thursday, June 04, 2015
Think crowds of people. The thought often conjures actions not helpful, harmful or worse. In a district of London, England, a crowd formed and saved a person. The BBC correspondent offered insight to crowd formation and action in describing this good news.
___________________Wiki-image of double decker bus by sv1ambo CC BY 2.0