Monday, March 21, 2016

Discernment: Tips from a Millennial

Ignatian discernment often confuses newcomers of any age. Ed Nuñez, a member of the media team of the Ignatian Spirituality Network, has two years of experience with the process. Discernment, he notes
can begin in high school, college, or even after college! For the average college student, discernment is something that we do without even realizing it.
In a recent post Ed offered “the three most important things that I have done…that have helped me discern.…” 
Wiki-image of Cabangan by Ramon F. Velasquez CC BY-SA 3.0

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sunday word, 20 Mar 16

Lovingly Humble
Passion (Palm) SundayC (20 Mar 2016)
An Ancient Meditation

The Crossroads Initiative makes available the homily of St. Andrew of Crete. It is a good companion to the scriptures of the beginning of Holy Week.

Link to a suggested Spiritual Exercise

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sunday word, 13 Mar 16

Christian Body-Language
Lenten Sunday5 C (13 Mar 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The 18th-C revivalist preacher, Jonathan Edwards, resolved to join himself to God in his daily living. He remembered to read his 70 Resolutions each week.1 One echoed St. Paul. It read: “[I will] frequently…renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptism; which I solemnly renewed, when I was received into the communion of the church.”2 Edwards took seriously his faith and his relationship with God.

So did St. Paul. He repeatedly dedicated himself to risen Jesus, who met Paul when he was bent on destroying the followers of Jesus every place Paul could reach. Risen Jesus was no idea for Paul; he was the person on whom Paul shaped his new life.

Paul was a Pharisee. Not any Pharisee. As he noted to the Philippians: he was zealous for the law of Moses and blameless in it.3 His credentials tell us Paul had made it, as we would say. His credentials did not matter to him after he met risen Jesus—a meeting that happened as he carried out those very credentials.4 All he had going for him Paul considered rubbish. Bibles often make Paul more mild than he expressed himself. His word here meant dung—detestable garbage.

If Paul’s attitude toward all he gained shocks us, his attitude and desire to be like Jesus makes us shiver. Paul did not want only to be found in Jesus; Paul wanted to take on the same form of Jesus in his death! If Jesus took human form for our sake,5 then Paul wanted his human form to be as Christian, Christ-like as possible.

Stretching to join risen Jesus did not paralyze Paul. He pressed on like an Olympic athlete toward his goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus. That call upward leads to freedom; free not to be trapped by passing things and free to embrace what gives fuller life and meaning. To that freedom St. Paul called his Philippian friends—and us. His words along with the gospel of the woman caught in adultery alert us that its focus is the same freedom: full, deeply satisfying living.

From the beginning the church considered this gospel God’s word. That did not stop this gospel from challenging, even embarrassing, the church. Yet, explaining the story escapes reasonable people. Reason may get in the way of this gospel even more than others. What to do? St. Paul’s words suggest we let Jesus’ body-language speak.

The story is more about Jesus than about the woman. The religious leaders tried again to trap Jesus; so desperate that time they used a woman. Jesus knew the trap was tight: overturning Moses would be a steep risk. Harsh punishment of women was debated while Jesus lived, yet Jesus had to deal with an unsettled issue. Or did he? Twice he bent down to write on the ground with his finger. Twice he stood up. The first time he stood and quoted scripture; those condemning the woman left their condemning and the scene; some resumed it soon. The second time  he stood, Jesus was free to make an upward calling to the woman, his words of freedom—Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.

Jesus was not blind to her sin or those of his accusers. He wanted them to live free from sin not enslaved by it. Jesus wants the same for us. To be formed like Jesus means living freely and not enslaved by sin—ours or that of others. Freedom includes choosing not to sin nor obsessing over it. Choosing not to sin chooses our upward calling in Christ Jesus. Staying near Jesus encourages us to choose him. Rededicating ourselves to Jesus and our upward calling in him are our life’s goal as it was St. Paul’s. Lent helps us rededicate us to Jesus, even if any of us may be slow to enter Lent.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest in our triune God.
  • Ask St. Paul to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for giving us this Lent to rededicate ourselves to him.
  • Ask him for grace to desire to be formed more after Jesus’ heart and his choices.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his prayer to keep focused on him and to match our living to his upward calling and his compassionate way.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. His 70 Resolutions.
  2. Number 42.
  3. Philippians 3.4-6.
  4. Acts 8.3; 9.1-2; in his words beyond Philippians: Galatians 1.13-14.
  5. Philippians 2.6-7.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Sunday word, 06 Mar 16

Sharing God’s Joy and Liberty
Lenten Sunday4 C (06 Mar 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
When first freed and ever after God’s people celebrated: the Book of Joshua remembered their first celebration in their land. Surely that celebration was more joyful than before they arrived in their home—at least their joy was freer than in the wilderness. The brief statement, they celebrated the Passover, alerted me to God’s joy and newfound freedom in one of Jesus’ most touching parables.

The parable of the lost son follows two briefer lost-and-found parables. Both made the same point: God rejoices when someone lost is found. Jesus expressed it crisply: more joy in heaven and the angels of God [rejoice] over one sinner who repents.1 Heaven is God’s realm and angels serve God: both phrases share one conviction: God rejoices.

Jesus told the three lost-and-found parables to the Pharisees and scribes because they grumbled at him,“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Seeing the way sinners were being found and finding their true selves, the guardians of God’s ways among people ought to have shared God’s joy and celebrated it. Pharisees and scribes were lost, too: lost in their ultra-careful efforts to observe God’s ways among people. Their fussy efforts blinded them to God’s joy; blind to God’s joy, they could not share and celebrate it.

The elder son in the lost son parable functioned as a mirror: Jesus held it up so Pharisees and scribes could see themselves, come to their senses and find themselves alive in God’s liberty rather than imprisoned in their puny selves. God desires us to live as freely as we can. Grim human striving imprisons us.

We may think our grasping will free us; we may think that making ourselves number one with little care for others will free us to become our true selves. Neither frees as the lost son learned. He cared little about the commandment to honor parents: he demanded his share of [his father’s] estate while his father was very much alive and caring for it, his sons and all who worked for him. The younger son went to a distant land as if his family were in his way; when a famine affected him and all around he behaved as if local citizens were in his way.

When he came to himself the younger son was willing to have shelter and food as his father’s servant. Coming to himself moved him to return to his father. His father would have nothing subservient for his son—he did not give him a chance to finish the prepared speech his younger son had rehearsed. God treats us the same way. Do we come to our senses, or are we stuck in envy and resentment and refuse to enter God’s joy?

We share God’s liberty when we enter God’s joy and celebrate it. Otherwise God’s liberty remains an idea and not our invitation to be find our true selves. Our lenten practices help us cooperate with grace more freely instead of relying on our efforts only. Relying on our efforts alone makes us old before our time, suffocates our hearts and constrains our lives in prisons of fear.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Allow our triune God to reach out to you.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you;  thank him for giving you this Lent so we may find him and our true selves.
  • Ask him for grace to draw near to Jesus and celebrate his joy by how you choose and live.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. It’s phrase, lead us not into temptation, expresses our desire not to grasp greedily and flee Jesus’ loving care; and our desire to extend ourselves to others when we feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to do so.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. Luke 15. 7, 10.