Thursday, March 31, 2011

Personal Prayer & Reflection for Today

As Lent's third week begins to near its end, the Maryland Jesuits offer this aid to praying.

Review of Pope's Second Volume. . .

. . .Jesus of Nazareth Holy Week: From the Entrance Into Jerusalem To The Resurrection

Jesuit Scripture scholar, Daniel Harrington, offered this concise review in America Magazine.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Not Good News From Philadelphia

Not easy to circulate bad news, but it's important to do so. America Magazine summarized the frightening news.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Faith and Death Penalty

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn employed faith as well as reason in his recent decision to strike down the death penalty in his state. The New York Times began its article this way:
Early on the morning of Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent’s season of penitence, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois went through some final, solitary rumination. For much of his political career, he had supported capital punishment, albeit with reservations, even debating it at the dinner table with his mother. Now a legislative bill abolishing it was waiting for his signature, or his veto.
The article unfolds some history as well as the governor's process of deciding.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Music and Words

Another way to ponder the prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola, "Take and Receive."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday word, 27 Mar 2011

Lenten Sunday3 A (27 March 2011)

Ex 17. 3-7; Ps ;Rm 5. 1-2, 5-8; Jn 4. 5-42

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Our Well

A woman came from her neighborhood well. We came to draw nearer to Jesus and to one another in our parish community. Hers was a simple task and it wasn’t. Simple because drawing water is straightforward: hard work but not complex; not simple because like every person in every age, the woman was a fusion of emotions, experiences, failures, successes and longings. Ours task is not different.

Jesus sat down about noon because he was tired out by his journey. We pause here awaiting any number of things: midday; midyear; sharing faith; welcoming a word; acknowledging how we tire; how our hearts thirst. The woman came, puzzled to see a man resting where women worked. She needed no other puzzle to complicate her life. “By heaven above, and Jacob’s well too,” she thought, “he’s not a man I know; why he even isn’t one of us!” Jesus sits down among us everyday, every moment. If we ask him, Jesus sits down with us, and we often leave disappointed. If we stumble on him, the way that woman at the well did, we often don’t recognize him; and if we do—isn’t this true?—we dread how he might complicate our already complicated lives.

Jesus spoke to the woman, and as she conversed with him—interrogating him first (how do you do what I wouldn’t do? who do you think you are?)—Jesus joined her at every moment, accompanying her further along, pouring questions of his own, God’s very own freeing questions, into her thirsty heart.

Jesus communicates with us: as the Word; in his Sacraments; in his cross; in images and colors; in music and song—Jesus longs for us. Do we converse with him? Not put him on trial (we’re too good at that). Do we ask him for his heart? Do we speak to him as to absent friends; departed parents; a loved one we recall fondly; that person we dream of meeting?

When the woman left Jesus, she left her water jar and was not disappointed. Not even distracted. She left on a mission! Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! No shame but joyful, unburdened peace.

Does well exist for us? Indeed; we were there—the baptismal pool. There God’s love was poured into us through Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Come again to him who creates us new everyday! Do we let Jesus’ abiding Spirit turn our thirsts into our mission as well as his?

In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, compose yourself in our triune God. Ask the woman of Samaria to present you to Jesus. Praise Jesus for giving you his Spirit, his life, in so many different ways. Ask Jesus for the grace to live his life with deeper friendship and greater conviction. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. The more we live his words which we pray, the more Jesus slakes our thirst for him.


Wiki-image of the woman of Samaria with Jesus is in the public domain.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Outline of. . .

. . .the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

For any wondering what making the Exercises entails, here's a snapshot.

Those who made the Exercises may want to note how present spiritual movements fit in that scheme. That can focus prayer and aid discernment.

The conclusion of the Exercises is an invitation to a way of living some may desire and others, who made the Exercises, may desire to refresh.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Family Lens

With one Japanese family as a lens on the Fukushima area much in the news, today's Christian Science Monitor article offers a story of human interest in addition to news about the area.

Earlier news indicated one reactor may have a breach in its core. Kyodo news reported that Japan's Prime Minister had said that the nuclear situation "still does not warrant optimism."

The patience the Japanese vow continues to be tested.

Other6. . .

. . .prays Lent

Other6 Prays Lent

Loyola Press offers a simple, interactive way to pray during Lent. Click on the badge above to learn more and to begin. To paraphrase, St. John Chrysostom: it's never too late to begin Lent.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Water and Hamburgers

Hamburgers don't immediately evoke water. Yet, a National Geographic online article indicates a "typical hamburger can take 630 gallons to produce." Other foods use water in hidden ways, and the same article holds a link to interactive information about those ways.

Catholic churches are calling attention to Lent as a time 1) to learn more about the finite and sensitive environment; and 2) to allow lenten practices, which assist the environment, flow into daily living year round. This National Geographic online article is a place to begin.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thinking About a Retreat This Lent?

This brief post from the Society of Jesus includes a 5-minute video.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

On Japanese Jesuit Houses and Schools

Jesuit "houses and schools experienced violent shaking but no irreparable damage."

Read brief statement from the Jesuit Provincial of Japan to the Chicago-Detroit Province.

Monday, March 21, 2011

From the Japanese Bishops

Penny for Thoughts; Coin for Prayer

Finding God in all things includes coins. Coins are not only money. Coins, like statues and heraldry, have been used as propaganda in the broadest sense. Vatican coins and medals have served to evangelize.

The conclusion of William Van Ornum's article about Vatican coins invites Ignatian praying with coins, plus offers links to a Vatican slideshow and other resources for coin enthusiasts.

Wiki-image used according to the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Generic 2.5 license. Attribution: Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday word, 20 Mar 2011

Lenten Sunday2 A (20 March 2011)

Gn 12. 1-4a; Ps 33; 2Tm 1. 8b-10; Mt 17. 1-9

Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Changing Everything

Art often depicts the scene of the Transfiguration as blinding the apostles with the light of divine glory. Without neglecting that and its accom-panying awe church Tradition appreciates the Transfiguration as an invitation to ponder God-become-flesh, who died and rose for us; and to unite ourselves with our Messiah suffering in all people who suffer as one pathway to sharing his glory. That’s why each Second Sunday of Lent offers us this scene.

Lent invites us to give closer attention to the Word of God [by actions and by] more ardent prayer.”1 To pray connects us with the Trinity: to God through Jesus in their Spirit as an ancient closing to prayer put it. To pray maintains our connection, deepening it and strengthening it. To pray shares in the divine glory and graciousness, which Jesus continually reveals. To pray admits that clouds of mystery surround our experience of God through Jesus in their Spirit. The Transfiguration vision assumes as true that the more real, heavenly world is hidden from human perception unless God takes the initiative to identify its messengers. To pray allows our Triune God to communicate with us in an ongoing way.

Prayer has been called conversation with God. By definition conversation has two mutual elements: one’s turn to speak; and one’s turn to listen, quietly attending to what a conversation partner offers. The gospels portray Peter as quick to speak; listening did not come easily to him. Peter jabbered during the moments Jesus was transfigured. Its initial moments of awe couldn’t make him shut up. The divine voice did that. Some of us may not yammer in our prayer as Peter did throughout the gospels. Others of us, though, may fear no one listens to us. A true incident may help us appreciate prayerful conversing with God.

A Russian Orthodox woman of many years and deep piety spoke to her priest after liturgy one day. She said, ‘Father, I have always prayed and do pray. I tell God everything. I ask God to help me and others. But in all my years I feel God does not hear me.’

Her priest looked tenderly at her before asking, ‘Do you ever listen and give God a chance to reply?’ Her face brightened. ‘Why no!’ she answered. ‘Pray as usual,’ said the priest, ‘and when you knit, quiet yourself and allow God to communicate to you.’ She soon reported his advice changed everything for her.2

Do we allow Messiah Jesus to speak or satisfied to accuse him of being silent? We are, the church reminds us, to cultivate an attentive attitude.3 We heed his voice with more than our ears. For “Christ...speaks when the Holy Scrip-tures are read in Church. He is present...when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: Where two or three are gathered together for my sake, I am there in the midst of them.”4 St. Augustine said that one is an empty proclaimer of God’s word, “who does not listen to it inwardly.”5 His teacher, St. Ambrose, said, “we speak to [God] when we pray, we hear him when we read the divine sayings,” for even alone Jesus promised us, I will never leave your orphaned.6

Messiah Jesus the Speaker: that image balances our understanding of prayer as conversation, calling us to be attentive. Abram’s attitude was attentive. The first reading can blow by our ears. Yet, when we consider Abram went to a place unknown to him, with people he did not know, we sense that God was working in him. Timothy reminded us that God saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.

Lent allows us to refresh our attention to Jesus, to be attentive. Our acts of charity shape our prayer so we can grow more attentive, instead of being like St. Peter, who seemed immune to the awe and prophetic confirmation at Jesus’ transfiguration. Together our acts of charity and our more ardent prayer allow us to recognize the divine voice addressing us: Jesus is my beloved son. Listen to him. I hear the tone of the divine voice both pleading and com-manding: Be still! Hunker down and drink in the present moment. Attention like that to the present as it is authorizes us to speak for Jesus and for his Father.

We may be conditioned to think of Lent as our actions. That misses the point. Lenten actions seek to help us to dispose ourselves in a fresh way, above all, to notice God in Jesus by their Spirit at work in us. Noticing the Trinity giving themselves for us opens the ears of our inmost selves to welcome the Trinity giving our lives new direction. Noticing the Trinity giving themselves for us opens our hearts to allow the Trinity to work in others through us.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, compose yourself in our triune God. Ask St. Peter, once so much like us, to present you to Jesus. Praise Jesus briefly for dying and rising for you. Ask Jesus for grace to calm your fears and help you notice all around you as if for the first time. Drink in that moment and savor new awareness. Close saying very slowly each word of the Lord’s Prayer. If a word causes you to notice something within you, stop and repeat that word with generous pauses between saying it.


  1. Constitution on the Liturgy, 109, of the Second Vatican Council.
  2. The Tablet some years ago. I recount here from memory.
  3. God our Father, in the transfigured glory of Christ your Son, you strengthen our faith by confirming the witness of your prophets, and show us the splendor of your beloved sons and daughters. As we listen to the voice of your Son, help us to become heirs to eternal life with him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. [Opening Prayer, Feast of the Transfiguration]
  4. Constitution on the Liturgy, 7, of the Second Vatican Council.
  5. Sermon 179, quoted in #25 of the same Constitution.
  6. On the Duties of Ministers I, quoted also in #25.
Wiki-image of Jesus transfigured is in the public domain .