Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday word, 25 Feb 17

Seventh Saturday of the Year (25 Feb 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. on Weekend Directed Retreat
In Sync
Oh, to be a child again! What attracts us to childhood? Some may desire youth; it always wanes. Others may desire innocence; its root meaning is not harming. It is not possible to live without harming or being harmed. Yet we can learn from both. We name our healthy learning wisdom. One of the church’s prayers reminds us God’s wisdom is gift and goal: God, you give us life despite our guilt and even add days and years to our lives in order to bring us wisdom. Can we recognize the shape of God’s wisdom given us?

Jesus taught his disciples God’s wisdom, kingdom-wisdom involves what human wisdom often rebuffs: humility, dependence, lowliness, simplicity, obedience, a willingness to love and be loved. Jesus taught them by placing a child in their midst.1 Shortly after people brought children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. We can accuse the disciples of being dense; but that misses what the gospel hopes we notice: their slowness points to the mystery of God’s kingdom—human wisdom and knowledge cannot grasp it to tame it.

More astonishing is that Jesus embodied God’s kingdom he proclaimed among us! By embodying God’s kingdom Jesus made it no fantasy but the measure of Christian living. Childlike openness, wonder and longing to love and be loved together with Jesus’ Spirit and sacraments get us in touch with our true selves, creation’s crown. Childlike openness, wonder and longing to love and be loved together with Jesus’ Spirit and sacraments help us bring ourselves to Jesus and to bring others to him. The more in sync our hearts beat with Jesus’ heart, Jesus’ heart beats anew for the sake of our world.
  1. Mark 9.35-37.
Wiki-image Let the children come to me PD-US

Friday, February 24, 2017

Threat to Faith?

Seven new exoplanets, NASA announced, are not that distant from Earth. Could they support life? Even life akin to ours or more developed? If they do support life what does it mean for Catholics? Could the church “handle” the possibility? Crux posted a thoughtful response today.
Wiki-image Nursery of new stars PD-US

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Pope Chatted With Children

At a parish on the outskirts of Rome Pope Francis fielded questions (such as: what he wanted to be; the most difficult moment in his life). He used the opportunity to catechize as well as to pray. ZENIT offered this working translation.
Wiki-image Pope’s signature PD-US

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday word, 19 Feb 17

Seventh Sunday of the Year A (19 Feb 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J., Ignatian Spirituality Project, Guelph, ON
God Is the Measure
Presence names the way a person is in the world. Some examples: we notice the ways people carry themselves; we become aware of how our fears distance us from others—even ourselves. In a place of peace we enjoy clarity about our self-worth. In our inmost selves we know how we can be in the world and journey through it. In a phrase our presence is us.
The way things are and the way things can be immediately remind me I’m limited: I have physical challenges; I’m not the smartest person; and if I don’t take care I can become self-absorbed, my soul-sickness. God does not desire us to be alone; God desires we grow more aware of God’s presence. We heard scripture name God’s presence as holy and within us. We humans so focus on the difference holiness is that God ends up distant, unrelated to us.
Yet, God chose to become one of us. Jesus embodied God’s Presence; Jesus put into action God’s holiness. Genuine respect for another desires another’s good. I do what I can for another: Love [my] neighbor as [myself]. Doing that is being holy as God is holy. Doing that makes holiness more accessible to me and others than I usually imagine.
Jesus showed by his presence, his way of being in the world that God’s original desire need not be far from us. God’s Presence is near us and among us as we are with and among each other. To be holy as God is holy is the measure of Christian living, of Christian presence. Think of it as our yardstick. For builders and artisans the inches on a yardstick don’t change. Those unchanging inches allow builders and artisans to arrange parts, pieces, lines and colors in pleasing ways. God’s holiness is for Christians their yardstick for Christian living. God’s holiness as Jesus revealed and modeled it allows us to reshape ourselves as closer friends and companions of Jesus.
Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
Wiki-images Jesus Preaches Sermon on the Mount PD-US

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday word, 12 Feb 17

Sixth Sunday of the Year A (12 Feb 2017)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J. on 8-day directed retreat
Getting to the Heart
Recall riding in car with a friend and enjoying each other’s company. We take turns chatting. At an unplanned moment both of us fall silent. We are fine with the silence, so fine that neither of us feels any need to break it or wants to. Familiar, no? It is one felt-knowledge of solitude: being with another undisturbed, at peace, and for some moments at least, we desire to maintain that peaceful solitude.

That inner movement of enjoying another’s company hints at retreat solitude—coming to rest in God. That grace is available to each of us; we are experiencing it. We have experienced other movements, too, and we will. Retreat is filled with movements of every sort. Very real interior movements fill our living day to day. St. Paul and his contemporaries comfortably named interior movements spirits. By whatever name they are constant: because they are St. Paul encourages us to sift them and hold on to the good ones, those of God.1

Holding on and living from interior movements of God, in sync with God’s heart spills beyond us to others. When we live from interior movements in sync with God’s heart we are God’s presence where we are. We need help to sift those movements, hold them gently and live from them. Jesus personally helps by modelling for us how to be God’s presence.

One shape his modelling took was this: people noticed Jesus’ deeds and words were in sync. He was authentic; why so many came to him. They heard him: I have come not to abolish [God’s ways or the prophets] but to fulfill; they desired to pattern their living more in sync with God. How did Jesus come to fulfill and accomplish God’s ways? Jesus revealed it: he showed the true, full meaning of God’s desire for humans in daily living.

In matters of harming another and violating someone’s trust, Jesus urged that our interior dispositions match our outward action. If they mismatch—I seethe inside with envy over you, yet always speak honeyed words to you—if they mismatch I will remain soul-sick, unable to accept God’s healing love.

Regarding the prohibitions Jesus knew around oath-taking and divorce, he urged: Cling to God’s desire, don’t distort it. In our 21st -Century endeavours we are wise to fix our hearts on God’s heart and be slow to justify ourselves or our actions or to bow to the court of human opinion.

In all human relationships Jesus demanded exceeding the norms for healthy, life-giving interaction. I don’t hide behind one norm so I may deprive others of  respect, honour, care, love they rightly enjoy. Do unto others. . . is not merely the Golden Norm; it’s golden because after urging it Jesus added, This is God’s ways and the prophets!2

Interior movements and dispositions, outward action are ever in dialogue. Jesus let his relationship with God anchor him in that dialogue. Jesus sifted interior movements. Gently holding those of God—the genuine movements—helped Jesus shape himself and his actions to be in sync with God’s heart.

What movements have we been noticing? Keep bringing them to prayer; talk to God about them. Bring them into the light of our conversations with our retreat directors. Honour all interior motions: even difficult interior motions invite our courage and hope: courage to know them for what they are; and confident God’s life is near, longing to dawn in our hearts. Desire it! Ask God that God’s life keep shaping us as friends and companions of Jesus.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. 1Thessalonians 5.21; also 1John 4.1.
  2. Matthew 7.12.