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June 26, 2019

Gen 15: 1-12, 17-18

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.”

He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”

He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, to the river Euphrates.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Recognizing the gifts of today

“Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield.”

I love how today’s reading begins: “Do not be afraid!”  We hear these words again and again in Scripture. When the future is questionable, be not afraid.

While Abram’s faith in God is strong, his patience with God’s timing is growing thin.  My waning patience with God’s timing takes a hit every time I turn on a newscast. Sometimes I shout at God.  For me, like Abram, anxiety about tomorrow overshadows the gifts of today.

As a high school educator, I spend my days looking into a future not my own.  In a very real sense, the students I see every day are tomorrow’s heirs – as numerous as the stars.  This passage reminds me that God’s covenant is not only hope for tomorrow, but also a promise that changes the way I appreciate today.  Be not be afraid.

Jen LaMaster is an Assistant Principal at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN.

Prayer

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ


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June 25, 2019

Mt 7: 6, 12-14

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

An understanding heart for others

It’s easy to hear Jesus’ commands today—two of which are tough—and to focus on the middle one, the familiar Golden Rule. I think, though, that I often mistake the simplicity of the Golden Rule for easiness. I think of traffic: I only accidentally cut people off, but others who cut me off must be selfish jerks.

St. Ignatius knew this temptation in the Golden Rule and in interpreting actions. He noticed that we tend to desire mercy for our mistakes, but justice on those of others. His advice was to reverse this and to hold ourselves to the demands of justice for our actions while praying for a softer heart and mercy for others.

As I reflect on the Golden Rule, what kind of heart do I bring to understanding others’ actions? Do I show the same mercy to others that I often desire in my own struggles?

Nick Courtney, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the USA Central and Southern Province currently working at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, TX, where he teaches history and coaches football.

Prayer

Lord, help me to reach for understanding and forgiveness for others rather than condemnation. Open my eyes to see your face even in those who hurt me. Give me a heart of patient love for others, just like the heart you have for me. Amen

—Nick Courtney, SJ


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June 24, 2019

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Lk 1: 57-66, 80

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.”

Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea.

All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Prepare the Way

The story is well-known: as Inigo de Loyola (St. Ignatius) convalesced in his family’s castle after the cannonball injury, he asked Magdalena, his sister-in-law, to bring reading material – preferably tales of daring warriors serving gorgeous ladies – to pass the time.  Magdalena, who likely had access to many texts given her family’s status as minor nobility, brought him only The Life of Christ and The Life of the Saints.  The rest is history.

Magdalena looked upon Inigo with love, (deliberately?) delivered the “wrong” books, and prepared the way for his conversion.  John the Baptist, looked upon the people of his time with love, barked a message of repentance, and prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry.  In both cases, neither strived to win a popularity contest. Through prayer, they were able to deliver truly what was needed. In this era of instant gratification, how, where, or for whom might we be called to do the same?

Bill Kriege serves as the director of campus ministry at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.

Prayer

Teach Me Your Ways

Teach me your way of looking at people:
as you glanced at Peter after his denial,
as you penetrated the heart of the rich young man
and the hearts of your disciples.

I would like to meet you as you really are,
since your image changes those with whom you
come into contact.

Remember John the Baptist’s first meeting with you?
And the centurion’s feeling of unworthiness?
And the amazement of all those who saw miracles
and other wonders?

How you impressed your disciples,
the rabble in the Garden of Olives,
Pilate and his wife
and the centurion at the foot of the cross. . . .

I would like to hear and be impressed
by your manner of speaking,
listening, for example, to your discourse in the
synagogue in Capharnaum
or the Sermon on the Mount where your audience
felt you “taught as one who has authority.”

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ


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June 23, 2019

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Lk 9: 11b-17

When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.’

But he said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ They did so and made them all sit down.

And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

We are welcomed and fed

“Jesus welcomed them…” (LK 9:11a)

When I see a scripture notation such as Lk 9:11b-17, I wonder why verse 11a was omitted when it offers an important insight: Jesus welcomed the people, while the disciples were quick to dismiss them.

On the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we remember that Jesus not only fed the five thousand men (and many uncounted women and children), we celebrate that Jesus gave himself to us as the most blessed sacrament, the Eucharist.

Jesus welcomed the people to hear his word and worried about their well-being when the disciples wanted to dismiss the people to fend for themselves.

Christ welcomes us to share in the Eucharist because our Savior worries that we, his body, may find ourselves easily dismissed to fend for ourselves.

Thank you for welcoming us and feeding us, Lord.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, is completing his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know that we are hungry in both body and spirit. Create in us our hunger for you, for your body and blood, for your salvation. Only you can satisfy our hunger. In your most holy name we pray: Fill us with your love.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


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June 22, 2019

Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher

Mt 6: 24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Trusting God as our master

At our school we have a program where we feed and interact with those in some of the poorest areas of Toledo every Monday. A prayer we recite many times is “Poor in the eyes of men and women, rich in the eyes of God, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, pray for us.”  St. Benedict Joseph Labre is the patron saint of the homeless. To be rich means something very different in our Lord’s eyes than in society’s eyes.

The translation of today’s Gospel that we hear at Mass begins “No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon in Biblical times meant wealth as an evil influence, a false object of worship.  In medieval times, mammon was the name of the devil. St. Ignatius wrote of the wiles of the devil which he called “the enemy of our human nature.” The “enemy” leads in subtle ways: first riches, then honors, finally pride, that deep personal satisfaction derived from one’s achievements.  Once pride sets in, the “enemy” has separated us from the Lord.

We are rich if we have complete trust in God; poverty is trusting only in one’s self.  In today’s reading Jesus reveals what the world does not see. St. Ignatius says we should “desire and choose poverty with Christ poor, other than the world’s riches, insults rather than worldly honors…being a worthless fool for Christ, rather than be esteemed as wise and prudent in the world.” (Spiritual Exercises, 167)

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

Prayer

Lord, may we take to heart the words of St. Paul, “Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).  Help us to choose that which leads us closer to a richness of life with you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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June 21, 2019

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ

Mt 6: 19-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Concerning Treasures

The text of this Gospel fascinates me. The images are stark (“the eye is the lamp of the body”). The rhythm of the passage is gently musical; each sentence is a tidy parallelism. The effect is soothing, almost like a chant.

But the imperatives of each parallel! Am I up for this challenge?

Less eloquently put—stop accumulating stuff; start cultivating yourself for eternal life.

These two passages in tandem are a chance to question how my vision may be clouded by the things I surround myself with, to consider whether my consumption brings me closer to or further from God.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

Prayer

A Consumer’s Examen

What did I purchase this week?
What motivated these buys? A need? An impulse to surround myself with comfortable goods?

Did they make me more capable of being available to others and to God?
How can I consume more effectively with God tomorrow?
May I remember the simple need for daily bread.

—Claire Peterson


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June 20, 2019

St. Alban

Mt 6: 7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

May I ask you something or may I tell you something?

There’s a 1973 children’s book called Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book. My favorite section is “Lowly Worm’s Horrid Pests” featuring various “pests” like Selfish Pest who doesn’t share, Grabby Pest who takes things that don’t belong to him, and Interrupting Pest who is taught to “say politely, ‘May I ask you something?’ Or, ‘May I tell you something…?’” When I was little, I thought that regardless of whether I was asking something of, or telling something to, an adult, I had to say, “may I ask you something or may I tell you something?” as one gigantic phrase. Learning how to navigate relationships is hard. Children look to the adults in their lives to teach them how to verbalize their needs and wants, convey their gratitude, and engage in relationships with others.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us how to pray – how to deepen our relationship with God. He tells us not to be a “Noisy Pest,” and instructs us to express our gratitude, articulate our needs, and seek forgiveness in the simplest terms possible, because God “knows what [we] need before [we] ask him.”

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

—Mary Oliver, Thirst


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June 19, 2019

Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.

Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Living mindful of God’s presence

Years ago at a silent retreat, a Jesuit Priest told me that when praying the Jesuit Examen prayer that I should reflect on when during the day “we” experienced life interactions and events. He referred to “we” meaning when I was mindful of God’s presence with me during my day, and when did I experience the day’s events when it was “I,” meaning when I was only mindful of myself.

This reflection came to mind looking at this passage. Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting are important ways to love God and my neighbor more deeply. They are also pathways for me to be more mindful of the nature of my relationship with God. We are created by and ultimately belong to God. All that we have and are in this life comes from God. Thus, any righteousness or piety we receive is God’s presence working through us. We serve this world for the greater glory of God. If we are open to God’s presence (“we”), God will glorify and sanctify our almsgiving, prayer, and fasting making it holy.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Assistant Principal for Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO.

Prayer

Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.

—St. Teresa of Avila


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June 18, 2019

2 Cor 8: 1-9

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you.

Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others.

For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

True Generosity

“Of whom much is given, much is expected” (Lk. 12:48). In the past, this quote for me has summed up how I’ve understood generosity.

Working as I do at a Jesuit high school, I hear St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity an average of three times per day. In between classes, over the PA, before baseball games. It’s the students’ favorite prayer, without question.

You’d think I would have down the meaning of generosity by now, but reflecting on today’s first reading makes me wonder.

The above quote can make it seem that generosity comes from excess. You’ve got plenty of something, so why not share it? It won’t hurt you in the long run.

The Macedonians from today’s first reading set a much higher bar for generosity. We learn that their generosity comes from “affliction” and “profound poverty.” Much like the widow sharing her final two coins, they give not out of excess, but out of love.

True generosity, they remind us, is nothing short of imitating our Lord Jesus, who held nothing back from the ones he loved, no matter what the cost.

—Dan Dixon, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province currently working at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland to create the Welsh Academy, a grades 6-8 middle school for families of modest economic means.

Prayer

A Prayer for True Generosity

Lord, teach me to be truly generous.
Teach me to serve others like You did.
To give, when I have little to spare.
To heal, when I myself need healing.
To toil, when I’d prefer to have the day off.
To be grateful, when I feel underappreciated,
For I’ll know then that I’ll be very much like You.

—Adapted by Dan Dixon, SJ, from St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity


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June 17, 2019

Mt 5: 38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

New Kingdom, New Rules

The Romans authored the political and social rules of first-century Palestine.  Though their rules were designed to fetter Jewish political freedom, Jesus was more concerned with how they stifled spiritual and religious freedom.  

In today’s Gospel, Jesus issues his followers new rules for a new Kingdom.  When followers of Jesus turned their faces or handed over their cloaks along with their tunics, their message wasn’t “I give up,”  but, “I refuse to play by your rules. I refuse to be drawn into violence and fear.” What seemed like a passive response to injustice, was actually the active co-creation of God’s Kingdom.          

From an Ignatian perspective,  the new rules are about dropping our attachments to prescribed violence, stubbornness, and enmity.  Like all disordered attachments or addictions, they injure our relationships and inhibit our freedom to fully respond to God’s love.  

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we want to follow you with our whole hearts, but sometimes our attachments get in our way.  Help us to let go of all things that keep us from loving you and loving our neighbor. May we always chose that which allows us to freely and fully say yes to your workings in our lives.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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Welcome to prayloyolamed.org!

At Loyola Medicine, “we also treat the human spirit. ®” Inspired by the vision of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits and our namesake, we care for our patients as whole people - body, mind and spirit - and seek to be a healing presence in our communities. Whether you are a patient, family member, clinician, chaplain, or student, we invite you to pray these reflections and prayers with us.



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June 26, 2019

Gen 15: 1-12, 17-18

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.”

He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness. Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”

He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, to the river Euphrates.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Recognizing the gifts of today

“Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield.”

I love how today’s reading begins: “Do not be afraid!”  We hear these words again and again in Scripture. When the future is questionable, be not afraid.

While Abram’s faith in God is strong, his patience with God’s timing is growing thin.  My waning patience with God’s timing takes a hit every time I turn on a newscast. Sometimes I shout at God.  For me, like Abram, anxiety about tomorrow overshadows the gifts of today.

As a high school educator, I spend my days looking into a future not my own.  In a very real sense, the students I see every day are tomorrow’s heirs – as numerous as the stars.  This passage reminds me that God’s covenant is not only hope for tomorrow, but also a promise that changes the way I appreciate today.  Be not be afraid.

Jen LaMaster is an Assistant Principal at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis, IN.

Prayer

Patient Trust

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ


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June 25, 2019

Mt 7: 6, 12-14

“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

An understanding heart for others

It’s easy to hear Jesus’ commands today—two of which are tough—and to focus on the middle one, the familiar Golden Rule. I think, though, that I often mistake the simplicity of the Golden Rule for easiness. I think of traffic: I only accidentally cut people off, but others who cut me off must be selfish jerks.

St. Ignatius knew this temptation in the Golden Rule and in interpreting actions. He noticed that we tend to desire mercy for our mistakes, but justice on those of others. His advice was to reverse this and to hold ourselves to the demands of justice for our actions while praying for a softer heart and mercy for others.

As I reflect on the Golden Rule, what kind of heart do I bring to understanding others’ actions? Do I show the same mercy to others that I often desire in my own struggles?

Nick Courtney, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the USA Central and Southern Province currently working at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston, TX, where he teaches history and coaches football.

Prayer

Lord, help me to reach for understanding and forgiveness for others rather than condemnation. Open my eyes to see your face even in those who hurt me. Give me a heart of patient love for others, just like the heart you have for me. Amen

—Nick Courtney, SJ


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June 24, 2019

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

Lk 1: 57-66, 80

Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.”

Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea.

All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Prepare the Way

The story is well-known: as Inigo de Loyola (St. Ignatius) convalesced in his family’s castle after the cannonball injury, he asked Magdalena, his sister-in-law, to bring reading material – preferably tales of daring warriors serving gorgeous ladies – to pass the time.  Magdalena, who likely had access to many texts given her family’s status as minor nobility, brought him only The Life of Christ and The Life of the Saints.  The rest is history.

Magdalena looked upon Inigo with love, (deliberately?) delivered the “wrong” books, and prepared the way for his conversion.  John the Baptist, looked upon the people of his time with love, barked a message of repentance, and prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry.  In both cases, neither strived to win a popularity contest. Through prayer, they were able to deliver truly what was needed. In this era of instant gratification, how, where, or for whom might we be called to do the same?

Bill Kriege serves as the director of campus ministry at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.

Prayer

Teach Me Your Ways

Teach me your way of looking at people:
as you glanced at Peter after his denial,
as you penetrated the heart of the rich young man
and the hearts of your disciples.

I would like to meet you as you really are,
since your image changes those with whom you
come into contact.

Remember John the Baptist’s first meeting with you?
And the centurion’s feeling of unworthiness?
And the amazement of all those who saw miracles
and other wonders?

How you impressed your disciples,
the rabble in the Garden of Olives,
Pilate and his wife
and the centurion at the foot of the cross. . . .

I would like to hear and be impressed
by your manner of speaking,
listening, for example, to your discourse in the
synagogue in Capharnaum
or the Sermon on the Mount where your audience
felt you “taught as one who has authority.”

—Pedro Arrupe, SJ


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June 23, 2019

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Lk 9: 11b-17

When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, ‘Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.’

But he said to them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said, ‘We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.’ For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.’ They did so and made them all sit down.

And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

We are welcomed and fed

“Jesus welcomed them…” (LK 9:11a)

When I see a scripture notation such as Lk 9:11b-17, I wonder why verse 11a was omitted when it offers an important insight: Jesus welcomed the people, while the disciples were quick to dismiss them.

On the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we remember that Jesus not only fed the five thousand men (and many uncounted women and children), we celebrate that Jesus gave himself to us as the most blessed sacrament, the Eucharist.

Jesus welcomed the people to hear his word and worried about their well-being when the disciples wanted to dismiss the people to fend for themselves.

Christ welcomes us to share in the Eucharist because our Savior worries that we, his body, may find ourselves easily dismissed to fend for ourselves.

Thank you for welcoming us and feeding us, Lord.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ, is completing his term as president of Loyola High School in Detroit and will soon leave for his tertianship experience in Cape Town, South Africa.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know that we are hungry in both body and spirit. Create in us our hunger for you, for your body and blood, for your salvation. Only you can satisfy our hunger. In your most holy name we pray: Fill us with your love.

—Fr. Mark Luedtke, SJ


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June 22, 2019

Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher

Mt 6: 24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Trusting God as our master

At our school we have a program where we feed and interact with those in some of the poorest areas of Toledo every Monday. A prayer we recite many times is “Poor in the eyes of men and women, rich in the eyes of God, Saint Benedict Joseph Labre, pray for us.”  St. Benedict Joseph Labre is the patron saint of the homeless. To be rich means something very different in our Lord’s eyes than in society’s eyes.

The translation of today’s Gospel that we hear at Mass begins “No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and mammon.” Mammon in Biblical times meant wealth as an evil influence, a false object of worship.  In medieval times, mammon was the name of the devil. St. Ignatius wrote of the wiles of the devil which he called “the enemy of our human nature.” The “enemy” leads in subtle ways: first riches, then honors, finally pride, that deep personal satisfaction derived from one’s achievements.  Once pride sets in, the “enemy” has separated us from the Lord.

We are rich if we have complete trust in God; poverty is trusting only in one’s self.  In today’s reading Jesus reveals what the world does not see. St. Ignatius says we should “desire and choose poverty with Christ poor, other than the world’s riches, insults rather than worldly honors…being a worthless fool for Christ, rather than be esteemed as wise and prudent in the world.” (Spiritual Exercises, 167)

—Greg Richard has served at St. John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo, OH for thirty-three years.  He has been the director of Campus Ministry, Theology teacher, Theology department chair, coach, and Adult Chaplain.  He is now the Vice President for Ignatian Identity.

Prayer

Lord, may we take to heart the words of St. Paul, “Jesus Christ became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).  Help us to choose that which leads us closer to a richness of life with you. Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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June 21, 2019

St. Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ

Mt 6: 19-23

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Concerning Treasures

The text of this Gospel fascinates me. The images are stark (“the eye is the lamp of the body”). The rhythm of the passage is gently musical; each sentence is a tidy parallelism. The effect is soothing, almost like a chant.

But the imperatives of each parallel! Am I up for this challenge?

Less eloquently put—stop accumulating stuff; start cultivating yourself for eternal life.

These two passages in tandem are a chance to question how my vision may be clouded by the things I surround myself with, to consider whether my consumption brings me closer to or further from God.

—Claire Peterson works in the advancement and communications office of the USA Central and Southern Province and is the local organizer for Jesuit Connections – St. Louis.

Prayer

A Consumer’s Examen

What did I purchase this week?
What motivated these buys? A need? An impulse to surround myself with comfortable goods?

Did they make me more capable of being available to others and to God?
How can I consume more effectively with God tomorrow?
May I remember the simple need for daily bread.

—Claire Peterson


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June 20, 2019

St. Alban

Mt 6: 7-15

“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

May I ask you something or may I tell you something?

There’s a 1973 children’s book called Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book. My favorite section is “Lowly Worm’s Horrid Pests” featuring various “pests” like Selfish Pest who doesn’t share, Grabby Pest who takes things that don’t belong to him, and Interrupting Pest who is taught to “say politely, ‘May I ask you something?’ Or, ‘May I tell you something…?’” When I was little, I thought that regardless of whether I was asking something of, or telling something to, an adult, I had to say, “may I ask you something or may I tell you something?” as one gigantic phrase. Learning how to navigate relationships is hard. Children look to the adults in their lives to teach them how to verbalize their needs and wants, convey their gratitude, and engage in relationships with others.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us how to pray – how to deepen our relationship with God. He tells us not to be a “Noisy Pest,” and instructs us to express our gratitude, articulate our needs, and seek forgiveness in the simplest terms possible, because God “knows what [we] need before [we] ask him.”

Jackie Schulte is the Dean of Faculty Formation and a history teacher at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, NE.

Prayer

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

—Mary Oliver, Thirst


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June 19, 2019

Mt 6: 1-6, 16-18

“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others.

Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Living mindful of God’s presence

Years ago at a silent retreat, a Jesuit Priest told me that when praying the Jesuit Examen prayer that I should reflect on when during the day “we” experienced life interactions and events. He referred to “we” meaning when I was mindful of God’s presence with me during my day, and when did I experience the day’s events when it was “I,” meaning when I was only mindful of myself.

This reflection came to mind looking at this passage. Almsgiving, prayer, and fasting are important ways to love God and my neighbor more deeply. They are also pathways for me to be more mindful of the nature of my relationship with God. We are created by and ultimately belong to God. All that we have and are in this life comes from God. Thus, any righteousness or piety we receive is God’s presence working through us. We serve this world for the greater glory of God. If we are open to God’s presence (“we”), God will glorify and sanctify our almsgiving, prayer, and fasting making it holy.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is the Assistant Principal for Mission, Ministry, and Diversity at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO.

Prayer

Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.

—St. Teresa of Avila


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June 18, 2019

2 Cor 8: 1-9

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you.

Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others.

For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

True Generosity

“Of whom much is given, much is expected” (Lk. 12:48). In the past, this quote for me has summed up how I’ve understood generosity.

Working as I do at a Jesuit high school, I hear St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity an average of three times per day. In between classes, over the PA, before baseball games. It’s the students’ favorite prayer, without question.

You’d think I would have down the meaning of generosity by now, but reflecting on today’s first reading makes me wonder.

The above quote can make it seem that generosity comes from excess. You’ve got plenty of something, so why not share it? It won’t hurt you in the long run.

The Macedonians from today’s first reading set a much higher bar for generosity. We learn that their generosity comes from “affliction” and “profound poverty.” Much like the widow sharing her final two coins, they give not out of excess, but out of love.

True generosity, they remind us, is nothing short of imitating our Lord Jesus, who held nothing back from the ones he loved, no matter what the cost.

—Dan Dixon, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Midwest Province currently working at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland to create the Welsh Academy, a grades 6-8 middle school for families of modest economic means.

Prayer

A Prayer for True Generosity

Lord, teach me to be truly generous.
Teach me to serve others like You did.
To give, when I have little to spare.
To heal, when I myself need healing.
To toil, when I’d prefer to have the day off.
To be grateful, when I feel underappreciated,
For I’ll know then that I’ll be very much like You.

—Adapted by Dan Dixon, SJ, from St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity


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June 17, 2019

Mt 5: 38-42

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

New Kingdom, New Rules

The Romans authored the political and social rules of first-century Palestine.  Though their rules were designed to fetter Jewish political freedom, Jesus was more concerned with how they stifled spiritual and religious freedom.  

In today’s Gospel, Jesus issues his followers new rules for a new Kingdom.  When followers of Jesus turned their faces or handed over their cloaks along with their tunics, their message wasn’t “I give up,”  but, “I refuse to play by your rules. I refuse to be drawn into violence and fear.” What seemed like a passive response to injustice, was actually the active co-creation of God’s Kingdom.          

From an Ignatian perspective,  the new rules are about dropping our attachments to prescribed violence, stubbornness, and enmity.  Like all disordered attachments or addictions, they injure our relationships and inhibit our freedom to fully respond to God’s love.  

Nick Rennpage is a Theology teacher and the director of Adult Formation and Mission Integration at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy  

Prayer

Lord Jesus, we want to follow you with our whole hearts, but sometimes our attachments get in our way.  Help us to let go of all things that keep us from loving you and loving our neighbor. May we always chose that which allows us to freely and fully say yes to your workings in our lives.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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