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November 30, 2019

St. Andrew

Mt 4: 18-22

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

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.

Responding to Jesus “immediately”

Have you ever wondered just how charismatic Jesus must have been that both sets of men in today’s Gospel would “immediately” leave their nets and “immediately” leave their boats? What did poor Zebedee think when his sons upped and left him? Andrew, Peter, James and John must have been captivated by Jesus’ presence to make such an unimaginable and seemingly rash move.

Today’s feast challenges us to consider how we respond to God’s invitations in our lives. We might ask ourselves: How intrigued am I by the mysterious nudges of the Spirit? Is my eagerness to follow Jesus like that of these first four disciples? Am I adventurous enough to risk leaving it all behind?

Advent begins tomorrow. Let’s ask St. Andrew to walk with us as we begin the journey that celebrates the Word who is Life for us!

—Susan Kusz, SND is a Sister of Notre Dame serving as Associate Director of the Jesuit Retreat House on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, WI.

Prayer

Jesus, you chose Andrew, a simple fisherman, to be among your twelve special friends. He followed you in life and died as you did, by crucifixion. We thank you for his example of zeal in bringing peoples from many lands to the faith. May we always respond to your invitations as promptly as St. Andrew did, for you live and reign forever. Amen.

Notre Dame Prays, the Sisters of Notre Dame in the United States


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November 29, 2019

Lk 21: 29-33

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

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.

The things that don’t matter

“I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter,” proclaimed the rock band Linkin Park. If I am honest with myself, I know how easily I allow myself to be distracted or preoccupied with things that, in the end, doesn’t even matter. From worrying over the uncertainties and circumstances beyond my control to endlessly scrolling through the digital content that fights for my time and attention, these too shall pass.

But my relationship with God is forever and shall never pass away. I find consolation in knowing Jesus Christ will never leave me to face the challenges of this world alone. 

So what will capture my time and attention today? What will I welcome into my heart and mind?

Even with all of my mess and clutter, will there be room in my heart today for Christ to enter and dwell in me?

Joe Nava is a math teacher and 2002 graduate of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.

Prayer

My God, I do not know what must come to me today. But I am certain that nothing can happen to me that you have not foreseen, decreed, and ordained from all eternity. That is sufficient for me. I adore your impenetrable and eternal designs, to which I submit with all my heart.

I desire, I accept them all, and I unite my sacrifice to that of Jesus Christ, my divine Savior. I ask in his name and through his infinite merits, patience in my trials, and perfect and entire submission to all that comes to me by your good pleasure. Amen.

—St. Joseph Pignatelli, SJ


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November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Day (US)

1 Cor 1: 3-9

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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.

Give thanks always

Thanksgiving dinner is about to start. Fork in hand, the smell of turkey in the air, and then: Someone raises a hand, stopping that spoonful of mashed potatoes inches from your mouth.

“Before we eat, let’s go around the table and say one thing we’re thankful for this year.”

The pressure! One thing? From the whole year? Stomachs rumble. You glance around the table, mind scouring the last twelve months for weddings, pregnancies, engagements, big stuff.

A common scenario, no? Thanksgiving is rightly a time of gratitude.

But if Ignatian Spirituality teaches us anything, it teaches us this: God is in all things. Our daily Examen reminds us that it’s not just the big things from the year, but the little things from each day for which we should be grateful. Every day, every moment, is one of gratitude.

“I give thanks to my God always.” Do we live St. Paul’s words?

Eric Clayton is a senior communications manager at the Jesuit Conference

Prayer

Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

November 27, 2019

Lk 21: 12-19

‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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.

Grace to persevere

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the end of days will not be easy – trials, pain, stress, betrayal, adversity, chaos. However, Jesus also tells us that we should not prepare our defenses, nor should we despair, but rather we are to persevere, to endure. “The end,” be it the end of a day, month, or year, can be wrought with frenzied urgency, stress, and anxiety. There are 35 days left in 2019.  For many of us, this time of the year can be a decathlon of sorts – working, decorating, baking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, hosting, socializing, packing, traveling (repeat). While the “end of the year” is not the “end of days,” Jesus reminds us that the graces for which we should pray remain the same – perseverance and endurance. Over the next 35 days, when you feel yourself submitting to the “tyranny of the immediate” or descending into the chaos, take a moment to pause, breathe, and pray for the grace to endure. 

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

Prayer

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cares for you today
will take care of you tomorrow and every day.
Either He will shield you from suffering,
or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace, then.
Put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield.
My heart has trusted in Him and I am helped.
He is not only with me but in me,
and I in Him.”
Amen.

—Adapted from St. Francis de Sales


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November 26, 2019

Lk 21: 5-11

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 

They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

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.

The human Jesus

I imagined Jesus gazing at the Temple, saying these words that we find in the Gospel of Luke, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” In these words of Scripture we find an allusion to the eventful destruction of the Temple by the Romans in the latter half of the first century.

More importantly, in these words we encounter a Jesus who might not be condemning the extravagance of the Temple but a Jesus who was probably sad at its eventual demise. The Temple was a part of his human memory: as a child he allowed himself to wander and be lost in its walls and during his years of ministry he healed and taught those gathered in its sacred space.

The invitation for us today might be to sit with a Jesus who feels the range of human emotions, even that of sadness and lost.

—Minh Le, SJ, is a Jesuit of the Midwest Province teaching and coaching at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know our joys and sadnesses because you, too, experienced all of our human emotions.  May we remember to turn to you no matter what we are feeling, confident that you know the longings of our hearts.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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November 25, 2019

Lk 21: 1-4

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

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.

Responding out of love for God

By giving everything that she had, the poor widow put all of her devotion and faith in God. Jesus reminds us that when we give, it should be out of love for God, and not for any self-serving purpose. It is an important message to remember as we approach the Advent season, when trappings of the materialistic accompany the Christmas season. This Gospel shows us that in response to God’s unconditional love for us, we should try to give all that we can from our heart. St. Ignatius laid down his sword and abandoned the vanities of the world as well as his own ambitions to begin his holy life at Montserrat and then Manresa. We too should be mindful of how we live in faith and devotion to God.

John LaMantia is a graduate of Fordham University and Saint Ignatius College Prep who is a trial attorney in the service of others. He is on the JFAN Chicago board for the Midwest Jesuits and continues to provide his four children with a Jesuit high school and college education.

Prayer

Lord, in the hustle and bustle of the season, as we are prompted and pushed toward materialism, help us reflect and act from a heart full of devotion, faith and charity in your name.

—John LaMantia


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November 24, 2019

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Lk 23:35-43

And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 

There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

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.

With Jesus in paradise

November 16, 2019 was the thirtieth anniversary of the martyrdom of the six Jesuits, their cook and her daughter at the Jesuit university in San Salvador. Two years earlier, I met all the future martyrs. The university’s president, Fr. Ellacuria, gave a very passionate speech on the sufferings of these poor people. The Jesuits were killed because they had incorporated their search for peace and justice into every aspect their university: in philosophy, theology, sociology, publishing, etc. One year after their deaths, with copious tears, I attended the annual celebration of their martyrdom.

I see them when I contemplate Jesus dying on the cross between two thieves. Jesus demonstrates his Kingship by willingly giving his life for the poor sinners of this world. By his faithfulness in suffering with and for us, we name him our Lord and King. From that day in 1989, I know our Jesuit martyrs are with Jesus in Paradise.

—Fr. Louis McCabe, SJ, is a retreat director at Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House in Grand Coteau, LA.

Prayer

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Ignacio Ellacuria, pray for us.
Segundo Montes, pray for us.
Ignacio Martin-Baro, pray for us.
Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, pray for us.
Amando Lopez, pray for us.
Juan Ramon Moreno, pray for us.
Elba Ramos, pray for us.
Celina Ramos, pray for us.

Let us pray:
God, Our Father, who conferred upon your
servants in El Salvador the grace of ardently
seeking peace and justice for the suffering
people, grant that the witness of the lives
and martyrdoms bring peace to their country.
Through Jesus Christ, our Eternal King, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

—Fr. Louis McCabe, SJ


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November 23, 2019

Lk 20: 27-40

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” 

Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 

And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

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.

The children of God

What grace we know, what a gift to receive God’s love as our living God.  In reflecting on the Gospel today, we realize the power of God’s love. For those who are dead and living, all are alive in this love.  As we approach Thanksgiving and the birth of our Lord, we have the opportunity to remember those who came before us, and our faith here in our journey on earth.  What a gift to remember that we are each children of God, and to share this uplifting news. God is great!

Bernadette Gillick is a Marquette University alumna, and a former Clinical Instructor for Creighton University’s Institute for Latin American Concern.  Her ministry continues as a clinical researcher discovering treatments for stroke during infancy.

Prayer

Let your God Love You

Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you with an enormous love
and only wants to look upon you
with that generous love.
Quiet.
Be still.
Let your God love you.

Edwina Gately (b.1943), published in There Was No Path, So I Trod One


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November 22, 2019

St. Cecilia

1 Mc 4:36-37, 52-59

Then Judas and his brothers said, ‘See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.’ So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt-offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshipped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. 

So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt-offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving-offering. They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.

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.

Preparing our own sacred spaces

The Maccabean Revolt by the Hasmoneans, remembered today in the Festival of Hanukkah, was an effort by Jewish patriots to reclaim their independence from the two branches of the former Greek Empire of Alexander the Great. Antiochus IV had more than desecrated the Temple, he had massacred thousands of Jews before being driven out of the land.  This war was also a civil war fought between Hellenized Jews and traditionalists. Now in control, the Maccabean’s set out to purify and rededicate their sacred space. They sought to put the horror of war behind them and create a new beginning, celebrating joy and gladness.

Jesus in today’s Gospel (Lk 19: 45-48) confronts the moneychangers and seeks to drive them out of the Temple.  At this point in history, it was the Romans who were masters of the Jewish State, and Romanized Jews cheated the people with their financial manipulations.  The tensions in the city were high, many seeking to get along in peace with Caesar’s power, while others seeking independence and religious self-determination.  

Jesus too set out to purify and rededicated their sacred space – though Jesus’s message was not welcomed by the Jewish traditionalists either.  What is the meaning of “clean” and “unclean”? Jesus had very radical ideas on this, even though he too set about cleansing. How can we make ready our own sacred space?  

Fred O’Connor is an alumnus of Loyola Academy and College of the Holy Cross and is a member of the JFAN Advisory Board in Chicago.  He works as a financial advisor living in Evanston, IL.

Prayer

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

—Prayer after the Our Father in Mass


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November 21, 2019

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 12: 46-50

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

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.

Offer our whole self to God

Today we remember the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when her parents Joachim and Anne brought Mary to the Temple in Jerusalem. They hadn’t expected to have children, so in thanksgiving for this gift, they offered her back to be consecrated to the Lord, to belong to him. This offering and belonging is echoed in the Gospel. Jesus’ “mother and brothers” come to him, and he explains what it takes to belong to him, as Mary does: “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Let us imitate this today. First, we experience the whole day as a gift from God. Then, in gratitude, we generously offer it back to him, to be used for his purpose. What does it take to consecrate our day? Using it to do “the will of [our] Father in heaven.” What is God asking you today?

Beau Guedry is a former Alum Service Corps volunteer who now teaches science and coordinates liturgy at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston. 

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola


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November 30, 2019

St. Andrew

Mt 4: 18-22

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 

As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

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.

Responding to Jesus “immediately”

Have you ever wondered just how charismatic Jesus must have been that both sets of men in today’s Gospel would “immediately” leave their nets and “immediately” leave their boats? What did poor Zebedee think when his sons upped and left him? Andrew, Peter, James and John must have been captivated by Jesus’ presence to make such an unimaginable and seemingly rash move.

Today’s feast challenges us to consider how we respond to God’s invitations in our lives. We might ask ourselves: How intrigued am I by the mysterious nudges of the Spirit? Is my eagerness to follow Jesus like that of these first four disciples? Am I adventurous enough to risk leaving it all behind?

Advent begins tomorrow. Let’s ask St. Andrew to walk with us as we begin the journey that celebrates the Word who is Life for us!

—Susan Kusz, SND is a Sister of Notre Dame serving as Associate Director of the Jesuit Retreat House on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh, WI.

Prayer

Jesus, you chose Andrew, a simple fisherman, to be among your twelve special friends. He followed you in life and died as you did, by crucifixion. We thank you for his example of zeal in bringing peoples from many lands to the faith. May we always respond to your invitations as promptly as St. Andrew did, for you live and reign forever. Amen.

Notre Dame Prays, the Sisters of Notre Dame in the United States


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November 29, 2019

Lk 21: 29-33

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

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.

The things that don’t matter

“I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end, it doesn’t even matter,” proclaimed the rock band Linkin Park. If I am honest with myself, I know how easily I allow myself to be distracted or preoccupied with things that, in the end, doesn’t even matter. From worrying over the uncertainties and circumstances beyond my control to endlessly scrolling through the digital content that fights for my time and attention, these too shall pass.

But my relationship with God is forever and shall never pass away. I find consolation in knowing Jesus Christ will never leave me to face the challenges of this world alone. 

So what will capture my time and attention today? What will I welcome into my heart and mind?

Even with all of my mess and clutter, will there be room in my heart today for Christ to enter and dwell in me?

Joe Nava is a math teacher and 2002 graduate of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas.

Prayer

My God, I do not know what must come to me today. But I am certain that nothing can happen to me that you have not foreseen, decreed, and ordained from all eternity. That is sufficient for me. I adore your impenetrable and eternal designs, to which I submit with all my heart.

I desire, I accept them all, and I unite my sacrifice to that of Jesus Christ, my divine Savior. I ask in his name and through his infinite merits, patience in my trials, and perfect and entire submission to all that comes to me by your good pleasure. Amen.

—St. Joseph Pignatelli, SJ


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November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving Day (US)

1 Cor 1: 3-9

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind— just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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.

Give thanks always

Thanksgiving dinner is about to start. Fork in hand, the smell of turkey in the air, and then: Someone raises a hand, stopping that spoonful of mashed potatoes inches from your mouth.

“Before we eat, let’s go around the table and say one thing we’re thankful for this year.”

The pressure! One thing? From the whole year? Stomachs rumble. You glance around the table, mind scouring the last twelve months for weddings, pregnancies, engagements, big stuff.

A common scenario, no? Thanksgiving is rightly a time of gratitude.

But if Ignatian Spirituality teaches us anything, it teaches us this: God is in all things. Our daily Examen reminds us that it’s not just the big things from the year, but the little things from each day for which we should be grateful. Every day, every moment, is one of gratitude.

“I give thanks to my God always.” Do we live St. Paul’s words?

Eric Clayton is a senior communications manager at the Jesuit Conference

Prayer

Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

November 27, 2019

Lk 21: 12-19

‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. 

You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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.

Grace to persevere

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the end of days will not be easy – trials, pain, stress, betrayal, adversity, chaos. However, Jesus also tells us that we should not prepare our defenses, nor should we despair, but rather we are to persevere, to endure. “The end,” be it the end of a day, month, or year, can be wrought with frenzied urgency, stress, and anxiety. There are 35 days left in 2019.  For many of us, this time of the year can be a decathlon of sorts – working, decorating, baking, cleaning, shopping, wrapping, hosting, socializing, packing, traveling (repeat). While the “end of the year” is not the “end of days,” Jesus reminds us that the graces for which we should pray remain the same – perseverance and endurance. Over the next 35 days, when you feel yourself submitting to the “tyranny of the immediate” or descending into the chaos, take a moment to pause, breathe, and pray for the grace to endure. 

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

Prayer

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cares for you today
will take care of you tomorrow and every day.
Either He will shield you from suffering,
or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace, then.
Put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations, and say continually:
“The Lord is my strength and my shield.
My heart has trusted in Him and I am helped.
He is not only with me but in me,
and I in Him.”
Amen.

—Adapted from St. Francis de Sales


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November 26, 2019

Lk 21: 5-11

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” 

They asked him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?” And he said, “Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is near!’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.” 

Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven.

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.

The human Jesus

I imagined Jesus gazing at the Temple, saying these words that we find in the Gospel of Luke, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.” In these words of Scripture we find an allusion to the eventful destruction of the Temple by the Romans in the latter half of the first century.

More importantly, in these words we encounter a Jesus who might not be condemning the extravagance of the Temple but a Jesus who was probably sad at its eventual demise. The Temple was a part of his human memory: as a child he allowed himself to wander and be lost in its walls and during his years of ministry he healed and taught those gathered in its sacred space.

The invitation for us today might be to sit with a Jesus who feels the range of human emotions, even that of sadness and lost.

—Minh Le, SJ, is a Jesuit of the Midwest Province teaching and coaching at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you know our joys and sadnesses because you, too, experienced all of our human emotions.  May we remember to turn to you no matter what we are feeling, confident that you know the longings of our hearts.  Amen.

—The Jesuit Prayer team


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November 25, 2019

Lk 21: 1-4

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

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.

Responding out of love for God

By giving everything that she had, the poor widow put all of her devotion and faith in God. Jesus reminds us that when we give, it should be out of love for God, and not for any self-serving purpose. It is an important message to remember as we approach the Advent season, when trappings of the materialistic accompany the Christmas season. This Gospel shows us that in response to God’s unconditional love for us, we should try to give all that we can from our heart. St. Ignatius laid down his sword and abandoned the vanities of the world as well as his own ambitions to begin his holy life at Montserrat and then Manresa. We too should be mindful of how we live in faith and devotion to God.

John LaMantia is a graduate of Fordham University and Saint Ignatius College Prep who is a trial attorney in the service of others. He is on the JFAN Chicago board for the Midwest Jesuits and continues to provide his four children with a Jesuit high school and college education.

Prayer

Lord, in the hustle and bustle of the season, as we are prompted and pushed toward materialism, help us reflect and act from a heart full of devotion, faith and charity in your name.

—John LaMantia


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November 24, 2019

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Lk 23:35-43

And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 

There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

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.

With Jesus in paradise

November 16, 2019 was the thirtieth anniversary of the martyrdom of the six Jesuits, their cook and her daughter at the Jesuit university in San Salvador. Two years earlier, I met all the future martyrs. The university’s president, Fr. Ellacuria, gave a very passionate speech on the sufferings of these poor people. The Jesuits were killed because they had incorporated their search for peace and justice into every aspect their university: in philosophy, theology, sociology, publishing, etc. One year after their deaths, with copious tears, I attended the annual celebration of their martyrdom.

I see them when I contemplate Jesus dying on the cross between two thieves. Jesus demonstrates his Kingship by willingly giving his life for the poor sinners of this world. By his faithfulness in suffering with and for us, we name him our Lord and King. From that day in 1989, I know our Jesuit martyrs are with Jesus in Paradise.

—Fr. Louis McCabe, SJ, is a retreat director at Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House in Grand Coteau, LA.

Prayer

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Ignacio Ellacuria, pray for us.
Segundo Montes, pray for us.
Ignacio Martin-Baro, pray for us.
Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, pray for us.
Amando Lopez, pray for us.
Juan Ramon Moreno, pray for us.
Elba Ramos, pray for us.
Celina Ramos, pray for us.

Let us pray:
God, Our Father, who conferred upon your
servants in El Salvador the grace of ardently
seeking peace and justice for the suffering
people, grant that the witness of the lives
and martyrdoms bring peace to their country.
Through Jesus Christ, our Eternal King, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy
Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

—Fr. Louis McCabe, SJ


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November 23, 2019

Lk 20: 27-40

Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” 

Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection. 

And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.”

Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” For they no longer dared to ask him another question.

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.

The children of God

What grace we know, what a gift to receive God’s love as our living God.  In reflecting on the Gospel today, we realize the power of God’s love. For those who are dead and living, all are alive in this love.  As we approach Thanksgiving and the birth of our Lord, we have the opportunity to remember those who came before us, and our faith here in our journey on earth.  What a gift to remember that we are each children of God, and to share this uplifting news. God is great!

Bernadette Gillick is a Marquette University alumna, and a former Clinical Instructor for Creighton University’s Institute for Latin American Concern.  Her ministry continues as a clinical researcher discovering treatments for stroke during infancy.

Prayer

Let your God Love You

Be silent.
Be still.
Alone.
Empty
before your God.
Say nothing.
Ask nothing.
Be silent.
Be still.
Let your God look upon you.
That is all.
God knows.
God understands.
God loves you with an enormous love
and only wants to look upon you
with that generous love.
Quiet.
Be still.
Let your God love you.

Edwina Gately (b.1943), published in There Was No Path, So I Trod One


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November 22, 2019

St. Cecilia

1 Mc 4:36-37, 52-59

Then Judas and his brothers said, ‘See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it.’ So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt-offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshipped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. 

So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and joyfully offered burnt-offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving-offering. They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and fitted them with doors. There was very great joy among the people, and the disgrace brought by the Gentiles was removed.

Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with joy and gladness for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev.

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.

Preparing our own sacred spaces

The Maccabean Revolt by the Hasmoneans, remembered today in the Festival of Hanukkah, was an effort by Jewish patriots to reclaim their independence from the two branches of the former Greek Empire of Alexander the Great. Antiochus IV had more than desecrated the Temple, he had massacred thousands of Jews before being driven out of the land.  This war was also a civil war fought between Hellenized Jews and traditionalists. Now in control, the Maccabean’s set out to purify and rededicate their sacred space. They sought to put the horror of war behind them and create a new beginning, celebrating joy and gladness.

Jesus in today’s Gospel (Lk 19: 45-48) confronts the moneychangers and seeks to drive them out of the Temple.  At this point in history, it was the Romans who were masters of the Jewish State, and Romanized Jews cheated the people with their financial manipulations.  The tensions in the city were high, many seeking to get along in peace with Caesar’s power, while others seeking independence and religious self-determination.  

Jesus too set out to purify and rededicated their sacred space – though Jesus’s message was not welcomed by the Jewish traditionalists either.  What is the meaning of “clean” and “unclean”? Jesus had very radical ideas on this, even though he too set about cleansing. How can we make ready our own sacred space?  

Fred O’Connor is an alumnus of Loyola Academy and College of the Holy Cross and is a member of the JFAN Advisory Board in Chicago.  He works as a financial advisor living in Evanston, IL.

Prayer

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

—Prayer after the Our Father in Mass


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November 21, 2019

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mt 12: 46-50

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

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.

Offer our whole self to God

Today we remember the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, when her parents Joachim and Anne brought Mary to the Temple in Jerusalem. They hadn’t expected to have children, so in thanksgiving for this gift, they offered her back to be consecrated to the Lord, to belong to him. This offering and belonging is echoed in the Gospel. Jesus’ “mother and brothers” come to him, and he explains what it takes to belong to him, as Mary does: “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Let us imitate this today. First, we experience the whole day as a gift from God. Then, in gratitude, we generously offer it back to him, to be used for his purpose. What does it take to consecrate our day? Using it to do “the will of [our] Father in heaven.” What is God asking you today?

Beau Guedry is a former Alum Service Corps volunteer who now teaches science and coordinates liturgy at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory School in Houston. 

Prayer

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

—Suscipe of St. Ignatius of Loyola


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