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December 31, 2014

John 1: 1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Living in the Light

I once remarked to a friend how inspirational and faith-filled a person he was. “Does the window pane take credit for the light that it lets in?” he asked. “The source of the light isn’t the glass but the sun that shines through it. And so it is with me, I am just the windowpane of God’s light to the world”. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we “are not the light” but instead are “to testify to the light”.

This year, as you make your New Year’s resolutions, strive to set spiritual resolutions such as spending time each day by reading and reflecting upon the Word of God. St. Jerome famously declared that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. Spending time with the Word will help to facilitate God’s light to shine evermore through you. What other spiritual resolutions can you make this year to “testify to the light”?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of three, originally from Ireland, and Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all.  Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.

—Charles de Foucauld, Prayer of Abandonment.





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December 30, 2014

1 John 2: 12-17

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, because you have conquered the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Know Him who is from the beginning

By now the Christmas presents are opened, the cookies and treats are almost gone, and perhaps calm has been restored to the pre-Christmas frenzy. I try to remind myself not to get caught up in the materialism of Christmas. Some days I succeed and some I don’t. Jesus is born! What can be better?

Jesus is truth, he is in all things. Despite this, our world entices us to love worldly things and not the Father. Today’s reading ends with “Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.” Hopefully if our faith is on solid ground we can avoid the enticements. What really matters is what will remain forever. Love of God, family, and friends is forever. The presents, possessions, food and drink will never sustain us for long. God knows and loves us from the beginning; can we love and serve him until forever?

—Jane Glynn-Nass, RN, BSN, serves as Provincial Assistant for Health Care within the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart,and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love, stay in love, and that will decide everything.

—Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

 





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December 29, 2014

St. Thomas Becket

Luke 2: 22-34

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be oppose

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Simeon’s Grace

Most of us have no idea when we are going to bid goodbye to this world and enter the next. We hope for a long life, the joy of being with family and loved ones till the cows come home.  But how many years? No one knows. Simeon, in Luke’s gospel, is an exception. The Holy Spirit assures him he will not see death until he has seen the anointed of the Lord.

This happens on the day Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple to be consecrated to the Lord.  By grace, Simeon is there and he knows this is the One. His prayer is answered. He holds the child tenderly. As far as he is concerned, his pilgrimage is over. He tells God: Take me; I’m ready.

Most of us are not exceptions. We remain in the dark about the length of our days. So it was for Joseph. And for Mary. Simeon predicted a sword would pierce the heart of Jesus’ mother. That pain would bring each time a kind of death. Like Mary, then, we live the days God grants us—many or few.

We accept the arrows and heartaches, along with the Simeon-like ecstasies that come our way. We know not the hour nor the day, but through our daily offering tell God we are ready when he is: Take, Lord, and receive all that I am!

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.

Prayer

Our Lady of the Wayside, for the sake of the Child you hold in your arms, take hold of my hand for the rest of the road.

—Irish Sacred Heart Messenger, Dec. 1992

 





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December 28, 2014

Feast of the HOLY FAMILY

Luke 2: 22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon 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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Memory and Joy

A couple of decades ago, I had a dream I’ll never forget. Jesus as a young man was standing in front of me. He looked right into my eyes and smiled. In the dream, I was thrilled. “Oh, I’ve waited my whole life to see you!” I told him.

The dream ended and I woke up not knowing what to make of the dream. Yet, the memory and joy have stayed with me, and I know that God is never distant, even in our sleep. The dream also gave me insight into today’s gospel figures.

Both Simeon and Anna had spent their entire lives waiting. Both sought salvation for Israel, the community they loved. Both knew in an instant when the one so long awaited was present. Simeon’s life purpose, and God’s promise, were fulfilled. Seeing the child was enough for him. “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace. My own eyes have seen . . .”

Simeon also anticipated the mission of Mary and those of us who would follow after her. Mary, he said, would be pierced with a sword “so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” She (and we) would stand with the suffering. Our own experience of pain would allow us to listen with compassion, to hear others into speech.

Are there moments when you, like Simeon and Anna, have caught a glimpse of what you long for?

—Mary Anne Reese is a lawyer, poet, and member of Bellarmine Chapel, a Jesuit parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Prayer

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace. Your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people. A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel. Amen.





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December 27, 2014

St. John, apostle and evangelist

1 Jn 1: 1-4

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Word of Life

Ignatius Loyola often reminds us that our love is more evident in what we do than in what we say. Our actions really do speak louder than our words. Today’s first reading on the feast of the evangelist St. John challenges us in a similar way to actually bear witness to Jesus, the Word of Life, who comes anew to our waiting world.

Of course our deeds flow from “what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have touched,” as today’s first reading suggests. All of this forms the “word of life” which flows into the various activities of my daily living.

So how does this gift of new life affect what I say today, the judgments I make about another, my iPad and iPhone interactions, all I accomplish throughout this Christmas week?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

  Prayer

You are all we have, you give us what we need. Our lives our in your hands, O Lord, our lives are in your hands.

—”You Are All We Have,” by Patrick O’Brien, © 1992, GIA Publications Inc





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December 26, 2014

Feast of St. Stephen

Acts 6: 8-10

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Living His Mission

St. Stephen was the first disciple of Jesus to be martyred, and today we observe his feast. It may seem strange that we embrace the martyrdom of St. Stephen and pray with today’s Gospel after Christmas, but we must remember why we have Christmas to begin with.

After we remove Christmas trees and sparkling lights what we have is the Messiah born during a time of rough living for the absolute poor and constant shunning of the marginalized. It is because Jesus was born that he died for us, and why St. Stephen gave his life so freely showing that Christ is our Savior.

Our world today continues to be riddled with conflict and hardships, not unlike the time of Jesus’ birth. Now that our preparations have led us towards a joyous new life in and with Christ, may we intentionally live out his mission by standing next to the very same people  he came for and stood with.

—Damian Torres-Botello, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Infant Jesus, show me new ways that I may grow in mindfulness of the poor and marginalized in my world, and give me the courage and perseverance to stand where you stood. Amen.





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December 25, 2014

Solemnity of THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD

Jn 1: 1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

God’s Powerful Love

For me, Christmas is a day when a deep, quiet and warm sense of God’s providence and love for us underlies and carries our often hectic–and sometimes awkward– efforts to celebrate with family and friends.

St. Luke’s recounting of the birth of Jesus with angels singing “glory to God in the highest” might romanticize the actual experience of Mary and Joseph just a tad.  When I hear this story, I can’t help but think of Linus recounting it at the end of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” Of course, there is lush, beautiful music accompanying that happy television ending to a hard day in the life of Charlie Brown with his less-than-perfect Christmas tree. But somehow I think that giving birth in a stable far away from home was not the way Mary and Joseph would have wanted to start their life with Jesus. But that’s okay.

None of our lives are perfect either. However and with whomever we celebrate with this day, whether with family or friends, however many or however few, let’s remember that Jesus came into this broken, yet beautiful world to heal it by unleashing the power of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. He offers that same power to each of us everyday. And that has made all the difference!

—Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ is the provincial of the Chicago-Detroit province of the Society of Jesus. 

Prayer

I am all at once what Christ is,since he was what I am, and/ This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,/ Is immortal diamond.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ





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December 24, 2014

Luke 1: 67-79

Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

True Freedom

Jesus was born at a time of great persecution and social upheaval. Born in the raw poverty of a stable, Jesus’s birth frees us from the darkness of sin, slavery, and hopelessness. On Christmas Eve in Ireland, a candle is placed in the window as a sign of light to the Holy Family that there is room at the inn of our hearts for the birth of Our Lord.

There are millions throughout the world today who are persecuted for their faith and many who are slaves to darkness, sin, and bondage. Let us remember all those persecuted for their faith as we light our candles this year and ask what we need to be “freed” from ourselves?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland, and Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay. Refresh our souls and give fresh courage to your people. Please bring healing to our hearts and homes as we welcome you anew to this fragile yet waiting world.  Amen!





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December 23, 2014

Lk 1: 57-66

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.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

What’s in a Name?

How and why were you named? Our name is unique to us. Each name has a history.

Having given birth to premature twins 56 years ago, my mother feared for the health and wellbeing of her newborn babies. She petitioned the Blessed Virgin to protect her infants and prayed that they would survive. In her honor, my parents named me, Mary, instead of Kimberly.

Parents can spend endless hours contemplating a name for their unborn child. Not Elizabeth and Zechariah—their child’s name was foretold by the angel Gabriel. Going against the usual custom of naming a child after a father or grandfather, the name John was bestowed on the baby. Why John? God had “shown great mercy” to Elizabeth and Zechariah in blessing their childless marriage. John in Hebrew means “God is gracious,” and indeed God’s benevolence was revealed to John’s parents and to all who learned of his birth.

Words of gratitude flowed from Zechariah’s previously mute tongue—again God’s power at work. Like John’s birth, our birth is a sign of God’s grace and goodness. And the wonder of it all: God knows each of us by our name!

—Mary Schufreider, RN, BSN, serves as health care coordinator for the Jesuits of the Chicago region.

Prayer

Blessed are you, Lord God: Blessed are you forever. Holy is your name: Blessed are you forever: Great is your mercy for your people: Blessed are you forever. Amen.

O Emmanuel, ruler and lawgiver, desire of the nations, savior of all people: Come and set us free, O Lord our God!





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December 22, 2014

Lk 1: 46-56

And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’ And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

You’re Invited

There’s an oft-told tale about a little boy named Jamie. He was trying out for a spot in the school Christmas play. His heart was set on taking part in it, but his mother feared he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, she anxiously picked him up after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. “Guess what, Mom,” he shouted. “I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer.”

How many of us can share Jamie’s excitement? Perhaps we smile at his innocence and willingness to settle for “second best.” Has he, in fact, received “second best?” Perhaps, rather, he is a model for every admirer of what is wholesome and beautiful? A model who teaches us that responding to great art is as important as producing it.

When we listen to Mary’s Magnificat, we cannot help but join with her and all those who “clap and cheer” the wondrous works of God. We clap and cheer and glorify God for giving Jesus (and us) such a mother. This is gratitude in action – the role God invites us to play!

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.

Prayer

O Ruler of all nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the might arch of humankind: Come and save the creatures you have fashioned from the dust!





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Ignatian spirituality reminds us that God pursues us in the routines of our home and work life, and in the hopes and fears of life's challenges. The founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, created the Spiritual Exercises to deepen our relationship with Christ and to move our contemplation into service. May this prayer site anchor your day and strengthen your resolve to remember what truly matters.

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December 31, 2014

John 1: 1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.

He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Living in the Light

I once remarked to a friend how inspirational and faith-filled a person he was. “Does the window pane take credit for the light that it lets in?” he asked. “The source of the light isn’t the glass but the sun that shines through it. And so it is with me, I am just the windowpane of God’s light to the world”. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we “are not the light” but instead are “to testify to the light”.

This year, as you make your New Year’s resolutions, strive to set spiritual resolutions such as spending time each day by reading and reflecting upon the Word of God. St. Jerome famously declared that “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. Spending time with the Word will help to facilitate God’s light to shine evermore through you. What other spiritual resolutions can you make this year to “testify to the light”?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of three, originally from Ireland, and Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all.  Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.

I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul: I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.

—Charles de Foucauld, Prayer of Abandonment.





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December 30, 2014

1 John 2: 12-17

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young people, because you have conquered the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Know Him who is from the beginning

By now the Christmas presents are opened, the cookies and treats are almost gone, and perhaps calm has been restored to the pre-Christmas frenzy. I try to remind myself not to get caught up in the materialism of Christmas. Some days I succeed and some I don’t. Jesus is born! What can be better?

Jesus is truth, he is in all things. Despite this, our world entices us to love worldly things and not the Father. Today’s reading ends with “Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.” Hopefully if our faith is on solid ground we can avoid the enticements. What really matters is what will remain forever. Love of God, family, and friends is forever. The presents, possessions, food and drink will never sustain us for long. God knows and loves us from the beginning; can we love and serve him until forever?

—Jane Glynn-Nass, RN, BSN, serves as Provincial Assistant for Health Care within the Chicago-Detroit and Wisconsin provinces of the Society of Jesus.

Prayer

Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart,and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love, stay in love, and that will decide everything.

—Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

 





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December 29, 2014

St. Thomas Becket

Luke 2: 22-34

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be oppose

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Simeon’s Grace

Most of us have no idea when we are going to bid goodbye to this world and enter the next. We hope for a long life, the joy of being with family and loved ones till the cows come home.  But how many years? No one knows. Simeon, in Luke’s gospel, is an exception. The Holy Spirit assures him he will not see death until he has seen the anointed of the Lord.

This happens on the day Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple to be consecrated to the Lord.  By grace, Simeon is there and he knows this is the One. His prayer is answered. He holds the child tenderly. As far as he is concerned, his pilgrimage is over. He tells God: Take me; I’m ready.

Most of us are not exceptions. We remain in the dark about the length of our days. So it was for Joseph. And for Mary. Simeon predicted a sword would pierce the heart of Jesus’ mother. That pain would bring each time a kind of death. Like Mary, then, we live the days God grants us—many or few.

We accept the arrows and heartaches, along with the Simeon-like ecstasies that come our way. We know not the hour nor the day, but through our daily offering tell God we are ready when he is: Take, Lord, and receive all that I am!

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.

Prayer

Our Lady of the Wayside, for the sake of the Child you hold in your arms, take hold of my hand for the rest of the road.

—Irish Sacred Heart Messenger, Dec. 1992

 





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December 28, 2014

Feast of the HOLY FAMILY

Luke 2: 22-40

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon 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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Memory and Joy

A couple of decades ago, I had a dream I’ll never forget. Jesus as a young man was standing in front of me. He looked right into my eyes and smiled. In the dream, I was thrilled. “Oh, I’ve waited my whole life to see you!” I told him.

The dream ended and I woke up not knowing what to make of the dream. Yet, the memory and joy have stayed with me, and I know that God is never distant, even in our sleep. The dream also gave me insight into today’s gospel figures.

Both Simeon and Anna had spent their entire lives waiting. Both sought salvation for Israel, the community they loved. Both knew in an instant when the one so long awaited was present. Simeon’s life purpose, and God’s promise, were fulfilled. Seeing the child was enough for him. “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace. My own eyes have seen . . .”

Simeon also anticipated the mission of Mary and those of us who would follow after her. Mary, he said, would be pierced with a sword “so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” She (and we) would stand with the suffering. Our own experience of pain would allow us to listen with compassion, to hear others into speech.

Are there moments when you, like Simeon and Anna, have caught a glimpse of what you long for?

—Mary Anne Reese is a lawyer, poet, and member of Bellarmine Chapel, a Jesuit parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Prayer

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace. Your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people. A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel. Amen.





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December 27, 2014

St. John, apostle and evangelist

1 Jn 1: 1-4

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us— we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Word of Life

Ignatius Loyola often reminds us that our love is more evident in what we do than in what we say. Our actions really do speak louder than our words. Today’s first reading on the feast of the evangelist St. John challenges us in a similar way to actually bear witness to Jesus, the Word of Life, who comes anew to our waiting world.

Of course our deeds flow from “what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have touched,” as today’s first reading suggests. All of this forms the “word of life” which flows into the various activities of my daily living.

So how does this gift of new life affect what I say today, the judgments I make about another, my iPad and iPhone interactions, all I accomplish throughout this Christmas week?

—The Jesuit Prayer Team

  Prayer

You are all we have, you give us what we need. Our lives our in your hands, O Lord, our lives are in your hands.

—”You Are All We Have,” by Patrick O’Brien, © 1992, GIA Publications Inc





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December 26, 2014

Feast of St. Stephen

Acts 6: 8-10

Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

Living His Mission

St. Stephen was the first disciple of Jesus to be martyred, and today we observe his feast. It may seem strange that we embrace the martyrdom of St. Stephen and pray with today’s Gospel after Christmas, but we must remember why we have Christmas to begin with.

After we remove Christmas trees and sparkling lights what we have is the Messiah born during a time of rough living for the absolute poor and constant shunning of the marginalized. It is because Jesus was born that he died for us, and why St. Stephen gave his life so freely showing that Christ is our Savior.

Our world today continues to be riddled with conflict and hardships, not unlike the time of Jesus’ birth. Now that our preparations have led us towards a joyous new life in and with Christ, may we intentionally live out his mission by standing next to the very same people  he came for and stood with.

—Damian Torres-Botello, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic currently studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Infant Jesus, show me new ways that I may grow in mindfulness of the poor and marginalized in my world, and give me the courage and perseverance to stand where you stood. Amen.





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December 25, 2014

Solemnity of THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD

Jn 1: 1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

God’s Powerful Love

For me, Christmas is a day when a deep, quiet and warm sense of God’s providence and love for us underlies and carries our often hectic–and sometimes awkward– efforts to celebrate with family and friends.

St. Luke’s recounting of the birth of Jesus with angels singing “glory to God in the highest” might romanticize the actual experience of Mary and Joseph just a tad.  When I hear this story, I can’t help but think of Linus recounting it at the end of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas.” Of course, there is lush, beautiful music accompanying that happy television ending to a hard day in the life of Charlie Brown with his less-than-perfect Christmas tree. But somehow I think that giving birth in a stable far away from home was not the way Mary and Joseph would have wanted to start their life with Jesus. But that’s okay.

None of our lives are perfect either. However and with whomever we celebrate with this day, whether with family or friends, however many or however few, let’s remember that Jesus came into this broken, yet beautiful world to heal it by unleashing the power of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. He offers that same power to each of us everyday. And that has made all the difference!

—Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ is the provincial of the Chicago-Detroit province of the Society of Jesus. 

Prayer

I am all at once what Christ is,since he was what I am, and/ This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,/ Is immortal diamond.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ





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December 24, 2014

Luke 1: 67-79

Then his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke this prophecy: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

True Freedom

Jesus was born at a time of great persecution and social upheaval. Born in the raw poverty of a stable, Jesus’s birth frees us from the darkness of sin, slavery, and hopelessness. On Christmas Eve in Ireland, a candle is placed in the window as a sign of light to the Holy Family that there is room at the inn of our hearts for the birth of Our Lord.

There are millions throughout the world today who are persecuted for their faith and many who are slaves to darkness, sin, and bondage. Let us remember all those persecuted for their faith as we light our candles this year and ask what we need to be “freed” from ourselves?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland, and Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay.

Prayer

Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay. Refresh our souls and give fresh courage to your people. Please bring healing to our hearts and homes as we welcome you anew to this fragile yet waiting world.  Amen!





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December 23, 2014

Lk 1: 57-66

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.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

What’s in a Name?

How and why were you named? Our name is unique to us. Each name has a history.

Having given birth to premature twins 56 years ago, my mother feared for the health and wellbeing of her newborn babies. She petitioned the Blessed Virgin to protect her infants and prayed that they would survive. In her honor, my parents named me, Mary, instead of Kimberly.

Parents can spend endless hours contemplating a name for their unborn child. Not Elizabeth and Zechariah—their child’s name was foretold by the angel Gabriel. Going against the usual custom of naming a child after a father or grandfather, the name John was bestowed on the baby. Why John? God had “shown great mercy” to Elizabeth and Zechariah in blessing their childless marriage. John in Hebrew means “God is gracious,” and indeed God’s benevolence was revealed to John’s parents and to all who learned of his birth.

Words of gratitude flowed from Zechariah’s previously mute tongue—again God’s power at work. Like John’s birth, our birth is a sign of God’s grace and goodness. And the wonder of it all: God knows each of us by our name!

—Mary Schufreider, RN, BSN, serves as health care coordinator for the Jesuits of the Chicago region.

Prayer

Blessed are you, Lord God: Blessed are you forever. Holy is your name: Blessed are you forever: Great is your mercy for your people: Blessed are you forever. Amen.

O Emmanuel, ruler and lawgiver, desire of the nations, savior of all people: Come and set us free, O Lord our God!





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December 22, 2014

Lk 1: 46-56

And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’ And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.

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. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations

You’re Invited

There’s an oft-told tale about a little boy named Jamie. He was trying out for a spot in the school Christmas play. His heart was set on taking part in it, but his mother feared he would not be chosen. On the day the parts were awarded, she anxiously picked him up after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. “Guess what, Mom,” he shouted. “I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer.”

How many of us can share Jamie’s excitement? Perhaps we smile at his innocence and willingness to settle for “second best.” Has he, in fact, received “second best?” Perhaps, rather, he is a model for every admirer of what is wholesome and beautiful? A model who teaches us that responding to great art is as important as producing it.

When we listen to Mary’s Magnificat, we cannot help but join with her and all those who “clap and cheer” the wondrous works of God. We clap and cheer and glorify God for giving Jesus (and us) such a mother. This is gratitude in action – the role God invites us to play!

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.

Prayer

O Ruler of all nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the might arch of humankind: Come and save the creatures you have fashioned from the dust!





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