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August 18, 2017

Mt 19: 3-12

Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”

His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

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.

No longer two but one

On their wedding day, Katherine and Jonathan will be married. They will have a marriage license to prove it. But their marriage, in the deepest sense, comes later. Their marriage will be realized after they’ve gone a few rounds. As Pope Francis has said, “sometimes the plates even fly!” Their marriage will be realized after they’ve experienced a loss together—a job, a home through fire, or the loss of a parent, for example. Their marriage will be realized when they have shared a mutually life transforming moment, such as in the birth of a child. Their “marriage” will have arrived then when he comes to the realization, “I am hers.” And she knows, “I am his.” And together they acknowledge, “We belong to one another.” At this point, Jesus says, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

—Fr. Dan Reim, SJ, is campus chaplain at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Lord God, we acknowledge your greatness and our need for your grace in our marriage. Let our life together be a light of hope to those who fear that a total commitment is not possible today. Faith gives us courage, for we believe that the love that comes from you is freeing and life-giving. Lord, be a partner with us in our marriage; with your help it will be strong and enduring. We rejoice that you have brought us together.  May we always be one in you.

—Excerpt of Prayer of a Married Couple by Lauri Przybysz, © 1990, published on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s website

 


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August 17, 2017

Mt 18: 21 – 19: 1

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“ For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.

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.

Forgiving ourselves

I remember hearing this Gospel as a child and asking, “What happens if someone does something mean 78 times?” My mother, used to my very literal questions, gently told me I was missing the point. The point is to keep forgiving! When the number seven is used in Scripture, it represents completion or fullness. Forgiving 77 times seems both like overkill, as well as something to aspire to that will never be finished.

I’m reminded of the people in our lives that we need to forgive over and over. After a certain number of forgivable moments, hopefully we are finding ways to have conversations to amend behavior or setting appropriate boundaries. However, the person I never run out of opportunities to forgive is myself. We can be our own worst critics, unwilling to let go of our own mistakes and sins. In our lack of self-forgiveness, we miss the opportunity to experience God’s love in its depth. In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, a person focuses on being a loved sinner; someone who encounters their brokenness and yet comes to know God’s full and complete love.

Today, find a moment to name something God has already forgiven, but you have not yet let go. Allow yourself to savor God’s love and grace.

—Lauren Schwer is the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Grandparenting God, you see our sin as symptomatic stutter, self-effacing struggle to ignore the confounding reality of your willful vulnerability: “I love you because I can’t do anything else. I made you, every last part of you: all that’s hidden and all that’s revealed, all that’s muddled and even all that’s clear. You are, at the risk of repeating myself, dear to me. You are precious in my eyes because…just because you are mine. That’s enough for me and it will have to do for you. Wrestle with it until you get tired and then relax and give in. Take a deep breath and enjoy.”

—Michael Moynahan, SJ

 


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August 16, 2017

Dt 34: 1-12

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses. Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

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

Faith and trust

God shows Moses the Promised Land, but inexplicably does not to let him in. Even at this moment, Moses is steadfast in his faith in God and his mission so his eyes remained “undimmed and his vigor unabated”.

All of us want a world of justice, love, and mercy, yet there are times when it is tough to imagine a world like this with the evil, violence, and inequality that we see around us. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or powerless, we need to put on our faith in God alone. In the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.

Let us pray for the desire to do God’s will, trusting him like Moses and Dr. King did- even if we do not see or experience the fruits of our labor in their entirety.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is a chair of the Theology Department at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

Prayer

I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”

—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 


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August 15, 2017

SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Revelation 11: 19a; 12: 1-6a, 10ab

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birthpangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.

Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One.”

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.

God bearer

Mary our Mother was a mortal human being, like you and me. She was made for immortality and eternal life, like you and me. She was chosen for a particular vocation, like you and me. Yet, her vocation is utterly unique in that she was the only person chosen from all eternity to be the bearer of the most high God, and given a singular grace to preserve her from all sin. Mary is the Ark of the Covenant, the sanctuary and first tabernacle of the living God.

Mary is blessed not simply because she was chosen to be theotokos, or God-bearer, but more especially because she heard the word of God and observed it as the first disciple thus rendering her worthy of great veneration and imitation. By her powerful intercession, may we follow her into eternal blessedness where our mortal bodies will be resurrected into unimaginable glory. Amen.

—Emanuel Werner, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province currently studying philosophy and theology at Fordham University.

Prayer

Almighty ever-living God, who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son, body and soul into heavenly glory, grant we pray, that, always attentive to the things that are above, we may merit to be sharers of her glory. 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.

—Collect prayer for the Solemnity of the Assumption

 


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August 14, 2017

St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Mt 17: 22-27

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free.

However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”

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.

Giving twice as much

Today’s Gospel has a very “love your enemies” feel to it. The tax collectors were always cheating others, imposing unjust taxes for the Romans and then usually taking a cut for themselves on top of it. After Peter is questioned about Jesus paying the tax, Jesus meets him without knowledge of the conversation and brings up the question of tax exemptions. Jesus then invites Peter to go fishing and to find a coin worth twice the tax in the mouth of the fish.

Some scholars note that the collectors ask Peter about Jesus’ payment, but not about his own. Jesus tells Peter that he will pay for both of them. Perhaps Peter is not paying his fair share either? And Peter will soon deny Jesus as well. And yet, with all of this, Jesus will pay the price for Peter’s sins with his own life willingly.  He will even pay the price for the unjust tax collectors who he refuses to offend.

Jesus does the same for us, despite our sins and the ways that we might shortchange others of our love, time, or attention. Today can we be as generous as Jesus, giving twice as much to those who might shortchange us?

—Mike Hayes is the Director of Campus Ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you modeled for us what it means to give everything, even for those who may not have been considered worthy.  Grant us the patience and generosity to give of ourselves, even to those who offend us.  Help us to live and love as you did.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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August 13, 2017

Mt 14: 22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

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.

Overcoming fear

When I was learning to swim, I must admit that I was terrified of water. I hated getting water in my eyes, mouth, and nose. In fact, I didn’t learn to swim until AFTER I was honorably discharged from the US Navy. Then Eureka! I discovered that the key to staying afloat was proper exhaling and inhaling. I no longer fear water or drowning.

In today’s Gospel Peter does more than float; he walks on the sea until he takes his eyes off Jesus and succumbs to fear. Isn’t that the key to “staying afloat” in the midst of life’s storms and headwinds? The moment we lose our focus and stop reaching out to the Lord, fear gets the better of us and we go under. As FDR declared during the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’

What frightens you these days? In the midst of your fears, do your turn inward or outward to the saving arms of the Lord? Do your fears cloud your vision of the Lord coming across the water to rescue and embrace you? Remember: the Lord is the master of wind and sea and storm.

—Fr. Ed Witt, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Church in Rapid City, SD.

Prayer

Be not afraid
I go before you always.
Come follow me
And I will give you rest.

Be Not Afraid, © 1975, 1978, Robert J. Dufford, SJ, and OCP Publications


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August 12, 2017

Mt 17: 14-20

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.”

And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

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

Faith to move mountains

There is a common saying that a person “has faith that can move mountains.”  Despite what Jesus says in today’s Gospel, there are countless people of great faith who have never physically moved a mountain.  Perhaps that is because the movement that occurs is not a geographic relocation, but rather a change of perspective within ourselves.  

How many times have we prayed for a specific outcome only to have it not happen?  This does not mean that God didn’t hear us, or that we didn’t have enough faith.  Rather, our faith can make us open to an answer to prayer that looks different than what we wanted.  Jesus does not promise that having faith will enable us to perform magic tricks–indeed, a faith based only on specific outcomes is not true faith.  Instead, Jesus invites us to have faith in him, promising that even the smallest bit of true faith will have a great impact on our lives.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Loving God, you told us that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains.  Deepen our faith so that we can place all of our trust in you, confident that you provide what we need.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 


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August 11, 2017

St. Clare

Mt 16: 24-28

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

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.

Losing ourselves in love

Imagine a recruiting office using this slogan: “Deny yourself, take up difficulties and hardship, and obey someone else.” I can’t imagine the line getting in would be very long!

St Ignatius of Loyola echoed these words of Jesus when he wrote in the Spiritual Exercises, “In the spiritual life, progress will be in proportion to surrender of self-love, self-will and self-interest.”

Why? Because in losing ourselves in loving someone else—that’s when all the good stuff happens. What parent, for example, doesn’t experience deep joy in making sacrifices for their child? Or a friend staying up late to console a friend in need?

Our deepest meaning and satisfaction in life occurs not when we are focused on the shallow interests for ourselves but when we forget ourselves in caring for another.

—Fr. Dan Reim, SJ, is campus chaplain at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Thy Kingdom come, THY will be done.

—Meditation on the Our Father by Fr. Dan Reim, SJ

 

 

 


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August 10, 2017

St. Lawrence

2 Cor 9: 6-10

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

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 “what” and “how” of giving

Today’s first reading focuses not only on generosity, but also the attitude we should bring to the experience of giving. St. Paul points out that “God loves a cheerful giver.” I find the most cheerful and generous people are often the ones most rooted in gratitude. When we start from a place of recognizing that all we have is gift, our generosity comes from a place of freedom and joy.

My best friend’s mom is one of the most generous people I have ever known. She spends hours each week preparing crafts and activities for the residents of a local nursing home, sending e-cards or holiday packages to loved ones, and welcoming anyone who shows up at her home with hugs, a huge smile, and endless amounts of food. Repeatedly, I’m amazed by both her generosity and the joy she exudes–the “what” and the “how” of giving. Mama Heather gives so freely because she is rooted in God’s gratuitous love and takes time to honor that.

Our world would look different if we each took time to be grateful and cherish all that we have as gift. How can a moment of gratitude today help you be more cheerful and generous to your loved ones and the wider community around you?

—Lauren Schwer is the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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August 9, 2017

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Mt 15:21-28

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

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 Call

In this Gospel reading, a faithfully persistent Canaanite woman “calls out” to Jesus who was ‘withdrawing” out of town possibly looking for prayerful rest. The disciples encourage Jesus to ignore her and proceed with his plans. But Jesus stops, heals the woman’s daughter, and praises her for her great faith. He reiterates to the disciples that his chief purpose on this earth is to save the “lost sheep”.

Like many people, I have my “to do lists” I make every evening. The next day, I cross out these items on my list as I do them. As a teacher, students and staff often “call out” to me throughout my day in my classes and during my free period when I’m trying to lesson plan and grade. In the evening, it is my children calling out to me often wanting help or simply to tell me about their day. How do I view this “calling out”? Do I welcome these as invitations to engage or do I troubleshoot them quickly going back to my “important work”? What is my true mission or chief purpose on this earth?

Is there someone over the last 24-48 hours whom I have neglected or sent away because I thought I had more important things to do? Do I need to engage more deeply with this person?

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is a chair of the Theology Department at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

Prayer

Lord, I pray for the joyful, graceful openness to listen to you calling out to me through the people and experiences that call me out of my plans. I pray for the humility to call out to you directly and through the people in my life, which you have blessed me with, who bring me joy. Amen.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi

 

 


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Welcome to JesuitPrayer.org

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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August 18, 2017

Mt 19: 3-12

Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.”

His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

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.

No longer two but one

On their wedding day, Katherine and Jonathan will be married. They will have a marriage license to prove it. But their marriage, in the deepest sense, comes later. Their marriage will be realized after they’ve gone a few rounds. As Pope Francis has said, “sometimes the plates even fly!” Their marriage will be realized after they’ve experienced a loss together—a job, a home through fire, or the loss of a parent, for example. Their marriage will be realized when they have shared a mutually life transforming moment, such as in the birth of a child. Their “marriage” will have arrived then when he comes to the realization, “I am hers.” And she knows, “I am his.” And together they acknowledge, “We belong to one another.” At this point, Jesus says, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

—Fr. Dan Reim, SJ, is campus chaplain at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Lord God, we acknowledge your greatness and our need for your grace in our marriage. Let our life together be a light of hope to those who fear that a total commitment is not possible today. Faith gives us courage, for we believe that the love that comes from you is freeing and life-giving. Lord, be a partner with us in our marriage; with your help it will be strong and enduring. We rejoice that you have brought us together.  May we always be one in you.

—Excerpt of Prayer of a Married Couple by Lauri Przybysz, © 1990, published on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s website

 


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August 17, 2017

Mt 18: 21 – 19: 1

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.“ For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.

So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place.

Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan.

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.

Forgiving ourselves

I remember hearing this Gospel as a child and asking, “What happens if someone does something mean 78 times?” My mother, used to my very literal questions, gently told me I was missing the point. The point is to keep forgiving! When the number seven is used in Scripture, it represents completion or fullness. Forgiving 77 times seems both like overkill, as well as something to aspire to that will never be finished.

I’m reminded of the people in our lives that we need to forgive over and over. After a certain number of forgivable moments, hopefully we are finding ways to have conversations to amend behavior or setting appropriate boundaries. However, the person I never run out of opportunities to forgive is myself. We can be our own worst critics, unwilling to let go of our own mistakes and sins. In our lack of self-forgiveness, we miss the opportunity to experience God’s love in its depth. In the first week of the Spiritual Exercises, a person focuses on being a loved sinner; someone who encounters their brokenness and yet comes to know God’s full and complete love.

Today, find a moment to name something God has already forgiven, but you have not yet let go. Allow yourself to savor God’s love and grace.

—Lauren Schwer is the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Grandparenting God, you see our sin as symptomatic stutter, self-effacing struggle to ignore the confounding reality of your willful vulnerability: “I love you because I can’t do anything else. I made you, every last part of you: all that’s hidden and all that’s revealed, all that’s muddled and even all that’s clear. You are, at the risk of repeating myself, dear to me. You are precious in my eyes because…just because you are mine. That’s enough for me and it will have to do for you. Wrestle with it until you get tired and then relax and give in. Take a deep breath and enjoy.”

—Michael Moynahan, SJ

 


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August 16, 2017

Dt 34: 1-12

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the Plain—that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees—as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day. Moses was one hundred twenty years old when he died; his sight was unimpaired and his vigor had not abated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended.

Joshua son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, because Moses had laid his hands on him; and the Israelites obeyed him, doing as the Lord had commanded Moses. Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

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

Faith and trust

God shows Moses the Promised Land, but inexplicably does not to let him in. Even at this moment, Moses is steadfast in his faith in God and his mission so his eyes remained “undimmed and his vigor unabated”.

All of us want a world of justice, love, and mercy, yet there are times when it is tough to imagine a world like this with the evil, violence, and inequality that we see around us. Instead of feeling overwhelmed or powerless, we need to put on our faith in God alone. In the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.

Let us pray for the desire to do God’s will, trusting him like Moses and Dr. King did- even if we do not see or experience the fruits of our labor in their entirety.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is a chair of the Theology Department at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

Prayer

I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”

—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 


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August 15, 2017

SOLEMNITY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Revelation 11: 19a; 12: 1-6a, 10ab

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birthpangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.

Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One.”

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.

God bearer

Mary our Mother was a mortal human being, like you and me. She was made for immortality and eternal life, like you and me. She was chosen for a particular vocation, like you and me. Yet, her vocation is utterly unique in that she was the only person chosen from all eternity to be the bearer of the most high God, and given a singular grace to preserve her from all sin. Mary is the Ark of the Covenant, the sanctuary and first tabernacle of the living God.

Mary is blessed not simply because she was chosen to be theotokos, or God-bearer, but more especially because she heard the word of God and observed it as the first disciple thus rendering her worthy of great veneration and imitation. By her powerful intercession, may we follow her into eternal blessedness where our mortal bodies will be resurrected into unimaginable glory. Amen.

—Emanuel Werner, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province currently studying philosophy and theology at Fordham University.

Prayer

Almighty ever-living God, who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son, body and soul into heavenly glory, grant we pray, that, always attentive to the things that are above, we may merit to be sharers of her glory. 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.

—Collect prayer for the Solemnity of the Assumption

 


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August 14, 2017

St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Mt 17: 22-27

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised.” And they were greatly distressed.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes, he does.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?” When Peter said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the children are free.

However, so that we do not give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.”

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.

Giving twice as much

Today’s Gospel has a very “love your enemies” feel to it. The tax collectors were always cheating others, imposing unjust taxes for the Romans and then usually taking a cut for themselves on top of it. After Peter is questioned about Jesus paying the tax, Jesus meets him without knowledge of the conversation and brings up the question of tax exemptions. Jesus then invites Peter to go fishing and to find a coin worth twice the tax in the mouth of the fish.

Some scholars note that the collectors ask Peter about Jesus’ payment, but not about his own. Jesus tells Peter that he will pay for both of them. Perhaps Peter is not paying his fair share either? And Peter will soon deny Jesus as well. And yet, with all of this, Jesus will pay the price for Peter’s sins with his own life willingly.  He will even pay the price for the unjust tax collectors who he refuses to offend.

Jesus does the same for us, despite our sins and the ways that we might shortchange others of our love, time, or attention. Today can we be as generous as Jesus, giving twice as much to those who might shortchange us?

—Mike Hayes is the Director of Campus Ministry at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you modeled for us what it means to give everything, even for those who may not have been considered worthy.  Grant us the patience and generosity to give of ourselves, even to those who offend us.  Help us to live and love as you did.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 


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August 13, 2017

Mt 14: 22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

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.

Overcoming fear

When I was learning to swim, I must admit that I was terrified of water. I hated getting water in my eyes, mouth, and nose. In fact, I didn’t learn to swim until AFTER I was honorably discharged from the US Navy. Then Eureka! I discovered that the key to staying afloat was proper exhaling and inhaling. I no longer fear water or drowning.

In today’s Gospel Peter does more than float; he walks on the sea until he takes his eyes off Jesus and succumbs to fear. Isn’t that the key to “staying afloat” in the midst of life’s storms and headwinds? The moment we lose our focus and stop reaching out to the Lord, fear gets the better of us and we go under. As FDR declared during the Great Depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’

What frightens you these days? In the midst of your fears, do your turn inward or outward to the saving arms of the Lord? Do your fears cloud your vision of the Lord coming across the water to rescue and embrace you? Remember: the Lord is the master of wind and sea and storm.

—Fr. Ed Witt, SJ, is a member of the Midwest Province and pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Church in Rapid City, SD.

Prayer

Be not afraid
I go before you always.
Come follow me
And I will give you rest.

Be Not Afraid, © 1975, 1978, Robert J. Dufford, SJ, and OCP Publications


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August 12, 2017

Mt 17: 14-20

When they came to the crowd, a man came to him, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly; he often falls into the fire and often into the water. And I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I put up with you? Bring him here to me.”

And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”

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

Faith to move mountains

There is a common saying that a person “has faith that can move mountains.”  Despite what Jesus says in today’s Gospel, there are countless people of great faith who have never physically moved a mountain.  Perhaps that is because the movement that occurs is not a geographic relocation, but rather a change of perspective within ourselves.  

How many times have we prayed for a specific outcome only to have it not happen?  This does not mean that God didn’t hear us, or that we didn’t have enough faith.  Rather, our faith can make us open to an answer to prayer that looks different than what we wanted.  Jesus does not promise that having faith will enable us to perform magic tricks–indeed, a faith based only on specific outcomes is not true faith.  Instead, Jesus invites us to have faith in him, promising that even the smallest bit of true faith will have a great impact on our lives.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

Prayer

Loving God, you told us that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains.  Deepen our faith so that we can place all of our trust in you, confident that you provide what we need.

—The Jesuit Prayer team

 

 

 

 

 


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August 11, 2017

St. Clare

Mt 16: 24-28

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

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.

Losing ourselves in love

Imagine a recruiting office using this slogan: “Deny yourself, take up difficulties and hardship, and obey someone else.” I can’t imagine the line getting in would be very long!

St Ignatius of Loyola echoed these words of Jesus when he wrote in the Spiritual Exercises, “In the spiritual life, progress will be in proportion to surrender of self-love, self-will and self-interest.”

Why? Because in losing ourselves in loving someone else—that’s when all the good stuff happens. What parent, for example, doesn’t experience deep joy in making sacrifices for their child? Or a friend staying up late to console a friend in need?

Our deepest meaning and satisfaction in life occurs not when we are focused on the shallow interests for ourselves but when we forget ourselves in caring for another.

—Fr. Dan Reim, SJ, is campus chaplain at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH.

Prayer

Thy Kingdom come, THY will be done.

—Meditation on the Our Father by Fr. Dan Reim, SJ

 

 

 


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August 10, 2017

St. Lawrence

2 Cor 9: 6-10

The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

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 “what” and “how” of giving

Today’s first reading focuses not only on generosity, but also the attitude we should bring to the experience of giving. St. Paul points out that “God loves a cheerful giver.” I find the most cheerful and generous people are often the ones most rooted in gratitude. When we start from a place of recognizing that all we have is gift, our generosity comes from a place of freedom and joy.

My best friend’s mom is one of the most generous people I have ever known. She spends hours each week preparing crafts and activities for the residents of a local nursing home, sending e-cards or holiday packages to loved ones, and welcoming anyone who shows up at her home with hugs, a huge smile, and endless amounts of food. Repeatedly, I’m amazed by both her generosity and the joy she exudes–the “what” and the “how” of giving. Mama Heather gives so freely because she is rooted in God’s gratuitous love and takes time to honor that.

Our world would look different if we each took time to be grateful and cherish all that we have as gift. How can a moment of gratitude today help you be more cheerful and generous to your loved ones and the wider community around you?

—Lauren Schwer is the Associate Director of Campus Ministry at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Prayer for Generosity

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to seek reward,
except that of knowing that I do your will.

—St. Ignatius Loyola

 


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August 9, 2017

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Mt 15:21-28

Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

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 Call

In this Gospel reading, a faithfully persistent Canaanite woman “calls out” to Jesus who was ‘withdrawing” out of town possibly looking for prayerful rest. The disciples encourage Jesus to ignore her and proceed with his plans. But Jesus stops, heals the woman’s daughter, and praises her for her great faith. He reiterates to the disciples that his chief purpose on this earth is to save the “lost sheep”.

Like many people, I have my “to do lists” I make every evening. The next day, I cross out these items on my list as I do them. As a teacher, students and staff often “call out” to me throughout my day in my classes and during my free period when I’m trying to lesson plan and grade. In the evening, it is my children calling out to me often wanting help or simply to tell me about their day. How do I view this “calling out”? Do I welcome these as invitations to engage or do I troubleshoot them quickly going back to my “important work”? What is my true mission or chief purpose on this earth?

Is there someone over the last 24-48 hours whom I have neglected or sent away because I thought I had more important things to do? Do I need to engage more deeply with this person?

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi is a chair of the Theology Department at Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado.

Prayer

Lord, I pray for the joyful, graceful openness to listen to you calling out to me through the people and experiences that call me out of my plans. I pray for the humility to call out to you directly and through the people in my life, which you have blessed me with, who bring me joy. Amen.

—Dr. Sajit U. Kabadi

 

 


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