WHITE HOUSE JESUIT RETREAT

Jesuit retreat center high on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, MO.  Since 1922, thousands of people from around the world make annual three-day silent, guided retreats here to relax, reconnect with God and strengthen their spirituality.  A true gem in the Midwest!  Call 314-416-6400 or 1-800-643-1003.  Email reservations@whretreat.org  7400 Christopher Rd.  St. Louis, MO 63129

Both men's and women's retreats are offered as well as recovery retreats.

Take Spirituality to the Next Level!

Weekend Reflections for 6/23/17

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Psalm 69 - Responsory, "Lord, in your great love, answer me."

The psalm gets overlooked in the Mass readings, even though they are the very prayers that the Lord Jesus used and that from the days of the disciples we have heard the voice of Jesus in the psalms. This one is used in the accounts the Passion as it gives voice to the suffering of an innocent person.

It's a lament, a passionate expression of grief, often suffering and colored with anger. It demands that God do something, now! The psalmist complains of alienation from God and rehearsed a litany of estrangement from family, community and justice. "Save me, God," the speaker demands, "I am weary with crying out; / My throat is parched, / My eyes fail, / From looking for my God." I've had it, do something and do it quick, God.

There are times I feel that distress in an urgent moment and Jesus too could give voice to such an insistent demand for God's action and in a tone more than tinged with anger. Often repeating a verse of a psalm like this one can express those deep emotions that rise up in relationship with God.

Francis X. Ryan, SJ

PLEASE PRAY FOR THOSE ON RETREAT THIS WEEK AS WELL AS OUR DECEASED RETREATANTS.

PLEASE PRAY FOR PEACE IN OUR COMMUNITY 

Weekend Reflections for 6/16/17

Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, 2017

There's no such thing as a kiss. You can't put it under a glass on the mantle. It's first and foremost an action, one which re-presents the reality it signifies, and one which furthers, activates, and sustains by its realness.  It's reality is inseparably embedded in the material world. So too the Body and Blood of the Lord. The ultimate reality of Christ's death and resurrection is embedded in what was once bread and wine. It's before all else an action, a communion with the Divine, and with all those in Christ, the Living and those in glory. It transforms us into Christ who saves. It is the grateful eating and drinking of salvation which transforms us so that we become what we receive. We do well when we reverence the transformed elements because the great action of God in Christ is present there in matter, the eternal present in that which changes.

Francis X. Ryan, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 6/2/17

"Pentecost 2017

Acts 2:1-11

    While often repeating the comfortable assurances of God's abiding love, the scripture also rises up to challenge us. Often it is like a mirror held up before us so that we might check how we really appear, not just how we imagine we are.  At Pentecost, the Bible scholars point out, the strong wind blowing everyone together out of all the nations, the sudden ability to understand the reaching in the one language of the Spirit, is the reverse of the curse of Babel. We become one Body, one Spirit in Christ.  That is our true nationality, our common mother tongue. The nation of our natural birth no longer can claim our first allegiance or our primary loyalty. "America First" can be a retreat away from our allegiance pledged at Baptism and testified to at Confirmation. We profess each Sunday our belief in and our allegiance to "one, holy, universal, and apostolic church".

    - Francis X. Ryan, SJ

 

Weekend Reflections for 5/5/17

The Good Shepherd

“For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”  (1 Peter 2:25)

The image of Jesus as the Shepherd is probably the most familiar in the Christian religion. It graphically portrays Jesus as our leader and protector, the One who gives his all for love of us. He desires our relationship with him to be one of intimacy; we hear him when he calls us by our name and we recognize his voice and ask for the grace to follow him.

There are times in all of lives when reality and our weaknesses can cause us pain and suffering, times when we know that we are not in control. How do we respond? Can we trust the Shepherd to lead us safely through the dark valley, knowing that he has already made that journey for us? One of my favorite brief prayers is to daily remind myself that nothing is going to happen today that the Lord and I can’t get through together.

Fr. Ralph Huse, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 4/21/17

Divine Mercy Sunday

 

Put your hand on your heart. Wait. Feel your heartbeat. Bum bum. Bum bum.

How is your heart? Joyful? Tired? Sad?

Now look at the Lord’s Sacred Heart. See His love poured out. See His Heart beating with love for you right now.

Jesus has a Risen Body now. This is not a past event, but a current event; it is an ongoing event. He Rose on Easter morning 2000 years ago and He IS Risen. He was fully God and fully man; He is fully God and fully man.

St Thomas gets an up close and personal experience of the Risen Jesus in Sunday’s Gospel. “Show me!” He says. Chris appeared to the other apostles, but Thomas was not there. Thomas wants to see for himself-- and not just see, but touch! “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Thomas could be the patron saint of Missouri, the ‘show me state.’ Jesus hears his prayer, and Thomas gets more than he bargained for. Jesus appears again, and invites Thomas, “bring your hand and put it into my side.”

It is as if the Lord is saying to Thomas, ‘Touch My Heart. Don’t just think about Me: come to Me. Feel My love.’

Jesus invites us, too, to encounter His Sacred Heart: "Touch My Heart. Don’t just think about Me: come to Me. Feel My love." If we dare, we might even extend the same invitation to Jesus: “Lord, touch my heart, too.” The Risen Christ passes through a locked door to meet His frightened apostles. He can pass through the locks and barriers that we place on our hearts, too. “Yes, Lord, touch my heart.” This is a bold offer, which can only be made with prayer and great courage. I need to ask the Lord for healing and strength. I must allow Him to touch my heart-- a heart that may be wounded, scabbed, and scarred by old hurts and sorrows.

Jesus knows what it is like to have a wounded heart. His heart, too, is wounded by our sins and and the rejection of the whole human race. His Heart was pierced by a the soldier’s lance as He hung on the cross. He knows what it’s like. But His Heart is not closed in; it is not locked in a tomb where it can never be touched again. His Heart pours out love and mercy, grace and redemption, blood and water-- the very sacraments of the Church.  

Jesus looks at you with knowledge and compassion, and says, “Bring your hand and put it into my side. Touch My Heart. Feel My love for you.”
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, let us dare to offer Him the same bold invitation that He offers to us: “Lord, touch my heart.” Yes, Lord, strengthen our hearts. Heal us and renew us through your Divine Mercy.

Fr Joe Laramie, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 4/14/17

“Mom?”

“Son?”

Jesus is Risen! Alleluia, truly He is Risen! This Easter we celebrate the glorious Resurrection of Christ from the dead.

And who knew Him better than anyone else? His Mother.

Who spend more time with Him than anyone else? Mary, His mother.

Who was the only one who was with Him from His conception and birth, throughout His entire life, and all the way to His suffering and death on the cross? Only Mary, our mother.

To whom did the Risen Jesus first appear, after His resurrection from the dead? Of course, Mary, His mother.

This is the obvious truth for St Ignatius Loyola, as recorded in the Spiritual Exercises: the Resurrected Jesus appeared first to His mother. Though not described in the New Testament, this was a popular devotion in Spain and parts of Europe throughout the middle ages. St Ignatius encourages us to contemplate Christ visiting His mother at her home. We might imagine the dialogue between the Blessed Mother and her Son.

“Mom?”

“Son?”

Mary last saw her Son on Good Friday. His friends wrapped His broken Body in burial cloths and placed Him in the tomb. They rolled a stone across the tomb, completing His burial. Hours earlier, He had died on the cross. Bleeding and suffering for hours, He breathed His last as Mary gazed at Him through her tears. She saw Him die. She saw His lifeless Body taken down from the cross. She held Him many times as a boy. She holds him once more before His burial in the tomb.

He greets her early on Easter morning. “Mom?”

“Son? Is that you? Is it really you!”

He brings her joy in this glorious visit on Easter morning. She embraces Him again, weeping again, now smiling through tears of joy.

He has a Body-- a risen, glorious Body. His disciples do not recognize Him at first. He is different, mysterious. He can pass through locked doors and appear in different places that are miles apart in mere moments. It is only when He calls their names or shares the Eucharist with them that they realize: it’s Him, it’s really Him!

“Mom, yes, it’s Me. It’s really Me.”

The Risen Jesus brings us joy. He draws us out of desolation and into the consolation of His Resurrection. He literally went through hell and back for us. He comes to save us. Our God saw us sinking into sin and death and He pours out His life to save us. He holds nothing back, but gives us His life.

Jesus says to us, “Yes, it’s Me. It’s really Me.” He is the Alpha and Omega; Son of God and Son of Mary. He offers us to share in His joy and glory this Easter. He is Risen! Alleluia, truly He is Risen!

Fr Joe Laramie, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 4/7/17

Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week

How do you greet a hero? Perhaps with a smile, a bow, a hearty handshake, or maybe requesting a “selfie?”

On a bigger stage, we welcome American heroes with cheering and fireworks, parades and confetti and more. We do this for war veterans, World Series champions, and others.

In the time of Jesus, heroes were celebrated with songs, parades, and rejoicing. On Palm Sunday, we recall the crowds greeting Jesus as He entered Jerusalem [Matthew 21, http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040917.cfm]. They wave palms, toss flowers, and lay their cloaks on the road. Jesus rides on a donkey as the conquering King, taking possession of the royal city, Jerusalem. We might imagine little children running up to wave and touch His hand. Jesus Himself shares in their joy. He is the great King who “comes in the name of the Lord.”

At Mass, we too carry palms. We too sing and hail Jesus as Lord and King. We don’t just think about these events, but we participate-- fully, consciously, and actively. He really is our King at this very moment. We also know more than the crowds. We can see the storm clouds gathering; the Pharisees and Roman leaders are plotting Jesus’ capture and execution. We begin Palm Sunday with joyful songs; a few minutes later we will hear of Jesus’s suffering and death on the cross. Participating again, as we recall His Passion, with the crowds we cry out, “We have no king but Caesar! Crucify Him!!” In sorrow, we see that we too reject Him by our sins and selfishness.

Is this our hero? Is this truly our King? Those other champions seem invincible-- with trophies, parades, fireworks, and marketing deals. Christ the King holds nothing back from us. He gives Himself completely to us-- even pouring out His blood on the cross for us. He shares in our joy, but does not hide Himself in the safety of our applause. He allows us to touch His Sacred Heart; the soldier’s lance even pierces His Heart on the cross.

This week is Holy Week. This week we sing to our King. We walk with Him. We watch Him and listen to Him. We want to give our hearts to Him. We pray that we may remain with Him all the way to the cross-- and into the glory of His Resurrection. We know that He always remains with us, in our joys and sorrows, in our triumphs and crosses. With the angels and saints we proclaim again, “Holy, holy, holy Lord! Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!”

-Fr Joe Laramie SJ

Weekend Reflections for 3/31/17

April brings the holiest days of the Christian year: the conclusion of Lent, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. This Sunday, we hear about The Raising of Lazarus

[John 11:1-45, http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040217.cfm].

Funerals are always hard. We’ve lost someone we love. Perhaps it was a teacher, a friend, a parent, or even a spouse. Fr Bob Costello SJ died last month. He was the president at SLU High when I was a student. A fast-moving form of cancer overwhelmed his body in less than a month. Fr Bob was a fine leader, a joyful priest, and an inspiration to me.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is informed of the death of His close friend, Lazarus. Jesus often spent time with Lazarus and his two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha and Mary speak a heartbreaking sentence to Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus sees their sorrow and their tears. Jesus weeps with His friends.

Death was not part of God’s original plan for the human race. Every death is a tragedy. It is right to mourn the loss of each human life, especially our family members and closest friends. A relationship has ended. We cry out, “It’s not supposed to be this way!” Jesus agrees. Sin and death have damaged and changed our experience of life.

But the story doesn’t end there. At the tomb, Jesus commands, "Take away the stone." This looks like sheer madness, even to Martha. Is Jesus asking them to unearth a grave and dig up a dead man? “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus says. Death does not have the last word. The raising of Lazarus foreshadows the Resurrection of Jesus. Jesus has passed through suffering and death into eternal life. His Resurrection points to our resurrection. Our bodies may die. But the spirits of the faithful are in the hands of God. And He will reunite our bodies with our spirits on the last day.
Jesus has a Risen Body right now. Thus, every Christian funeral is both sad and joyful at the same time. We can sing through our tears. We smile while we weep. The spirits of the faithful are in the hands of God. And one day their bodies will be in Heaven, too. Christians live in this faith. Jesus is our resurrection and our life; in Him we live and rise again. We live in hope.

-Fr Joe Laramie, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 3/24/17

“I once was blind but now I see”

Edward B. “Ted” Arroyo, S.J.

Laetare Sunday

“I once was blind but now I see” might have been the exclamation of the blind beggar in Sunday’s gospel, John 9:1-41.

Laetare Sunday is celebrated 21 days before Easter. Laetare means “Rejoice!” As we move along through the Lenten season the Sunday readings are specially chosen as part of the initiation of new Christians who will be baptized at Easter.

Part of this initiation involves “scrutinies,” ancient rites which may, at first, seem strange to us.  But they are profoundly rooted in our human experience. Especially in Lent, we all need to examine (scrutinize) how we are, the areas of our lives where we are tempted, or seriously sin - in what we do and what we fail to do.  And we can also scrutinize how God’s amazing grace is working in and through us. We all really need the healing and the strength that can come from the support of our sisters and brothers in our Christian community. And we can rejoice in even this “scrutinizing” self-examination.

 

After praying over today’s gospel where Jesus heals the man born blind, we might ask ourselves:

1.      What are my lights, darknesses and blind spots I can name and deal with this Lent in preparation for Easter?

2.      Is there any of the Pharisees’ blindness, judgmental hypocrisy in me, blinding me to Jesus?

3.      How can I invite Jesus to heal me, to help me see?

4.      How can I let the works of God be seen and felt by others through me?

 

We can all grow through Lent along with those preparing for initiation at Easter, and joyfully sing of God’s Amazing Grace.

Weekend Reflections for 3/17/17

“Nuestro modo de proceder” (in English “Our Way of Proceeding”) is Jesuit terminology for a uniquely Ignatian approach to our mission. Unlike many other more “democratic” religious orders, the Society of Jesus has a different approach to participative governance and leadership. It involves fidelity to the ongoing practice of communal apostolic discernment rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and fleshed out in the Jesuit Constitutions which St. Ignatius labored over for the last decades of his life.

 

This way of proceeding calls for ongoing regular review of all of our ministries, and this review is itself distinctly Ignatian. Most successful organizations have some ongoing planning processes to “read the signs of the times” and adapt their mission in response. For example, educational institutions have evaluation processes mandated by secular agencies for this purpose. Jesuit schools all participate in such processes mandated by secular accrediting agencies. And we also have our own unique agencies in U.S. Jesuit education, the Jesuit Secondary Education Association and the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

 

Jesuit pastoral ministries such as retreat houses do not have such formal associations, but are also called upon to regular “examen” of our ministries to plan for the future in this uniquely Jesuit methodology involving certain attitudes, values, and patterns of behavior joined together to become what has been called the Jesuit “way of proceeding.”

 

This involves prayerful, discerning communal reflection for “transformation of our habitual patterns of thought through a constant interplay of experience, reflection, and action.”[i] The characteristics of ‘our way of proceeding’ were born in the life of St. Ignatius and shared by his first companions.

 

The following characteristics are included in our way of proceeding:

·         Deep personal love for Jesus Christ

·         Contemplation in action

·         An apostolic body in the Church

·         In solidarity with those most in need

·         Partnership with others

·         Called to learned ministry

·         Ever searching for the magis (AMDG) God’s Greater Glory.

The magis is not simply one among others in a list of Jesuit characteristics. It permeates them all. The entire life of Ignatius was a pilgrim search for the magis, the ever greater glory of God, the ever fuller service of our neighbor, the more universal good, the more effective apostolic means. ‘Mediocrity has no place in Ignatius’s worldview.’

 

As partners in mission, Jesuits and our colleagues are never content with the status quo, the known, the tried, the already existing. We are constantly driven to discover, redefine, and reach out for the magis. For us, frontiers and boundaries are not obstacles or ends, but new challenges to be faced, new opportunities to be welcomed. Indeed, ours is a holy boldness, “a certain apostolic aggressivity,” typical of our way of proceeding.”[ii]

 

As we at White House continue on with our own communal apostolic discernment in “Our Way of Proceeding,” we invite you to pray along with us in this prayer composed by Jesuit Superior General Fr. Pedro Arrupe (1907-1991):

 

“Lord, meditating on ‘our way of proceeding’, I have discovered that the ideal way of our way of acting is your way of acting.

Give me that sensus Christi that I may feel with your feelings, with the sentiments of your heart, which basically are love for your Father and love for all men and women.

Teach me how to be compassionate to the suffering, to the poor, the blind, the lame and the lepers.

Teach us your way so that it becomes our way today, so that we may come closer to the great ideal of Saint Ignatius: to be companions of Jesus, collaborators in the work of redemption.”[iii]

By Fr. Ted Arroyo, S.J.

[i] Jesuit General Congregation 33, Decree 1

[ii] Jesuit General Congregation 34, Decree 26

[iii] Fr. Arrupe. Our Way of Proceeding

Weekend Reflections for 3/10/17

Jesus’ Transfiguration and Our Own

Edward B. “Ted” Arroyo, S.J.

At this time of the church year, many of us address the question: what am I doing for lent, or what are we in this parish/community doing for lent? Each year on the 2nd Sunday of Lent the Gospel (Matt 17:1-8, Mark 9: 2-8, Luke 9: 28-36) invites us to witness Jesus’ transfiguration and listen to him. So the question is not so much what we are going to do for lent as “how are we going to LISTEN?” this lent.

At White House Jesuit Retreat we have a long tradition, almost 100 years of such listening to God especially through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Although we always welcome new “first timers” on every retreat, we also take the time to acknowledge and celebrate “repeat offenders” who have made the Ignatian exercises with us many times.

It seems that in today’s transfiguration gospel, Jesus’s human appearance was changed into immortal diamond, as Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins put it:

               In a flash, at a trumpet crash,

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. [i]

But even so, after the Transfiguration Jesus descended from the mountain with his disciples, once again “poor potsherd, patch, matchwood” and continued his earthly pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Even though, as Ignatius puts it, “his divinity shone through” the Transfiguration, he still had many more steps to take in his human journey to cross and resurrection.

What about US?

Whether we are first timers in the Spiritual Exercises, or Golden Jubilarians, each year we return to our “mountain top” on Christopher Drive for 60 more quiet hours of listening, discerning like Jesus did in the desert, the next stages of God’s gracious calls in our matchwood journeys toward becoming immortal diamonds.

These exercises are all about listening, as the voice came out of the Transfiguration cloud and commanded. This is why we stress the importance of personal quiet and silence for your 60 hours on the mountaintop.

After your 60 hours of listening here at White House, the Ignatian Awareness Examen: How Busy Persons Find God in All Things[ii] is a “take home” we can always “pass” through to prepare for our Passovers at the end of this lent and at the end of our potsherd lives.

And, if we enter fully into this listening, this may be all that we have to “do” for wisdom and guidance on the next steps of our journeys toward our diamond jubilees.

[i] Source/Notes: That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection, lines 22-24 - Wessex Poems and Other Verses (1918)

[ii] See, for example, the version we offer on pp 43-45 of the White House Retreatants’ prayer book.

Weekend Reflections for 2/24

A good friend of mine, Bob Costello, SJ, died a few days ago. He had recently been told that he had only a few weeks or a month to live.  So one of the ways in which he prepared for this is contacting family and friends and, as well as he can, to inform them and ask them for their prayers.

Many, many people, family, his brother Jesuits, and many others he has assisted and counseled have contacted him or are trying to reach him with phone calls, requests for visits, emails and so on. He told me the day before his death how much he appreciates these prayers and concerns, but he only has so much strength, and he also desires and needs times for himself as he moves into the most important phase of his life.  So those caring for him are monitoring and limiting the number who do.

He was blessed with a great peace, a peace that has many origins: the awareness that he has spent most of his life trying to help people with their problems and sharing with them his faith and love for Jesus Christ; the belief that God does love him and will soon embrace him with this love and mercy.

The first and third readings for this Sunday, the eighth of ordinary time, described well the convictions of Bob’s faith. He knows well that God’s love will always be with him. Although often a challenge for him he has endeavored to make the concerns of the present time and circumstances the focus of his attention. And it has been in the here and now of his life that he has endeavored to do his role in promoting the kingdom of God.

Needless to say, I ask you to pray for the fullness of life eternal for him.

Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

Weekend Reflections for 2/17/17

Love Your Enemies

Along with many of the 10 Beatitudes you can well imagine how startled and questioning many of Jesus listeners were when he advised this attitude and disposition towards those we consider our enemies.  It seemed like so much nonsense and insanity, along with pronouncements such as unless you eat my body and drink my blood you cannot have life within you.  I suspect that many of these teachings were not taken serious until the events of his passion, death, and resurrection.

But when Jesus prayed to his Father to forgive those who were killing him, his followers began to realize how seriously he meant this.  But even in our own times we find that many people, and perhaps ourselves, unable to embrace this disposition.

I believe that regarding one’s enemies or adversaries in this way is possible only with God’s assistance, that is, a gift of grace,  Ibelieve we see being lived out in the reaction of many of the relatives and friends of those whose love ones have been mercilessly massacred in recent years in our own country, such as Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School.  We hear some saying that they forgive the perpetrators and even that they are praying for them.

 

If you find such a disposition seemingly impossible for you, how does one make such an attitude their own?  I suggest you begin with small steps. Ask the Lord for help. Discuss with the Lord about how difficult or impossible this seems to be for you. At least pray for the desire to have such an attitude.  Begin to reflect and pray upon Jesus on the cross forgiving those taking his life.  Also reflect upon and consider the the incredible dispositions of those at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. If you can, pray yourself for those guilty of such horrible deeds. In all of this continuously asked the Lord to give you his mind in forgiving heart such people.

Proceeding in this manner you will gradually be putting on the mind and heart of Jesus in regard to your enemies.

Fr. Jim Blumeyer, S.J.

 

 

Weekend Reflections for 2/10/17

The Transfiguration of Jesus

For me there is an informative parallel of Christ’s transfiguration with his baptism at the Jordan. Both incidents occur when he is about to embark upon two most important and difficult periods of his life.  At the Jordan, baptized by John he is at the very beginning of his public life proclaiming that in him and his way of life the kingdom of God is now at hand. How surprising and unusual this must have seen in the light of his previous activities and experiences growing up and living at Nazareth. We can only imagine his questions and doubts as he joins the ranks of those being baptized by John. It is then his Father intervenes and confirms his manner of proceeding in telling him that he was indeed his beloved son and that he had his approval.

At the Transfiguration Jesus is about to begin his final journey to Jerusalem. Well aware of what is going to happen to him there, the questions and doubts that occurred at the Jordan were more than likely again experienced. Again, his Father intervenes most dramatically accompanied by Moses and Elias and reviewing with Jesus the “Passover” he is about to undertake and undergo. And once again Jesus hears his Father’s inspiring and encouraging words that he is indeed the beloved son upon whom his father’s favor rests.

In all of this I find Jesus actions and reactions very similar to my own. When confronted with a challenging situation or decision, I turn to prayer seeking assistance and guidance. I turn to my friends seeking their support and advice. And once a decision has been reached I seek some kind of sign or confirmation from God and/or from others that I am indeed moving in the right direction.

And at times in my life I have been blessed with what I believe is God's direction and approval of how I am proceeding.  I believe many of us have such experience, and that we should not hesitate to ask for a sign, an indication of the Lord’s approval.

Weekend Reflections for 2/3/17

How did Jesus prepare himself to be the light and salt for his people? He spends the first 30 or so years of his life in the little

town (estimated now at roughly 300 to 500 people) of Nazareth. It was here living with his family and the people of his village he learned how to be a good Israelite, how to live and practice their faith.  He learned and memorized and prayed over many of the Jewish Scriptures.  He learned and practiced a profession with Joseph, He became acquainted with the strengths and weaknesses of his religious and political leaders, their right and wrong practices.

 

Then one day, probably to surprise of most people, he left Nazareth to be baptized by John the Baptist and then for a period of time joins his circle of disciples. Eventually he realized it was time for him to set out on his own and share with his people what he knew of God and God's plan for the Israel nation. Now was the time for him to be the light and salt for his people. 

In the various gospel scenes of this week we read of some of the different ways in which Jesus accomplished this: journeying to the villages of Galilee and beyond, teaching, healing and on a few occasions even feeding the large crowd that was coming to hear him.

 

We too at times should reflect upon how God has been preparing us to be the light and salt for the people in our lives. How we have been imbued with our faith, our appreciation of the many gifts and blessings of our lives, the people who helped and guided us in our faith journey. How now we are being called to take on this marvelous, God-given responsibility with and for the people in our life world?

-Fr. Jim Blumeyer, S.J. 

PLEASE PRAY FOR THOSE ON RETREAT THIS WEEK AS WELL AS OUR DECEASED RETREATANTS. 

PLEASE PRAY FOR PEACE IN OUR COMMUNITY 

Weekend Reflections for 1/27/17

"Absolutely

The response of Peter, Andrew, James and John to the call 'Come!' is frightening (Matt. 4:12-23). 'At once they their nets and followed him.' It is immediate, almost impetuous, and complete. It is the response of human to the summoning and stunning allure of the absolute. That is, to the one, bedrock value in human life. All other values are relative, our allegiances to them depend on circumstances, the priority of other values. Against the kingdom of God manifest in Jesus, all our other loyalties (country, government, family, culture, institutions of state and religion, political preferences) must give way. No claim to our loyalty and full participation is superior to our citizenship in God's household and our life in Jesus Christ. There in our true homeland, we accept its laws and values as our fundamental rule of life. God's election is demanding and absolute. The followers of Jesus learnt the implications of their call slowly and gradually, according to accounts of the Gospel writers, and with two steps forward and one step back. But that demanding, exclusive, absolute summons echoed continuously within them.
      Francis X. Ryan, SJ"

Weekend Reflections for 1/20/2017

"The prophets Isaiah and John the Baptist are a focus in the readings for Sunday. What does it mean to be a prophet?  Foretelling the future is only a consequence and not always part of a prophet's job.
The Hebrew word which we translate as 'prophet' means a 'spokesperson' or 'mouthpiece', that is, one who is the mouth of God, through whom God speaks to the people. Most often the canonical prophets spoke God's judgment about the political and economic affairs of Israel and Judah with a pointedness that makes 21st century Americans queasy. God spoke through them about the policies of the kings - marriages, alliances, national security, the priority of the powerless and the poor in the life of the nation.
The prophets acknowledged in the scriptures were rejected by the rulers, the councils, the clergy and often the comfortable people, only to be accepted after the divine warnings were proved true by subsequent catastrophes like foreign occupations, exile, and finally the destruction of the temple and the dissolution of the nation."
 - Francis X. Ryan, SJ

Weekend Reflections for 1/13/16

"Happy Meetings

With Christmas retreating, we resume the frantic pace of the ordinary - chauffering kids, errands, work, and a thousand holy tasks. We're off to meet some all the time it seems. Here's a prayer to The Angel of Happy Meetings and one that was favored by the Catholic novelist Flannery O'Connor.

'O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for. May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy.

Angel guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for the protection of you wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country.

Remember the weak, you who are strong -- you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with resplendent glory of God. Amen."

Weekend Reflections for 1/6/16

"Big Changes"

A Muslim senior physician at St. Louis University Hospital has for years organized the young Muslim doctors to provide service for a clinic serving the poor of the city. When asked by a reporter why he did this, he responded that God's children had a right to healthcare. Following up the reporter asked who were God's children, the physician threw open his arms as if to embrace the waiting room and answered, 'Everyone.'

A current saying is 'Change isn't difficult; resisting change is.' Epiphany marks the epicenter of massive change in the understanding of who gets included. The pagan astronomers from the East follow an alluring star which which promises the remaking of the world as God intended it to be. They weren't included in the promises made to Abraham and Sarah and their descendants. They may not have even started their wanderings as believers in the one God. But they were chosen, they were summoned, they came to revelation of God among us. And the Light began to make the path clear. All are summoned by the star and bidden to come by the angels, even those we might suppose would be excluded."

            - Francis X. Ryan, SJ