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Prepare the Way of the Lord

We are at the halfway point of Advent 2018. As Christmas shopping and holiday preparations consume more of my time, how am I doing as I “prepare the way of the Lord”? And what exactly does all this “preparing” mean for me personally? Amidst the Christmas rush, is there some person or situation that needs more of my time and attention? Is there some real family need that I am neglecting?

Today’s verses from Psalm 80 invite me to “take care of this vine you have planted.” In what personal, practical ways is God inviting me to turn to him? During these Advent days just how is the Lord trying to show me his face? And in what particular “Advent ways” am I nurturing God’s gift of faith in my heart–this “vine” that God has planted?

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Teaching us for our own good

Clunk, shuffle. “Take off mama’s boots and put them by the door.”

Twist, squeak. “Let me adjust the bathtub knobs.”

News from day care. “We do not bite people.”

I don’t mean to be overbearing. But I see what’s happening, and I don’t want my daughter to fall, to burn herself, or to hurt other people.

With boundaries and instructions, I try to teach her for her own good. Yet, I cannot protect her from every physical and emotional hurt in this life. Instead, I try to show her the way she should go and also hold space for her to explore, take risks and grow.

As a parent of a two-year old, I can begin to imagine what God may feel like in this passage. How many times must God have said to humanity, “O that you had paid attention…!”

What is God teaching me for my own good?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division and serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

God will be all in all

Before I read this prophecy to my third graders last weekend, I asked some questions:

Me: “What is Advent all about?”

Child: “Preparing for Jesus’s birthday.”

Me: “True. We’re also preparing for something else. Does anyone know?”

Child: “When Jesus comes back and God will be all in all.”  

Then we read the prophecy and looked for clues of either event. Despite the tough vocabulary, at least one child listened to the end. She said this was a Parousia prophecy. “The end says that everybody sees and knows that God made everything. All people – Catholics, Jewish people, Hindus – all together seeing and knowing God.” After catching my breath – she actually said Hindus – I realized I could probably read the passage a little closer. Take a few minutes to read it again to find something that you missed about the time when God will be all in all.

—Mark Bartholet is a John Carroll University alumnus who coordinates the Contemplative Leaders in Action program and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter Catholic Church, the Jesuit parish in Charlotte, NC.

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

God is with us

Today, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. She looked like a woman from his own culture and spoke to him in his own language, and she gave a message like the angel’s message in today’s Gospel: “Don’t be afraid. Nothing is impossible with God. Go, and tell those in power that God is with you.”

When I was teaching students from Mexican immigrant families at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, I heard the name of Our Lady of Guadalupe often in conversations with my students’ parents about their prayers and hopes for their children. She reminds us that God is with us, in all nations, and has a special care for the humble and those in need.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

—Beth Franzosa teaches in the Religious Studies department at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

 

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

God’s Deepest Desire: Our Closeness

Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep is one we have heard very often. In the context of Advent, we can imagine not only ourselves, but the entire world as a lost sheep. At one point in the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites those making the retreat to look down on the world with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They see the world for what it is, the holy, the profane, and the mundane. They look on us now, too. They see people loving and hating, at peace and at war, some starving and some in luxury, those working for justice and those who (hopefully) unknowingly work against it. Those who have wandered, and those who are close to his heart. They see our own hearts, at times following the law written in our hearts, at other times turning away from our creator. And they say in unison “It is time for salvation to come. It is time for them to know how great Our love is.”

—Mike Tedone, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province in his first year of regency at Sacred Heart Nativity Schools in San Jose, CA.

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Bringing another into the presence of Jesus

In Jesus’ time, it was believed that disease or paralysis was a result of a personal sin. It was believed that being paralyzed was an outward sign that identified that the person had a shady moral compass.

What sticks out to me about the Gospel passage today is the willingness and dedication of the people who help the paralyzed man attain forgiveness (ultimately, to be physically healed) for his sins. First, these men are helping a man who by his physical health was considered by society to be a bad person. Then these men are going out of their way, climbing a roof, lowering a paralyzed man who is probably very heavy and difficult to move, from the top story of a building just to bring him in the presence of Jesus. These men took the outcast of society and did all that they could to bring that individual to the face of God.

Perhaps we should look within our own society and lives. Who are the “paralyzed” outcasts that are in need of seeing the love, forgiveness, and greatness of God? In what ways can we lower them, so they may find themselves in the presence of Jesus?

—Beth Moeller is a member of the Billiken Teacher Corps through Saint Louis University and is the campus minister and theology teacher at Loyola Academy of Saint Louis, a middle school for boys.

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Preparing to see God

Advent brings a time of hope and expectation for new life. Luke quotes the prophet Isaiah:

In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD….
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low; 
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain. 
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed

Preparation is needed to “see” God’s saving action. Images include creating a level playing field and facilitating an encounter with God.

The prophet Baruch gives hope to God’s people. Paul, in Philippians, wants us to grow in awareness to then choose well: 

… that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value …

What are the “rough places” and disordered affects in my life? Can I perceive and react to suffering – and also to grace! – in my midst?

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits Central and Southern Province. He serves as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas, where he ministers to people who are migrants and refugees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Called and Sent

A personal challenge during these Advent days is to recognize just what Jesus’ invitation and call might involve for me this year. Who are the “sick” I am to cure? How in particular—perhaps with a listening ear, a bright smile, or a few thoughtful words—can I strengthen the heart of a family member or good friend?

And then there is Jesus’ challenging reminder that “without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Who needs a piece of my heart this weekend? Probably not in a dramatic, earth-shattering way, but more likely in the time it takes to listen, to affirm, perhaps to challenge, but always to love. Ask Mary to help you love totally as she did!

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Healed by a touch

Many of us are tempted to hide our wounds, pain, and brokenness. Our shame may run deep. We may wonder: If people really knew the things we’ve said and done and thought… if they really knew us, would they love us?

This story shows Jesus healing in a very particular way. He heals not with a look or with words but with touch. Touch requires closeness. Jesus does not keep them – or us- at arm’s length.

Our God is the God of the incarnation, our God is a God of intimacy.

As we prepare our hearts this Advent, I invite you to pray with me: What is the pain in your life that you’d like Jesus to touch? What is the pain in our world that you’d like Jesus to touch?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division and serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Bulldozed by God

Bulldozers! Dynamite! Global warming! These are the very literal explanations my first graders give for how God tumbles cities to the ground, lifts valleys, and makes low mountains. As adults, we look for meaning in these texts instead of trying to figure out how God might accomplish such wonders. The reading today, however, addresses both the how and the why.

“The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.” Creation is transformed by the poor, for the poor. We should know this. We’ve read the Gospels and listened to Pope Francis. Somehow we still miss it. I live in suburbia, numbed to physical poverty by landscaping and consumerism, but I encounter the spiritually deprived daily. Yet, I shelter my eyes to their need too. My busyness shelters me and oppresses others.

Will I let the Christmas Incarnation bulldoze me? Will you?

—Mark Bartholet is a John Carroll University alumnus who coordinates the Contemplative Leaders in Action program and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter Catholic Church, the Jesuit parish in Charlotte, NC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

St. Ignatius’s First Principle and Foundation says “The goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into us without limit.” One of the ways in which we respond to the love God has given us is through prayer, not only personal prayer but community prayer as well. The Pastoral Ministry Center invites members of our Strake Jesuit Community to share their prayers with us: their concerns, joys, thanksgivings, so that we may walk with them in all these times of their lives.





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Prepare the Way of the Lord

We are at the halfway point of Advent 2018. As Christmas shopping and holiday preparations consume more of my time, how am I doing as I “prepare the way of the Lord”? And what exactly does all this “preparing” mean for me personally? Amidst the Christmas rush, is there some person or situation that needs more of my time and attention? Is there some real family need that I am neglecting?

Today’s verses from Psalm 80 invite me to “take care of this vine you have planted.” In what personal, practical ways is God inviting me to turn to him? During these Advent days just how is the Lord trying to show me his face? And in what particular “Advent ways” am I nurturing God’s gift of faith in my heart–this “vine” that God has planted?

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Teaching us for our own good

Clunk, shuffle. “Take off mama’s boots and put them by the door.”

Twist, squeak. “Let me adjust the bathtub knobs.”

News from day care. “We do not bite people.”

I don’t mean to be overbearing. But I see what’s happening, and I don’t want my daughter to fall, to burn herself, or to hurt other people.

With boundaries and instructions, I try to teach her for her own good. Yet, I cannot protect her from every physical and emotional hurt in this life. Instead, I try to show her the way she should go and also hold space for her to explore, take risks and grow.

As a parent of a two-year old, I can begin to imagine what God may feel like in this passage. How many times must God have said to humanity, “O that you had paid attention…!”

What is God teaching me for my own good?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division and serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

God will be all in all

Before I read this prophecy to my third graders last weekend, I asked some questions:

Me: “What is Advent all about?”

Child: “Preparing for Jesus’s birthday.”

Me: “True. We’re also preparing for something else. Does anyone know?”

Child: “When Jesus comes back and God will be all in all.”  

Then we read the prophecy and looked for clues of either event. Despite the tough vocabulary, at least one child listened to the end. She said this was a Parousia prophecy. “The end says that everybody sees and knows that God made everything. All people – Catholics, Jewish people, Hindus – all together seeing and knowing God.” After catching my breath – she actually said Hindus – I realized I could probably read the passage a little closer. Take a few minutes to read it again to find something that you missed about the time when God will be all in all.

—Mark Bartholet is a John Carroll University alumnus who coordinates the Contemplative Leaders in Action program and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter Catholic Church, the Jesuit parish in Charlotte, NC.

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

God is with us

Today, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. She looked like a woman from his own culture and spoke to him in his own language, and she gave a message like the angel’s message in today’s Gospel: “Don’t be afraid. Nothing is impossible with God. Go, and tell those in power that God is with you.”

When I was teaching students from Mexican immigrant families at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago, I heard the name of Our Lady of Guadalupe often in conversations with my students’ parents about their prayers and hopes for their children. She reminds us that God is with us, in all nations, and has a special care for the humble and those in need.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

—Beth Franzosa teaches in the Religious Studies department at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

 

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

God’s Deepest Desire: Our Closeness

Jesus’ parable about the lost sheep is one we have heard very often. In the context of Advent, we can imagine not only ourselves, but the entire world as a lost sheep. At one point in the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius invites those making the retreat to look down on the world with God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They see the world for what it is, the holy, the profane, and the mundane. They look on us now, too. They see people loving and hating, at peace and at war, some starving and some in luxury, those working for justice and those who (hopefully) unknowingly work against it. Those who have wandered, and those who are close to his heart. They see our own hearts, at times following the law written in our hearts, at other times turning away from our creator. And they say in unison “It is time for salvation to come. It is time for them to know how great Our love is.”

—Mike Tedone, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Jesuits West Province in his first year of regency at Sacred Heart Nativity Schools in San Jose, CA.

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Bringing another into the presence of Jesus

In Jesus’ time, it was believed that disease or paralysis was a result of a personal sin. It was believed that being paralyzed was an outward sign that identified that the person had a shady moral compass.

What sticks out to me about the Gospel passage today is the willingness and dedication of the people who help the paralyzed man attain forgiveness (ultimately, to be physically healed) for his sins. First, these men are helping a man who by his physical health was considered by society to be a bad person. Then these men are going out of their way, climbing a roof, lowering a paralyzed man who is probably very heavy and difficult to move, from the top story of a building just to bring him in the presence of Jesus. These men took the outcast of society and did all that they could to bring that individual to the face of God.

Perhaps we should look within our own society and lives. Who are the “paralyzed” outcasts that are in need of seeing the love, forgiveness, and greatness of God? In what ways can we lower them, so they may find themselves in the presence of Jesus?

—Beth Moeller is a member of the Billiken Teacher Corps through Saint Louis University and is the campus minister and theology teacher at Loyola Academy of Saint Louis, a middle school for boys.

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Preparing to see God

Advent brings a time of hope and expectation for new life. Luke quotes the prophet Isaiah:

In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD….
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low; 
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain. 
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed

Preparation is needed to “see” God’s saving action. Images include creating a level playing field and facilitating an encounter with God.

The prophet Baruch gives hope to God’s people. Paul, in Philippians, wants us to grow in awareness to then choose well: 

… that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value …

What are the “rough places” and disordered affects in my life? Can I perceive and react to suffering – and also to grace! – in my midst?

—Fr. Rafael Garcia, SJ, is a member of the Jesuits Central and Southern Province. He serves as associate pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in El Paso, Texas, where he ministers to people who are migrants and refugees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Called and Sent

A personal challenge during these Advent days is to recognize just what Jesus’ invitation and call might involve for me this year. Who are the “sick” I am to cure? How in particular—perhaps with a listening ear, a bright smile, or a few thoughtful words—can I strengthen the heart of a family member or good friend?

And then there is Jesus’ challenging reminder that “without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Who needs a piece of my heart this weekend? Probably not in a dramatic, earth-shattering way, but more likely in the time it takes to listen, to affirm, perhaps to challenge, but always to love. Ask Mary to help you love totally as she did!

—The Jesuit Prayer team at St. Camillus

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Healed by a touch

Many of us are tempted to hide our wounds, pain, and brokenness. Our shame may run deep. We may wonder: If people really knew the things we’ve said and done and thought… if they really knew us, would they love us?

This story shows Jesus healing in a very particular way. He heals not with a look or with words but with touch. Touch requires closeness. Jesus does not keep them – or us- at arm’s length.

Our God is the God of the incarnation, our God is a God of intimacy.

As we prepare our hearts this Advent, I invite you to pray with me: What is the pain in your life that you’d like Jesus to touch? What is the pain in our world that you’d like Jesus to touch?

—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division and serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House.

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!

Bulldozed by God

Bulldozers! Dynamite! Global warming! These are the very literal explanations my first graders give for how God tumbles cities to the ground, lifts valleys, and makes low mountains. As adults, we look for meaning in these texts instead of trying to figure out how God might accomplish such wonders. The reading today, however, addresses both the how and the why.

“The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.” Creation is transformed by the poor, for the poor. We should know this. We’ve read the Gospels and listened to Pope Francis. Somehow we still miss it. I live in suburbia, numbed to physical poverty by landscaping and consumerism, but I encounter the spiritually deprived daily. Yet, I shelter my eyes to their need too. My busyness shelters me and oppresses others.

Will I let the Christmas Incarnation bulldoze me? Will you?

—Mark Bartholet is a John Carroll University alumnus who coordinates the Contemplative Leaders in Action program and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at St. Peter Catholic Church, the Jesuit parish in Charlotte, NC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please share the Good Word with your friends!