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My blog on blogger has been hacked. The Apple technician, with a tendinitis, cannot help me at the moment. So I will attempt to post here and see how it goes.

Paul and I are just back from six weeks in Manresa, Spain, where we were invited to go deeper into Ignatius’ autobiography and spiritual diaries, the sources of his Spiritual Exercises and how they developed over his lifetime; some of his letters; the origins and foundation of the Society of Jesus; its first Companions; its voluminous archives (Monumenta); its Constitutions; and, finally, Ignatian spirituality for today. Add to this daily morning prayers and evening masses, an eight-day silent retreat the second week, and a walking tour of Manresa where Ignatius lived nine months in 1522-23 (there he prayed, fasted, worked, meditated, had visions, and fell sick…), and trips to Montserrat, Loyola, Javier, and Barcelona.

We were thirty-five participants from fourteen different countries (with large contingents from India, the Philippines, Australia, and the U.S.). Our youngest member turned 32 during the Course and the older participant was 76. A majority of men and Jesuits, some religious sisters, a few laypeople and just one couple, Paul and me.

The Course was made of seven modules, the second one being the silent retreat, with one transition day in-between each. Those days were meant to help us process all that had been given to us (e.g. the medieval origins of the Autobiography, connecting the Spiritual Exercises with mysteries in our faith; the personalities of Ignatius’ first companions; the importance of Juan de Polanco in the creation of the Society of Jesus, his importance as well in the writing of the Constitutions and Ignatius’ very unique style of participative management. Finally, the new cosmic theology and new ways of looking at Jesus’ teachings (e.g. table fellowship, inclusiveness and openness to sinners and marginalized folks).

Our lecturers are all University teachers, whether at the University of Barcelona, Javier Melloni SJ (a scholar and writer of many books, involved in inter-denominational dialogues); Jose García de Castro, from Comillas University in Madrid, with an insatiable love for archives and books, able to pass on his passion for old papers and the first Jesuits; Carlos Coupeau, SJ, from both Boston U. and the Gregorian University in Rome, who helped us understand the composition and intent of the Constitutions; and finally George Pattery SJ, from Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth in Pune, India, who introduced us to a cosmic vision of the Spiritual Exercises, bringing together Ignatius’s cosmic experience on the banks of the river Cardoner with Teilhard de Chardin’s very own understanding.

This time out-of-time was made possible thanks to the support and care of Josep Sugranyes SJ, the Director of the Course, Joachi Salord SJ a wonderful patient and ever smiling shepherd to us all, and Asun Puche, the Course’s feminine smile and intelligent presence.

Dear to everyone of us, as well,  were the women in the kitchen who fixed three meals a day and two snacks, making sure we could sustain those brains of ours so heavily taxed at times. Teams of us worked along them, clearing and setting tables, and drying dishes. Our Spanish improved at their side; we even caught a couple of Catalan words.

I come back with my head filled with images of young noble men giving up their wealth and station in life to walk thousands of miles across Europe, begging on the way, their hearts filled with love for Godde and her creation. Finding Godde in all things…

I think of the many women who helped Ignatius all throughout his life, the very first persons who were guided by him through his Spiritual Exercises, those who cared for him when he was on death’s doorsteps, who paid for his studies and his many journeys, many of these women asking him to become a Jesuit themselves.

My heart is filled with the graces of many moments, looking out to the mountains of Montserrat, inspired with a Spirit of openness, adventure, and longing. I catch myself humming songs sung every day or for special moments. I remember holding Ignatius’ begging bowl…

We drove home with boxes of books to read and a list of more to buy, papers and lectures to process and digest, a longing for prayer, quiet times, long walks, and notes to write.

Many times in Manresa I wondered what I had done to deserve such a blessing and grace to be there in the very place where he had prayed, met Mary and Jesus or understood the Trinity. I hope to share some insights received here, because I cannot stand the idea of keeping all this to myself.

Blessings and joy.

Photo: Statue of in Loyola, Ignatius wounded in the Battle of Pamplona, 

30 May 1521.

 

As they approached the village to which they were going,he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him…

Luke 24:13-35

 

The experience of the gifts of the Spirit are nothing else but manifestations of the living presence of the Risen Jesus in our lives.
Fr. Cecil Azzopardi, SJ, 2013 Ignatian Immersion Course, 2013

 

The Easter Octave tastes and feels like a feast. Each day offers another divine treat. Today, Emmaus.

Many of the books I read explain that the two disciples walking to Emmaus were in fact a couple, a man, Cleopas, and his wife, forever nameless like so many women in the Bible. 

Paul and I, then, are forever returning home, discouraged and lost, now that we feel cheated by the death of our Master, ex-future King of the Jews, hung on a cross like a criminal. 

We pour our hearts out to this stranger who drew near and now walks with us. When we grow silent, emptied out of all thoughts and feeling numb, the stranger starts talking. And he talks and he talks. He fills us with a fire we have not felt since that last meal we shared with Jesus. 

As we reach home, we invite him to stay with us. Then, you know the story, the stranger takes the bread, says the blessing, breaks it, and gives it to us. This is when we understand who has been with us all this time. And he disappears! Oh, Godde… 

In an instant, we are up again, grab our walking stick,s and walk back, our hearts filled with joy and wonder, the seven miles we have just finished with ‘Him’. All the way to Jerusalem, we repeat what he has told us going to Emmaus. Every so often, we stop to catch our breath and exclaim, ‘He is Risen’. He was not a hoax! Alleluiah!

We each have those Emmaus moments after we meet someone we know, or do not know. I can think of two different scenarios. When walking the Camino, every so often someone catches up with us and strikes up a conversation, and we engage in sharing our lives and our faith. It is an Emmanuel moment, Godde-with-Us. 

Or again, I can think of two or three women friends whom I meet for a coffee or a bite to eat. We always end up talking about Godde’s presence in our lives. Once back at home, I realize that my heart was burning as we were sharing stories of how Godde moves through our daily life. These moments, these friends, are Godde’s gifts to me, to us.

Can you think of specific friends with whom you have Emmaus moments?

Art: Arcabas, Emmaüs

 

 

 

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping.
And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb
and saw two angels in white sitting there,
one at the head and one at the feet
where the Body of Jesus had been.
And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord,
and I don’t know where they laid him.”
When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there,
but did not know it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom are you looking for?”
She thought it was the gardener and said to him,
“Sir, if you carried him away,
tell me where you laid him,
and I will take him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

John 20:11-18

 

As I woke up this morning, I immediately remembered that today Mary Magdalene meets Jesus in the garden. How I love this story! I have walked that garden on so many occasions and each time the encounter takes on a new twist.

Today, as I was thinking about it laying in bed, it suddenly dawned on me that Jesus was in the garden for Mary Magdalene. No encounter of the Risen One was ever accidental. Oh, the joy she must have felt from then on every time she remembered that morning in the garden! Whatever happened to her afterwards would not trouble her. She just had to return to the garden and feel his presence. What a gift this was! I have always been aware of the depth of her love for him. Today I noticed his love for her, a love which is not of this world.

Strangely, as I understood the dimension of their encounter in the garden, as I saw him waiting for her it was a bit also as if he had been waiting for me to make sure that I would understand something that had gone unseen till then.

Thus, this morning, I too encountered Jesus in the garden. What a treat this is.

 

Art: Claude Lorrain, Noli Me Tangere, 1681

 

Below you will find an excerpt from Ilia Delio’s The Emergent Christ, a book which has accompanied me — or guided me — in the final days of Lent. She describes the Resurrection as a new Big Bang bringing about a New Creation and, hopefully, a new heart in each one of us.

Viewed in a certain way, the Trinity decided to incarnate in Jesus to show us the divine way to live. Then Jesus had to die, resurrect as the Christ, and return to his Father, so that the Spirit could be released and bring about this New Creation which we each are called to bring about. [Please excuse my simple mind which can only express a beautiful and complex reality in simple, and maybe even simplistic, terms.]

If you are interested in Christianity and evolution and have not yet read this book, you may want to do so.    

 

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The cross is not merely Christ’s passion, Volf writes, but it is God’s passion. It reveals the total self-giving love of God that reaches out to estranged humanity and embraces every stranger as the beloved.

     In the cross we are embraced by the Trinity of love, who loves us with the same love with which the persons of the Trinity love one another. The crucified Christ signifies a space in God’s self for the other and an invitation for the enemy to come in.

     In the cross, therefore, we are taken up in the eternal embrace of the triune God of love. This embrace in love by the crucified Christ in which the arms of Christ are the arms of the triune God is, according to Volf, the meaning of Eucharist. “The Eucharist,” he writes, “is the ritual time in which we celebrate this divine ‘making-space-for-us-and-inviting-us-in.’”

     However, it is not simply being embraced by God but an empowering of God’s love by which we are to embrace others, including our enemies. That is, “having been embraced by God, we must make space for others in ourselves and invite them in— even our enemies.”

     Evolution means that Christ is not yet complete and we are not complete. In Jesus, God’s self-communication to creation explodes into history. Evolution assumes an explicit direction. God evolves the universe and brings it to its completion through the instrumentality of human beings. Jesus is the Christ, the climax of that long development whereby the world becomes aware of itself and comes into the direct presence of God.

     The teaching that Jesus is the Christ means Jesus is not any person but the fully integrated person in whom God has revealed Godself in the most complete way. In Jesus, the Christ becomes explicit; hence, the meaning of the cosmos becomes explicit as well. The whole creation is intended to be a unity in love in union with God.     

     Those who proclaim themselves Christian proclaim belief in the risen Christ and must be on the way toward development of a transcultural consciousness and thus transcultural encounters.

     In Jesus we see that the future of the material universe is linked to the fulfillment of the community of human beings in whom the world has come to consciousness.

     The evolutionary process is moving toward evolution of consciousness and ultimately toward evolution of spirit, from the birth of mind to the birth of the whole Christ.

     What took place in the life of Jesus must take place in our lives as well, if creation is to move toward completion and transformation in God. Healing divisions and forming relationships that promote greater unity are sources of God’s gracious presence emerging from within the history of the cosmos.

     Jesus marks a new direction in evolution toward integrated being, healthy relationships, and healing presence, all of which contribute to the act of a new future. As the wellspring of divine love emerging from within, Jesus shows us what it means to be a human person and the way to deepen our humanity toward the fullness of life. His disciples recognized him as the Christ, the anointed One (Mk 8: 27), the One who will bring about a new future, a new creation, and who has already done so in our present age.

     The Christ emerges in Jesus, and the humanity of Jesus shows us what the Christ looks like; his humanity is our humanity, and his life is our life. What took place in Jesus’ life must take place in ours as well if the fullness of Christ is to come to be. “Our salvation is necessary for the completion of Christ,” wrote the Cistercian Isaac of Stella. Christ is the future of this evolutionary cosmos, the One who trinitizes creation into a household of unity, the integrated unified center of persons in love.

 

Delio, Ilia. The Emergent Christ (Kindle Locations 1120-1173). Orbis Books.

 

 

Art: Josef Žáček, Resurrection, found here.

 

 

 

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” …

… “Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas…

… Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”

John 13:21-23, 36-38

Today’s gospel led me to reflect on both Judas and Peter in me, because in the sixty-plus years of my life, I have been, and still am, both. One is inconsolable and kills himself; the other accepts Jesus’ forgiveness and follows in His master’s footsteps.

Dwelling on my sins, once again, is not really what this week is about, however. This week is not about me, but about Jesus and how he goes through his last days as Jesus. It is about his dignity and his being true to himself, and what he has preached and done in the last three years of his life. Jesus is love and love is crucified; true love is found unbearable by those striving for power, riches, and fame. Love has little in common with ‘Realpolitik’. 

Jesus was killed two thousand years ago and is still being killed today. We see him crucified, at every generation, in the women and men who strive for goodness and challenge the darkness of our world.

What truly mesmerizes me this week, more than anything else, is the width and length and depth and height of Jesus’ trust in Godde and his love for us. It shakes me out of my self-satisfaction; it draws my mind to a blank; it has me come to a standstill. It questions me; it kneads my heart, spirit and soul.

Nothing in Jesus blocks life. He does not elude fear, pain, nakedness and humiliation. He is utterly open to Godde’s will, willing to show each one of us, disciples of then and now, what it means to announce and belong to the reign of Godde. No pettiness there, no petulance, no shirking, no false pretenses…

Following Jesus this week is entering the Mystery of Divine Love, a Mystery that my small human mind can only admire and revere in silence and awe. What a grace it would be if but one bit of it could rub on me.

Yes, Jesus is crushed by the structures of evil of all times. But he only seems crushed, because he goes through death and introduces us to a new age, a new age that is still so very difficult to comprehend, to absorb, to replicate, unless, like him, we can love fearlessly.

The reality of Jesus’ Passion is poignant, because it never goes away; it is still happening today. Simultaneously, though, He is risen and calls me to go through the pain to transcend it with Him, as if he wanted me to go through the throes of a new birth into something else. Going from the safety zone of darkness to the challenge of light and love.

 

Art: Leonardo da Vinci, heads of Judas and Peter

 

 

Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.

John 12:1-11

The last time I prayed this passage was during an eight-day retreat. Then, Mary had turned to me and had invited me to come forward and help her anoint Jesus’ feet. I still remember rubbing his feet, and then rubbing his hands as well. The color and texture of his skin, the feel of his bony feet and hands, our closeness and my reverence. Mary’s invitation had been such a gift! A day later, when time came to pray the Resurrection, my eyes fell again on the same hands and feet; this time they had a hole in them. I knew then that I was in presence of the Risen One.

This morning, I started reading the passage after having prayed for the grace of being filled with the wonder of Jesus’ presence. Imagine my surprise when going over Judas’ lines, I realized that they were meant for me. I could have made such an unpleasant remark. I would have had to feel jealous and envious, and irritated at being around someone who once again is so much better than I am… Yes, this is something which I could have said, the type of comment I have most certainly made several times over my lifetime.

This insight felt like a jug of freezing water thrown at my face. At the same time, what a relief to come upon this side of me, so naturally and so ‘un-judgmental-ly’ (if this is possible). While shocked by my own revealed pettiness, I felt grateful for the awareness. This was a grace received, a gift, a reflection from the mirror that the Gospel is meant to be. The Gospel is “a constant call to freedom,” writes Ilia Delio.

As I stand looking at the scene of Mary on her knees at Jesus’ feet, with the other disciples and friends around the table, Martha busying herself, and Judas’ nasty remark, Jesus’ eyes cross mine. I tear up. I tear up because I acknowledge the love in his eyes, the unconditional love which greets me; I recognize the gift of discovering a bit more of me; but more than anything else, I tear up for the connection between the scene and me, between Jesus and me.

For all this, O Godde, I feel infinitely grateful.

 

Art: Magdelene Anointing Jesus’ Feet, Frank Wesley (1923-2002) an Indian artist trained in India, Japan, and the U.S.  Best known for designing the urn for Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes. Found here.

 

 

 

The cross is not merely Christ’s passion, Volf writes, but it is God’s passion. It reveals the total self-giving love of God that reaches out to estranged humanity and embraces every stranger as the beloved. In the cross we are embraced by the Trinity of love, who loves us with the same love with which the persons of the Trinity love one another. The crucified Christ signifies a space in God’s self for the other and an invitation for the enemy to come in.
— Delia, Ilia. The Emergent Christ. Orbis Books. Kindle Edition. (1120-1124)

Note: Volf is Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation.

 

    The whole of Jesus’ life is an unfolding towards fullness of life. So even at this stage of his life, as he invites us to stay with him, he has something to reveal to us about life. 
    But to come to sense how this unfolding is taking place in Jesus, even at this stage as he goes though his passion and death, it is absolutely essential that we do not place ourselves on the road to Calvary as roadside watchers of a drama that is happening.
    We need to reach intimately into his heart, to sense what is happening in Jesus’ heart as he is going through all of this. For ultimately what makes a difference to life is not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us. And this is only known from within the depth of one’s heart.
— Fr. Cecil Azzopardi, SJ, Ignatian Immersion Retreat, May 2013, Manresa

 

Here I am, ready (can I ever be ready enough?) to walk with Jesus this week all the way to the Golgotha, with his mother, his friends, and his enemies. I hope some day to love him so much that I will indeed be able ‘to reach intimately into his heart’, to understand how he did all of this. 

I imagine his love for and his trust in Godde stronger than the pressure of the society around him or the fear of his friends for him. 

He had to die, said Caiaphas, not only for the nation, “but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.” And gather, Jesus did, or Christ rather, in a way Caiaphas could never have imagined.

Walking with Jesus this week will be a privilege. All I can do is stand by him as he goes through all that is awaiting him. I might enter the mystery of his death and then maybe not. Most of all, I feel I owe him to be with him, to be there for him, while giving him the best my heart and mind have to offer.

May the Spirit accompany each one of us on our journey to Jerusalem.

Photo: Cristo de la Sonrisa, Javier, Spain

 

 

My God, I give up my attachment to peace, the delight and sweetness of contemplation, of Your love and Your presence. I give myself to You to love Your will and Your presence. I give myself to You to love Your will and Your honor alone.

I know that, if You want me to renounce the manner of my desiring You, it is only in order that I may possess You surely and come to union with You.

I will try from now on, with Your grace, to make no more fuss about “being a contemplative,” about acquiring that perfection for myself. Instead I will seek only You, not contemplation and not perfection, but You alone.

Then maybe I will be able to do the simple things that You would have me do, and do them well, with a perfect and pure intention in all peace and silence and obscurity, concealed even from my own self, and safe from my poisonous self-esteem.

Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence, 39

 

While sorting books, I came upon this one and opened it at random. I fell upon this page which seemed to be the perfect message for that day, for this time, as I turn my heart and mine toward Holy Week, and the Holy One who will walk it and Whom I will follow.

A shower of blessings on your own climb to the Jerusalem in your heart.

 

Sometimes genuine discernment is wrongly seen as a mental decision about what is good followed by an act of will to carry out that good. I would say, rather, that discernment is the awareness of centered or not-centered energy in the organism… This awareness comes from an accumulated awareness of who we fully and genuinely are. It is knowing where our center — and hence our life — resides, as well as where it does not… As life builds up more and more sense of our total selves, more and more inclusion of body, mind and emotion in our self-experience, it becomes less and less possible for us to choose against ourselves… Discernment well made — that is, experience well known — makes choice natural, even easy. Choice is that decision either to retain boundaries of judgment manifested by blocked body energies or to risk letting in everything we are… In doing so we abandon predictions of how life will turn out, judgments of what is good or bad, assessment of what does or doesn’t fit. We simply live from our center.

Benedictine Suzanne Zuercher, quoted in An Ignatian Spirituality Reader (154)

 

I came across this quote a couple of days back in the book mentioned above. I saw this book in the hands of several participants in the Ignatian Immersion Course last year and started reading it.

The Ignatian Immersion Course is very much like a Camino or a Cursillo: it begins once it is over. I seem to be living an on-going immersion in Ignatian Spirituality, thirsting and hungering for more. I find it a beautiful place to be and feel infinitely grateful for what I received then and have kept receiving ever since.

 

Photo: Camino de Santiago, Cruz de Ferro, May 2005

 

“Teacher, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women.
So what do you say?”

John 8:1-11

I watch the Pharisees and the scribes dragging the woman to the temple where Jesus is teaching. They found her “in the very act”. Oh, their enraged righteousness, their raw desire for vengeance, their thirst for blood and death… Their legitimate anger. A woman belongs to a man, whether father, husband, or son. The unfaithful, adulterous wench. Kill her!

Here is the opportunity to kill two persons with one stone: Jesus and the woman.

To be the woman, on her knees, clothes torn, dusty, and bloody from the blows. Feeling hatred and contempt in the air. The murderous glares, the mouth-twisting insults. How ugly they look. How terrifying as well.

I can feel the dusty ground under my hands, my knees and my legs. The smell of my sweat, mixed with my fear. The morning sun blinds me. Smudgy tears run down my cheeks. I can see the sandaled feet of my accusers; I can overhear their snarls, their growls. How I would like to disappear! Oh, that it would be over, that I might die fast.

They wait for your answer, Holy man. Silence surrounds you, as if coming out of you and taking me in. You look at me the sinner; no judgment in your eyes, no blame in your eyes. Just this immense peace, this profound kindness. Who are you? Then, I hear you say,

“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”

I wait for the first stone on my back or on my head. The fury, the insults have died down. My head down, from the corner of my eye, I notice people walking away, leaving me alone with you.

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”, you ask.

“No one, sir”, I reply.

Oh, your eyes, sir, just at the level of mine. And then you add, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

Sin, teacher?, I think. It will take me the rest of my lifetime to find out all that sin is. But I promise, on my child’s head, that I will not sin again. Your eyes give me the strength I need. Why is it that you believe in me when no one else does? What do you see in me that makes me feel loved and precious, honorable even? How do you do it, rabbi?

How did you do it, Jesus? So few people can make others feel the way you could make people feel. Where are you to help us today? Your love gave women you knew the strength to stand up and walk tall. We need you to come back and be our advocate with today’s scribes and pharisees everywhere in the world.

Until then, O Risen One, until you sweep everyone of us upward, I will remember your love and your smile, your peace and your inclusiveness, and I the sinner will walk tall and sin no more.

 

 

 

Art: Woman Caught in Adultery, John Martin Borg, 2002

Found here.

 

claire46:

A beautiful reflection by Sr. Jeannine Gramick.
… How often do we feel like Martha? “God, if you had given me a good home background when I was growing up, I wouldn’t be in this stinking mess I’m in now.” “If I had better teachers, I would have gotten better grades.” “If you hadn’t made me gay, my life would be so much easier.” …
Praise Godde…

Originally posted on Bondings 2.0:

Periodically in Lent,  Bondings 2.0  will feature reflections by two New Ways Ministry staff members:  Matthew Myers, Associate Director, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, Co-Founder.  The liturgical readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent are:  Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalm 130; 1-8; Romans 8:8-11,; John 11:1-45.

Icon of Lazarus’ Rising from the Dead

A theme throughout the Scripture readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent is that God can bring life out of what seems lifeless. The first reading from Ezekiel clearly teaches this lesson when it says, “I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” Paul too, in his Epistle to the Romans, says that, if the Spirit dwells in us, the Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies. The Gospel is the familiar story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. All three readings tell us that God indeed can bring life out of what seems lifeless.

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