Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mass Reflection

Ever since I began my blog, I have been in the habit of posting my once-a-semester Mass reflections. I primarily write these with my Jesuit brothers in mind as they are my immediate audience, but perhaps you may find something of value here. God bless.


Today, we hear in the famous Gospel passage that God so loved the world that he sent his only Begotten Son, that through Christ, God was able to communicate and continues still to communicate that wondrous love he has for all of us. For you Greek scholars, the word used here is ‘agape,’ a love which is quite different from ‘eros’ or ‘filia’. ‘Eros’ is an erotic love, a love that you fall into almost as a result of an arrow from cupid. ‘Filia’ is a kind of friendship and relationship that two people have exclusively for one another. The love of God is ‘agape’ because His love is like the sun whose light radiates on both saint and sinner alike. It is radically unconditional and self-emptying, and although much of the world may turn away from His rays, it does not negate how the Son continues to shine forth upon us.

I think it is fitting during this Easter season that we contemplate the ‘agape’ of God, and indeed this is an important reflection for us as men rooted in the Spiritual Exercises. In the fourth week, we are challenged and called into that important contemplation to attain love, which I believe is more specifically a contemplation to attain ‘agape.’ In one of my favorite lines of Hopkins poetry, he writes: “Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.” During this joyous season, God easters forth his ‘agape’ to us all. We are called to be disciples of Christ, to let our light shine forth unto the world in His imitation.

For the remainder of this time, I would invite you to pray with me briefly as I touch on the points Ignatius has us contemplate in the fourth week. Let us place ourselves in the presence of the angels and saints, that stirred to profound gratitude for the love God has given to us, we may become better able to love and serve Christ and the world.

Two preliminary notes: first, love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than by words. Second, love consists in a mutual communication. God is the lover, and we, the world, are the beloved.

First point: Let us consider how much God has given us. All of us here are very talented individuals each with our particular God-given gifts. What are those unique and important gifts in your life? What gifts do we take for granted? Which gifts need to be cherished? How can I best use my gifts and offer them up for the greater glory of God?

Second point: Let us consider how God dwells in the world and gives all things their existence, their life, sensation, and intelligence. Without God, we would literally be nothing. We are all temples of the living God, created in the likeness and image of his Divine Majesty. Can we see ourselves as God’s temple? Are we able to see how God dwells in each other? Can we find God dwelling here in the Bronx, hard as that may seem?

Third point: Let us consider how God continues to labor in the world. God is active in the world and in our lives. God is not simply a concept to be grasped, but is that mysterium tremendum et fascinans who dares to be in active relationship with all of us. How is God currently active in our lives? Can we see how God is laboring in our world and in creation?

Fourth point: Let us consider how all good things come to us like the rays from the sun. God is the light of the world; whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

In all of these points, we reflect upon ourselves and consider how we cannot help but respond to this ‘agape’ of God for all of us. What have we done for Christ? What are we doing for Christ? What will we do for Christ?

We conclude as one making an offering with deep affection:

“Take Lord, receive, all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will.
Whatsoever I have or hold
You have given me.
I give it all back to you and surrender it,
Wholly to be governed by your will.
Give me only your love and your grace
And I am rich enough, and I ask for nothing more.

In the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy spirit.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

An assortment of things

First off, I would like to extend to all of you a very belated Easter. It is a beautiful time of the year in which we are called into new life and to rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord.

I personally have found myself quite busy since the beginning of Holy Week, singing in the Fordham Choir and helping out with the festivities here at Ciszek. I feel in some ways that I have been going non-stop ever since with plenty of things such as paper writing, cooking, preparing for our recent Minor Ministries Mass, etc. Papers are also looming ahead, so as you can imagine, it is that crazy time of the year for us students.

My postings, as a result, will probably be a little more infrequent in these upcoming two months (but who knows, maybe I will write more frequently =p). However, it looks like my summer will be spent in LA, where I would like to spend time with Dolores Mission and Homeboy Industries. I am sure I will have plenty to write about during my time there.

I find my disposition in prayer these days simply to stop what I am doing, take a few moments to breathe, to place myself in the presence of God, and to pray in gratitude for my blessings.

I would also like to write a little bit about my April 1st post, since I have received mixed responses from it. Clearly, my April 1st posts these past two years have been resounding successes...maybe third time's a charm?

Primarily, I would like to apologize for any harm that may have been caused to those who took it quite seriously (and subsequently, I have taken it down as a result). It certainly was not my intention for the post to be a serious rant against my fellow brethren, and I realize that the post could be quite damaging. I was writing in a quite hyperbolic way and blowing small issues that a community may talk about completely out of proportion. It certainly could have been read that I had a major axe to grind.

Like any place, a little conflict is inevitable in religious community, but I believe it is also important to have a sense of humor about these things. Personally, I count my blessings if the biggest conflict in my life is wondering why someone hasn't restocked the bathroom with toilet paper. Clearly, many people around the world deal with much more serious problems in their lives on a daily basis. Again, though, I apologize for any misunderstanding and harm that may have been caused.

In the end, we are called to be like Christ to one another as best we can in our communities and in our homes. I believe the home to be the primary place where love must be cultivated and practiced if it is to be shared with the wider community. Indeed, as Jesuits, we have been in recent conversation about community as mission, but in the wider context, we can also speak about the home as mission.

Again, I wish you all a blessed Easter season! I leave you with a link to Holy Week at Seattle University which brought me many good memories.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday Music For Reflection

First, I hope those who read my post noticed what day it was yesterday. I was just having a little fun with the blog.

On a more somber note, Christians everywhere today remember in our hearts the kenotic act of Christ crucified on the cross--an act that still very much speaks to us in the present, an act that continues to reveal the capacities for hatred and violence that resides within the hearts of all humankind. And yet, on the cross, Christ's arms are paradoxically nailed in its most outstreched position, a position through which He is to communicate that unconditional, radical love for humanity despite our sinfulness.

I thought I would share today a favorite choral song of mine that I have sung in the past: Crucifixus by Antonio Lotti. May it aide you in your contemplation on this Holy Day