Saturday, 27 April 2013

He's inspired me not just a little!
  A while back, I started on a project. It was intended for my brother, a guy who is seeking for different kind of  answers to some of life’s questions, but remains unable to connect to God. Despite this, he will occasionally express a desire for some kind of faith in something ‘bigger than him’ to help him receive the greater joy and hope he sees in myself and other people of faith. In response to this, I began to write for him short reflections on the readings and the Saints of the day in the Calendar of the Catholic Church (this means I end up discussing both major saints celebrated in the Calendar, and those forgotten by the calendar). Some people –both Catholic and non Catholic- have mentioned it would be a good idea to include this on a blog. So this is my effort to do so. I was a little reluctant to turn this into a blog, mainly because I still don't know how to design a very aesthetic blog and it may not look pretty as I struggle with font colors, pasting and various other Bloggy things. Nonetheless, I'll assume that content is more important than design here, and will proceed to put these reflections on my blog!

 A few words about these reflections:
1) They're partly written for my brother and any people out there who are a little unfamiliar with Catholic belief and culture. This means I sometimes take the time to discuss very basic catholic ideas/themes that should be known by most Catholics. However, I try to mix the basic stuff with reflections on big theological and christological themes, so any interested Catholic may also derive some enjoyment from reading this as well!
2) My main source for any entry on the Saints is the website, which uses Wikipedia for its information. What it does that Wiki does not is list the Saints for every single day. This is why I intend to continue integrating this website in my reflection whenever possible. I'm not a big fan of as a website, as one often finds a lot of empty anti liberal propaganda on it, but despite the rhetoric, it still serves as a good Catholic resource
3) One final influence on my blog, is Pope Francis. I already read him regularly, and intend to include his insight on a certain passage or saint whenever possible!

4) I'd like to write an entry a day..but that's not going to happen. Even I know that! So, I'll commit to writing an entry whenever time allows. It may be every 2nd day, or it may be everyday, if I can learn to perfect my blogging efficiency and keep my work on these blogs under 45 minutes -which I most definitely did not do for this one! Hopefully, I'll get better with time!-
5)   A brief disclaimer before we begin: Yes I'm will be writing these words from the perspective of my Jesuit formation as often as I can, but also from that of my own personality. Therefore the words I will be uttering here will not reflect the opinions of the the entire Society of Jesus in Canada, but are merely the opinions of this one Brother within the society. 

Thank you for your patience... 
and now
quoting a well known Jesuit Scientist Priest of the 20th century,  Thearde de Chardin, and his famous words when describing the Cross:

 Upwards, Forward ( En Haut, en Avant). 
The Cross points upward, so we can move forward!

Daily Readings and Saint for Saturday, April 27, 2013

Our Saintly guy:

 He's actually not celebrated in the official Catholic calendar until December, but he is celebrated in the Jesuit one, so I figured I'd start this series of reflections with him:

Saint Petrus Canisius.jpg
St Peter Canisius 1521-1591

 He's most remembered for being a great debator, and is notorious for arguing/debating with Protestants during the reformation especially in Germany,Austria, Switzerland and other places.The restoration of the Catholic Churchin Germany after the Protestant Reformation is largely attributed to the work there of the Society of Jesus, which he led. He is  venerated as a Doctor of the Church. (of course, he's not The Doctor of the Church, but that's another story for another time!). 
 It was through Peter Faber that he met the Society of Jesus and by 1543, became the first Dutchman to enter the society -only 3 years after the creation of the Society of Jesus-.His preaching was said to have been so convincing that it attracted hundreds of Protestants back to the old faith. By the time he left Germany, the Society of Jesus in Germany had evolved from a small band of priests into a powerful tool of the Counter Reformation, the Catholic response to the Reformation.
Through his preaching and writings, Peter Canisius became one of the most influential Catholics of his time. 
 In his fight with German Protestantism, he requested much more flexibility from Rome, arguing:
"If you treat them right, the Germans will give you everything. Many err in matters of faith, but without arrogance. They err the German way, mostly honest...very open for everything Lutheran. An honest explanation of the faith would be much more effective than a polemical attack against reformers."

You've heard from Wiki, now I'll have my say: The quote you just read is an important one for our time. There is a bit of arrogance on the part of Canisius -in the original quote, he calls Germans simple minded-, but there is also a EVER SO IMPORTANT theme for us today: the futility of polemical rhetoric. This lesson is for anyone out there who thinks they can convince people that they're right, by insulting them, swearing at them, or demeaning them. And there are Catholics who do this as well...we are not immune from this heinous, unchristian behavior. I don't deny we need to defend the faith against anyone who  limits our rich heritage of 2000 years to their criticism of the Church because of  The Crusades, the Sex scandals, and the Church's unpopular position on social issues like gay marriage ,contraception and women's ordination. But maybe the point is that, we can communicate our faith better, not by being arguing against others who don't believe, but by talking, dialoguing  with them.By honestly explaining what we believe, not by getting offended and defensive (and hostile) every time a person attacks our Church. It turns out, although he was famous for his debates, Canisius was not a big fan of these. He felt that  the Church could achieve more by simple communication, not argumentation.  There's wisdom in that. Now all I have to do is figure out how to live it for myself and how to teach it to others!


 If you've been following the readings from Acts at all this week, you'll see that the 'dialogue' in those days wasn't necessarily the priority. For the Apostles who had just witnessed the true pascal mystery of Christ's death for our sins, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven, the time for pleasantries was long gone. It was time to challenge the world, to get people to understand that this guy wasn't any other mad  prophet. He was for real. 

 But many people were somewhat angered by this proclamation. -the authors keep emphasizing that those who were furious at the early Christians were Jewish, but this is irrelevant to me. It's not their Jewishness that prevented them from hearing the message of Jesus, but their humanity. If Christ came back today, I believe that many people, regardless of their cultural identity, would struggle with his message, including Christians!!- What we should remember from today's first reading from the book of Acts, is the resilience of the Apostles to preach the Gospel despite the danger this exposed them to. However, what's most important today is the shift: This message that was once intended mostly for the children of Israel, is now being heard, and received by Gentiles with great joy! It's a reminder of what it was that fueled these apostles. They must have been broken hearted that their  Jewish brethren refused to recognize the wonderfully complex nature of Jesus Christ, and yet, filled with hope at how the spirit moved in many other people all over the world. Suddenly, these old songs captured 100s of years earlier by their ancestor David and written down in the Psalms must have made so much more sense to them " Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!"

 However, in Jesus' lifetime, that song of praise sung around the world was not to be, because Jesus' message, as I mentioned earlier, was difficult. Last week, we heard of how some of his disciples began to leave his side when his teachings got too complicated. And today, his followers are confronted with this notion of the duality of Christ's nature. Both man and God. This means, anything he says comes from the Father. There can be no more doubts about this. And yet, there were doubts...Phillip is the one brave enough to voice his confusion, but you can be sure that most of the apostles are scratching their head saying 'so he's here, but he is connected to God at the same time???HOW!! THAT WOULD MEAN HE'S BOTH HUMAN...AND DIVINE...HOW!!?" 
Good question. 
It took us close to 300 years to wrap our minds around it, and many of us still struggle with the how. But Jesus almost seems to be saying 'forget about the how. Just believe, and you'll see what you can achieve when you do.' This may be a lot to ask in our age of reason and rationality, but like the disciples, I have nowhere else to turn but him at the end of the I'll take my chances, take that leap of faith in him, as joy, hope and love continue to unfold within me.

 Acts 13:44-52

44The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered together to hear the word of God.
45But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted what was spoken by Paul, and reviled him.
46And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.
47For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, `I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.'"
48And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of God; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.
49And the word of the Lord spread throughout all the region.
50But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.
51But they shook off the dust from their feet against them, and went to Ico'nium.
52And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit

Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

1O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.
2The LORD has made known his victory, he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
3He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
4Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Gospel, John 14:7-14
7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him."
8Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied."
9Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'?
10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.
12"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.
13Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;
14if you ask anything in my name, I will do it.

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