Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Rich Man and Lazarus, gospel reading for this Sunday

Small lidded soapstone ring box purchased at tourist shop in Calcutta (2003).   My sister Jeanne kept it for me until her death.

The Rich Man and Lazarus  Luke 16: 19 & ff

(story about meeting a beggar boy when with some tourists in Calcutta)

One afternoon we took a cab to a downtown craft shop that catered to tourists; some of us wanted to purchase gifts to take home.   I finished my shopping first and decided to wait for the others outside on the crowded street hoping to find some rhyme or reason to the riddle of Calcutta.  I found something that surprised me.   A beggar boy of about ten, no doubt carefully trained and rewarded for his skill, began to pester me for a handout.  I resisted and decided to go back into the store knowing that the guard would prevent him from coming in.   

But as I sat inside waiting for my companions the boy kept up a vigil within sight of me through the plate glass doors of the entrance.   He stared at me and every once in a while our eyes met.  No doubt his handlers trained him in this stare convinced that it would finally shame the target into making a donation. 

It worked but in this unexpected way.  Sitting there I saw the eyes of that beggar boy telling me that I was no better off than he.   In the great scheme of things, his eyes said, we are both beggars lacking the means to a secure destiny.   And I heard Jesus’ question from the scripture: “Which of you by worrying can add even a cubit to your stature?”    His stare said to me: “you are poor like me; we are all poor; and the poor always share what little they have.

Myself and my companions as well, we all gave him some money as we left that tourist shop and it was all we could do to tumble into a cab before other beggars came to besiege us.   I have no illusions about that boy…. His future would be the hardness of the street.  At best when he got older he could use his skill to get other boys to work for him the way he himself was working in some syndicate of beggars.

As this boy’s face lingers in my memory, so, too, does the lesson I learned that day.  We are all poor beggars lacking the means to a secure destiny.   Our destiny is with the Lord Jesus who empties himself and makes himself like us.  Jesus offers us the destiny of freedom from sin and the security of salvation.  

The plate glass doors separating me from the beggar boy were the chasm of the scriptures that separated the Rich Man from Lazarus.  But God’s mercy and the boys’ eyes created a bridge across the chasm.   Not that either one of us changed much.  Yes, my companions and I gave him a pittance and I learned a lesson about my own poverty.   A fragile, fleeting bridge to be sure.   But if I am to meet anyone in the afterlife, this boy will be among them.   And I will thank him for teaching me something about the human condition.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

9/11: Opus One.... Choir presents Mozart's Requiem





Susan Pena, Reading Eagle Correspondent wrote the Concert Review with the heading:  "Opus One's Requiem overwhelms with sound and emotion....Mozart's Requiem was uniquely suited to this day.  (Choir members) under the direction of Christopher Hoster, gave an extraordinary performance, heartfelt and beautifully sung."    After the last notes of  "quia pius es", silence filled the chapel while some shed tears.

Among the guests were the parents of Johanna Sigmund who died in the Twin Towers.   John and Ruth Sigmund and Johanna's uncle indicated afterward that annually this day is "hard".    Eased it was by a morning Mass honoring the victims of 9/11 and celebrated in their home church with friends and family.   Eased it was, too, by music which Ruth termed a powerful piece "of hope and unity."

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Journey to a Great Life


I have finished most of the journey myself but this video describes for those seekers some of the great things that we Jesuits experience.    And now that I have watched it, I am happy to say that I have lived with two of the stars and got to know a third one, too, before he was a Jesuit.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Abbey of the Genesee, Piffard, NY

The Chapel of the Abbey of the Genesee, Cistercian monastery about 35 miles south of Rochester NY.  Here I spent seven days on  quiet retreat.    Retreatants were housed about a half mile away but within easy walk or ride to the chapel for Morning Prayer and Mass at 6 AM and Evening Prayer at 6:40 PM

The monks bake bread, Monks' Bread,  each morning.  They and the bread rise well before 6 AM, the monks for prayer at about 2:30 AM.   Not being a baker, I slept in each day.

 Interior of the Chapel with choir stalls to right and left.   Visitors watching from the side of the choirs joined in the psalm chants of the office using texts in the foreground'

The area separating the choir stalls included the Eucharistic table and the lectern with the tabernacle on the back wall.   Colorful windows brought in the light of the rising sun.

      On the walk through the corn and crop fields surrounding the monastery, I  saw this tree that always captured my attention.   It appeared ready to address the cornfield.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fr. Edwin Sanders, S.J. celebrates 70 years as a Jesuit

Today over one hundred guests  joined us Jesuits here at the Jesuit Center to celebrate Fr. Edwin Sanders.  He began his novitiate as a Jesuit here on August 14, 1946.   Ed celebrated a Mass of thanksgiving in our Main Chapel grateful for his seventy years as a Jesuit.   Deacon Richard Wentzel, from St.Mary's in Lebanon, preached.  His humorous memory of Ed included Ed's remark after his accidental fall in the church aisle as he began the final commendation at the coffin of a St.Mary's parishioner.   This parishioner had grown into her senior years in the parish.  And Ed remarked that he counted himself the last man to fall for her.

Among those attending were a couple, Pat and Eileen, who served with him on marriage encounter teams in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.   Also a brother with his sister, the brother being among his first altar servers at the Pittsburgh parish of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1968.

Among my remarks to those gathered to celebrate Ed:

"Ed has never retired and still celebrates Mass at Highlands (a retirement community) and hears confessions at St. Joseph’s Villa (a covent).  Here at home he is available for spiritual direction and hears the confessions of retreatants and others.  

May we, too, lay, religious and clergy, carry on our ministries with the commitment and love that you, Ed Sanders, show us daily well past those so-called limits set by retirement.   God has blessed you and us through you.  May God’s assistance continue ad multos annos." 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Mars over the Jesuit Center in the August sky

The last three cool, clear evenings brought me out to see these two planets now in the southwestern sky over the Jesuit Center.  This pictures the sight at about 8:30 PM, Mars between Saturn above and the star Antares below not long after sunset.   

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Brickwork by "Kelly for Brickwork" at Jesuit Center

First Floor windows recessed and crowned
with arch and keystone.  This required bricks
of a different size to line some of the recess.

Second floor window at rows end capped 
with slanted "soldiers" with a circular base of tied-in bricks

One of the large dining hall windows
with rounded panes.


The plainer regular second story window with  slanted soldiers 
and sitting over the lower window's keystone.

The third story windows under the roof cornice.

The bricklayers in 1928 who built the walls of  what is now the Jesuit Center and home of the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth knew all about the intricacies of brick walls as more than a facade.  
John B. Kelly, "Kelly for Brickwork" worked under the general contractor Matthew McCloskey and Brothers of Philadelphia. Every surface brick is tied into the brick or cement block behind it with ties ( a brick laid directly perpendicular to the surface.)    And the hundreds of windows have a half dozen patterns of brick decor.  Only the most demanding building owners call on such skills today.  (It is said that there is somewhere in the walls a "green brick" said to be a Kelly trademark.   I have yet to scan all the bricks to find it!)