Monday, July 30, 2007

“PRAYER” (My warning from Mary Greene!)

Luke 11:1-13 (Sunday, July 29)

The diagnosis once known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is now called AD/HD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type. I give thanks that God has spared me this tongue-twister disorder. It often has very serious consequences for those who suffer with it. But at the same time when I pray I sometimes feel as though I fit into the “predominantly inattentive type.”

How difficult to learn to pray. Even so, what Jesus says is simple and clear: just say this “Our Father, who art in heaven….

You may have heard about the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. As Saint Ignatius Loyola did in the past, the Jesuits offer these prayerful exercises in a variety of formats: the thirty day retreat; an eight-day format; at the University level we offer a retreat in everyday life to fit the academic calendar of 24 weeks. My favorite retreat is the 12-minute one that we Jesuits are to make twice a day called the Examen of Consciousness. It is a flexible format of five or six prayerful attitudes that enrich the routine of everyday life.

Those like me who are “predominantly inattentive types” can do this prayer moving the fingers on the rosary beads to help focus attention. During the first decade I repeat a prayer of request for the spirit…And I have similar short prayers to say for each of the five decades. I told Mary Greene, one of my pious older friends about this way of saying the rosary, about reciting prayers different from the Hail Mary on the beads. She scolded me: “The Blessed Mother wouldn’t like that.”

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Nirmal Hriday (hospice of the dying)
Mother Teresa founded her first hospice for the destitute and dying in a neighborhood of Calcutta, Kalighat. Here pictured is the women's ward. Many young volunteers were serving there on this November day in 2003. They sat with those who were close to death and comforted them.

ANOTHER MEMORY OF INDIA (thanks to Elizabeth Eck, one of my companions, who gave me this picture)

November, 2003: We scarcely arrived for our one visit at Kalighat in Calcutta, Mother Teresa's first hospice for the poor and dying, when a cab drove up to the door carrying two sisters, Missionaries of Charity, and a sickly man whom they had picked up from the streets. Two burly young volunteers from South Korea without hesitating hurried to the cab and carried this dirty and redolent man into the hospice. They placed him on a stretcher and took him to the shower area so that they could bathe him. Painted on the wall over the bathing area, was a reminder placed there at the request of Mother Teresa herself: “The Body of Christ.”
These young volunteers, surely, acted as they did because they shared her faith.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Photo taken during my retreat at Wernersville, PA July, 2007
(Is this the sort of sky that Michelangelo saw?)
Father Frank Bourbon and the Theological Virtues
Luke: 10 The Good Samaritan (University Chapel July 15, 07)

“You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength and will, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

When some in the Protestant tradition comment on the story of the Good Samaritan, they point out that good works done in a neighborly way do not merit salvation; rather we are saved by faith alone.

Catholic catechism has it this way: “The Theological virtues of faith, hope and love are those virtues that relate directly to God. These are not acquired through human effort but, beginning with Baptism, they are infused within us as gifts from God.….[They] influence human virtues by increasing their stability and strength for our lives.”

When the founder of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius, proclaimed that love is shown in deeds, he might also have said that faith, hope and love are shown in deeds. Faith, hope and love, as we read in the catechism, give stability and strength to all the human virtues, to all our practices of compassion, responsibility, friendship, courage and so forth. Not just love, but faith and hope as well, support acts of love of neighbor.

Recently a story told by a eulogist revealed to me the meaning of the relations among faith, hope and love. At the funeral of Jesuit Father Frank Bourbon who died in June his brother recalled going to one of Father Bourbon’s Masses and listening to him preaching. The delivery and content of his preaching was so winning that Father Bourbon got a round of applause from the congregation as he sat down at the end of his homily.
After this Mass the two men discussed this business of the applause and Father Bourbon described to his brother the meaning of applause during a homily: applause at the beginning of the homily is faith; applause in the middle of the homily is hope and applause at the end of the homily is charity. In these three moments of applause, Frank illustrated the unity of his own life lived in faith, hope and charity.