Wednesday, January 27, 2016




Sunday, January 24, 2016

The morning after Jonas

Ignatius continues through the drifts out of the shadows into the sunlight.

The sun rises over our snowscape.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Jonas more than we bargained for

Bella, Echo, Goliath did us no good but Jonas is a little more than I bargained for, this my first Berks County snow storm since 1963.

St. Ignatius Loyola braving the storm at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, PA!   

The sundial at the corner of the cloister will wait another day.

We left Ignatius out on the lawn on his way at 8 AM this morning.   It's still snowing hard at 2 PM and he has not made much progress.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Wedding Feast at Cana (2nd Sunday Ordinary Time, January 17, 2016)

Serigraph by John August Swanson beautifully depicting all of the elements 
of the Cana Wedding story

Weddings have their own character and sometimes surprises.   I remember the ones with the surprises:  I celebrated one with a Catholic Mass that ended with the bride singing “’Tis a Gift to be Simple” to her groom.   Touching!    I blessed another where some guests at the reception reminded me about the Cana wedding.  This one took place in a Protestant Church followed by a dry luncheon in the Church hall, the bride a Protestant and the groom an Irish Catholic.   The groom’s friends were hoping that somehow I could help them with the wine!

Jesus’ change of water to wine, takes us by surprise.  Yes, it does show Jesus compassionate to his host.   Yes, it does give us a sense of his mother’s presence in his life.  But this is a man who has been preaching with authority about the Kingdom of God and this is a man who has been healing lepers and driving out demons.   What’s with the wine?   How can this display over liquids be in character? 

The archaeological digs in Galilee have found examples of the big stone jars that held the water for ritual purification symbolized by washing.   Jesus, the same Jesus whom John the Baptist said would baptize not as he himself did with water but rather with the Spirit and fire, the same Jesus who accused the Pharisees of being clean on the outside but not on the inside, Jesus changed the contents of these jars so that they became wine and a symbol that cleansing began with the interior spirit….   
…….Stone jars filled with water for exterior purification will not suffice.  The wine rather symbolizes the requirement for a spirit of interior renewal and the communal elements of that renewal.   The miracle helps us understand also why Jesus so often found a meal with others completely consistent with his preaching of the Kingdom of God….. 

(The stone jars as the Old Convenant; the wine as the New.   v. Bruce Chilton's "Rabbi Jesus")

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


When I moved to the Jesuit Center in October, I reasoned that my age would exempt me from shoveling snow.   But no exemption necessary so far!    Joe, it's already mid-January and this might be the snow for the season.    Still a nice walk, if also cold.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Jeanne Lucille Bur Fischer (1942-2012)

We have missed Jeanne these last four years since her death on January 10, 2012.    During her last days a stream of visitors at Baltimore's Mercy Hospital visited and realized soon enough that her death was near.  Her siblings, Eileen, Tony, Mary and I, and   her husband, Frank, could say only "I wish I could take the place of the dearest and youngest among us."

So on this anniversary I show two of my favorites of her water colors.   The first above is surely her own testimony.   The lovely floral grouping growing right out of what must be one of her own boots, a boot worn on her own foot, a boot that had to assist her in her life-long struggle with lymphedema.    We never heard her complain about it.   And thus we never thought of her as disabled though her leg required constant daily attention so that it not distract her from her generous commitments to life.   The flowers remind us about the mysterious relationships of our struggles to the beauty that we find in life, something that Jeanne learned better than the rest of us.

This second painting (and I wish my photos did more justice) is her homage to Henri Matisse.  Matisse had the advantage of spending time in Cote d'Azur.   Jeanne never visited there, a region of sunlight, sand and beautiful waters.   Here Jeanne offers us shadow and light on a breezy afternoon.   I imagine her there today walking out on this veranda and strolling down to the sea.  

Thursday, January 07, 2016

"In the morning, in the evening..."

January 7, 2015   In late autumn Jupiter accompanied the bright planet Venus  but now Saturn is "at her side", with the crescent moon to their left.

January 6, 2016  Canadian geese make their way home for the night

Friday, January 01, 2016


Word cloud indicating what people first think of 
when they think of the Wernersville Jesuit Spirituality Center

The principal function of our words in Ignatian prayer is not so much to understand the nature of God as to understand what it is that God is asking of us.  “What does God want of a human life?” is how Father Kolvenbach, our past Father General,  expresses the goal of our prayer.    God does not respond to us in words but rather in movements of the heart.   Nevertheless, Kolvenbach remarks how important it is for us to formulate our part of our conversation with God as clearly as we can.   For, he says, "only a well-formulated question will receive an adequate response."

It occurs to me that we might desire a particular clarity of language today, the first day of 2016.   May we thank God for all of God’s care for us over the past year.  May we name particular instances of that care and relish how God brought us through to this day.  For example: I thank God for providing my health and those by name who care for it.   And I thank God for surrounding me by name with family and with other men and women who commit themselves to the welfare of others, including me. 

And let us also clarify our own desires for 2016 and measure them against the movements of our hearts.   We want to align our desires with God's desires for us.  Deseo aprender a leer la Misa en espaƱol!