Showing posts from March, 2011

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Readings for March 31: Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

- Maciej Rejniak, '11

Today's Gospel, I think, is quite problematic in the history of the Church. Jesus tells the crowd “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. ” Harsh words indeed. Words, that if interpreted in the wrong way, could serve as justification for violence, prejudice, and hatred. One only has to think of the Crusades, the Reformation, the various religious wars, and even today's upheavals to see evidence of this. If you aren't a believer in Jesus, a Christian, a Roman Catholic, then you are an enemy, someone who must be fought and destroyed, to make the world pure. This sounds almost Nazi-like. It also originates from the same man who preached to love thy neighbor as thyself. How can Jesus give us such contradictory messages? How can we believe him?
What I think needs to be determined is: if you aren't with Jesus, then who are you with? If Jesus is God, I…

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

Readings for March 29th: Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

- Matt Kowalski, '11

Many people note the stark contrast between God in the Old Testament and God in the New Testament. The former imposes strict commandments upon His people, offering little forgiveness or mercy. Individuals either follow the law to the letter or forsake themselves to hell. On the other hand, Jesus in the New Testament brings the idea that God is love, and no matter how many sins one commits, God will continue to love. He brings forgiveness to the world, offering a second chance to sinners. Despite these differences, in today’s Gospel, Jesus unifies these two snapshots of God, saying “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”
To me, this statement seemed strange and ridiculous at first. Did Jesus not break Jewish law on multiple occasions and when confronted by the rabbi, scoff at the outlandish nature of their traditions? How could this s…

March 29th: Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

Readings March 29th: Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent

- Patrick Sier, '11

Today’s Gospel is one that has likely led many people to atheism. Now
that I have your attention I would like to explain why. Think about it, in our daily
lives it’s easy to get caught up in numbers. Luckily for me, I dropped
all my math classes this year. Beyond the easier course load, this is
also a blessing for my relationship with God. In today’s Gospel, Peter
is fishing for a number of times that one must forgive a transgressor.
Jesus replies to his repeated inquiries that we must forgive them “not
seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Readings for March 28th: Monday of the Third Week of Lent

-Maciej Rejniak, '11

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells those listening to him “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.”, a statement that the Jews did not take kindly.
Weren't they the Chosen People, the ones who God has picked from all other races of the world? Weren't they the ones who have lived according to God's law, even though it is difficult and unnatural to do so? Weren't they the ones who fought for years in bloody wars for the Promised Land that God has given them?
A Jew listening to Jesus at the synagogue, I imagine, must have thought something like this:
“With what impudence this man speaks! We are the Chosen People, the ones who will bring all nations before the one Lord. We obey the laws and the prophets, we do the Lord's will. This man has no right to accuse us of such dealings, he is wrong, and we must get rid of him before he poisons the minds of the less educated.…

Sunday of the Third Week of Lent

Readings for March 27th: The Third Sunday of Lent

- Matthew LoPrete, '13
In today's Gospel, Jesus talks to a Samaritan about  matters of life and death, concrete and abstract.  It is odd for Jesus, a Jew, to be talking with a Samaritan in the first place, and the skeptical woman is quick to point this out.  When Jesus says he can give her "living water," she asks if He is "greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” The conversation continues, and Jesus tells the woman that not only the Jews will recognize the Messiah and achieve Salvation, but the Samaritans, though they are not the Chosen People, will too. She sees Jesus as a prophet until He corrects her, announcing he is the Messiah. The disciples return, begging Jesus to eat, but He will not.  He responds:  “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work.  Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?…

Fashion Show Invocation

I was asked to give the invocation at this year's U of D Jesuit Mothers' Club Fashion Show. Due to several requests, I post the text below:

I would like to begin this morning with a brief reflection written by Saint Augustine of Hippo:
And what is the object of my love? I asked the earth and it said: ‘It is not I.” I asked all the things on the earth, and they all made the same confession. I asked the sea, I scoured its depths, I asked the living creatures that creep, and they all responded: ‘We are not your God, look beyond us.’ I asked heaven, sun, moon and star; they said: ‘Nor are we the God whom you seek.’ And I said to all these things around me: ‘Tell me of my God who you are not, tell me something about him.’ And with a great voice they cried out: ‘He made us’. My question was the attention I gave to them and their response was their beauty.
Heavenly Father, it is beauty that has brought us together. Please bless all of those gathered here today: the organizers who have …

Third Sunday of Lent

Readings for March 26th: Third Sunday of Lent

- Ryan G. Duns, SJ

As many of you know, I am in my second year of teaching at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. As I read today's readings - each one rich with meaning - I recalled a somewhat trivial event that, when examined, indicates what I think is so special about our school.
As moderator of the Student Senate, I have a pretty cool office on the "garden level" of the school, right off of the Student Commons. Depending on the day, I can have anywhere from between five and twenty students taking up space on the couches, chairs, rockers, and even the floor. I rather enjoy the company and I always marvel at the cross-section of students who seem to stop by: I recently described the typical scene as being that of the "Mos Eisley Cantina" (Star Wars reference) as guys from all over the universe seem to gather there! A few weeks ago, a group of students were in my office, including several freshmen…

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

Readings forMarch 26th: Saturday of the Second Week of Lent

- Ryan G. Duns, SJ

While waiting at the doctor's office this morning, I began reading a marvelous book entitled Passage to Modernity: An Essay in the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture written by Louis Dupré. I was grateful to have this book as it helped me to pass the time as I waited amidst a throng of coughing and sneezing patients (me being one of them). [If you're curious, I was diagnosed with "walking pneumonia" and put on a course of antibiotics]
Dupré writes: The quality of a civilization may be measured both by the complexity of its ingredients and by the harmony of their order. The more diverse elements it succeeds in integrating within a harmonious and unified balance, the greater its potential and, usually, its achievements are. (29) I refer to this because I think today's famous parable of the Prodigal Son is captured well by this quote. The Father in the parable operates within an economy very …

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Readings for March 25th: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

- Ryan G. Duns, SJ

Last weekend, I spent two days in prayer and fellowship with several other Jesuits. Before we celebrated the Eucharist on Saturday, one of the Jesuits posed the question, "What advice would you give to next year's Regents?" (Regency: a formation period for Jesuits; I am a Regent teaching in a high school). 
My response was simple: Just Say Yes. If I have learned anything over the course of my Jesuit formation, it is that God has always given me more than I could ever have imagined...even when receiving it was at first painful. When we began plans for "U of D Jesuit: Pledge Detroit!" last year, it seemed like a daunting task. Nothing like this had been executed before and I, in my second year, had to shoulder the burden of making sure it was done well. Were it not for the support of good friends and colleagues, the program would have failed. In the early stages of planning, in fac…

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

Readings for March 24: Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

- Ryan G. Duns, SJ

The Lenten season can, at times, appear to be more like an endurance contest than a time of penance and reflection. By this I mean simply that, very often, folks enter into Lent strong out of the gate on Ash Wednesday with great resolve and and conviction: I Will Not eat another dessert; I Will Not have a drink; I Will eat less (and I will do all of these in the hopes that I can lose ten pounds in the process). Ironic that our frail human natures permit us to transform a time when we are called to learn to depend more and more on God keeps us, and not God, at the center of our lives!
Today's Gospel serves as a reminder our tendency to lose sight of what is most important in our lives. Our parable is not an excoriation of having wealth or having comfort; rather, it is an exhortation never to allow our own creature-comforts and selfish concerns become our absolute horizon. The glitter of the wealthy man's…

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Readings for March 22: Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

-Justin Bland, '12

Today’s reading is interesting to look at, especially in the light of a movie we saw today in school. As Jesus heads to Jerusalem with the twelve disciples he already knows his fate and reveals it to his disciples. To know one’s own fate is a difficult thing to cope with, and yet Jesus embraces it. The fear of the unknown is what constantly challenges people today. I know for myself that not knowing what may come tomorrow or the day after, even in simple aspects, can be a frightful thing. In the same way the unknown can be a driving force for people in the future. The potential to do well for others or experience something different can be motivation for someone to move on from the past. Jesus merely showed us what our fate was, and even though we may not know what is coming next we must embrace it.
I find it somewhat coincidental that today we watched “To Save a Life” as an entire school. The film highlig…

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

Readings for March 22: Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

- Peter Walle, '11

As I have reflected during this Lenten Season, I have often turned inwards to ask an important question: how often do I actually embody God's laws, rather than simply appearing to do so? In today's Gospel, Jesus condemns the Pharisees and scribes as those who “preach but do not practice”. He subsequently calls His followers not only to do all that the Pharisees demand of them, but also to strive to live as far apart from their corrupt way of life as possible. In short – do what they say, not what they do.
How many of us are modern Pharisees? It is common to see someone take credit for the good things she has done, thus making them appear to be holy, upstanding citizens. What we rarely see, unsurprisingly, is people taking credit for their mistakes. God's call to humbleness is replaced with the human law of “individual purpose”. That is, our human actions have the tendency to conceal oh-so-conveni…

Monday of the Second Week of Lent

Readings for March 21: Monday of the Second Week of Lent

- Maciej Rejniak, '11

“Treat others as you want to be treated”.
 A phrase that is seen and uttered countless times in elementary and middle schools across the country. By high school, it is ingrained in the psyche, and you either get it or you don’t.  As today’s Gospel  shows, this phrase has at its core the teachings of Christ. So, it would seem easy for us to follow this simple phrase, both as Christians and as former school children, right?
In reality, the opposite is true. We often set high expectations for others, criticize them if they fail, and then get upset when they make an excuse. Yet, when in the same situation, when we are the ones being criticized, we often make excuses, and feel that we are justified in them. If the other person doesn’t get it, well, then they do not understand you, and you feel upset at them.
This is very true for me. Having an almost OCD-like work ethic, I like things to be done quickly, effectiv…

Second Sunday of Lent

March 20th: Second Sunday of Lent

- Grant Demeter, '11

In today’s gospel, Jesus brings Peter, James, and John to a mountaintop. He is transfigured, exuding brilliant white light. Moses and Elijah appear next to him. Peter offers to pitch three tents, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. God’s voice rings out from the clouds, telling the apostles that “’this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.’” The Apostles are afraid, but Jesus steps forth and touches them, and they see only Him. This Gospel story brings up an important point in our understanding of our faith. When Moses and Elijah appear next to Jesus, the Apostles view them as three separate entities. We know, however that the images are engendered from Jesus’ divine light. What the Apostles do not understand is they are all derived from the same person. In other words, the teachings of Moses and Elijah are all contained within Jesus. The figures do not represent three separate ideas or beli…

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

Readings for March 19th: First Saturday of Lent

-Michael Ponkowski, '12

Change is a difficult, intimidating process. We constantly avoid it, we defy it, and we deny it as if it were a deadly disease. It presents burdens that are domineering and it creates a feeling of fear for the unknown, and when we are summoned to embrace a change, we are often reluctant to forge a durable path that is new and unfamiliar. Comfort is contentedness and to be content is to take comfort in the familiar, and even if this comfort poses obstacles along the way, it is preferred by many of us because it is easier and involves less work. However, change is a part of humanity, and as much as we resist it, change is an undeniable aspect of life. The development of a human person, as we grow and change in physique, mentality, and emotion, is an obvious change all humans experience. And just as we grow and mature, we all are born, live, and die, which are indeed changes that all of us experience.

“Take Mary you…

Friday of the First Week of Lent

March 18th: Friday of the First Week of Lent

-Stefan Blachut, '11

A blessing and a curse. These were the words that accompanied Moses return with the Commandments. This view can be taken on many of the readings at mass. During the season of Lent we engage this. We cut back on indulgences and often time reflect. It is easy to see why certain aspects of faith can be a curse. So, is ignorance bliss? I often find myself wondering, why do we avoid sin? Is it because of the fear of eternal suffering, or the desire to spend eternity with God. Does this outlook matter? The outlook that we take on a matter tends to determine whether or not it is a blessing or a curse. At first glance at today’s reading, the most notable thing is that one must do a lot in order to reach God. Yet, we can reach him, though grace. If we see the Gospel as a burden, then faith is a burden. Lent is not a time to go without meat or give up things, it is a time to appreciate. Not to appreciate all the physical goods w…

Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Readings for March 17th: Thursday of First Week of Lent

- Michael Koziara, '11
There are a lot of naysayers about prayer. It can be hard to believe that all we have to do is “Ask and it will be given to you.” They say that God has never given them what they actually wanted. They say that they've waited long enough and give up. They say that God doesn't care enough about them. They say God is too busy trying to bring peace in the Middle East or save lives in earthquake-stricken Japan. Rightly frustrated by life experiences and emotional roller-coasters, they don't see God granting wishes right and left.
Some say that God doesn't give us more than we can handle, but I was struck recently when someone proposed to me that hat's not true. For by giving us more than we can handle without Him we are forced to turn to Him.
It is not receiving God's help that's the problem. He works through others, He works through ourselves. The paitience part can be challenging,…

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

Readings for March 16th: Wednesday of the First Week of Lent

-Anthony Di Ponio, '12

We are constantly given choices: Should I go to mass, or should I watch the big football game on TV? The answer may be obvious, but we do not always make the right decision. It is very easy to turn away from God, but that weakens our relationship with Him. And time and time again, He gives us another chance to come back. This is exactly what happened in the city of Nineveh. The people realized their faults when God threatened to destroy the city, and they quickly repented. We are lucky that God is so merciful. Lent is a time of repentance. It gives us a chance for renewal of our relationship with God. So many opportunities present themselves during Lent. Some choose to “give up” something they enjoy as a sacrifice to God while others choose to do something positive for others. The Catholic Church also offers numerous opportunities for spiritual growth, such as attending Stations of the Cross, Communal…

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

Readings for March 15th: Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

-Tristan Lopus, '14
There was a boy with whom I went to school for five years before coming to U of D Jesuit.This particular young man had the reputation of being the holy man of our class.He had an expansive knowledge of the Church and its celebrations, had committed a vast array of prayers and scripture passages to memory, and he always raved about how he never missed a week of mass and was definitely going to be a priest some day.However, he rarely seemed to practice his faith. He was obnoxious and defiant in class, disrespectful to teachers, and the only assignments he turned in were the ones he managed to copy from someone else.This young man had quite a reputation for being religious and, indeed, he prayed frequently and went frequently mass.However, he failed to act on anything he prayed about.His prayers had little meaning.
In some ways it is unfair to pick on this particular guy for praying mindlessly, because the v…

Monday of the First Week of Lent

Readings for March 14th: Monday of the First Week of Lent

- Patrick Sier, '11

Today’s Gospel gives us what many would consider to be a Manichean conception of the last Judgment. Humanity is not only separated into two wholly distinct and separated groups, but made his followers into what atheists would gleefully label as “sheep” in the eyes of Jesus. Isn't religion, after all, just another method of social control to turn people into thoughtless animals?
The parable unfolds along the lines of a distinction made between those who have cared for Jesus, who is present in one’s neighbor, and those who have ignored him. At first glance, this would seem a bit preposterous. Surely, the “sheep” could not possibly have cared for their neighbors at everyturn; further, is it not similarly unlikely that the “goats,” or damned, shunned every one of their neighbors at every opportunity? Perhaps this reading misses the mark. Perhaps it is that case that Jesus is not telling us how he judges us…

First Sunday of Lent, II

Readings for Sunday, March 13th: First Sunday of Lent

- Ryan G. Duns, SJ

There are any number of ways to approach today's Gospel reading. Henri Nouwen, the priest and author, pointed out that Jesus' temptations are ones we today experience. Jesus' temptation to turn stones into bread is the temptation to relevance: I feel a draw always to matter, to be on the inside, to be of value or use to the group. None of us ever wants to be irrelevant, to be sure, but how easy is it to build one's identity on what one does rather than the person that one is
The second temptation Jesus face is to be spectacular. Throwing oneself from a parapet is certainly a way to get attention...some things don't change, even after 2,000 years! Yet think of the dynamic at play: it is so often desirable to "show off" or perform unnecessarily. In a world of Twitter, IM, Facebook and...gulp....Blogs, there can be a drive to be the center of attention, to have all eyes fixed "on me…