Saturday, July 30, 2011

St. Ignatius Feast Eve

Tomorrow is 31 July on which we observe the Solemnity of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.  Despite tomorrow being Sunday it will be observed as a solemnity in Jesuit houses with the readings of the feast rather than the Sunday readings.  Tomorrow evening all the Sydney Jesuits will gather at the high school for dinner.  

I went into Sydney today to run some errands.  These included stopping at Ted's Camera for a few things such as a UV filter, additional card, lens cover and such.  I hadn't planned on staying long.  But, it was a glorious day.  I left Ted's and walked toward one of the parks.  Started taking photos.  Three hours later I'd shot around 300 and then came home much later than planned but quite content.  Rule:  Always carry camera.  

First, the homily for yesterday's Memorial of St. Martha.  

Memorial of St. Martha
29 July 2011

1 Jn 4:7-16
Ps 34
Lk 10:38-42

Pop quiz today.  Please take out your #2 pencils and circle the best answer:  When I place myself in this story I am:
A.             Mary
B.             Martha
C.            Both of the above
D.            Neither of the above
E.             Could you repeat the question?  I was too busy making up my shopping list.

The familiar story of Martha and Mary is dramatic but lacking in detail.  There are many things we don’t know.  Was Jesus expected or did he drop in?  What did Martha cook? Was the kitchen separate or was the house an “open concept floor plan?”  Any servants?  One thing we do know.  Martha exhibited cranky and rude behavior.  When Martha asked her guest  to intervene in a conflict between her and her sister she committed an appalling breach of etiquette.  It would be mortifying for any of us to have our host ask, “Will you PLEASE tell that husband of mine—or the wife, or that lazy kid—to get moving and help me?  Maybe he’ll listen to you.  Maybe you can get her to do something!”

It is unspeakably rude to drag a guest into a family squabble.  It is equally rude to ignore a guest while muttering to oneself, even silently, about how much work this is, and I don’t get any help, and I’d rather be sitting down having a cup of coffee and listening to Jesus and, and, and . . . . . “HEY!  Will you tell that . . . . “

The gospel gives us a negative behavioral role model.  But, it also tells us about the nature of prayer.  It tells us about the better part that was Mary’s but not exclusively hers.  It could have been Martha’s as well if only she had stopped whinging.

Prayer is an ongoing conversation with God.  It is a dialog of speaking to and listening to.  It does not require heroic effort, a particular place, a special posture, candles, books, rosary beads or anything else.  All of these have their places.  But, like Martha, we are busy trying to get everything done.  We have to: get to the market, pick up the kids, make dinner, balance the checkbook, mow the lawn and get the dry cleaning.  Today.  At these times it is critical to recall that busyness does not make prayer impossible.  Prayer requires only one thing: attentiveness to Jesus’ word.  It requires only that we be disposed to be at Jesus’ feet, listening as Mary did, even if we are bustling about as Martha was.  Of course we must imitate Mary at times.  We are called to listen attentively to the Word of God as proclaimed in the Gospel.  We are called to enter into the mystery of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist at Mass rather than calculating how soon we can exit the church after communion and escape the crush in the parking lot. 

The correct answer to the quiz is C:  Both of the above.   St. Ignatius is a perfect illustration of C.

On Sunday we will celebrate his solemnity.  The depth and focus of Ignatius’ prayer resembled Mary’s.  But, like Martha, he also dealt with many distractions:  He wrote a vast number of letters.  By hand.  He was writing our Constitutions, missioning men throughout the world, and answering hundreds of questions as the Society grew by leaps and bounds.  And his health was chronically poor.  Despite the busyness the fruits of his prayer influenced, and will continue to influence, world history in ways that can never be overestimated. 

Like Martha he was very busy.  Unlike Martha he was disposed to hear and contemplate the word of God in the midst of his distractions.

Like Martha, we are anxious and upset about many things.  In the end however, only one thing is required.  It is our choice whether or not we will give God that attention and inner disposition necessary to have the better part in the midst of that busyness.
Two black and whites.  One is a long shot toward a fountain in the park.  The other is a bottle under a tree.  An empty (cheap) wine bottle.  

There was a guy at the fountain making bubbles that ranged from the size of those that come in bubble jars with the little round plastic wand to some real monsters.  A few kids were going berserk chasing them.

Wandered over toward St. Mary's Cathedral (Catholic) to see a wedding arriving in two Rolls Royces.  
Then there was this bird engaging in a form of cannibalism with some leftover KFC.  He was really tearing into it.  
I never expected to see ice-skating in Sydney.  This was outdoors directly in front of the cathedral.  Note the safety-cone-orange skates.  Obviously immune to being stolen. 
Some kids were giving an exhibition.  This young girl is twelve and has been skating for about five years. 
And finally an Art Deco theater down by the Victoria Building and train station.  Can't build anything like that today.
+Fr. Jack

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