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    The Lenten Daily Devotional

    March 8, 2019
    The Lenten Daily Devotional is a project of The Jesuit Center in partnership with University Advancement.


    April 21

    Easter Sunday

    Our celebration of Easter today is not simply an opportunity to remember and reflect on an historical event that occurred 2,000 years ago. More importantly it is an opportunity to enter into the most sacred mysteries as fully as we can. In the Jewish tradition at the Passover Seder, the youngest person at the table asks, “Why is this night different than every other night?” Note that the child doesn’t ask, “Why was this night different from every other night?” Like Passover, Easter for us is the celebration of the present reality. Because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, today we celebrate the certain promise of eternal life.

    Rather than reflecting on and remembering the past, I hope that today we will pray for a fuller appreciation of God’s love revealed here and now. In his great poem “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” the Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, poignantly expresses what this might mean: “Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.” Hopkins hopes that the dawn of this Easter morning and every morning will make us aware of God’s grace moving always within us drawing us closer to God’s love.

    On behalf of the University community, I wish you and your family and friends a Blessed Easter.  Let’s pray for each other throughout this holiest of seasons for a more abiding understanding of God’s unconditional love for each of us individually and together as a community.

    Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.
    University President

    April 20

    Holy Saturday

    "What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

    Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

    The Lord approached them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: 'My Lord be with you all.' And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

    ‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.
    A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday

    PRAYER
    Almighty, ever-living God, whose Only-begotten Son descended to the realm of the dead, and rose from there to glory, grant that your faithful people, who were buried with him in baptism, may, by his resurrection, obtain eternal life.


    April 19

    Good Friday

    The Stations of the Cross Prayer Experience

    Click to enter into a visual, prayerful encounter with the Stations of the Cross on your computer, tablet or smartphone, which combines paintings of the 14 Stations, passages from Scripture and a brief meditation on how Fr. Arrupe offered his own suffering to the Lord.

    Source: Jesuits.org/Lent

    April 18

    The story of the last supper, with its tales of sacrificed body and blood and Passover traditions, recounts a solemn evening. It’s a meal shared among family and friends with an ominous wave of history waiting just outside the door. It includes tales of betrayal, cryptic references to Jesus’ fate, and the powerful symbolism of the foot washing. All of these events provide rich fodder for discussion and reflection. In this space, I’d like to focus on the feet.

    Like other stories in the gospels, Jesus turns the hierarchy on its head. He acknowledges that he is their leader and teacher but that in that position, in particular, he should be the one washing their feet. He directs the disciples to do the same for others. The act symbolizes powerful humility and stands in distinct contrast to the arrogance of those who seek to use power for their own benefit.

    Jesus’ actions that evening remind me of the example set by Pope Francis. As he stood on the balcony at Saint Peters upon being named Pope, his reaction was to seek the prayers and blessing of the assembly. “Please pray for me,” he told the crowd. Of course, Francis is known too for washing the feet of prisoners in a Rome jail on Holy Thursday.

    This Holy Thursday, as we enjoy time with family, friends, colleagues or strangers, let’s ask for the grace to understand and externalize the powerful humility exercised by Jesus and demonstrated by Francis.

    Robert B. Farrell
    General Counsel 

     


    April 17

    For most of my life, the prayers and traditions of my Catholic faith did not resonate with me.  Don’t get me wrong, I was a “good girl” and went to Mass and did all of the things that were expected of a person reared in the faith.  I didn't embrace the faith because I didn't really understand it.  However, with age has come some wisdom and thankfully a growth in my faith life as well.  What was once a bland faith life now regularly brings me great joy.  Everything has more “color” now that my relationship with Christ has become more intimate.

    That’s why this week is so painful for me.  To think that an innocent Jesus was purposefully hurt by being crowned with thorns and whipped saddens me.  You see, when I was a girl my family had a Washington Hawthorn tree in our yard and more than a few times I ran into those rather large thorns… and it really hurt badly!  When I think of Jesus being crowned with thorns like those on the Hawthorn tree my heart breaks because I know how much pain they can inflict having run into that tree many times in my childhood.  I can only imagine how much blood would have been running down his face, into his eyes, and matting in his beard.  Jesus endured the pain of the crown and the whip just to carry that large cross on which he was to die.  His strength was more than just human strength and I can only stand in awe of what he did for me…what he did for us.

    Treva VanHorn
    University Bookstore


    April 16

    After four months of being here in Andahuaylillas, Peru I have had time to observe and reflect on a number of practices and traditions.  One of my favorite traditions is the weekly Misa or Mass which is celebrated at home. In our practice, Misa is typically hosted by the Jesuit Volunteer (JV) house or by the Jesuits in their home (residence) in Urcos on a day other than Sunday. Typically, we invite people of the community to gather, break bread together, and reflect on the daily readings. Unlike the average Sunday Mass, every person has the opportunity to share their own homily, reflections or petitions openly with the group. I appreciate the different and more intimate settings of our weeklyMisa because we are surrounded by our companions, coworkers and at times, new faces. It is a truly beautiful experience that changes based on who attends and what is shared amongst the group.

    Although we didn’t have our weekly Misa because of Semana Santa (Holy Week) we did have a community event. On Sunday, there was a procession in which an icon of Jesus on the Cross was brought from a temple about a mile from Andahuaylillas into the San Pedro de Apostol Temple. It may be a bit difficult to see from the pictures below, but the Peruvian depiction of Jesus on the Cross is dressed in bright blue and yellow garments. Written on the garments in Quechua, and on one of the banners, is Hermandad del Señor de los Temblores (The Brotherhood of the Lord of Earthquakes). The Lord of Earthquakes had its origins after a 1650 earthquake destroyed much of Cusco’s Cathedral. Amidst the destruction, a group of men went into the Cathedral to rescue the statue of Jesus on the Cross. After the event, the icon was known as “El Señor de los Temblores” and eventually recognized as the patron saint of Cusco.

    Most parishes down here have similar icons or statues depicting different patron saints throughout the region. Each year, a brotherhood or group takes the responsibility of carrying out their special icon in a large procession led by their local pastor (in our case, a Jesuit!). This is just one form of Andean-Christian syncretism present within the Quispicanchi region of Peru. There are many more depictions of syncretism here in the Andes Mountains due to the large indigenous Quechua speaking population. For more images and murals of the Templo and other information click here.

    Syncretism in action: In the above representation of The Last Supper, we can see that a cuy or guinea-pig, can be found at the center of the table. Yes, a guinea-pig! Believe it or not, cuy is a delicacy here and is eaten at baptisms, marriages, and many other festive occasions. It was a way that that Christian groups (mostly Jesuits in this area) adapted the Christian message to the culture. This mural can be seen inside the Cathedral in Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru.

    No matter the culture, the Gospel message is the same: Jesus loves and cares for each and every one of us. He proves that love through his actions this Holy Week by giving us His body and blood, by washing His disciples’ feet, and by going to His death in order to save us from our sins.

    Luis Melgar ’18, Exercise Science
    Luis is currently serving in the Jesuit Volunteer Corp in Andahuahlillas, Peru


    April 15

    "…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."  
    -Ben Franklin

    Apr 15th – Happy Tax Day! Hoping by now you have filed your return (phew, just got mine in), and hoping even more so for a healthy refund. No avoiding paying your taxes, at least not without penalty.

    Same applies to the other certainty in life – death. No cheating your way out of this, unless your name is Lazarus and you have a friend named Jesus. In today’s readings, the chief priests are plotting to kill Lazarus to quiet the buzz created by Jesus’ miracle (raising Lazarus from the dead a few weeks ago). Will they succeed? Will it make a difference? Will they instead plot to kill someone else – maybe Jesus, the miracle worker himself? Welcome to Holy Week!

    So, let’s tie this all together – death and taxes. You could argue a tax of 30 pieces of silver was the catalyst that led to Jesus’ death, and ironically Jesus’ death has given us eternal life. And this is what the Easter season is all about.

    Life, living each day to the fullest. Let’s shift our focus from death and taxes, such dreary topics, to life and awakening. Easter is a time of renewal, a time for fresh beginnings. I personally love this time of year – flowers blooming, birds chirping, grass turning green again after a long dormant winter. I feel almost as if I’ve earned this spring season after the past few months of snow, ice, and frigid temps. Easter is much the same. After weeks of Lenten sacrifices, it is time to celebrate (well, almost…a few more days to go). As I enter the final week of Lent, I’m going to look back upon the past 35 days and reflect upon my sacrifice and those of others, and at the same time look forward to prepare for the coming of Easter.

    Happy Holy Week!

    Charlie Dotter ’04, Finance
    Husband, Father, Management Consultant, and US Army Reserve Officer


    April 14

    Palm Sunday

    The “hosannas” of welcome that are shouted at Jesus today will turn later in this week to screams of “crucify him." As we begin this Holy Week, Jesus invites us to walk with him on this road. If we accept that invitation, we realize that we stand surrounded by suffering and triumph, but most of all by incredible love. The unselfish love that we see so vividly on Calvary confounds our senses. By his death, Jesus has brought us back to God and opened for us the way to eternal life.

    The weight of our cares and our responsibilities, of our struggles and longings, lies heavy upon us. Yet in our hope we know that our paths follow Jesus, who has gone before us on our way. Because He bore the cross of all the world, we gather now to follow Him. This is not only Jesus’ journey; it is our journey, too.

    And as we enter into the profound events of this week, perhaps this one thought from Saint Ignatius of Loyola might be with us as we watch with him and walk this road: “He did this for me.” If I were the only person on this planet, he would do this for me. Everything that happens this week, all of the suffering and humiliation, all of the horror and agony: He did this for me. Jesus not only died for all of us, He died for each of us.

    We who share by our baptism in the death and resurrection of Jesus, turn this week to the cross and ask that we might put the burden of our lives, the burden of our sins, not on the scales of justice, but rather, with Jesus, into the hands of the Father. 

    Rev. Herbert B. Keller, S.J.
    Rector of the Scranton Jesuit Community
    Special Assistant to the President


    April 13

    A Note about Holy Week from The Jesuit Center Staff 

    In the coming days, Christians the world over will observe Holy Week.  The week begins tomorrow with the commemoration of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem and follows Him through His Last Supper and the washing of the Disciples’ feet on Thursday through the agony of the cross and the stark reality of Jesus’ death.  Of course the culmination of Holy Week takes us through these events to the joyful experience of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  We here at the Jesuit Center urge you to take a few moments every day to pray through these important episodes in the life of Jesus and remember that it is through His death and resurrection that we are continually brought to new life.


    April 12

    "We know that the state of sin distances us from God. But in fact, sin is the way that we distance ourselves from him. Yet that does not mean that God distances himself from us. The state of weakness and confusion that results from sin is one more reason for God to remain close to us. The certainty of this should accompany us throughout our lives….His grace is constantly at work in us, to strengthen our hope that his love will never be lacking, in spite of any sin we many have committed by rejecting his presence in our lives."

    Pope Francis


    April 11

    Interview between Fr. Patrick Rogers, S.J. and Victoria Chiulli '21, Occupational Therapy major   

    Fr. Patrick: Welcome to The Jesuit Center, Victoria. I know how busy you are so we’re honored that you were able to take some time for this interview. You’ve told me in the past that the continued development of your faith life is important to you, so what Lenten practice or experience helps you come closer to God?

    Victoria: Hmmmmmm…. That’s a tough question because every Lent seems to be different.

    Fr. Patrick: Hold that thought, please, because that’s a good insight. Our faith lives do change from year to year and acknowledging that is a good thing! Can you tell us about an experience that was significant to your faith life deepening?

    Victoria: My family has always been fairly conscientious when it comes to following Lenten fasts and things like that, but it wasn’t until I participated in my parish youth group's annual Good Friday Live Action Stations of the Cross that it really hit home to me what a gift my faith was.

    Fr. Patrick: How so?

    Victoria: Our parish youth director was just an inspiring person and she really helped us realize what the Passion of Christ was about so that our dramatization would be really affective. For example, we’d begin The Stations in complete darkness with only a spotlight to illuminate the specific area of the church where each station was being portrayed.  “Jesus” was carrying the cross from one point of the church to another and finally ended up being “crucified” right in front of the church’s main altar.  Nothing was sugar-coated and it was powerful for those who saw it and for those of us who performed it.

    Fr. Patrick: Was there any scene or station that was particularly poignant for you?

    Victoria: The last time I participated as a senior in high school I portrayed Jesus’ mother, Mary, and so the last two stations hit me really hard (the one’s where Jesus is taken off the cross and placed in the tomb).  I had to hold Jesus’ crucified body when it was taken off the cross and then wrap it in cloth. Praying through the Stations of the Cross was intense and helped me to more deeply understand the human experience of all those present at the Crucifixion, especially Jesus and Mary.  People would literally be weeping in the congregation and when the stations were finished we’d take time to venerate the cross as it stood in front of the altar.  Participating in this parish activity helped me to have a much closer and stronger relationship with both God the Father and Jesus His son.  I also think it helped me to realize some of what Lent is all about, and what we are preparing for, including Easter.

    Fr. Patrick: Thanks for sharing your story, Victoria.  As always, it is a delight to see you

    Victoria: Thank you for asking me to share my experience!


    April 10

    This video was posted by @wearethejesuits, an Instagram account belonging to the Jesuits of the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit Jesuits.org/Lent. 

    The Jesuit Center Staff


    April 9

    Thoughts about the passing of Jayne Lucas, Director of Liturgy and Liturgical Music

    "The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgy" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 112).

    Our university community is suffering these days in light of the death of our beloved colleague, friend, and mentor, Jayne Lucas.  Jayne, a top-flight musician, directed the liturgies and the music that accompanied our Masses and other forms of liturgical prayer for many years here at The University of Scranton.  If you’ve been to one of the large campus gatherings like the Mass of the Holy Spirit or the Baccalaureate Mass in the last decade and a half, then you’ve experienced Jayne’s skilled work shaping our communal prayer experience.

    Jayne’s greatest joy was working with the students, forming them as liturgical ministers, and rehearsing the vocal and instrumental ensembles for all University liturgical celebrations.  Jayne approached her work with great passion, professionalism, and prayerfulness, fed by the knowledge that she was helping students appreciate and love sacred music while preparing them to assume leadership roles within the Church.

    Jayne taught us all that the liturgy is "the participation of the People of God in 'the work of God'" and the "exercise of the priestly office of Jesus" in which God is worshiped and adored and people are made holy (Liturgical Guidelines from the National Conference of Catholic Bishops).

    Thank you for always reminding us that we participate in the unfolding of God’s Divine Plan and that we are forever in the process of being made holy.  Your generous spirit will be greatly missed on our campus but our sadness at your passing from us to new life in Christ is mitigated by the sure and certain hope that you are now playing before God and the heavenly courts!  Rest in peace, Jayne, with the sure and certain knowledge that the lessons you’ve taught us will live on in the inspired liturgies at The University of Scranton for generations to come.

    The Jesuit Center Staff


    April 8 

    Pope Francis goes to New York. He is picked up at the airport by a car, but upon seeing his driver looking tired and disheveled, the Pope decides that he is going to drive himself to the hotel. He says to the driver, "You know, I hardly ever get to drive. Would you please let me?"

    The driver is understandably hesitant and says, "I'm sorry, but I don't think I'm supposed to do that."
    But the Pope persists, "Please?" The driver finally lets up. "Oh, all right, I can't really say no to the Pope."
    So, the Pope takes the wheel, and boy, is he a speed demon! He hits the gas and goes around 100 mph in a 45 zone. A police officer notices and pulls him over.

    The police officer walks up to the car and asks the Pope to roll down the window. Startled and surprised when he sees Pope Francis, the young officer asks the Pope to wait a minute. He goes back to his patrol car and radios the chief.

    Officer: Chief, I have a problem.
    Chief: What sort of problem?
    Officer: Well, you see, I pulled over this guy for driving way over the speed limit but it's someone really important.
    Chief: Important like the mayor?
    Officer: No, no, much more important than that.
    Chief: Important like the governor?
    Officer: Wayyyyyy more important than that.
    Chief: Like the president?
    Officer: More.
    Chief: Who's more important than the president?
    Officer: I don't know, but he's got the Pope driving for him!
    Have a blessed week!

    The Jesuit Center Staff


    April 7 

    So, I’ve been thinking, why is it that the woman who was caught in adultery is brought before Jesus to be condemned but not the man?  After all, the Law of Moses is very clear that both parties who engage in adulterous behavior should be condemned.  The books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy don’t pull any punches when it comes to the way adultery is supposed to be dealt with in that culture.
    If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10).
    And
    If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel (Deuteronomy 22:22).
    Wow!  This is really strong language and doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for misinterpretation. Yet, the Teachers of The Law and the Pharisees brought the woman before the crowd to shame and condemn her while giving her “partner” a pass.  In doing so, these “righteous men” are violating the very law they are claiming to uphold - their duplicity on full display for all to see.
    But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.  When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground (John 8: 6-8).
    What was Jesus writing on the ground?  Was he detailing the sins of that poor woman’s accusers?  Was he writing out the passages from Leviticus and Deuteronomy as a reminder that he’s on to their wicked plot?  Personally, when I pray over this passage, I imagine that Jesus wrote the word forgiveness on that dusty plot of earth.  Forgiveness as a word of comfort for the accused woman but also as a word of challenge for those who are willing to use the Law as a weapon and forget that at the heart of the gospel message is mercy and forgiveness. 
     
    Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J.
    Executive Director, The Jesuit Center


    April 6 

    "Jesus is our Teacher, powerful in word and deed.  Jesus imparts to us all the light that illuminates the sometimes dark paths of our lives.  He also transmits to us the necessary strength to overcome difficulties, trials, and temptations.  Let us consider what a great grace it is for us to have known this God who is so powerful and so good!  A teacher and a friend who shows us the path and takes care of us especially when we are in need."
     
    - Pope Francis



     
    April 4

    Interview between Fr. Patrick Rogers, S.J. and Lynn King Andres ’89, P'17, Director of the Parent’s Executive Council

    Lynn and I shared a cup of hot tea as I asked her questions about her time here as a student leader in our university music ministry.

    Fr. Patrick: Welcome to The Jesuit Center, Lynn, it’s always a joy to see you. Can you tell us about your involvement in the liturgical music ministry of the university when you were a student back in the late 1980s? 

    Lynn: I loved my time here at the U. It was one of the most important times in my life. The folks that were forming student ministers at that time had a tremendous impact on my life as a student and my life 30 years later. Kathy Kanavy really helped form my sense of what it means to serve as a minister of music.

    Fr. Patrick: You were a work-study student in Campus Ministries, no?

    Lynn: Yep, I did that for all four of my glorious years!  Even though I worked for everyone in Campus Ministries I did quite a bit of work with music ministry. Fast forward 30 years and I am serving as a music ministry leader in my parish. Old habits die hard.

    Fr. Patrick: Can you tell us about planning for something like a liturgical season? What’s it like to plan music for Lent? Was it difficult? Easy?

    Lynn: It takes a lot of thought, preparation, and prayer that’s for sure.  First you’ve got to know backward and forwards all of the readings for the Sundays and then sit down and actually figure out which songs would be best matched to each of the readings for that particular Sunday.

    Fr. Patrick: That sounds really intimidating! Did it take long to put all that music together?

     Lynn: Let’s put it this way - I used to call myself a resimuter (resident/commuter) because I was on campus so much people thought I lived here, when in fact I was a commuter! Yeah, it took a long time because every week of Lent has its own focus and we really wanted to give those coming to Mass a sense that they were on a journey during Lent.

    Fr. Patrick: Is there a particular song from that time period that you still listen to that helps you pray during Lent?

    Lynn: Hmmmm, let me think about that (takes a sip of tea). Marty Haugen’s “Song of the Exile” helps me pray because the lyrics of the song are directed to God instead of being about God. There is a line that I believe is appropriate to our Lenten journey and it goes:

     I am broken so I call to my Savior, as the waves roar down sweeping over my head and I call to you, be with me now

    O God of my life.

    Lent is a journey and a time to bring our brokenness to God. I still find great comfort when I sing these words even after 30 years. 

    Fr. Patrick: Thanks so much for giving us such a wonderful reflection on music and Lent. Good luck with your future music making, Lynn!

    Lynn: Thanks, Father. You keep on singing and playing too!


    April 3 
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    The above image is a snapshot of an Instagram post by @wearethejesuits, an Instagram account belonging to the Jesuits of the US and Canada. For more information, visit Jesuits.org/Lent. 


    April 2 

    Psalm 32:10 says: "Steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD."

    The time of waiting ... waiting to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is essential, however, to reflect and to be truly  intentional  when it comes to waiting. We are not only waiting for minutes to turn to hours, or for hours to turn to days. During Lent, we are not only  acknowledging our own sins , but we are also providing adequate space for forgiveness  that comes with them. 

    To our own sins, or the sins of those around us,is no easy task. It requires a sincere level of trust in God in each image. But who else molds us? During this Lenten season, we consider spending our time and energy.

    Psalm 37: 7-8 says: "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not freight when people succeed in theirways,when they carry out their wicked schemes. Chorus from anger and turn from wrath; do not pay-it only leads to evil. " 

    Challenge yourselves to  be patient , even when you feel stressed or overwhelmed and  empathy , even when you feel as though you do not make a difference. Recognize the community in which we are injured every day. We are preparing to celebrate the resurrection, we can practice by celebrating the success of our peers. Consider our Jesuit teaching of cura personalis; in order to care for us, we need to give to ourselves. 

    “Patience is bitter, but the fruit is sweet."
    – Aristotle 

    Patience is a virtue; which lies on a fine line between two extremes of apathy and impetuousness. It is an ongoing journey, whereas with anything, we may find ourselves having “good days” and “bad days.” Consider the “good days” this Lenten season, and find the abilities and desires within yourselves to exercise patience with our loved ones, even in times of increased frustration as we continue to await Jesus Christ.

    Breanna Betarie '17
    Graduate Student, Clinical Mental Health Counseling

    April 1

    A priest was being honored at his retirement dinner after 25 years in the parish.  A leading local politician and member of the congregation was chosen to make the presentation and give a short speech at the dinner.  Since the politician was delayed, the priest decided to say his own few words while they waited:

    “I got my first impression of the parish from the first confession I heard here. I thought I had been assigned to a terrible place.  The very first person who entered my confessional told me he had stolen a television set and, when questioned by the police, lied his way out of it.  He had stolen money from his parents, embezzled from his employer, had taken illegal drugs and lived in an almost constant state of drunkenness.  On top of all that, he’d been unchaste and immoral in both word and deed."

    "I was appalled," said the priest, "but as the days went on, I learned that my people were not all like that and I had, indeed, come to a fine parish full of good and loving people.”

    Just as the priest finished his talk, the politician arrived full of apologies at being late.  He stepped up to the microphone and began to speak: “I’ll never forget the first day our parish priest arrived. In fact, I had the honor of being the first person to go to him for confession.”


    March 31
    Parable of the Loving Father

    Miss Stanton, the first-grade teacher asks little Johnny, “If you had one dollar and you asked your father for another, how many dollars would you have?”  Johnny replies, “One dollar.”  The teacher says, “Johnny, you don’t seem to understand arithmetic.”  Johnny says, “Miss Stanton, you don’t know my Dad!”

    Today’s gospel offers us the image of a generous Dad, a forgiving Dad, a fantastic Father who is Love.  Such is our God.

    Jesus delivers this truth about our God by telling a parable, a story that stuns and stings with a moral challenge: we too are to love those who do us wrong, those who fail and flounder, those who seemingly don’t deserve or merit our love.  We are to reach out to the “losers”: the last and the least, the lonely and the lost.

    The first thing to note is who is present listening to the parables of the Lost sheep, the Lost coin, and the Lost Son in chapter 15 of Luke’s gospel.  “The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’ ”

    The Pharisees weren’t bad guys.  They were desperately trying to keep the Jewish people from being changed by the values and lifestyles of the hated Roman overlords and the Greek culture of the times.  Rather than realizing that the religious rules of Moses, the law, were made for the human family to help us grow happy and free, they saw those who could not live up to the law as those worthy of being shunned and ostracized.

    Jesus radically reimagines God.  Jesus’ God, the Father, loves us and wants the best for us.  God doesn’t want to punish us.  God wants to “set things right” (Isaiah 1:18).

    And thus the story of the two stupid sons, or better, the generous and forgiving Father.  It is the tale of an irresponsible and immature boy, who literally wishes his father dead so he can get the inheritance coming to him.  After wasting all he is given, he is reduced to utter poverty and degradation, willing to eat the food of unclean animals, pigs.  

    On “coming to his senses” he realizes the only salvation is going back to his father.  He humbly realizes even being a servant in his father’s house is better than his present condition.
    Surprisingly, the father rushes to greet him, lavishes gifts on him, throws a big party!

    And who is not happy?  The older son.  He disrespectfully addresses his father: “LOOK, all these years I’ve served you…”  He’s stamping his foot like the kid in the Brady Bunch, “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”

    The parable challenges us to think about how God wants us to reflect about the “sinners” in our world and how we might engage them in a way that does not blame or bring shame.  God wants us to accept and treat repentant sinners as the father treats the lost son.

    On another level, this parable shows we are deeply challenged to “set things right” in our families.  These two are brothers, where it seems the older had great difficulty forgiving his younger brother or attending the great feast given for this young man who was once lost but has now been found again.  This gospel passage also challenges us to consider ways we might reconcile with others, especially estranged family members.  After all, who of us does not have a family member with whom we ought to reconcile?

    Not an easy message today.  But no one ever said being a disciple of Jesus would be easy.

    Rev. Rick Malloy, S.J.
    University Chaplain 


    March 30 

    Jesus did not come to bring salvation detached from people.  He is in the midst of the crowd!  In the midst of the people!  Just think that most of Jesus’ public ministry took place on the streets, among the people; to preach the Gospel, to heal the physical and spiritual wounds.  This crowd of which the gospel often speaks is a humanity marked by differing.  It is a humanity marked by suffering, toil, and problems.  It is to this poor humanity that Jesus’ powerful, liberating, and renewing action is directed."

    - Pope Francis

    PRAYER

    Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
     
    Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
    Where there is hatred, let me sow charity;
    Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is error, truth;
    Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope;
    Where there is darkness, light; and Where there is sadness, joy.
    O, Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
    To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love;
    For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
     
    And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life.
    Amen.


    March 29

    Gospel Reading: Mark 12:28-34

    In outlining his vision for the establishment of Georgetown College in the 1780s, one-time Jesuit and bishop, John Carroll, expressed his desire that the new school be open to students of every religious faith, with the promise that they would be at liberty to frequent their chosen places of worship without bias. Carroll’s desire to create a welcoming community in a shared search for truth not only helped establish the new college in the District of Columbia, but established a model for Jesuit colleges and universities throughout the United States in the decades that followed.

    Today’s gospel reading reminds us that in our individual search for God, we must also be open to, and aware of, the experience of our neighbors:

    And to love him with all your heart,
    with all your understanding,
    with all your strength,
    and to love your neighbor as yourself
    is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.

    Both Carroll’s founding vision for Georgetown and the call to love our neighbor as ourselves are very much alive at The University of Scranton. This commitment to loving our neighbor can be found across our campus in students gathering at the “Bursting Your Political Bubble” dialogues or in students participating in a social justice retreat. This commitment is also found in the many ways our university gives back to the Scranton community, from the Leahy Clinic to the student volunteers at the United Neighborhood Center. At the global level, ISP service trips to places like Haiti and the Dominican Republic and, in particular, our shared commitment to serve the refugee community here in Scranton.

    In a global culture that seems overly focused on division, the message of loving our neighbors as ourselves is especially relevant. The importance of community and loving our neighbors as ourselves is at the heart of what it means to be a part of The University of Scranton. Today’s gospel passage gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on both our good fortune to be a part of such a community and of our responsibility to make sure that the boundaries of that community never stop expanding.

    David Dzurec, Ph.D.
    History Department, Chair


    REFLECTION—March 28

    “My one command to them was this: Listen to my voice, then I will be your God and you shall be my people. In everything, follow the way that I mark out for you, and you shall prosper.”
    -Jeremiah 7:23-28

    The word “command” is daunting.  It puts forth a sort of requirement that we know we can never meet.  Not with any consistency anyway.  In the spiritual context, commands can put us in a difficult position, especially when they come directly from God.  And this is for one simple reason: sin.  

    We know the path and we know the answer to our struggles and our ills.  “In everything, follow the way I mark out for you, and you shall prosper.”  

    But my wife has strep throat and the kids have an unearthly amount of homework.  How do I keep my gaze on God?  There’s a bit of important news that just came out.  How do I put my iPad down when there’s one more story to read or one more video to watch?  And the Phillies signed Bryce Harper and the Sweet 16 games are coming up this week.  Surely God would want me to have a little respite.

    It’s easy to get distracted and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  But as we get overwhelmed, we tend to block the path between us and God.  During Lent, we are consistently reminded that we are not the only ones who struggle. Today we are giving a simple and direct reminder:  “Listen to my voice.”  

    The Lord implores us to lighten our burden.  Lent is a time to acknowledge our sin – the desolations that lead us away from God – and to correct the path.  Forgiveness is real and God wants us to turn towards Him.

    It’s getting warmer.  Maybe instead of talking about basketball this week I’ll go outside today and shoot some hoops with the kids.  I’ll take charge and help with the homework.  Maybe it will take them out of my wife’s hair while she recovers!

    Hopefully, I’ll take the time to acknowledge God during these moments, to thank Him for giving me yet another chance at forgiveness, to surround me with grace and blessings, and for the example of his sacrifice.

    Ryan Sheehan
    The Jesuit Center 


    March 27
    b33768c6794191e08418d0c1_1220x1084.png

    The above image is a snapshot of an Instagram post by @wearethejesuits, an Instagram account belonging to the Jesuits of the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit Jesuits.org/Lent

    The Jesuit Center Staff


    March 26

    In response to the Gospel, Matthew 18:21-35 The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant 

    “In our sometimes dark world we are often given moments of light that not only illuminate our way, but remind us that God is with us. One kind of these moments happens frequently, and you’ve probably heard about it, read about it, or even encountered it yourself. I’m speaking about moments of radical forgiveness: those amazing stories, which you’ve seen in newspapers, on television, or online, of men and women forgiving people responsible for horrific crimes committed against them or, more typically, against members of their families...You might be thinking of a situation in your own life and say, 'I can never forgive. It’s impossible.' Then look at what Jesus does from the cross. If anyone had the right not to forgive, it was Jesus. If anyone had the right to lash out in anger, it was Jesus. If anyone had the right to feel unjustly persecuted, it was Jesus. Yet even though the Roman soldiers do not express remorse in front of him, Jesus not only forgives them; he prays for them. Notice that. Jesus says, “Father, forgive them.” He’s praying for them...Jesus always sees. And he sees beyond what people around him see. He sees people for who they really are. Forgiveness is a gift you give the other person and yourself. Jesus knows this. And he not only tells us this several times in the Gospels, but he shows us this. He is teaching us even from the cross."

    Excerpt from “Seven Last Words” by the Rev. James Martin, S.J.n response to the Gospel, Matthew 18:21-35 The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant 

    “In our sometimes dark world we are often given moments of light that not only illuminate our way, but remind us that God is with us. One kind of these moments happens frequently, and you’ve probably heard about it, read about it, or even encountered it yourself. I’m speaking about moments of radical forgiveness: those amazing stories, which you’ve seen in newspapers, on television, or online, of men and women forgiving people responsible for horrific crimes committed against them or, more typically, against members of their families...You might be thinking of a situation in your own life and say, 'I can never forgive. It’s impossible.' Then look at what Jesus does from the cross. If anyone had the right not to forgive, it was Jesus. If anyone had the right to lash out in anger, it was Jesus. If anyone had the right to feel unjustly persecuted, it was Jesus. Yet even though the Roman soldiers do not express remorse in front of him, Jesus not only forgives them; he prays for them. Notice that. Jesus says, “Father, forgive them.” He’s praying for them...Jesus always sees. And he sees beyond what people around him see. He sees people for who they really are. Forgiveness is a gift you give the other person and yourself. Jesus knows this. And he not only tells us this several times in the Gospels, but he shows us this. He is teaching us even from the cross."

    Excerpt from “Seven Last Words” by the Rev. James Martin, S.J.


    March 25
    You know you’re a Catholic when… 
    1. You know you’re a Catholic when you genuflect before you go into a row at a movie theater. #catholicproblems

    2. When you’re at a priest’s brother’s house, do you call them uncle? #catholicproblems

    3. Star Wars: “May the force be with you.”
      Me: “And with your spirit.” #catholicproblems

    4. I got a free donut for National Donut Day but had to eat it quick to be able to make the
      1-hour Communion fast. #catholicproblems

    5. You just have to accept you won't get your usual parking spot or pew today. #catholicproblems

    6. When you pray the rosary and mix up the Nicene and Apostles creed, so you end with "Lord, you know what I meant." #catholicproblems

    Have a blessed and joyful week!

    The Jesuit Center Staff


    March 24

    Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15  Moses finds, and so might we, that the Name of God reveals God.
    The burning bush reveals that God is Far Away—on the inner side of fire. That God is Other—‘I am who am’ is much more than we are. That God is Awesome—at once different from and simpler than we are (we would write a great deal more than ‘I am’ on our resume). And that God is Transcendent—far above and beyond us.

    At the same time, Moses finds, and so might we, that God is Near—‘Therefore I have come down’; that He hears us—‘I have heard their cry of complaint’; that God is moved—‘I have witnessed their affliction’—Greek ideas of God would have trouble at God being moved or changed, but the Jewish experience of God does not. And, most of all, that God saves—‘I have come to rescue them . . . and lead them out’.

    Luke 13:1-9  What response, says Jesus? “Repent.”
    Throughout Judaism, from the days and years in the desert until now, at the highest of holydays, Yom Kippur, the essential deed is to repent. In this Gospel Jesus uses news events of his own day and time, but to us he might say: ‘Could you not have been in the mosque at Christchurch? in the tram in Utrecht? in the cyclone in Africa? in the floods of our Midwest?’ So, too, the word to us from Jesus is ‘Repent’, ‘Turn your heart to God’.

    Awesome is God, and yet Near. Let us turn to ‘I Am’ in repentance, for this God hears.

    -Rev. James Redington, S.J.
    Jesuit Center Fellow
    Adjunct Professor Theology and Religious Studies


    March 23

    Do you want to fast this Lent?
    Fast from hurting words and say kind words.
    Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude.
    Fast from anger and be filled with patience.
    Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope.
    Fast from worries and trust in God.
    Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity.
    Fast from pressures and be prayerful.
    Fast from bitterness and fill your heart with joy.
    Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others.
    Fast from grudges and be reconciled.
    Fast from words and be silent so you can listen.
    -Pope Francis


    March 22

    A Prayer for the Women through the Ages
    by Rev. Jude Geiger

    Spirit of renewal, God of many names, and one transforming and abundant love, we turn this month, in our nation's life, to reflect on the stories, the heritage and the struggles of the women throughout the ages. We seek to learn from all those voices that have been left unheard. May we pause before the silences of the ages, find who has been left out, and craft new ways of inclusion for every week, and every month. May this spiritual practice, bring out the voices of all those struggling, all those left apart. May we let go of our assumptions and cold comforts, of what is the normal to live by, unless it be a standard that is rooted in compassion, in inclusivity, in diversity. May this month of reflection teach us to search for those stories that are different from our own. Mother of possibility, in the finding, may we come to know ourselves changed. Renewed where we are dry, hopeful where we are lost, and open where we are shut.
    March is Women's History Month. Learn more at womenshistorymonth.gov. 


     
    March 21

    Interview between Fr. Patrick Rogers, S.J. and Anitra McShea, Ph.D., Associate Vice-President for Student Life

    Fr. Patrick: Good morning, Dr. McShea, and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed.

    Dr. McShea: You’re quite welcome!

    Fr. Patrick: I know you have three children who are in grade school so I was curious as to how you and your family prepare for the Lenten Season. Would you share that with our community?

    Dr. McShea: In some ways our family preparation for Lent is easy because all of our children attend Catholic schools and therefore are really well prepared to engage the Lenten Season with many activities that are appropriate to their ages.  My husband and I try to create moments in our home, either after Sunday Mass or after dinner, where we can discuss our faith with our children.  Those moments are always a gift to me and I feel so blessed to be a parent!

    Fr. Patrick: What is it about praying with your children that you find most efficacious?

    Dr. McShea: Oh my goodness there are so many things.  I really enjoy praying with my children because they aren’t as distracted as many of us adults!  They think and pray in simple terms and when I pray with them I try to recapture that same simple trust in God’s Love.

    In many ways, talking to my children about our faith gives me a framework to understand my own faith life better.  I really believe that we should try our best to remove the distractions in our lives that block us from a deeper trust and loving attitude towards God.

    Fr. Patrick: You recently told me a story about your youngest children giving a gift to Jesus this Lent.  Can you share that with the community?

    Dr. McShea: I’d be happy to!  Not long ago our family was talking about giving up things in Lent and I then brought up that it is important to give things during Lent, as well.  When I asked my two youngest what they wanted to give Jesus this Lent they excitedly told me, “A picture mommy, a picture!”  I thought that was great because that’s what children do for people they love, they draw them pictures!

    Fr. Patrick: That may be the cutest thing I’ve heard this Lent!  Thanks for sharing that story with our community and blessings to you and yours this Lenten Season.

    Dr. McShea: You’re welcome, Fr. Pat.  Blessings to you, too!



    March 20
    adceb31ed4db966dec599eeb_1220x1034.png

    The above image is a snapshot of an Instagram post dated March 6 posted by @wearethejesuits, an Instagram account belonging to the Jesuits of the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit Jesuits.org/Lent

    The Jesuit Center Staff


    March 19

    The gospel accounts do not tell us much about St. Joseph. He gets even less ink than Mary his wife and the Mother of Jesus. Nowhere in his many letters to the early Christian communities does St. Paul mention Joseph, and the Gospel of Mark, the very first gospel account, doesn’t mention Joseph at all!

    Just because scripture doesn’t tell us much about Joseph’s life doesn’t mean that he was absent from his duties as Jesus’ caregiver. Being a good Jewish father, Joseph would have been intimately involved with the raising of Jesus and would have been responsible for teaching Jesus how to navigate a very complicated world.

    For example, Joseph would have been responsible for teaching Jesus how to read and write. In my contemplative prayer I like to imagine a young Jesus sitting on Joseph’s lap listening intently to the great story of the Passover. I like to imagine Joseph patiently teaching Jesus how to read and write: his large, strong hand grasping the tiny hand of his son as he helps him learn to write the Hebrew alphabet

    When Jesus began to mature, He and Joseph would have discussed religious questions of profound significance. Jesus would have learned from Joseph’s example how to be patient and kind, how to do a job correctly, how to laugh and celebrate, and how to properly mourn the dead

    Jesus, having been raised by such a kind and loving man, had the best example of paternal love imaginable. Joseph’s love and care for Jesus gave him the knowledge and confidence He needed to follow His Heavenly Father’s call to discipleship. Through the intercession of St. Joseph, may we also have the confidence to hear the call of the Heavenly Father and follow it as trusting disciples. 


    Fr. Patrick Rogers, S.J. 
    Executive Director, The Jesuit Center 
    Godfather to amazing men named Joseph 

    March 18

    Lost on a rainy Friday night, a priest stumbles into a monastery and requests shelter there. Fortunately, he's just in time for dinner and was treated to the best fish and chips [fries] he's ever had. 

    After dinner, he goes into the kitchen to thank the chefs. He is met by two brothers: "Hello, I'm Brother Michael, and this is Brother Francis." 

    "I'm very pleased to meet you. I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful dinner. The fish and chips were the best I've ever tasted. Out of curiosity, who cooked what?" 

    Brother Michael replied, "Well, I'm the fish friar." 

    Father turns to the other brother and says, "Then you must be...." 

    "Yes, I'm afraid I'm the chip monk..." 


    The Jesuit Center Staff

    March 17

    “Our citizenship is in heaven” 

    Shared conversations can shock us with a new freedom of faith. Passionist Father Marcellus White once told me the best years as a missionary to China, 1938-1955, were those in prison, 1953-1955. How were these years “the best,” I asked? Because that time of suffering was his “opportunity to trust that God will be God,” responded Father Marcellus. This insight has always reminded me that even here on Earth “our citizenship is in heaven,” (Philippians 3: 21). 

    Acknowledging and calling upon God in heaven, Father Marcellus told me how he was provided with a profound peaceful heart. This allowed him to carry his cross. His burden was light. Moreover, he believed he was connected to peoples of the world. Instead of alone, he grew in freedom.

    This second reading heard during this Second Sunday of Lent is an invitation to acknowledge how “our citizenship is in heaven.” We do this on our Lenten journey when we humbly admit the daily crosses we carry. They can be due to personal anxiety, school, health struggles or family concerns. We even might find ourselves in prison due to the non-stop schedule of our lives. More and more a common prison that unites us all is the uncontrollable news of international political or environmental relationships. 

    During this Lent might we take the “opportunity to trust that God will be God.” This is no pie in the sky mantra. Have we ever considered that this might be our graced moment to embrace that “our citizenship is in heaven” as proclaimed in Philippians? Follow the example of Passionist Father Marcellus White. Might we name how we are suffering and in prison. Let us simultaneously name the concrete ways we desire peace for ourselves or others. Let us trust that “God will be God.” Let us acknowledge that “our citizenship is in heaven.”

    Now is the time. Let us be shocked by the freedom of faith that God can give us during this season of Lent if we are humble and faithful enough to ask.

    May the Passion of Jesus Christ Be Always In Our Hearts. 

    Father Rob Carbonneau, C.P., Ph.D. 
    Adjunct, Department of History



     
    March 16

    Excerpt from Pope Francis' Message for Lent 2019

    Dear brothers and sisters, the “Lenten” period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once more that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin (cf. Mk 1:12-13; Is 51:3). May our Lent this year be a journey along that same path, bringing the hope of Christ also to creation, so that it may be “set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain! Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them. In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation. 

    - Pope Francis


    March 15

    Interview between Fr. Patrick Rogers, S.J. and John "Russ" Sullivan, Class of 2020

    Fr. Patrick: Hey Russ, you and I are both from the Annapolis region of Maryland and both have a love for The Chesapeake Bay. I hate to admit this but when I was a boy I used to love the season of Lent because our family would get even more seafood than we normally did! You share the same passion for seafood, don’t you?
     
    Russ: (chuckling) Yes!  I loved Fridays in Lent, as well, because my family would almost always get some fresh fish from the Annapolis Seafood Market, immerse it in our special “secret” marinade and then grill it to perfection.
     
    Fr. Patrick: That sounds so good!  My mouth is watering as we speak!
     
    Russ: It should be, because it’s really good! We’d prepare different kinds of fish depending on our mood.  One Friday it might be Mahi Mahi, and the next it might be a great cut of Cod or Rockfish.  If someone caught it, we grilled it!
     
    Fr. Patrick: Let’s talk about spirituality and Lenten traditions.  I know you are a faith-filled young man and someone who prays a great deal.  What is it about the eating of fish during Lent that helps you come closer to God?
     
    Russ: A few things. First off, because we are asked to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, when I eat fish I am always reminded that we are eating this as a sign of solidarity with others.  Second, my family likes to pray together so we are very mindful of Lent as being a season of heightened awareness of God’s blessings.  Preparing and eating our Friday fish suppers together is one way our family practices our faith and something we all enjoy.
     
    Fr. Patrick: Thanks for sharing your thoughts and traditions about eating fish on Fridays during Lent.  The next time I’m back home I’m going to invite myself to your house for a Lenten fish meal!


    Russ: You are welcome anytime, Fr. Patrick!
     
    Fr. Patrick: One more thing...the secret to marinating great fish, are you going to share that with our community?  No pressure!
     
    Russ: (chuckles) I don’t know about that, Fr. Patrick...
     
    Fr. Patrick: (chuckles) Be blessed this Lent, Russ!
     
    Russ: You too, Father!

    John "Russ" Sullivan ’20 
    Russ is a junior Marketing Major in the Kania School of Management and is a Student Officer with The University of Scranton Police Department.


    March 14

    Growing up Southern Baptist, south of the Mason-Dixon and west of the Mississippi River, Lent was not something we observed.  In my spiritual upbringing it was against our tradition to do anything from dance, drink, gamble or disobey.  We spent many days and evenings in church, attending services, bible study, children’s and teen groups and family fellowship on Friday nights.  As a child, I looked forward to Friday family fellowship because the music pastor would “bring out the band” and we were able to enjoy gospel music at its finest.  In the months leading up to Easter, our church would recruit members to perform portions of The Ten Commandments, where, as children and teens, we were allowed to help with wardrobe and set-up the scenes and props.  More importantly, we were to be front and center for the performance, a time to think about what God has done for us.

    I was about ten years old when following the play and the Pastor’s sermon I went forward and “took Jesus Christ as my lord and savior,” a process where you step forward in front of the whole congregation (about 350 – 400 people) and ask to be Saved.  You spend the weeks following this moment in both personal and communal prayer, culminating in Baptism in front of the congregation.  In my church, at this time, we were baptized in the river at the edge of the church property. Draped in a white robe, we were held in the arms of the Pastor with our arms across our chests and laid back into the water, submerged and brought back up, now a child of God and baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  This wouldn’t be the last time I stepped forward and renewed my dedication to a life with Christ, each with more significance and understanding to my commitment.

    I left the Southern Baptist Church when I moved to Pennsylvania at the age of 18.  To be honest, I was torn between the new found freedoms I was experiencing and my love of God.  It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I realized I was not living a life with Christ, yet I had trouble finding a spiritual home.  I did find solace in Mass, yet initially felt very uncomfortable with the differences in services, traditions and beliefs.  I would attend Mass regularly (and struggle through each service) but found a sense of peace was with me when I did.  At some point I began observing the Lenten traditions of the Church and I began to find my spiritual balance again.  Now I look forward to this time of renewal and commitment and I enjoy the opportunity to live and practice my faith in a more precise way.

    This Lent, my fiancé and I committed to finding more balance in life, setting aside time every day for prayer and meditation, which means giving up time otherwise spent.  It is during this time we are able to connect to our truest selves, clear our minds and go forth in each day as God would want us to.

    Elisa S. Gibson ’99, ’10, G'13, G'20
    Human Resources Specialist
    Graduate Student, Clinical Mental Health Counseling


    March 13

    One Lenten tradition that my grade school put forth every year was a school-wide presentation of the Stations of the Cross prepared by the eighth-grade class.  It was a big deal for a number of reasons. First off, everyone in my grade had to be involved in some way.  You could be one of the actors, a reader, or any one of a dozen things, but you had to contribute to the project in some significant way.

    Looking back, one of the biggest concerns the males in the class had was who was going to play the role of Jesus.  This did not come because of a concern about who would portray Jesus the best, it had more to do with “The 10th Station” because that’s the station where Jesus gets stripped of his clothes!  For the eighth-grade males, the boy who was chosen to play Jesus had to take his shirt off in front of the entire school.  For me and the rest of my thirteen-year-old classmates, the very thought of it filled us with dread!  Thank goodness my job turned out to be the person in charge of picking the music to be played at each station.  That was much more my style!  

    Even when I was a boy I had this sense that The Stations of the Cross were an important part of Lent but struggled to articulate why that was the case. While I did not appreciate the full significance of what the Stations of the Cross are meant to convey spiritually, I do understand that because I prayed the Stations as a boy that I have a closer relationship with Christ now that I am a young man.  

     At times I still feel like that awkward eighth-grader who is struggling to understand his faith.  And, if I am honest with myself, it is still hard for me to grasp the depth of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and how that plays out in my life.  I may not have all the answers to the mystery that is our faith, but I am discovering deeper layers of understanding and that is all I can hope for. 

    Geoff Morton ’18 
    Current Graduate Student
    Clinical Mental Health Counseling


    March 12

    A few years ago, my good friend, political science professor Dr. Gretchen Van Dyke, informed me that Flannery O’Connor’s prayer journal had been published. O’Connor was an American writer from the South, best known for her short stories and her devout Catholicism. In her early twenties as a student at the University of Iowa, O’Connor kept a prayer journal as a way for her to process, explore, and reflect upon her relationship with God and the world. 

    From our frequent discussions about our faith, Gretchen knows I struggle with prayer, and she thought O’Connor’s journal might help me reflect on my own practices. It’s not that I don’t pray. In fact, I pray through most of the day. If you’ve ever seen me walking the halls or sitting in meetings holding between my fingers or lifting to my lips the cross I wear around neck, then you’ve witnessed me praying. All day long I am asking God to help me be a better version of myself, to be a better colleague or friend, to be a better professor or Catholic. 

    But often I worry that this practice of prayer is not enough. I carry a rosary but I rarely use it. I pray before meals but not at bedtime. The only time I really say the Hail Mary is when I’m in the MRI machine. I hoped reading O’Connor’s journal might help me become more disciplined in my prayer practice. Instead, doing so allowed me to accept all parts of my prayerful life as valuable.

    From page one, I was captivated. O’Connor writes in her opening letter to God:


    Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. 
    I do not know You God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside. 
    Wow! O’Connor much more eloquently meditated in prayer what I say so often: “God, please help me get out of my own way so that I can be a better me.” 

    Toward the end of the entry, O’Connor admits: 
    I do not mean to deny the traditional prayers I have said all my life; but I have been saying them and not feeling them. My attention is always very fugitive. This way I have it every instant. I can feel a warmth of love heating in me when I think & write this to you. 

    There is value in structured, traditional prayer. Prayers like the Our Father or Hail Mary can bring comfort in their repetition and help settle our minds so that we can get our thoughts out of the way to hear God speak to us. Prayers like the Examen can help us develop habits that bring us closer to God in the minutiae of our days. But the prayers we say in the unplanned moments, the conversations with God we have throughout the day, are valuable, too. 

    The Jesuit Magis reminds us to always strive toward growth, and I know I could be better at prayer. But If I’m praying like Flannery O’Connor was praying, if I’m praying at all, then I must be doing alright. At least I’m on my way. 

    Teresa Grettano, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of English, Director of First-Year Writing

    Flannery O’Connor. A Prayer Journal. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2013. 


    March 11

    A bartender notices that every evening, without fail, one of his patrons orders three beers. After several weeks of noticing this pattern, the bartender asks the man why he always orders three beers.
    The man says, “I have two brothers who have moved away to different countries. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond.”

    Several weeks later, noticing that the man only ordered two beers, the bartender said, “Please accept my condolences on the death of one of your brothers. You know, the two beers and all…”
    The man replied, “You’ll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well… It’s just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."

    The Jesuit Center Staff


    March 10

    Luke’s Gospel is very clear - Jesus was led into the desert for forty days to be tempted by the devil.  Since this is the case, I wonder what or who led him into the desert? By Luke’s account, one could easily get the impression that the devil himself led Jesus into the desert and into a challenge of spiritual combat between good and evil. 

    I firmly believe that the temptations experienced by Jesus in the desert must have amounted to more than the three famous ones given to us in Luke’s Gospel.  I offer you as proof the last line of this section of the Lucan account.  Luke states: “When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time!” (Luke 4:13)  This means that the devil is going to come back and continue to tempt Jesus throughout his life because the devil knows what Jesus is up to in his preaching of The Kingdom and can’t abide it.  To abide the flourishing of the Kingdom is to abide the flourishing of mercy, forgiveness and the resurrection of the dead. 

    I’m sure that Jesus was tempted in many other ways during those forty days because the devil wouldn’t have wanted to waste any time scratching away at Jesus’ defenses in the hopes of securing a victory over the Son of God!  Time waits for no one and the devil, armed with 960 hours, knew he had a lot of work to do if he were to trick Jesus and disarm His mission of peace and reconciliation with the world.

    The devil is still around and lurking at our doors, often unseen and unrecognized.  Let’s not be deceived this Lent and get lackadaisical in our spiritual practices because the very same devil that tempted our Lord is aware that we Christians are setting aside forty days to fast, pray and serve our sisters and brothers all in the hopes of coming into closer relationship with God.  For the devil, that means 960 hours to manipulate us and to deceive us into forgetting God’s many blessings toward us.  Be strong this Lent.  Let’s not give the devil his dues.

    Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J.
    Executive Director, The Jesuit Center


    March 9

    Sometimes I feel caught in the middle of two powerful religious traditions and throughout my life, I’ve often had issues with the idea of Worship, more specifically, prayer. Not because I wasn’t interested in those things but because of the huge language barrier I had growing up. My mother immigrated from El Salvador, which meant that every time we went to Mass we went to the Spanish service. Even though I grew up listening to Spanish Homilies and Bible stories, I often had no idea what they meant! I couldn’t pronounce half the words everyone was saying and on top of that, if you’ve ever heard anyone speak Spanish fluently, you know they speak very quickly. Given my personal circumstances, at times it was hard to pray when I was a child.

    Ironically, one way I did connect religiously and culturally with my Spanish-speaking family happened when our family lost a loved one. When a loved one passes away in the Salvadoran tradition, the family of the deceased will set up an altar in memory of that person. Our gathering brings us together in prayer and helps us all grieve and heal. Praying together strengthens the natural bonds our family shares. Even though my family’s prayers are in Spanish, when we pray, I feel a deep connection to them and to God.  I guess God is still reaching out even when I find it hard to listen!

    Keny Melgar, Class of 2021
    Computer Science Major

    March 8

    Practicing Lenten traditions were a ubiquitous part of my childhood. I had gone to St. Clare/St. Paul’s School in Scranton since Kindergarten and followed the many customs that come along with that Catholic education during that time. We got pizza on Fridays (no meat, of course), shared what we were giving up with our class, and beginning on Ash Wednesday, the entire student body would walk across the street to the 8:00 a.m. Mass each day during Lent. On Fridays, we spent the afternoons back in the church listening to the Stations of the Cross.

    As a 4th grader, these traditions were pretty great because they shortened classes every day of the week and made it much easier to be late for school!  With that said, there were some Lenten traditions that made me particularly anxious, like going to Confession. I remember my ten-year-old self being especially nervous preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and worrying if I was really “examining my conscience” correctly. Looking back on that time now that I am 20 years old, I wish I could capture that youthful sense of guilt over saying a bad word or fighting with my brothers and apply it to my life today, rather than being so immune to those little transgressions. Maybe that could be something to strive for this Lenten season - to try to recapture that sense of youthful contrition so as to spur us on to a deeper relationship with God.

    —Jake Brown, Class of 2021
    Biology and History Major


    March 7
    Interview between Fr. Patrick Rogers, S.J. and Marlene Geerinck, Class of 2019

    Fr. Patrick: Happy Lent Marlene!

    Marlene: Happy Lent to you too!

    Fr. Patrick: I know it’s weird to say Happy Lent because this is supposed to be a time of fasting and repentance but we can still be happy in the midst of Lent, right?

    Marlene: Absolutely!

    Fr. Patrick: You have an interesting religious upbringing.  Why don’t you tell us a little bit about it?

    Marlene: Well, my mom was Lutheran and my dad was Catholic so when they got married they decided to convert to a different branch of the Christian Community so they wouldn’t have to choose one tradition over the other.  After a lot of thought they decided on the Dutch Reformed Church, which is quite small and has a lot of similarities with Presbyterianism.

    Fr. Patrick: I’m not that familiar with the Dutch Reformed Tradition. What are some of the traditions you follow, particularly during the Lenten season?

    Marlene: One big difference between the Dutch Reformed Church and Catholicism is that our communion tradition is an open table approach where anyone who wishes to receive can do so.  We take communion only once a month and during Lent it is not common for folks in my tradition to give up something as a Lenten sacrifice.  Many of my Catholic and Christian friends do give up something for Lent as a sacrifice and I’ve done that in the past, as well.  This year I’m planning on giving something back every day instead of giving something up.  I think it’ll be really hard but I’m ready!

    Fr. Patrick: I know!  Giving back takes a lot of time and effort so good luck with that!  What about prayer during Lent. Is there any practice that is heightened for you at this time of the liturgical year?

    Marlene: Well, even though I’m fully committed to the Dutch Reformed tradition I really like to pray the examen of St. Ignatius.  I find that it really helps me process my day when I reflect on the events that made that day unique.

    Fr. Patrick: That’s really interesting.  Where did you learn to pray the examen?

    Marlene: It’s something that was introduced to me in preparation for my ISP trip to El Salvador, and it’s something that I really like and hope to continue through the Lenten season.

    Fr. Patrick: Thanks so much, Marlene.  Have a blessed day!

    Marlene: Thanks, Fr. Patrick, you too!

    Marlene is a senior International Studies major with minors in German and Criminology.


    March 6

    Today we celebrate our relationship to dirt, yes DIRT!  Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return!  The name Adam comes to us from the Hebrew adam"man," literally meaning "(the one formed from the) ground".  For the ancient Hebrews, the name Adam was not just a really cool way to name the first man; it also served as a definition for all of humanity and a reminder of our humble origins.  It is also a reminder that we make up the Body of Christ.

    Armed with this knowledge, how do we in the present age remind ourselves of our humble origins and our deep connectedness to the human family?  One way we express this solidarity is by marking our bodies with ashes - a reminder that we all share in that humble origin story that marked the first man.  Marking our bodies with ashes reminds us, if only for a day, that we are called to embrace our connectedness to the human family, our family, and work together to help ease the pain of those who suffer.

    If we are children of Adam, I suggest that Lent should be a time of downward mobility - a time to reflect on the humbleness of our own creation and the connectedness that we have with the human family.  We humans are so used to thinking about rising above the “mud” of our lives, that we forget about our humble origins and unintentionally “rise above” our sisters and brothers in need.  Lent helps us focus our gaze and attune our vision from things “on high” to the muddy realities where the lost and forgotten toil and suffer.  Indeed, if our Lenten journey is anything, it is an invitation to remind ourselves of our connectedness to each other through our humble origins as we seek to be transformed as the Body of Christ.

    Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J.
    Executive Director, The Jesuit Center

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