We are currently in the second year of our three year cycle of Sunday Scripture readings. During this year, we are working our way through the Gospel of Mark. Today, though, we divert from our reading of Mark for a five week period to read from Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel, the great Bread of Life discourse. It begins today with the account of the miraculous feeding of 5000 with only five barley loaves and two fish. Jesus follows this event with his teaching on the bread of life. We will have the opportunity to work our way through this very familiar chapter in John’s Gospel over the next few weeks. It is a great opportunity to come to a deeper appreciation of the gift of the Eucharist. We will return to our reading of Mark’s Gospel on August 30th. .
One of the blessings of our church liturgical calendar is that we celebrate the feasts of many of our great saints during the summer. The saints are those heroes of our faith whom we look up to and imitate, who refused to let their lives or personalities be stunted by the circumstances of the world around them. This week we celebrate a number of feasts of major saints – St. Martha (Wednesday), St. Ignatius Loyola (Friday) and St. Alphonsus Ligouri (Saturday).
St. Ignatius Loyola was the founder of the Society of Jesus – the Jesuits. Many of our parishioners have known the influence of St. Ignatius through attending a Jesuit sponsored school. Since my college and graduate education took place at Benedictine schools, I was not all that familiar with Ignatian spirituality until I returned to school at Creighton University in Omaha to supplement my term on the faculty at Mundelein seminary. There I was introduced to the wisdom of St. Ignatius and his Spiritual Exercises.
Ignatius developed a very simple and practical prayer form for his followers to use. He called it the “Consciousness Examen.” Unlike the examination of conscience, which begins with our failures (“Where did I sin?”), the Consciousness Examen begins with gratitude. The prayer invites us to review the events of our day by considering five simple steps.
- As I review the events of this day, for what am I grateful?
- As I review the events of this day, where did I experience God’s presence?
- As I review the events of this day, what do I sense God inviting me toward?
- How will I respond to God’s invitation tomorrow?
- Ask God for whatever I need to respond.
The Examen seems to be about two significant points. It invites us to give thanks each day, and to be attentive to the ways we need God’s healing love. It is a good opportunity to slow down and take notice of the things we have experienced in the previous 24 hours. It can be done at any time of the day. I find it most helpful as part of my prayer at the end of the day. It can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 60 minutes, depending on the time that we have. We don’t need a book or any other aides – only a desire to spend some time with God. In the end, it helps us to notice and to become more aware of the subtle and gentle ways God has been present to us that day.
Ignatius invites us to encounter God in our everyday experiences and to recognize that we are called to ongoing conversion. His daily prayer was “to know Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, and follow Thee more nearly, day by day.” There is a lot of practical wisdom here. He is a great summer-time saint. He invites us to slow down and recognize God’s presence all around us. I hope that these reflections have been helpful.
The slower pace of parish life during July provides a good time to attend to some projects around our campus. Some refurbishing work has been done at the entry and main floor of the Parish Office. This included painting, replacing flooring and carpets and up-grading the bathroom. This work concluded last week and the staff has moved back into their regular offices. Another project began last week in our main parking lot. Storm drains needed to be rebuilt and some new energy saving lights will be installed. Last month, the parking lots around the Chapel were seal-coated and restriped. Hopefully the interruptions continue to be minimal. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience. We chose this time of year as things do slow down a bit this month.
We were saddened to announce during this past week that David Heimann, Connect Youth Ministries Director for the past seven years, has accepted a position as Pastoral Associate at St. Andrew Parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago. David’s current life circumstances and the time required to deal with them played a major role in making his decision. Work at his new position begins on September 20th. Until then, David will be with us up to that time getting the upcoming year’s sessions and programs started. A search team will be convened shortly to post the position, interview candidates and make a recommendation about the best candidate. I have assured David of our continued prayers for him as he takes leave of us and begins his new ministry in Chicago.
Will you be away for some much needed vacation time this summer? If so, no need to loose contact with your parish family. Our weekly Sunday bulletin is posted online at www.stisidoreparish.org/bulletin. Be sure to check it out on those weekends when you are away from the parish.
The “Back to School” advertising circulars continue to weigh down our Sunday newspapers.
The month of August begins next Saturday. Many of our college students will be leaving us in just a few short weeks. Let’s enjoy the time that we have. And we remember in prayer all those who are traveling. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy