id quod volo

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Nhiều bạn trong lúc này vừa hoàn thất Linh Thao trọn, theo chú dẫn 19 của Thánh I-nhã.

Cha Laurence L. Gooley, S.J. có vài lời hướng dẫn sau đây trong cuốn To Walk with Christ (The Institute of Jesuit Sources). Mong sẽ giúp ích

* * *

And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world ....

The graces of the Spiritual Exercises continue.

You have just finished the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. As you progressed through them, they gradually became your own spiritual exercises. Your personal effort and God's grace do not end here. They continue; in fact, they may be just beginning. Ignatius himself emphasized that if we do not desire a grace, that we pray to desire it. What this means is that the graces of the Exercises may not be experienced until later, perhaps much later and at the most unexpected times. They may suddenly appear without anything in particular happening, or they may appear within the middle of an experience.

What this suggests is that living out the Exercises - your spiritual exercises - is as foundational for you as formally doing them. In fact, it is very often within lived daily experiences that the graces of the Exercises are received.

Please consider the following suggestions as you look ahead.

i. Pray through those meditations and contemplations in the Exercises to which you feel drawn.

ii. Read through your journal, praying over those points which strike you in some way, whether positively or negatively.

iii. Seek spiritual direction regarding the work of God's Spirit within you from here on.

iv. Seek confirmation of your spiritual journey from your spiritual community.

v. Share your experience of your spiritual exercises with a trusted friend.

vi. Pray for the Spirit's guidance in your personal prayer regarding focus, frequency, when in the day, where, style of prayer, and so on.

vii. Prayerfully reflect on how your experience of these Exercises has moved you to be Christ for others.

viii. Prayerfully reflect on what in your life needs to be brought into your spiritual exercises.

ix. Prayerfully reflect on the influence that your cultural and political settings have on your way of being Christ for the world.

x. Always seek calm and deep peace in your relationship with God. Anxiety and narcissistic guilt are not of God.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Alberto Teixeira de Brito, SJ
Vice‑Ecclesiastical Assistant

At the Review of Ignatian Spirituality's request I have written this article as suggested to me ‑ something rather as a personal testimony, ‑ on what I have received, and what CLC has brought to me, as a Jesuit.

Taking this particular nature into account, I thought it would be good to begin by introducing myself. Within the Society of Jesus I have been given the responsibility of being Secretary of CLC, and consequently worldwide, or international, Vice‑Assistant. The Assistant is Fr. Peter‑Hans Kolvenbach. I have spent the last 30 years working in CLC, especially in my own country, Portugal: 20 of them in Coimbra (communities of university students), 4 in Braga (with young adults) and 4 in Lisbon (with young adults and adults). As well as this service I have been novice master for 12 years. Since May 2004 I have been living for half of each year in Rome, with an office in the World Secretariat of CLC, working with Guy Maginzi (Executive Secretary of CLC) and Van Nguyen (Secretary). During the remaining six months I visit the national communities already affiliated to the 'World CLC Community (57 countries) and the communities whose experience is more recent, in process of affiliation (23 countries). In these visits my intention is to be a presence of the World Executive Council of CLC (Exco), to encourage bonds between the communities and to raise awareness of collaboration in mission in Jesuits and CLC.

What has CLC brought to me as a Jesuit?

1. We only become aware that we are 'bearers' wben we share

This statement is obvious, and a general principle of human living together. In a personal way, I have discovered that if the treasure of Ignatian spirituality is communicated solely through me (or by a group called Society of Jesus) what has really been given to me to be shared might end up impoverished and diminished in my hands. And that would be a source of sadness, and perhaps a cause of infidelity and dissatisfaction.

Undoubtedly it is a grace to see and hear so many people (persons and groups) talking about 'our Ignatian spirituality', without the Society of Jesus holding the 'copyright' on this material. Those of us who are Jesuits have the source of the Spiritual Exercises, and we define ourselves by the spirit and the letter of the Constitutions. Thanks be to God, there are hundreds of groups (new communities, associations, movements, religious institutes, diocesan priests, permanent deacons .... ) who are inspired by it and follow Jesus on the Ignatian road. We all intend to travel it in an autonomous way and with a sense of Church, knowing that no vocation exhausts the richness of following the Lord. In communicating this heritage and seeing that it can be lived according to different forms of life, we understand much better that we are bearers, and that we are called.

We learn this to the extent that we make ourselves 'present' to one another. It is not something that can be understood simply through writings or through conversations, though we certainly need these. 'Understanding' comes, above all, through 'presence'. Overcoming the temptation to work on parallel lines, we ought to ask ourselves how we can work better together, and to discover new ways of doing it.

In visits to communities my intention is to raise awareness in Jesuits and CLC communities of this sense of body, each according to their particular vocation and mission in the Church. We need each other. We need to discern and to Open up new ways of collaboration at apostolic level.

2. Accompaniment of communities

A second thing which has benefited me and which I intend to go on learning in working for CLC is the accompaniment of communities. The Society of Jesus has an extensive tradition of personal accompaniment. There have been more than 450 years of practising 'personal spiritual orientation', the art of helping persons to turn towards the Orient, from which comes salvation.

The experience of the Spiritual Exercises is something which must of necessity be lived by each person. Since the first Companions groups of lay people of Ignatian inspiration have been started. But it has to be recognised that the accent has been placed much more on the orientation of each person individually.

In the four centuries of 'Marian Congregations' the Jesuit was the Director, the one who decided, the one who thought out everything, decided and had it done. And this at local level as at planetary level. The Marian Congregations were an authentic body in the hands of the Superior General of the Society of Jesus. These are past times, certainly. But it is not rare today to hear nostalgic commentaries, in various modalities, even if mostly from older people (Jesuits and laity) on those days... On the other hand, it is also not rare to hear commentaries from someone who rejects without further argument whatever smells of 'Marian Congregations'... But it has to be acknowledged that this has been a road to sanctity for many generations!

Soon after the end of the Second Vatican Council, when the Assembly of the 'World Federation of Marian Congregations' itself, meeting in Rome in September 1967, decided to change its name to 'Christian Life Communities' (and then to 'Christian Life Community' in the singular) and adopted the 'General Principles of the CLC', two aspects came up afresh which were decisive in this change: to return to the sources (concretely the Spiritual Exercises) and to place the accent on the lay lifestyle of the community.

'Fr. Pedro Arrupe entrusted responsibility for the direction of the renewed association to the laity and asked Jesuits to drop the directive role, as far as possible, and begin to act more as a source of inspiration and as animators in the community.' (Document 'Relations between the Christian Life Community and the Society Of Jesus in the Church', July 2006).

Today, 40 years after this change, enthusiastic in its beginnings, I have the feeling of being in the midst of tensions and opportunities which call for greater clarification and convergence on what we are to do. As Society of Jesus and Christian Life Community, we need to keep in mind this history of grace in the course of centuries. This will enable CLC and the Society to keep on journeying in fidelity and capacity for renewal, in shared, ongoing and progressive discernment, and will enable the Society of Jesus to accompany the communities in an intelligent and generous way.

3. The life and fruitfulness of the apostolic communities

Finally I should like to underline one last but not less important point. It is the reality which has had the most impact on me in the last two and a half years as Vice‑Assistant of CLC: the life and fruitfulness of the apostolic communities.

Without mentioning numbers or specific places, because the list is long ‑ thank God ‑ certainly where I have received most has been in meeting some CLC (at local and sometimes at national level) who discern: communities open to what is outside, people who analyze the situation, who open their hearts to the cries of their fellow‑citizens (like Moses on Sinai); who know that they cannot and should not attend to every 'fire', and therefore select in what and where they are called to intervene. This they do reflecting and praying on what kind of motivation (using the very Ignatian criteria of the most urgent, necessary and universal), finding the best way of doing it, taking decisions and working out an articulated and consistent programme of action and evaluation.

I have had the grace of living in a Jesuit community which has done this work every week for twenty years! I have also had the opportunity of knowing some others whose custom is to do this, for example small teams of Jesuits in some work or pastoral activity. I believe that this is the way, and something that we as Jesuits need, like the air we breathe.

But seeing in a concrete way lay communities, specifically CLC apostolic communities, with really notable fruits and works, in various fields, is certainly what I consider to be the greatest discovery. I refer concretely to initiatives in the area of work with the homeless, with immigrants and refugees, with AIDS' orphans, in education, with peasants, in the field of family life (couples, Christian education of children..) and so on. Some of these are activities known today at national or international level. But they had very modest beginnings. The reason that set them in motion has taken them a long way. Great works have small beginnings!

I allow myself to draw a conclusion. A community (CLC is one form, SJ is another, with different ways of living obedience, which is no small matter!), which mobilises itself, organises itself and modifies as may be necessary, to carry forward what passion for the greater service of the Kingdom demands.. it is that which brings it to conversion. If it does not do so, it falls into perversion, That is to say: conversion or perversion depends on getting mission right.

I have also witnessed that communities that live in this way are the most fruitful, the ones which have new blood, the ones which become more credible in society and in the Church. Young people, in a special way, 'sniff out' immediately that here there is something valid, consistent and credible. Christians and non‑Christians alike recognise easily that they are dealing with consistent people, and note that meet together‑pray‑act‑serve speak of the same thing. Political authority recognises it as well, even if at times there are conflicts for that reason.

On the contrary, those who call themselves 'communities' because they sit on the same sofa, and whose experience is exhausted at 'their' meeting, live alone and die alone!

We need to challenge one another not to stop coming out of ourselves in order to follow the road of more and better service of the Kingdom. This will be a fitting response on CLC's part to celebrate the 40 years of its new name and General Principles in 2007; and on the part of the Society of Jesus, facing the coming General Congregation.

Number 114 - Review of Ignatian Spirituality - XXXVIII, 1/2007

Virginia Tech

Trên đường đi bộ sáng hôm nay tôi nhận message này.

Xin nhớ đến họ trong lời nguyện

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ơn gọi cá nhân

Một trong những điều tôi qúy nhất nơi lối sống Đồng Hành là luôn được nhắc nhở sống với ơn gọi của mình. Ngay trong những điểm đầu tiên của Ðoàn Sủng Ðồng Hành chúng ta đọc thấy:

(4) Việc huấn luyện và canh tân Ðồng Hành CLC đặt nền tảng trên giá trị cá nhân của mỗi người và việc xác tín rằng mỗi người có một ơn gọi thiêng liêng bao gồm mọi khía cạnh của cuộc đời. Chúa mời gọi tất cả mọi người. Thiên Chúa là Ðấng chủ động, tuy nhiên Người vẫn tôn trọng tự do của mỗi người chúng ta.

Mỗi cá nhân khám phá ra lời gọi này khi lắng nghe và chấp nhận ý Chúa. Lời kêu mời của Chúa là một ơn gọi riêng tư, được tỏ ra trong những ước ao sâu thẳm nhất và những khát vọng cao cả nhất nơi chúng ta. Khi chúng ta biết tự do đáp trả lời gọi của Chúa chúng ta làm cho cuộc sống có ý nghĩa và có phẩm giá.

(5) Nếu hiểu được rằng cuộc sống cá nhân, gia đình, nghề nghiệp và xã hội, là những cách đáp trả lời gọi của Chúa, chúng ta sẽ tránh được khuynh hướng chỉ biết sống chú tâm vào mình. Hiểu như thế cũng giúp chúng ta khi chọn một bậc sống hoặc một lối sống dám đi ngược lại với quan niệm theo thói đời.

* * *

Truyện kể rằng thái tử Tất Ðạt Ða, tức là Ðức Phật Thích Ca, lúc mới sinh ra đã được một vị ẩn sĩ tên là A Tư Ðà đến viếng thăm. Sau khi thăm, vị ẩn sĩ đã cho vua cha biết về tương lai của cậu bé. Theo lời ông nếu Tất Ðạt Ða nối nghiệp cha, cậu sẽ trở thành một vị vua vĩ đại nhất lịch sử. Nhưng nếu không làm vua thì thái tử sẽ trở thành một vị đại giác, một vị thầy cao qúi hướng dẫn chúng sinh sống theo đạo lý yêu thương và tỉnh thức.

Lẽ đương nhiên vua cha chỉ muốn con nối nghiệp mình và trở thành một đại vương nên vua đã tìm đủ mọi cách để bưng bít, che dấu không muốn cho Tất Ðạt Ða biết những khổ đau của cuộc đời, những bệnh hoạn và sự chết vì những điều đó có thể khơi dậy trong lòng thái tử ý muốn trở thành một vị đại giác đi cứu giúp chúng sinh. Thay vào đó vua cha chỉ muốn cho cậu thấy thế giới là một màu hồng đầy sức quyến rũ của những thú vui. Triều đình luôn rộn ràng tiếng đàn ca nhảy múa, yến tiệc linh đình. Ai nấy hạnh phúc, sung sướng, giàu sang, khoẻ mạnh.

Một ngày kia thái tử xin vua cha cho ra khỏi hoàng cung để đi du ngoạn bên ngoài. Vua cha đồng ý cho cậu đi, nhưng âm thầm sai các quan quân đi thông báo trước để đâu đâu thái tử đến tất cả cần được chuẩn bị để không có một hình ảnh đau khổ chết chóc, bệnh hoạn nào lọt vào mắt thái tử.

Nhưng chẳng may, ngay lần du ngoạn đầu tiên thái tử đã rất ngạc nhiên khi nhận thấy một cụ già vẻ mặt buồn rầu thiểu não, lưng còng run rẩy chống gậy lết đi. Lần thứ hai, ngạc nhiên hơn, thái tử gặp một người bệnh nằm liệt bên cạnh đường. Lần thứ ba, tệ hơn nữa thái tử đã tận mắt thấy người ta khuân đi một quan tài đựng xác người chết. Những hình ảnh đó đã gây một chấn động mạnh trong hiểu biết của thái tử về sự thật của cuộc đời. Lần thứ tư, thái tử gặp một vị sư khất thực dáng điệu thật oai nghi khả kính. Chính hôm đó nhờ vị sư này thái tử đã tỉnh thức, đã từ bỏ cuộc đời để đi tu.

* * *

Ơn gọi đi đôi với sự thức tỉnh.
Có tỉnh thức mới có thể nghe thấy lời mời gọi.

Trong cuộc sống
tôi cũng có nhiều "vua cha" âm thầm làm áp lực trên tôi,
che giấu, bưng bít và ngăn cản tôi tìm thấy ơn gọi.

Ðoàn sủng Đồng Hành nói đến việc chọn một lối sống
ngược với quan niệm thông thường của thói đời.
Chọn theo một ơn gọi là chấp nhận một thách đố.

Tôi muốn sống cho hợp thời,
hay muốn sống trọn vẹn phẩm gía của mình?

Tôi có đủ tự do,
thoát khỏi ràng buộc của môi trường xã hội
đang muốn điều khiển cuộc sống của tôi?
đang muốn che giấu, ngăn cản tôi tìm ra ơn gọi của mình?

* * *

Ðức Giêsu nói: "Nếu anh muốn nên hoàn thiện, thì hãy đi bán tài sản của anh và đem cho người nghèo, anh sẽ được một kho tàng trên trời. Rồi hãy đến theo tôi." Nghe lời đó, người thanh niên buồn rầu bỏ đi, vì anh ta có nhiều của cải. (Mt 19:21)

Tôi tự hỏi,
đâu là những "vua cha" trong cuộc sống của tôi?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Take time

Take time to rest - it is the foundation of health and vitality.
Take time to think - it is the source of achievement.
Take time to read - it is the foundation of wisdom.
Take time to play - it is the secret of staying young.
Take time to be quiet - it is the opportunity to seek God.
Take time to share - it is too short a life to be selfish.
Take time to be aware - it is the opportunity to help others.
Take time to laugh - it's the music of the heart.
Take time to be loved - it nourishes the soul.
Take time to be friendly - it is the road to happiness.
Take time to pray - it is the greatest power on earth.
Take time to dream - it's the well of inspiration.
There is time for everything.

'There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven' Ecclesiastes 3:1

Fr Christopher Gleeson SJ

Monday, April 16, 2007

Easter Reflection: Love Through Locked Doors

by Fr Tri Dinh

Several years ago a family I know well lost a daughter through suicide. She was in her late twenties and had become dangerously depressed. An initial attempt at suicide failed. The family then rushed round her. They brought her home, strove to be with her constantly, sent her to doctors and psychiatrists, and generally tried everything within their power to love and coax her out of her depression.

It did not work . Eventually, as I have said, she committed suicide.

Looking at her death and their efforts to love her and save her life, one sees how helpless at a certain point human love can be. Sometimes all the effort, patience and love in the world cannot get through to a frightened, sick, depressed person. In spite of everything, that person remains locked inside herself or himself, huddled against love, unfree, inaccessible, bent upon self-destruction.

No one who has ever dealt with a situation like this can have been immune to the deep feelings of discouragement, guilt, hopelessness and fear that ensue. Love, regardless of effort, seems powerless.

Fortunately we are not without hope and consolation. We believe in the ultimate redeeming power of love, and in the power of a love beyond our own that can do that redeeming. God's love is not stymied in the same way as ours. Unlike ours, it can go through locked doors, enter closed hearts and breathe peace and new life into frightened, paralyzed persons.

Our hope and our belief in this is expressed in one of the articles of our creed: "He descended into hell." What an incredible statement that is: God descended into hell. if that is true, and everything in Christ's life and teaching suggests that it is, then the very existence of an eternal hell is cast into doubt and the human heart has its ultimate consolation: Love will triumph.

We have not always understood those words however. Mostly we have taken them to mean that, between his death and resurrection, Jesus descended to some hell or limbo where lived the souls of all the good and just persons who had died since the time of Adam. Once there Jesus took them with him to heaven.

More recently various theologians have interpreted this article of the creed to mean that, in his death, Christ experienced alienation from his Father, and thus experienced in a real sense the pain of hell.

Irrespective of the merits of these interpretations, the doctrine of the descent into hell is first and foremost a doctrine about love. God's love for us, and the power of that love to go all lengths, to descend to all depths and to go through virtually every barrier in order to redeem a wounded, huddled, frightened, paranoid, alienated and unfree humanity.

By dying as he did, Christ shows that he loves us in such a way that he can descend into our private hells. His love is so empathetic and compassionate that it can penetrate all barriers that we construct out of hurt and fear and enter right into our despair and hopelessness.

We see this idea expressed powerfully in John 20. Twice John presents the disciples as huddled behind closed doors, locked in because of fear. Twice John has Jesus come through the locked doors and stand in the midst of that frightened and depressed group and breathe peace into them.

That image of Christ going through locked doors is perhaps the most consoling within our entire faith. Put simply, it means that God can help us even when we cannot help ourselves. God can empower us even when we are too weak and despairing, even minimally, to open the door to let him in.

That is not only consoling, it is also corrective of a bad Pelagian spirituality that many of us were raised on.

I remember a holy picture that was given to me as a child. I saved it for years and its message has always haunted me in my darkest times. The picture shows a man, huddled and depressed in fear, in the dark behind a closed door. Outside stands Jesus with a lighted lantern, knocking softly on the door. The door has a knob only on the inside, the man's side. Jesus has no doorknob. He can only knock.

Beneath the picture, and everywhere in it by implication is written: Only you can open that door! Salvation depends upon your effort.

That picture is not wholly without its merits, but ultimately what it says is untrue. Christ does not need a doorknob. Christ can enter closed doors. Christ can enter rooms and hearts that are locked out of fear.

The picture expresses a truth about human love. In the human arena, these are the dynamics of love; unless a heart opens from the inside, human love can only knock and it must remain outside.

But that is not the case with God's love, as John 20 depicts. God's love can descend into hell. Unlike our love, it is not left helplessly knocking at the door of fear, depression, hurt and sickness. It does not require that a person, especially a sick person, first finds the strength to make the initial move to open himself or herself to health.

In that lies ultimate consolation. There is no hell, no private hell of wound, depression, fear, sickness or even bitterness that God's love cannot and will not descend into. Once there, it will breathe out the peace of the Holy Spirit.

Among Catholic priests, Vietnamese are the new Irish

Though Asians are only 1% of the estimated 77 million U.S. Catholics, they account for 12% of Catholic seminary students, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. In places such as Orange County, home to the largest Vietnamese community outside Vietnam, that has translated into major change: Of 181 diocesan priests, almost 28% are Asian, predominantly Vietnamese.

LA Times ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Suy Niệm - Thứ Tư, Tuần Bát Nhật Phục Sinh

Ðặt mình trước sự hiện diện của Chúa

Ơn Xin: Lạy Chúa, xin cho con một đức tin mạnh mẽ và biết sống hy vọng nơi Chúa

Hình Dung: (Gn 20:24-29) Chúa đã sống lại một tuần rồi. Các môn đệ hội họp nhau lại. Tôma đi vắng chưa có dịp gặp Thầy nên nói một cách nghi ngờ: "Nếu tôi không thấy dấu đinh ở tay Người, nếu tôi không xỏ ngón tay vào lỗ đinh và không đặt bàn tay vào cạnh sườn Người, tôi chẳng có tin." Thình lình Chúa hiện đến. "Tôma! đặt ngón tay vào đây và hãy nhìn xem Thầy ... đừng cứng lòng nữa nhưng hãy tin." Tôma bừng tỉnh thốt lên:"Lạy Chúa của con, lạy Thiên Chúa của con!"

Ý thức: Chúa chiều lòng Tôma cho ông xem tay và cạnh sườn Người. Chúa nói với chúng ta "Phúc thay cho những người không thấy mà tin". Chính chúng ta cần nhìn vào Phép Thánh Thể và tuyên xưng niềm tin này. Khi đến trước Mình Máu Thánh Chúa, chúng ta cần tuyên xưng: "Lạy Chúa của con, lạy Thiên Chúa của con!".

Chính chúng ta cũng phải để cho Chúa Giêsu trong phép Thánh Thể làm tâm hồn chúng ta bừng cháy lửa sốt mến và đặt trong lòng chúng ta niềm tin vững chắc: "Các con đừng sợ! vì Thấy đã thắng thế gian!"

Tôi thưa với Chúa: Lạy Chúa Kitô đã chiến thắng sự chết và đã phục sinh, con tin Chúa đang hiện diện trong Phép Mình Thánh, Chúa là Ðấng Cứu Chuộc con. Khi Chúa ngự vào lòng con, Chúa hứa ở lại với con mọi ngày và sẽ cho con được sống lại vinh hiển với Chúa. Xin dạy con đặt trọn niềm tin và hy vọng nơi Chúa.

Ý tưởng ghi nhớ hôm nay: "Ðừng sợ! vì Người đã trỗi dậy như Người đã nói" (Mt 28:6)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


At the Valete Mass [2002] I reminded the boys and their parents that in the time before there were electric lights on our city streets, a person would have the responsibility of being the lamplighter and lighting the gas lamps at dusk and extinguishing them before dawn. Going down one street and up another, he would have people watching him doing his work. They would watch him until the sun went down and could not see him any more. But they could see new light come forth.

This is for me a wonderful image of what a Christian life is all about and what lies behind this challenge for all of us. Those who are Christians continue to light new lights and we can follow their path by the lights they have left behind. They become for us a light in the darkness. A true Christian, therefore, is one whose track you can follow by the light he or she leaves burning.

In all the darkness of stories about Bali, the gunman at Monash University, and the sniper in Washington, we need to remember that we are meant to be a light of hope in our world. The way we care for other people, the way we affirm and encourage them, is our way of being a lamplighter. Each time you
light a candle, you might remember your role as a lamplighter and the beautiful prayer which is used in Salisbury Cathedral, England that reads:

Lighting a candle is a prayer;
When we have gone it stays alight
Kindling in the hearts and minds
Of others the prayers
We have already offered for them and for others
For the sad, the sick, and the suffering and prayers of thankfulness too.
Lighting a candle is a parable;
Burning itself out,
It gives light to others.
Christ gave himself for others.
He calls us to give ourselves.

Lighting a candle is a symbol;
Of love and hope,
Of light and warmth.
Our world needs them all.

From A Canopy of Stars: Some Reflections for the Journey
by Fr Christopher Gleeson SJ [David Lovell Publishing 2003]

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Sunday Easter

The Seeds of Eternity Are Sown in Our Lives

"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory." - Col 3:3-4

The resurrection is not the happy ending to a sad story. It is essential to our faith. If there were no resurrection of the dead, we would be, as Saint Paul says, the most pitiable people of all, people who worship a dead Jesus. Would God who loves us unconditionally, from eternity to eternity, allow all of the joys and pains of this life to vanish in the earth with our mortal flesh and bones? Will God allow our bodies, and that of Jesus, God's Beloved, to be lost in death?

Life on earth is the time when the seeds of the risen body are planted. Saint Paul says, "What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) We may not know fully what the "spiritual body" means. But we do know that who we are and how we have loved will persist from this side of eternity to the other side, for love is the greatest thing that remains (1 Corinthians 13:13).

This confidence that nothing we live in our bodies is lived in vain calls us to live every moment as a seed of eternity.

"Risen Christ, teach me to sow love in this life into the next."

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

This Man

Ðể ý chàng thanh niên làm dấu Thánh Giá nói lên thật nhiều điều gì anh mang trong lòng.

by Jeremy Camp

In only a moment truth
Was seen revealed this mystery
The crown that showed no dignity he wore
And the king was placed for all the world
To show disgrace but only beauty flowed from this place

Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands
Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands

He held the weight of impurity
The father would not see
The reasons had finally come to be to
Show the depth of his grace flowed with
Every sin erased he knew that this was
Why he came

Would you take ...

And we just don't know the blood and
Water flowed and in it all
He shows just how much he cares
And the veil was torn so we could have
This open door and all these things have
Finally been complete

Would you take ...

original song:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Holy Saturday

The Hidden Resurrection

"They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus." – Luke 24:2-3

The resurrection of Jesus was a hidden event. The disciples did not witness the resurrection. Instead, they found an empty tomb. Jesus didn't rise from the grave to baffle his opponents, to make a victory statement, or to prove to those who crucified him that he was right after all. Jesus rose to console those who believed in him and followed him that God's divine love is stronger than death. To the women and men who committed themselves to him, he revealed that his mission had been fulfilled. To those who shared in his ministry, he gave the sacred task to call all people into the new life with him.

God lifted up Jesus to give us the radical hope that forgiveness is victorious over vengeance, that love conquers hate, that goodness transforms evil. Hidden in the crucible of sin and death is redemption and new life.

But much of the world did not take notice. Only those whom he called by name, with whom he broke bread, and to whom he spoke words of peace were aware of what happened. Still, it was this hidden event that freed humanity from the shackles of death. It is still hidden today; yet in faith, we catch glimpses. In faith, we uncover its hidden power. In faith, we witness its freeing love.

"O God, help me to know and appreciate the awesome mysteries of redemption that are largely hidden from our view."

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Friday, April 06, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Good Friday

Following Jesus Involves Embracing Our Cross

"Into your hands I commit my spirit; you will redeem me, O Lord, faithful God." - Psalm 31:5

Each of us has a cross to carry. There is no need to make one or look for one. Living every moment of our life and fully embracing our humanity inevitably brings us to our crosses. My brother and I often joke that following Jesus is easy, if only we can choose the cross – the suffering - we want. Yet, the cross is precisely the manner of suffering that we do not prefer. Jesus' call to discipleship remains: "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."

Maybe we can't study; maybe we are handicapped; maybe we suffer from depression, from poor self-image, from a serious disease; maybe we experience conflict in our families; maybe we are victims of violence or abuse. We didn't choose any of it, but these things are our crosses. We can ignore them, reject them, refuse them or hate them. But we can also take up these crosses and follow Jesus, follow the one who has transformed all crosses into glory. Then perhaps can we confront or even eliminate the conditions of injustice or abuse that cause unnecessarily suffering in our lives or those of others.

"We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world!"

inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Thursday, Holy Week

Remembering is Becoming Like Jesus

"Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." - 1 Corinthians 11:23-24

"If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." – Jn 13:14-15

People who know they are about to die take special leave of their loved ones. Their last words and actions sum up their greatest hopes and desires for those they love. At the Last Supper, Jesus bequeathed to his disciples two central acts. In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus took the bread, blessed, broke, and gave it to his disciples. In John's Gospel, he washed their feet.

When Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, he summarized in these gestures his own life. Jesus is chosen from all eternity, blessed at his baptism in the Jordan River, broken on the cross, and given as bread to the world. Being chosen, blessed, broken, and given is the sacred journey of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ.

It is also our journey. We remember Jesus by reenacting at Mass what he did. Moreover, we remember him when we live as people chosen, blessed, broken, and given as food for the world. We become the very "body" that is taken, blessed, broken, and given. Likewise, we remember him when we wash one another's feet with the same self-giving love that he loved. The Eucharist and feet washing are integral acts of our faith, of our remembering and becoming like him.

"Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of the Eucharist. Help us to remember in becoming more like you."

Inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Wednesday, Holy Week

Faithful Witness Doesn't Always Yield Results

"Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none." - Psalm 69:20

We belong to an age that wants quick results. We want visible productivity, to see with our own eyes what we have made. Instant gratification often creeps itself into our spiritual life. But that is not the way of God's Kingdom. Often our witness for God does not lead to tangible results. Jesus himself died as a failure on the cross, betrayed by friends, handed over by a follower. In his earthly life, Jesus did not see much "success." Still, the fruitfulness of Jesus' life is beyond any human measure. As faithful witnesses of Jesus, we have to trust that our lives too will bear fruits, even though we cannot yet see them.

What is important is how well we have tried to love. God will make our love fruitful, whether we see that fruitfulness or not. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, God will give fruition to our sacrifices.

"Lord, help me to trust in your sanctifying power and not to expect 'success' in all that I do"

Inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Tuesday, Holy Week

We All ‘Hand Others Over To Suffering’

"Jesus was troubled in spirit, and testified, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.' The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant" - John 13:21-22

In Greek, to "betray" means to hand the other over to suffering. Judas' betrayal handed Jesus over to suffering. Peter's denial leaves Jesus to suffer alone. In different ways, Judas and Peter are sources of sorrow for Jesus.

The truth is that each of us hands others over to suffering, especially those close to us. Intentionally or unknowingly we betray as Judas or deny as Peter. We overprotect, clutch too tightly, or hold unrealistic expectations of people we profess to love. Judas handed Jesus over to suffering partially because he wanted to force Jesus to become a political Messiah; Peter denied knowing Jesus because the cost of such discipleship would be too much for him.

When we are willing to confess that we often hand those we love over to suffering, even against our best intentions, we will experience God's forgiving love. In turn, we will be more ready to forgive those who, often against their will, are the causes of our pain.

"Lord, help me to understand the ways I may be causing others to suffer."

Inspired by Henri Nouwen

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format

Monday, April 02, 2007

Máu Giao Ước

Giao ước (covenant) là một lời thề phải tôn trọng. Cả đôi bên phải sống chết với lời giao ước đó.

Trong Thánh Lễ, linh mục đọc lời truyền phép, trích Phúc Âm thánh Matthêu:

"Rồi Người cầm lấy chén, dâng lời tạ ơn, trao cho môn đệ và nói: "Tất cả anh em hãy uống chén này, vì đây là máu Thầy, máu Giao Ước, đổ ra cho muôn người được tha tội." (Mt 26:27-28)

Khi Chúa Kitô nói đến máu giao ước, Ngài muốn nhắc lại giao ước Thiên Chúa đã lập với dân xưa kia trên núi Sinai:

"Ông Môi sen lấy cuốn sách giao ước đọc cho dân nghe. Họ thưa: "Tất cả những gì ĐỨC CHÚA đã phán, chúng tôi sẽ thi hành và tuân theo." Bấy giờ, ông Mô-sê lấy máu rảy lên dân và nói: "Đây là máu giao ước ĐỨC CHÚA đã lập với anh em, dựa trên những lời này." (Xh 24:6-8)

Theo giao ước này Thiên Chúa hứa sẽ "sai thiên sứ đi trước ngươi, để giữ gìn ngươi khi đi đường, và đưa ngươi vào nơi Ta đã dọn sẵn" (Xh 23:20). Ngược lại dân phải hứa tuân giữ mọi điều luật ...

Nếu đã gọi là máu giao ước thì trong Thánh Lễ chúng ta không chỉ "rước" Máu Chúa mà thôi, nhưng là chấp nhận một lời thề hứa, và phải sống chết với lời thề hứa đó.

Tôi có giao ước gì với Chúa khi tôi uống Máu Thánh Ngài?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Lenten Reflection - Passion Sunday

Jesus reveals God-with-us-in-suffering

"My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" – Mark 15:34

Immense suffering is often intensified by a deep sense of loneliness. At times, we feel utterly alone in the pain, sadness, or anguish. What has been meaningful and life-giving gives way to a void and desolation. Goodness is eclipsed; God seems absent. Our cry echoes Jesus' lament. On the cross, Jesus is stripped of the foundation of his life – the intimate relationship with God whom he calls Abba.

As Jesus undergoes the depth and breadth of human suffering, the power of God's compassionate love enters the pain of the world to transform it from within. In sharing the loneliness of those who suffer, Jesus brings about new meaning: "I am here; you are not alone; I am for you, I am laboring to bring forth new life." We are called to recognize and manifest such presence: Jesus, God-with-us-in-suffering.

"Lord Jesus, help me this week to be united with you in my suffering and in solidarity with those who suffer."

Fr. Tri Dinh, SJ
Suggested reflection format