Archives For April 2017

Reflection for Divine Mercy Sunday: April 23, 2017 A.D.

IVIL

On February 22, 1931, Jesus Christ appeared to Sister Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun. She recorded the event in her diary. She writes,

“In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, ‘Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'”

Sometime later, Our Lord revealed to her the meaning of this symbol:

“The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross….Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter.”

The Divine Mercy image is intimately connected with Holy Week and Easter. Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection are the source of all grace in the Christian life. Everything comes from Holy Week. Everything leads to Holy Week.

The pale ray represents the water of baptism. This water poured out of Jesus’ heart when a Roman soldier pierced his side. This water takes people out of the darkness of original sin into the light of grace. St. Paul says to the Romans, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore, we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (6:3-4). Baptism changes everything. It radically transforms us, even now, if we let it. Do we trust in the grace of baptism?

The red ray represents the blood of Christ. Like the water, this blood poured out of Jesus’ heart when the Roman soldier pierced his side. This blood becomes the lifeblood of the people of the Church, who drink it every Sunday (if not every day). The blood of Christ courses through our veins, filling us with the divine life. Jesus preaches to the multitudes, “My blood is true drink” (John 6:55). St. Paul writes to the Corinthians, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16). We have just received this gift in Communion. It has the power to radically transform us. Do we trust in the grace of the blood of Christ?

It is all about trust in God’s grace. Pope Francis says, “All is grace.” St. Ignatius says, “Find God in all things.” Everything has the possibility to become a grace for us if we trust. Trust does not mean that worldly goods will enter into our life if we merely believe. It does not mean that death or suffering will stay away. No. Trust is a simple belief that all is grace. Christ is our model. For him, even suffering, even death become graces, for he showed us his love in suffering. The greatest grace is selfless love, which often hurts. Can we let this truth into our hearts? All is grace. Are we childlike enough, humble enough to know it?

Jesus says to Saint Faustina, “Tell souls that, from the fountain of mercy, souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls.”

Are we humble? Do we trust in God? There is one way to know. There is a simple rule of thumb we can use at any time. When is the last time that we have seen God’s grace? If we answer “now,” then we are humble and trust in God. If anything else, then we do not.

Let me conclude with the prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola:

“Take, Lord, and receive all our liberty, our memory, our understanding, and our entire will, All we have and call our own. You have given all to us. To you, Lord, we return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give us only your love and your grace, that is enough for us. Amen.”

Best wishes,
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.

What’s been happening in 2017

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(Chicago Skyline from Lincoln Park, my photo)

Here’s a rundown of what has been going on in my life this year:

  1. I applied and got accepted to the Spanish MA Program at Loyola University Chicago, which means I’ll be studying both Spanish and philosophy for the next two years in order to receive two master’s degrees.

  2. I wrote two articles for the Jesuit Post on Katy Perry and Lorde: https://thejesuitpost.org/author/dinczauskissj/

  3. I wrote an article for the Catholic Herald UK on pop music and theology: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/march-24th-2017/taylor-swifts-psalms-show-me-how-to-love-god/

  4. I finished the Spiritual Direction Internship, so I’m now a certified spiritual director.

  5. I’m in three classes: one on classical modern philosophy, one on film and metaphysics, and one on contemporary Latin American literature.

  6. I’ve planned a trip to El Progreso, Honduras, this summer to study La Fragua, a theatre company founded by a Jesuit in the 1970s.

  7. I’ve accepted the position of chaplain/adviser of the Loyola Students for Life, effective beginning in the fall of this year.

  8. I’ve worked as a religion teacher at St. Procopius School and as an interfaith chaplain at a detention center for undocumented minors.

Thanks to friends, family, and others for your support. God bless you!

Best wishes,
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.

Sell Everything You Own

April 8, 2017 — 1 Comment

“The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners alone. Respectable people [can settle elsewhere].” –Oscar Wilde

“If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Sell Everythibng

(Me in 2011, Huehuetenango, Guatemala)

“If Jesus told his followers to sell everything they own, give the money to the poor, and follow him…why don’t we do that?”

That question was the beginning of my end. It destroyed me.

Some gave answers. “It doesn’t apply to everyone.” “It’s an exaggeration.” “If everyone sold everything, then no one would have anything.” “Don’t be so literal.”

I didn’t buy it. Christians are hypocrites. Jesus and his early followers were the most radical figures I’d ever encountered, but Christians today are generally the most normal, mediocre people I’ve ever encountered. A young idealist sees life in Jesus but often finds death in the contemporary Church.

Aspiring saints of the world, UNITE!

The saints: their stories are amazing. What trust! What poverty! Yet, when I ask people about sainthood today, they say, “Just accept yourself as you are! Don’t strive to be perfect! It’s not ‘psychologically sound.'” How often are holy desires crushed to pieces by words of complacency!

“I want a mess in the dioceses!” So says Pope Francis. I think he means, “I want saints. I am tired of lukewarm Christians. Wake up!”

In addressing the Jesuits in Rome, Pope Francis gave the example of St. Alberto Hurtado: “He was a thorn in the side of a dormant church!” Arise! “Seek ye first the kingdom of God…”

I have seen examples of sainthood, a few… There are holy catechists, there are holy teachers, there are holy Jesuits.

However, I have not seen holiness greater than what I saw in Guatemala.

The work was tireless. There was political organizing. There were long journeys out into the countryside. There was personal sacrifice. Youth were dreaming up plans for their futures. Blood, sweat, and tears. Picketing. It was a mess, but it was a sacred, beautiful, and radical mess. People went to mass on Sunday, and the mass meant something. There were all night vigils for those who had died. “Come and follow me.”

The Church in Guatemala gave me hope for a Church of the poor, for the poor.

To die young with desires for holiness is better than to die old with disillusionment.

The soul will stand for nothing less than sainthood. Give it food. Feed the flames. Pray constantly. Love patiently. Work for justice.

I am a sinner. Oh yes, I am a sinner, but I don’t want to be one. Yes, the flame has withered at times in my life, but I can’t stand it!

My prayer: God, make me a Christian, a follower of Christ. I’ll seek nothing less, and you will give me nothing less.

Best wishes,
David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.

P.S.1. I thank the many people who have shown me what it means to be holy, to be poor, to be like Christ. Your dedicated has inspired me to follow Christ in the Jesuits.

P.S.2. The comments about “lukewarm” Christians are not in reference to anyone in particular. I find myself lukewarm at times; however, with Christ’s help we can be Christians who love, hope, and believe with radical devotion.

The Lowly of the World

April 5, 2017 — 2 Comments

“God singled out the weak of this world to shame the strong. He chose the world’s lowborn and despised, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who were something.”

–1 Corinthians 1:27-28

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(My vow cross)

I am nothing.

Earth is one planet of nine in our solar system, one of thousands and thousands in the universe. Within this planet, I am one of seven or eight billion people.

The United States is one country among some two or three hundred. Chicago is one of thousands of cities. Even within this city, I am one of millions.

I am nothing.

Human history covers thousands of years. My life will last perhaps seventy or eighty–that is, if I am lucky. Today is one day of thousands that I have lived. This minute is one of hundreds of thousands.

Nothing!

And what of those who have less than I have? If I am nothing, then what are they? There are those who perish a few minutes after leaving the womb, and there are those who never take their first breath. There are those who live in trash heaps and those who drink poisoned water. There are children who suffer cancer, and there are innocent prisoners on death row. There are victims of abuse, divorces, murders, rapes, flood victims, car accidents. And what of those who have less than I have? If I am nothing, then what of them?

Nothing. Death. Pain. Injustice. Chaos. Where is God? Where is he? Why does he act as if he were not? Perhaps he is not!

So it would be if there were no Jesus. “I have come to preach Christ, and him crucified!” Crucified! Innocent! Tortured! Dead in the arms of his mother! The cry of St. Paul pierces the dense air from the torture chambers of Europe to the nuclear reactors of the USA, from the jails of North Korea to the marketplace bombs of Northern Africa. St. Paul’s message rips through the millions of galaxies and fills the farthest ends of the void of space. “I have come to preach Christ, and him crucified!”

“Folly! Ridicule! God is dead!” Yes, he is dead! And we have killed him! He hung from the wood of the cross in 33 C.E. We buried him. We sealed his tomb. We spit on his body. We cut deep into his festering lacerations. He died.

Love. Can it be without suffering? A person who has never suffered has never loved. Suffering is a blazing fire that purifies the heart until love is the only thing left. When love is the only thing left, it burns still, though without being consumed. All around it there is holy ground. Nakedness.

The poor, the lowly of this world. They love. I’ve seen it. They love more than anyone who drinks mojitos from the rooftop pools of skyscrapers. They love more than any philosopher who claims the absence of God because of their suffering. The poor…some cheat, some steal, some lie, but they get on their knees to pray before, during, and after. Love is poor, and it can’t be otherwise.

Holy week is coming. Christ, make us poor! Christ, make us love!

David J.W. Inczauskis, S.J.