Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 5/5

Dear God,

When I can't see you,
remind me that you never lose sight of me...

When I can't hear you,
remind me that you never miss a word I pray...

When I can't reach you,
remind me that you hold me in your arms...

When I can't find you,
remind me that you walk right by my side...

When I can't trust you,
remind me that you're my surest hope...

And when I can't, well, whatever...

Remind that you can, you do and you will -
in love and without fail.



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Monday Morning Offering: 5/4

Morning Coffee

 Good morning, good God!

This morning I offer the things I don't get done
just because I keep putting them off...

I offer the work I don't get around to
when I'd rather do something else...

I offer you all I forget to do
when my thoughts are lost in a haze...

I offer my long To Do list,
growing longer with each passing day...

I offer the chores so long left undone
I've can't count how many there are...

I offer the business I need to attend to,
big things that I shouldn't leave waiting...

I offer the work that doesn't get done
when I'm busy with other work...

I offer all this and I pray for your help, Lord,
help only you can give...

I need energy, drive and get-up-and-go;
I need passion, excitement, a new sense of purpose;
I need strength, commitment, a kick in the butt...

I need help to distinguish what must be done first
from things that can wait for a while...

I need wisdom to teach me how best to proceed
and to know when it's time to rest...

I need balance in every part of my life
and prayer, lots of prayer, to help me stay sane...

I offer you all that I've left undone:
give me grace, O Lord, to know where to start,
what to do and when to sit back...

I can only work a day at a time
so be with me, Lord, every day, every hour,
every step along the way...



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Homily for May 3, 2015

Quote: E.M. Forster  - Art: Tom Phillps
Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Well, I don’t have a vine and I’m not a gardener
and plants that come into my house don’t seem to live very long.
But I know enough about such things
to understand what Jesus is telling us here.
He’s telling us how important it is to be connected –
and to stay connected.

Being connected is part of every human being’s experience.
It’s how we all started out.
Every one of us began life intimately connected to our mother,
growing inside our mother until it was time to be born.
And once we were born, we began a whole lifetime
of wanting to be connected:
wanting to be held, hugged, embraced, cuddled, nuzzled and loved;
wanting to be with, to be united to, belong, be part of, to be joined;
wanting to be welcomed, accepted, close and intimate with another;
wanting to be one with someone;  wanting to be connected…

We recognize all of that in our own experience and we also know
the loneliness, the pain and the hurt of separation,
of being dis-connected.

Jesus knew all this, too.
At his birth, just like us, he left his mother’s body
and began a lifetime of seeking to connect with others.
He had a group of 12 close friends he hung out with, worked with
and traveled with.
He was always going to weddings and banquets and dinners –
he wanted to be with people.
Crowds of people gathered around him and followed him everywhere.

He spoke often about his connection, his unity with his Father
reminding us that his Father is our Father, too,
connecting us to him, making us his brothers and sisters.

And especially in his last days and hours,
Jesus knew the pain of separation, of being abandoned,
of being dis-connected.

In today’s gospel he tells us that he’s the vine, that we’re the branches,
and he wants us to stay connected.
He wants be with us, to be one with us.
He wants us to belong to him, be joined to him, be part of him.

Sometimes his Father, the vine grower,
takes away the branches no longer bearing any fruit.
And sometimes he prunes the good branches, cutting them back a bit,
as a gardener does, to stimulate growth, to yield a greater harvest.

But sometimes, we cut ourselves off the vine.
You’ve probably seen a cartoon where a man climbs up a tree
to saw off one its branches
but instead of sitting on the branch with the tree’s trunk  to his back,
he sits facing the trunk and begins to saw.
And what happens when he saws?
When he saws through the branch it falls to the ground  
-- and he falls with it!
He cuts himself off.

Sometimes we cut our selves off the vine. 
We separate. 
We disconnect.

Some might be here today who,
because of the First Communion we’re celebrating,
are coming home to church, visiting the vineyard,
after being away for some time,
after being dis-connected.

On behalf of the vine grower let me say to all of you,
“Welcome back! 
We’re so glad to have you with us. 
We’re so glad to see you!”

And the good news is that the vine grower, the Father,
is an expert gardener
and he knows so well how to graft us back onto the vine
when we’ve lost our connection.
And he wants to do that because he wants to be connected with us.

How closely connected does he want to be with us?
As a child lives and finds a home in the mother’s womb
so does the Lord want to live and dwell within us.
That’s what we’re here for today – for Communion, for connection,
for Communion with Jesus, for that holy connection
in which the full reality of Christ enters our body
and he becomes part of us and we a part of him.

No matter how disconnected we’ve become --
even if we’ve cut ourselves off the vine --
the Lord is ready to welcome us and graft us back on to the vine
that we might be one with him – and with one another –
with all the other branches on the vine.

In the gospel we just heard,
there’s one word Jesus used one word 8 times: 
that word is REMAIN.
He asked us to remain in him, he told us he’ll remain in us
he told us we need to remain connected to the vine
and that more we invite his words to remain in us,
the more life we will have, the more fruit we will bear.
The first step, then, is coming home to the vineyard, to be reconnected
but then we need to remain there
and grow, again, afresh, anew, connected to the vine.

Boys and girls, Jesus loves you very much
and today he will come to you in a special way -- in Communion.
But not just today, not just on the day of your First Communion.
But next weekend, too,
for your second Communion and then for your third Communion,
and one day for your hundredth
and even your THOUSANDTH Communion.
And in case you’re wondering,
you’ll be about 25 years old for your 1,000th Communion.
(I’m approaching my 3,000th Communion.)
But boys and girls, you won’t even make it to your second Communion
without the company of your parents to bring you to church,
to bring you to the vineyard of the Lord
and to keep you connected.

If you know me well at all,
you know that I often have dinner at the bar
at Vincenzo’s in West Concord
where Dave Brown is the bartender.
As customers leave, Dave will often say,
 “Thanks for dining with us!
We’ll see you next week:
once a week is all we ask!”

I thought: Dave’s words are good for me, too.
“Thanks for being with us today!  See you next week.
Once a week is all God asks.
Remain with us and stay connected.”

Pray with me for these children receiving First Communion,
for their parents who raise them in the faith
- and for all of us --
that we remain in Christ and he in us,
in that holy connection, that Communion,
which is ours in the sacrament of his Table.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 5/3

May 3 but there's still some snow on the edge of my parking lot!

Forty-four days into spring, Lord:
it's now the first weekend in May
and there's still some snow in my yard...

It's almost all gone
but there's some 'round the edges
in spite of the sun
and the calendar's date...

Take the last of it, Lord,
and oh, while you're at it:
would you melt any ice
'round the edge of my heart
and thaw any frost
still chilling my soul?

Help me let go
my cold resentments,
let my grudges dissolve
in mercy's warmth
and a season of grace rise up...

Let no trace of winter remain, Lord:
let the beauty of spring
and the promise of summer
refresh my spirit in grace...



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Grooveshark: R.I.P.

Readers know that I have often posted widgets with music, usually religious music and often related to particular liturgical seasons and feasts.  More often than not I did that through a service named Grooveshark.  On April 30 Grooveshark shut down in response to law suits and links to all the music were simply erased.  All those widgets, then, on previous posts over the last nearly eight years are gone.  I'll be looking for ways to provide music now and then as part of my posts.  I wanted to let you know about this so that if you're looking at old posts and can't get the music to play, you'll understand why.


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 5/2

Do you roll your eyes
when I don't pay attention to you

or my own common sense?

Do you facepalm each time
I'm blind to the truth
that's right before my eyes?

Do you walk away

when I do the wrong thing,
now for the umpteenth time?

No, you don't.

you show me once more what I fail to see...
you patiently wait till I understand...
you forgive me and help me try again...

Gentle, kind and merciful Lord,

help me today to grow in your grace,
in your faithful, abiding love...



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May 1: Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

Joseph the carpenter in The Nativity Story

Spending some time with these images of St. Joseph the Worker might help us remember and honor him today on his feast, May 1.  As you scroll down, you'll learn of the many people and causes for whom Joseph is the patron saint!

The scripture readings and the prayers of today's Mass can be found here.

St. Joseph the Worker by John Collier

St Joseph the Worker by John Collier

May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.  The "titles" for St. Joseph in the litany below list all those who claim him as a patron and offer a description of the various ways in which the Church honors this member of the Holy Family.

St. Joseph is the patron saint of all workers Do you know someone who needs a job?  someone who's overworked?  We pray for them today...  Think of those workers around the world who are underpaid and abused. We pray for them today...  Think of all those whose work benefits you and your comfort, safety and liberty.  We pray for them today...  Think of those who have no job. We pray for them today...  Think of those who work several jobs to support those who depend on them.  We pray for them today...  Think of the work you do: we pray for you today...

St. Joseph the Worker by Michael O'Brien

Litany of St. Joseph

Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy

God our Father in Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Good St. Joseph
     Pray for us
Husband of the blessed Virgin Mary
Foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ
Protector of the Mother of God
Faithful Spouse
Example to parents
Pattern of patience
Lover of poverty
Comfort of the troubled
Protector of the Church
Good worker
Good and gentle man
Man of justice
Teacher of virtue
Model of kindness
Loving father

For all fathers
     St. Joseph, pray for them
For all families
For all who are afraid
For all who need work
For all who are overworked
For all tempted to despair
For all tempted by evil
For refugees and orphans
For those condemned to die
For those who are terminally ill
For those at the hour of their death
For those who wait for death
For the old and the alone
For all who work for justice
For all who work for life

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, in Your infinite wisdom and love,
You chose Joseph to be the husband of Mary,
the mother of your Son.
As we enjoy his protection on earth,
may we have the help of his prayers in heaven.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.


Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 5/1

Image source

We all ask others to pray for us
and promise in return to remember
those who ask us to pray for them...

I'll be praying today for folks who've asked me
to lift up their names to the Lord
- and I'm sure you'll be doing the same...

I'll be praying for many people, for many reasons,
and I take comfort in knowing
that the Lord knows all our needs
even before we speak them...

Like you, I'll pray for family and friends
and for neighbors and parishioners
who've asked for prayers...

And like you, I'll pray for people I've never met,
for whom others have asked me to pray...

For some we'll pray for help, hope and healing...
for others we'll intercede for patience, forgiveness and reconciliation,
for many we'll ask for guidance, counsel and understanding...
for others we'll pray for relief, comfort and consolation...
and for all we'll ask for serenity, harmony and peace...

We'll pray for the healing of the sick,
for the consolation of the dying
and for those who care for them, day by day...

We'll pray for those who need work
and we'll pray for those who need rest...

We'll pray for those who are burdened
with anxiety, worry and fear...

We'll pray for those in prison,
for freedom in their minds and hearts...

We'll pray for children waiting to be born
and for the mothers who carry them;
we'll pray for children waiting adoption
and for the families who'll receive them...

We'll pray for an end to violence
in peoples' homes, in their streets
and between nations...

We'll pray for the people of Nepal
and for the people of Baltimore
and for Christians whose lives, homes and churches
are threatened by death and destruction...

We'll pray for the healing of the abused and betrayed,
and for the recovery of the addicted...

We'll pray for the victory of justice
and we'll pray for a harvest of peace...

We'll pray for those who serve and protect us:
for those in harm's way
at home and 'round the world...

We'll pray, as Jesus taught us,
for our enemies
and for those who persecute us...

We'll pray for the many needs
of so very many people
with confidence that God hears our every prayer...

And we'll pray with grateful hearts for those today
who will find peace, healing, happiness and joy...

I'll join you in your prayers today
and I ask you
to remember me in yours...

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Word for the Weekend: May 3, 2015

Image source

Wouldn't you love to be able to reach up and pick some of those grapes? (Click and enlarge the photo for an even juicier temptation!)

It's time to open the scriptures and prepare for the coming weekend's liturgy for the Fifth Sunday of Easter.

The texts of the readings and background material on them can be found here and for helping children prepare to hear these scriptures, check out this site.

The first lesson, from the Acts of the Apostles, includes fear, disbelief and attempted murder in the early church! The second lesson, from the First Letter of John, is the scriptural version of walk the talk. The word liturgy this Sunday culminates in a passage from John's gospel reminding us that Christ is the vine, that we are the branches - and it's time to prune the vine!

Can't think of a better way to prepare to worship this coming weekend than to spend some time with the scriptures we'll hear proclaimed.  What are you waiting for - click on those links!

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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 4/30

Serenity by Hyunah Kim

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference...

I pray first, Lord, for serenity:
that peace within my soul, a gift of grace,
that comes from you alone,
a gift I cannot give myself...

Then I pray
to accept the things I cannot change
and over which I'm powerless:
things beyond my reach and ken
which only you
(and others, if they choose)
might change and turn around...

I also pray for strength
to change the things I can,
to see what's most in need of change
is me:
my mind and heart,
my words and deeds,
my choices and decisions
and the paths I choose to take...

And so I pray for wisdom, Lord,
to help discern what only you can do
from things that only I with you
am charged and graced to do
that I might rest serenely
in the peace that comes
from doing what you ask...


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