Happy New Year!


A blast of the shofar calls the people to Rosh Hashana


A traditional greeting for Rosh Hashana:

A good and sweet year to you,
may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year!

Our Jewish neighbors and friends began their celebration of Rosh Hashana at sundown yesterday, September 20 and will conclude at sundown on Friday of this week.  (The 10 days starting with Rosh Hashana and ending with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) are kept as the Days of Awe.)

For background on this celebration of the Jewish New Year, take a look at Judaism 101.

For beautiful prayers for Rosh Hashana, go to my friend Alden Solovy's page, To Bend Light.

Rosh Hashana FAQs:

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Word for the Weekend: September 24

Photo by AP
Time to sit down with the scriptures and begin to prepare for celebrating the Lord's Day this weekend, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Spend some time with the texts and background material on them and invite your kids to do the same.

This Sunday's familiar gospel story troubles and challenges American sensitivities about economic justice.

Hey - this story just isn't FAIR!  

Groups of workers go out into the vineyard, each group working fewer and fewer hours - and at the end of the day they're all paid the same wage - what's up with that?



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 9/21

O God, 
I am your work in progress,
as much today at 70
as I was at 7 months or seven years…

I am your work in progress:
incomplete, unfinished,
still growing, taking shape, maturing,
all with the help of your grace…

I am your work in progress
and you never cease
to nudge and nurture me,
to mold and form me more and more
as the person you created me to be…

I am your work in progress,
even when I resist, deny or try to frustrate
your constant effort soften my ragged edges
and sharpen what’s grown dull in my spirit…

I am your work in progress
and by now I’m version # I-don’t-know
although I’m confident and sure
that you’re still working on the original,
on the heart-of-who-I am,
that unique individual whom you have known
since before all time began…

Give me patience, O God,
with the pace at which you work
to help me grow
and bring me to full stature…

And give me patience with myself
when I’m dissatisfied with who I am
and the progress I’ve made
in becoming the person you call me to be…

Give me patience ‘til I see and know
the plan you have for me
and how the work you do in me
serves you
and serves the world in which I live
and the people whom I love -
even while I’m still your work in progress…

That’s who I am,
I am your work in progress
and you love me, always, 
every step along the way,
because you take me as I am
and you know so very well
that I am yet unfinished, incomplete,
still growing and maturing,
with the help of your grace,
because I’m still your work in progress…

I trust, O God,
that you who began this good work in me
will be faithful
and will bring it to completion
on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ…



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Just outside my door...

Gotta love the playful lantana just outside the door where I'm spending a few days away.  Those random yellow accents make these eye-catching floral buttons pop with color - a delightful nod to summer taking her rainy leave as fall draws ever closer...


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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 9/20

To sit in silence,
in God's presence, 
without a word to say,
is sometimes 
the greatest prayer 
of all... 


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 9/19

Image source

I don't know, Lord, nor can I imagine
how many are the times you've forgiven me:
they are many, many more than I can count...

You forgive the big wrongs I've done
and you forgive the small things, too -
and you forgive me all the times (too many!)
when I've actually believed
I had nothing for you to forgive...

Your mercy and pardon, Lord,
are greater, larger, broader and deeper
than all my sins
and you are always ready, waiting,
to wash me clean,
to bathe me in your love...

I was reminded of this just recently, Lord,
when my own weaknesses and carelessness conspired
to catch me in a trap of my own making,
leading me away from your truth and your word
to my own foolishness...

And on that ill-chosen path I met you
looking for me,
looking to redirect my steps
until I found my way again,
until once more I found your way, Lord,
and claimed it for my own...

Before I lose my way
you've made a map to guide me home
to you and to your love...

Even before I fail
you have mercy stored up
waiting to forgive the sins
I've not yet even thought of...

In an instant, at a prayer's notice
from my repentant heart,
you overlook my folly
and give me grace to change my mind,
to change my heart,
to change my ways,
to change me from the inside out,
recreating me to be
the person you created me to be...

Show me your mercy, Lord,
and when and where and just how much
I need it:
let me not miss it when you grant it
nor take it all for granted...

Open my heart to your mercy, Lord,
and to the ways it changes me
and leads me in your ways...

Make me as merciful
and generously forgiving of others
as you are, Lord,
with me...



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Monday Morning Offering: 9/18

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

Seems in my part of the world, Lord,
you’re easing us into autumn
with warm sunny days wrapped
in cool mornings and evenings…

The balance, just now, is near perfect
but soon a chill will spill into afternoon hours
and slowly pick the leaves from trees
until they’re bared of beauty,
summer’s glory fading fast...

Something in me longs to stall the seasons changing, 
to stay the summer, holding back the dying
that comes 'round each year
as sunlight plays its game of hide-and-seek.
There’s a time for fall, Lord,
and for a brisk nip in the air quickening my step and pace,
for branches scratching prayers across a harvest moon,
for such rare, spare beauty -
I offer you my praise and thanks…

Inside and out, Lord, 
my body and soul stand between these seasons:
no change in nature’s phases fails
to change in turn the seasons of my heart…

The rhythms of creation,
of suns and planets, moons and tides
all echo in my heart and my soul knows
how all that lives will die
and all that dies will rise again
when comes that spring that has no end… 

Walk me from summer to fall, Lord,  
that I not lose an hour's sunlight 
or a day's warmth  
or a moment's memory of sand and shore... 

Walk me into fall from summer, Lord:  
show yourself in all your leafy autumn beauty,  
dropping down to lay a colored carpet,
a path beneath my steps... 

Help me let go of what I hold too tightly,
what cannot last the whole year through,  
and let my empty arms embrace what comes
with trust that even in the falling, in the dying,  
you are with me, faithfully present 
and abiding in all the seasons of my life... 

Be my bridge, Lord, from summertime to fall  
and ready me for all that lies ahead:  
the winter and the cold, the springtime and its promise
and summer once again... 

Walk with me, Lord,   
and help me walk as gently with others  
as you do with me... 

Receive my prayer, this morning's offering,  
and keep through the week ahead...  




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Homily for 9/17

Image source

Homily for the Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

WRATH and ANGER are hateful things
yet the sinner hugs them tight.

And not just wrath and anger: 
we hold on to so many things, hugging them tightly,
things that do us no good and only bring harm,
things that separate us from one another and from God,
things like

Oh, what time and energy we invest in clutching and holding on like this,
time and energy that might be devoted to so many,
more worthwhile and more fruitful efforts.
How many relationships in our families,
in our neighborhoods and friendship circles,
in our parish,
how many of our relationships are strained, at odds or ruined
because we hold tight so many stubborn feelings and emotions
that separate us from one another?
And the problem is not just among us.
In the first reading, Sirach asks some good and penetrating questions.

- How can we nourish, how can we feed the anger we hold
and expect to be free and open to receive the Lord’s peace?

- How can we cherish and embrace our wrath and contempt
and hope to reach at the same time for God’s merciful pardon?

Too often we think that circumstances peculiar to our own situation
give us license to hold a grudge
and permission to withhold forgiveness
on account of the harm that’s been done us?

How often do we think we’ve tried hard enough and long enough
and should at some point be free to stop trying
to be merciful and forgiving?

Jesus answers this point eloquently in the gospel today:
How many times must you let go your anger and wrath?
Seven times?  No… more like 77 times!
 (a mystical number meant to imply an infinite number!)

When we let go our wrath and anger,  our resentment and grudges,
our envy and stubborn pride, our prejudices and hard feelings,
then we free our arms to embrace mercy and love
and when we embrace mercy and love
then we embrace God.

We go to the Lord’s Table now, in the shadow of the Cross,
where Christ laid down everything, emptying himself out
in mercy and love for us
opening his arms wide to embrace us
and to teach us how to fill our arms and hearts.

This is a time for us to look,
as we approach the altar,
to see what we carry in our arms this morning,
to see what we hold tight,
to see what we need to let go...

At this altar Jesus opens his arms in mercy
and seeks to fill us with his love,
inviting us to embrace him, his Body and Blood,
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.

Pray with me that he who forgives us over and over again
will teach us to forgive one another in the same way.


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Pause for Prayer:SUNDAY 9/17

Two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two ears:
   in this we’re all alike…

So, help me see behind these features, Lord,
  and into the souls of others
     whose vast variety is but a glimpse
        of the infinite beauty that is you, 
           in all of us...



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 9/16

After a summer break, my priests support group met this past Tuesday night. This song was part of our prayer together, a song I'd never heard.  Its composer is John Becker whose Litany of the Saints is very popular.  Pause with me and let this song lead you through the day...


Blessed are the poor in spirit,
longing for their Lord,
for God's coming kingdom shall be theirs.
Blessed are the sorrowing,
for they shall be consoled,
and the meek shall come to rule the world.

Lead me, Lord, lead me, Lord,

by the light of truth

to seek and to find the narrow way.

Be my way; be my truth; be my life, my Lord,

and lead me, Lord, today.

Blessed are the merciful,
for mercy shall be theirs,
and the pure in heart shall see their God.
Blest are they whose hunger
only holiness can fill,
for I say they shall be satisfied.

Blest are they who through their lifetimes
sow the seeds of peace;
all will call them children of the Lord.
Blest are you, though persecuted
in your holy life,
for in heaven, great is your reward.


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