Monday Morning Offering: 4/24

Good morning, good God!

Still got doubting Thomas on my mind...

There are certainly times when I’m a doubter, Lord,
but also times when, without a doubt,
I do believe!

No matter how cold or snowy the winter may be,
no matter how long it stretches into a new year,
I do, without a doubt, believe
that spring will come
to warm the cold that chills
my bones and soul…

No matter how long, how dark the night,
no matter how frightening my dreams,
I do, without a doubt, believe
a new day will dawn
with hope of a new beginning,
a fresh start, another chance…

No matter how difficult things may be,
no matter how lonely I feel, how alone I am,
I do, without a doubt, believe
that you and my friends will see me through
‘til better times are mine...

No matter how hurt,
no matter how broken my heart,
I do, without a doubt, believe
that as others’ hearts are mended
so, too, will my heart have its turn…

No matter how conflicted,
how confused I might be,
I do, without a doubt, believe
there’s a wisdom, a light and a path to truth:
a path I seek and want to walk…

No matter how far I stray from your path,
no matter how seriously I fail
to heed your word and do what you ask of me,
I do believe, without a doubt,
that your heart of mercy waits
to pardon and forgive me...

Even in the face of death, Lord,
even with a heart filled with grief and loss,
I do, without a doubt, believe
your promise of eternal life,
of life with you forever
and with those who’ve gone before me…

If, without a doubt, Lord,
   I trust the seasons, the sun and moon,
   my friends, my heart’s resiliency
   and the promise of a truth that’s pure
   and has no end;
if, Lord, without a doubt,
   I trust that there’s a heaven, a life with you
   where all is healed and all is peace;
if, without a doubt I so believe -
   then why do I too often doubt
   you’re always there for me,
   and that with trust and surety
   I can put my life into your hands?

This morning, Lord, I offer my need
to believe, without a doubt, in you,
to trust, without a doubt, in you,
to have faith, without a doubt, in you…

Help me believe that you are Lord
of all the seasons of my heart,
that on every day, in any month,
without a doubt,
you offer me a springtime of hope…

Help me trust that you are Lord
of all my days and nights,
that in every hour, in every moment,
without a doubt,
you offer me a new beginning…

Give me faith that you are Lord
over all my fears and struggles,
that in every difficulty,
without a doubt,
you’re my brother, Lord and Savior…

Help me believe that you are Lord
of my heart and all its needs,
that all my hurt and all my sin can,
without a doubt, be healed
at your hand’s gentle touch…

Help me trust that you are Lord
of my mind’s imagination and desires,
that in your wisdom there rests, without a doubt,
the knowledge I seek, the truth to set me free
and the peace for which my heart has always longed…

Lord, help me believe…
Lord, help me trust…
Lord, help me keep my faith in you...



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Homily for April 23

Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

The awesome power of doubt in our lives…
This weekend, hundreds of thousands of people
in Washington, DC and 600 other American cities
will participate in the March for Science.
Why a March for Science?
The March is, in large measure,
due to some governmental policies and funding decisions
rooted in skepticism and DOUBT regards the validity and veracity
of scientific research and its findings.

Thomas, the doubting apostle in today’s gospel story,
knew nothing of the debate on climate change
and had nary a notion about funding
the Environmental Protection Agency
or the National Institute for Health.
Nor is this homily taking aim at one side or another
in the political conversation about such issues.
I only raise the example of the March for Science
as evidence of the power of DOUBT in our lives and in society.

But how about you and I take just a moment this afternoon
to rummage through the pockets of our hearts and minds
and see how much doubts -not about science, but about faith-
how many doubts you and I
might have brought to church with us today?

• Some among us may have doubts about God… about who God is…
what God does, or what God doesn’t do, in our lives…
doubts about whether, indeed, there is a God…

• Others may have doubts regarding the Church and its teachings
and its authority in our lives…

• There may be doubts about the scriptures,
their origin, their meaning and their truth…

• Or doubts about Jesus and the Holy Spirit  and who they are
and where they are, or even IF they are in our lives…

• Some may have doubts about what’s right and what’s wrong
and who’s to tell us the difference…

• Others may have doubts about how we’re supposed to live our lives
and doubts about life - after death…

• Many of us might have come here today with a lot of self doubt:
doubting our worth, our value, our reason for being…

We just heard the story of doubting Thomas.
In spite of what his friends had told him
about seeing Jesus risen from the dead
Thomas’ doubt ran deep enough to lead him to choose not to believe:
as he put it, “I won’t believe unless…”

Doubt is defined as
uncertainty about the truth, the reality, or the nature of something. 

maybe something is true, maybe it’s false…
perhaps this is real, or is it all imagined?
could be this is exactly what we’re supposed to believe and do -
or does any of it really make any difference?

Uncertainty…    Doubt…

We find ourselves counseled in so many ways.
 “Don’t believe, unless…”   Don’t believe unless it can be proved…
Don’t believe anything unless it can be weighed, examined
dissected, quantified and explained.
Don’t believe anything unless it can be reduced to the capacity
of the human mind to grasp.

Of course, if we truly lived by those demands,
we would never recognize love.

The opposite of doubt is not proof -
the opposite of doubt is faith, is hope, is trust.

If we needed proof for everything
we would never fall in love,
never deem anything pure or beautiful,
never work to delight in what attracts us…

If everything needed proof
we would cease to imagine, to hope or to dream
for anything beyond the here and now,
for anything beyond our immediate comprehension.

But the human spirit thirsts for love,
hungers for the beautiful and yearns for what is not yet,
what might be, what is yet to come
for what we hope and trust will be…

And the human spirit in the heart of a Christian
thirsts for a love that’s deep and will not fail,
hungers for beauty that’s true and does not fade
and longs for so much more than can be imagined - or proved.

Whatever my doubts and uncertainties might be,
I know for sure that my humanity hungers, thirsts and longs
for something so much more than what this world can give or prove,
for something that could only come from the mystery of who God is,
for something well within my longing and desire
but far beyond my proving or my understanding...

Jesus did not turn Thomas away
- nor did Jesus turn away from Thomas, the doubter.
He didn’t chastise or reject Thomas for his doubt:
he doesn’t chastise or reject the doubter.
Rather, Jesus invited Thomas, a doubter, to an intimacy even greater
than what he’d shared the week before with the other apostles.

It might be helpful for us to note that in the gospel story,
although Jesus invites Thomas to probe his wounds,
we’re not told if Thomas did, in fact, reach out and touch Jesus.
When Jesus offered his hands and side for Thomas to touch,
we only know what Thomas said:  “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas gave himself in love, to Jesus, and believed
not so much on account of examined proof
but in response to the voice of Christ calling him to trust
beyond anything his heart and mind
could know, or hold or understand or prove.

Christ does the same for us this today,
for us who come to church with the pockets filled with doubt.
He invites us not only to reach out and touch him,
but even to consume him,
to take him into our selves,
in the bread and cup of the Eucharist,
to take in the love and beauty for which we hunger and thirst,
for which we long and hope.

Pray with me:
Lord Jesus, Jesus risen from the dead,
help us to be
not unbelieving - but help us to believe…


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 4/23

Image source

Doubt, self-doubt and second guessing -
   these three disturb my discernment 
      and delay my decisions:
afraid that I'll misunderstand or make a mistake,
   I stall and I get nowhere at all...

Confidence, Lord: I need confidence!

I need confidence in the smarts you gave me:
   not the ones I wish I had but the ones I do have...

I need confidence in you, Lord,
   to trust that your Spirit always leads me...

I need confidence in those who help me, Lord,
   the ones you've given me for guidance...

I need confidence, Lord, in the truth of the scriptures 
   and in the wisdom of the ages...
I need confidence in my own ideas and thoughts
   and in the gift of my own experience...

I need confidence in you, Lord:
   in your mercy and grace, in your love and care for me...  

I need confidence to trust that when I make a mistake
   you forgive me, pick me up and help me on my way...

I need confidence that everything will be okay in the end
   and if everything's not okay, then it's surely not the end...

I need confidence that all shall be well, Lord,
   that all shall be well,
      that all manner of things shall be well...

I need confidence, Lord, 
   in trusting you'll give me confidence... 

Doubt, self-doubt and second guessing -
   these three, Lord, disturb my discernment
      and delay my decisions: 
           Confidence, Lord: I need confidence!


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 4/22

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Cope Amezcua

(This weekend's gospel tells the story of Doubting Thomas)

Thomas was a doubter, Lord,
and sometimes
I'm a doubter, too...

Sometimes I doubt you, Lord:
your love for me,
your care for me,
the mercy and the peace
you offer me...

And I often doubt myself, Lord:
others may believe in me
but I often doubt and second-guess
my self...
Doubt can back me into a lonely corner
and leave me short on hope...

Doubt can blind me to the truth
even when it stares me in the face...

Doubt can render senseless
any wisdom I have in me...

Doubt can warp the truth
even when the truth is mine...

Doubt can be a devil
when an angel's help I need...
Thomas needed to see
your suffering's wounds
before believing
in your risen glory:
sometimes it's my own wounds, Lord,
that keep me from believing
you're always there for me,
you're always by my side,
you always have my back
and want nothing but the best for me...

Thomas needed to see
your suffering's wounds:
don't let my wounds, Lord,
my suffering,
keep me from discovering,
discerning and delighting in
the peace you offer me...

Help me look with Thomas, Lord,
look upon your wounds
to remind me you're no stranger
to what suffering may be mine...

Remind me how my pain
marks just the very place
where you, Lord,  come to meet me,
to mend and heal
my soul and doubts,
to lead me to your risen peace...

Like Thomas, I'm a doubter, Lord:
   deepen my faith, my trust and my hope
   and make me a believer...



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 4/21

What's gonna be the boss of me today, Lord?
    my schedule? the past?  anxiety?  boredom?
    fear? fantasy?  others' expectations?  pleasure?
    my work? self-doubt?  routine? a relationship?
    food or drink? guilt?  debt?  laziness? loneliness?
    shame?  grudges and resentments?

I've got a lot of bosses, Lord, and just as many masters:
   free me from working for any
      who keep me from serving you;
   keep me from laboring for those
      who can't help make me whole...
   free me from plugging away
      at what will never bring me peace...

Be the boss of me today, Lord:
  let faithfulness be my supervisor;
  honesty, my manager;
  justice, my director;
  and charity my overseer...

Be the boss of my life today, Lord:
   the master of my words and deeds
      and of all my heart's desires...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 4/20

Image source

for times when I look back
on what has been
and find your fingerprints
on every moment in my life -
for this I give you thanks and praise...

For times when I look back
on what has been
and see how you, in mercy,
washed away,
erased my many sins -
for this I give you thanks and praise...

For times when I look back
on what has been
and see how you have healed,
have mended,
what I wounded and left broken -
for this I give you thanks and praise...

And for times when I look forward
to days all yet to be and see
how you will always touch, forgive,
heal and mend my soul -
for this I give you thanks and praise, Lord,
for this I give you thanks and praise...



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A gallery of Doubting Thomases!

The Doubting Thomas by Rocco Normanno

I hope these variations on Caravaggio's The Incredulity of Thomas (below) might pique your interest and lead you to this coming Sunday's texts and commentary and to spend some time with them along with these images. (And if you're bringing children to church, check here for tips for helping them prepare to hear the Lord's word this coming weekend.)

The Incredulity of Thomas by Caravaggio

Incredulidad de Santo Tomas by Reubens

Doubting Thomas by John Gregory Granville

Image source for Doubting Thomas

Doubting Thomas by Generic Art Solutions

Doubting Thomas by Jonathan Hilson

Resurrection by Peter Sheesley -with the artist's permission.

The Doubt of St. Thomas by He Qi

Doubting Thomas by Ben Steele
For some insightful commentary on Ben Steele's work (above) check out Anneke Majors' post at A Motley Vision.  Steele's subject and title form a visual pun playing on the work of Thomas Kinkade.


Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 4/19

Today's text with God looks back on Holy Week
and it's three pivotal moments: Jesus washing his
friends' feet at the Last Supper; the Crucifixion;
and the Resurrection.  Our work is to live what
we celebrated, to share what we received, to let
the movement of Holy Week shape our lives and
our relationship with our neighbor... 


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 4/18


When I can't see where you are,
remind me how you never lose sight of me...

When I strain to listen but just can't hear you,
remind me how you never miss a word I pray...

When I'm alone and feel abandoned,
remind me how you hold me in the palm of your hand...

When I just can't seem to find you
remind me how you seek me out, night and day...

When I find it hard to trust in you,
remind me how you never give up on me...

When I can't forgive myself
remind me how your mercy is forever...

When I don't know where to turn,
remind me how you guide and watch my every step...

And when I can't...  (well, whatever!)
remind me that you can, you do and always will
love and care for me...


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An Easter blessing in song for you!

Here's the Blessing and Dismissal we're singing in my
parish at the end of Mass in the Easter season.

An Easter blessing from my parish and me to you!

(I'll also post this at the top of the sidebar 
through the Easter season.)


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