Monday Morning Offering: 11/12

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Over the weekend I was on a parish retreat.  In one of our small group conversations, a retreatant shared how he prays at the beginning of each day.  I think his words make for a great morning offering - on a Monday or any other day of the week!

please put in my life today
the people, places and things I need
to help me love and be loved
as you love me.



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Homily for November 11

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Homily for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass


There’s quite a contrast in the two brief vignettes
St. Mark pairs, side by side, in today’s gospel.
First, a stern Jesus, mincing no words, condemns the scribes
who take advantage of their office and of the poor
for their own benefit and satisfaction.
And then a compassionate Jesus directs our attention
to a poor widow - from precisely the class of people
the scribes are accused of scamming -
a poor widow whose small offering Jesus compares
with the larger contributions made to the temple by the wealthy.

Mark offers a description of the scribes.
And it concerns me that I fit that description rather well.
As a priest, I am among those who wear long robes.
I accept the greetings of many as I walk each day
through the market place of Concord center.
I have a seat of honor here in the temple.
And when I go to a reception or a banquet
I’m almost always seated at the head table.
In my defense - I do not devour the homes of widows!
And we’re usually out of here in an hour -
so I don’t think that’s lengthy prayers.
But I do belong to that class, clergy,
who are often accorded honor and rank
simply on account of the office they hold.
Tragically we’re learning how in our own day
and going back decades,
such honor and respectability were too often accorded to those
who had not earned, merited or deserved it.
This week the Catholic bishops of the United States will gather
for their annual November meeting.
The agenda for their meeting will be almost entirely devoted
to the crisis in our Church, created by those who abused
both their office and those in their care.
Pray with me, as I’m sure you do,
that the bishops’ work this week will be substantive
and will manifest changes and plans for more change
to stanch the hemorrhaging of the church’s credibility
and rescue her from the jeopardy in which her mission lies.

When it comes to the poor widow in gospel
and what she places in the collection basket,
Jesus is clearly not terribly concerned here
with how much money
someone might give to the temple treasury.
He’s interested, not in the amount being offered,
as in the source of the offering – where it comes from.
In a nutshell, Jesus is saying,
“I’m more interested in the gift that tugs on your heartstrings
than in the gift that pulls on your purse strings.”
Of course, it’s often the case
that purse strings and heartstrings are connected
- and that works well WHEN
pulling on my heartstrings opens my purse all the wider.
But that’s not always the case.
In the story here,
Jesus watches the wealthy handing over large sums of money
but he sees that their offering doesn’t come from their hearts:
they’re giving from their surplus wealth
and so they don’t feel the pinch.
The poor widow didn’t have to spend much time
counting her wealth: she had only two small coins to consider.
And what did she do?
She emptied her heart which led her to empty her purse.
Her heart’s generosity wasn’t limited
by the paucity of her purse’s contents.
She had no surplus from which to make an offering
so she gave from her want, from her poverty
– she gave all that she had.
And when you give from your want,
when you give until you feel the pinch,
when you give with a generosity beyond
what your accountant or bookkeeper  
might suggest as wise,
then you’re giving from your heart
which is what the Lord asks of us.

Even if you’re still holding strong
against the rising tide of Christmas ads,
you can’t escape knowing that the “season of giving”
is right around the corner.
(Today’s announcement at the end of mass
            include some hints of Christmas!)
“The season of giving…” An interesting term!
Who gives, in the season of giving?  Who receives?
And what is given?  How much is given? 
And to whom is it given?
And who gives and who gets in this season of giving.
How much will you and I give this year
- to those who already have too much?
- to those who already have more than they need?
And how much will we give this year
- to those who have next to nothing?
- to those who have far less than even the most basic of needs?
For that matter: how much will we spend just on
decorating, wrapping and mailing gifts
to those who truly do not need what we’re going to give them?

Will our giving be governed by our heartstrings
or our purse strings?
In celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas
we’ll stuff ourselves with food and drink and gifts.
Our purse strings will be wide open at the malls and online.
But when the needs of others tug on our heartstrings this year,
will we find ourselves giving from only from our surplus?
Or might we find ourselves giving until we feel the pinch
of giving from our want?

The scene in the gospel presents us with some stark contrasts.
Where do see ourselves,
in the mix of the scribes, the rich and the poor?
Earlier we sang, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor…”
And, indeed, he does.
And he hears their cry through our ears.
And he wants to reach out to the poor our arms and hands.
And he wants to help them by sharing with them from our surplus!

None of us is excused from this gospel’s demand.
This is a story for every heart, every purse - for every one of us.

We hear this story, gathered at the Lord's Table.
Jesus gave from his poverty, too.
On the Cross, he emptied himself out,
he emptied out his heart for us,
not for a moment counting the cost.
And in doing so, he felt much more than a “pinch” in his giving.

And with the same generosity
he offers all of himself to us again today,
in the gift of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist:
the sacrifice of Calvary becomes our sacrifice of praise
and we receive everything Jesus poured out for us.

May Christ who gave himself for us
lead us to empty out our hearts generously, for one another,
and especially for those most in need
in this season of giving.


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Veterans Day Prayers

Here's my Veterans Day Prayer followed by two more from Alden Solovy at To Bend Light. You might want to share these prayers with veterans you know...

Prayer for Veterans Day

God of peace,
we pray for those who have served our nation,
who laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom...

We pray for those who have fought,
whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war
and whose nights are haunted by memories
too painful for the light of day...

We pray for those who serve us now,
especially for those in harm's way:
shield them from danger
and bring them home,

Turn the hearts and minds
of our leaders and our enemies
to the work of justice and a harvest of peace...

Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

May the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!


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To the Soldier, To the Veteran

These things I do not know:
The sound of a bullet.
The power of a blast.
The blood of a comrade.
The depth of your wound.
The terror at midnight.
The dread at dawn.
Your fear or your pain.

These things I know:
The sound of your honor.
The power of your courage.
The blood of your wound.
The depth of your strength.
The terror that binds you.
The dread that remains.
Your dignity and your valor.

For these things I pray:
The sound of your laughter.
The power of your voice.
The blood of your yearning.
The depth of your healing.
The joy that frees you.
The hope that remains.
Your wholeness and your love.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and To Bend Light

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Veterans Day Prayer

God of compassion,
God of dignity and strength,
Watch over the veterans of the United States
In recognition of their loyal service to our nation.
Bless them with wholeness and love.
Shelter them.
Heal their wounds,
Comfort their hearts.
Grant them peace.

God of justice and truth,
Rock of our lives,
Bless our veterans,
These men and women of courage and valor,
With a deep and abiding understanding
Of our profound gratitude.
Protect them and their families from loneliness and want.
Grant them lives of joy and bounty.
May their dedication and honor
Be remembered as a blessing
From generation to generation.

Blessed are You,
Protector and Redeemer,
Our Shield and our Stronghold.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and To Bend Light

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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 11/11

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Meddle in my misery, Lord:
touch me where I hurt
and heal my aching heart:
erase my pain with mercy
and save me with the life you gave 
for me
upon your cross...

Meddle in my misery
lest I wallow in self-pity
and take refuge in my pain:
free me from my doubts and fears
and bring me peace of mind...

Meddle in my misery
'til anxiety is history,
adversity a memory,
my difficulties all resolved,
my worries put to rest...

Meddle in my misery, Lord, 
break in and intervene,
crash my gates and barge right in:
rescue and deliver me
from all that plagues and haunts me,
heal me with your mercy's touch
and fill me with your peace...



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 11/10

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Sometimes, Lord,
I get lost inside myself...

I lose my way in a maze
of all my thoughts and my distractions,
my troubles and my doubts,
my problems and my worries...

At the crossroads of decisions
I don't know where to go:
whether left or right or straight ahead -
or perhaps to turn-around and start again...

I walk in circles in my mind
and come to know too well
the places I keep visiting,
returning there without a clue
of where or how to step outside,
beyond the sphere of fears
that trap me in the corners of my mind...

Find me in the maze, Lord,
search me out and find me;
be my point of reference,
help me find my place and then my way
beyond the thicket of anxiety
that keeps me running circles in my mind...

Find me in the maze, Lord,
and take my hand in yours:
lead me, guide me, shepherd me
beyond my fears, beyond my tears,
from darkness into light...

Show me the way, the right direction,
even on a path I fear to walk
and give me courage and the strength I need
to face whatever lies ahead...

Help me trust you'll come to find me,
take my hand and gently lead me
to a place I cannot see right now,
a time I can't imagine,
a peace I fear I may not find...

Sometimes I get so lost
in the maze of my own mind:
come and find me, Lord,
and walk with me
and stay right by my side...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 11/9

November is often called the Month of All Souls, a special time to pray for those who have gone before us...

Ah, November, Lord…

The gateway, in these parts, to shorter days and colder nights, to “the holidays” and all that they entail, to the year’s end and all the wonder and the worry, the mystery of what a new year might leave upon the doorstep…

Not my favorite time of year, Lord, this season of fading, falling leaves and bare branches scratching against gray skies…   And, well… you know how I feel about the snow!

But in all things living comes this dying, Lord, this inevitable annual ending, sapping the strength of all that was bright and beautiful, warm and wonderful…

After the harvest there comes this time for raking, burning, plowing under, waiting for the winter… then waiting through winter…  and waiting for the waiting finally to end…

I don’t like the end of things, Lord: the dying, the loss, the giving up and the letting go…

My soul mourns the loss of summer’s warmth and grieves over autumn’s beauty passing away…

I shiver against the chill November brings... And December’s promise of colder days tempts me to doubt the spring…

Ah, November, Lord…

What other month might better bear our prayers offered up for all souls gone before us: precious leaves fallen from our family trees…

All those holy souls: lost and found and claimed by you, harvested for life that has no end…

Ah, November, Lord… the month to pause and face the loss of those we prayed would never go but did…  the month to stop and take account of how all dying’s part of living; that after death there comes a life that has no end, a time when we will know your reign of peace and know again the love of those who’ve gone before us… 

Ah, November, Lord…   the month of souls whose loss has touched my heart in ways I cannot bring to speech but bring to prayer for you to touch with healing, with the grace of hope that sees beyond the summer’s end, beyond the fall and winter’s wait for springtime and the life you promise without end…

I lift to you the souls, the lives, the love, the memories of those who’ve gone before me, Lord and in the quiet of my prayer now I lift  them up by name… 

(Take a moment, in God's presence, to name family members and friends who have died...) 

I lift them up to you in prayer, Lord: welcome them in mercy to the place that you prepared for them, long before all time began...

In your eyes, Lord, for your faithful, life does not end but rather changes: when the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven…

Hold in your arms, Lord, those for whom I pray...  And shape my life according to your word that one day I may be with you and them when your mercy gathers us together, again, in the joy of your kingdom…

Ah, November, Lord...   hear my prayer and in your kindness, in your mercy, answer me…


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 11/9

Photo by MarkPenta.com

Tired, mottled, worn and fallen,
these leaves, Lord,
cast aside and ready for raking,
catch my eye with the burnished beauty
of their passing, faded glory...

Souvenirs of a summer lost,
keepsakes of a season gone,
reminders of sweet days once passed
in sunlight, warmth and joy...

Their former beauty weathered now,
they remain: fragments of memories,
markers reminding us how all things living
bear their Maker's fingerprints
whose impress never fully fades but survives
all cycles and all seasons...

Fallen leaves, O God,
made to give you praise
for ever and a day...

Let us find in one another then,
when time and age have weathered hard
and readied us for harvest,
let us see in one another
the burnished beauty of your glory, Lord,
fading from our sight yet waiting still
that endless season of your grace
where summer never ends
and leaves need never fall...



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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 11/7


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 11/6

I'm posting Tuesday's Pause for Prayer this early 
for those who are, on Monday evening,
pausing and praying about how to vote tomorrow...
Tomorrow we vote, Lord,
and I was just wondering: if you were a candidate
- would you be elected?      

I know if you were running for office, Lord,
you'd campaign with open and transparent honesty:  
no need for fact-checking your statements and press releases!     

Your campaign promises would be many:
life for those who respect and reverence it;
peace for those who work for it;
justice for the oppressed;
pardon for those who freely forgive;
opportunity and work for all who seek it;
casting the mighty from their thrones
and filling the hungry with good things…     

Your platform would be flawless:
laws rooted in truth;
freedom bound by responsibility;
and justice tempered with mercy...   

Your policies would be grounded
in an unapologetic preference and care 
for the defenseless innocent:  
for those waiting to be born and their mothers;
for the sick and the elderly;
for the poor, the marginalized, the refugee and the stranger;
and for victims of power, arrogance and greed...  

But I know your name won't be on the ballot, Lord,
so I ask you to be with me as I study the candidates
and their policies, platforms and promises
- and decide for whom I’ll cast my vote…     

Open my mind to all sides of the issues
lest I vote uninformed on matters of poverty and prosperity,
peace and war, life and death, rights and responsibilities...     

Help me see through the ads and the hype
lest I vote on the basis of looks and appearances,
polls and campaign promises...   

Give me counsel to choose wisely
when the choices fail to offer what I seek and expect
of those who might govern your people…   

Make me a discerning disciple, Lord: 
empower me to cast my ballot
as my faith, intelligence, conscience
and the truth of your Word lead me to vote...     

On the eve of the election I offer you my heart:
inscribe on it your word of truth
in letters gospel-wide 
and bold enough for me to clearly see...     

I offer you my mind, Lord:
bathe my thoughts in wisdom ever ancient, ever new
and show me the path of your truth...   

I offer you my will, Lord:
bend, shape, mold and nurture it
with the power of your grace and conform it 
to your heart's desire... 

I offer you my vote, Lord:
may it be a good decision, may it speak a just word,
may it hasten your reign of peace
and bring life and liberty for all...     

All this I pray, Lord, 
and I ask in return the gift of your Spirit
to counsel, guide and enlighten me...     



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Monday Morning Offering: 11/5

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

(I first posted this prayer in 2009 and have brought it back almost every year since then.  It's one of my favorites and I hope you haven't tired of praying with it...)
O Lord,
November wraps its dampened shroud
‘round nature’s shrugging shoulders:
our souls know well the chill
of summer gone and winter oh-so-near...

Bare limbs scratch against gray skies,
and snatch the mourner’s veil
from hearts laid bare in shivering loss,
alone, exposed in grief…

November, Lord: no other month
could better claim the name All Souls
or set the scene for praying, weeping,
grieving those before us gone
marked with the sign of faith…

So this November morning, Lord,
I offer you my loved ones:
created from your hand, claimed by grace
and held now in the arms of your embrace…

I offer you from my heart's depths
the ones I can't let go…

I offer from my hands to yours
the ones whose hands held mine...

I offer you a prayer of tears
for those whose absence haunts my days…

I offer from my selfish heart
the ones I bruised and hurt:
I pray you heal the wounds I caused,
and in your mercy, pardon me...

I offer you a prayer, O Lord,
for those with none to pray for them:
brothers, sisters never met,
sisters, brothers mine,
for all are one in you...

I offer you all souls who wait
your final purifying touch
to ready them for heaven,
for life with you forever,
for peace that has no end...

I offer you my grief, O Lord,
refresh me in your tender care:
help me trust I'll see again
the ones I've lost to death, when
gathered in your kingdom's joy,
your mercy brings us home...

Beneath November’s canopy
walk others, Lord, who know as well as I
the depths of this month’s memories
and All the Souls for whom we pray:
make us gentle with each other, Lord,
mindful of what binds us in your love…

Accept my mourning offering
on this dark November day until it dies
and wakes again, a new day born,
a promise of what's yet to come,
that day that has no end...

(Take a few moments to remember,
to write down or speak aloud,
the names of those who've died,
for whom you pray 
in November, the month of All Souls)

May these and all souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace... 



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