8/22/19

Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 8/22

Photo by Eileen Dowdy Beaudoin

We gush over sunsets, Lord,
paying far too little attention to sister moon
in all her lustrous, silver beauty...

The moon, Lord:
your lunar nightlight in the sky
pulling tides from low to high
waxing. waning, month to month,
playing hide-and-seek with me
behind thin veils of feathered clouds...

Your glory never fails, Lord,
your beauty never fades
but burns throughout the night 'til dawn,
keeping vigil in your gracious light:
a light no darkness can extinguish,
no cloud completely cover,
no sundown ever dim or douse...

Shine on me, O Lord,
shine in all your shimmering brilliance:
let no darkness ever hide me
from the light that is my life,
the life that is my peace,
the peace I find in you...

Amen.





 

   
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8/19/19

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 8/20



What a shame, Lord, were my burdens and fears
   to keep me from the simple joys and blessings 
      you'll offer me today...

Help me see that in the hardest of times
   you don't hold back your help but rather
      you multiply the ways you care for me... 

Let nothing keep me from seeing and hearing, 
   tasting and touching, knowing and enjoying
      the many gifts you leave along my path...

Though this day may have its troubles, Lord,
   let nothing keep me from the peace and refreshment,
      the grace and delights,
         that come my way from your hand without fail...

Amen.



 

   
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Monday Morning Offering: 8/19

Image: George Mendoza

(Today's prayer is personal for me but I hope helpful for you
in any new beginnings you're experiencing in your life...) 

Good morning, good God!

I'm a month and a half into my new assignment, Lord,
and I'm grateful for so many things!

I'm grateful for the warm welcome extended by so many...

I'm grateful for a dedicated pastor and team to work with...

I'm grateful for a comfortable home to live in...

I'm grateful for a faith community committed
to opening its doors and reaching out to welcome in
any and all whom your Spirit calls and moves....

And most of all, I'm grateful, Lord,
for the opportunity to minister here
with you, and for you, and for your people...

But this morning, Lord, I offer you
some of the things that come with new beginnings...

I offer you my nervousness, hesitancy
and any lack of trust in others,
in myself or in you, Lord:
forgive me, heal me, grow me...

I offer you any false assumptions
born of pride or conceit,
clouding my view of the work at hand:
forgive me, heal me, grow me...

I offer you any bias or quick judgments
curbing my service or keeping me
from your wisdom and your counsel:
forgive me, heal me, grow me...

So, I offer you my thanks and praise
for the grace of this new beginning;
help me make my way and find my place, Lord:
lead me, guide me, bless me...

Amen.









   
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8/18/19

Song of the Week: Take Six!


The new Song of the Week appeared first in my Pause for Prayer on Sunday morning 8/18.  It's a rousing a cappella piece by Take Six




If we ever needed the Lord before
we sure do need him now!

We need him every day and every hour!

We need him in the morning!
We need him in the night!
We need him in the noon day
   when the sun is shining bright!

We need him when we're happy!
We need him when we're sad!
We need him when we're burdened
   just to make our hearts feel glad!

Composer: Thomas A. Dorsey
Vocals: by the cappella group, Take Six


 

     
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Homily for August 18


Homily for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass




This is the third week of our message series on How To Vacation.
We've looked at vacations from a variety of angles:
- vacation as a kind of reward that we've earned
- vacation as something that's owed us
- vacation as a gift -from God
- to be shared and used, wisely and well
- vacation as a time to grow rich in what really brings us peace,
what truly satisfies us,
vacation as a time to grow rich in the things that really matter,
in the things that really matter to God.

We spend a lot of time getting ready for vacation, planning and packing,
and we invest a lot of hope, expectation and anticipation
in our vacation time
AND… as we all know, those hopes, those expectations
are often more real in theory than in our experience.
Sometimes a vacation doesn't deliver what it promised
and we find ourselves going back to work
wishing we could have a do-over vacation -
or a vacation to rest up from our vacation!

Last week we looked at vacation as an opportunity
to open ourselves to experiences, to gifts, to a kind of treasure
that's in-exhaustible.

Sometimes we need a vacation from all the
]draining, exhausting realities in our lives.
We spent some time last week asking, probing, trying to discover
just what are the things we really treasure -
we did that in response to Jesus who said:
"Where your treasure is, there also will be your heart…"

Those are strong words from Jesus -
he's asking us to do some deep soul searching
but its two main words are "treasure" and "heart"
and those are beautiful words to consider.

But how about this week?  Talk about upping the ante!
Today, Jesus says to his disciples and so, to us:
"I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing! 
…Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? 
No, I tell you, not peace but rather - division."

Is this the same Jesus who just last week spoke to us
of hearts and treasure?
Yup! The very same Jesus!
Jesus who says he came for -- division…    
What can he possibly mean by that?

He means that if we take him at his word,
if we try to take seriously the inexhaustible treasure his word,
if we take his word to heart and try to live by it -
if we try to do all of that
there will be some people who misunderstand us 
who don’t get what we’re about,
even some who will reject us and our way of life,
who’ll want no part of what we're all about
because we follow the word of Jesus.

And if you think I’m being overly dramatic here,
just consider how often you and I are, well… “quiet” about our faith,
how often we don't speak about our relationship with Jesus,
how often we don't bring our beliefs - and why we believe as we do -
into conversations.
Are we sometimes "quiet" for fear of being misunderstood,
for fear of being ridiculed or rejected?

Jesus’ words about coming for division are strong.
But they were even stronger in his day
when one's personal safety, welfare and place in society
were all intimately bound up with one's family
- and being connected, being part of that clan.
In Jesus' time, apart from your family - you were lost -
you were nothing - you were no one!

We can relate to that in our own experience as well, can’t we?
Who among us doesn’t know how strong - and how fragile -
can be our family relationships and how much rides
on their strength or fragility.
And how those very relationships can provide us
with the greatest and deepest joy
or be the source of the deepest sadness in our lives?

Strong family and friendship ties are to die for!
Weak and wounded relationships break our hearts.

What Jesus is saying here is that if we follow him
we may jeopardize the ties that bind,
the ties that ensure our safety and security,
our connectedness with others,
our acceptance by others.

So, here's the important distinction for us to make:
Division isn't Jesus' purpose or mission
but it is an inevitable side effect, a consequence
for those who take his word, his mission to heart.

This shouldn’t surprise us too much.
We all know how voicing our strong beliefs about serious matters
will join us to those who share our convictions
but distance or even separates us, from those who don’t. 

Who among us hasn't experienced precisely this dynamic?
in the contemporary political climate?
Jesus says:   
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three…
I think we know what he means!

Consider how careful we’ve become
in our families and among friends, around the holidays
at Thanksgiving Day dinner or at Christmas time
- or at cookouts on a summer vacation -
how careful we’ve become about what we say,
what topics we bring up, what conversations we begin -
precisely because we know that certain names or words or topics
might easily divide a household or a gathering of people
who would be otherwise sharing a good time together.

To be clear, when Jesus calls us to join him,
he isn’t instructing us to be controversial jerks at the dinner table.
Jesus is, at heart, a man of peace and reconciliation.
But Jesus is reminding us that division is a consequence of his mission
and though the path he walks and invites us to walk with him
is not an easy path - it's worth the hardship.
Yes, it’s gonna be hard, he says.
There are gonna be obstacles and pain and conflict and more,
but the mission is worth it.  Following him is worth it.

Now, Jesus isn’t suggesting that we go out cause division!
But it might be helpful for each of us to ask ourselves:
 “How and when has my faith and my expression of it
been strong enough and clear enough
that I’ve bumped up against this "consequence of division"
precisely because of what I believe?”

Or even more basically,
 “Do my family members and friends, do the people I work with,
know what I believe,
do they know what moves my heart,
what shapes my deeds and conduct?

Or do I keep my beliefs under wraps, avoiding any conflict.
Do I try to keep peace at all costs,
even at the cost of being true to what I believe?
Do I settle for artificial harmony)
(little more than the absence of overt conflict)
- and call that "peace?”

I realize that I'm speaking here about a terrain littered with land mines!
In a culture like ours that prizes both tolerance and political correctness,
it often seems that all views are to be respected and accepted -
except for those views that everyone is expected to know
are un-acceptable.

It's a tough playing field where Jesus leads us.
And as on any team, each of us is going to have different
roles, responsibilities and assignments.
Our first task is to know the game and how it's played.
Then we need to know what position each of us is playing.
Then we need to practice - to hone the skills we need
to contribute to the team's effort.
And finally, we need to take to the field and get in the game.
Any effort less than this will leave us on the sidelines -
or even outside the stadium.

Perhaps the task before us is this,
At home, at work, at school, on vacation, the task is:
to be peaceful - not angry, vengeful or arrogant;
to be peaceful in the ways we're faithful
to Jesus and his mission,
to live with any division that comes - NOT by walking away -
but by bearing the burdens faith may lay on us;
not by "growing weary, not by losing heart,
but rather by persevering
in running the race that lies before us,
keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus"
and on the inexhaustible gift of his word.

Vacation might be just the time to reflect on these things,
to see what we need to do, you and I, each of us,
to grow in those things that really matter, that really count,
those things that bring us real peace,
-- even if that peace is served up in the midst of division;
time to grow in those things that truly satisfy us,
time to grow in the things that matter
and especially to grow, to become rich, in what matters to God...

One of the greatest benefits of any vacation
is the gift of time, time we don't usually have available to us,
time for doing some of the things we most want to do.
Pray with me today at the Lord’s Table
that each of us might find time this summer
to ponder how our faith brings us peace,
how it makes us one with so many
even as it may distance, separate and divide us from some others.

The most important, beautiful and worthwhile elements of our lives
come at a price, at a cost, at a premium.
Let's not hold back from giving what we need to give
to be faithful to the Lord who offers us more
than any other person or thing can promise or deliver.








     
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8/17/19

Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 8/18



When I read and listen to the news these days 
I can't help but think:
If we ever needed you before, Lord
 - we sure do need you now!

We need you in our hearts, Lord,
when we so easily resort to bitterness, prejudice and hatred...

We need you in our speech, Lord,
when insult, inuendo, sarcasm and half-truths
are so often on the tips of our tongues...

We need you in our politics, Lord, 
when we so often fail to even try to understand
what truth the other side might speak...

We need you in our thinking, Lord,  
when we so often rush mindlessly 
to rash judgments based on uninformed opinions...

We need you to guide our discourse and debate, Lord,
beyond simply defending our positions 
and towards truth as our only goal...

We need you in Congress, Lord,
and in our courts
and in our voting booths 
and in our law enforcement agencies:
all places where we need
the authority of your word and your truth...
 
We need you, Lord,
we need you to push, prod, nudge, shove and move us 
when we fail to speak out, fail to act;
when we're hesitant, fearful, overly cautious,
self-protective, lazy and uninterested
in issues that cry out for our response...

We need you to fill us with a spirit of justice and wisdom,
a spirit of good counsel and understanding,
a spirit of reverence and fortitude
a spirit that helps us to see as you see, Lord,
to love as you love,
to choose as you would choose,
and to serve others as you served us:
fully, freely and with mercy...

If we ever needed you before, Lord,
we sure do need you now!

Don't abandon us, Lord, 
don't leave us to our own devices!

Open our eyes and ears and minds and hearts
to you, your presence and the power of your Spirit
moving within us and among us...

If we ever needed you before, Lord,
we sure do need you now!




If we ever needed the Lord before
we sure do need him now! We need him every day and every hour!

We need him in the morning!
We need him in the night!
We need him in the noon day
   when the sun is shining bright!

We need him when we're happy!
We need him when we're sad!
We need him when we're burdened
   just to make our hearts feel glad!

Composer: Thomas A. Dorsey
Vocals: by the cappella group, Take Six



 

     
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8/16/19

Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 8/17


Eeryone's getting ready for the opening of school and the new academic year begins on different dates in different places. So it's time for my annual offering of Back-To-School Prayers.  

In this post you'll find three prayers I wrote for those who are returning to the classroom: one for parents, one for students and one for teachers. Following these three prayers, you'll find two offerngs for Empty Nesters: my own reflection and a prayer taken from Diana Macalintal's fine book, The Work of Your Hands: Prayers for Ordinary and Extraordinary Moments of Grace.

In addition to you and your immediate family, are there others in your extended family, among your neighbors and friends or in your parish who might benefit from these prayers?  Please do pass them on!  Some parishes distribute these prayers just before school begins.  
If you share these texts, please be sure to include the credits/links for my work and Diana's.

You might think of praying the Student's Prayer at home with your children, on the first day of school.  Or you could slip a copy into backpacks and lunch kits - and of course, the family bulletin board or the trusty refrigerator door provide good homes for these prayers. 

+ + +
A Student's Prayer
Dear God,
Help me remember that you’re always by my side,
at school and all day long.
Help me be the best student I can be,
using all the gifts and talents you’ve given me.
Help me study well and often
– especially when I don’t feel like studying at all!
Help me finish all my homework – on time.
Help me listen to my teachers and coaches.
Help me play fair and play safely.
Help me be honest when I’m tempted to cheat.
Help me always tell the truth.
Help me be kind to everyone at school
and to treat others as I’d want them to treat me.
Help me make good friends
and help me be a good friend to others.
Help me see how I can help others
and to ask for help when I need it myself.
Help me love and respect, trust and appreciate my parents
- and be honest with them.
Help me remember that you’re with me always, Lord,
and that you’ll never leave my side.
Amen.
ConcordPastor.blogspot.com

+ + + 

 A Parent's Prayer for Students 
Dear Lord,
As my children leave for school,
I pray you keep them in your care.
Send your Spirit to open their minds
to all that's true and beautiful and good.
Help them see the gifts and talents
you have given them 
and teach them to use them well.
Help them to grow in knowledge and wisdom.
Help them to be kind to others
and lead others to be kind to them.
Give their teachers patience and understanding
and help them teach what's just and true.
Send your angels to guide and guard my children
and to keep them from all harm.
Open their young hearts to your presence
and enfold them in your peace and protection.
Hold them in the palm of your hand, Lord,
and at day's end, bring them safely home.
Amen. 
ConcordPastor.blogspot.com

+ + +
A Teacher's Prayer 
Dear God,
A new school year is about to begin
and my classroom door will soon open
to the students you've assigned to my care...
Open my mind and heart to each of them
and especially to the ones
who will challenge me the most...
Help me challenge my students, all of them,
to study, to learn, to grow in knowledge
and even a little wisdom...
Help me remember, Lord,
how young my students are:
give me patience to help them grow up
and insight to know the help they need...
Help me understand that sometimes
my students may not understand me:
help me be clear in all I say and do...
My students don't know the burdens and worries
my heart brings to the classroom, Lord,
so help me remember
how anxious and how heavy my students' hearts may be...
Keep me from favoring any particular students, Lord,
except for those who need my help the most...
Let my choices and decisions in the classroom
be fair and just, honest and true...
Send your Spirit to fill me with gifts
of knowledge and understanding, counsel and wisdom…
Lord, open my mind and heart to my students' parents,
especially those who'll challenge me the most...
Help me challenge parents to challenge their children
to study, to learn and to grow...
Teach me to teach as you would, Lord:
with understanding when I need to be firm,
with gentleness in all things and with patience ‘til the last bell rings…  
Amen. 
ConcordPastor.blogspot. com

+ + + 

Reflections for Empty Nesters

A friend wrote to me about how hard it was to see her child go off to college: seems the tears just wouldn't stop flowing... I replied:

When a son is leaving home: 
Yes... I understand,
but it was, in part, for just this
that you brought him into the world:

for him to grow and mature,
to begin to be on his own,
loving you not any less at all
and perhaps, indeed,
loving you even more
for all you've given him thus far
and how you'll love him yet
as he becomes, more and more,
his own man...

 
Through your tears, 
ask God to help you find the joy
that should be yours
in seeing what a fine young man
you've raised:
your son, born of you, 
of your love and all your care...


ConcordPastor.blogspot. com
 
 
When a daughter is leaving home:
Yes....  I understand
but it was, in part,
for just this
that you brought her into the world:
for her to grow and mature,
to begin to be on her own,
loving you not any less at all
and perhaps, indeed,
loving you even more
for all you've given her thus far
and how you'll lover her yet
as she becomes, more and more,
her own woman...

 
Through your tears, 
ask God  to help you find the joy
that should be yours
in seeing what a fine young woman
you've raised:
your daughter, born of you, 
of your love and all your care...


ConcordPastor.blogspot. com

+ + +
 
And here's Diana Macalintal's  Parent’s Prayer When Children are Leaving Home, in two versions: for a daughter, for a son.
 
A Parent’s Prayer When A Daughter Leaves Home 
Gracious God, you blessed me with the gift of my child
and entrusted me with her care.
Surround her with good people and watch over her each day.
And let her know that I will always be near
whenever she may need me.
Heal any hurts we may harbor with each other
and forgive our failings
as we learn to be in a new kind of relationship with each other.
And when the sight of her empty room
pierces my heart with sadness,
may I find comfort in knowing that my child is your child too,
filled with your grace and sheltered by your love.
Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Order of Saint Benedict.   
Published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota.  
Used with permission. 

A Parent’s Prayer When A Son Leaves Home 
Gracious God, you blessed me with the gift of my child
and entrusted me with his care.
Now he leaves this home and begins a new life apart from me.
Surround him with good people and watch over him each day.
And let him know that I will always be near
whenever he may need me.
Heal any hurts we may harbor with each other
and forgive our failings
as we learn to be in a new kind of relationship with each other.
And when the sight of his empty room
pierces my heart with sadness,
may I find comfort in knowing that my child is your child too,
filled with your grace and sheltered by your love.
Amen.

Copyright 2014 by Order of Saint Benedict.   
Published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota.  
Used with permission. 




 
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