An amazing and ancient homily...

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In one of his sermons (below), Saint Augustine spoke clearly that in the Eucharist we become, indeed we are, what we receive.  These are powerful words for us to consider on this feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Sermons [272] A.D. 391-430:

What you see is the bread and the chalice;
that is what your own eyes report to you.

But what your faith obliges you to accept
is that the bread is the Body of Christ
and the chalice the Blood of Christ. ...

How is the bread His Body?
And the chalice, or what is in the chalice,
how is it His Blood?

Those elements, brothers and sisters,
are called sacraments,
because in them one thing is seen,
but another is understood.

What is seen is the corporeal species,
but what is understood is the spiritual fruit. ... `

You, however, are the Body of Christ and his members.
If, therefore, you are the Body of Christ and his members,  
your mystery is presented at the table of the Lord,  
you receive your mystery.  

To that which you are, you answer: `Amen...'
For you hear: `The Body of Christ!'
and you answer: `Amen!'  

Be a member of Christ's Body,
so that your `Amen' may be the truth.


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 5/28

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45 years ago when I was in the seminary, a good friend asked me what I believed about the Eucharist. I knew he wasn't looking for text book answers but rather for what was in my heart. I wrote the following in response to his question. I know that writing this helped me and I believe it helped my friend, too. As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, perhaps you'll find these words helpful as you pause for prayer today...


Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

You have to listen with all of you
to hear the white-green shoot
pushing, rubbing, scraping up through
cool, moist earth: wheat being born.

It's a comforting sound when, finally,
you hear it and you know the growing sound
isn't out there, in the field
but in your frailty, your brokenness,
in you...

Then fear comes over you:
you will be torn inside, again, until it hurts
and this may be the time
when growing leaves behind
the one you think you are,
harvesting the one 

you were made to be...

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

You don't have to listen so closely
to hear the wind shuffle its way
through fields of wheat
you have to look very carefully
to see it's not the wind after all, but simply
wheat brushing against wheat,
wheat supporting wheat,
wheat enjoying wheat,
wheat embracing wheat.

The rustling becomes a symphony
of meeting, knowing, touching, growing:
wheat reaching out to wheat
not with fear, not with flushed face,

but only with the need to touch.
And the sound of reaching
is strong, enveloping, alive!

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

Grinding grains of wheat: harsh,
breaking, crushing sounds,
a not soft noise - hard.
And now you don't want to hear
being crushed:
it just doesn't look like wheat anymore
and maybe the explosion in you
wasn't a matter of life but...

water is cool
and now it is all around you:
bubbling and swirling
in flour ground of wheat
and now you're not surprised to know
you're listening to blood filling your veins,
flowing all through you - life.

And just before the fire consumed us, too,
we found bread: one beautiful brown loaf
of wheat, wind and water
all rising to life in bread.

Then came One

who broke himself like a loaf
and we heard

in the cracking and tearing of the crust
the Word of life grown, ground and given

for all who share
in the breaking of the bread.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 5/27

Some call Memorial Day the "opening" of the summer season - a notion not at all related to Memorial Day's origins and meaningMillions will mark the day with time off and a cookout but fail to pause to honor those who gave their lives in service of their nation.

Here's a prayer I wrote some years back for my town's Memorial Day Exercises.  Perhaps you'll print it to pray at family and neighborhood gatherings you'll be part of this weekend...

Memorial Day Prayer

In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on the One whose power over us
is great and gentle, firm and forgiving, holy and healing...

You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer today.

Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone…

Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs…

Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice…

Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares
for a harvest of justice and peace…

Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts...

Hear our prayer today
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.


Memorial Day Prayer
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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 5/24

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In my neighborhood yesterday
the skies were sunny and the temps in the 80's,
a taste of summer warmth
a week before the first of June...

I loved it, Lord!
I loved the sun, the heat,
the different feel of everything around me...

But then I got to thinking:
I know it won't be long
until the summer's hothouse days
find me complaining of the very warmth
I'm grateful for today...

I can be so fickle, Lord:
capricious, unpredictable,
impetuous in my response
to how the weather turns
and to many more important things
that shine upon or rain down on my days...

In the winter I'd give anything
to feel the tropics' sun,
in the summer I run from it
seeking air-conditioned comfort;
in the spring I think it rains too much
and in the fall I mourn
the trees gone bare
and summer's disappearance...

Let me learn to love the weather
and the seasons of your blessings, Lord,
so varied and so many...

Let me learn to love what each day brings,
what pressure systems, high and low,
may come up on my path and in my heart...

Let me learn to love the day that is:
not to pine for yesterday
or live in some tomorrow
but to live the day I'm living,
to keep it in today,
to accept the sun or clouds that come,
the cold or heat, the seasons' change
and know for sure on every day,
that it's the day
that you, O Lord, have made...

Help me learn to love the weather,
to trust your plans for me:
in season and, especially, out of season,
be Lord of all my days...



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Word for the Weekend: May 29

Image by Claire Joy

The Easter season ended on Pentecost Sunday. We reentered Ordinary Time but every year the first and second Sundays following Pentecost are special days: the feast of the Holy Trinity (this year on May 22) and the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus et Sanguinis Christi (this year on May 29).

For this weekend's scriptures and background material on them, check here and for helping children prepare to hear the Word this weekend, check here.  

The first lesson this weekend (from Genesis) gives us Melchizedek, a priestly figure from the Hebrew scriptures who offered bread and wine to God. The second lesson (from 1 Corinthians) sets forth Paul's account of the Last Supper as he "received it (from) the Lord." Finally the gospel is Luke's account of the feeding of the five thousand from five loaves and two fish.

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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 5/24

(I wrote and posted this over a year ago but I'm
putting it up again because so many are carrying
so much...  and need a break! 

Folks ask me, Lord,
(they ask me all the time)
to pray for them...

Some are sick,
some need work,
some are grieving,
some are lonely,
some confused
and some not sure
of how to pray themselves...

So, I pray for them, Lord,
all the time,
I pray for them...

But today, Lord, I want to pray for folks
whose hearts are burdened more than most,
whose plates are piled high with with cares,
whose problems come in bunches...

I pray for folks who try so hard
but just can't seem to catch a break
- through no fault of their own...

I pray for folks down on their luck,
who wait a turn that doesn't come,
whose hope is wearing thin...

For folks for whom things don't work out,
who try and try again and don't give up:
for these I pray...

For those who seek another chance,
another opportunity to move ahead,
for these folks, Lord, I pray...

For those who strain to hear
a word of comfort, some good news,
a bit of joy - for these I pray...

So, Lord,
could you cut my friends some slack?

That's what I pray today...

I pray you pierce their darkness
and the clouds that overshadow them
till your bright light shines full upon their hearts...

I pray to know the words and deeds,
the ways that I might offer help,
to lift up those bowed down...

I pray a generous share of peace,
serenity and blessings
on those who need them most...

Be their shelter, strength and refuge, Lord,
the answer to their prayers 
- and mine for them...



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Vivaldi's Spring: Acapella!

Thank you, Susan A, for introducing me to this amazing group,
Carmel A-Capella!  (The musical sounds they make at 1:40 are
amazing.)  This is a great way to welcome Spring!


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Monday Morning Offering: 5/23

Image: George Mendoza

O God - it's morning!

And once again, you're up before I am.
It never fails: I turn off the alarm clock
and there you are, sitting at the foot of my bed,
waiting, watching, wanting to be
the first thought of my day...

Please forgive me, Lord,
but most days I don't have a first thought
until I've had my first cup of coffee.
So, please, be patient with me,
as you always are,
and give me time to wake up
to your presence...

And you know, Lord:
it's not only morning
- it's MONDAY!
Another week stretches ahead of me
and oh, how I wish the weekend
were another day longer...

Where am I going this week, Lord?
Where will you lead me?
What path will you chart for me?

Please, Lord, when I walk astray
or try to take the short-cut,
prod me, pull me, push me back
where I belong,
where I should be heading,
even -and especially -
if that path seems to be the one
I'm least inclined to walk...

Most of all, walk with me, Lord!
Guide me when I'm confused and lost...

Shine a light on my road
when darkness shades my steps...

Teach me to ask you for directions
when I am lost and cannot find the way...

Whisper encouragement in my ears
when I don't want to take another step -
when I don't want to take the first step!

Give me your hand to hold
when the path frightens me...

Give me your shoulder to lean on
when my spirit flags and my pace slows...

Show me where to turn
when I need to turn -
and teach me not to look back...

Take me down the just path, Lord;
lead me on the road to truth;
guide me along the highway of honesty;
give me strength to walk with proper pride
along the way of integrity...

Help me to see that the only path worth walking
is the one that leads me to you
and to love and serve my neighbor...

It's morning, Lord -
it's MONDAY morning, Lord!

I'm getting up now to have that cup of coffee...

Will you join me, Lord?



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Homily for May 22

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Homily for Trinity Sunday
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

To be noticed, as one special among all the others...
to be recognized, for who you are... to be known, by your own name...
to be accepted, with open arms...   to be forgiven, fully and freely...
to be embraced, warmly...   to be loved, unconditionally...

Who among us doesn’t desire all of these things?

In different ways, sometimes obvious but usually more subtle,
we all desire and seek these things, thirst for them,  drink them in,
and savor and treasure them when they come our way,
always seeking more of the same, again and again,
searching for the one whose arms will hold us always
and never let us go...

But even the strongest embrace of a faithful friend or a longed-for lover
knows moments of weakness, forgetfulness  -- even letting go --
all, except  the embrace of the One whose strength never tires,
whose love knows no end, who never forgets us,
whose love is more than we can dream or desire:
the embrace of God’s love for us.

Every healing embrace our aching hearts know
is but a shadow of the love we seek again and again
until finally we fall into the arms of the One who will hold us forever
in the deepest of all embraces:      
God’s embrace of our lives, our hearts and our desire.

Or as St. Augustine put it:
Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in you...

It’s Trinity Sunday,
a day to celebrate how we believe about God,
God, for whom our restless hearts are always longing:
one God in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We don’t understand all of that – it’s a mystery.
Because we can’t fully understand who God is
we might sometimes begin to think that God is beyond our reach
and end up leaving God in the margins of our lives and awareness,
calling on the divine only at holiday times
or when we really need something.

But God keeps no such distance from you and me.
God is here and not just vaguely all around us.
God is here
and not just because we happen to be in church at the moment.
God is here, God is within you, living deep within your humanity.
God was in you as you slept last night
and God was in you when you woke this morning
and God will be in you all day long.

In fact, you might say that we are hard-wired,
hard-wired for God, for relationship with God.
Everything about us as human beings
(our bodies and souls, our minds, intellects, and imaginations,
our urges, desires, drives, appetites and longings,
our needs, joys and sorrows):
everything about us as human beings is given to us
precisely to draw us more deeply into the mystery of God.
God, in whose image, in whose likeness you and I were created:
each of us, a unique mirror of our Maker.

• I have been given a mind:
that I might come to know and understand
God who loves me.

• I have been given imagination:
that I might see more than my eyes can behold,
that I might see even as God sees: seeing what is not yet – but can be.

• All my desires and appetites serve to remind me
that I thirst and hunger always for a life and for love
deeper, greater and more faithful
than any love I might now know -  or hope to have.

• All of my physical and emotional yearning to be with someone,
to be one with another, my very desire to make love --
is my body and soul showing me from the inside out
that I am made for love, for union,
we are made for sharing all we are with a beloved 
-and ultimately, with God who desires us,
who wants to be with us, who wants to be one with us,
who wants to draw us into the depths of his own heart.

So much in our world, our culture, our politics and our art
would have us believe that human experience is an end in itself
-and is, thus, its own authority.
That is the definition of godlessness.
And there’s a lot of that around.
To celebrate Trinity Sunday is to remember
that God himself is a union of relationships,
a triune of intimate personal relationships:
Father, Son and Spirit,
and to remember
that God is not only the source of all human desire and experience,
but is also its sustenance - and its ultimate fulfillment.

And yet  another relationship draws many of you here today:
your relationship with the boys and girls
receiving First Communion.

These children were born of you and your love,
even as all of us are born of God and his love.

You have nurtured these children with your love
as God nurtures each of us with his.

And today you lead these children
to the Table of the Trinity where,
in the power of the Holy Spirit, we give thanks to God the Father
and are fed with the Body and Blood of Christ, our Lord,
God’s Son, our Brother.

And so today these children, as young as they are,
enter more deeply into the mystery of God
and they join us in our life-long restless searching for
love that does not leave us, love that does not perish,
love that never fails us.

Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in you…


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