Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 8/29

Photo by John McGinty

My friend John McGinty blogs at BothSidesNow (see the blogroll on my sidebar) and offers there a powerful reflection on his experience of just a few days ago, arriving at his home on Job's Pond in Portland, CT.  Here's a brief excerpt from John's reflection, followed by my Pause for Prayer:
Forty minutes ago I arrived at Job’s Pond. I got out of the car and just breathed. Blue cloud-marked sky. Green grass. Quiet waters of the pond. Absolute silence. Just the kind of moment I love. Just the kind of moment I need much of the time.

But tonight it is different...  Everything felt different. What was it?

Ah! Obviously. It is the first time this year that I have felt the summer slipping away, pulling away from the dock and beginning the trek to wherever summers spend their winters. That must be somewhere deep in the heart of God...

I grieve these hints of summer's end
stirring in my heart of hearts,
long before the leaves begin to turn...

Summer is slipping away...

And there's nothing I can do to stop her!
Nothing I can do to slow her pace,
her journey to wherever summers go
to spend the wintertime...

I can't hold summer back
but I do know where she's going:
heading home to rest
where she born,
deep in the heart of God...

My journey is no different, Lord:
I'm always heading home,
home to where sweet summer goes,
the place where I was born,
deep in the heart of God...

So, give me peace, I pray, Lord,
as seasons change and I reach out
to hold what can't be held
until I'm home again 
and you hold me forever
in that season of your love
when summer never slips away...



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Back to School this week?

Many students and their teachers have already returned to school but some will be heading back to the classroom this coming week - as is the case in my own parish.

Here's a collection of prayers for students, parents of students, teachers and empty-nesters!


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 8/28

The Outer Banks: photo by Fran O'Brien


Whatever happens around me today,
whatever goes on inside me:
may your light dawn soft upon my heart
and your Spirit calm my troubled soul...
Let a silence, a stillness within
run deep and keep me strong
whatever my fears may be...

Let your light come to pierce
any cloudy darkness that lies
in the day and night ahead...

Let peace find its home in my heart:
the peace, O Lord,
that's only yours to give...
Whatever may happen around me,
whatever the turmoil within me,
may your light dawn soft upon my heart
and your Spirit calm my troubled soul...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 8/27

Sometimes, Lord...

Sometimes I find I worry
   for nothing,
for nothing is all that worry can do...

Sometimes I find that yesterday's fears
   were tamed
while I slept through the night...

Sometimes I find I've somehow
last week's unsolvable problems...

Sometimes I find I've forgotten, Lord,
   that all shall be well,  yes, all shall be well,
that all manner of things shall be well...

Sometimes I find I forget that you're with me
   so, please, Lord,
help me remember...



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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 8/25

would that I might write a prayer
   to calm the fears of a worried neighbor,
   to light the way for a pal who's lost,
   to restore belief to a doubter's mind,
   to relieve a sister's troubled thoughts,
   to soothe someone in deep distress,
   to heal the wounds of a broken heart,
   to ease the pain of a suffering friend,
   to quicken hope in a desperate soul,
   to wipe away a mourner's tears,
   to lift a buddy's spirits high,
   to fix whatever problem comes...

would that I might write a prayer like this,
a prayer to solve the worries, hurts and struggles
of all who come and ask:
"Will you say a prayer for me?"

But there is no magic fix, Lord,
no special combination of right words
to bring an instant end to all the troubles
every one of us must face...

The answer lies within the prayer
that rises from each heart up to yours,
the prayer that groans and cries its way
from deep within
(or rises up in silence, wordlessly)
until it finds its place in you,
in your gracious, loving, saving care...

And so we plead for one another, Lord,
and hold each other close and trust
you'll hear the prayer we make
and in your kindness answer us
and in your mercy be with us
and in your goodness stay with us
while we wait upon your word...



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Monday Morning Offering: 8/24

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

I come to offer you the joys of all

who will, today, find the help they need
from you and from their friends...

I offer you the thanks of all
who find the time today for rest,
for relaxation and even time to play...

I offer you the heavy hearts
of those bent low by sorrow, grief and loss:
the hearts of all who weep today and call upon your name...

I offer you the peace of all
who will this day find healing, hope and trust
in you and in your mercy...

I offer you the wounded hearts
of those who've lost so much in love,
in promises not kept and now long broken...

I offer you the faith of all
who reach out for your gentle hand
when reaching for your touch is all they know...

I offer you the hope of hearts

who seek your wisdom in their choices
and your peace when theirs is gone...

I offer you the love of hearts

who trust all shall be well,
who keep your word in faith and trust...

I offer you the hearts of all who pray these words today:
receive and bless and heal with grace
our joyful, sorrowed souls and all our words and deeds...

Such is my morning offering, Lord:
keep me faithful to my prayer this day
and gentle with all those whose paths cross mine...



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Homily for August 23

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

Audio for homily

Two really big questions staring us right in the face here:
Joshua asks his people: Whom are you going to serve?
Jesus asks his disciples: Whom are you going to follow?
These are questions for us, too, and a good way to get at them 
might be to rephrase them just a bit and ask:
 “Well, whom DO I serve? Whom DO I follow?”

My guess is that most of us serve many masters.
The masters we serve are those who become our priority, our focus;
those who eat up our time;
those who consume our worry, our sweat and our energy;
For some , the master is the job; for some, family; for many it’s school.
For some it’s a drink or a drug, sports or sex, a wager or the Internet.
For others their master is their fear, anxiety, greed, envy,
grief, loneliness or guilt.
And most of us, whether we have a lot of it or just a little,
most of us are servants of money.
We all have many masters,
and our masters have a leash on us and often manage our lives
in ways we don’t even notice.

Most of us follow many leaders as well.  
We follow those who take hold of our attention,
our imagination and desires;
those who shape our thinking, our politics and our beliefs;
and those who mold the contours of the longings of our hearts.
We follow many leaders, you and I,
and the ones we follow are so good at convincing us
that each of us is really a very “independent thinker,”
- certainly not given to being misled or fooled or taken in.
But as every con artist knows, the easiest marks are those
who are smugly convinced they can’t be conned.

So, here’s Joshua asking his people,
“Whom are you going to serve?”
And Jesus asking his friends,
“Will you leave me to follow someone else?”
Well, the Israelites gave the right answer to Joshua
and the disciples had the right answer for Jesus,
and we know the response expected of us.

But knowing the right answer and living the right answer
can be two very different things.
Am I truly living what I know to be right?
Am I serving what I know to be honorable and true?
Am I following the One whose path leads
to the peace I say I really want?
How do I choose to serve the Lord?
How do I choose to follow Christ?

We’re all familiar with one way to try to do this
and we’re doing it right now.
We’ve gathered in faith, to listen to the scriptures
and to share in the life of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Every weekend, here, we invite the Lord to be our master, our leader,
and we promise to follow and serve him.
But by the time we’re home from church
or when Monday morning rolls around,   
things can easily and quickly return to the status quo.

Let me suggest a way for us to check ourselves on this.
Suppose I were to introduce the Lord to his competition in my life.
Suppose I imagine myself at a big conference table,
or at my kitchen table or in my living room or my back yard,
some place where I’ve invited
all the masters I serve and leaders I follow – and Jesus, too.

So, we’re all together and I say,
 Jesus, I want to serve you but I’ve got these other masters, too.
Allow me introduce you to my work, my fears, my ego and my self-doubt,
my computer and my bank account.
Most of the time, Lord, these guys run my life
and I let them make a lot of my decisions for me – even big ones!
And while we’re at it, Jesus, please meet the media,
the entertainment industry, my desires and fantasies,
all the ideologies and politics that shape my thinking
- which my heart is so quick to follow -
even when I’m not sure where those paths are leading me.

What would happen if I were honest enough with myself and with God
to arrange such a meeting in my mind, my heart and my prayer?

We so easily compartmentalize our faith,
observing it on the Lord’s Day
but failing to blend it with rest of  the days of our week.
How vulnerable to the truth of my life I would be
were I to sit down and acknowledge the masters of my existence,
all the ones whom I serve and follow
- and to do this in the company of Jesus.
No hiding here, no compartmentalizing – just the truth.

Of course the Lord already knows all my masters
and he knows that serving him and following him isn’t always easy.
Sometimes, even often, following the Lord
means I have to dismiss other masters whom I serve
and follow a path that may not be my first choice,
the path Jesus calls the way of “hard sayings.”
As Jesus asked his friends 2,000 years ago,  he asks you and me today:
 “Will you go your own way, too – or will you serve and follow me?”
I don’t want to leave the Lord.
And I believe you want to serve and follow him, too.

So come to his table where, with his very life in the Eucharist,
he serves us and strengthens us to give and to live the right answer:
 Lord, where else would we go? whom would we follow?
You alone have the words of eternal life.
Be the master of our lives.
Help us follow you- and we will serve you.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 8/23

There must have been a time
when such innocence was mine,
when I found my joy in simple gifts
as simple as the rain...

Such a time there must have been
though I've no memory of it now
nor of the joy I may have found
in raindrops falling on my face...

Is it too late now to hope
to find such simple joys again?
Is it too late now to lift my face
to catch a raindrop's kiss?

Restore, O Lord, my innocence,
my joy in simple gifts and
give me back a child's soul
one cloudy, rainy afternoon...



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 8/22

Photo by Bill Tobin

Were you watching, Lord, in early spring,
when Bill planted just a handful
of these morning glory seeds?

Image source

Did you count the falling rain drops
blessing, moistening the earth
where these kernels were interred?

You must have known exactly
how much sun and light and warmth
would bring to life a shoot,
and then another and another,
poking up to stretch and climb,
reaching for the heavens...

And because you knew just when, at last,
a blossom would appear,
you were patient, oh so patient
until morning finally gloried, soft and blue,
in a flower bearing promise on the vine
of others yet to come...

Photo by Bill Tobin

When I'm buried in my troubles, Lord,
send showers of your grace
to quench my thirst for hope...

When I'm shadowed by my fears
then let your light shine warm upon my soul
and open up and bring to life
all you created me to be...

Give me patience with the time it takes
to stretch and reach and grow
until the morning when your glory blooms
within in my heart
and in my thoughts and words and deeds...


Photo by Bill Tobin


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