Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 8/19

Photo by Mark Penta

(While on vacation I'm writing some new posts and reposting some older pieces based on Mark Penta's photography. Last summer, Mark, my favorite caricaturist, spent two hours on a dune at the shore in Truro last year, taking some beautiful photos.  As often happens, Mark's work moved me to pray and share with you...)
in but a few hours' time,
on the same shoreline canvas,
you paint your glory in nature's hues,
in subtle, changing shades and shadows...

New masterpieces every day -
and who knows how many times each day?
Photo by Mark Penta
You paint with clouds, water, wind, grass and sand -
and so, I wonder, Lord, how
with your glory and beauty,
how are you painting on my soul,
in my body, in my life, every day -
and in what hues and tints
are you coloring and shading my being
with artistry divine?
Photo by Mark Penta
Make me your canvas, Lord,
and let me take the time to find and trace
your brushstrokes in my life, day by day,
lest I miss the beauty of your work
craftng me as your creation:
in your image and your likeness made,
signed by the Artist's hand...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 8/18

As I read and listen to the news, Lord,
I keep thinking of how much we need you,
how much we need your wisdom,
your truth
and your Word...

In the face of so much hate
we're hungry for love
that gives and gives of itself
until sin is defeated
and grace triumphs...

In the midst of selfish, shallow, foolish thinking
we're thirsty for wisdom
whose brightness and clarity
purify our prejudice and bathe us clean
in the light of truth...

In a world gone mad
from drifting far away from you:
we long for your embrace                                                                        
to hold us close and keep us safe;
we need your mighty arm
to be strong where we are weak;
we pray your presence save us
from the errors of our ways..

Our nation is divided, broken,
lost without direction:
torn by partisans,
governed by pride,
diseased with prejudice...

We beg your intervention, Lord,
and pray you use the likes of us
to speak the truth with power,
to mend with care what's broken,
to heal the wounds that bleed,
to right what's gone so wrong,
to raise our young in faith,
to fuel the fire of hopefulness,
to yield a crop of justice and of peace...

In these troubled days, O Lord,
we know we can't do this on our own:
only with your help, your Word, your truth,
you Spirit pulsing, breathing deep within us,
only with you, Lord,
might we find anew the peace
that only you can give...

Help us, Lord our God:
without you we are lost.
without you we will perish...

Help us be your people
and deliver us, O Lord,
deliver us, we pray...



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Photo by CP

I'm very grateful, Lord,
for this view from my vacation's window:
a perch for my prayer,
a place to greet you each morning,
and bid you good night in the evening...

I'm grateful, too, for my beloved porch at home,
another place for prayer when the season allows
and I'm grateful for the year 'round chapel
embedded in my house where every season
finds you at home,
watching my coming and going...

And I'm grateful, Lord, for your company
on my walk by the harbor this afternoon
for I trust and I know that any time,
any time at all when I lift my mind and heart to you,
you're there, already seated right beside me,
waiting to hear all my sorrows and joys...

The universe is your chapel, Lord,
and any time your Spirit whispers,
"Slow down, relax, rest
and pause for prayer..."
I know I've found a pew,
close within your arm's long reach,
a place to sit and talk and cry and laugh
with you...



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A prayer for these days...

Image source

(Following up on the American Bishops' statement on the tragedy in Charlottesville, on Deacon Greg Kandra's homily, and Fr. James Martin's video, here is a timely prayer composed by Kaitlin Curtice)

Somewhere between the “us” and “them”
you’re holding together the least of these.

Somewhere completely outside of all of this,
you are ushering in a kingdom not of this world,
one that rights all wrongs and rules in love.

But for now, here we are.
Here there are so many bodies—
black and Native bodies,
brown and white bodies—
lifeless bodies,
bodies with torches,
bodies kneeling in prayer.

And you, with your resurrected body,
stand over us,
clasping shalom in your hands,
weeping once again for Eden.
Because you’ve seen the

path charted by brokenness.

It led you to the cross,

and in your mighty grace,
it led you back out of the cave you
were buried in.
It led us through greed,

and colonialism,
through slavery,
through war
after war
after war
until today,
when we realize
that we are still buried
in tombs of hate.

O God,
we are buried now.

Our tombs mark
what side we are on,
who we are for and against,
and our bodies
are longing to come alive

You’ve watched our storyunfold from the beginning
our hate staining our hearts,
our moments of selfless love
paving the way for justice.

You’ve shown us that
an upside-down kingdom
has no place
in an upright world
based on
privilege, prejudice
and supremacy.

You, Jesus, the table-turner,
you were not afraid
to shout shalom
from the streets
or find God
in the quiet of an afternoon.

You know that to gear up for the
hard work meant listening
intently to the voice of God.

You knew that the hard work
would lead to unbearable
that people would
divide themselves
over you,
that war would come.

Today, Jesus,
we are divided.

We are torn.

Today we are
writhing in our bodies—
our black, Native,
brown, white bodies,
and we cannot hold in
the kingdom
when it’s asking to be made known
in the lives of people
the world deems worthless.

So root out those
Original Sins.

Root out injustice—
the kind that beckoned you to come
from other places
to our world
in the womb of young Mary.

Root out supremacy —
the kind that
puts one brother beneath another brother,
or one sister beneath the weight of patriarchy.

Root out hatred —
the hatred that devours
the head and the heart
and clouds our understanding.

O Jesus,
we are so clouded.
be the Jesus we read about and
be the Jesus we’ve never known
stories of, the Jesus of
deep time,
deep love,
deep shalom.
O Jesus, we need you.

Unite in full grace all that is divided.
Mend in full love all that is torn.
Resurrect us, we pray.


Statement from the USCCB


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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 8/16

Texting with God

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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 8/15

Photo by Mark Penta

I can't count, Lord,
or even guess,
how many and how beautiful,
how plentiful the treasures
you offer me each day...

And I wonder: how many of these
do I altogether miss?

When I'm seeking cheaper riches,
I'm too quickly satisfied...

If I don't expect your gifts,
they'll likely pass me by...

If I don't seek out such favors,
they'll escape my lazy notice...

Open my eyes, then,
to the bounty of your treasure...

Open my heart to your many gifts,
hiding in plain sight...

Open my mind to the lustrous pearls
of your wisdom and your word...

Open my soul to the gems of grace
you sprinkle on my path...

And, Lord,
don't let me miss those diamonds,
strewn so generously and shimmering,
calling me to find you in the water,
lapping at the Falmouth shore...



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Assumption Day 2017

The Assumption of Bertha Huber by Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson

My annual nod to Bertha Huber - on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15.   

(The readings for the day can be found here.)

I post this delightful painting not out of any irreverence or even playfulness but rather because the feast of the real Assumption is upon us and, as on all feasts of the Blessed Virgin, we need to discover how what happened in her life and love for God relates to our own. From the website of the painter, Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson:
"This 16x20 oil painting is called The Assumption of Bertha Huber. It is the third version I have done of this theme. Miss Huber was godmother to my three children. She died at age 87 in August, 1975 and I told the children I would paint what it 'really' looked like.
"Miss Huber was from Munich so I know she was expecting nice blond angels waiting for her in heaven...
"At the bottom of the painting is supposed to be me and the three children weeping for her at the nursing home where she had expired just moments before our arrival. It was a very good nursing home, by the way, named Calvary, in the Bronx."
Painting in the folk art style, Wilson has given us a folk art appreciation of the Assumption. The word comes from the Latin assumere which means to take to one's self. Assumption celebrates the Lord's taking to himself his beloved Mother, the Mother of us all, who, the Church has taught from early times, was assumed into heaven body and soul lest the body which bore the Christ into the world should undergo any corruption.

We pray that one day the Lord will take us to himself at the time of our passing from this life to life forever with God: one day the hands reaching down in Wilson's painting will reach out for you and me. No, we will not be assumed body and soul: this mortal coil of ours will undergo the inevitable corruption of nature. Yet one day, we pray and hope, the Lord will waken each of us to glory and our souls will be reunited with our bodies in a glorified state, the beauty of which we cannot yet imagine. 

I remember being called, a few years ago, to visit and pray with a woman who was dying. Margaret was only a few weeks shy of her 103rd birthday! I saw her only hours before her death and yet she was as sharp as a tack, greeting me by name, thanking me for coming to see her, and joining wholeheartedly in the prayers I offered with her and for her.

But there were moments during my visit when Margaret seemed distracted from our conversation, straining to see something above her that I couldn't see. And several times she turned her head, as if to listen more closely to a voice I could not hear...   I don't know, but I would not be surprised if this beautiful woman was attending to the faces and the voices of angels, or perhaps of the Lord himself, as he prepared to take her to himself...

The words of the former preface from the Mass for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary say well what we celebrate on this day:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today the virgin Mother of God was taken up into heaven
to be the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection,
and a sign of hope and comfort for your people on their pilgrim way.
You would not allow decay to touch her body,
for she had given birth to your Son, the Lord of all life,
in the glory of the incarnation.

In our joy we sing to your glory
with all the choirs of angels: 

Holy, holy, holy...  

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Fr. James Martin, SJ on Charlottesville

I was grateful the other day to have Deacon Greg Kandra's homily to post and grateful today to share with you the video above by James Martin, SJ.


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Walking on water - and going under!

Image source

Sunday's gospel told the story of Peter walking on the water - and sinking!

I'm grateful to DV for linking me to a powerful song (sound widget followed by lyrics) about walking on the water - where feet may fail...

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine 

Songwriters: Joel Houston / Matt Crocker / Salomon Ligthelm
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group


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Monday Morning Offering: 8/14

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

I'm on vacation, Lord:
grateful for the time off, the time away
and grateful, too, for the work that's mine to do,
my share in the work that is always yours...

I'm grateful for my staff
and parish ministers
whose good hearts and hands
hold gently and securely
the people you've entrusted to our care;
and for brother priests
who'll come to stand at your Tables
of Word and Sacrament
while I'm away...

I pray this morning, Lord,
for those who have lost a job
and seek work
and for those who are overworked
and need rest
- and for those who have no vacation time...

Let me not take for granted, Lord,
the work that's mine
and this time for rest, relaxation
and refreshment in your Spirit...

I'm reminded of the times you rested, Lord:
when you went away from the crowds:
out of the city, into the desert,
up the mountain, to the other side of the sea,
off by yourself or with just a few friends,
to pray...

I wonder at how you waited some 30 years
before beginning the work you came to do...

I remember your words to Martha,
how you reminded her that Mary, her sister,
had chosen the better part:
to sit quietly by your side, to be near you,
to listen for your voice,
to hear your word,
to simply be with you...

Slow me down, Lord,
and let the busyness that runs me
and runs inside me 
settle to a pace and a peace
that lets me be, be with you,
in a quiet that lets me hear
what  your heart speaks to mine...

I'm not on retreat, Lord,
but part of every day,
at work or on vacation,
should be a time of retreat,
a time for slowing down
and being with you,
listening for your word, every day, 
on vacation or not...

While I'm away, Lord,
your work in my parish moves right along
-as it will one day when I'm no longer there;
you don't need us for what you do, Lord,
it's we who need you and your Spirit
for the work we do in your name...

In this time off, in this place away,
let me find again the peace
of being at your side,
remembering how you are always right by mine...

Open my eyes and heart, Lord,
to those whose paths cross mine
these vacation days,
and when and where I can,
let me be there for them
and see how they are there for me...

Such is my prayer this morning, Lord,
all through this day

and through the week that lies ahead…



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