Thursday, July 31, 2014

As the sun sets on my vacation

Photo by Joe Colletti

Well, the sun is setting on the last day of my vacation...

Tomorrow I'll head back to Concord, refreshed and ready for the kind of weekend that is usually mine: word and worship with the wonderful people of Holy Family Parish!

Here are the Top Ten Ways I Know My Vacation Is Over

10. I set an alarm clock (actually, two!) before I go to bed.

9. I get up before noon.

8. I put on shoes and socks in the morning.

7. When I come home: no one has made my bed, emptied my waste baskets or placed fresh towels in the bathroom.

6. It matters if I shave - and what time of day I shave.

5. I check my calendar in the morning to see what my day holds.

4. I wear a lot of black.

3. Thursday, Friday and Saturday find me preoccupied with the Sunday scriptures and a homily waiting to be written, preached and posted.

2. What sailed gracefully beyond the horizon on vacation returns with the incoming tide.

1. I'm back on the other side of the Sagamore Bridge and I have to start checking my email!






   
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Word for the Weekend: AUGUST 3

Image source

The gospel for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is a familiar story: the feeding of the 5,000 or "the multiplication of the loaves and fishes." The day's first scripture, from Isaiah, invites all who are thirsty and hungry to come and be fed, thus setting the stage for the scene we'll encounter in Matthew.  The "middle reading," comes this week, again, from Romans and reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

Take a look at the texts (and some commentary on them) here. (There's no better way to prepare for Mass this Sunday!) Then, after looking at the scriptures, ask yourself the questions a preacher might ask in preparing a homily:
Which particular words or phrases in the scriptures hold my attention?
What in the past week's news comes to mind as I read these scriptures?
Who invites the hungry, today, to come and eat and drink at no cost?
What threatens to separate us from the love of Christ today?
How do I understand miracles? 
How do my listeners understand miracles?
What might be a contemporary version of "5 loaves and 2 fish?"
What do I suppose the disciples did 
   with the 12 wicker baskets of left-overs?
What do I do with my left-overs? 
Jesus feeds his people: for what are his people hungry today?
   
Bringing children to Mass with you?  Here are some hints for helping our younger brothers and sisters prepare to hear the Lord's word this Sunday.


 

   
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 7/30



Could be the Lord missed me yesterday
and the day before yesterday
and the day before that
and the week before that...

Even when I don't check in,
(nope, not a word!)
the Lord is always trying to reach me,
to listen to me and help me:
and the truth is, I need that!

So, yes... on those days (or weeks) 
when the Lord is missing me,
I'm missing the Lord
and missing out on what I need...


 

     
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Monday Morning Offering: JULY 28


Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

So many things, Lord...
so many good things
so many important things
so many necessary things
so many sacred things
deserve my time, my attention and my heart...

So many tasks, Lord...
so many responsibilities
so many meetings
so many emails, texts and conversations
so many gatherings and rites...
demand my time, my attention and my heart... 

So many people, Lord...
so many good people
so many hurting people
so many faithful people
so many people entrusted to my care
stake their claim upon my time, my attention and my heart...

And it's through and with and in
   these things and tasks and people
that I find you, who above all others, Lord,
   demand, lay claim to and deserve
      my time, my attention and my heart...

And for all of this  praise and thank you...

But then there comes vacation
   with its quiet, restful nights and days...

Away from all the ordinary busyness
   I find you where you always are,
      where I often, easily miss you
in all that crowds my scheduled life...

I find you in my spirit, not in things...
I find you in my rest, not in my work...
I find you not in others but alone,
   with little else to stake a claim
upon my time, on my attention, on my heart,
on all that's yours and all that you deserve...

For these peaceful days I thank you, Lord,
   and offer you my praise for such a gift...

And when vacation ends, Lord, I pray
   you'll help me find some time each day
apart from people, work and things:
   time to find my rest and peace in you alone...

Amen.





     
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Because beauty should be shared...

Photo by CP

These beautiful hydrangeas are on the walkway outside O's, a steak and seafood restaurant where I've had dinner several times this past week.

Couldn't help but think of these blossoms as snowballs in July - but they don't melt and they're not for throwing!  They're just beautiful - and should be shared...


 

     
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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 7/25

Image source

I've never sat in a kayak but the past few days I've been watching kayakers paddle past my lakefront porch.  I'm taken by such graceful movement powered by two arms and a light, double-ended paddle, cutting the water's surface like a knife through butter.  Dipping smoothly, left and right, a simple tool and stroke send the boater gliding cross the lake's surface: the kayaker feathers the waters and it's a thing of beauty...

video

So, I wondered: could life be like this...  each of us feathering through our days and years, gracefully, with simple tools and simple strokes...

(Vacation is a time for dreaming!)

But aren't our lives the shells in which we make our way?  And aren't God's gifts to us our double-ended paddles: faith and grace, trust and hope?  How often do we overload our "boats" with useless cargo weighing us down, physically and emotionally?  How often do we try to power our way through with no end to the machinery we think will make things so much easier - but it doesn't...  How often do we fail to gracefully "feather" our way and, instead, beat our path from here to there, relying on ourselves, forgetting those simple paddles of faith and grace, trust and hope?

Maybe the kayaker's craft and paddle have something to teach us...

But perhaps you'll argue that life's waters are often so much rougher than a quiet lake: the waves choppy and unsettling, rough for passage and survival.  Well, you'd be making a fair point.  Life's not always a peaceful lake, it's often challenging, difficult and dangerous.  Still, it's a simple double-ended paddle that takes the kayaker down raging rapids and out into the ocean's open waters.  And those same gifts of faith and grace, of trust and hope are still the double-ended paddle given us to move our humble craft through life's white-watered times...

video

Pause for Prayer

Lord, you've given me the gifts I need
to make my way in safety:
cross placid lakes, down rapids rough,
through troubled ocean waters...

Give me faith your gifts are all I need
and grace to use them wisely;
give me trust that you are by my side
and hope for peaceful waters just ahead...

With your Spirit's strength, Lord,
help me paddle, feathering gracefully,
my way through life
to you...

//////////////////////////////////////////////////

And since I'm on vacation, let me add just one more tease of a video.  You won't need a translator - you'll get the point right away!  And be sure to note that the kayakers here are using simple, double-ended paddles!





First and second videos above from Shutterstock.com


 

     
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Word for the Weekend: JULY 27

Image source

What would you give, or give up, for this pearl?

The question isn't mine -- it's the Lord's -- and you'll hear him ask it in this Sunday's gospel:
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. 
What treasure do I fantasize?  seek?  work for?  collect?  hoard?

What's the finest, most costly "pearl" I seek in my life?

What am I doing to find it?  to secure it?  to possess it?

What am I willing to give up for that treasure?

For what would I give up all else?

Is the kingdom of heaven something I treasure?

Or not?
For a look at all three of Sunday's readings (and some helpful commentary on them), check here.
Bringing children to church with you?  Look here for hints to help prepare them to hear the Lord's Word this weekend.




   
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Muscle memory, soul memory...

Photo by CP

My day begin with some time in the lake.  Doctors tell us that before we're born we tumble and float in the womb.  I wonder if that's why I found floating in the water so peaceful and calming.  Does something in my body's memory, something in my soul, remember the security, the shelter, the sanctuary of my first home, the place where I began to grow into the person God created me to be?

For nine months I floated in a womb's pool: the universe as I knew it.  I lived and fed and grew; I stretched and kicked and turned; I slept and woke in a life-giving bath in the basin of my mother's belly.  Until her water broke...  And at last she pushed me forth from her safe harbor, into the world, to draw my first breath and cry out for what was lost and what was gained in being born.

I'm told our muscles have memory and I'm sure of that for our souls. It's not surprising, then, that I should find some peace and calm, tumbling and floating in the lakes' water on a morning in July.  Something deep within me remembers the security, the shelter, the sanctuary of my first home where I began to be the person God created me to be...



 

   
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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 7/23



What problem will I bring to God today?

Am I having a hard time "keeping it in today?"

Am I so anxious about tomorrow or next week
that I miss the help the Lord offers me today? 

The Lord's with me right now, 
in this very moment...

The Lord's not waiting for tomorrow 
or next week or next month:
he's waiting right now 
to give me just the help I need
to make it through this day...

Help me just today, Lord:
that's what I really need.... 


 

     
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Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday EVENING Offering: 7/21

Photo by CP

Lord,
I forgot it was Monday...

I slept through most of the morning...

I forgot to write, to post,
this weekly offering...

So I come now at day's end,
as your sun begins to set...

Thank you, Lord,
for space and grace to rest,
to let go worry's schedule...

Thank you for the time and place
to sit and breathe in deeply
of your Spirit's gentle lake shore breeze...

Thank you, Lord, for days set free 
to find and savor beauty
I so often, easily miss..

Thank you for a clear head, Lord,
a heart refreshed, a mind at peace, 
a soul renewed...

Thank you for these days of grace 
and please, Lord, grant the same
to family, friends and all who share
these words, this prayer, 
this Monday Evening Offering...