Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 10/6

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I was at a meeting I didn't want to be at,
discussing issues I didn't want to talk about
when a colleague made a comment
spoken to another,
not to me...

But my colleague's words flowed, flooded,
gushed and rushed like blood
into my heart
through an artery unblocked,
of a sudden free and open,
cleared by God's sweet grace...

And later, I paused to pray... 

How many worries, fears and distractions
block my heart's arterial doors?

How often, Lord, does my self-interest
check your gentle, graced approach
to fill me with your grace?

In how many ways
do I clog the pathways to my soul,
congesting all the veins that thirst
for your pure grace to flow
and fill my heart with hope,
with trust, with spirit fresh,
renewed, brought back to life?

Flush out what plugs the chambers,
the channels to my heart
and flood me with the grace
that buoys me up til I inhale
again and deeply
your Spirit's sweet, clear breath...

When I least expect you, Lord:
come flood and flush my heart with grace...


I believe that moments like the one at my meeting
come fast and furious, all the time,
and that I may, more often than not, miss them.
I don't believe God ever abandons me - or you -
but I'm sure that I often miss the Lord's approach
when I'm congested and consumed 
by my worries, fears and troubles...

Perhaps you know of what I speak
and if you do, 
pray with me to be open,
to be opened,
to all the Lord is offering...


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Monday Morning Offering: 10/5

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

(The feast of St. Francis was yesterday, October 4,
but I'm still working through some jet lag 
so I'm a day late!)

Good morning, good God!

The words of St. Francis' prayer
are on my mind and in my heart
so this morning I come to you
and offer his prayer,
hoping to make it my own prayer, too...

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace...

Where there is hatred, let me sow love...
When politics tempt me to demonize the other side,
when my envy delights in workplace intrigue,
when my thoughts walk the paths of anger's edge,

when I'm tempted to validate a violent solution,
when I think I'm excused from golden rule:
teach me to sow love, Lord,

and to love as you've loved me...

Where there is injury, pardon...
When my words cut sharp as a knife,
when my idle gossip tears others apart,
when my careless deeds wound deeply,

when I set out to hurt a colleague:
teach me to pardon and heal, Lord,
as you've healed and pardoned me...

Where there is despair, hope...
Teach me, Lord,
to hope when I'm unsure of so many things,
to trust when I want so much to give up,
to believe when I'm confused and lost in doubt:
teach me to share your truth and my hope
with those who seem to have neither...

Where there is darkness, light...
Teach me, Lord, to trust in your light when all is dark,
to walk by your light when the shadows beckon,
to stand firm in your light when darkness threatens
and to share your light and its warmth
with any and all who seek it...

Where there is sadness, joy...
Lighten my heart with the gifts of your Spirit,

draw me out from my childish self-pity,
touch my heart's ache with the peace of your presence,
lift my heart's burdens and free me to share
the gift of your joy, the joy of your grace...

O Divine Master...
Help me find my peace 

in making peace with others;
teach me to console others
even from my own pain;
help me come to know your love 

in learning to love those I know;
and in serving others' needs

help me learn what I need the most...

Teach me to give from my heart 

as your heart gives to me;
teach me to pardon my neighbor

as you pardon me;
and deepen my faith
that in dying to myself
I rise to life,

with you...

With Brother Francis I offer this prayer, Lord:
this morning, 

this day 
and all through the week ahead...


Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in you.
Make me a channel of your peace
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there's sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving to all men that we receive
And in dying that we're born to eternal life. 


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Homily for October 4, 2015

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

Audio for homily

Perhaps you can imagine in how many different ways
these readings on marriage and divorce
will touch different peoples’ hearts.

• The couple whose wedding I celebrated last week might well take joy
in hearing these words of scripture echo the loving promises,
made in faith, that so recently joined them as one in marriage.

• Married couples in healthy marriages might be strengthened
by the same words, reminded of the solemn pledge they made
on their wedding day, perhaps decades ago.

• Couples in troubled marriages might be stung by these readings,
remembering their initial fervor but so conscious of the difficulties,
the problems and trials that burden their relationship today.

• Couples in marriages not recognized by the Church
might long anew for their vows to receive the Church’s blessing.

• Couples whose marriages have disintegrated might grieve
on being reminded that what was once was their greatest hope,
their greatest dream, became a tale of woe.

• And for the widowed, these words touch tender places in the heart.

• And how about those who heard Jesus speak these words
some 2,000 years ago – how did they hear them?

It’s important to understand that in Jesus’ day,
it was not mutual attraction and romance that led to marriage.
Marriages were arranged by parents,
it was mom and dad who chose your life-mate,
and couples would hope and pray that such an arrangement
might lead to love and affection.
To this understanding of marriage Jesus speaks here -
but he did not in any way critique or correct it.

In our Church today such an arranged marriage would not be allowed.
Such an arrangement would be an impediment to marriage
and render it invalid.

In Jesus’ time, marriages were not between individuals:
marriages were between whole families.
Parents chose their children’s partner with a view
towards binding families together and becoming a stronger unit.
Any divorce, then, would cause not just the separation of two partners
but of two families.
It’s important to note, too, that if a divorce occurred,
the wife’s family – and not the husband’s – would be shamed.
In particular, the wife’s male relatives would have to bear the shame
- and remedy it by seeking revenge, which led to feuding,
and too often to bloodshed.
Hence, the cultural rule was: no divorce.
Jesus’ words here on divorce and adultery
reinforce societal harmony and stability.

His words, spoken first in a time 
when no divorce was the cultural demand,       
sound today in our ears and hearts, in our society,
where divorce and remarriage are so common,
so much a part of the fabric of western culture.

As you may know, there begins today
a synod of Catholic Church leadership
three weeks of meetings at the Vatican
and the topic of this synod is The Family
and how our church ministers to the family.
Ministry to divorced and remarried people is on the agenda
and it’s a hot-button issue in the media.
While this is only one among many questions before the Synod,
it’s an important one.

It would be foolish to expect
that the church will simply change its teaching on marriage.
What some church leaders do seem to be seeking, however,
is a change in how we minister to those in broken marriages.
More than one commentator noted during the pope’s US visit last week
that much of what he said in his homilies, speeches and messages
was all prelude to this Synod.

What kind of prelude was it? 
A prelude of gentle, merciful outreach
seeking to meet people precisely where they are,
to minister to them more effectively
and more genuinely call them to the life of the gospel.
Will there be changes made?  Only God knows – and I mean that literally.
But I’m quite sure that if changes do come, they’ll come slowly
and won’t be announced in a press conference in a couple of weeks.

Yesterday at a vigil before the synod, Pope Francis spoke these words:

So let us pray that the Synod which opens tomorrow     
will show how the experience of marriage and family
is rich and humanly fulfilling.
May the Synod acknowledge, esteem, and proclaim
all that is beautiful, good and holy about that experience.  
May it embrace situations of vulnerability and hardship:
war, illness, grief, wounded relationships and brokenness,
which create distress, resentment and separation.
May it remind these families, and every family,
that the Gospel is always “good news” which enables us to start over.
From the treasury of the Church’s living tradition
may the members of the Synod draw words of comfort and hope
for families called in our own day to build the future
of the church community and the city of humankind.

As we come to the altar today, this table of our family in faith,
let’s pray for one another, and for all families,
and for all the ways in which we are family to one another.

Let’s pray for hearts filled with Christ’s mercy,
hearts reaching out to others to meet them right where they are,
and for hearts ready to share the gospel’s truth and joy.

Let’s pray for new families, for struggling families, for broken families,
for families burdened with loss and tragedy,
and especially for families seeking peace and unity.

Let’s pray for the pope, the bishops and the lay people
meeting in the Synod on the Family.

And may the family we are at this table,
may the sacrament we receive here,
strengthen us one and all to be the family of God
and to welcome all to be one with us.


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One last memory of Oahu

Photo by CP

I'm back on the mainland, sitting at JFK in NY waiting for my flight to Logan.

On my last night in Hawaii I returned to Buzz's and ordered this appetizer of ahi sashimi.  If this serving looks like liquid rubies - that comes close to describing how delicious it was!


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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 10/1

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of these twelve days:
for time away, for rest and peace;
for a wedding's joy;
for quiet hours, for prayer and reflection;
for time with friends and new friends made;
for time alone, time with you;
for beauty all around me...

Let me take nothing for granted, Lord:
make my heart aware and grateful for all your gifts
on vacation and at home, in my work and in my rest;
when I'm very much at peace and when I have no peace;
when I know you're at my side
and when it seems you're far away...
remind me that in all these times your gifts are mine
if I but trust in you
and open wide my eyes to find them...

Thank you for the gift of these twelve days, Lord:
give me grace to hold them in my heart and in my mind
and especially in my memories
as vacation fades away...

Thank you, Lord, for this time away:
may the rest and peace I've known
make me strong for all that lies ahead...



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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 9/30


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 9/29

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Heal my rough edges, Lord:
my self-centered snarl,
my hair-trigger growl,
my defenses aprowl
protecting my way of seeing things,
my way of doing whatever's next to be done...

With your Spirit's power,
tame my temper
and temper my rash response...

Let your Spirit stand as a guard at my lips,
the gatekeeper at the door of my heart,
keeping watch
on my words and my ways...

With your Spirit's patience, Lord,
grace my soul:
tame me, heal me, shape and mold me
to be the person
you created me to be...


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What's a soul?

 I spent the evening with the groom's family and the centerpiece at the table was a shallow bowl containing one of the leis given to everyone at the rehearsal dinner and the white lei worn by the groom's father at the wedding liturgy.

Around these beautiful flowers I had a great conversation with the groom's dad, his sister from France who now lives in India, and a neighbor of the groom's family.  Our repartee began with some discussion of the movie Ex Machina and brought us to a discussion of what it means to have a soul.  My particular interest in the conversation related to preaching the gospel to a generation of young people whose understanding of, belief in and appreciation of the human soul might be... well, that was the question - what would it be?  what is it?  I look forward to continuing that conversation when I get home.


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Monday Morning Offering: 9/28

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

Sometimes, Lord,
when I look to the day ahead of me
I wonder and worry
how I'm going to make my way to its end...

Sometimes I look at the week or the month ahead
and wonder how I'll get from here to there,
to the other side of what seems immovable,
impassable, impossible...

But day after day, week after week
I get there, Lord, 

no matter how slowly the day, the week, the month 
-even the hour- 
may pass:
with your help, Lord, I get there...

And looking back on the path I've walked,
so often the journey seems shorter, simpler, safer
than what I imagined at its beginning...

Help me remember, Lord, at this day's start,
as I survey the week and month before me,
help me remember
- when even the next hour seems too much to bear -
help me remember that my passage will be safe,
my burdens lighter
and the length of my day halved
because you're in my heart and by my side...

I offer you, Lord, this day, this week
and every hour in it...

I offer you the hours that seem as long as days,
the days that seem like weeks
and the weeks that have no end...

Help me trust that in your company
I'll come to this day's end, to Sunday's rest,
and to seasons' change
safe and secure in your company
and in your strength when mine is spent...

I offer you my memories of hours, days and weeks,
of months and years I thought I'd not survive - but did -
and I pray you refresh in my soul with courage
to live my life a day at a time, an hour at a time,
secure in your strong arms...

Keep me mindful, Lord,
of others who also stand before this day
unsure of where it leads:
keep us gentle with one another,
offering support where it's needed
and accepting others' help 

when it is offered...

I offer you this day, Lord,
as long or short as it may seem
and trust that this day's end
will find me by your side
and you by mine...



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It wasn't all just hugs and smiles and kissing babies!

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The pope's persona is warm, gentle, humble, captivating, inviting, inclusive and almost palpably holy.  But wait: there's more! 

Francis came here with something to say - and he said a lot.  His homilies, speeches and messages have the great advantage of being so very accessible: you don't need to be a Catholic and you don't need to be a theologian to understand him. 

Don't let the pope's visit go by without taking some time to listen to or read (or listen to or read again) at least some of the documented legacy of his US tour of Washington, New York and Philadelphia.  Bishop Chris Coyne has assembled Pope Francis' many talks on his blog.  Check it out!

Pope Francis' homilies, speeches and messages


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