Sunday, October 19, 2014

Monday Morning Offering: 10/20

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

So I'm wondering, Lord,
what will I offer you today
in my Monday morning prayer...

Shall I offer you my heart
with all its ragged imperfections
and pray you do some healing
of its rough and tumble edges?

Shall I offer you my mind
and all my idle, wasteful musings
and pray your light of wisdom
illumine all my thoughts?

Shall I offer you my dreams
and all my fantasies and schemes,
and pray you bring sharp focus
to my vision and my plans?

Shall I offer you my grudges,
my resentments and my anger
and pray you mend and heal
the hurt and pain to which I cling?

Shall I offer you my envy,
my jealousy of others,
and pray you show me clearly
all the gifts I truly have?

Shall I offer you my lust,
my cravings and my greed
and pray you cleanse and purify
my longings and desires?

Shall I offer you my apathy,
my lethargy and dullness
and pray your Spirit's fire
burn afresh deep in my soul?

Shall I offer you my joy,
my contentment, all my peace
and pray I come to understand:
without you I have none?

Shall I offer you my faith
with my uncertainty and doubt
and pray for greater, deeper trust
in all that I believe?

Shall I offer you my hope 
although I haven't much to spare
and pray you give me confidence
in all you've pledged and promised?

Shall I offer you this prayer then
as another week begins
and ask that in my stumbling words
you hear what my heart speaks?

Yes, I'll offer you this litany, Lord,
my Monday morning offering
of needs and pleas and trust you'll walk
this day, this week with me... 



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Homily for October 19

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

Audio for homily

Few are those who enjoy filling out their annual tax forms
and fewer still are those who enjoy paying taxes.
But even Jesus says that if we owe something to Caesar,
we have to pay it.
Jesus, however, doesn’t send us any forms to help us figure out
what belongs to God and how much we owe him.
Of course not.

If we ask the question, “What belongs to God?”
- the right answer is everything.
If we ask, “What do we owe God” the answer is
– well, at least a lot more than we probably want to give back!

Can you think of one thing in the universe, one thing on earth,
one thing in your home, among your possessions,
one thing in your life that truly belongs to you – and not to God?
Is there anything you and I have that, should God ask us for it,
we could legitimately say,
 “Sorry, Lord – that’s mine – you’ll have to get your own.”

Every good in our lives is a gift
- and every good gift comes from God.
Every gift from God is, if you will, on loan to us:
something for us to be grateful for, to reverence,
to use well, to share - or to give away.

And if you’re still sitting there trying to come up with
something you think of as yours
that doesn’t fit this category,
then keep in mind that even life  (your life, my life)
is a gift of God on loan to us: a gift to be grateful for,
to reverence, to use well, to share - or to give away.

So I don’t need a W-2 or a 1099 or a 1040 to figure out
what belongs to God,  what I owe God.
Everything I have, all my stuff, belongs to God 
- and I owe God - for the whole of it.

When we borrow something from a neighbor
(a rake, a special pan, a video, a tool, a book, a bike)
we can expect the neighbor to come calling
to collect what was loaned to us.
Imagine if we saw the Lord walking up our driveway,
coming by to pick up of some of the gifts he’s loaned us…
Would we turn off the lights, shush the kids,
stay away from the windows
and hope he’d think we weren’t home?
And if he knocked on the door and surprised us
would we graciously open up
and hand over what he came to claim?
Would we be embarrassed by how much of his stuff we have?
How freely would we let it go?
Would what he’d loaned us still be in good shape?
Or might it be broken, abused or lost?

Of course, we don’t have to imagine such scenes
because the Lord is always calling on us
to gratefully care for and respect, use well and share
- or to give away to others - what’s on loan to us from him.
And this is especially true for us who, as we pray every week,
 “have more than we need.”

There’s the hard part. 
Most of us do, indeed, have more than we need.
So if the Lord comes to claim some of what he gave us,
we’re still left with an abundance of goods.

It’s our tightly held sense of ownership
that keeps us from freely sharing
and giving away to others - even from our surplus.
It’s ownership that leads us to become collectors, even hoarders
of “stuff” – even when we’ve got more “stuff” than we truly need.

We’re only about two months away from Christmas.
Over the next 60 days we’ll spend a lot of our money
 (which, itself, is a gift on loan to us from God)
we’ll spend hundreds and thousands of dollars
buying more stuff for people who already have too much stuff
and who may not really want (and often don’t need) - any more stuff.
And in return, those same folks will give us more stuff
to add to the stuff we already have too much of.

What belongs to God?  Everything belongs to God.
Everything I have, everything you have,
belongs to God and is on loan to us:
all gifts to be grateful for, to reverence, to use well,
to share - or to give away.

When the Pharisees handed Jesus that Roman coin, he asked them,
“Whose image is on this and whose inscription?”
And they answered, “Caesar’s.”

Jesus might well ask you or me
to hand him something, anything we have
and ask us, “Whose image is on this and whose inscription?”
And whether it’s marked or not, we could truthfully reply,
 “Everything I have bears your image, Lord,
because everything I have is your gift to me.
And everything I have bears your inscription, Lord,
because it’s all on loan to me.”

For weal or for woe, even the dollar bills in my pocket
bear the inscription, “In God We Trust.”

No one understood this divine economy better than Jesus
who considered everything he had, including his life
- a gift to be shared.
In the Eucharist, his Body is broken for us in Bread,
his Blood poured for us from the Cup.
In the sacrament of the altar he is shared,
given away again and again, for others, for all, for you and for me.

Jesus didn’t sit down with some forms
to figure out how much of himself he was going to give us.
He owed us nothing but he gave his all for us,
withholding nothing, though we deserved not a thing.

When the Lord comes to claim even some
of all he has given us on loan,
may we freely and gratefully hand back to him
all that is his.


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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 10/19

Image: Turkey Feathers
This poem has a simple peace to calm the harried heart 
and wisdom to slow and pace the hurried step...

The Patience of Ordinary Things
by Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they're supposed to be.
I've been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

"The Patience of Ordinary Things" by Pat Schneider
  in Another River: New and Selected Poems.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

For today's Pause for Prayer, spend some time with Pat Schneider's poem and then just look around you to find and be grateful to God for the patience of ordinary things...  Here are some ordinary things for whose patience I'm grateful... 

For the patience of time healing my wounds,
for the patience of tears bathing my pain,
for the patience of mercy forgiving old sins,

I give you praise and thanks, Lord...

For the patience of days keeping me going,

for the patience of growth when I'm dragging my foot,
for the patience of time biding my hurry,
I give you thanks and praise, Lord...

For the patience of morning waiting my rising,
for the patience of night to end my long day,
for the patience of sleep awaiting my rest,
I give you praise and thanks, Lord...

For the patience of others bruised by my faults,
for the patience of those who wait for my care,
for the patience of any whom I have offended,
I give you thanks and praise, Lord...

For the patience of those who forgive and forget,
for the patience of friends who put up with my quirks,
for the patience of those with whom I'm impatient,
I give you praise and thanks, Lord...

For the patience that's yours when I put off my prayer,
for the patience you show as you wait on my words,
for the gift of your grace ever patient with me,
I give you thanks and praise, Lord...


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Friday, October 17, 2014

Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 10/18

Image source

We walk about with secret fears and griefs,
   with troubles, worries and problems 

      unknown to those around us...

Who knows what weighs upon the heart 
   of the person next to us in line, ahead of us in traffic,
      or the man or woman, boy or girl, 
         passing by us on our way...

Help me be gentle, Lord, today
   with all whose paths cross mine:
remind me that their burdens 
   are at least as many and just as heavy 
      as the ones I bear myself...


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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 10/17

Image source

In the middle of it all, Lord,
whatever "all" might be...

In the thick of what confounds me
and hijacks my attention...

Apart from all the nonsense
that clutters up my day...

Regardless of my problems,
my anxieties and fears...

In spite of doubt that simmers
in my mind and in my heart...

Aside from what distracts me
and disturbs my concentration...

Please, Lord...

Help me make some quiet time
and find a place where I can spend it...

Help me share with you the whole
of what my soul holds deep inside...

Help me lay aside the burdens
and the troubles of my day...

Help me rest with you beside me
in the Spirit of your peace...

Help me find in you the hope I need
to face the day ahead...

In the middle of it all, 
whatever "all" might be,
be everything I need, Lord,
be all my heart desires...



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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 10/16

Photo by Mark Penta

A friend with an artist's eye has been photographing a river reflecting the sky, with leaves afloat  - and then turning the photos sideways...


you see the world
and each of us:
from top to bottom,
left and right,
front and back, upside down,
inside out and 

You see beauty
beyond our gaze...

You see truth
beyond our ken...

You peer into depths
we cannot plumb...

You see all
of all we miss...

Help us see as you do, Lord:
sharpen our sight
and focus our vision;
help us see from top to bottom,
left and right,
front and back, upside down,
inside out and sideways...

Help us see as you do, Lord,
before we think we've seen it all,
before we think we know it all, 
help us see as you do, Lord:
from top to bottom,
left and right,
front and back, upside down,
inside out and


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 10/14

God always surprises us!
- Pope Francis

I could use a few surprises, Lord!

Surprise me with your showing up
   in places and in people
      where I least expect to find you...

Surprise me with the strength that's mine
   and all the grace you'll give
      to help me through this day...

Surprise me with a deeper faith,
   a greater trust in you
      and your unfailing presence...

Surprise me with your wisdom, Lord,
   to know what's true from false
      and to do the next right thing...

Surprise me with your mercy and
    the peace that comes from pardon,
        the gift of starting over...

Surprise me with your comfort
   in the time we spend together
      while you listen to my prayer...

Surprise me with a challenge
   and your trust in me to do
      what I thought I never could...

Surprise me with a brave heart,
   unafraid to live this day:
      a heart for new beginnings...

Surprise me in whatever ways
   I need to be surprised today
      by love, by grace, by you...

Just surprise me, Lord, amaze me,
    dazzle and astound me
       in ways that you know best...


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On the Synod: Caution, Change, Surprise

There's a fair amount of excitement today in the Catholic blogosphere and social media regards the report released this morning from the Synod of Bishops taking place in Rome.  

While the report includes some great and surprising material, it's important to note that what we have now is the English translation from the Vatican Press Office and that an official translation will follow.  

It's also important to note that this report comes mid-way in this Extraordinary Synod which, itself, is preparatory to a General Synod of Bishops to be held a year from now and from which more conclusive resolutions will emanate.   Today's report is not legislative in any way and it's certainly not the last word we're going to hear on these issues.  

I don't want to mute any joy taken in the document released today, I only want to keep the matter in perspective.

Personally, I did not dream that in my lifetime I'd see a pope like Francis or be reading what I read online this morning.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

So IS there any really big change here? Yes, there is - it's a change in methodology. Read on - this is not as dry as it sounds!   

What Francis and his Synod have undertaken here is the work of doing theology from a new beginning point.  Consider these comments from Canadian Archbishop Paul-AndrĂ© Durocher, participating in the Synod (reported by NCR, emphasis added):
Unlike in the past, when bishops or theologians would deduce theology from general, sometimes idealized notions of God or humanity, the prelates at the Synod of Bishops on the family are using inductive reasoning to instead examine theology in the reality of families today, Archbishop Durocher said.

"What's happening within the synod is we're seeing a more inductive way of reflecting, starting from the true situation of people and trying to figure out what's going on here," said Durocher, who leads the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The prelates, the archbishop said, are "finding that the lived experience of people is also a theological source -- what we call a theological source, a place of theological reflection..."

"And we're only, in a sense, starting to learn how to do this as church leaders," he said. "And this is going to take time for us, to learn to do this and together to come -- as we reflect on this -- to find what is the way that God is showing."
It strikes me that in some ways, this is how parish ministers "do theology" in their pastoral work all the time. Fully cognizant of what the Church teaches, they begin with the lived experience of their people as the starting point of their ministry. This starting point and an appreciation of the gradualism the Synod has also embraced, are hallmarks of parish ministry.

Pope Francis echoed this same theme in his homily this morning (reported by CNS on 10/13, emphasis added) when he was speaking of the religious leaders of Jesus' day:

The scholars were safeguarding the law "out of love, to be faithful to God," the pope said, but "they were closed up right there," and forgot all the ways God has acted in history.

"They forgot that God is the God of the law, but is also the God of surprises," he said.

"God is always new; he never denies himself, he never says that what he had said is wrong, but he always surprises us," the pope said.

The scholars of the law had forgotten how many times God surprised his people, like when he freed them from slavery in Egypt, he said. They were too wrapped up in their perfect system of laws -- "a masterpiece" where everyone knew exactly what he or she was supposed to do; "it was all settled. And they felt very secure there," he said.

They couldn't see beyond "this system made with lots of good will," and they could not read the "signs of the times," the pope said…

The scholars of the law also forgot that the people of God are a people on a journey, "and when you journey, you always find new things, things you never knew before," he said. But the journey, like the law, is not an end in itself; they are a path, "a pedagogy," toward "the ultimate manifestation of the Lord. Life is a journey toward the fullness of Jesus Christ, when he will come again."
Please pray for the pope and bishops whose work at the Synod continues this week and pray for the work of the General Synod to be held in October 2015.


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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Monday Morning Offering: OCTOBER 13

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

It was the hot water
in my shower this morning
that shook me from sleep
and woke me to this day...

And then it was you, Lord,
(I know it was)
gently tapping on
the shoulder of my heart

to tell my waking soul
you'd be with me
the whole day long, through
all my ups and downs...

that you'd be there
when I'm weak and
sorely tempted to give in
or to give up...

how with your strength
and with your grace
you'd give me heart
to do what I must do

to follow through
and do the next right thing
to help me make it
through the day...

I know you'll give me all I need
to live in peace with you
and with myself and with all 
whose paths cross mine...

You won't fail me
and so I pray I won't fail you
in being open and accepting
of all the help you'll offer...

It was early in the morning
that you woke me to your love:
stay with me, as you promised, Lord,
stay with me through this day...



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