8/29/16

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 8/30

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When things are moving too slowly, Lord,
when I feel like I'm going in circles,
when everything's taking much too long
and I fear I'll never accomplish
what I started out to do...

Help me remember my sister, the spider, Lord:
her persistent, diligent perseverance...

Teach me her patience and help me learn
that all good things come from you, Lord,
and come in your own good time...

Amen.




 

     
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8/28/16

Monday Morning Offering: 8/29

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

(Labor Day, still a week away,
is neither the end of warm days nor the actual beginning of fall.  
Still, in American culture, so many things begin to change
as August ends and a new school year begins.
Thus, today's Pause for Prayer...)


Good morning, good God!

As the sun sets earlier each evening,
Labor Day's horizon eclipsing these august days,
I'm wondering, Lord:
why must good times come to an end?

Good times come too seldom
(or so it often seems)
and when they do they're here but briefly
- and then too quickly gone...

And as wonderful as memories are,
they are but memories:
nothing more - and nothing less...

Why, Lord, must good times
come to an end?
Why are memories not enough?
Why is promise of the fall's leaf-filtered beauty
not enough today to surrender
summer’s warmth and pace and peace?

Of seasons there are four, they say,
but I know a hundred seasons more
and just in my life alone:
seasons of peace, seasons of pain;
seasons of sadness, seasons of gain;
seasons of sunlight, seasons of rain;
seasons of comfort, seasons of strain;
seasons of planting, seasons of grain;
seasons of waiting for a season to come
to break the seasons’ chain…

So many seasons, Lord…

And letting go of summer is not easy…

I know I should be grateful for the fall:
your gentle preparation
of everyone and everything
for the dying
winter always brings...

Still, letting go of summer is not easy...

You know the seasons better than I
and no season changes, Lord,
around me or within me,
but that you know first 
how those very changes 
will change me...

Be with me, Lord,
in all the seasons of my life
and in the in-betweens 
when moving from one season to the next
is itself another season to abide...

Help me bide the summer's passing on,
its slipping from the calendar,
and from my nights and days...

Take my offered heart
and open me to all the changes
in the weeks and months ahead…

Make me gentle with the season's change
and with the hearts of those around me,
those whose paths cross mine today...

I offer you my seasoned heart
for you're the source of all the strength I need
to live this day and every day this week
edging now towards Labor Day,
a season's near debut...

Be my trusted guide, Lord, 
and walk me from the summer into fall,
walk me through this season’s change…

Amen.



 

   
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Homily for August 28

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Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

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In Jesus’ day, meals were very powerful, critical social events.
Above all, meals affirmed and gave legitimacy to
an individual’s role and status in the larger community.
For this reason, most dinners and celebrations like weddings,
were attended by people all of the same social rank.
And the question of where people were seated at such meals
was both telling and sensitive.
The fact that a leading Pharisee invited Jesus to dine at his house
indicates that the Pharisees accepted him as a social equal
even though they were clearly keeping an eye on him,
 “observing him closely.”

But if you think this is just an example
of a quaint, ancient social custom,
you’ve forgotten something all of us adults experienced
earlier in our lives
and something our younger folks will begin to experience
again this week when they return to school.
And that something is:
the seating plan of students in a school cafeteria.
You want to talk about “powerful, critical social moments?”
Sorting out levels of social rank among individuals in a large group?
Have lunch in your local school’s cafeteria!

I graduated from high school 50 years ago
but I can tell you even now
which classmates I had lunch with every day.
(And more significantly,
I can tell you which classmates I never had lunch with
over 4 years.)

The questions:
who gets invited and who sits where and with whom
make for just as powerful a social structure today
they did 2,000 years ago.

And this is not a social convention
confined to school lunch rooms.
We graduate and repeat the experience in college,
and then we bring it to the work place, to the office,
our neighborhoods - and even to our own families.

The words of Jesus in the gospel may be ancient
but they continue to speak to our own experience.
The simple and hard truth is this:
in the heart of Jesus there is no room for discrimination;
in the heart of Jesus there is no room for partiality;
in the heart of Jesus there is no room for exclusion.

In the heart of Jesus  there is
one eternally large, round cafeteria table
with plenty of room for every brother and sister
- without exception -
and because that table is round, every seat is equal
- and Jesus is at its center.

In the gospel today, Jesus gives us instructions,
his rules of etiquette for inviting others to sit with us at table.
The reason he singles out 
the poor, the halt, the lame and the blind
is not so much on account of their situation or handicap
but precisely because in his day,
these were the people who could not possible return the invitation.
And returning a dinner invitation
was precisely how the social structure of his times was kept intact.
(I invite you, you invite me, I invite you back - we all stay together:
we stay with the ones we want
and we keep out the ones we don’t want.)

The unspoken protocol of school cafeteria seating 
does exactly the same thing:
it keeps some folks “in” and some folks “out.”
Of course, those who are “out” might find a way “in” -
if they have something to offer the crowd in the “higher seats,”          
at the tables where the cool kids sit.               
But by contrast, Jesus calls us to open our hearts to all -
regardless of what others may have to offer us in return
and even if they have nothing to offer in return.

• Some among us will be going back to school this week
and will have an opportunity make a difference
in the lives of classmates
just by how they choose their tables and seats in the cafeteria,
by where they sit and with whom they share a table.

• Many of us will be going to work 
and choosing where we’ll have lunch
- and whom we’ll invite to join us.

• And all of us might look at the invitation lists
for gatherings and dinners we’re planning
in our neighborhoods and in our own families.
Who is generally always invited?
Who is seldom invited - and why?
Who is not welcome at my table?
Who would Jesus invite to my table?

It happens that we find ourselves at a table right now,
the table of the Lord’s Supper.
And to this table he has invited all of us
because on the Cross - he gave his life for all of us:
no exceptions,
no discrimination,
no partiality,
no exclusion.

The guest list for the Lord’s Table is a long one
because everyone’s name is on it: yours, mine
and all the people who’ve never been to our own tables
and all the people who’ve never invited us to theirs.

Here at the altar we practice, we rehearse
the table manners the Lord enjoins on our whole lives.

May what we do here at his Table in church,
nourish and strengthen us to be as welcoming and hospitable
at the tables of our own hearts and lives.


 

     
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8/27/16

Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 8/28

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Bend me, stretch me, pull me, Lord,
   past the meager limits I might set...

Bend me, stretch me, pull me, Lord,
    in just the ways that I resist...
 

Bend me, stretch me, pull me, Lord
   towards what I'm trying to avoid...

Bend me, stretch me, pull me, Lord,
   'til I'm the person you created me to be... 

Bend me, stretch me, pull me, Lord,
   'til others' needs are well within my reach...

Bend me, stretch me, pull me, Lord,
   as much as I need bending, stretching, pulling!

With the grace of all your gentle strength,
   bend me, stretch me, pull me, Lord... 

Amen.



 

   
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8/26/16

Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 8/27

Photo by Grace Scimone

You might not catch a butterfly by chasing it 
but if you sit very still
a butterfly might find and visit you...

Teach me to be still, Lord:
to take a few deep breaths, sit back
and see what grace, what beauty
comes to visit at my side
and deep within...

Teach me to be still, Lord:
to find a place far from the chase
that rends and spends my spirit,
a place where just one butterfly
might find and visit me...

Teach me to be still, Lord:
pace my racing thoughts and restless heart
until your Spirit, like a butterfly,
might light upon my soul
and bring me peace...

Teach me to be still, Lord,
teach me to be still...

To be still, Lord,
teach me to be still...

Amen.


 

   
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8/25/16

Pause for Prayer: FRDAY 8/26

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Lord,
there's nothing in the world
hidden from your sight...

You see all things:
what's visible
and what's invisible...

You see all things:
past,
present
and future...

In the whole of creation,
nothing's hidden from your sight...

Sometime today, Lord,
give me the courage
to share with you in prayer
even just one thing I've tried to hide
from you, from others and from myself...

And as I share what I hide,
open my heart to your mercy,
your wisdom, your counsel,
your acceptance, your healing
and your love...

Amen.



 

     
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Ten tips for going back to school!


(In my parish, this coming weekend is the last before school opens in town.  I'll be calling students forward for a blessing at Mass and giving out these 10 Tips I wrote for this purpose.)


1) Every morning: ask God to help you always be the best student you can be.

2) Promise yourself to do the best work you can -always- especially in classes and activities you don’t like because you find them difficult.

3) Be honest with yourself, with your parents, and with your classmates and teachers - always.

4) Always treat everyone as you would want to be treated yourself.

5) Remember: people who follow the crowd end up being part of a crowd.  People who want to make a difference always make choices based on what they know to be good and right and fair.

6) Failing a test and facing why you failed is always better than cheating.

7) Some students can be mean and cruel to others. Always hang out with those who are kind and fair to others and to you - and in return, be kind to everyone else.

8) If you need help, ask for it.  Seeking and accepting help doesn’t mean you’re stupid - it means you’re smart! And always be on the lookout for ways you can help others around you.

9) When you’re not sure what to do or say next, always ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?  What would Jesus say?”  Then follow his example.

10) Every night: thank God for the good things that happened during the day; ask God to forgive your mistakes; and pray, again, to always be the best student you can be.

Do what is just, 
love what is good 
and walk humbly with your God - always! 
- Micah 6:8

 

     
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Pause for Prayer: FRDAY 8/26

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Lord,
there's nothing in the world
hidden from your sight...

You see all things:
what's visible
and what's invisible...

You see all things:
past,
present
and future...

In the whole of creation,
nothing's hidden from your sight...

Sometime today, Lord,
give me the courage
to share with you in prayer
even just one thing I've tried to hide
from you, from others and from myself...

And as I share what I hide,
open my heart to your mercy,
your wisdom, your counsel,
your acceptance, your healing
and your love...

Amen.


 

     

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Pause for Prayer:THURSDAY 8/25

Lake Quannapowitt: photo by Steve Pressley

Before the end of day, Lord,
help me make the time
and lead me to a place
where you might still the waters of my life,
calm my fears
and bid me rest in the peace
that only you can give...

Be the still point of my turning world,
the center of my heart,
the place wherein I find that place
where I find you
- and know that you've found me...

In storm and calm,
in rage and rest,
in turmoil and in consolation:
help me find your dwelling place within me,
your still point
at the center of my being...

Today, Lord,
help me make the time
and lead me to a place
where you might bathe me in your mercy,
where I might swim the waters of your peace,
refreshed by the grace and solace
that only you can give...

Today, Lord,
touch the troubled waters of my life
and still them with a calm
that settles deep,  
very deep, 
deep within my soul...

Amen.


 

     
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