8/23/17

Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 8/24


Some school systems are already back in session while others are still preparing for the opening day of a new academic year. So it's time for my annual offering of Back-To-School Prayers.


In this post you'll find 3 Back-To-School Prayers I've written for those who are returning to the classroom: one for parents, one for students and one for teachers

Following these three prayers, you'll find two texts for Empty Nesters: my own and another by Diana Macalintal, taken from Diana's fine book, The Work of Your Hands: Prayers for Ordinary and Extraordinary Moments of Grace, published by Liturgical Press and reprinted here with permission.

In addition to you and your immediate family, are there others in your extended family, among your neighbors and friends or in your parish who might benefit from these prayers?  Please do pass them on!  In my parish we distribute these prayers with the bulletin just before school begins. (If you share these texts, I only ask that you include the credits/links for my and Diana's work.)

You might think of praying the Student's Prayer at home with your children, on the first day of school.  Or you could slip a copy into backpacks and lunch kits - and of course, the family bulletin board or the trusty refrigerator door provide good homes for these prayers. 

+ + +
A Student's Prayer
Dear God,
Help me remember that you’re always by my side,
at school and all day long.
Help me be the best student I can be,
using all the gifts and talents you’ve given me.
Help me study well and often
– especially when I don’t feel like studying at all!
Help me finish all my homework – on time.
Help me listen to my teachers and coaches.
Help me play fair and play safely.
Help me be honest when I’m tempted to cheat.
Help me always tell the truth.
Help me be kind to everyone at school
and to treat others as I’d want them to treat me.
Help me make good friends
and help me be a good friend to others.
Help me see how I can help others
and to ask for help when I need it myself.
Help me love and respect, trust and appreciate my parents
- and be honest with them.
Help me remember that you’re with me always, Lord,
and that you’ll never leave my side.
Amen.
ConcordPastor.blogspot.com

+ + + 

 A Parent's Prayer for Students 
Dear Lord,
As my children leave for school,
I pray you keep them in your care.
Send your Spirit to open their minds
to all that's true and beautiful and good.
Help them see the gifts and talents
you have given them 
and teach them to use them well.
Help them to grow in knowledge and wisdom.
Help them to be kind to others
and lead others to be kind to them.
Give their teachers patience and understanding
and help them teach what's just and true.
Send your angels to guide and guard my children
and to keep them from all harm.
Open their young hearts to your presence
and enfold them in your peace and protection.
Hold them in the palm of your hand, Lord,
and at day's end, bring them safely home.
Amen. 
ConcordPastor.blogspot.com

+ + +
A Teacher's Prayer 
Dear God,
A new school year is about to begin
and my classroom door will soon open
to the students you've assigned to my care...
Open my mind and heart to each of them
and especially to the ones
who will challenge me the most...
Help me challenge my students, all of them,
to study, to learn, to grow in knowledge
and even a little wisdom...
Help me remember, Lord,
how young my students are:
give me patience to help them grow up
and insight to know the help they need...
Help me understand that sometimes
my students may not understand me:
help me be clear in all I say and do...
My students don't know the burdens and worries
my heart brings to the classroom, Lord,
so help me remember
how anxious and how heavy my students' hearts may be...
Keep me from favoring any particular students, Lord,
except for those who need my help the most...
Let my choices and decisions in the classroom
be fair and just, honest and true...
Send your Spirit to fill me with gifts
of knowledge and understanding, counsel and wisdom…
Lord, open my mind and heart to my students' parents,
especially those who'll challenge me the most...
Help me challenge parents to challenge their children
to study, to learn and to grow...
Teach me to teach as you would, Lord:
with understanding when I need to be firm,
with gentleness in all things and with patience ‘til the last bell rings…  
Amen. 
ConcordPastor.blogspot. com

+ + + 

Prayers for Empty Nesters

A friend wrote to me about how hard it was to see her child go off to college: seems the tears just wouldn't stop flowing... I replied:

When a son is leaving home: 
Yes... I understand,
but it was, in part, for just this
that you brought him into the world:

for him to grow and mature,
to begin to be on his own,
loving you not any less at all
and in fact, perhaps,
loving you all the more
for all you've given him thus far
and all that you'll give still
as he becomes, more and more,
his own man...
Through your tears, 
ask God  to help you find the joy
that should be yours
in seeing what a fine young man
you've raised:
your son, born of you, 
of your love and all your care...

Amen.
ConcordPastor.blogspot. com
 
 
When a daughter is leaving home:
Yes....  I understand
but it was, in part,
for just this
that you brought her into the world:
for her to grow and mature,
to begin to be on her own,
loving you not any less at all
and in fact, perhaps,
loving you all the more
for all you've given her thus far
and all you'll give her still
as she becomes, more and more,
her own woman...
Through your tears, 
ask God  to help you find the joy
that should be yours
in seeing what a fine young woman
you've raised:
your daughter, born of you, 
of your love and all your care...

Amen.
ConcordPastor.blogspot. com


+ + +
 
And here's Diana Macalintal's  Parent’s Prayer When Children are Leaving Home, in two versions: for a daughter, for a son.
 
A Parent’s Prayer When A Daughter Leaves Home 
Gracious God, you blessed me with the gift of my child
and entrusted me with her care.
Surround her with good people and watch over her each day.
And let her know that I will always be near
whenever she may need me.
Heal any hurts we may harbor with each other
and forgive our failings
as we learn to be in a new kind of relationship with each other.
And when the sight of her empty room
pierces my heart with sadness,
may I find comfort in knowing that my child is your child too,
filled with your grace and sheltered by your love.
Amen.
Copyright 2014 by Order of Saint Benedict.  Published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota.  Used with permission. 

A Parent’s Prayer When A Son Leaves Home 
Gracious God, you blessed me with the gift of my child
and entrusted me with his care.
Now he leaves this home and begins a new life apart from me.
Surround him with good people and watch over him each day.
And let him know that I will always be near
whenever he may need me.
Heal any hurts we may harbor with each other
and forgive our failings
as we learn to be in a new kind of relationship with each other.
And when the sight of his empty room
pierces my heart with sadness,
may I find comfort in knowing that my child is your child too,
filled with your grace and sheltered by your love.
Amen.
Copyright 2014 by Order of Saint Benedict.  Published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota.  Used with permission. 




 
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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 8/23

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8/21/17

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 8/22

Photo by Mark Penta

(On FaceBook, Mark captioned this photo, "No beach chair, no towel, no problem..." and that led me to pause and pray - and you, too, I hope!) 

Prayer takes some time, Lord, but not much else.
   No church, no chapel?  No problem...
   No stained glass, no incense? No problem...
   No preacher, no choir?  No problem...

All I need for prayer is me and some time
   'cause I know you're always there, Lord:  
      in my house, in my car, where I work,
      at the shore, on the sidewalk, at the park,
      in the woods, in the shower, by my bed...

All I need is me and some time, Lord,
   'cause you're always there 
      in my mind, in my thoughts, 
      in my heart, in my dreams,
      in my hopes, in my fears,
      in the depths of my soul...

Prayer takes some time, Lord,
but not much else...

Help me make that time today, Lord:
   help me make that time right now...
      no problem!

Amen.



   
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8/20/17

Monday Morning Offering: 8/21

Image: George Mendoza


Good morning, good God!

What  a gift is this day, Lord,
and lest I forget -
remind me of how days come:
just one at a time...

My days don't come in bunches,
in weeks, or months or years -
but one day at a time
- and that's more than enough...

All my yesterdays are gone, Lord,
the past is now behind me;
tomorrow's not yet here,
its a mystery yet unknown... 

You give me, Lord, 
just this one, solitary day,
no more than that and, I pray, 
no less...

So I offer you this day
and pray that in its course I’ll find you
walking by my side,
pulsing in my heart,
coloring my every thought,
shaping all my choices,
forgiving me my sins,
leading me to truth,
speaking in my prayer,
helping me be strong,
calling me to serve,
and holding me in love...

I offer you this one day, Lord,
and pray I not be burdened
by memories of the past,
by sorrows born of loss,
by worry of what’s yet to be,
by fear of what's unknown,...

I offer you this one day, Lord, and pray
my work will give you glory,
my heart accept your help,
my soul be filled with grace,
and my hands reach out
to serve my neighbors' needs...

I offer you this day, Lord:
may it be a gift to you 
and all whose paths cross mine,
from sunrise to night's fall...

This day's the day you’ve made, Lord,
the solitary precious day you've given me:
help me live it to the full  
and in this one day help me find your peace...

Receive my morning offering, Lord,
an offering of one day, no more no less,
and at its end please grant a night
of peaceful sleep and rest...

Amen.


 

     
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8/19/17

Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 8/20

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 give me rest

in the peace that's only yours to give...

Be the still point of my spinning world,
the center of my heart,
the place wherein I find that peace
where I find you and know

that you've found me...

In chaos and in calm,
in rage and in relief,
in turmoil and tranquility:
make your dwelling place within me,
your home within my heart

at the center of my being...

Help me make the time
and lead me to a place
where I might swim the waters of your mercy,
refreshed by peace in mind and heart,

restored by your good grace...

Today, Lord, gently touch

the troubled waters of my life
and still them with a calm
that settles deep within my soul...


Amen. 



 

   
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8/18/17

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...)
Lord,
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...
Amen.


 

     
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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...

Amen.



 

     
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8/16/17

Pause for THANKFUL THURSDAY: 8/17

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...

Amen.



 

   
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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)

Jesus,
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,

genocide,
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
again.

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
circumstances,
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.
Jesus,
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.

Amen.

Statement from the USCCB



 

     
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