4/19/18

Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 4/20

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Open my mind and heart, Lord,
open my eyes and ears
and help me know, help me see
whose life you'd bless and heal
through mine
today...

Open my eyes to the needs
of those whose paths cross mine
and help me know, help me see
what I might do
to bear their heavy load
today...

Open my ears and help me hear,
help me answer the cry of those
who need a word that I might speak,
a word of comfort I might share
to heal a broken heart
today...

Open my mind and heart, Lord,
open my eyes and ears
and help me know, help me see
whose life you'd bless and heal
through mine
today...

Amen.



 

   
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4/18/18

Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 4/19

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Lord, I don't want to look at life
through rose colored glasses
but I would like to see the world
through your eyes,
through the lens of your wisdom...

I want to see the truth
wherever it waits to be found,
and with the same precision
I want to spot what's false
lest I confuse it with the truth...

I want to see the inner beauty
in every human being I know and meet:
I want to see and love in my neighbors
what you see and love in them, Lord,
and not be distracted
by my resentments and grudges,
my bias, prejudice and pride...

I want to see your warm fingerprints, Lord,
in every corner of creation:
from atoms to the Atlantic
from ants to elephants,
from my own backyard through the universe...

I want to see clearly and always, Lord,
what decision to make,
what choice is the best,
which path is the one you call me to follow...

I'd like to see, before it's too late, the consequences
of my words and deeds,
my silence and my passivity,
my courage and my fears...

I'd like to see, with clarity,
all that tries to deceive, seduce and delude me,
whatever tempts me to go astray,
entices me to play with fire,
clouds my judgment,
blurs my vision,
and tempts me to look at life
through rose colored glasses...

I want to see as you see, Lord,
to see beyond appearances
and into the heart of things,
to know and understand the world around me
through your eyes, Lord,
and to see all that is good and true,
right and just,
holy and gracious,
pure and wholesome...

Open my eyes that I may see, Lord,
not through rose colored glasses
but as you see, Lord,
as you see...

Amen.


 

   
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4/16/18

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 4/17



Yesterday I kept telling myself that somewhere, 
under that windswept rain, 
waits an exuberant spring...
        (Art work and quote by Jane McKinnon Johnstone)
Faith is often, even always, Lord,
a matter of waiting and expectation,
of anticipation and patience, 
of trust and hope...

Life is often, even always, Lord,
a matter of waiting and expectation,
of anticipation and patience, 
of trust and hope...

So in these windy, wet mid-April days
increase my faith, Lord:
give me patience while I wait,
joy in my anticipation
and the trust I need
to put my hope in you...

And in all the seasons of my life, Lord:
increase my faith,
give me patience while I wait,
joy in my anticipation
and the trust I need
to put my hope in you...

Yesterday I kept telling myself that somewhere, 
under that windswept rain, 
waits an exuberant spring...
And today I know, Lord, that somewhere,
in the windswept rain, behind the cloudy skies,
a bright, exuberant, joyful spring of colors waits
to bud and bloom and come and visit
deep within my soul 
and all across the land...
Amen. 


 

   
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4/15/18

MONDAY MORNING OFFERING: 5/16

Image: George Mendoza

I offer you this day, Lord,
its morning, noon and night
and I offer all I've planned:
my hopes and expectations 
of what this day will be...

And I offer this day's surprises,
its unknown twist and turns,
and all the ways that life's events
will rearrange or absolutely scuttle
what I've so carefully planned...

And I offer with this prayer, Lord,
the weeks and months to come:
times that lie beyond my reach,
spaces on a calendar, waiting
to be filled with what will be...

And tomorrow, Lord, I turn 71
so I offer you the rest of my life,
however long or short it be -
though longer than shorter
would be very fine with me...

I offer you the rest of all my days:
may they be happy, holy and healthy:
may I live them in your grace
as I make my way to you, Lord, 
as I make my way, home to you...

Amen.




     
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4/14/18

Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 4/15



Lord, help me let go the memories of my past
   that haunt my dreams and cloud my soul... 

Help me forget what neither helps nor heals:
   clear my mind and heart of whatever holds me back
      and drags me down...

Keep me from dwellingl on the disappointments and hurt
   that sour my spirit and rob me of joy...

Sweep my memory of all the keeps me from seeing
   that you're at my side, that you reach for my hand,
      that you guide all my steps, that you're leading me to peace...

Do something new, Lord!
Do something new within me,
   in the depths of my soul,
      in the corners of my mind,
         in my heart of hearts...

Do something new for me, Lord,
   and keep me from getting in the way 
      of what you do, what you offer me, 
      what you hold out for me to have,
      what you place in my lap, what you leave at my door:
         all the ways you enter my life every day...

Do something new for me, Lord,  
   and give me the grace to accept it, 
even if at first I don't understand it;   
even if at first it seems a bad fit;
even if at first, I fear it; 
even if at first I don't like it;
even if at first I refuse it...

Do something new for me, Lord,
   and help me trust that all you do
      will help and heal me,
      free and redeem me,
      stretch and strengthen me...

Do something new for me, Lord,
   and let me perceive it, help me see it;
   let me feel it and know it deep in my bones;
   help me be sure that it comes from you
      and leads me to you;
   let nothing keep me from giving myself to it,
      whatever it is, Lord,
         whatever is the something new you do for me...

Make your way into the wilderness of my heart,
   into the wasteland of my selfishness,
   into the wild places in need of taming,
   into the brush that needs to be cleared,
   into the desert waiting for the river of your mercy
      to flood with peace and refresh my soul...

In the quiet of my prayer, Lord, help me let go
   the things of the past that keep me from you
      and from your pardon and peace 
         and the power of your grace...

In the stillness, Lord, help me know your presence
   and perceive how you move in the silence,
      bringing new gifts, doing new things, 
         moving my heart in new ways... 

Do something new, Lord!
Do something new within me, in the depths of my soul,
   in the corners of my mind, in my heart of hearts...

Amen. 




   
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4/13/18

Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 4/14

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Spring is taking its own sweet time getting here.  Along with others, I'm doing my own share of complaining about the snow and the cold while I wait for warmer days and a greening of the landscape.  Well, yesterday was warm and, for part of the day, sunny!

Still, it strikes me that there's some similarity between my impatience with the weather and my impatience in prayer. Thus, today's Pause for Prayer...
I ask for a lot, Lord, and I complain
(if only to myself, as if you couldn't hear me)
when I think that you've been slow
to hear my prayer and answer me
- just the way I want...
And often I miss (or I'm not satisfied)
when you send hints and buds of promise
assuring me: you're on the case,
you've heard my plea,
you're answering my prayer
in your good time and wisdom...

Open my eyes to see, Lord,
the ways you slowly, surely move
within my heart and through my days:
help me notice every sign
of how you're with me,
walking by my side,
and answering all my prayers
in your good time and wisdom...

Keep me grateful for the gifts you've given
and mindful of the ways you keep your word
to guard and guide me, holding me and keeping me
safe, within the palm of your own hand...
Amen.

 

     
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Marathon runners!


This weekend, at the end of each Mass, those running in the Boston Marathon on Monday will be invited to come forward at the end of the liturgy to receive a blessing for the race. 


 

   
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Understanding this controversial pope


If you follow news of Pope Francis then you’re probably aware that there are a variety of responses to his papacy, his pastoral outreach and his teaching and preaching.  While he’s widely acclaimed as accessible, warm, open and inviting there are some who see in these very attributes a threat to the dignity and gravitas of his office.   For centuries nearly every word uttered and written by a pope has been carefully scripted, vetted and officially released under Vatican auspices.  In contrast, Francis often speaks freely and off the cuff  - much to the consternation of his critics although I find his style refreshing.  When speaking informally, Francis says things that are open to interpretation- and often the interpreters are media reps who lack a theological and ecclesial background to put these papal quotes in context, resulting curious and questionable headlines and sound bytes. 

Certainly one hallmark of Francis’ papacy has been his emphasis and stress on the mercy of God and how the Church needs to let that very mercy shape, define, guide and inform its pastoral outreach.  Although Francis has changed no doctrines of the faith, he has more than once cautioned that stiff, unyielding moralistic thinking and practice run the risk of denying people the very mercy and compassion God intends for them. 

When Francis speaks of mercy as he does, some fear that he’s abandoning the tenets of Divine and Church law and leaving people free to do as they please with no moral code to shape and define expectations and behavior.  My observation is that Francis is simply calling us to meet people as Jesus met all those he encountered in the gospels: right where they are. That means meeting people in their holiness and in their sinfulness, in their joys and in their sorrows, in their wisdom and in their confusion. 

Jesus met people, first of all, to bring them word of the Father’s love and, as needed, word of the Father’s mercy and pardon for their sins.  Jesus met others not as a policeman or judge but as the Word of God’s love - and - in the spirit of that love, Jesus often called those he met to change their ways to open their hearts to the love he came to give.  Jesus was clear about his priorities when he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)  Jesus did not do away with the law but he put it in its proper place: the law is not the master but rather the law is the servant of love.  For Jesus, love is the law.  There’s a hymn that begins, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy” and that lyric is a good summary of Francis’ ministry and preaching.  Perhaps it comes down to this question: Which is wider, God’s mercy or the law?  The answer is, of course, God’s mercy. 

I was thinking of all of this during the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday at our 4:00 children’s service and at the 7:30 solemn liturgy.  At both times, all present were invited to come forward to venerate a near life-size wooden Cross.  Some touched the Cross, others kissed it, some embraced it, some bowed, some genuflected and some stood before it and made the Sign of the Cross.  Between the two services I witnessed about 500 people venerate the Cross of Jesus.  I know many, perhaps even most of these people and because of my ministry as a pastor I know many of the burdens and secrets, the pain and difficulties, the problems and struggles and the faults and sins that are part of their lives.  It’s an awesome, humbling, grace-filled experience to see all these men, women and children coming forward to venerate the Cross of Christ’s merciful love.  Although we didn’t sing it on Good Friday, I kept thinking, “there’s a wideness in God’s mercy...” There’s a wideness and a depth in God’s mercy far beyond anything you and I can imagine - until we find ourselves in need of that mercy and then we begin to have an inkling of the ocean’s of mercy that spill forth for us in the blood of the crucified Jesus.

Although the law presents itself as a “one size fits all” garment, I know from my own life and sins that this is not always true and sometimes, even often, we fail and burst the law’s seams.  When this happens and when, with God’s grace, we try to make things right, our greatest hope and consolation is that we do indeed have a “one size fits all Cross” and that nothing we can do or fail to do stands outside the height and depth and breadth of Christ’s Cross, welcoming each and all to the embrace of its outstretched arms.

Yes, Jesus meets us right where we are and when he meets us in our faults and failings, in our sins, then we go to meet him at the foot of his Cross. There, God’s mercy is ours, turning no one away, seeking always to heal us and to mend our lives that we might know, without a doubt, that we are God’s chosen and beloved.  There’s a wideness in God’s mercy and the law of God’s love will never fail to reach out and rescue us, to comfort us and to challenge us to change our hearts and our ways.

Let’s take a look at all the verses of There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy

There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
There's a kindness in God's justice,

which is more than liberty.

There's no place where earthly sorrows
are more felt than up in Heaven;
There's no place where earthly failings
have such kindly judgment given. 

For the love of God is broader
than the measures of our mind;
And the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind. 

But we make God's love too narrow
by false limits of our own;
And we magnify God's strictness

with a zeal God will not own. 

If our love were but more faithful,
we would gladly trust God's word;
And our lives would be show thanksgiving
for the goodness our God.





 

   
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4/12/18

Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 4/13


Lord,
give me the wit, the wisdom and the will
to see what's most important in the day ahead
and, with your help, to accomplish it,
to the best of my ability...

And Lord,
give me the sense, the insight and savvy
to see what's least important in the day ahead
lest it distract me
from doing what you ask of me...

And one more thing, Lord:
give me the grace, the guts and the game
to live this day with my heart open to you,
to my neighbor and to whatever and wherever
your Spirit may choose to lead me
today...

Amen.


 

     
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