Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 10/23

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I can't begin to count all the
   second chances,
   clean slates,
   fresh starts
   and new beginnings
you've offered me, Lord,
   in my lifetime,
   this year,
   last month,
   just yesterday
   - and since I woke up this morning!

There is no end to your
   to your patience,
   your indulgence,
   and love...

Your mercy is never exhausted, Lord,
your compassion is never spent:
   your kindness is renewed each morning...*

Help me never take for granted, Lord, 
the love and mercy you offer me
over and over again -
regardless of how and how often
I've failed you...

So, this day, Lord, open up
   my heart and soul,
   my eyes, my ears, my mind,
   my awareness and my imagination...

Open me wide
to all the ways you'll offer me today
   your pardon,
   a second chance,
   a clean slate,
   a fresh start
   and a new beginning...

And as you have freely given me
   the grace of starting over,
help me be free in offering all
   my patience and my pardon...


*Lamentations 3:23


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Monday Morning Offering: 10/22

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

Yesterday, at the end of the day,
your day, Lord,
at day's end I reflected, mused and prayed
over all my heart had held
in the course of just one day...

Some of what coursed through my heart
sprang up from within:
a spring, filling, overflowing and flooding my soul
with memories and nostalgia,
recollections and remembrances,
some sad, some bittersweet
and oh-so-many joyful...

But that's not all my heart held yesterday...

Like a sponge, my soul soaked up
the overflowing springs of all the hearts around me:
pools of grief and healing,
streams of sadness and joy.
rivers of dreams and memories,
burbling brooks of trust and faith and hope...

I've no idea, Lord, how one human heart
holds such a sea of feelings
without perishing in an ocean of emotions,
under waves of burdens and joys,
hopes and fears,
dreams and disappointments...

Nor can I fathom, Lord, how your heart holds the same
of every heart that ever beat
in the history and future of all humankind -
and yet, you do...

So this morning, Lord,
I offer you my heart and all it holds,
my soul filled to overflowing,
rising and falling on tides of tears
and breakers of joy...

I offer my heart into yours, Lord,
grateful for the mystery, the grace,
of all a heart can hold...

Bless and heal, Lord, all that flows
from the springs within my heart
and heal and bless all my soul holds
of those who share their hearts with me...



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Homily for October 21

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


The point of these scriptures, as the church has assembled them here,
is that we are called to serve one another
as Jesus served us.
That’s a tall order, especially when phrased in terms of being
 “crushed in infirmity and affliction”
and being a “servant to others, a slave to all.”
Sometimes it’s helpful to work with the language scripture uses
- not to water it down, not to dilute it -
but to make it more accessible
in the hope that we might be able to see a way
to  live what the Word asks of us.
So, let’s look at what it might mean to be a servant of others,
even a slave of all - in terms we can grasp and live up to.

The quick answer here is that we look for ways to serve others
with our time, our talents and our treasure.
You’ve heard this trio of T words before.
It’s used a lot because it’s true.

• One of our most precious commodities is our time.
Sharing and giving our time away for others is an important way
to serve our neighbor.

•Time, and talent. ..
We all have gifts and talents to help us serve one another.
Some of these are more obvious, more attention-getting than others -
but all our gifts and talents are meant to be shared
for the sake of the common good.

• And treasure.  Some of us have more treasure than others
but treasure is a relative category.
A $5 offering from one person
might actually be more and more generous
than a $100 offering from someone else,
depending on our individual, personal resources.
Our treasure is given us by God to be shared,
especially with those in need.

But we’ve heard those three before.
So let me suggest to you 10 other ways we might be of service to others,
of service to all.
(Did he say TEN other ways?  How long is this homily going to last?)
Be not afraid.  I’ll make these 10 points briefly - all in bullet points.

1) I can serve others simply by paying attention:
by paying attention to their lives, to their circumstances:
their pain, their burdens, their joys, their problems and their fears…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
needs me to pay them more attention?

2) I can serve others with my affection:
with a warm word, a word of praise, a hand on a shoulder, a hug,
my gentle presence, a firm handshake, any kind gesture…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
needs a share of my affection?

3) I can serve others with my compassion:
with my reaching out to someone in trouble,
just my “showing up” in someone’s time of need or loss,
with my silence, when my silent presence
might be the most compassionate gift I can offer…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
is in need of my compassion?

4) I can serve others by including them:
by inviting someone who’s often forgotten,
by including someone who’s often left out,
by reaching out and drawing in someone who’s afraid to approach…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
is waiting to find, to have, to enjoy a place in my life?

5) I can serve others with my patience:
with my willingness to wait, without complaint,
with my calmness in matching the slower pace another sets,
with my perseverance in helping those who stumble
and make mistakes - often…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
would benefit from a more patient response from me?

6) I can serve others with my forgiveness:
with my not holding others to standards
higher than I set for myself,
with my letting go my grudges and resentments,
with my pardoning without punishing…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
might I set free simply by forgiving them?

7) I can serve others with my generosity:
with my freely giving - even before I’m asked,
with my quietly giving, behind the scenes,
with my giving until I feel the pinch myself…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
has wants and needs my generosity might answer and supply?

8) I can serve others with my understanding:
with my taking time to really listen,
with letting go my prejudice and bias,
with my opening up to other points of view…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
needs a more understanding response from me?

9) I can serve others with my truth:
with my speaking honestly when a lie would be much easier,
with my speaking accurately when I’m tempted to exaggerate,
with my speaking face to face and not behind another’s back…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
deserves a more honest, accurate, personal response from me?

10) I can serve others with my prayer:
by praying for others,
by praying for others and letting them know I prayed for them,
by inviting others to join me in prayer…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
who needs my prayers, who needs to know I pray for them,
who might I invite to join me in prayer?

Ten simple ways for all of us to serve one another
as followers of  Jesus who served us.
I doubt that in serving this way that we’ll find ourselves
 “afflicted and crushed in infirmity”
or that we’ll feel we’ve been made a slave to others.
Actually, serving in these ways will likely bring us joy,
the joy of giving of ourselves, in love, for others.

The greatest service Jesus offered us
was the gift of his life on the Cross.
He continues to offer us that gift, here at his table,
where, in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist,
he nourishes and strengthens us to serve one another.

As the Lord served us with his attention and affection,
his compassion and inclusion, his patience and forgiveness,
his generosity and understanding, his truth and his prayer:
as Jesus served us,
so let us serve one another
at home, at work, at school and all around us.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 10/21

So often, Lord,
I let worries and fears build walls
that keep me from your grace, your strength,
your desire to help me
   to do the next right thing,
   speak the next right word
   and make the next right move...

Too often, Lord,
I isolate my spirit and I fail,
so slow am I to welcome
all the help, the lift, the gifts you offer
   when I'm trapped and lost in  worry,
   when I doubt my self in fear
   and distrust my will to do what I must do...

All too often, Lord,
I find a way, a reason to excuse myself
from my responsibility,
to seize the opportunity
   to do the next right thing,
   speak the next right word
   and make the next right move...

Way too often, Lord, I'm too easily satisfied
   when worry weakens my resolve,
   when old fears frustrate the best of my plans,
   when doubt disarms my will to speak...

So, break through, Lord, I pray:
break through my fear with your sure grace,
break through my worry with your sweet peace,
break through my doubts and strengthen me
   to do the next right thing,
   speak the next right word
   and make the next right move...


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 10/20

At St. Bernard Cemetery, photo by CP

I wonder, Lord, were I a tree,
what might you do with me?

What if I were rooted more deeply, securely,
in my faith, in your word, in your truth?

What if I, like a tree, stood quite still,
patiently accepting the world as it is,
day by day, just a day at a time?

What if I bowed, like a tree, with no complaint,
to all the seasons' changes,
the way to live, endure and grow?

What if I, like a tree,
braved the cold 'til spring came 'round?'
stood in the rain 'til soaked by your grace?
weathered the sun 'til warmed by your love?
let go my leaves, one by one,
giving back to you what you gave to me?

I wonder, Lord, were I a tree,
what might you do with me in autumn?

Would you paint me with your glory?
Dress me in fine splendor,
cloaked in many colors to rival Joseph's coat?

You might, Lord, you just might do this -
were I more like a tree...

And so I wonder, I wonder and I pray:
were I a tree, Lord,
what might you do with me?



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 10/19

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Words can be so clinical, Lord:
words like substance abuse and addiction,
dual diagnosis, treatment and habit...

And these sound particularly cold
when they echo in the hearts of those
who've lost a loved one to these realities...

This impersonal, analytic, detached vocabulary
grates on hearts grieving the life and love
of a real human being,
one of your own beloved, Lord:
a son or daughter, a grandchild,
a family member or friend
lost to the hellish pit of addiction
and the cycle of finally getting clean,
finding sobriety and then slipping
and sliding in a downward spiral,
wanting desperately to reach for help,
even if unsure of where and how to reach...

Friends of mine, Lord, have suffered just such a loss
so I lift them up to you in prayer today
even as they lift up their Jeremy,
returning him to you from whom all blessings flow
and every gift of life and love...

As Jeremy returns to you, Lord,
be as gentle, strong and merciful,
as compassionate and understanding,
as patient and as loving with him
as were all his family and friends...

Rescue him, Lord, finally free him
from everything and anything that plagued him,
haunting his soul, robbing him of the joy he truly sought,
the love he certainly desired,
the peace he so much craved...

His burdens were many, Lord,
and many, too, were the burdens
of those who loved him, stood by him, reached out to him
and held him in their arms and in their hearts...

Let your healing mercy abound here, Lord,
and strengthen our faith in you
and in your desire that all that you've created
come home to you,
to live with you, in peace forever...

Such a loss leaves those who mourn
with questions begging for answers:
if not answers, Lord, then give us your peace,
your consolation and your healing:
help us entrust Jeremy to your arms,
to your heart and to your gentle love...

Help all who miss him heal, Lord:
strengthen our trust and faith in you
and make firm our hope
that one day we shall see Jeremy again
and enjoy his love
when your mercy gathers us together
in the peace and joy of your kingdom...


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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 10/18

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no one knows better than you
all my faults and my flaws,
my weak spots and sins...

And no one knows better than you
how often I fail, day after day,
in just the same ways...

No one knows better than you, Lord,
how often I promise
to turn things around and make a new start...

And no one knows better than you
how foolish I am to think or to hope
I can change on my own...

No one knows better than you, Lord,
my need for your help
to find a new path and walk by your side…

And no one knows better than you,
how often you offer the grace I need
for a real change of heart...

No one knows better than you
who I am, how I fail,
and just what I need to grow in your love…

And no one knows better than you
how today I might sin
and stand in need of your mercy again…

So open me, Lord, I pray today,
with the gift of your pardon and peace
- and give me a change of heart...



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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 10/16

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It's hard to believe, Lord,
that I'm writing tomorrow morning's Pause for Prayer,
sitting out on my porch in my sweats,
no jacket or coat, no flannel shirt,
enjoying a relatively balmy Monday evening,
half way through October...

On a number of recent days and on many nights I've thought,
"Well that's it for porch sitting, the weather has turned..."

But then comes an atmospheric rearrangement
and  everything, if only for a spell, turns back
and I'm given a reprieve, a break, a gift,
a blessing of mildness,
rekindling memories in my soul
what I find so hard to just let go...

Tonight it's warm enough for porch time:
the streets shimmer a silver sheen
left by a shower, just an hour ago;
and your Spirit sings in branches above,
a million autumn leaves brushing in time
before rushing to fall...

This reprieve reminds me of you, Lord:
your love knows no season's bounds;
your heart's fire never fails to warm us
in season and out;
there is no end and indeed, no beginning
to your love for us - it is eternal...

Fall may put summer's haze to rest
and winter drain the autumn palette
of its vibrant hues and subtle tones
but there is no season's change in you...

In you, Lord, there's but one season,
the season of grace:
when the mercy is forever,
and peace is everlasting;
when the light has conquered darkness
so the clocks are never changed;
when the leaves never fall
and the frost never bites,
when the sun never burns,
the winds do no harm,
the rain never floods,
the clouds never darken,
the lightning never strikes
and where the life and joy of springtime
spring eternal from your heart
to fill our own...

So this night, this reprieve puts me in mind of you, Lord,
for your love has no cycles
never changes, never ends,
it springs eternal in one season,
the season of your grace...



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Monday Morning Offering: 10/15

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

I’ve been wondering, Lord:
what do you do with it all?

What do you do with all the stuff I offer you
on Monday mornings?

And not just my stuff:
other folks make morning offerings, too,
and sometimes seven days a week...

Lord, what do you do
with everything we offer you?

Like steam from millions of cups
of coffee and tea and hot chocolate,
our prayers rise up to you:
a morning offering of incense
ground from our beings,
steeped in our sorrow,
sweetened by our joy…

What do you do
with everything we offer you?

I know you hear our prayers
(every single one of them!)
and I believe you cherish our “asking” prayers
just as much as our “praising” prayers…

I believe you’re pleased just to hear from us -
no matter what we say, pray, ask or plead…

And I believe you listen, carefully,
even when we don’t know what to say:
our silence, too, rises like a sweet fragrance -
whether the cups of our hearts be empty or full…

Lord, what do you do
with everything we offer you?

We offer you prayers, petitions and praise…

We offer dreams and schemes
for you to bless with success…

We offer you our hopes and try to cope
when you take so long, too long it seems,
to answer when we call...

We offer you our work
or pray to find some work to do…

We offer you our weaknesses
and beg for your strength…

We offer you our hearts for healing,
our hurts for soothing,
our bodies for mending,
our problems for fixing
and our relationships for repair…

What do you do, Lord,
with everything we offer you?

You store it up
  -- of course, you do!

You keep all we offer
in the infinite depths of your heart
where beats the heart
of every one ever born:
all of us here now,
the hearts of all who have passed
and those whose hearts
have yet begun to beat…

In your heart our every prayer is heard,
treasured and measured for eternal keeping,
like ribbon-tied love letters,
or valentines from children…

Lord, what do you do
with everything we offer you?

You remember everything we offer you,
even the many prayers we've forgotten,
prayers that once seemed so urgent…

Every one of our prayers,
without a single exception, Lord,
echoes in your heart

So I come once again, Lord,
and offer you my Monday and the week ahead…

I offer you my troubles
and pray for your peace…

I offer you my fears
and pray for your strength…

I offer you my silence
and trust you hear the words I cannot say…

I offer you my words and deeds this day, Lord,
and pray they help and bless
all those whose paths cross mine…

I offer you all my needs and wants,
fully aware, Lord, that already
I have so much more than I need…

Like the steam from my coffee cup, Lord,
let my morning offering rise to you
and live forever and ever
in the depths of your loving, sacred heart...



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