Pause for Prayer: July the Fourth

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On this 4th of July, let's remember the inscription of Emma Lazarus' poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty, offering a haven, a refuge for the burdened and battered.  In the video below (scroll to the bottom of the post), Irving Berlin provides a musical setting for these words from Emma Lazarus' poem:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Do these words remind you, as they do me, of a more ancient text?
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.  (Matthew 11:28-30)
 At least at this one point, Christ and Lady Liberty share a common, open heart.

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Let's pause and pray...

Lord, open wide my heart
   to welcome any
who've been turned out,
   turned aside and turned away:
in my family, in my neighborhood
   where I work and 'round the world...

May the light of my words and deeds

   lift high a lamp of welcome
and my heart provide a place
   of rest and comfort
for the weary and heavy burdened...

Let my heart open wide for others, Lord,
   as your heart opens for me...


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Just outside my door...

Some beautiful plants are in bloom just outside my front door! "How does my garden grow?" It flourishes through the efforts of Mark J's green thumbs - for which I'm most grateful! 


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY, July 3

It's the day before the 4th, Lord, the eve of Independence,
      so in the spirit of the holiday I pray... 
Keep me hungry for what's real,
   independent of my fantasies...

Keep me honest in my speech,
   independent of the easy lie...

Keep me loyal to your word
   independent of my willfulness...

Keep me just in all my dealings,
   independent of deceit...

Keep me loyal to what's true,
   independent of the counterfeit...

Keep me constant in compassion,
   independent of self-interest...

Keep me loyal to my friends,
   independent of my jealousy... 

Keep me strong in self-awareness,
   independent of denial...

Keep me humble and forgiving,
   independent of conceit... 

Keep me positive and hopeful,
   independent of my fears...

 Keep me steadfast in my hope,
   independent of my worries...

Keep me faithful to my prayer,   
   independent of distractions...

Keep me steadfast in my faith,
   independent of my doubt...

Help me depend upon your love,
   on your grace and on your mercy,
all to free my heart to live, Lord,
   independent of all else...


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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 7/2

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Lord, help me let go my grown-up pretensions
   and be as a child before you today... 
In my mumbling and babbling, hear my heart's simple prayer 
      and answer me, Lord, with your wisdom...
With the milk of your grace, in your arms' warm embrace,
  give me comfort in worry and fear...
When the world seems too big and my troubles too great,
      be my shelter, safe harbor and peace...

Day by day, help me grow, but never forget:

   I'm your child today and forever...


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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 7/1

Especially, Lord, when fears and worries 
cloud my days and shadow my heart,
remind me of the peace I've known
and kindle the memories of moments past
when I was oh-so-very-sure 
of your presence and your love...



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Word for the Weekend of July 5

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No hometown welcome for Jesus!

It's time to take a look at the scriptures for this weekend's 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

This Sunday's gospel (Mark 6:1-6) includes a verse well known by believers and non-believers alike: Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household." 

As is usually the case, the first lesson (Ezekiel 2:2-5) thematically connects with the day's gospel. Here the Lord missions Ezekiel to preach to a people "hard of face and obstinate of heart - a rebellious house."

The second lesson (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) also offers a familiar text. Here St. Paul speaks of the "thorn in the flesh" that keeps him humble and dependent on the mercy of Christ. (Anybody else got one of those?)

These texts and background material on them can be found here.

Bringing children to Mass this weekend?  Help for preparing youngsters to hear the Word can be found here.

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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 6/30

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My heart and my soul,
   my arms and pockets are filled
      with the people I pray for, Lord...

You know who they are and what they need 
   and don't need me 
      to speak their names...

But something's sacred
   in saying aloud the names of those 
      who've asked for my prayers...

Something's holy 
   in whispering to you
      what they once whispered to me...

And something's graced
   in simply remembering
      the prayer I saw in their eyes...
(Take some time to tell the Lord
   of those who asked for your prayers...)
My heart and my soul,
   my arms and pockets are filled
      with the people I pray for, Lord...

Hear every prayer I whisper
   for all of those who've asked me
      to mention their names to you...


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Monday Morning Offering: 6/29

Coffee in the Morning by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

What a gift is this day, Lord,
and though I often forget,
I know you always give me
just one day at a time...

Not a few days in a bunch,
not a week, a month or a year:
you give me but one day at a time
and that’s more than enough, Lord,
more than enough for today…

All my yesterdays and yesteryears
came also from your hand
but they are past and they are gone
while this day’s gift is new and fresh:
a day that you have made…

And while I trust tomorrow 
will be in your loving care,
my future is unknown to me,
still stored within your heart,
a mystery past my reach…

You’ve given me this one day,  Lord,
no more than that
and, I pray and hope,
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 thoughts,
guiding my decisions,
speaking in my prayer,
helping me be strong,
calling me to rest
and holding me in love...

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

I offer just this one day, Lord:
let my heart be open to your grace
to welcome in your peace,
and let my hands reach out
to serve my neighbors' needs...

Help me live this day you've offered
for my living and my breathing,
my growing and my giving
and my sharing what I have with those in need...

Today’s the day you’ve made, O Lord:
let me rejoice in it and find my joy!

Receive my offering of this day and at its close 
I pray you'll grant me, Lord,
a night of peaceful rest and sleep...


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Homily for June 28

Healing Touch by Craig Wiltse

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

Audio for homily
(Sometimes you think you hit the record button - but you didn't!)

Today we get a gospel “twofer”
– two healing stories for the price of one,
one inserted in the other.

In the first story, Jairus, the synagogue official,
doesn’t hesitate to step forward
and in front of a large crowd to plead that Jesus come to his house
to heal his daughter who is critically ill.
As that same crowd follows Jesus to Jairus’ house,
the woman suffering from hemorrhages quietly, anonymously,
comes up behind Jesus and touches his cloak,
praying softly that she be healed.

I suspect that gathered in this church right now
are many folks, like the synagogue official,
unafraid to approach Jesus to ask for some healing
and quick to invite family and friends to join in that prayer as well.

And there are others here, too, I’m sure, who desire some healing
but who aren’t sure how to ask or how to pray for it,
who aren’t sure if the Lord hears or listens to their prayers.
Like the woman in the crowd, these folks might slip into church here
hoping to get close enough to Jesus to somehow touch him
and even if they don’t know the words to pray,
to let him know they need his help.

And between those two kinds of persons there are
I-don’t-know-how-many other folks who need healing
and have their own individual ways of praying for it.

The two healings in the gospel story are physical and dramatic
and some of us might be praying for just that kind of healing.
But we often need healing in other, more subtle ways, as well.

• How many of us here today need to be healed of a hardened heart?
of anger and grudges and resentments we carry in our souls?

• How many of us need to be healed
of thoughts and desires we’re not proud of,
or actions we might be ashamed of?

• How many of us need to be healed of our bad habits -
whatever they might be?

• Are there some in need of healing of prejudice
or even hatred of others?

• How many of us need to be healed of our selfishness?  our laziness?
our recurring failure to meet our responsibilities?

• Might some need to be healed of worry and fear?
of self-pity and self-interest?  of pride and jealousy?

• Or how many of us need to be healed
of not really wanting to be healed
of some unhealthy, unhappy, even unholy things in our lives?
We know they’re there – but we want to hold on to them.

• And how many of us need to be healed of the illusion 
that we don’t really need any healing?

One thing Jairus and the woman in the crowd had in common
was that each recognized they had a problem and needed healing.
For many of us, that might be the starting point today, to recognize:
what in our lives needs healing;
what in our lives keeps us from true happiness;
what in our lives compromises our Christian integrity.

In what ways do we need
the healing light of Jesus to shine upon us;
the healing word of Jesus to refresh and restore us;
the healing touch of Jesus to make us whole -
from the inside out.

The good news in the gospel today is that Jesus responds both
to the synagogue leader who easily steps forward with his plea
and to the woman in the crowd
who seems unsure of herself and her prayer.

None other than the very same Jesus 
is with us today in this church:
in our coming together as his people,
in scriptures we just heard,
and in the Eucharist we will celebrate and receive at this altar
in just a few moments.

Since the second century,
the Church has called the Eucharist
the medicine of immortality:
the medicine that heals what is sick and broken within us
and restores us to spiritual health in God's grace.

Just as we find our healing
in the sacrifice of Jesus for us on the Cross,
so we find his healing at his table here
in the spiritually medicinal Bread and Cup of the Sacrament.

Let’s pray that God’s Spirit open each of us
to know the healing we need, to pray for it,
]and to receive it gratefully when it comes.


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Prayer on a rainy day (like today!)

Image by Emma Olsen

Rain, rain...

Lord Jesus,
let your healing soak me
like the rain:
let your mercy be a downpour,
your reign a springtime shower...

Soak me, drench me,
all but drown me!

Leave me dripping
with moist anointings
of your touch:
my toes and every inch of me
cleansed, refreshed and purified...

Lift my face to rejoice
in the rain of your love:
let me drink it in
and drink it down,

Give me the thirst
that only you can quench
and lead me
to a river of your blessings...

Rain, rain,
rain of my Savior:
come today
and never go away...

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