Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 8/24


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 8/23

Today is August 23, 2016.

This day is unique in my own life,
   in the lives of those around me,
      in the history of humankind
         and in the very mind of God...

This day has never dawned before
   and this day will never come again...

August 23, 2016
   is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
What would you have me make of this day, Lord?
What would you have me do?
What would you have me not do?

How might I make this day a better day
   for the people whose paths cross mine?
How might I repair today
   what I've broken in the past?
What might I do today
   to prepare for a peaceful tomorrow?

What will you do in my life today, Lord?

Open me to all the ways your Spirit moves this day
   in my mind, my conscience, my heart and my soul,
      in my words and in my deeds...

This day, August 23, 2016, is the day you have made, Lord:
   help me rejoice and be glad in it,
   help me spend it as you ask me
   and come to its end in your grace...


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Monday Morning Offering: August 22

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

On Friday, fresh from vacation,
I did a major cleaning of my desk at the office:
four bags of trash, Lord,
from one l-shaped desk and two drawers!

Finally there's some order there,
some blessed, much needed, liberating order!

Wish I could as easily do the same with my heart, Lord,
all for the sake of that same blessed,
much needed, liberating order...

So much stuff jumbled together in my heart:
worries, hopes, plans, problems, to-do lists,
dreams, sorrows, fears, responsibilities, joys
and unfinished business of all kinds...

And then there's the trash that's been piling up within me:
grudges, bitterness, resentments, prejudice, envy, hard feelings
- and the trash of junk that should never have found
a square inch of space to rent in my heart...

Lots of stuff to sort through, Lord,
lots of stuff to throw away,
lots of stuff to put in order,
that blessed, much needed, liberating order
that frees the soul and opens me
to be filled with what's good, whole, true, beautiful
and most of all: pleasing to you...

So I offer you this morning, Lord,
the mess that clutters the desk of my heart
and fills the drawers of my soul...

Help me make the time
and give me your help
to sort out what's good within me
and clean out what doesn't belong:
only your grace, Lord, brings order out of chaos
so I pray you'll help me find
that blessed, much needed, liberating order
that frees my soul for peace and serenity
and strengthens me to live my life
as you would have me live it...



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Homily for August 21

Christ at the Door of Heaven by Elizabeth Wang

Homily for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

I remember from my youth being taught in Sunday School
that the Catholic Church was the one true church
and the way to heaven.

I don't think I was precociously theological as a child
I do remember this teaching causing me some difficulty.
You see, I grew up on a block where there were three children,
my sister, myself and our friend Lewis.

Lewis and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Spates, didn't go to St. Mary's,
the Catholic church in Danvers:
they belonged to the Maple Street Congregational Church,
the big Protestant church in the center of town.

I was worried that although Lewis and his folks
were good Christian people,
their not being Catholic might mean
we wouldn't all meet one day in heaven.

As I mentioned, I wasn't precocious so I brought this problem
to someone I knew would have a solution - my mother -
and I asked her where non-Catholic Lewis and his parents
would be spending eternity.

And I was right - she had the answer!
She told me,
"Well the Spates family are very good people
so I'm sure God will find a way for them to go to heaven, too."

My mother's answer satisfied me then and it satisfies me now
because her intuition was, in fact,
what the Catholic Church teaches when it asserts that
"the Spirit of Christ does not refrain 
from using (separated churches and ecclesial communities)
as instruments of salvation..."

Does the Catholic Church teach, then, that it doesn't matter
what church you belong to?
No, it does not teach that.
It teaches that ours is the Church founded by Jesus
and that the fullness of Christ and his truth and grace
rest, or subsist, in the Catholic faith - even if
"the Spirit of Christ does not refrain
from using other faith communities as instruments of salvation."

The Catholic Church is not shy about saying and teaching
that it gets some things right that other churches get wrong.
And guess what - that’s just how those
“separated churches and other ecclesial communities” think, too!
They think that they’re right about some things
and that we Catholics are wrong about those same things.
Are they reticent to claim that? Not at all.
They became separated churches by protesting
that the Catholic Church was in error.

Do these differences matter?
Yes, they do!
If they didn’t matter, we’d all still be one Church.
The differences matter enough that tragically
groups within the Body of Christ have split off, one from another.
Christendom is a divided kingdom and that is a scandal.
It is a scandal that disciples of Jesus have failed in his desire
that we all be one as he and his Father are one.

The scriptures today get at the question of who will be saved
and give us several answers.

Isaiah envisions God’s people being gathered together
to make one offering of worship to the one God,
in Jerusalem.

Jesus echoes this when he says,
“People will come from the east and the west  
and from the north and the south  
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.”

But he also says that the door into the banquet hall of heaven
is a narrow one.
What’s it to be, then?
Will only a few be saved by squeezing through the narrow door?
Or will the banquet hall be immense and the table so long
as to accommodate all God’s people?

Here’s the answer:
the hall is big enough and the table long enough
to seat every man, woman and child ever created by God.

The door is narrow but remember:
the narrow door is only an image.

The narrow door is not a door but rather, an image of a person
- and the person is Jesus.

We will enter heaven through our relationship with Christ -or-
for those who have never known Christ:
through lives lived sincerely in love and justice,
such that they will immediately recognize Christ
not only as the door to life eternal
but also as the perfect mirror
of all that was good and true in their lives.

The question, then, is not so much,
“How many will be saved?” or “How narrow is the door?”
The question is much more
“Will I recognize Christ, when I stand before him?
Will my life and how I lived it, will my faithfulness to Jesus
and my fidelity to his goodness, truth and justice)
enable me to recognize the One
who can open the door for me?”

The door to heaven, through which ALL are invited to pass
opens to those whose lives mirror
the self-giving life and love of Christ,
to all who learned in this life
to love God and serve the neighbor.

Christ gave us the altar of his sacrifice, the Cross,
and this table of his sacrament, the Eucharist,
that we might “rehearse” even now
for taking a place at his table n the kingdom of heaven.

Christ is the door.
Christ is the altar; Christ is the sacrifice.
Christ is the table; Christ is the supper.
Christ is the server; Christ is the food.

If you recognize him here, come and share even now
in the banquet he has prepared for us - and for all.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 8/21

I hate it, Lord,
when bad things happen
to good people...

(And, truth be told, I also hate it
when bad things happen
to people who aren't so good...)

I especially hate it, Lord,
when the best of life's hopes
come face to face
with pain and shattered dreams...

So, when the mountain seems too big climb,
when the river seems too deep to cross,
when the pain seems more than we can bear,
be with us, Lord, be with us,
for without you
we are hopeless
and in you
is our only hope,
our way, our truth, our light...



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 8/20

My porch by candle light...

Last night I was back on my own porch, Lord,
home from vacation...

Gone is my window view of the harbor
- but it's good to be home again...

Gone is the pool
just steps from my door
- but it's good to be back home...

Gone is the luxury of someone making my bed
and cleaning my room every day
- but it's good to be home...

Gone is the leisure of lazy days
- but it's good to be home again...

It's good to be home where my window looks out
on the town and people I serve...

It's good to be home where just steps from my door
is the church where I pray with my parish...

It's good to be home where all is familiar,
not special or different,
just simply, beautifully, ordinary...

It's good to be home where I do for myself
and take pride in the home that I make...

It's good to be home to engage once again
the work of the gospel's message...

It's good to be home, refreshed and rested,
ready, I pray, for what comes my way...

It's good to be home on my porch once again,
where prayer and peace daily meet...

Vacation was great but it's good to be home, Lord,
for home is the place where I live
and home is the place that I love
and home is where you wait for me
to make a home for you...



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 8/19

Sunset over Hyannis Harbor: photo by CP

(It takes a while to decompress from vacation: 
prayer helps...)

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of the last two weeks:
for the time away, for the rest and peace;
for the quiet hours, the prayer and reflection;
for some time with friends and lots of time alone,
for time with you
and for the beauty all 'round me...

Let me take none of this for granted, Lord,
but make my heart gratefully aware of all your gifts:
on vacation and at home, in my work and in my rest;
when I'm most at peace and when I can't find peace;
when I know you're at my side
and when it seems I cannot find you...

In every moment, Lord, your gifts are mine
if I but trust in you
and open wide my eyes to see them...

Thank you for the gifts of the last two weeks, Lord:
give me grace to hold them in my heart, in my mind
and in my memories,
especially as vacation memories fade away...

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of my vacation:
may the rest and peace I've known
make me strong for all that lies ahead...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 8/18

Photo by Suzanne Brozek

When I see how perfectly, how beautifully,
Cedar Pond reflects your glory, Lord,
I recall it's in your image I am made
and now am called to mirror in my being,
to reflect in word and deed,
the beauty and the glory
of my Maker...

Calm the waters of my worries,
hush and still the world around me,
til my soul, at peace with you,
reflects the beauty and the glory
you reveal and wait to find
in the waters of my life...



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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 8/17

Image source

for the peace in my heart this morning,
I'm truly grateful...

Such serenity is surely, purely
your gift to me:
I've done nothing to merit or deserve,
much less to earn such a blessing...

I pray that my gratitude
open my heart wide
to all the gifts you offer me -
especially those I've missed along the way
when I'm not mindful
of your presence in my life
every day and every night...

And when this tide of peace begins to ebb,
as sure it will,
let me hold close the memory
of this morning's consolation
to carry me through times
when your sweet peace
is all I long for...

But this morning, Lord,
I thank you from the depths of my heart
for this peace
which I know is only yours to give...



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One Last Chance for a Blessed Summer Getaway

A good read from my friend, John Hudson, the Sherborn Pastor.

If you've not yet gotten away this summer, or gotten away enough,
spend a few minutes with John's reflection...


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