5/26/17

Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY of Memorial Day Weekend




Some call Memorial Day the "opening" of the summer season - a notion not at all related to Memorial Day's origins and meaningMillions will mark the day with time off and a cookout but fail to pause to honor those who gave their lives in service of their nation.

Here's a prayer I wrote some years back for my town's Memorial Day Exercises.  You might want to bring it to your own Memorial Day festivities and call others to pause for prayer in the spirit of the weekend, of the day...

Memorial Day Prayer

In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on the One whose power over us
is great and gentle, firm and forgiving, holy and healing...

You who created us,
who sustain us,
who call us to live in peace,
hear our prayer today.

Hear our prayer for all who have died,
whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone…

Hear our prayer for those who put the welfare of others
ahead of their own
and give us hearts as generous as theirs…

Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives
in the service of others,
and accept the gift of their sacrifice…

Help us to shape and make a world
where we will lay down the arms of war
and turn our swords into ploughshares
for a harvest of justice and peace…

Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones
and let your healing be the hope in our hearts...

Hear our prayer today
and in your mercy answer us
in the name of all that is holy.

Amen.



 
Memorial Day Prayer
     
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5/25/17

Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 5/26

Image source

There are many ways to sin, Lord,
and I sin in many ways
but no sin is greater
than the failure to love and honor
a person you have made...

So I ask for your mercy today,
I ask for your forgiveness for the times I've failed
to love my neighbor
in my own family and household,
in my neighborhood,
at work and at school,
in my parish and my community...

Forgive me when I fail to love
(through my prejudice, anger and envy)
any group or race of people
whom I may or may not personally know...

Forgive me when I speak and act
as if my politics and opinions
give me freedom to hate someone,
regardless of how fateful might be
the words and deeds of others...

Forgive me when I see only others' faults,
others' sins, others' weaknesses
and fail to see and love in them
what you, Lord, see and love in them...

And, Lord, forgive me when I fail
to love myself...

Forgive me when I fail or refuse to see
and to honor and reverence whatever in me
you see and love...

Forgive me when I fail to hope and trust
that I am yet a work in progress
in the studio of creation,
where you, the finest of all fine artists,
continue to mold and shape me in your image,
to work on my rough edges,
and bring out the beauty of your love in me,
your presence in my soul...

Forgive me when I fail to love my neighbor, Lord,
and forgive me when I fail to love myself
for when I fail to love my neighbor or myself,
I fail to love you, Lord,
whom I should love above all people and all things..

Give me mercy and pardon, Lord,
and teach me to love...

Amen.


 

     
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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 5/25



Sometimes, even often, I feel powerless, Lord,
just plain powerless..

I'm powerless over peoples' illnesses
powerless over the days of their pain and distress
and their waiting for relief
that doesn't seem to come
   so I join my prayers to theirs, Lord
   and hope that you'll be powerful
   where we are so very weak...

I'm powerless, Lord, over peoples' grieving
the abuse of the innocent,
over terrorism and the fear it brings
   so in prayer I as do we all
   that your power will bring healing
   especially where peace is slow to come...

I'm powerless, Lord, over peoples' plates
already piled high with fears and disappointments,
anxieties and worry,
and I'm powerless over the long days and nights
that only add to the burdens they already bear...
   so I join my prayer to the pleas of the weary
    that you will bring rest and relief
   for those bent low, weighed down by their waiting...

I'm powerless, Lord,
over questions I can't answer,
problems I can't solve,
pain I can't relieve
and concerns beyond my reach...
   so I pray for truth and the courage to speak it,
   for wisdom and gentleness in sharing it
   and for a healing touch when it's mine to offer...

I'm powerless over much, Lord,
but not over everything
and so I ask you to help me know what I can do
as well as I see what what's beyond my reach
- and for the power to do what I'm able to do...

Show us your power when we're powerless, Lord,
and help us find our strength in you...

Amen.


 

     
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5/24/17

Ascension Thursday

Ascension by Salvador Dali

The perspective of Dali's Ascension never fails to draw me in!  The earthy feet of the Risen Jesus ascending into heaven to reign for ever at the Father's right hand in the power of the Holy Spirit!

In my part of the vineyard the Ascension is still celebrated on Thursday of the sixth week of Easter (this year on May 25).  Much of the Catholic world, however, now celebrates this feast transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter.  In the US, the Ascension is celebrated on Thursday of the sixth week of Easter only in the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Omaha In all other US dioceses, the celebration of the Feast of the Ascension is transferred to the following Sunday, May 28, 2017.

Regardless of which day you celebrate the Ascension, the readings are the same and can be found, with brief commentary, here.  If you're bringing children to Mass with you, hints for helping them prepare to hear the Word are here.





     
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5/23/17

Pause for Prayer: 5/24



 

   
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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 5/23

Photo by CP

Simple, splendid pansies grace my porch door
where they wait each day
for me and for my watering can
to quench their thirst,
refresh their roots,
to strengthen them
lest they wilt and droop
and die...

I get this, Lord.
I know they're thirsty
and I know they wait on me
to wait on them,
to feed their beauty,
to refresh them
to withstand the heat of day...

I visit my porch door friends each day, Lord,
to shower them with my attention
and slake their thirst for what they need
for life
and in return they grow, they bloom,
they flourish and brighten
all my comings and my goings,
these portal pansies waiting for me
to wait on them..

My soul is thirsty, too, Lord,
and waits each day for me to water it
with my attention, care and prayer
that it might grow, bloom, flourish
and brighten all my comings and goings,
this soul of mine waiting on me
that I might wait on you, Lord,
that I might wait on you...

Amen.





   
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5/22/17

Monday Morning Offering: May 22

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza


Good morning, good God!

I offer you my praise
for your patience
when I think I'm too busy
to make some time for prayer...

I offer you my thanks
for your understanding
when I'm confused and I'm unsure
of where to turn and what to do...

I offer you my praise
for your mercy
when I fail to love
in thought, in word and deed...

I offer you my thanks
for everything you've given me,
especially for gifts
that I have yet to find and use...

I offer you my praise
for seeing my friend's face
across your holy table,
for our being one in prayer...

I offer you my thanks
for all the grace you offer me
more often than I know,
in more ways than I can count...

I offer you my praise
for all the people in my life
who care for me and help me
when I'm very much in need...

I offer you my thanks
for the faith I have in you,
and the trust I have in others:
the hope that keeps me going...

I offer you my praise
for always being there for me
when trouble's at my door
and I'm feeling all alone...

I offer you my thanks
for my memories of joy,
those souvenirs of grace 
that mend and heal my heart...

I offer you my praise
for the words you speak
in scripture, in my prayer
and on the lips of wiser friends...

I offer you my thanks
for your abiding love,
so freely, fully given
and with not a string attached...

I offer you my praise
for interludes of peace 
that come between rough patches
and keep me on your way...

I offer you my thanks
for your strong and gentle arm
to help me when I'm weak
and when I'm ready to give up...

I offer you my praise
for your Spirit, always moving,
in my mind and in my thoughts,
in my heart and in my soul...

I offer you my thanks
for your calling me
to stretch and grow and deepen
my relationship with you...

And I offer you my praise and thanks
for all the times you stay by me
when I forget to offer you 
all my thanks, Lord, and my praise...

Amen.


  

     
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5/21/17

MONDAY MORING OFFERING: 5/22

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza


Good morning, good God!

I offer you my praise
for your patience
when I think I'm too busy
to make some time for prayer...

I offer you my thanks
for your understanding
when I'm confused and I'm unsure
of where to turn and what to do...

I offer you my praise
for your mercy
when I fail to love
in thought, in word and deed...

I offer you my thanks
for everything you've given me,
especially for gifts
that I have yet to find and use...

I offer you my praise
for seeing my friend's face
across your holy table,
for our being one in prayer...

I offer you my thanks
for all the grace you offer me
more often than I know,
in more ways than I can count...

I offer you my praise
for all the people in my life
who care for me and help me
when I'm very much in need...

I offer you my thanks
for the faith I have in you,
and the trust I have in others:
the hope that keeps me going...

I offer you my praise
for always being there for me
when trouble's at my door
and I'm feeling all alone...

I offer you my thanks
for my memories of joy,
those souvenirs of grace 
that mend and heal my heart...

I offer you my praise
for the words you speak
in scripture, in my prayer
and on the lips of wiser friends...

I offer you my thanks
for your abiding love,
so freely, fully given
and with not a string attached...

I offer you my praise
for interludes of peace 
that come between rough patches
and keep me on your way...

I offer you my thanks
for your strong and gentle arm
to help me when I'm weak
and when I'm ready to give up...

I offer you my praise
for your Spirit, always moving,
in my mind and in my thoughts,
in my heart and in my soul...

I offer you my thanks
for your calling me
to stretch and grow and deepen
my relationship with you...

And I offer you my praise and thanks
for all the times you stay by me
when I forget to offer you 
all my thanks, Lord, and my praise...

Amen.


  

     
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Homily for May 21


Homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily


Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…

Got hope?
Hope…  
How’s your hope these days? Has the news the last few weeks,
the sound bytes, the tweets, the social media,
has the recent news given you a reason for hope?
The question, of  course, is rhetorical!
But I’m sure that each of us has an immediate response within us.
The recent news has given some folks
more hope than they’ve had in ages
and the recent news has led other folks
to the brink of hopelessness.

And I’m sure there are representatives of both responses
gathered right here, right now, around the altar.

The great divide in our nation reflects the hope and trust we invest
- or refuse to invest - in elected officials
and in their polices and programs.

Of course, St. Peter wasn’t envisioning any elected official
as the reason for our hope.
For Peter there was, and for us there is,
only one reason for our hope
and that is Jesus…  Jesus…  Jesus…

But the plot thickens!
On both sides of our great political divide today
you’ll find people who, with Peter,
claim Jesus as the reason for their hope
and then point to the agenda
of one or the other side of the legislative aisle
as evidence for just that.

But when two camps are so sharply and antagonistically divided
it’s folly to think that somehow Jesus aligns himself with both sides.

Of course, “politics is the art of compromise” and so it’s possible
that those on two sides of even a sharply divided issue might
- in some manner or fashion and according to their own reasoning-
be faithful to some measure of the gospel message.
But here’s the rub:
the teaching, the truth of Jesus, is not a matter of compromise
but rather a command, a matter of conviction,
indeed, a matter of conscience.
We make a great mistake when we begin our political reckoning
by looking first to the choices before us,
siding with those that satisfy our feelings, our biases,
our frustrations and our anger
- and then baptizing our inclinations with a quote from Jesus.
Those on both sides of today’s hot button issues
are too often too quick to do just this.

But for those who truly claim Jesus as the reason for their hope,
            Jesus is the starting place for all our political deliberation.
And this is not meant in any simplistic way.
It’s seldom as simple as asking “What would Jesus do?”
Each Christian is called by Christ
to render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.
And implicit in those words of Jesus is the truth that
some things belong exclusively to God
and some things simply do not belong to Caesar.
Put another way, in at least some instances:
what is American might not always be Christian
and what is Christian might very well be un-American.

Although we may in the end need to choose the lesser of two evils,
we need to do that aware that God’s law of love
admits of no compromise,
precisely because for Christians,
compromising the law of love - is sin.

When asked to be ready to give an explanation to anyone
who asks us  for a reason for our hope
the only answer a Christian has is this:
Jesus is the reason for my hope.

I’m reminded of John Paul II’s reflection on who Jesus is - he wrote:

"It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness.
He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.
He is the beauty to which you are so attracted.
It is Jesus who provokes in you that thirst for fullness
that will not let you settle for compromise.
It is Jesus who urges you to shed the masks of a false life.
It is Jesus who reads in your heart your most genuine choices,
the choices that others try to stifle.
It is Jesus who stirs in you
the desire to do something great with your life,
the will to follow an ideal,
the refusal to allow yourself to be ground down by mediocrity,
the courage to commit yourself humbly and patiently
to improving yourself and society,
making the world more human and more fraternal.”

It is Jesus…  It is Jesus…
It is Jesus who is the only explanation we have to give
to anyone who asks us for the reason for our hope.

Pray with me?

Lord Jesus, help me hope for light
when I'm totally in the dark...

Help me hope for serenity
in the midst of my distress...

Help me hope for tomorrow
when I'm locked in my past...

Lord Jesus, help me hope for joy
when sadness consumes me...

Help me hope for understanding
when I'm lost in confusion...

Help me hope for grace
when I'm tempted to sin...

Lord Jesus, help me hope for love
when I'm most alone...

Help me hope in faith
when I'm lost in doubt...

Help me hope for help
when I fear there is none...

Lord Jesus, help me hope for strength
when I'm at my weakest...

Help me hope for hope
when I'm at a dead end...

And when I feel most hopeless
help me hope in you, Lord Jesus:
help me find my only hope in you...

(My homily ended with a song I sang,
with the congregation joining in on the refrain:
listen to the audio above for the music!)

 

     
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5/20/17

Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 5/21

Photo by Frank Spooner

A friend's photo, taken in his back yard,
brings to mind a verse from Psalm 42:
     As the deer longs for running streams
        so my soul longs for you, O God...
Let's pause and pray...

My heart and soul thirst for so many things,
   so many blessings and gifts:
      for love, for companionship,
      for healing and wholeness;
      for wisdom and understanding;
      for serenity, for grace,
      for mercy and peace...

My heart and soul thirst for a sip
   of waters pure, sweet and cool,
     for a drink that slakes my thirst
        deep, deep within...

Like a dry, parched desert land, my heart longs
   for a spring, a stream, an oasis
      where my barren life might be refreshed...

At the core of every thirst I know,
   at the bottom of my well gone dry,
there lies my soul, parched for you, Lord,
   with a thirst that only you can quench...

Help me know how the thirst in my heart's well
   is a thirst for you, O Lord:
a thirst that only you can slake,
   a well that only you can fill...

Lead me, Lord, to waters clean and clear
   where your grace flows sweet and pure,
waiting for my thirsty heart to drink,
   as a deer who longs for running streams...

(Pray with Bob Hurd's beautiful setting of Psalm 42...)




As the deer longs for running streams,
so I long, so I long, so I long for you.

1) A-thirst my soul for you the God who is my life!

When shall I see, when shall I see,
see the face of God?

2) Echoes meet as deep is calling unto deep,
over my head, all your mighty waters,
sweeping over me.

3) Continually the foe delights in taunting me:
“Where is God, where is your God?”
Where, O where, are you?

4) Defend me, God, send forth your light and your truth,
they will lead me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling place.

5) Then I shall go unto the altar of my God.
Praising you, O my joy and gladness,
I shall praise your name.



 

     
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