Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 7/21

please give me the strength,
the drive,
the patience,
the trust,
the diligence,
the courage,
the balance,
the spirit,
the daring,
the tenacity,
the grit,
the confidence,
the curiosity,
the willingness to try,
the determination,
the perseverance,
the self-control,
the heart,
the steadiness,
the endurance,
the staying power
   - or whatever it takes
   and whatever I need -
to make it through the challenges
I'll meet today
and in the weeks ahead...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 7/20

(Monday and Tuesday of this week found me in Manhattan, on a road trip with a friend to hear his son sing in "Broadway's Rising Stars" at the Town Hall Theater on West 43rd Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway.  In addition to the performance: a powerful visit to Ground Zero, dinner after the show at Tony's Di Napoli just off Times Square, breakfast the next morning at Jerry Seinfeld's TOM'S RESTAURANT and an afternoon walking around Greenwich Village and the NYU campus.  All of this became the inspiration for today's Pause for Prayer.)

Sometimes, Lord, I get a little down
when I think about being 71 years old
and I wonder, "How did I get to be this old?"

But then come days like Monday and Tuesday
and my road trip to New York City
and I remember that the simple joy of being with friends
and celebrating good times together -
well, such gifts don't fall from trees!

Such gifts are born of relationships,
friendships that take time, even decades,
to grow and mature and ripen
into moments of happiness and gratitude,
moments that make being 71
a joy in itself...

And so my prayer, Lord:
For all I have,
for all you've given me
and for all that's yet to be:
I thank you!

For Monday and Tuesday of this week
and for the years and experiences
that brought me to those days:
I thank you!

And for those gifts of love and friendship
waiting yet to blossom, to be harvested,
yet to be enjoyed,
I thank you!

For all you've been doing
through all of my life
and for all you'll do in the years still ahead:
I praise and thank you, Lord,
from the bottom of my grateful,
71 year old heart!



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 7/19

It's been just a few days, Lord, since I was in Manhattan
where I visited the two acre-sized memorial pools
at Ground Zero...

52,000 gallons of water circulate in those two pools -
every hour, Lord, every hour!

That's 52,000 gallons of water
perpetually washing and cleansing
the gaping wound in the heart of each pool
and filling in the emptiness
in the hearts of us all...

But we need more than water, Lord,
and more than 52,000 gallons a minute of what we do need:
we need your mercy,
we need the waters of your mercy
forgiving us, cleansing us,
washing away our selfishness and sins...

We need the healing waters of your mercy, Lord,
perpetually - eternally -
purifying our hearts and minds,
healing the gaping wounds left by sin
in the depths of our souls...

Let the waters of your pardon wash over us, Lord:
call us to bathe in your mercy over and over again
until we are cleansed and healed of all our failures
and of all that marks us in need of that peace
that is yours alone to give, Jesus,
yours alone, to give...



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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 7/18


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 7/17

Wake me up,
get me up,
start me up, Lord,
when I’m tired and slow to begin...

Lift me up, 
pull me up, 
raise me up, Lord,
when my get-up-and-go is all gone...

Wash me up,
clean me up,
spruce me up, Lord,
when I need to start over again...

Cheer me up,
buck me up,
buoy me up, Lord,
when my spirits are down and I'm blue...

Pump me up,
build me up,
buff me up, Lord,
when my willpower's weak, out of shape...

Size me up,
shut me up,
give me up, Lord,
when I need to be put in my place…

Help me up,
pick me up,
prop me up, Lord,
when I need to rely on your strength...

Push me up,
move me up,
boost me up, Lord,
when I’m stalling and falling behind…

Stand me up,
stir me up,
shake me up, Lord,
when I need a good kick in the butt…

Perk me up,
pep me up,
psyche me up, Lord,
when I’m moping around in self-pity… 

Free me up,
sign me up,
use me up, Lord,
when you need my talents and time...

Bear me up,
back me up,
beam me up, Lord,
to be where you call me to be…



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Monday Morning Offering: 7/16

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

Today I offer you
the musings of my mind’s imagination
and I pray you’ll enlighten me
with reason, truth and prudence…

I offer you the words I speak,
the words I write and post
and I pray you'll sift them through the sieve
of charity and wisdom...

I offer you my soul's desires, 
my passions, thirsts and hungers
and I pray you'll tend and tame me
with integrity and grace…

I offer you the things I do, 
day in, day out - my deeds -
and I pray you'll teach my heart to give
with selfless generosity…

I offer you my attitude, 
all my feelings and my moods
and I pray you’ll heal and lift me up
with hope, in peace, to joy...

I offer you my weaknesses,
 my failings, faults and sins
and I pray you’ll pardon all of them
with mercy undeserved…

I offer you today, Lord,
the whole of who I am:
bend me, mold me, shape and change me
- recreate me in your love…

I offer you the week ahead, 
with all its trials and its troubles
and I pray you'll stand right by my side
to hold me fast and faithful...  


Homily for July 15

Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass


One prophet in today’s scriptures, Amos, got run out of town.
And in the gospel, Jesus instructs his followers on what to do
if they find themselves about to be booted  from a place
where their message a call to repentance,
is rejected and not welcomed.
They’re to “shake the dust off their feet.”
That’s an ancient equivalent of saying,
 “I wash my hands of this. I’ve done all I can and now I’m moving on.
I’m not even taking the dust of your streets with me.”

Like the prophets in Israel, these pairs of disciples missioned by Jesus
were sent to preach repentance, to preach a change of heart.
That’s not a message everyone wants to hear.
Most folks don’t want to be told by someone else:
 “Hey!  You need a change of heart!”
And, keep in mind that  prophets don’t so much predict the future
as much as they comment on and critique the present moment-
reminding their listeners of what the Lord has spoken to them
and what the Lord expects of them.
My overall mission as a preacher is to speak prophetically,
that is, to call of us to repentance.
So, I’ve been thinking about some
prophetic words I might preach in a homily
and I’ve come up with 8  contemporary prophetic statements
calling us to repentance - and here they are:

1) The planet on which we live was given to humankind as its first home    
and entrusted to our care.
We have a moral obligation to protect and preserve this gift
and we will be judged on our having succeeded or failed in doing so.

2) The virtue of justice is much more than a process
for getting what’s rightfully ours
or punishing those who have offended us.
Christian justice is the work of ensuring a right and just balance
between selfishness and selflessness.
The scriptures and the Church call us to exercise
a demonstrable preference for serving first
those poor and powerless on the margins of society.
As long as some of us have more than we need
and others have less than they need,
we OWE our neighbors in need
a generous share in the surplus that is ours.

3) Because human marriage
is intended to be a mirror of God’s love for his people,
Jesus raised it to the dignity of a sacrament
which should be entered only by those
ready to pledge and to keep a life-long union
promising to be faithful in good times and in bad,
in sickness and in health, until death.

4) Without denying governments the right to legitimate self-defense,
the scriptures and the Church condemn the horror of war
and summon us to secure a peace based on justice and love.

5) Whether a pregnancy is desired and welcomed - or not -
there is no degree of difference in the reality, sacredness,
nobility and quality of human life found in any womb.

6) Nothing another person does or fails to do, no matter how heinous,
nothing excuses us from the commandment to love our neighbor
and in particular, to love that person who is the least lovable.
Nothing another person does or fails to do
gives us license to hate, demean, curse or condemn that person.
The command to love one’s neighbor has no exceptions.          

7) We should strive to live as if this life were an introduction,
a proving ground, a practice session for a life that is yet to come
because that’s exactly what this life is:
a dress rehearsal for our life after death.
It’s upon the evidence of how we lived this life that we will be judged
and given our place, forever, in the next life.

(If these first 7 prophetic statements have been daunting,
we will all appreciate the eighth.)

8) The mercy of God is without limit and is given freely to all:
to all who freely acknowledge and confess their sins,
who do penance and who pledge, with God’s grace,
to change their hearts, turn away from sin,
and be faithful to the gospel.

Prophetic statements, of their nature, address matters that are
problematic, personal and political.
It’s precisely in these areas where we might need
to be called to repentance, to a change of heart.

The most demanding, compelling prophetic word or deed,
even spoken or done, is found in the person of Jesus
calling us to repent, calling us to a change of heart,
through the gift of his life for us on the Cross.

On the night before he died he offered at the table of the Last Supper
what he would offer the next day on the altar of the Cross:
the gift of his Body broken for us, his Blood poured out for us.

May the Eucharist we celebrate nourish us
with the grace and strength we need:
to repent, to turn away from sin,
to be faithful to the gospel,
to have a change of heart.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 7/15

Image source

I was out walking when I saw him, Lord:
tall and lanky, his work clothes covered in the dust
of the construction site just behind him,
talking on his cell phone...

I think I was invisible to him,
that he never saw me,
though I passed him by a distance of just a yard or less...

He was busy on his cell phone
and though I heard nothing of his conversation
I read on his face a story of pain
or was it fear
or perhaps it was anxiety...

A half hour later, coming back down Main Street
I saw him again, on the phone once more
- or maybe still on the phone...

Now his face, his eyes, were bright
and I wondered:
what had happened to change him...

Was a problem solved?  his pain healed?
What grace had spirited him away and back,
his face now clear of any trace of fear?

Who knows what blessings you offered him
since I had first walked by?

Who knows what grace had changed his face,
his thoughts, his mind?

Who knows what other troubled tales
might fill his thoughts this day?
what fears might cloud his soul?
what knots of memory bind his heart
a captive, waiting, waiting long
til someone come and set him free?

Who knows what burdens weigh
on anyone I pass this day?

Who knows what secret fears
might steal the smiles, the joys
of those whose paths cross mine?

Make me mindful, Lord,
of the troubles others carry
on the shoulders of their hearts,
in the pockets of their souls...

And if I might be of help,
if I might lend a hand,
if I might share their burden,
show me how, Lord,
show me how...



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 7/14

Slow me down today, Lord,
   and whisper a word or two or more
      in the quiet of my mind and heart...

When I'm cursing others or myself,
   whisper words of blessing...

When I'm judging others' words and deeds,
   whisper words of mercy... 

When my voice is still and silent,
   whisper words that I might speak...

When I'm saying much too much,
   whisper words to keep me quiet... 

When I've failed and when I've sinned,
   whisper words of pardon...

When I'm facing loss and grief,
   whisper words of consolation...

When I'm stuck in my own foolishness,
   whisper words of wisdom...

When I'm confounded and confused,
   whisper words of counsel...

When I'm caught up in my lies,
   whisper words of truth...

When life is just too tough to take,
   whisper words of hope...

When my heart is broken, hurt and wounded,
   whisper words of healing...

When I'm at war within myself or with someone else,
   whisper words of peace... 

  Slow me down, Lord,
   and help me find a quiet place to hear
      the whisper of your word...

Slow me down today, Lord,
   and whisper a word or two
      in the quiet of my mind and heart...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 7/13

A joyful reunion last night, Lord,
with two friends I first met 53 years ago
(when we entered the seminary together)
but whom I haven't been together with
since 1968!

As folks do after so many years,
the three of us remembered and shared some old stories:
stories of how our faith brought us together,
what we shared back then
and what the road's been like for each of us
over 5+ decades...

We've traveled different paths, for sure,
but we hold in common more than just the days we shared
at 350 South Huntington Avenue...

Our individual stories are stamped and blessed
with the sorrows and joys of any life
- but anointed with the grace of faith...

How much stronger, Lord,
are the bonds of friendship
when entwined with faith;
how much deeper
grows the joy of faith
when shared with friends...

Like finding a box of forgotten treasures in the attic,
our evening reopened the memories of old gifts:
it's true, Lord, that the truly wonderful things,
are always there for the sharing...

So this morning, Lord,
I'm pondering what might be the old treasures
in the attic of my faith in you,
my friendship with you...

Have I stored away memories of really beautiful times
when your love and grace
brought me help and healing and hope?

Have I forgotten some truly important moments
when our friendship, yours and mine,
was strong, solid and sustaining?

Help me never forget, Lord,
and teach me hold on to the treasured memories
of how you have loved me,
of my faith in you
of the bonds and joys I share with you…

For these memories
and the grace they bring anew
I thank and praise you...

And I pray for any who have forgotten your love, Lord,
and for any who may believe you have forgotten them:
may Spirit open their memories and their hearts
to the gifts, old and new, you have to offer them…

And thanks again, Lord,
for my time last night with Bill and Paul!
Keep us faithful to our pledge
not to wait another 50 years
before we get together again!



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