Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 9/20

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I take so many things for granted, Lord:
my life, my health, my work,
my family and my friends,
the roof over my head,
the food on my table,
the freedom of my homeland...

Help me grow in appreciation and gratitude
for all that I have,
for all that comes my way each day,
for the bounty I enjoy in this world
in a world where so many go without...

Help me grow in generosity in sharing all I have
when so often I have so much more than I need
and, sometimes, even more than I want...

Help me simplify, simplify, simplify!
Help me let go of what I don't need
and what I don't want;
help me let go of what seduces and distracts me;
help me let go of what holds me back,
keeps me down, ties me up
and knocks me off balance...

I take so many things for granted, Lord...
Most of all, Lord,
help me not take YOU for granted...

Help me not take your love for granted
even though you give it so freely...

Help me not take your patience for granted,
excusing myself for how long it takes for me to change,
and for how slowly I grow faith and trust...

Help me not take your mercy for granted:
I don't deserve or merit your pardon -
the greatest gift I could ever receive...

Help me not take your presence for granted, Lord:
you never leave my side
no matter how often or how far I wander from your path;
you're always there -
help me not take that for granted...

Help me not take anything about you for granted, Lord,
for there is in my life nothing greater,
nothing more valuable, nothing more precious
than the hope I find in your love for me...


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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 9/19

The prophet Micah says this is "all" that God requires of us!
Short verse - tall order!

To do what is just:
How does that play out in my life, my family, my work, my community?

To love what is good:
Are there good things I need to learn to love more fully?
Are there things I love that I need to let go?

To walk humbly with God:
Do I walk with God each day?
Is God my walking partner?
What might need to change
to help me walk humbly by God's side?

Texting with God

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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 9/18

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we walk through days and nights
with secret fears and griefs,
with worries and problems unknown

to even those who stand right by our side...

So often we don't know how heavy burdened 
are the minds and hearts, the souls
of those who live with us, next door to us, 
who work and go to school with us...

But we all know the pain of being hurt
when others have no way of knowing
the turmoil in our hearts...

Lord, help me be gentle today 
and understanding of all whose paths cross mine:  
remind me that their burdens are at least as many,
at least as heavy, as the ones I bear myself... 

Make me gentle with my neighbors, Lord:
tending others' grief and binding up their wounds
'til restoring one another 
make us whole and healed in you...


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Monday Morning Offering: 9/17

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

I've been waiting for Monday morning
to offer you my thanks and praise 
for some gifts from your hand,
moments of grace, 
that have truly redeemed the past week...

It's been quite a week as you know, Lord...

You'll remember my praying,
Well, this really stinks!

And the day I asked you to
lift up my drooping spirit,
and quicken my get-up-and-go...

And that day when I needed
to hear just a word from you.
any word you thought I needed to hear...

And just a week ago today I prayed
for you to take a few things off my plate
already overflowing with cares and burdens, 
others' and my own...

And you came through, Lord!
And thus this Monday morning offering
of my gratitude and praise...

There was the grace and joy of our annual 
"Welcome back Mass and Cookout"
with over 300 hundred people in my backyard
and 23 of our young peer ministers
lending a hand and helping others 
to pray and praise your name...

For alfresco worship,
for hot dogs, hamburgers and Hoodsies
I offer you my thanks, Lord!

Then there was that middle-of-the-night downpour
with me sitting on my porch, my soul absorbing
your desire and power to soak and cleanse me
in your mercy...

For your powerful beauty in the elements,
I offer you my thanks, Lord! 

and there was the posse you sent
when I asked for your help, Lord!

For the support, good words and honesty
of men and women who love your Church,
I offer you my thanks, Lord!

And then Wednesday night
when over 140 area catechists gathered here 
for an evening of learning
to develop their understanding and skills
to better serve and teach the youth
in our faith formation programs.
(Lord, that was 140+ !)

For women and men so in love with you,
your gospel and your Church,
I offer you my thanks, Lord! 

And an evening with priests in our area
with our regional bishop:
time to speak and listen, to share freely, 
to pray together
and to grow in mutual support...

For the understanding and support 
of brother priests and our bishop who gathered us
I offer you my thanks, Lord! 

But most of all, Lord, I'm grateful
for that moment at the altar at the Saturday 5:00 Mass
when, in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer,
I experienced, I felt, an infusion of your grace,
a healing balm of strength and peace,
deep in my soul,
assuring me that you're with us,
that you won't abandon us,
that when we're challenged by the truth
we're not without the consolation of your mercy...

For your grace, so very much need, so freely given, 
so powerful in its coming,
I offer you my thanks, Lord!

Of course, Lord, as great as are these gifts,
shared from your heart to mine,
I know that none of them, nor all of them,
will take away the pain of victims
nor easily heal the deep, self-inflicted wounds
your Church bears and suffers...

We have a long way to go, Lord, 
and only you know how long is the path we must walk
before we see signs of a Church reformed, 
reshaped, renewed and rebuilt...

So make us both patient and zealous, Lord,
in doing all we can to grow the Church 
and, with the power of your Spirit,
give us wisdom to know what must be done
and strength to do it...

For these gifts that I trust you'll give us, Lord,
I offer you even now my Monday morning gratitude
with a prayer, a plea, with my hope
that you'll make us as patient as we need to be
but as zealous as possible 
in seeking the truth,
serving the victims
and rebuilding your Church 
according to your Word and will...

Receive my MMO, Lord,
and lead me through this week in your grace
and with the power and peace
that are only yours to give...


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Homily for September 16

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


Imagine you’re out for a walk and Jesus is walking at your side
and he turns to you and he asks,
as we just heard him ask in the gospel
 “So, who do people say that I am?
And who do you say that I am?”

Or is that hard to imagine?
Is it hard to picture Jesus going for a walk with you?
If it is, then it’s a good thing you’re sitting down
because I’m here to tell you that Jesus was a passenger in your car
on your way to church here today.

And, kind of like a faithful dog,
Jesus followed you all around the house all day today
and last night he slept at the foot of your bed,
was awake before you and patiently waiting
for you to stop hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock!

And over the past week, any time you thought or felt you were alone -
you weren’t - Jesus was right by your side.

And whether you were at work, at school or out shopping,
Jesus was right there with you.
When you were driving the kids all over the place and back  again -
Jesus was riding shotgun in your car.

And when we were thinking and saying and doing loving things -
Jesus was thinking and saying and doing those things
right along with us.

when we were thinking and saying and doing some wrong things
 (and if we were, we know exactly what those things were)
Jesus was right there then, too, tugging on the sleeves of our hearts,
trying to pull us aside and get us back on the track of love.

And,  Jesus is sitting next to you - right now.
Not only in the soul of the person sitting on your right and on you left
but also in that space between you.
And he’s asking you - and he’s asking me:
 “Who do you say that I am? Who do YOU say that I am?”

And I’m going to be bold here and tell you
that’s the most important question any of us will ever face.
Who do you say Jesus is?
Who do I say Jesus is?
Indeed, who does the CHURCH say Jesus is.

And before any of us answers individually
or all of us answer together - as we do in the Creed -
let’s take care to remember
how much each of us and all of us - are like Peter.
When Jesus asked Peter this most important question,
he answered, You are the Christ!
Peter got it right.  At least he got it right - then.
But it wouldn’t be long before Peter would get it wrong - very wrong.
On the night before Jesus died, Peter was asked again:
You’re one of Jesus’ followers, aren’t you?
And Peter denied it saying, “I don’t even know the guy.”

How could someone, at one point, get it so right
and then at another time, get it so wrong?

That’s a question I ask myself
when I forget or ignore or deny the reality
that Jesus is always right by my side.

That’s what I have to ask myself when I forget or ignore or deny
that Jesus is always faithful to me - even when I’m unfaithful to him.

And that’s a question the whole Church and its leadership needs to ask
when forgetting or ignoring or denying the reality
that not only is Jesus with us
but also that, indeed, we  are called to be his Body
present in and for the world today.

In the Hebrew scriptures, the prophet Micah asks,
 “What does the Lord require of you?”
And Micah answers his own question:
Here is what the Lord asks of you, only this,
that you do what is just,
that you love what is good,
that you walk humbly with your God…

Walk with God… 
Walk humbly with the Lord
who humbled himself to walk with us.

So, as we walk through our day, as we walk through the week,
Jesus is walking with us and asking us, each of us,
Who do you say that I am?
And he’s waiting for us to answer.
Let me suggest some answers to the question,
Who do you say that I am?

Jesus, I say that you are my faithful friend:
everywhere I go, you go.
Help me, Lord, to follow you more faithfully,
to go where you lead me.

• Jesus, I say that you are my strength,
especially when I’m tempted
to think or say or do anything that denies or betrays you.
Help me, Lord, to rely on your strength and not on my own.

• Jesus, I say that you are the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
You offer me more than anyone else can give me,
you give me more than money or power can offer or promise.
Help me, Lord, to treasure you above all else that I have
and to treasure you in all the other gifts you’ve given me.

• And Jesus, I say that you are my peace,
that you alone can forgive my sins,
that yours alone is the mercy I need,
that you alone can cleanse me and make me new.
Help me, Lord, to believe, deeply, what I say
and to live by the words I speak.

In one form or another, in our own circumstances,
we all need to pray like this.
And right now, especially in these times,
the whole Church needs to pray like this - and not only to pray -
but to ask itself, as we ask ourselves,
In our thoughts, our words and our deeds:
who do we say Jesus is?

At this altar, the Lord’s table, Jesus shows us who he is
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist;
he shows us who he was for us on the Cross:
our friend, our strength, our most precious gift,
our merciful peace.

Jesus, this is what we believe.
Jesus, this is who we say you are in our lives.
Jesus, keep us faithful to the words we speak in faith.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 9/16

This thought's a Sabbath pearl, Lord,
and reads as well from bottom up
as from the top on down:
Learning to be astonished,
mostly standing still:
that's my work, what matters -
of this, Lord, keep me mindful...
This Sabbath, then, astonish me,
help me stand still just long enough
to be surprised, to be amazed
that standing still's my work
and is what truly matters:
of this, Lord, keep me mindful...


- The lines in the graphic above are taken from Messenger by Mary Oliver.  


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 9/15

In the quiet hours of night, bless the Lord!  (Psalm 134)

When you just can't get to sleep, bless the Lord...

When you sleep through your alarm, bless the Lord...

When you cut yourself while shaving, bless the Lord...

When there's no time for your breakfast, bless the Lord...

When the traffic's stop-and-go, bless the Lord...

When your day begins with bad news, bless the Lord...

When you double-book appointments, bless the Lord...

When your colleagues let you down, bless the Lord...

When you're way behind and in the weeds, bless the Lord...

When the phone just won't stop ringing, bless the Lord...

When backlog's crowding this day's work, bless the Lord...

When the day drags on and on and on, bless the Lord...

When there's just too much to do, bless the Lord...

When you can't make any headway, bless the Lord...

When that damn device won't function, bless the Lord...

When you miss another deadline, bless the Lord...

When your boss wants more and more, bless the Lord...

When the day just really stinks, bless the Lord...

When it's Tuesday - not yet Friday, bless the Lord...

When it's quitting time and you're not done, bless the Lord...

When the rush hour traffic's in no rush, bless the Lord...

When you take work home and still don't finish, bless the Lord...

When you wonder if it's worth all this, bless the Lord...

When you're not sure what God wants of you, bless the Lord...

When you toss and turn and just can't sleep, bless the Lord...

In the silent hours of night, bless the Lord...



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 9/14

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   Refresh me when I'm tired, Lord,
   rouse me when I'm drowsy,
   shower me with mercy,
   replenish my zest for living,
   restart my energy's engine,
   sharpen my fading focus,
   rekindle my sense of purpose,
   revive my imagination,
   rejuvenate my soul,
   lift up my drooping spirit,
   bring back my sense of humor,
   quicken my get-up-and-go,
   restore my drive to do what's right,
   renew my faith and trust in you...

    Grant me peace with yesterday,
      joy in the day at hand,
         and hope aplenty for tomorrow...

   That's what I need and all I ask:
      be generous, Lord, I pray,
         I need your help today...



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Sitting on my porch at 2:45 a.m.

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At 2:30 this morning the rain was so intense that I went to my porch
to enjoy it and to pray...

Let your healing soak me, Lord,
as a hard, steady rain:
your mercy, a heavy downpour,
your reign, a summer shower...

Soak me, drench me
- all but drown me!

Leave me dripping,
wet with moist anointings
of your freely given grace:
my toes and every inch of me
refreshed and cleansed
in showers strong and bracing...

Lift my face in joy, Lord,
refresh me with your rain:
let me drink it in
and drink it down, deep,
until my thirst for you is quenched...

Rain, rain,
reign of my Lord,
rain down on me
and never, never go away...



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 9/13

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Speak to me, Lord...

Speak a word of blessing,
a word of gentle kindness,
a word of cleansing mercy...

Speak a word that helps me, Lord,
a word to heal what hurts,
a word to make me whole...

Speak a word to wake me up,
a word to make me strong and whole,
a word to shape my words and deeds...

Speak a word of pardon, Lord,
a word of your forgiveness,
a word of reconciling peace...

Speak a word of of wisdom,
speak a word of counsel,
a word to make things crystal clear...

Speak a word of challenge, Lord,
and speak a word of comfort,
a word of consolation...

Speak a word to help me love,
a word that draws me close to you
and to my family and my neighbor...

Speak your word in all my thoughts,
embed your word deep in my soul,
a word to change the way I live...

Speak a word to lift me up,
speak a word to give me hope,
a word to help me try again...

Speak any word I need to hear,
a word for me to live by, Lord,
a word of grace from you...


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