Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 10/18

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no one knows better than you
all my faults and my flaws,
my weak spots and sins...

And no one knows better than you
how often I fail, day after day,
in just the same ways...

No one knows better than you, Lord,
how often I promise
to turn things around and make a new start...

And no one knows better than you
how foolish I am to think or to hope
I can change on my own...

No one knows better than you, Lord,
my need for your help
to find a new path and walk by your side…

And no one knows better than you,
how often you offer the grace I need
for a real change of heart...

No one knows better than you
who I am, how I fail,
and just what I need to grow in your love…

And no one knows better than you
how today I might sin
and stand in need of your mercy again…

So open me, Lord, I pray today,
with the gift of your pardon and peace
- and give me a change of heart...



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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 10/16

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It's hard to believe, Lord,
that I'm writing tomorrow morning's Pause for Prayer,
sitting out on my porch in my sweats,
no jacket or coat, no flannel shirt,
enjoying a relatively balmy Monday evening,
half way through October...

On a number of recent days and on many nights I've thought,
"Well that's it for porch sitting, the weather has turned..."

But then comes an atmospheric rearrangement
and  everything, if only for a spell, turns back
and I'm given a reprieve, a break, a gift,
a blessing of mildness,
rekindling memories in my soul
what I find so hard to just let go...

Tonight it's warm enough for porch time:
the streets shimmer a silver sheen
left by a shower, just an hour ago;
and your Spirit sings in branches above,
a million autumn leaves brushing in time
before rushing to fall...

This reprieve reminds me of you, Lord:
your love knows no season's bounds;
your heart's fire never fails to warm us
in season and out;
there is no end and indeed, no beginning
to your love for us - it is eternal...

Fall may put summer's haze to rest
and winter drain the autumn palette
of its vibrant hues and subtle tones
but there is no season's change in you...

In you, Lord, there's but one season,
the season of grace:
when the mercy is forever,
and peace is everlasting;
when the light has conquered darkness
so the clocks are never changed;
when the leaves never fall
and the frost never bites,
when the sun never burns,
the winds do no harm,
the rain never floods,
the clouds never darken,
the lightning never strikes
and where the life and joy of springtime
spring eternal from your heart
to fill our own...

So this night, this reprieve puts me in mind of you, Lord,
for your love has no cycles
never changes, never ends,
it springs eternal in one season,
the season of your grace...



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Monday Morning Offering: 10/15

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

I’ve been wondering, Lord:
what do you do with it all?

What do you do with all the stuff I offer you
on Monday mornings?

And not just my stuff:
other folks make morning offerings, too,
and sometimes seven days a week...

Lord, what do you do
with everything we offer you?

Like steam from millions of cups
of coffee and tea and hot chocolate,
our prayers rise up to you:
a morning offering of incense
ground from our beings,
steeped in our sorrow,
sweetened by our joy…

What do you do
with everything we offer you?

I know you hear our prayers
(every single one of them!)
and I believe you cherish our “asking” prayers
just as much as our “praising” prayers…

I believe you’re pleased just to hear from us -
no matter what we say, pray, ask or plead…

And I believe you listen, carefully,
even when we don’t know what to say:
our silence, too, rises like a sweet fragrance -
whether the cups of our hearts be empty or full…

Lord, what do you do
with everything we offer you?

We offer you prayers, petitions and praise…

We offer dreams and schemes
for you to bless with success…

We offer you our hopes and try to cope
when you take so long, too long it seems,
to answer when we call...

We offer you our work
or pray to find some work to do…

We offer you our weaknesses
and beg for your strength…

We offer you our hearts for healing,
our hurts for soothing,
our bodies for mending,
our problems for fixing
and our relationships for repair…

What do you do, Lord,
with everything we offer you?

You store it up
  -- of course, you do!

You keep all we offer
in the infinite depths of your heart
where beats the heart
of every one ever born:
all of us here now,
the hearts of all who have passed
and those whose hearts
have yet begun to beat…

In your heart our every prayer is heard,
treasured and measured for eternal keeping,
like ribbon-tied love letters,
or valentines from children…

Lord, what do you do
with everything we offer you?

You remember everything we offer you,
even the many prayers we've forgotten,
prayers that once seemed so urgent…

Every one of our prayers,
without a single exception, Lord,
echoes in your heart

So I come once again, Lord,
and offer you my Monday and the week ahead…

I offer you my troubles
and pray for your peace…

I offer you my fears
and pray for your strength…

I offer you my silence
and trust you hear the words I cannot say…

I offer you my words and deeds this day, Lord,
and pray they help and bless
all those whose paths cross mine…

I offer you all my needs and wants,
fully aware, Lord, that already
I have so much more than I need…

Like the steam from my coffee cup, Lord,
let my morning offering rise to you
and live forever and ever
in the depths of your loving, sacred heart...



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Homily for October 14

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


I love Solomon’s prayer in today’s first scripture:
I  prayed and prudence was given me;
I pleaded and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
A way of getting at this verse from scripture might be
to come in through the back door.
Let’s you and I ask ourselves a few questions
- a few rhetorical questions -
so don’t raise your hand or shout out any answers - OK?

• First question.  Might help to close your eyes.
 “What’s the most imprudent thing I’ve ever done in my life?”
Good!  No hands up and no one shouting out an answer!
• A second question.
“What’s the most foolish thing I’ve ever done in my life?”         

Well, God knows I’ve done a lot of imprudent things in my life.
And God knows I’ve done a lot of foolish things in my life.
I’ve said some things that were imprudently foolish.
And I’ve done some things that were foolishly imprudent.
And I’ve said and done things
that were imprudently and foolishly sinful.
While it’s true that most of us
don’t lead generally foolish, imprudent lives,
it’s also true that most of us, from time to time,
say and do truly imprudent and foolish things.
In fact, one of the most foolish and imprudent things of all
would be to claim that I’m never really foolish or imprudent.

• So, how about a third question? 
What’s the most sinfully imprudent, foolish thing
I’ve ever said or done in my life?
Sinful?  Sinful.  What is sin?
Sin is nothing more and nothing less than damned foolishness.
Solomon knew this and that’s why he prayed for prudence and wisdom.
Prudence is born of wisdom:
she is good judgment, common sense,                   
mindful vigilance and foresight…
Prudence takes care, thinks ahead, reasons deliberately,
heeds the truth, exercises discretion…
Prudence tends to be wary - not impulsive,
open minded - not prejudiced,
determined - not hesitant…
Prudence leads to goodness, integrity, peace,
humility, surety and holiness…
Prudence always leads us back to the wisdom from which she is born.

On the other hand, foolishness breeds
carelessness, pride, waste, hurt, division and confusion -
and seduces us, leads us ever nearer to, and deeper into, sin.

I doubt that anyone here wouldn’t like to be at least
a little more prudent and wise,  and a little less foolish and sinful.
I know that’s what I want.
But left to our own devices, it seems we have a tendency
to choose the foolish path too often
and the path of wisdom not often enough.
Sadly, we might find ourselves lacking in models
for wiser, more prudent living.

• The entertainment world isn’t overflowing with good example
and the many screens that hold our attention
are often wanting in the wisdom department.

• Our political world is no store house of prudence
and often seems damned foolish.

• And we know too keenly that even the Church has failed
in faithfully modeling for us the wisdom that comes only from God,
and the prudence who holds in her arms the promise
of satisfying our hearts’ deepest and best desires.

So, what are we to do?  Where are we to go?
How are we to find this wisdom born of prudence?
How are we to leave our foolishness and our foolish sins behind
and grow in wisdom?

First, we need to grapple with the three questions I posed:
How have I been (how am I being even now) imprudent in my life?
What foolish choices have I made (am  I making even now) in my life?    
And how has my imprudence led me (how is it leading me today)
to the foolishness of sin?

Each of us needs to wrestle with our own imprudence
and with the foolishness of words and deeds that transgress
the law, the word and the love of God.
And, again, each of us needs to realize
that the greatest imprudence of all
is the belief that I’m not at all foolish   - that I have no sin.

If we grapple and wrestle with these hard truths,
then we’re ready to pray with Solomon:
I  pray for prudence, Lord, give it to me;
I plead for wisdom, let it come to me.
One thing we can be sure of is that prudence and wisdom
are gifts that God is always wanting and waiting to give us.
But God’s generosity here is not enough, not the whole story.
While God is always ready to offer these gifts,
if we’re to receive them we need to yearn and learn to
 prefer prudence and wisdom to scepter and crown
and to
 “count wisdom and prudence more valuable than gold or silver,
to choose them over health and beauty.”

What do we choose, you and I?
What will we choose when God offers us prudence and wisdom?

Does anyone among us not want to grow in prudence and wisdom?
And what are we willing to give away to possess them?

Perhaps my three questions today might have stirred up in you
some unpleasant, some imprudent, some foolish,
even some sinful memories from the past
-or realizations about the present.
I know that writing this homily did that for me.
We imprudent, foolish, sinful folks need, then, to look and to go
to the source of all wisdom, the Spirit of God,
and to pray that prudence be given us and wisdom come to us.

The mystery of wisdom is found in Jesus.
St. Paul tells us that the message of the Cross is the wisdom of God.
Look at the Cross hovering over our prayer. Look at Jesus.
On the Cross we see the mystery of God’s wisdom, not ours.
On the Cross, Jesus carried on his innocent shoulders,
in his vulnerable body, in his pure heart
he carried all the sin, all the damned foolishness, of humankind,
including yours and mine.
In his suffering:
we are forgiven, redeemed and restored to peace with God.
Whatever my three questions stirred in our souls,
whatever imprudence, foolishness or sin,
no matter how great or how small,
the mystery of God’s wisdom waits for us on the Cross,
ready to pardon, forgive and redeem us.

In the shadow of Jesus’ Cross we are gathered at his Table.
Scripture tells us:
Wisdom has built herself a house and has set her table.
She calls from the heights of the city:
Let all who are foolish come to my house!
To those who have no sense she says,
 “Come, eat my food and drink my wine.
Leave behind your foolish ways and you will live;
come walk in the way of insight.”

Let’s go, then, to the Lord’s Table - and feast!
Feast on the prudence and wisdom he gives us,
in the mystery of the food of the Eucharist
in his Body and Blood,
given once for us, first for us in the mystery of the Cross
and shared with us now at this Wisdom table.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 10/14

Photo by CP

One still fresh hydrangea bloom,
crowning a bush otherwise browned
and bruised by autumn's early chill...

With a train of green
mocking fading maples all around,
this one blossom stands against October:
protesting what must surely come
while promising
what will surely come again...

I praise God
from whom all blessings
come and go and flow...



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 10/13

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We all ask others to pray for us
and promise in return to remember
those who ask us to pray for them...

I'll be praying today for folks who've asked me
to lift up their names to the Lord
- and I'm sure you'll be doing the same...

I'll be praying for many people, for many reasons,
and I take comfort in knowing
that the Lord knows our every need
even before we speak...

Like you, I'll pray for family and friends
and for neighbors and parishioners
who've asked for prayers...

And like you, I'll pray for people I've never met,
for whom others have asked me to pray...

For some we'll pray
for help, for hope and for healing...

For others we'll intercede
for patience, forgiveness and reconciliation...

For many we'll plead
for guidance, counsel and understanding...

For still others we'll pray
   for relief, comfort and consolation...

Andd for all we'll ask
   for serenity, harmony and peace...

We'll pray for all whose lives have been upended
by natural and man-made disasters:
for those whose lives have been devastated
by hurricanes and earthquakes and fires;
and for those who were the victims
of a sniper's deadly aim...

We'll pray for the healing of the sick,
for the consolation of the dying
and for those who care for them, day by day...

We'll pray for those who need work
and we'll pray for those who need rest...

We'll pray for those who are burdened
with anxiety, worry and fear...

We'll pray for those in prison,
for freedom in their minds and hearts...

We'll pray for children waiting to be born
and for the mothers who carry them;
we'll pray for children waiting adoption
and for the families who'll receive them...

We'll pray for an end to violence
in peoples' homes, in their streets
and between nations...

We'll pray for the people
whose lives, homes and churches
are threatened by death and destruction...

We'll pray for the healing of the abused and betrayed,
and for the recovery of the addicted...

We'll pray for the Church and for her leadership,
for her people and their mission...

We'll pray for the victory of justice
and we'll pray for a harvest of peace...

We'll pray for counsel and wisdom
in the work and decisions of those who govern us...

We'll pray for reconciliation and unity
in our deeply divided nation...

We'll pray for all who serve and protect us:
for those in harm's way
at home and 'round the world...

We'll pray, as Jesus taught us,
for our enemies
and for those who persecute us...

We'll pray for the many needs
of so very many people
with confidence that God does hear
our every prayer...

And we'll pray with grateful hearts for those today
who'll find peace and healing,
mercy and pardon,
contentment and serenity,
happiness and joy...

For whom, for what will you be praying today?

I promise to keep you in my prayers,
and everyone and every good thing you pray for today...

And in return, I simpl ask
that you remember me
when you speak to the Lord
and all those for whom I'll pray today...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 10/12

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Last spring I left my treadmill behind
to take my daily walks in Concord's great outdoors -
but you know that, Lord:
you walked with me every day...

But yesterday, for the first time,
I went walking after dark:
same town, same streets -
a very different experience...

The streets, quiet as a church,
were filled with the sounds of night:
a chorus of fall field crickets chanting Compline,
the hushed brush of leaves on a soft breeze,
the sound of my own steps on the sidewalk...

Like the candles in my chapel at night,
the streetlights, stationary acolytes, gave just enough light
for me to know where I was -
with you, Lord, in your presence,
walking by your side...

After a rainy day, the streets still wet,
sidewalks dotted with the first fallen leaves,
there was a moistness in the air last night,
your Spirit's anointing, reminding me
that night or day, you're with me, Lord,
day and night you're at my side,
before me, behind me, above me,
within me...

In so sacred a streeted sanctuary
I even made peace with autumn,
finally yielding to a season's power
to broker grace and blessing
in my letting goand welcoming whatever comes
for in all that comes, comes you, Lord,
in all that comes, comes you...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 10/11

Photo by CP

I pass this corner 5-10 times a day, Lord,
but it was only this afternoon that I noticed
that (likely in the middle of the night)
you've been reaching down from heaven,
brush in hand, slowly painting
leaf by leaf and branch by branch
the trees that line my neighborhood's streets...

Some trees you've not yet touched, Lord,
nor do I know how or why you choose
one tree before another
-- or if the early ones rejoice in being first
or the later ones take pride
in extending summer's greenery...

You're the Divine Artist, Lord,
dipping your brush in the paints you use
to color every rainbow,
to tone a dark, foreboding sky,
to wash the ocean in a thousand blues,
to broad-brush the Grand Canyon's
coppery sunsets and sunrise gold...

But I hadn't noticed until today, Lord,
how busy you've been on my own street corner,
for the time being, your seasonal studio...

And this gives me pause and causes me to wonder:
when and how, in my deep sleep,
are you coloring my life with your grace;
anointing me in oils, limb by limb;
filling my emptiness
with the deep rich hues of your blessing;
contrasting and blending every shade
until, at last, in some small ways,
I more perfectly reflect the beauty
of who you are within me...

Give me good rest and deep sleep, Lord,
that you might color the canvas of my life
undisturbed by all my twists and turns...

And in the morning when I rise
open my eyes to the work you've done
and the artistry you share
in painting the life you've drawn for me...



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