Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 3/3

Source unknown

(I wrote this prayer some 15 years ago and it has known many iterations, this the lastest.)

Sometimes, Lord,
I feel like I'm in prison,
so I pray:
Give me freedom in my heart
when I'm locked up,
locked in,
locked down...

Give me freedom in my heart
when I'm imprisoned by my past...

Give me freedom in my heart
to break the shackles of old habits...

Give me freedom in my heart
when I'm walled in by lonely days...

Give me freedom in my heart
when I'm confined by sleepless nights...

Give me freedom in my heart,
when all my hope is held a hostage...

Give me freedom in my heart
when doubt incarcerates my trust…

Give me freedom in my heart
and rend the chains of my resentments...

Give me freedom in my heart
to slip the handcuffs of my shame...

Give me freedom in my heart
and unbind what holds me fast...

Give me freedom in my heart
to know your saving peace and pardon…

Give me freedom in my heart
to welcome in your word of mercy...

Give me freedom in my heart
to find my innocence restored…

Give me freedom in my heart
to be the person you created...

Give me freedom in my heart, Lord,
let your grace my freedom be…


Open Door to a New World by Michael Bednarek


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Monday Morning Offering: 3/2

Coffee in the Morning

Each Monday morning in Lent you'll find here, for the coming week, a prayer for the Morning and the Evening and reminders for fasting and caring for the poor.  You might use this prayer to plan you week or return to it every day...

Dear God,
Sometimes I forget that the people along my path
are as fragile as I can sometimes be.

If I look to my past 

I remember those who have been hurt or saddened
by my haste, my selfishness, my carelessness.

More often than not, I hadn’t intended any harm
but my neglect and self-interest

have bruised and burdened others.

If there are ways for me to make amends here, Lord, 

show me how and give me the courage to do what I need to do…

If the time or circumstances for making peace have passed by,
hear my prayer for those whom I have hurt…

Open my eyes and ears, my mind and heart to those around me now
and make me more aware of their presence
and how my life touches theirs.

Nudge me to take the first step towards making peace
in my family, my neighborhood, at work and at school.

Give me a sensitive and forgiving heart - today.
Help me remember how much and how often,
how fully and how freely you forgive me.

And I have a special favor to ask of you, Lord, here it is…

And allow me to remind you 

of some folks I know who need your help,
and whose names I lift up to you now…

Lord, in your love and mercy, hear my prayer.

Our Father…

As you have been with me all this day, Lord, 

be with me this night and be the light that shines 
through the darkness of my worry and fear.

Guard your children everywhere, Lord,
and send your holy angels to protect us.

Be with those who serve and protect us at home and abroad.

Shelter the poor, the innocent
and those who have been abused in any way.

Give me good sleep, Lord, in the strong arms of your mercy.
Grant me good rest that I might serve you well when I awake.

Hail Mary…

•This week, 
the particular food or beverage I'll go without is...
•This week, 
the particular activity or pleasure I'll give up is...
•This week, 
the old, bad habit I’ll try to let go of is...

•This week 
I’m donating groceries to the local food pantry ___
•This week 
I’m shopping for the Parish Easter Giving Tree ___
•This week, 
I’m contributing to my Lenten offering box 
or my favorite charity ___
•This week, I'll reach out to those in need by ___


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A Lenten Blessing

The sung blessing and dismissal from Sunday Mass
at Holy Family Parish in Concord, MA.


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Homily for March 1

The 21 Egyptian Christians just before they were beheaded

Homily for the Second Sunday of Lent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for Homily

What do you make of that story about Abraham, Isaac and God?
Which is more difficult for us to understand:
that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice his son?
or that Abraham would accede to God’s request?

Neither is something we can easily comprehend, let alone accept.
We can’t imagine a loving God asking such sacrifice of a father
and we can’t imagine a loving father saying yes to such a request.

But let’s be careful to make no judgment on God or Abraham.
We can be confident that the Lord is a loving God
 (in the happy ending, Isaac is spared)
and we can be equally confident that Abraham was a loving father
whose heart was breaking as he prepared to do
what God had asked of him.

Our problem with the story may come
if we can’t imagine a love for God
greater than our love of anything else,
if we can’t imagine a love for God
greater than our love for any-one else.

Let’s fast-forward some 3,000 years to February 15, 2015.
On that day, two weeks ago, in Libya,
21 Egyptian men were gruesomely slain –
for being Christian and for refusing to renounce their faith.

In photos, these men appear to be young , in their 20’s and 30’s.
Their last words were, “Ya Rabbi Yasou!”  -  “Jesus, my Lord!”

Just as knowing young Isaac’s name in today’s scripture
makes it more personal for us,
I believe that knowing the names of these 21 men might do the same.
They were sons, brothers, husbands, fathers and friends to others.
And they were:
and one identified only as “a worker from Awr village.”

I think of this last one as we think of the soldier buried
in the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery.
The “worker from Awr village”
stands for all the unnamed who were martyred before him
and all the unnamed who will be martyred after him
because, for sure, the bloodshed is not yet over.

Reporters interviewed Beshir Kamel, brother of two of the 21 martyrs.
Beshir said how grateful he was that the video of the gory execution
had not edited out the men’s calling on the name of Jesus,
just before they died:
 “Ya Rabbi Yasou!”  -  “Jesus, my Lord!”
He was grateful, he said,
because hearing that cry strengthened his faith.

He said his mother, who lost two sons,
had been asked what she would do
if she encountered one of these murderous militants on the street.
She said,
“I would ask him into my home and ask God to open his eyes
to see that he was the reason my sons are in heaven.”

Here is faith that may be as difficult for us to understand
as it is for us to understand Abraham’s faith in God.

And let us be careful to make no judgment on Beshir and his mother.
We can be absolutely confident that they deeply grieve
the loss of two beloved sons, brothers.

You and I cannot even begin to imagine
what such a loss might mean,
how it might feel, what it might do to us.

But neither, perhaps, can you and I begin to imagine
their faith and their love for God,
so deep and consuming that it comes before all else
and embraces their deepest loss and suffering,
enlarging the human heart and reaching depths in their souls
you and I have yet come to know or even begun to search for.

Lent is a time for us to stop and consider our faith,
and our love for God.
It’s a time to weigh how our love for God
balances in the scales with our love for so many things,
even with our love for those closest to us.

Lent is a time to look at Abraham, Isaac
and the 21 martyrs in Libya
and to remember that their faith and love of God above all else
is the very faith and love to which each of us is called.    
When asked what is the greatest commandment,
what did Jesus answer?
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.  (Mt 22:37)

Simple things like fasting, and abstaining from meat on Fridays,
and “giving up” whatever we’re giving up this Lent
(things we sometimes groan about as if we were martyrs…)
these practices are designed, in very small ways,
to help us begin to measure, help us “take the temperature”
of our faith in God, our love for God.

Such Lenten exercises can help us remember
that the comforts and pleasures of this life
(even the most loving relationships we have in this life)
will one day come to an end.
And then, we will stand alone, before God, with nothing in hand
save the contents of our hearts,
and we will hope to be welcomed into the company of God’s beloved,
into the company of those 21 men who prayed with their last breath:
 “Ya Rabbi Yasou!”  -  “Jesus, my Lord!”

Lent is a time to ponder,
 “What’s the most difficult thing God is asking of me?
And how, in my faith and my love for God,
am I responding to what God’s asking?”

Of course, and as always,
there’s another Father and another beloved Son
for us to remember here.
The story of Abraham and Isaac
prefigures the story of Jesus and his Father.

As Abraham did not withhold his beloved son, Isaac, from God,
neither did God withhold his beloved son, Jesus, from us.
But - no messenger swooped down on the Cross to rescue Christ.
Jesus suffered and offered his life for us - withholding nothing –
that we might have life and have it to the full.

The sacrifice of martyrs strengthens our faith and our love of God.
As Abraham built an altar on which to sacrifice his son,
so we gather at this altar to share in the sacrifice of Jesus
who nourishes us now in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.
May Lent, this Lent 2015 be a time for us to ponder
who is God and where is God and how is God in our lives.
May it be a season to grow in faith and in our love for the Lord
whose love for us knows no bounds.

An icon of the 21 Coptic Martyrs by Tony Rezk


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 3/1

whether this is a day I've been dreading
or a day I've awaited with hope
or just the next day in the week,
may it be a day filled with blessings,
a day I look back on in peace...



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 2/28

Image source

In these wintry, Lenten days, O Lord:
I pray for quiet time,
far from the clatter and the clamor...

I pray for wisdom's counsel
to untangle my confusion...

I pray for consolation
to becalm my troubled spirits...

I pray for time to finish
all the things I need to do...

I pray my heart to open wide
to serve the poor in need...

I pray for peaceful dreams
to help me make it through the night...

I pray my thoughts be docile,
always waiting for your word...

I pray for grace to figure out
what's right from what is wrong...

I pray for friends who love me
when I've no love for myself...

I pray for you to hold my heart
in warm and gentle hands...

I pray for trust and hope
when I fear what lies ahead...

I pray for love to spare,
to share with those who are alone...

I pray to act with mercy
though I've not been treated justly...

I pray for strength to do
what I find hardest to accomplish...

I pray to pardon freely
those whose deeds have wounded me...

I pray to know your love for me
when mine for you is wanting...

I pray you hear my every prayer,
the spoken and the silent...

In these wintry, Lenten days, O Lord,
I pray and pray and pray...

In these wintry, Lenten days, O Lord,
I trust you hear my prayer...


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It's Friday - in Lent!

(Please see my earlier post for a fuller treatment of this subject.)

Just a (not too subtle) reminder that on the Fridays of Lent all Catholics over 14 years old should abstain from eating meat.  The US bishops remind us:
The three traditional pillars of Lenten observance are prayer, fasting and almsgiving (outreach to the poor). The Church asks us to surrender ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily Lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is some effort to share this world equally—not only through the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents.

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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 2/27

Snow and Late Afternoon Light by Vivien Blackburn

Where I live, Lord,
there's more than enough snow
and it seems that's all we talk about these days,
so much so I've missed the gift and grace
of the incremental lengthening of days:
first by seconds, then by minutes,
since last December 21...

What a shame that I would miss
just what I long for
because it comes so slowly,
not fast enough for me,
but at just the pace you set, Lord,
as in all things,
with measured mercy and precision...

I wonder, then, how many other things are changing
around me and within me?

How many gifts and graces pass me by
because I hurry, have no patience,
make no time to stop and see the artistry
of all you're doing in my world
and in my life?

It's Lent, Lord,
and the season's very name means
"the lengthening of days..."

Slow me down, Lord:
make me mindful and aware
and help me see all that you're doing,
first by seconds, then by minutes,
in my body, mind and soul
as I wait for spring and longer days
illumined by your light...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 2/26

St. Paul was right, Lord,
when he wondered,
"Why do I so easily
the things that I don't want to do
and yet so often fail to do
the very things I want?"

I'm thinking of the good things, Lord,
resting in my heart and mind:
prayer I mean to offer,
help I want to give,
faults I should confess,
habits I must change...
It's my "To Do" list, Lord:
work I've left undone,
loose ends left untied,
promises not kept,
peace that's mine to make...
And yet, instead of these, Lord,
I do the things that bring me only grief,
not the happiness I thought I'd find
by going my own way...

In this Lent then, Lord, I pray for grace:
to come to prayer,
to lend a helping hand,
to name my faults and failings
and to change what I must change...
Help me leave behind
the things that drain my spirit, Lord,
and give me strength to do the things
that fill me with your peace...



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