Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 8/20

Even when I'm not looking to talk to the Lord,
    even if I'm avoiding prayer,
        the Lord's always trying to get in touch with me...

No matter how long it takes me to answer,
    the Lord is patient, ready to talk 
        and wants to know how I'm doing... 

Is it time to text back?


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Monday, August 18, 2014

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 8/19

Lord, of all the things I have to do today...

    which is most important?

    will best help serve my neighbor?

    best mirror your strong love?

    best help me be the person
       you created me to be?

And of all the same things, Lord...

    which is least important?

    least mindful of my neighbor?

    least faithful to your law of love?

    least apt to make of me
       the person I would choose to be?
Give me wisdom, Lord,
    and grace to choose wisely
       among all the things I have to do today...


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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Monday Morning Offering: AUGUST 18

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

This morning, Lord,
I offer you a prayer that groans within my gut,
searching for its voice, longing for some words
to help it come to speech...

I offer you a prayer that haunts my heart,
seeking respite in that harbor
where hope drops anchor, finds a berth
and puts in for the night...

I offer you the prayer on the tip of my tongue
for which I find no words worthy,
none equal to the task
of speaking all my heart would say...

I offer you the prayer I think is foolish,
the plea that I deem selfish,
the prayer I think too small to matter
or too great to dare to offer...

I offer you my hidden prayer,
the one I failed to speak
when in my anger I kept silent
even though I had the words...

I offer you the secret prayer
embedded long ago, waiting still
to break the lonely silence
that doubt and fear impose...

I offer you the prayer that sleeps within,
waiting to be wakened, spoken, cried
and shouted from my heart
in hope of reaching yours...

Help me trust when all I have to say
is "Lord, I have no words to pray..."
that such is still a prayer you understand,
a prayer you welcome from my soul...

Help me, Lord, to know
that trusting that you've heard my prayer
is greater than your answering
as I would have you answer...

Teach my heart to speak to yours
and help my heart to hear,
to know and understand
what your heart speaks to mine...

Lord, teach me how to pray
when I have all the words for prayer
and teach me how to pray
when I have none...


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Homily for August 17

Homily for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

How often have you heard someone say,
   Well, it doesn’t really matter what god you believe in
      or how you name your god.
   It doesn’t really matter what you believe in
      as long as you believe in something, some god, some power.

Well, all three scriptures today do highlight the universality of God
and God’s love and grace.

• Isaiah reminds us that the Lord’s house will be a house of prayer
   - for all peoples.

• St. Paul is clear that although his own people, the Jews,
   have yet to accept the gospel
God’s covenant with them, his chosen people, is irrevocable.

• And here is Jesus,
reaching beyond his own mission to the house of Israel,
reaching out to a pagan woman whose interest is inspired
perhaps not so much by any faith
as much as personal desperation.

As ancient as these stories may be, they speak to us today.
In our own times, the universality of God’s love and grace
is easily accepted by many and in some cultures, by most.

So, does it not matter who or what you believe in
as long as believe in someone or something?
Is that so?

We need to try to look at this question from two vantage points
and the first will be more difficult for us than the second.

First, we need to try to see this from God’s point of view.
God is the creator of every human being
and knows every human soul and life  - intimately.
God loves every one of us long before we’re conceived,
before we’re born
and loves us regardless of what our beliefs are
– or what they are  not.
God’s love for us is greater than our belief in God
and God’s love isn’t given on account of our believing,
nor is it withdrawn for our lack of belief.

God. Is. Love.

But God’s love for each of us is a gift
and it is given out of God’s desire
to engage each of us in a relationship of love.

God loves each of us and asks for our love in return
and asks us to love one another as we are loved by God.
The universal gift of God’s love is given to each of us, then,
with expectations, responsibilities and demands.
In fact, we Christians say that this love is the LAW
by which we are to live.

And with that statement,
I’ve crossed over to the other vantage point
from which we need to try to understand
the universality of God’s love and grace.

There are thousands of religions and faiths and beliefs in the world.
But I’m a Christian believer speaking to other Christian believers.

• I believe in God, the creator of the all things visible and invisible.

• I believe in Jesus, God’s Word made flesh, who lived among us
and who suffered died and rose from the dead
so that you and I might have life forever.

• And I believe in the Spirit of God, living and moving in my heart,
and in your heart, and in all the world around us.

• And I believe that in communion with Christ’s Body, the Church,
we come to discern the truth, to grow in God’s love
and to serve those in need.

And in just a few minutes you will be joining me
in professing those very same beliefs in the Nicene Creed.

So, I believe, we believe, that the universal love and grace of God
- took flesh - and was born among us 2,000 years ago
and that the image that hangs over our prayer every week:
is the sign of how and how much God loves us
and of how and how much we are called to love one another.

While we believe that God’s love is universal
and that no human being lives outside or beyond
God’s universal embrace, we also believe that
in a unique, historical, physical, personal, and unrepeatable way
God revealed himself to the world, in the mystery of Jesus
and invited us to a life of faith, ruled by the law of love.           

We believe that the eternal God loves us
and has spoken to us and has saved us in Christ,
and lives among us in the Spirit.

And that gift of faith,
the gift of knowing God through Jesus and the Spirit,
in the sacramental life of the Church,
that is a gift beyond compare, an unparalleled gift,
a gift we’re called to treasure and to share.

And in light of what we have been given,
what we have heard,
and what we have received:
we who follow Jesus can never say
   It doesn’t really matter what god you believe in
      or what you believe in,
   or how you name your god…

We can not say that.
So much more that that is our belief, 
the belief of our ancestors and of our Church. 

This is the belief
for which our brothers and sisters in Iraq are, this day,
being persecuted;
the belief that gathered us together today in this church;
the belief we’re about to profess in the Nicene Creed;
the belief that leads us to find at this Table
the Body and Blood of Jesus 
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.

This is the belief that is ours in Christ Jesus the Lord.

This is the mystery of our faith
and it does truly matter who we believe in,
what we believe
and how we name our God.


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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 8/17

Help me Lord, today,
   to do no wrong to you,
   to do no wrong to my neighbor,
   to do no wrong to my family,
   to do no wrong to my friends,
   to do no wrong to my colleagues, 
   to do no wrong to strangers,
   to do no wrong to myself... 
Help me Lord, today,
   to love you,
   to help my neighbor,
   to cherish my family,
   to treasure my friends,
   to appreciate my colleagues,
   to be kind to strangers,
   and to respect myself... 
Help me Lord, today,
   to love all those whose paths cross mine...


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Friday, August 15, 2014

Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 8/16

What will you ask of me today, Lord?
   - my time?
   - my attention?
   - my compassion for someone in need?
   - my forgiveness of someone who's hurt me?
   - my letting go a grudge or resentment?
   - a change of heart?
   - a word of truth?
   - some time in prayer?
   - something known only to you and me?

Here I am, Lord:
   help me know and understand what you ask of me
      and help me do it - today...

Here I Am Lord by St. Olaf Choir on Grooveshark

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin, my hand will save.
I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?
Here I am Lord, is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.
I, the Lord of snow and rain, I have born my people's pain.
I have wept for love of them, they turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone, give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them, whom shall I send?
Here I am Lord, is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.
I, the Lord of wind and flame, I will tend the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them, my hand will save.
Finest bread I will provide, 'til their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them, whom shall I send?
Here I am Lord, is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 8/15

Photo by Sandra Curran

(August 15 is the feast of the Assumption, a day on which some say there's a special blessing in the ocean's waters...)

How long did it take you, Lord,
to smooth these stones in the wash of waves,
in the turning tides?

How many years to polish to a sheen
the glistening lustrous beauty
of this seashore trove?

Take not so long with waves of grace
to smooth away rough edges on my heart
and burnish bright what's dull within my soul...

I welcome tides, both high and low,
to take me out to sea and back to shore
and there, at last, to find my rest in you...

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August 15: Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

Image source
In the Eastern rites, the feast of the Assumption is titled the "Dormition" or "falling asleep" of the Blessed Virgin Mary - thus the image above...

MAGNIFICAT by austin fleming on Grooveshark

On August 15 the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven.

The widget above offers 10 settings for the Magnificat, Mary's canticle of praise when she visited her kinswoman Elizabeth after learning from an angel that she would bear the Christ child into the world.  (Luke 1:46-55 which is the gospel reading for this feast day.)

You can find the scriptures for this celebration here. (Arriving at the site, click on "Vigil" for the readings for this evening's Mass (August 14) and "Mass during the day" for liturgies celebrated on the 15th.)

To help you pray with the musical selections, here's the text of the Magnificat in Latin and in English:
Magnificat anima mea Dominum
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
et exsultavit spiritus meus in Deo salvatore meo
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae.
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
Ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est
the Almighty has done great things for me,
et sanctum nomen eius.
and holy is his Name.
et misericordia eius in progenies et progenies timentibus eum.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo
He has shown the strength of his arm,
dispersit superbos mente cordis sui
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
deposuit potentes de sede
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
et exaltavit humiles.
and has lifted up the lowly.
esurientes implevit bonis
He has filled the hungry with good things,
et divites dimisit inanes.
and the rich he has sent away empty.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
recordatus misericordiae
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
sicut locutus est ad patres nostros
the promise he made to our fathers,
Abraham et semini eius in saecula.
to Abraham and his children for ever. 


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Bertha Huber and Assumption Day 2014

The Assumption of Bertha Huber by Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson

My annual nod to Bertha Huber!

For the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15.

I post this delightful painting not out of any irreverence or even playfulness but rather because the feast of the real Assumption is upon us and, as on all feasts of the Blessed Virgin, we need to discover how what happened in her life and love for God relates to our own. From the website of the painter, Marcia Sandmeyer Wilson:
"This 16x20 oil painting is called The Assumption of Bertha Huber. It is the third version I have done of this theme. Miss Huber was godmother to my three children. She died at age 87 in August, 1975 and I told the children I would paint what it 'really' looked like.
"Miss Huber was from Munich so I know she was expecting nice blond angels waiting for her in heaven...
"At the bottom of the painting is supposed to be me and the three children weeping for her at the nursing home where she had expired just moments before our arrival. It was a very good nursing home, by the way, named Calvary, in the Bronx."
Painting in the folk art style, Wilson has given us a folk art appreciation of the Assumption. The word comes from the Latin assumere which means to take to one's self. Assumption celebrates the Lord's taking to himself his beloved Mother, the Mother of us all, who, the Church has taught from early times, was assumed into heaven body and soul lest the body which bore the Christ into the world should undergo any corruption.

We pray that one day the Lord will
take us to himself at the time of our passing from this life to life forever with God: one day the hands reaching down in Wilson's painting will reach out for you and me. No, we will not be assumed body and soul: this mortal coil of ours will undergo the inevitable corruption of nature. Yet one day, we pray and hope, the Lord will waken each of us to glory and our souls will be reunited with our bodies in a glorified state, the beauty of which we cannot yet imagine. 

I remember being called, a few years ago, to visit and pray with a woman who was dying. Margaret was only a few weeks shy of her 103rd birthday! I saw her only hours before her death and yet she was as sharp as a tack, greeting me by name, thanking me for coming to see her, and joining wholeheartedly in the prayers I offered with her and for her.

But there were moments during my visit when Margaret seemed distracted from our conversation, straining to see something above her that I couldn't see. And several times she turned her head, as if to listen more closely to a voice I could not hear...   I don't know, but I would not be surprised if this beautiful woman was attending to the faces and the voices of angels, or perhaps of the Lord himself, as he prepared
to take her to himself...

The words of the former preface from the Mass for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary say well what we celebrate on this day:

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today the virgin Mother of God was taken up into heaven
to be the beginning and the pattern of the Church in its perfection,
and a sign of hope and comfort for your people on their pilgrim way.
You would not allow decay to touch her body,
for she had given birth to your Son, the Lord of all life,
in the glory of the incarnation.

In our joy we sing to your glory
with all the choirs of angels: 

Holy, holy, holy...  

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 8/14

(So many of us are waiting: waiting for someone; waiting for something; waiting to hear some news; waiting for pain to pass and peace to come...  Today's Pause for Prayer (written by Jan Richardson) is for those who wait, and for those who wait with them...)

Blessing for Waiting

Who wait

for the night

to end

bless them.

Who wait

for the night

to begin

bless them.

Who wait

in the hospital room
who wait

in the cell

who wait

in prayer

bless them.

Who wait

for news

who wait
for the phone call
who wait

for a word

who wait

for a job

a house
a child

bless them.

Who wait

for one who

will come home
who wait

for one who

will not come home

bless them.

Who wait with fear
who wait with joy

who wait with peace

who wait with rage
who wait for the end

who wait for the beginning

who wait alone

who wait together

bless them.

Who wait

without knowing

what they wait for

or why

bless them.

Who wait

when they

should not wait

who wait

when they should be

in motion

who wait

when they need

to rise

who wait

when they need

to set out

bless them.

Who wait

for the end

of waiting

who wait

for the fullness

of time

who wait

emptied and

open and

who wait

for you

o bless.

- Jan Richardson


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