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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category


Tobit 8:5-8: The Mystery of Prayer

Andrea Vaccaro: Tobias Meets the Archangel Raphael

Andrea Vaccaro: Tobias Meets the Archangel Raphael

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

If we ever doubt the power of prayer, we only need to turn to scripture for stories that spark the imagination and lead us to times in our own lives when prayer has linked us in a special way with God’s power to restore and save. If we look at prayer with the eye of superstition and make a prayer a thing that fills prescribed span of time in a designated place, then our goal is to obtain something or someone and bring them into our own plan. If, on the other hand, our prayer is an opening of our hearts and minds to the voice and love of God, then we will more fully understand the mystery of prayer.

In days of trial we lift our prayer to God . . . and wait for answers.

In days of doubt we hide from our fear . . . and ask God for solutions to life-altering problems.

In days of gratitude we bow down in thankfulness . . . and recognize God’s bold strength and tender care.

In days of celebration we leap with joy . . . and tell all the world how great and compassionate and wise is our God.

Today we spend time with a very special prayer. Let us see if can recognize its power in the story of Tobit, Tobias and Sarah. And let us see if we recognize this sane presence of a loving God in our own lives.

When we choose a character to follow as we read the full story of Tobit . . . we might be better able to find the healing grace of Raphael in our own lives.


Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrea_Vaccaro_-_Tobias_Meets_the_Archangel_Raphael_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg

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2 Corinthians 12:9-10: The Mystery of Powerplant in crack

Thursday, June 17, 2022

The Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”. I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

How many of us can say that we are content with the obstacles and restrictions that curb our will? How often have we been content to live out God’s plan rather than our own? And how open are we to the power and mystery of grace in our lives?

God says: I know that you want to please me and this desire fills me with joy. I delight in your willingness to follow and believe that I have your own joy in mind every moment of each day and night. So often you see my love as a restriction or punishment and this is not so. My love wants to liberate you from all fear and foreboding. My grace is a gift that fills you with the ability to trust me. It is a gift you cannot earn, a mystery you cannot understand; but this does not worry me . . . and it ought not worry you. My love is able to bring joy from grief, gladness from anxiety and goodness from harm. All I ask is your fidelity and love. All you need is my strength in your weakness. Think about this inversion today and see if you can come to a full understanding of this upside-down view of the world.

And so we pray:

When we look for signs of God’s grace in our weakness we become strong.

When we discover signs of God’s hope in our fears we become courageous.

When we find compassion in God’s plan we become merciful.

When we nurture seeds of humility in our pride we become loving.

When we discern opportunities for transformation in our suffering we become wise.

When we treasure your justice in the deepest of grievances in our pain we become your presence to the world.

Give us your strength in our weakness today and all days. Amen.


Image from: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2010/12/weakness-strength-and-the-end-of-self.html

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Sirach 17:20-24: The Penitent

Monday, June 6, 2022

To the penitent God provides a way back . . .

This is good news for us indeed. When we want to confront our enemies with outrage and violence, we will want to look at how God always provides a way back to unity and wholeness.

God encourages those who are losing hope . . .

This is certainly good news for us since we so easily and so frequently lose confidence. God always has hope in abundance for us and sends us a multitude of small and enormous signs. We must be open to the little miracles God sends us each day.

God chooses for them the lot of truth . . .

This is absolutely good news for us. Like a loving parent whose child has chosen dessert rather than a substantial meal, God is always steering us in the direction of nurturing relationships, nourishing habits and loving communities. Sometimes we are disappointed when we discover that the people, places and customs in our lives shows signs of weakness or even corruption. This is when we must remember that God’s love can achieve all impossibilities.

Jesus says: For humans it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God. (Mark 10:27)

Further on in this reading, Ben Sirach describes God as hating and loathing the unjust and ungodly. Use the scripture link to read other versions of these verses and contemplate the idea that what Ben Sirach describes as “hatred” is an intense and impassioned perseverance in calling one who has left the sheepfold. Let us contemplate the idea that God’s “loathing” is an intense and relentless persistence to love our enemies into goodness. When we view God’s word in this way, we discover that the yawning gaps and deep sorrows in our lives suddenly have new life in kingdom justice.

And so we pray to the loving Trinity that we will celebrate this coming Sunday . . .

God provides a way back . . . and so must we provide a bridge to those who have wounded us. Loving God, help us to allow you to convert all harm to good. 

God encourages the hopeless with outrageous hope . . . and so must we bring confidence to those in despair. Hopeful God, fill us with your Spirit of peace and serenity. 

God chooses for us the path of truth when we have strayed . . . and so must we bring Christ’s light to a world hungering for justice and compassion. Saving God, bring us Jesus’ understanding, courage and wisdom. 

We know that for us much of this impossible . . . but for you all things are possible. Shelter us in your truth, nourish us in your hope, and transform us in your loving care.

Amen.


Image from: https://www.passionforpaintings.com/gb/painters/matthias-stom/the-penitent-saint-peter 

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Matthew 6:25-34: Dependence on Godmy child I have this

Friday, May 6, 2022

This is the most basic lesson we have to learn as followers of Christ; and it is the lesson with which we struggle most frequently: Do not worry about your life . . . Are you not more important than [the birds in the sky]?  Yet we allow our fears about our survival to color what we do rather than allowing God to be the ultimate guide of our actions.

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span? We are powerless when it comes to time and space and yet we allow magical thinking to convince us that we can control the clock, that we can control our physical space.

If God so clothes the grass of the fields . . . will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? Yet we store up and hoard our resources without sharing, thinking that this will keep us safe from disaster.

All of these things [worry about food and clothes] the pagans seek . . . But seek first the kingdom [of God] . . . and all of these things will be given you besides. We delude ourselves when we give credit to ourselves for the home in which we live, the clothes we wear and the vehicle we drive.  We forget that if we did not have the brain power and sense of aesthetics given us by God, our redemption given us by Christ and the good counsel given us by the Spirit . . . our circumstances would certainly be different.  Too much stress keeps us from seeing that we are already given more than what we seek.

living in god's care - handsDo not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. We lend ourselves to prideful thinking when we take credit for all we have and do.  We must allow God to be our sole guide in all matters of the heart, mind and soul.

Sufficient for a day is its own evil. Allowing anxiety to take us over is a sign that we do not believe that God will care for us . . . and this self-sufficiency can separate us from God.

Just yesterday evening at a gathering of friends, as an acquaintance was voicing her fears for the present and future, another member of the group said: Well, now you have the opportunity to learn the most important lesson of all . . . trusting God. The first woman replied:  I thought I had already learned that one.  Several of us – those who have been guided by the suffering we have experienced – smiled and nodded.

matthew_6_25_34_by_hopedreamer17-d2yj65tAnd so we reflect . . . We want to avoid suffering at all cost – not realizing that it is the suffering that brings us best to God. 

And so we pray . . . These are hard sayings . . . these are the lessons of Christ’s disciples . . . these are the gifts of a life lived hard and well . . . a life lived in Christ.  Amen. 


Images from: https://melissafrancois.wordpress.com/tag/gospel-of-matthew/ and http://pixgood.com/matthew-6-25-34.html and http://hopedreamer17.deviantart.com/art/Matthew-6-25-34-178933745

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Psalm 103: Two Sons and Their Fatherprodigal-son-11

Monday, March 21, 2022

Psalm 103 is one we might pray when we jealousy begins to creep into our lives. Psalm 103 reminds us that we are not the generators or creators of the goodness that blesses us. In Luke 15:1-32 we read the story of the prodigal son or, as some call it, the parable of the forgiving father. Today we consider the envy that rises up in the forgotten son.

The jealousy experienced by the straying son draws him away from the father and toward a life of dissipation. The jealousy felt by the son who stays home, leads him away from understanding the infinite mercy and generosity of his father. It seems that no matter which course we take in life, we are susceptible to wanting that which is not meant to be ours.

When we feel jealousy and turn to thank God for what we have rather than becoming sad or finding a way to have what it is not ours, we enter the plan of conversion that God has in mind for us. We enter into God’s grace. We also enter into God’s conversion of harm to goodness.

Today as we thank God for what is ours and give back to God what is not ours, we pray the intercessions from last evening’s prayer.

Seeking the generosity of God our Father, we pray to him:  Deliver us from jealousy. 

When we see the good fortune of others, let us rejoice in their happiness. Deliver us from jealousy. 

When we see our own shortcomings, let us not despise those who excel in areas where we are lacking.  Deliver us from jealousy. 

When we feel jealous, let us be happy with the gifts God has given us and not covet that which is not rightfully ours.  Deliver us from jealousy. 

Amen.


For a Lenten activity, use a search engine to find image of the prodigal son story and reflect on these two siblings and their generous father. Let us imagine that we were present in this drama and then consider what role we would play. And when evening arrives, let us again read Psalm 103 and thank God for the blessings so generously bestowed on all of creation.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 14.4 (2009). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on March 14, 2009.

Image from: http://rationalfaiths.com/prodigal-son/

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Psalm 38: Afflictionrescue

Friday, March 18, 2022

These are beautiful words that we might pray when we feel overwhelmed . . . which for some of us is often.  It is a hymn of trust and hope to the God who knows all, who sees all. The St Joseph edition of the Psalter names this psalm, Prayer of a Sinner in Great Peril and the name is apt. When we pray this song, we can be honest and open with God. We can bring our most intense infliction to him . . . and be rewarded with a new sense of meaning, new hope in our petitions, and a new trust in God’s creation. In this Lenten season, we might enter into this prayer often as we make our pilgrimage to Easter and Restoration and as we do . . . we might keep in mind the difference between sometimes and always . . .

Lord, punish me no more . . .

Sometimes the craziness is too much to bear . . .

Your arrows have sunk deep in me . . .

Sometimes the rumors are too piercing to withstand . . .

My iniquities overwhelm me, a burden beyond my strength . . .

Sometimes I stray so far from my potential I cannot find my way back to you . . .

I am numb and utterly crushed . . .

Sometimes I do not know how I have gotten out of bed in the morning . . .

Friends and companions shun my pain . . .

Sometimes I have no place left to vent my anger or to express my fears . . .

Those who seek my life lay snares for me . . .

Sometimes I have no energy left to fight the good fight . . .

I am like the deaf, hearing nothing . . .

Sometimes I believe I am completely detached from my lifeline to you . . .

Lord, I wait for you . . .

Always I remember you, morning, noon and night . . .

Forsake me not, O Lord . . .

Always I will follow you, no matter how difficult the path . . .

My God, be not far from me . . .

Always I will turn to your presence, even when I cannot feel it . . .  

Come quickly to help me . . .

Always I will speak of the many times you have saved me before . . .

My Lord and my salvation . . .

Always I will recall that you who cares for even the tiniest sparrow, will not allow the waters to rise over me . . .

Lord, my deepest yearning is before you; my groaning is not hidden from you . . .

Always I will be honest with you . . .

Forsake me not, O Lord; I wait for you . . . Always.

Amen.


A Favorite first written on Monday, March 16, 2009.

Image from: http://imgkid.com/spiritual-restoration.shtml

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Psalm 51: Miserere

Fra Angelico: Deposition from the Cross (detail)

Fra Angelico: Deposition from the Cross (detail)

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The most famous of the lament psalms, often said during the Lenten season, is also called The Miserere and is frequently set to music.

This week in an exploration of James, our study group is focusing on Chapter 2 in which James brings home the message that words without action are dead, empty, and barren.  Words with action are life, fullness and fruit bearing. This is the sacrifice our God requires of us. God does not look for our burnt offerings of first and best fruits. Nor does God delight in our willfulness; rather, God rejoices at our acknowledgment of our broken-heartedness and waywardness. And God certainly rejoices in our homecoming, wishing nothing more than to be with us fully and totally. In this relationship therefore, we can set aside no room saved for our own littleness of for tiny pettiness. We are created for bigness, for greatness. This is perhaps why we are always seeking something more than what we have and more than what we are.

In today’s Gospel (John 3:14-21), Jesus describes to Nicodemus just how much God loves the world. Today we might make the best of this opportunity to turn to God to offer our lament or miserere. Psalm 51 is more than an internal and personal act of contrition; this prayer is a statement of our commitment to change and our willingness to witness to what this change has done for us.

Francesco Scarlatti: Miserere mei Deus

Francesco Scarlatti: Miserere mei Deus

And so we pray . . .  Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.  I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners might return to you . . . Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise. 

 Lord, sustain us . . . Lord, open our lips . . . that we may show you our contrition . . . that we may sing our intentional and sincere miserere . . . that we may proclaim your praise.  Accept our offering of brokenness . . . and bring us home to you. 


Adapted from a reflection written on February 11, 2010.

For a music link, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA88AS6Wy_4 

Fra Angelica image from: http://radiomelasudas-beaumarchais.blogspot.com/2010/09/michel-richard-delalande-miserere-mei.html

Scarlatti image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Francesco_Scarlatti_-_Miserere_mei_Deus._(BL_Add_MS_31608_f._8v).jpg

Our next Lenten days we will take us on a journey through Psalms.

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Genesis 1:1-5: The First Day

Dawn from the International Space Station

Dawn from the International Space Station

Thursday, March 3, 2022

In the beginning great darkness covered the wasteland . . . In the sterile or futile moments in our lives we remember that God creates great beauty out of desolation. During our Lenten journey, let us offer the darkness and wilderness days of our passage to God for conversion.

A mighty wind swept over the waters . . . In the empty or fruitless moments in our lives we remember that God brings light and life out of nothingness and despair. During our Lenten sojourn, let us offer any emptiness of our days to God for healing.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Thus evening came, and morning followed – the first day. In the confusion or turbulent moments in our lives we remember that God brings order out of chaos. During our Lenten pilgrimage, let us offer any misunderstandings in our days to God for transformation.

John, the Beloved Apostle, reminds us that: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) Let us trust the One who has always been and will always be. Let us trust the One who creates and loves. Let us trust the One who accompanies and heals, guides and protects. Let us place all our trust in this One.

Today we gather all the trials and difficulties we experience and we hand them all over to the One who brings light out of nothing, order out of chaos, energy out of weariness and fullness out of nothing. On this first day of our Lenten passage, we offer all to the One who is worthy of our trust. And so, we pray,

Good and powerful God, you bring all darkness to light; bring us also to your truth.

Good and gentle God, you bring all injury to healing; bring us also your comfort.

Good and gracious God, you bring all disorder into your plan; bring us also into union with your loving heart. Amen.


For more images of the world’s best view of sunrise, click on the image above or visit: http://article.wn.com/view/2012/05/28/The_worlds_best_view_of_sunrise_Space_Station_astronaut_snap/

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Tuesday, March 1, 2022evergreen in snow

Psalm 147:12-20

Praise

Tomorrow we begin the season of Lent, a time when the earth shifts moods with the changing seasons. In the northern hemisphere the promise of spring and the Easter Passion hover amid the snow-covered trees while all of creation anticipates new burgeoning and promise. In the southern hemisphere autumn prepares us for winter as we gather harvests, snug in and burrow down, resting in the nurturing strength of the covenant promise. No matter our mood or circumstance, Lent offers us an opportunity to renew, re-touch, and re-encounter the risen Christ. Lent gives us a way to examine and re-define. Lent brings us a fresh wind and a new heart. Today we pray with Psalm 147 as we prepare for Lent, and look forward to the fulfillment of the Good News.

Glorify the Lord and offer praise to your God . . .

Today we give thanks for both our blessings and obstacles, realizing that grace arrives with our sufferings as well as our joys.

Who has strengthened the bars of your gates and blessed your children within you . . . ?

Today we give thanks for our progeny and our future, looking forward to the events that bring us into union with God.

Who has brought peace to your borders, and filled you with finest wheat . . . ?

Today we give thanks for all the harvests in our lives, for the opportunity to both give and receive God’s plenty that graces the earth.

The Lord sends a command to earth; God’s word runs swiftly! Snow is spread like wool, frost is scattered like ash, hail is dispersed like crumbs; before such cold the waters freeze. Again the Lord sends God’s word and they melt; the wind is unleashed and the waters flow . . .

National Geographic: Night sky in Patagonia, Argentina

National Geographic: Night sky in Patagonia, Argentina

And so, we pray,

Today we give thanks for all that we receive, knowing that we are asked to share these gifts from the Lord. Today we give thanks for all that we experience, knowing that we are called to love one another. Today we give thanks for all that is to come, knowing that The Lord has peace and joy in great store for us. Today, with all of creation, we give thanks and praise to God. Amen.

Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.


For everyday words of encouragement, click on the evergreen tree above or visit: http://everydayencouragement.org/2014/02/23/god-bends-down-to-hear-your-prayers/

For more beautiful images from National Geographic, click on the image of the night sky in Patagonia, or visit: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/tree-stars-patagonia/

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