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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Robin Anderson: Mary Holding Baby Jesus Looking Up Towards the Light

Robin Anderson: Mary Holding Baby Jesus Looking Up Towards the Light

A Prayer to Fulfill God’s Promise in Us

It is truly a paradox that God creates humans to fulfill the great promise of love. Let us consider our response to this call to promise.

It is a sign of God’s love that God chooses to come among us as a child.  Let us consider how we make room for others in our lives.

It is a further gift and promise from God that we are granted the free and open will to choose how we will respond to this loving call. Let us carefully consider our reply.

It is an honor to put aside our own ego in response to God’s open invitation to love. Let us prayerfully consider how we become selfless in service to others.

It is our return promise to God that we offer our thoughts, words, and deeds in the service of God’s good. Let us honestly consider how we best make this return promise of love.

Good and holy God, you are paradox, sign, gift, honor and promise. May we joyfully live in you. May we authentically live through you.  And may we lovingly live with you . . . in thought, word and deed.  Amen.


For more on the paradox, sign, gift, honor and promise of God’s love, explore the first three stanzas of Psalm 119 in last week’s Noontimes.

For more information on the painting above, click on the image or go to: http://robinandersonfineart.blogspot.com/2011/02/mary-holding-baby-jesus-looking-up.html 

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Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Baptism of the Lord

Today, as we recall Jesus’ willingness to submerge himself in the goodness of the Spirit, we mark the end of the liturgical celebration of Christmas. As we begin to plan the life we will lead once we can safely emerge from our pandemic lockdown, let us consider how we will let the gift of God’s testimony wash over us. How will we allow this heavy cleansing to renew us? How will we once again greet estranged sisters and brothers? How will we continue to live as Christmas people who bring light to a darkened world?

We do well to consider the Lord’s own testimony to us about God’s love of all creation. 

1 John 5:11-12

Gerrit van Honthorst: Adoration of the Shepherds

God’s Testimony

And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son does not have life. 

There is really no mystery about what God thinks of us. We are gifted with God’s presence in the child Jesus who grows into a man to sacrifice all for us. Jesus lives according to the Mosaic Law and then institutes a new law, the Law of Love. Through his living out for us this new law and through his sacrificial dying, Jesus brings us God’s testimony: life eternal.

There is really no struggle in finding union with God for God loves us dearly and constantly and already dwells in us. All we need do is acknowledge this presence. All we need do is allow ourselves to be children of God. All we need do is live this new Law of Love.

And so, we pray . . . Good and gracious God, we hear your testimony and still we doubt. Remind us that you are as gentle as the small child and as strong as the man who dies for all. Remind us that you dwell in each of us although we forget this too often. Remind us that with the birth of the child Jesus you offer us your testimony of light and love. Remind us that with your act of submission to baptism in the Spirit, you offer each of us the humility of this Jordan experience. Remind us that as we move closer to you we free ourselves to take up the invitation to become your Christmas people. Amen.  


Spend time with a study Bible and 1 John 5:5-13.  Read the commentary and decide how God’s Testimony calls us to be Christmas people.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gerard_van_Honthorst_001.jpg

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Third Sunday of Advent – December 13, 2020

Today is Gaudete, or “Rejoice” Sunday and it is a pause in our watchfulness as we await the coming of Light to a world longing for hope. As we continue our journey into a season of darkness in the northern hemisphere, we reflect on the plundering of the Jerusalem Temple, and our transformation that grows form the ashes of despair. When we listen to the ancient carol Gaudete, we have a sense of the joy we might find amid the sadness of dark days. Click on the image above or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUbcHfnx0pY

2 Maccabees 3

A Prayer for the Plundered

Simon lusts after control and so lies and connives to gain his end.  He appears to succeed, yet we all know from our perspective in the second millennium that a new temple brings down the Jerusalem temple and rebuilds it in three days.  This happens in the person of Christ.

The faithful who follow the good and compassionate priest Onias immediately take to the streets, the priests prostrate themselves in petition, and Yahweh answers their prayer in a surprising way.

Gérard de Lairesse: The Expulsion of Heliodorus from_the Temple

Heliodorus and King Seleucus IV both recognize the power and awe of this God of the patriarchs and Heliodorus himself undergoes a conversion.

It should not surprise us that the men in this story who grasp for control of the treasury resort to any means to achieve their ends; nor should it surprise us that God answers the pleas of these holy and faithful people.

It should not surprise us that even those enveloped in the power, money and control can have their eyes opened.

And it should not surprise us that this conversion will often happen as the result of a cataclysmic event.  We must constantly prepare ourselves for these experiences and these people.  And so we pray . . .

Dearest God, Creator, Savior and Consoler,

Lead us away from the ways of Simon and keep our eyes open for the times we want to take control. Show us how easily we may be tempted to resort to any means to achieve our own ends. Remind us to make a new temple of ourselves as Christ has asked. Remind us that we are called to be holy disciples.

Lead us to you as your faithful. Keep our ears open for your word, your message and your rescuing messengers. Remind us to intervene and intercede for those who wish us harm. Remind us to act when we see injustice.

Lead us to the Christ who dwells within us. Keep our hearts open to our own conversion. Remind us to witness for you in the marketplace. Remind us to stand and to proclaim your goodness.

We ask this of you our Loving Protector. We petition you our Loving Redeemer. We entreat you our Loving In-dweller. Amen.

Tomorrow, we move forward with the nativity story . . . 


Adapted from a reflection written on January 5, 2008.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1674_G%C3%A9rard_de_Lairesse_-_Expulsion_of_Heliodorus_from_the_Temple.jpg

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Saturday, December 5, 2020

Canticle of Zechariah

Zechariah and the Angel Gabriel

Luke 1:57-80, 2:29-32

Canticles

When we pray the Liturgy of the Hours we participate in the rhythmic repetition of the morning and evening canticles that we find here in Luke. They – along with the presentation of petition, glorification and thanksgiving through the psalms – give our days and nights a deep sense of tranquility. These times of meditation and contemplation create the pathways through which God speaks. The heart, in this way, willingly readies the soul in hospitality for the reception of the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ. Prayer cleanses the mind, prepares the spirit and animates the heart for the reception of God’s revelation to us. Nothing can be more important for it is our intentional and incidental prayers that bring us sanity and serenity. These canticles of praise help us to travel through our days, our years, our lives.

No one experiences life without feeling distress and anxiety, and it is when we turn to God – the source of all that is good – that we are healed, lifted up, salvaged and restored. When we allow harm to transform us through our grieving and our trust in God, we find the joy expressed in the canticles we read today.  We also find reason to celebrate God’s salvific love.

Champaigne: Visitation The Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat

Champaigne: Visitation
The Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat

These canticles sung by Zechariah who finds his voice after the loss of speech, and by Mary, who anticipated greatest joy and greatest sorrow, are meant to carry us from sun up to sun down continually. The canticle of Simeon, which the Liturgy of the Hours designates as part of the Night Prayer, is an anthem of gratitude, and together these songs can bracket our goings and our comings, they can guide our days and nights, they can fill us with hope and trust in God.

When we sit with Jeremiah 20:10-13, Psalm 18, and John 10:31-42 we can see how we too might sing canticles of praise for God’s providence as we move from dread to joy.

I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side!  Denounce!  let us denounce him!” All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine . . . In my time of distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice . . . From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears . . . The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.  Jesus answered them . . . “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father”. Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.

The Prophets Simeon and Anna with the Christ Child

The Prophets Simeon and Anna
with the Christ Child

And so we pray . . .

God is in his temple and he hears my voice, it reaches his ears . . . we are the temple in which God resides, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

They tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power . . . we have nothing to fear when we walk in the way which is lighted by the light of Christ.

Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one . . . we have everything to gain when we live in God.

As we begin our Advent journey, let us sing these canticles at dawn, at the setting of the sun, and when we lie down to rest. And as we escape from the power of terror’s grip and watch it melt away, let us turn to God in all things, in all ways, at all times . . . and let us sing our canticle of joy.  Amen.


Adapted from a reflection written on April 3, 2009.

To explore these songs of praise and what they can mean to us, click on the images above or go to The Liturgy of the Hours page on this blog.

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Thanksgiving Day, U.S.A

November 26, 2020

Jesus Healing the Centurion's Servant

Paolo Veronese: Jesus Healing the Centurion’s Servant

Matthew 8:5-13

As we gather in the U.S. to give thanks for all that we are and all that we have, we remember that we are all . . . 

Under the Centurion’s Roof

This story has long held our fascination – a Roman centurion approaches the very un-pagan Jesus on behalf of his servant. This story raises questions for us – who is the servant who merits so much devotion on the part of his master; and what has caused the paralysis? A fall? A disease? A battle wound? This story is repeated by many as part of the Communion Rite – Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, say but the word and my soul shall be healed. This story invites us to step into the household of this Roman centurion to discover why he has such faith, and it invites us to examine our own sense of thanksgiving for all that we have.

My servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully . . . how do we ask for God’s help when those who serve us suffer?

I will come and cure him . . . countless times each day we benefit from God’s blessing and intervention. How do we thank God?

Lord, I am not worthy . . . only say the word . . . how do we respond to the signs of God’s intervention we see all around us?

As you have believed, let it be done for you . . . how do we tell the world about the goodness of God’s love for us?

A Centurion was a person of power and influence who rose through military ranks using his skills as a soldier and leader. If he paid homage to any god or creed, it would have been in keeping with the pagan beliefs held by his contemporaries; yet he comes to Jesus.

Jesus is willing to enter under any roof to heal all suffering and to bind up all wounds. If we find our ourselves hesitating to invite the master into our hearts, let us take a lesson from the powerful and compassionate soldier. Let us go to God with our needs and hopes. Let us speak plainly to the Lord about our feelings and circumstances. And let us give thanks to God for God’s great goodness and love.

Phyllis Tickle offers us a prayer of Thanksgiving that we might share with others as we gather under the Centurion’s roof.

“O Lord my God, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; yet you have called me to stand in this house, and to serve at this work. To you and to your service I devote myself, body, soul, and spirit. Fill my memory with the record of your mighty works; enlighten my understanding with the light of your Holy Spirit; and may all the desires of my heart and will center in what you would have me do. Make me an instrument of your salvation for the people entrusted to my care, and grant that by my life and teaching I may set forth your true and living Word. Be always with me in carrying out the duties of my faith. In prayer, quicken my devotion; in praises, heighten my love and gratitude; in conversation, give me readiness of thought and expression; and grant that, by the clearness and brightness of your Holy Word, all the world may be drawn into your blessed kingdom. All this I ask for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen”.  (Tickle 255)


Tickle, Phyllis.  THE DIVINE HOURS: PRAYERS FOR AUTUMN AND WINTERTIME. New York: Doubleday, 2000. Print.

To learn more about a centurion and his place in Roman society, go to: http://christianity.about.com/od/glossary/a/Centurion.htm

Image from: https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-healing-servant-Centurion-Veronese/dp/B07CSSNKSJ

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Psalm 18

 A Favorite Noontime first written on October 24, 2008. and posted today as we prepare for the holiday of Thanksgiving in the U.S.A.0707160038521psalm_18_28b_niv[1]Thanksgiving for God’s Help

I have a list of petitions I take to God each dawn . . . that I reprise in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and when I go to bed. On those nights when I wake during the wee hours I ask again. Scattered among the petitions are my Thank yous for prayers answered . . . I like to think of many big and little miracles with which I and my loved ones, and my enemies, have been graced. This list brings me peace. It reminds me of who I am, the Petitioner. It reminds me that I was formed by God, the Creator. It keeps the reality fresh that I have a purpose which is important and special. It reminds me that I have a mission, even though I am often in a cloud of unknowing about what that mission is. It renews for me the fact that I am child, that God is parent, and that my humility, fidelity and mercy are what my God requires of me. In all of this reminding I settle fully into the knowing that my blessings far outweigh my sorrows, and for this I am continually thankful.

Psalm 18 29[1]My days go best when they are a constant, unceasing prayer. My nights are happiest when I enter them with God. My enemies touch me not when I step into the protective pillar of fire and smoke and pulsing prayer. The lures of the other world melt away from the light of this guiding and protecting pillar.

The rocking of my world reduces to a gentle sway when I turn to God. The darkness and thick thunder clouds dispel when I remember God. The depths of despair evaporate when I call on God. The harsh buffets of life become a gentle breeze when I sing with God.

The psalmist today reminds us that God gives us the swift feet and the sharp mind with which we avoid trouble. God gives us God’s self as armor against the cruelties of the world. God is our rock. God is our breath. God is our life. Praise God.

Dear gracious and good God, You have shown us mercy. We thank you.  ou have shown us the way. We thank you. You have borne us up. We thank you. You have carried us away. We thank you. You have eased our burden. We thank you. You have created us. We thank you. You have loved us well. We thank you.

We thank you when we come to you at dawn, in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, in the night.

We thank you when we make our life a constant prayer. 

We thank you.  Amen. 


Images from: http://www.photosbyjanine.com/-/photosbyjanine/gallery.asp?photoID=4210731&cat=57731 and http://beelieve-ahealthierme.blogspot.com/2011/01/my-quest-for-healthier-me.html

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Monday, November 23, 2020

images[3]Psalm 92

A Hymn of Thanksgiving for God’s Fidelity

Fidelity: faithfulness, loyalty, patience, understanding, questioning and answering, dialog, forbearance, union, love.

From St. Joseph Edition of The Psalms notes: This is a didactic psalm, that is, both a praise of the Lord and an instruction of the faithful. The psalmist meditates on God’s way of acting.  His love and faithfulness are reflected in everything he does, but they must be comprehended. Ultimately the happiness of the wicked will fade like seasonal grass, whereas the lot of the righteous will be like the great trees whose roots are planted on solid ground. For the latter, new seasons are promised in the courts of God. God’s joy is like a new spring in the life of believers.

Again our theme of renewal. Again the idea that a righteous life is more difficult to live than a wicked one, but that true serenity and joy is found by struggling to live a life of justice.

I like the point in the citation above that God’s acts are a demonstration of his love and fidelity and that we must strive to comprehend this idea . . . an idea which is so difficult for so many humans . . . because fidelity is such a demanding quality . . . and we humans appear to be much too fickle and willful to comprehend its depth and true meaning.

Each day as we go through each hour, how do we as God’s creatures express God’s fidelity? How do we express God’s love? Are we faithful when it is convenient or when we have the time or energy? Do we love those who please us most? We recall Paul’s words to Timothy: I remember you constantly in prayers, night and day.  I yearn to see you again, recalling your tears, so that I may be filled with joy, as I recall your sincere faith . . .  (2 Timothy 1:3-4) This is the same letter in which Paul states that he is already poured out like a libation and there are times when we feel this pouring out rather than gratitude. But when we look at verse 3 of this psalm we see again the idea of loving God faithfully by praying day and night. And when we are spent . . . we might at least raise eyes and hands to heaven to thank God, and to ask that God lighten our load.

Prayer and petition are important as we near and enter into Advent, even when we feel spent. When we come to the end of an exhausting day, we can light one small candle in the darkness which comes so quickly at this time of year in our northern hemisphere, and we can repeat the antiphon we find as part of the Liturgy of the Hours Night Prayer: Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace, alleluia.

With this simple act and prayer we might remain faithful . . . even though we are spent. And so we pray . . .

We know that you watch over us, O Lord.  Grace us with the patience and perseverance to keep hopeful watch with you . . . as faithfully as you keep wonder-filled watch with us.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 243. Print.

Image from: http://brotherdismas.blogspot.com/2011/05/saturday-of-4th-week-in-easter.html

Adapted from a reflection written on December 4, 2007.

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

matthew7_1[1]Matthew 7

Lessons in Serenity

As Matthew closes this section of his Gospel he records Jesus as speaking plainly and simply to his followers. There really is no mystery here. What must we do to gain serenity?

Jesus tells us clearly.

Stop judging others and tend to your own progress. The criticisms we level at others are a good place to begin with our own self-development. We critique in others what we dislike most in ourselves. Let us recall the negative comments we have made about others and let us lay them out neatly. We will find an apt and accurate map of the journey we must take.

Matthew-7[1]You are pearls of great price so there is no need to claw your way over those you perceive to be in your path. Once we see where our journey must take us we will want to relax into the great gift God has for us. All of our striving and fixing and arranging may, in fact, be counter to the work we must do on ourselves. Let us learn to bear good fruit in due season.

Ask the creator for all the desires of your heart. Who knows us better than the hand that carved us out of nothing? Fashioned us in God’s image, we do not have to search long or far to discover why we are here or where we are going. Who leads us better than our human and divine brother Jesus? He understands the dichotomy we hold in our hands, the tug from two directions, the calling of two diverging worlds. Who abides with us more faithfully than the Spirit? God’s wisdom and grace dwell within us to guide, protect and console.

matthew_7_13_14_by_phoenixoftheopera-d4247gw[1]Discipleship is difficult and the way to peace is narrow. Quick fixes, easy solutions, pat answers, immediate satisfaction, and feelings of control and power must be put aside in favor of process, dialog, reflection, shared decisions, forgiveness and redemption.

Expect false leaders. And work to be honest followers. Integrity, honesty, courage and persistence are wells from which we must draw. We must learn to rebuke gently, to walk humbly, to accompany without judging, to pray ceaselessly.

You have a choice to make; build on sand or rock. We are free to choose. Stand on solid ground where everyone is open and honest, or allow ourselves to slide into the shifting world of denial, obfuscation and illusion.

The way is clear. The path is open. The winding is narrow but there are signs along the way. These are lessons in serenity.

And so we pray.

Matthew7_24sm[1]Patient and loving father and mother, help us to refrain from judging lest we lose ourselves in the trial. Remind us that we are well loved and well protected. Repeat to us often that we are to knock, ask and seek. Support us as we sift through true and false teachers and leaders. Lead us out of the boggy quicksand of a life lived with the only goal of personal comfort. Steer us away from all that is alluring. Lift us to stand on the rock that is both fortress and refuge. Guide us always back to you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.


Reflect on the past week’s posts and determine what lessons for serenity you hope to learn in the coming season of Advent.

Images from: http://joanmedinanisnisan.wordpress.com/tag/joan-medina-nisnisan/

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Saturday, November 14, 2020

noara_lambMarch3_12[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12

A Prayer for Sin and Parable

The rich man had herds and flocks in great numbers.  But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. 

This is a story with a familiar ending. Those who have much use their influence and power to take from the poor what little they have. The poor man gathers money, plans how he will finally gather around him the small beginning of self-sufficiency and the momentous ending of oppression.

He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. She shared the little food he had and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom. She was like a daughter to him. 

The poor man empties all that he has and all that he is into this precious possession that promises not only a ladder out of misery but a new feeling of comfort, compassion and love. The little ewe sheep comes to symbolize much more than the object she is. She becomes a unique sign of peace and stability.

Now the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to visit him.  Instead, he took the ewe lamb . . .

The two-headed monster of envy and greed raises itself from the shadows and David’s sin is revealed.

David grew very angry . . . then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned . . .”

When we feel anger rise at the honest observation offered by a friend we must turn as David does. And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God, it is so difficult to hear our secrets revealed when we believe we have them well-hidden away. Help us to return to you.

Honest and kind God, we are so weak and vulnerable in the harsh light of our own judgment. Send us your persistence and power.

Good and noble God, we need your encouragement and wisdom to lead us to the light of truth. Remind us that truth always reveals itself in your time.

Mighty and compassionate God, we ask for your strength and grace to willingly reveal all that we have concealed. Recount for us all the times you have saved us.

Sweet and loving God, speak to us in parables that enlighten us when we cannot bear the burden of the truth. Help us to understand that secrets only fester in the darkness of guilt.

Forgiving and understanding God, speak to us plainly in words that call us to you. Bring us the simplicity of your peace and love.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


To read posts from a shepherd’s blog, click on the image above or go to: http://hillshepherd.blogspot.com/2012/03/nora-had-ewe-lamb-last-night.html

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