Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category


Psalm 120Prayer for a Returned Exile

Soldiers marshaling people for a march

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Today we consider this prayer by those who returned from captivity and exile to find their holy Temple and city in ruins. Today we also consider our own response to the challenge of rebuilding, and the gift of transformation. Adapted from a reflection written on May 18, 2009.

There is a cycle of Psalms that pilgrims began to sing when they made their journey to Jerusalem each spring.  This is the first of the fifteen Songs of AscentPilgrims to this day still refer to this journey as an ascent – a going up – to Jerusalem.  The holy city was God’s dwelling place, the new Sinai, the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept in the temple’s Holy of Holies guarded by huge gold statues of cherubim – fierce and loyal winged celestial creatures.

Not only is this psalm an anthem of thanksgiving for having been rescued, it is also a petition for protection against the bands of attackers who lurked along the Jerusalem route to waylay and rob the innocent.  The victim who is helped in the Good Samaritan parable is on the road to Jerusalem.  The priest and the Levite pass by the wounded man and do not help him.  If they are on their way up to Jerusalem, they will not want to break their fast or become impure in any way before entering the Temple.  They leave the man in the ditch to be helped by the Samaritan.  Joseph and Mary leave the protection of their clan to travel alone back to Jerusalem in search of the lost child Jesus.  He is found with the elders of the temple discussing scripture.

Several years ago we reflected on this prayer during one of our Noontimes, and we spent some time with the following citation from the St Joseph Edition of Psalms.  “Human beings are born to be pilgrims in search of the Absolute, on a journey to God.  We advance by way of stages, from the difficulties of life to the certainties of hope, from the dispersion of cares to the joyous encounter with God, from daily diversions to inner recollection”. 

When we make our Easter journey toward Pentecost, we feel a certain vulnerability.  We have experienced friendship with Christ, and we have witnessed his death.  He has returned and we are joyful; yet he speaks of going away to send us the Advocate.  He reminds us that his love can never leave us.  We hear his words and experience this love; yet we feel that there is something more . . . there is something missing.  We lack an ingredient to an important lesson.

We have returned from exile with Christ’s resurrection.  His act of humility and love has set us free.  Let us thank him for our deliverance.  Let us ask him to protect us against the bands of marauders that assault our days and nights as we journey home.  In joy, we make our Prayer of Ascent.

From the MAGNIFICAT evening prayer last night, we pray: Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

For all who live lives of loveless loneliness: may we embrace them in our communities of love.  Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

For all who have mistaken power and possession for love: may they discover the truth through the witness of Christian believers: Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

For all who have died: may they live forever in the kingdom of God’s love: Make our love a sign of your presence in the world!

Amen.

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

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 17.5 (2009). Print.  

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

6648f45035a47efdafeee4d3f3f056e4_XL[1]Nehemiah 13

A Prayer for Willingness

True hope differs from waiting in that it expects the impossible to become possible through our petition and in God’s action.  Today we might reflect on a mirror image to hope and conversion that we pondered yesterday: the juxtaposition of willingness and desire.  It is this willingness – rather than our desire – that refines us as faithful.  It is this willingness – and not mere desire – that marks us as God’s disciples.

But what might we gain, we ask ourselves, from being willing rather than willful?

Perhaps it is our willingness that God nurtures patiently, waiting for our readiness to participate fully in God through Christ.  Perhaps it is this measure of willingness that indicates our full and ready understanding of who God is and why we are created in God’s image.   Perhaps is it our willingness to withstand any difficulty, our determination to be disciples of Christ that signals our preparedness to believe that God can truly make all things possible.  Do we desire to be with God but try to avoid all obstacles in our journey?  Or are we willing to travel the road, despite its roadblocks, in full willingness?

As we read about Nehemiah warning against stepping into alien and pagan territory and relationships, we might remember the Good Samaritan parable told by Jesus.  A man from Samaria, considered to be an outcast by the Jewish community, helps an injured traveler on the road to Jerusalem while the Levite, one who has special status in the Jewish community, keeps himself separate and pure.  As we mature from our Old Testament self who seeks to merely understand God and enter into our New Testament self to seek union with God we leave our desire behind . . . and we enter into willingness

We fully experience God’s presence when we give over our human desire of wishing for the end result through expedient or easy means, when we surrender our willfulness in order to become willing. But for this we need courage.

We genuinely live as God’s disciples when we cease asking for the easy route that has no brambles or pitfalls, when we take on the divine mantle of succumbing to the arduous journey of true willingness.  But for this we need strength.

And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God,

We hope to rest constantly in you; grant us your readiness.

We desire to follow faithfully the way of Christ; grant us your eagerness.

We expect to hurdle all obstacles that would keep us from you; grant us your strength.

We hope to respond willingly to your call no matter how difficult the journey; grant us your courage.

We ask that you hold us close to you. 

We ask that you keep us forever with you. 

We ask that you grace us with your willingness.

We ask this in Christ’s name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

For more information about the contrast of willingness and willfulness, click on the image above or go to the 21 February 2013 Brookhaven Retreat blog post at:  http://www.brookhavenretreat.com/cms/blog-22/item/845-willful-or-willing

Adapted from a reflection written on July 21, 2009, and posted on May 9, 2013. 

Read Full Post »


Nehemiah 1 and 2: Arrival in Jerusalem

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jerusalem wall today

Yesterday we reflected on Nehemiah’s exit from captivity and his arrival in Jerusalem. Today we pause to explore how Nehemiah begins the Lord’s restoration.

  • When Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, he rests three days before he set[s] out at night with only a few other men. Three days . . . a few other men . . . apparent ruin, death and destruction . . . three days . . . restoration. Jesus fulfills the promise of restoration three days after his death.
  • Nehemiah had not spoken to anyone of his total plan for Jerusalem. He goes at night to investigate and when he does, the ruin is so complete that he has to dismount and continue on foot because there is too much rubble for his horse to traverse. He speaks to the magistrates and others of his plan and they reply: Let us be up and building!  Those who have been left behind amid the bleak destruction respond to God’s call of hope which arrives with the administrator, Nehemiah.  This is our season of Hope.
  • The hopeful are ridiculed and mocked by the aggressors; yet they maintain their newly found energy to rebuild. Nehemiah responds to the jeering: It is the God of Heaven who will grant us success. We, his servants, shall set about the rebuilding.  They put their trust where it belongs . . . in God.

In a season that anticipates a time of Light and Hope, Restoration and Rebuilding, Turning and Returning to God, we have the opportunity to practice boldness in Christ Jesus. Let us respond to our Call together with the love of the Holy Spirit; and let us place our Trust in the one who most deserves that confidence, in God alone.

For with God all things are possible . . . even the gathering of the dispersed remnant from the farthest corners of the earth . . . to be gathered into the promised dwelling place . . . the place of God’s name.  For with God all things are possible . . . even resurrection after devastating and annihilating ruin . . . to be gathered into the promised dwelling place . . . the place of God’s name. 

For with God all things are possible . . . even the fulfillment of all of those dreams which seem so crazily and utterly hopeless . . . to be gathered into the promised dwelling place . . . the place of God’s name. 

For with God all things are possible . . . for this is the season of Hope.  Amen.

Read Full Post »


Ezra 9Inbetween-ness – A Reprise

Monday, October 9, 2017

Written on February 2, 2010 and posted on February 3, 2012 as a Favorite . . .

About six months ago we looked at both Chapters 8 and 10 of Ezra to see what happened as the scattered nations drew themselves back together for their long and dangerous journey home.  Today we look at what takes place between those book ends.  Word has arrived that the hoped-for journey will be taken and the people realize that there is an obstacle to that return: they have intermarried with non-believers and, according to their explicit laws, they must rectify this situation.  The measure taken by the Hebrew people seems harsh by our standards today; yet we can take this story as an opportunity to evaluate our own actions when we find ourselves in a state in inbetween-ness.  When we are neither here nor there we are in a vulnerable position, we are in danger of losing ourselves . . . or our way to God.

The Jewish people established a regimen in order that they not forget Yahweh in their passage from life to death.  Sometimes these rules were too difficult to follow.  Sometimes the rules took on a life of their own.  Coming from this tradition, we who are Christians have the need to investigate the rules we live by – in order that we not throw away something that is precious – in order that the rule not become more important than God.  As Christians, we must be aware that as we make transitions from one point to another, we are in danger of focusing too much on the past or too much on the future . . . at the expense of not knowing who or why we exist, at the cost of fouling the relationships that are so important to how we live and behave.

And so we pray . . . Good and gracious God, we are never quite certain of how to shift from one track to another as we shift and move with life.  Our judgment may become fogged by our concern for legacy.  Our vision may become blurred as we search for new alliances.  When we are adrift as we swing from one stage to the next, we question once again.  Is this path too broad that we travel and too easy?  Is it too narrow and too stifling?  Help us to see more clearly which way we are to go, why we are to proceed, how we are to decide.  Keep the people in our lives more important than the rules.  And keep the rules as simple as your one supreme commandment: Love your God above all gods, and love one another as I have loved you. Keep us ever in mind we pray.  Amen. 

Read Full Post »


Ezekiel 4Inevitability

Friday, October 6, 2017

Michelangelo: Ezekiel

Today’s post is a reprise from December 24, 2011. We have an opportunity to consider the possibility of recovering from calamity, an opportunity to accept the gift of Christ, God Among Us. Let us imagine that we are about to celebrate the gift of the Nativity. And let us be grateful for God’s greatest gift of self for God’s generosity, love and goodness are inevitable. 

There is a certain inevitability about Ezekiel’s prophecy.  He is certain that his predictions will come to pass.  From our place in history centuries later, we can easily see that what seemed impossible for Judah and Jerusalem does indeed take place.  Their fortified city is besieged and destroyed; their powerful and comfortable leaders are killed or deported.  Why did anyone doubt Ezekiel and the other prophets?  They reported what they saw in the present and what they saw to come.  They were accurate, so why did anyone have reservation about their words?   Most likely it was because the naysayers had too much invested in the corrupt system.  We might learn a lesson from all of this.

There is a certain inevitability about Jesus’ story.  He comes to tell us that he is Emmanuel – God Among Us From our place in human history we can read about the miracles he performed.  We can also number the times that impossibilities take place in our own lives.  Jesus tells us that he will be destroyed and yet rise again in new life.  He tells us that he has come to take us with him on this amazing journey as his well-loved sisters and brothers.  Jesus tells us what the Creator has asked him to report to us: that we are free, liberated from anything that holds us to the material world in which we live.  This freedom includes freedom from anxiety and stress.  Why do we cling to our old and familiar discomfort when there is a newness offered to us without cost?  Why do we behave as those who heard but ignored Ezekiel’s words?  Do we doubt what Jesus has told us?  What are the reservations we have about his words or his actions?  On this eve when we celebrate his coming into the world as a vulnerable baby, why do we continue to ask for additional proofs and for further assurance that he will complete his promise to bring us to the new life he experiences?  Why do we hang on to our fears and reject the possibility of joy?

Gerard Van Honthurst: The Nativity

So on this Christmas Eve, as we await midnight in order to join in praise of God’s goodness to us, we have this to ponder about our own acceptance of what we have heard and what we have seen.  What is it about Jesus’ story we do not believe?  What are the further proofs we demand before we accept the prophecy of his coming as true?  Who has lured us away from the one true story of redemption and the promise it holds for all?  How have we become like those who hear but so not listen?  When will we tire of hiding behind subterfuge, of supporting corrupt systems and people?  Why do we persist in being as blind as the inhabitants of Jerusalem to whom Ezekiel spoke?

Let us reflect on God’s gift of inevitability as we pray . . .

Tomorrow is the feast of Christ’s birth . . . the feast of the birth of newness in each of us.

Tomorrow is the celebration of a new-found freedom . . . the celebration of our release from fear and anxiety.

Tomorrow is the commemoration of the arrival of hope and God’s promise . . . the commemoration of God’s coming to dwell among us. 

God’s love is inevitable.  Let us cease our resistance.  Let us rejoice in this good news and be glad.  Amen.

Read Full Post »


Ecclesiastes 7: Elusiveness 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Favorite from September 13, 2008.

Wisdom and Righteousness are elusive, Qohelet tells us; and this does not surprise us.  We seek these qualities throughout our lives because they lead us to our divine self, our immortality, our infinity.  Today’s reflection invites us to seek our divine self  by looking at the inversions presented as evidence that this divinity lives in us constantly . . . it is with us, even as we go in search of it.

Perhaps we do not find this divine self because we are distracted by the cares and needs of daily living; yet it is in this quotidian life that we find the divine.  Qohelet reminds us that we best find understanding through sorrow, joy through grief, success through failure, happiness through pain, fulfillment through loss.  He further invites us to examine the life of the wicked and the idolatrous as contrasted with that of the wise and the righteous.  The former finds mirth in a present life of carefree festivity, while the later finds divinity in this life and in the next . . . through an ever-maturing communion with God.

Our divine self is elusive when we seek it with our human eye; yet it steps into full view when we drop all pretense and allow ourselves to be directed by the voice that challenges us through loss.

We find this divine self, Qohelet points out, when we put aside impatience and put on the enduring mantle of hope.  We find it when we put aside relationships in which we are the hunter and the hunted, and make the decision to enter into those that blossom with fidelity and constancy.  We find it when we commit to the worship of the one true God rather than false covenants of comfort or fame.

When we allow God to balance our lives, we journey from the dark places to the light, wisdom makes an immediate and steadfast appearance, and righteousness guards us as we weave between the stones in the obstacle path of our pilgrimage.  The divine self we seek is no longer elusive.

And so in gratitude we pray as we read.

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.  Bring us your wisdom, O Lord.

It is better to hearken to the wise man’s rebuke, than it is to hearken to the song of fools. Bring us your wisdom, O Lord.

As the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the fool’s laughterGrant us your righteousness, O Lord.

Better is the patient spirit than the lofty spirit.  Show us our divine self, O Lord.

Consider the work of God.  Who can make straight what he has made crooked?  On a good day enjoy good things, and on an evil day consider: both the one and the other God has made, so that man cannot find fault with him in anything.  Be not elusive, O Lord.

Amen.

Read Full Post »


Ezekiel 34: Parable of the Shepherds – Part VI

Saturday, September 23, 2017

In a world that too often gives us reason to fear, we turn to a Shepherd who both guides and protects. In societies that bring us exclusion rather than inclusion, we remain in the Shepherd who brings us hope. In work places that foster denial rather than encouragement, we learn to be faithful to the Shepherd who loves. In families that control us rather than nurture, we enact our own parable of shepherding.

And so we pray.

Oh Master Shepherd,

Gather us up,

Gather us in. 

Cornelis van Leemputten: Shepherdess with her Flock

We wander in barren and hostile lands. 

We hear your voice,

We see your face,

We know your touch.

Gather us up.

Gather us in. 

 

We wander in search of something we have lost.

We hear your voice,

We see your face,

We know your love.

Gather us up,

Gather us in.

We wander seeking your nurturing shoulders, your strong arms.

We know your voice,

We know your face,

We know your embrace.

Gather us up,

Gather us in.

Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 20, 2008.

Read Full Post »


Isaiah 61-63: The Mission of the Afflicted . . . Prayer for the Return of God’s Favor

Sunday, May 28, 2017god's favor

The spirit of the Lord is upon me . . .  I am called an oak of justice, planted by the Lord to show God’s glory.

The people of Isaiah’s day yearned for the intimate presence of their God.  Today, faithful sufferers have this precious union in the protective armor of Christ that they put on each morning.  Today these loyal servants have the nurturing presence of the Holy Spirit to drink in each morning at their rising.  They live in the days of the Presence, the days between the arrival of the Christ and his second coming.  They are the faithful who walk The Way guided by the Maker, accompanied by the Word, dwelt in by the Spirit. And so we pray.

Fellow pilgrims,

When suffering arrives at our door, perches on our shoulders, tears down all that we have seen built up in Christ’s name, we remember this.  We are so blessed. We are so honored. We are so loved, for we walk in the footsteps of the Teacher who shows all God’s children The Way.  We do not shy away from some dreadful task that is done in Christ’s name; rather, we take it up gladly.  For it is in this pain that the kingdom comes.  It is in this suffering that dreams are birthed into reality.  It is in this dreadful passage from dark to light where miracles transport us to the super reality of our transformation and resurrection with Christ.  This is an arduous Way; but it is the way for all who follow Christ.  This is the mission of the afflicted. It is the life of the disciple, and it is the reward of the brokenhearted. 

When suffering arrives at our door remember this . . . it is a sign that we have all been set free.

When suffering arrives at our door remember this . . . it is a spark that will ignite the fire of our love.

When suffering arrives at our door remember this . . . it is a drink of clear water that quenches in the desert.

When suffering arrives at our door remember this . . . it is the arrival of the groom who comes in search of his bride.

When suffering arrives at our door remember all of this.

And when suffering arrives at our door . . . 

Let us rejoice and be glad!

Adapted from a reflection written on May 24, 2008.

 

Read Full Post »


Isaiah 33: A Prophecy of Deliverance

Thursday, May 18, 2017

There is good news to celebrate . . . we are delivered from bondage.  We live in the Messianic age; the promised deliverer has arrived to live among us.   We are no longer chained.  We are not abandoned. We are not alone.

Yesterday’s Mass readings called us to reflect on the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep well . . . and whose sheep know him.  I know mine and mine know me.  Today we continue that theme.  The readings from Acts (Chapters 2 and 11) tell us the story of Peter who witnesses to the presence of the Resurrected Christ.  Psalms 23, 42 and 43 describe how God takes care of us and how we thirst after this Living God.  We learn how to shepherd well.   A Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  We hear about false shepherds.  A hired man runs away and leaves his sheep because they are not his own . . . the sheep scatter and run . . . the wolf catches them. 

In today’s Noontime reading, Isaiah describes for us what happens when the true shepherd arrives to call his sheep back to the fold.  Those who attacked and scattered the innocent sheep are now themselves assaulted.  The spoils of the conflict disappear in the jaws of the locusts; they are gathered up like the crops taken up by caterpillars.  Just when the land is deserted and hushed, just when treaties are broken and fire devours the land . . . this is when deliverance happens.  The counters of treasures, the insolent, the corrupt, all of these will be gone while those faithful who have been scattered will now live on the heights.  Their refuge will be the fortresses of rocks; their food will be supplied, their water assured.  And Christ’s Rock, Peter, witnesses today, telling those gathered to listen to his story of how a vision came to him with an assignment as God’s Shepherd.  I was at prayer when in a trance I had a vision . . . The Spirit told me to accompany three men without discriminating against them.  Peter goes on to explain how God has called him to Shepherd the gentiles along with the Jewish people who have come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

And so today we pray.

Good and faithful God,

You have promised that you will not abandon us . . . teach us how to not abandon others.

You have brought us the gift of hope and renewal . . . teach us to be open to the restoration you have in mind for us.

You have promised us peace and prosperity . . . teach us how to live in peace despite the turmoil we cause.

You have been the Good Shepherd . . . never abandoning us . . . never betraying us . . . teach us to live in fidelity to you.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

A Favorite from May 16, 2011.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: