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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category


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.

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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.

 

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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.

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John 10: The Good Shepherd

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 14, 2017 

Last week we studied and reflected upon the message from Peter – both his words and actions – and his message is clear. When Christ touches us to follow him, he also calls us to touch and lead others, even as we follow him. Jesus calls Peter as his good shepherd, and both Peter and Jesus call us as well. When we spend time with John 10, our baptism in Christ’s love becomes clear. Our response to this love is up to each of us.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. (Verse 1)

Scholars tells us that in Jesus’ day, the repetition of words or phrases was a technique to bring attention to the words of the speaker. And so we ask: Amen, amen, where is the sheepfold we long to enter? Amen, amen, why do some of us clamber over the fence rather than look for the gate? Amen, amen, what shortcut do we seek? Amen, amen, what do we steal when we avoid the gate of Christ?

The gatekeeper opens the gate for the one who wants to enter the fold, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (Verse 3)

Christ’s love is described here in intimate detail. A loving guide and protector casts a constant eye on his children to provide continual care and love. Jesus repeats his image for us so that we might better hear it and feel its impact.

I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (Verses 9 and 10)

False teachers and false idolaters will not see the shepherd. Those with hard hearts and stiff shoulders will not see the gate. Those who embrace endurance and perseverance, those who suffer well to bear all things in Christ, those who hope and rejoice in truth, those who live in the Spirit and who believe that with God all things are possible . . . those will not need to sneak into the fold like a thief or robber. Those are already there, preparing to go back out into the world with and in Christ.

And so we pray . . .

Good and gracious Lord, keep us always mindful of your love for us.  We know that the voices of this world are a loud distraction; yet we also know that you are The Gate and The Way.  You are the only true Good Shepherd.  Keep us mindful of your own patience and persistence. Continue to speak to us in that sacred place that only you and we know.  Protect us from those who would bend and break the spirit of you in us.  Keep us ever close to you in mind and body and soul.  Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on August 30, 2007.

 

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1 Peter 3:8-22: Salvific Suffering – Part V

Saturday, May 13, 2017

How are we baptized in Christ’s love?

The rite of Baptism signifies our immersion into Christ’s death so that we might rise again with him. Peter writes that this baptism is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to God.

As we reflect on salvific suffering, we come to understand that suffering with and through and in Christ is not a punishment; rather, it is a gift to be lived out, a gift undergone not alone but with Christ – who accompanies us on every step of our daily journey toward him.  In this light, we can share joyfully with Peter when he writes: Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Always be ready to give an explanation of your joy, always reply to your accusers with gentleness and a clear conscience, for it is better to suffer for doing good than to do evil.

Be joyfully filled with hope . . . for you suffer not alone . . .

Take up your personal cross and follow . . .

For by doing so . . . you add your little particle of redemption . . .

To the redemption of the world . . .

There can be no greater calling . . . no greater work . . .

No greater God than our God . . .

Who is an awesome God . . .

Who cradles us each day and all through the night . . .

And shares this gift of treasure with us . . .

Watching . . . waiting . . . smiling . . . abiding . . .

Calling us constantly home.

Amen.

Baptism is defined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1214 at: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p2s2c1a1.htm

Adapted from a Favorite written in November 10, 2007.

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1 Peter 4:1-11: A Prayer for Mutual Charity

Monday, May 8, 2017

St_Peter_Besenzi

Paolo Emilio Besenzi: Saint Peter

Peter exhorts the early Christians to regard their persecution as a blessing, and today’s Noontime reading describes how those in community bear with one another, how they celebrate their diverse gifts, and how they are to stand on God’s authority rather than their own.  Peter calls his flock to mutual understanding, forbearance, purity and love.  And he also calls us today.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, we say that we are willing to serve your purposes, the purposes for which you have designed us.  Help us to keep faith with your hope in us.  We know that we are wonderfully made, and that you have plans for us . . . plans for our joy and not our woe.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, we know that our fellow travelers are also wonderfully made.  We also know that when we walk together, you call on us to bring forth the best in one another.  Help us to be open to our fellow pilgrims as we journey toward you.  Help us to remember that in the life of the Spirit there is always an opportunity for a new beginning.

God of Abraham, God of Peter, bless us, hear our petitions, heal us, bind us together in you.  We pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on July 31, 2007.

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Isaiah 58:7-10: A Prayer for Dissenters

Sunday, February 12, 2017dissent

Isaiah’s words might be spoken to one who teaches the very young.

Share your food . . .

Isaiah’s words might be heard in a meeting of those who sponsor refugees.

Open your home . . .

Isaiah’s words might be spoken in a classroom where tomorrow’s adults are formed.

Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear . . .

17320284-abstract-word-cloud-for-understanding-with-related-tags-and-terms-stock-photoIsaiah’s words might be heard in a workshop offered on how to embody scripture.

Do not refuse to help your own relatives . . .

Isaiah’s words might be brought to life by anyone who hopes to incarnate The Word, to follow The Word, to live, breathe and be The Word among us.

Put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt . . . 

Isaiah’s words might be spoken on a picket line.

Put an end to every evil word . . .

Isaiah’s words are a rubric to measure our actions, a template to codify life, a handbook for those who yearn to walk in the land of the living.

If you satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon.

And so we pray with Isaiah.

history-lessonsGood, and holy and generous God, guide us as we struggle with our fears of darkness and evil. Direct us as we look for the best way to become your Word. Remain with us as we gather in dissent against the tactics of bullies who hope to divide us. Walk with us as we navigate the thin line between resistance and violence. Abide with us in our struggle for clarity, compassion and peace. For we wish to do your will. We wish to be light to the world. We wish to bring hope to the marginalized. We wish to be the eyes and ears, the voice and heart, the hands and feet of Christ for you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When we compare varying versions of these words, we find patience, clarity, and the beginnings of peace for a troubled heart.

For ten lessons history teaches us about leadership with exemplars like Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, click on the image of the clasped hands, or visit: http://www.andysowards.com/blog/2016/10-lessons-history-teaches-us-about-leadership/

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Psalm 106:47: Gather Us

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Laurie Pace: The People are Gathering

Laurie Justus Pace: The People are Gathering

As we struggle to give thanks in a time when we are discouraged, we pray.

Save us, O Lord our God,
    and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
    and glory in your praise. (NRSV)

As we work through our fears on a day when we flounder, we pray.

Save us, O Lord our God,
    and bring us back from among the nations,
so that we may be thankful
    and praise your holy name. (GNT)

As we look for the hope we remember we are promised, we pray.

Save us, Adonai our God!
Gather us from among the nations,
so that we can thank your holy name
and glory in praising you. (CJB)

As we persist in following Christ despite the fog that clouds The Way, we pray.

Save us, God, our God!
    Gather us back out of exile
So we can give thanks to your holy name
    and join in the glory when you are praised! (MSG)

As we wrestle with God’s call to love our enemies, we ask that God gather us in and, in the name of God . . .  we pray. Amen.

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we feel ourselves gathered into the immense, powerful yet tender arms of God.

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Colossians 3:15-17: Be Thankful

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Colossae Ruins

Colossae Ruins

Today we take a portion of Paul’s letter to the people of Colossae and we apply it to our own lives as we once again learn to . . .

Be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly and . . . be thankful.

Teach and admonish one another in wisdom and . . . be thankful.

Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and . . . be thankful.

Live with gratitude in your hearts and . . . be thankful.

In word and deed and in everything you do . . . be thankful.

In the name of the Lord, Christ Jesus . . . be thankful.

Amen.

When we explore other translations of these verses, we discover that a new sense of gratitude settles into our bones and sinews . . . so that we might live out God’s call to thanksgiving each day.

For more posts on gratitude, enter the word into the blog search bar.

Click on the post photograph to see more images and to learn more about Colossae

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