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Archive for the ‘Thanksgiving’ Category


Colossians 1:1-14: Continued Progress

Saturday, December 29, 2018

We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you . . .

In all of our anxiety we may forget to pray for one another . . . and we may forget that others pray for us.  Let us remember and give thanks for the prayer that binds us all in Christ. For wherever two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20)

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the holy ones . . .

In all of our activity we may forget that faith in Christ Jesus has the power to transform . . . and the power to save.  Let us remember and give thanks for the gift of faith we share.  I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from there and it will move.   Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20)

The Gospel is bearing fruit and growing so also is it among you . . .

In all of our frustration we may forget that despite the negative news and dire predictions Christ Jesus grows in us . . . and Christ Jesus strengthens us as we grow among the weeds. When the servants asked him, “Do you want us to go and pull up the weeds the enemy has planted among the wheat?” he answered, “No, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest.  At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into the barn.” (Matthew 13:24-30)

Egypt: A woman carries wheat

Paul knows how difficult it is to remain faithful to the Gospel and so he offers the Colossians – and us today – a Prayer of Thanksgiving for Continued Progress . . .

We ask that you be filled with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding . . .

We wish you to be fully pleasing, in every good work bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God . . .  

We ask that you be strengthened with every power, in accord with God’s glorious might . . .

We wish for you all endurance and patience . . .

With joy we give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light. 

God delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 

Let us give thanks for God’s gift of fidelity, faith.  Let us give thanks for God’s gift of endurance, patience.  Let us give thanks for God’s gift of great strength, deliverance from the darkness and the weeds.  Let us give thanks for God’s gift of our inheritance, God’s light that gathers us into the barn.

Let us give thanks for the holy ones in heaven. 

Let us give thanks for the prayer we both offer and receive. 

Let us give thanks for our continued progress in God’s love. 

At this harvest time of year, let us give thanks . . . Amen.

Glendening:Surrey Cornfield


A re-post from November 26, 2011.

Images from: http://www.faithandworship.com/Harvest_Thanksgiving_Resources_and_Prayers.htm and http://inhisfathershouse.wordpress.com/category/getting-real-not-religious/page/2/ and http://dianabuja.wordpress.com/category/egypt-ancient/page/2/ 

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Exodus 36-38The Altar of Our Lives

Friday, December 28, 2018

At this harvest time of year when we gather to give thanks for all that we are and all that we have, let us consider our thoughts, words,and deeds in light of the Hebrews’ desert experience and in gratitude for the fulfillment of God’s best hope in us.

Written on November 16, 2008 and posted today as Favorite . . .

The Israelites were faithful to Yahweh in constructing a residence for their one true God, and this one God Yahweh – who tolerated no other gods before him – was faithful in accompanying his people to guide and protect them.  Today’s reading describes the detail the Israelites followed in order to provide the appropriate altars, veil, table, ark and lampstand.  The chapters preceding these describe the collection of materials and artisans.  The chapters following these describe the vestments, and dwelling . . . and how Yahweh settles into his home on earth among the human race.

El Greco: Christ Cleansing the Temple

In the New Testament story, Jesus comes to earth to be the new high priest . . . and to construct a new temple in place of the former one.  He also calls his artisans and gathers his materials . . . his original apostles and disciples . . . and all those apostles and disciples who have heard his story . . . and who have acted in faith to join this story.  He also settles into his home on earth . . . in the hearts, bodies and minds of all those who follow him today and all days.

In Acts we read about the coming of the Holy Spirit settling upon the original apostles in flames of fire.  The Spirit still settles upon and in those who join with Christ in his mystical body to become living stones in the new living temple of Yahweh.

The Hermitage of San Girolamo, Italy

We are creatures seeking the God who created us, the God who walks with us, the God who abides with us.  We are formed for worship and for joy.  Each day at our rising, each noon at our pausing, each night at our entering into the world of dreams and sleep we have a new opportunity to refurbish our temple . . . to keep it always a pleasing place of adoration . . . a place where our souls sing in communion with others who wish to walk and live in this liminal space of love and peace, mystery and serenity.

What does our God require of us?  This is no mystery.  He does not require holocausts or sacrifice.  He does not require incense morning, noon and night.  But this is what he requires: that we do what is right, love goodness, and walk humbly with our God.  (Micah 6:8

Let us offer our sacrifices of fear, anxiety, pain and anger on the altar of our lives.  Let us do what is right; let us love goodness; and let us walk humbly as we work at the building of God’s temple with the surrender of our lives.

John Pettie (1884):Fixing the Site of an Early Christian Altar


A re-post from November 25, 2011.

Images from: http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/73395/fixingthesiteofanearlychristianaltar1884 and http://taniarubimenglish.blogspot.com/2011/02/bible-trivia-furniture-of-tabernacle.html and http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20060313JJ.shtml and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cucco711.jpg

A good website for information concerning the Hebrew temple furnishings.  http://taniarubimenglish.blogspot.com/2011/02/bible-trivia-furniture-of-tabernacle.html

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Wisdom 15:1-6God’s Wrath

Thursday, December 27, 2018

But you, our God, are good and true, slow to anger, and governing with all mercy.

It is easy to believe that God is full of wrath when we read the Old Testament; the New Testament tells us that this is not so.   Yesterday’s Mass and MAGNIFICAT readings and prayers all tell us that we have much to be grateful for in God.  They tell us that we have much to be happy about with God.  They tell us that we have much to love through God.

God is our constant shepherd – even when we do not feel God’s presence, God is with us.

From the MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer: The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s camp, now moved and went around behind them. (Exodus 14:19)

The angel of the Lord . . . stood between the fleeing Israelites and their Egyptian pursuers during the exodus, and hid them from sight.  God goes with us, guards us and guides us today with the same protective love. 

The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.  No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher.  While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right and to the left.  (Isaiah 30:20-21)

Yesterday’s first reading was from Daniel 5 in which King Belshazzar asks advice of Daniel, the Jewish exile in whom the spirit of God rests.  Daniel interprets “the writing on the wall” and brings God’s wisdom to those who would worship idols rather than the living God.

Yesterday’s Gospel from Luke 21:12-19: Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony.  Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to refute.  You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  You will b heated because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.  By your perseverance you will secure your lives.

We may find all of this frightening . . . yet this is the work of Christ’s disciples.

We may find all of this exhausting . . . yet we draw strength from Christ.

We may find all of this overwhelming . . . yet we as disciples persist through Christ.

If we find all of this too confusing and too difficult, we will want to remember that Christ is God among us who comes to live as one of us . . . who brings us wisdom and strength.

If we find all of this too baffling and too crushing, we will want to remember that our perfection lies in our persistence . . . and that this is all that God asks of us.

If we find that all of this causes anger to rise within, we will want to remember that what we see as God’s wrath is God’s love.

And so we pray . . .

Dear God, From time to time our sight is blurred and our hearing dimmed and we must retreat for a time to take a journey inward, to ask your counsel, and to seek your wisdom.  Bring us your comfort and strength.  Set us on the right path.  Teach us to put aside our anger and our ridiculous idols.  Teach us to listen for you.  Teach us to trust in you alone.  Call us home to you.  Amen.


A re-blog from November 24, 2011.

Image from: http://cldefelice.blogspot.com/2009_04_01_archive.html

If we come to this hectic holiday season with too much anger, we may want to take a journey inward to examine who we are and how we behave.  To take a journey in which we examine our own use of anger go to the Journey of Transformation page on this blog. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 23.11 (2011): 317-318. Print.  

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2 Chronicles 26Pride and Fall

Tuesday, Christmas Day, December 25, 2018

On the day we celebrate the humble entry of the Christ in a world yearning for healing, we remember the re-post from November 22, 2011. We remember the lesson of  pride that Uzziah teaches us.

Rembrandt: King Uzziah

My mother warned us often: Pride goeth before a fall; she was likely referring to Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.   Today we are presented with a detailed story of how Uzziah takes so much that God has given to him – wealth, power and fame – and quickly loses it: But after he had become strong, he became proud of his own destruction and broke faith with the Lord, his God.  Was it the flocks and vineyards he owned, the soldiers he commanded or the city fortifications he built that fogged his vision?  We will never know what urged him to take over the office of the temple priest, but we do know his fate: leprosy broke out on his forehead . . . [and the priests] expelled him from the temple.  He fled unwillingly, for the Lord had afflicted him. King Uzziah remained a leper until the day of his death. He lived in exile, in a segregated house, excluded from the Lord.  We can imagine how difficult it must have been for Uzziah to process what had happened to him; and we can appreciate how difficult it must have been for him to deal with his heavy loss: a man who has all suddenly is separated from all that makes him powerful, rich and famous.

David: The Coronation of Napoleon

I remember an historical novel my Mother gave me to read; it was by Annemarie Selinko and was later made into the film Désirée.  It is the intriguing and convoluted story of Napoleon Bonaparte told from the point of view of a young woman he met, wooed and left behind.  It was valuable to me as a young girl and it is valuable to me today as I recall its latent message of pride going before a fall, and I also recall a conversation I had with Mother about humility and gratitude being the antidotes that will inoculate us against the insidious, deadly workings of pride.

Pride can make us ugly.  It can warp and distort our vision and hearing.  It makes us the people we have pledged to never be.  Gratitude puts us in proper relationship with self, God and others.  It reminds us gently that we are not the alpha and omega.  It whispers to us quietly that we have much to learn and that we cannot foresee or control the future.  Humility reminds us to take the last seat at the table rather than the first.  It gives us time to think, restrains us from making fools of ourselves and saves us from impulsivity.  Together, gratitude and humility can steer us away from the fall of pride but ultimately we must be the ones who save ourselves from the hubris that stalks any successful man or woman.

Napoleon crowns himself king, I learned in high school, and when I saw the painting by David in our textbook I remembered the story of the young girl who found out that the disaster of her inconstant suitor was salvation in disguise.  Uzziah is king and enters the temple to act as a priest and make an offering on the altar.  These are stories worth remembering.  They are lessons worth learning.  As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us call upon the twin angels of gratitude and humility . . . and keep them close at hand.


More details about Uzziah can be found at the following sites: http://www.christianlibrary.org/authors/John_L_Kachelman_Jr/kings-ot/uzziah.html and http://bibleencyclopedia.com/uzziah.htm

Images from: http://badgercatholic.blogspot.com/2011/05/mary-help-of-christians-ora-pro-nobis.html and http://biblicalgenealogy.kavonrueter.com/Pictures-Ozias.htm

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Psalm 65: Sacred Rest

Saturday, December 22, 2018

We are about to enter a week of Thanksgiving in the United States, a time when we traditionally set aside time for family and friends, a time when we traditionally acknowledge the goodness of the Creator and the generosity of Creation.  It has also become a time for bargain shopping.  Somehow we always manage to clutter up the time God gives us for refreshment and recuperation.  It is as if we cannot stop ourselves from the neurotic filling up of time and space with meaningless objects and activity.  A few brave souls have begun to push back against the opening of stores at midnight on Black Friday and I applaud their effort. http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111118/NEWS90/111119739/-1/NEWS  I have even joined the petition.  For some of us to bargain shop, others of us must leave family and home to wait on us.  I think we as a people are missing something.  Rest.

An excerpt I recently read from Richard Rohr’s Following the Mystics through the Narrow Gate …Seeing God in All Things (CD, DVD, MP3) has set me to thinking.  Today’s Noontime Psalm moves me further along in the same direction.  Rest.  We need to rest and reflect.

“The final experience of mysticism, after the optimistic explosion that we usually call hope, and the ensuing sense of safety, is of deep rest. It’s the verb I’m told that is most used by the mystics: ‘resting in God.’ All this striving and this need to perform, climb, and achieve becomes, on some very real level, unnecessary. It’s already here, now. I can stop all this overproduction and over-proving of myself. That’s Western and American culture. It’s not the Gospel at all.

“We’ve all imbibed the culture of unrest so deeply. We just cannot believe that we could be respected or admired or received or loved without some level of performance. We are all performers and overachievers, and we think ‘when we do that’ we will finally be lovable. Once you ride on the performance principle, you don’t even allow yourself to achieve it. Even when you ‘achieve’ a good day of ‘performing,’ it will never be enough, because it is inherently self-advancing and therefore self-defeating. You might call it ‘spiritual capitalism’.”

Rohr is telling us what we really know: we must step back from the high velocity life we have constructed for ourselves and we must give time over to God.  We need to rest, reflect, and give thanks.

The psalmist intones: To you we owe our hymn of praise . . . to you our vows must be fulfilled . . . to you all flesh must come . . . There is no denying this truth.  We owe all that we are and all that we have to God.  For this we must give thanks.  We all physically return to God.  This is a truth that cannot be avoided.

You answer us with awesome deeds of justice . . . you are robed in power, you set up the mountains by your might, you still the roaring of the seas . . . the tumult of the peoples . . . There is no avoiding this reality.  We might throw ourselves against our problems with childish anger but in the end it is child-like petition that brings us to our senses. This is a truth that cannot be ignored.

You visit the earth and water it, make it abundantly fertile . . . you adorn the year with your bounty, your paths drip with fruitful rain, the untilled meadows also drip; the hills are robed with joy . . . There is no tricking ourselves into believing that God has no interest in us whatever.  God’s generosity is too enormous to reject; God’s kindness is impossible to refute.  We may give ourselves credit for earning what we have gathered but it is God the Creator who makes the panoply of Creation available to us.  This is a truth that cannot be argued away.

The pastures are clothed with flocks, the valleys blanketed with grain; they cheer and sing for joy . . . There is no evading these simple facts.  God creates.  God provides.  God rests.  If we hope to rest at all . . . we must first rest in God . . . We must call our friends and loved ones to join us in this sacred resting . . . and we must together give thanks to the Creator for Creation.


A re-post from November 19, 2011.

Image from: http://adjusttowellness.com/Kids_5Reasons.html 

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Psalm 116: Making a Return

Easter Thursday, April 5, 2018

In the NRSV translation, this psalm carries the title Thanksgiving for Recovery from Illnessbut what sort of illness might this be? Is our gratitude for a physical, psychological or spiritual restoration? Are we able to step forward into the healing grace of God?

I love the Lord, because he hears me;
    he listens to my prayers.
He listens to me
    every time I call to him.

Now that we have re-lived the story of Easter promise, do we continue to believe in our covenant with God when life challenges us? Are we able to remain steadfast in our beliefs when family or friends test us? How do we love our enemies when they plot and scheme against us?

And so I walk in the presence of the Lord
    in the world of the living.
I kept on believing, even when I said,
    “I am completely crushed,”
even when I was afraid and said,
    “No one can be trusted.”

As we journey through this week of EASTER celebration, are we willing to put aside our wilfulness of ego to reclaim our vow of willingness as servants of the Spirit? Do we step forward as builders of the kingdom of God? Do we shrink from the call to leave our comfort zones?

I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did.
You have saved me from death.
I will give you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
    and offer my prayer to you.

Remembering the generous love of the Creator, living in the company of the risen Christ, and resting in the consoling mercy of the Spirit, we ask one another to give thanks to God.

In the assembly of all your people,
    in the sanctuary of your Temple in Jerusalem,
    I will give you what I have promised.

We ask our family, friends and foes to make a return for God’s unbounding courage, generous wisdom, and nourishing love.

Praise the Lord!


When we compare varying translations of these verses, we welcome the opportunity to make a return of God’s great love.

Images from: https://yoogozi.com/simple-secret-to-life-serving-others/ and 

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John 14: Seek Presence

Thursday, November 30, 2017

With the institution of the gift of Eucharist, Jesus promises that he will remain with us always. Matthew 26:26-28

With the gift of bread and wine as the real presence of Christ, the Spirit dwells in us today. Mark 14: 22-24

With the physical remembrance of transformed bread and wine, of God fulfills the promise to live among us. Luke 22:19-20

With the gift of Eucharist, or Thanksgiving, we have the way to be in the real presence of God. John 14

Richard Rohr, OFM writes: “The Eucharist is an encounter of the heart, knowing Presence through our available presence. In the Eucharist we move beyond mere words or rational thought and go to the place where we don’t talk about the Mystery anymore; we begin to chew on it. Jesus did not say, ‘Think about this’ or ‘Stare at this’ or even ‘Worship this.’ Instead, he said, ‘Eat this!’ It was to be a bodily action and a social action with the group . . . We are the very Body of Christ. We have dignity and power flowing through us in our very naked existence – and everybody else does too – even though most do not know it. This is enough to steer and empower your entire faith life”. (Rohr 299)

We can infer from these verses and Rohr’s words that realizing the true presence of God in our lives will not happen when we are alone in a quiet corner contemplating God’s existence. Rather, we best find God as we act as Christ asks us to act, when we abide in the Spirit as the Spirit urges, and when we agree to become the Body of Christ as God invites us.

Finding the True Presence, then, is more likely when we are moving through our days with Christ ever on our minds and in our hearts, hands, lips and feet. We find the presence of God when we are truly open and thankful. We encounter the presence of God when we remember that Eucharist means Thanksgiving, and when we thank God for all that we have and all we are.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

When we use the scripture links and drop-down menus to compare varying translations of these verses, we discover the presence of God within.

 

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Daniel 2:20-23: Seek God

William Brassey Hole: Daniel Interprets the Dream of Nebuchadnezzar

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Canticle of Praise

If we want to seek God, we do well to begin with praising God. In the Northern Hemisphere as we bring in the harvests from a season of plenty, we reflect on one who praises God well.

The story of Daniel is well-known to us.  He and his comrades were taken to the Babylonian court, as were many of the talented young Jewish men, and there he interprets king Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  When he is graced with the gift of a vision from God, he reveals the mystery of the king’s dream. Daniel wisely acknowledges the source of his talent and so he properly and immediately thanks and praises his God with these beautiful verses.  They are ones that we might recite each morning and each evening at the rising and the closing of our day.

God is wise and powerful!
    Praise God forever and ever.

Daniel brings to full potential not only himself but also the Jewish nation . . . in a creative, saintly way.  He takes no care for his own circumstances – which are at the minimum unpleasant and at the worst life-threatening – because he knows that God will protect and guide him.  Daniel is only concerned about fulfilling the part of God’s plan which he has been called to enact.  He pushes himself toward the potential planted in him by God.  So do the saints.  So may we.

Let us praise God as Daniel does.

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and power are God’s.

What an awesome God we have.  Let us join him and the community of saints as we seek to know ourselves better, to share ourselves better, to heal ourselves and others better.

God reveals deep and hidden things and knows what is in the darkness, for the light dwells with God.

Let us open to the light of the revealed Christ.  Let us put that light on a lampstand for all creation to see.

To you, O God . . . I give thanks and praise, because you have given me wisdom and power.

Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite from November 1, 2007.

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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.  

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