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Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Liturgy of the Hours – Part II

Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime.

Sext is the traditional noontime prayer and those who are frequent visitors of The Noontimes gather petitions to send on to God.  This pause in the middle of the day can steady frayed nerves and give us courage.  Pausing to relieve the tensions we experience in the living of ordinary lives, we place the burden of our worries precisely where they belong . . . in God’s capable and loving hands.

The None or Nones prayers are gathered at 3:00 p.m. and when we read scripture carefully we discover that the apostles maintained the Jewish tradition of going up to the Temple at this hour to pray.  In Acts 3 we read a delightful story of God entering into Peter and John’s lives in an amazing way when they go up to the temple area to pray at the three o’clock hour of prayer.  We modern-day disciples are given the chance to join our prayers with others as this mid afternoon hour moves from east to west around the globe . . . and to ask for our own amazing experience.

Sext at noon and None as we reach the middle of the afternoon, these prayer intervals interrupt the denser part of the work day and ask us to pause either for a sliver of a moment or for a half hour or hour, whatever is practical in our lives.  Sext and None, keeping us anchored as we bring our work to God. Sext and None, guiding us through hectic and perhaps tense hours. Sext and None . . . preparing us for our return home to take refuge before night closes us in.

These two afternoon intervals, along with their sisters in this rhythmic cycle of prayer, bring to us an opening to God’s presence in a special way.  Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers or Evensong, and ComplineThese invitations to join the faithful in prayer lifted to the Creator are ours.  These opportunities each day and night as a call to bring our sorrows and joys to God are ours.  These petitions and offertories we bring forward as our hopes and dreams regularly and faithfully are the heartbeats of the Spirit that unite us.

Whenever and wherever possible let us pause, if even only for a moment, at these appointed times to join our sisters and brothers in Christ because in this way we will come to more completely understand that we are never alone. In this way we more intensely feel that we are always accompanied.  And in this way we more fully join the chorus that rises like incense to God in a powerful cascade of love and prayer.

We can spend time on with The Story of the crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate in Acts 3.

Image from: http://dailytimewithgod.com/?p=3907

To read about research that investigates the power of prayer, go to: http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,193084,00.html

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Ephesians 5:19-20

Liturgy of the Hours – Part I

breathe[1]Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praying to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. 

The liturgical observation of Canonical Hours has its origin in the old Judaic tradition of praying seven times in the twenty-four hour cycle as Psalm 119:164 tells us: Seven times a day do I praise you. With the rise of Christianity and its spread through the Roman Empire, these seven prayer intervals, or eight if both Prime and Lauds are prayed at separate intervals, have come to us through the ages.  We have spent time reflecting about Lauds, Vespers and Compline.  Today we take another look at how we might join our voices at other times of the day and night when we know that millions around the globe are praying.  In this small way we take our large and little problems to God . . . to find solace and peace in troubled times.

The Night Watch Prayer is sometimes referred to as Matins and is prayed at any hour between 2 a.m. and sunrise.  We know that the early apostles prayed throughout the day and night as we read in Acts 16:25-26: About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a great earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. When we awake in the middle of the night there is a certain comfort in remembering this story of the jailed disciples whom God miraculously freed.  We also find a certain peace in offering our petitions when we know that millions in other time zones gather during their waking hours to pray the daytime offices.  In this way we join our own prayer to the cascade of prayer lifted to God without ceasing. 

The Prayer of Terce is traditionally prayed at 9:00 a.m. at the time when modern-day employees typically arrive in their offices.  If we find ourselves in difficult workplaces we might seek a few trusted colleagues who will agree to pause at an appointed morning hour to quietly petition God for the repair of the broken places in our offices, and to give us the insight we need to better understand the cold hearts and stiff necks of stubborn co-workers.  This agreed upon appointment with God does not require that we physically gather; the mingling of our prayers from our separate cubicles or offices in a common call for goodness is pleasing to God who loves to see faithful children come together in any way they can to ask for justice and mercy.

Matins, early in the morning when we cannot sleep or when we awake, and Terce, as the working part of our day begins . . . we must remember God in all we ask.  We must call on God with all we say.  And we must live in God in all we do.

So let us join our voices with the millions that rise to God at Matins or Terce, and let us be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praying to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.   Amen.

The Benedictus, Magnificat and Compline posts earlier this week describe other times in the cycle of prayer or conversation with God.  Tomorrow, the prayers of Sext and None  For more information on fixed hour prayer, this constant dialog with God at regular intervals, go to: http://www.explorefaith.org/prayer/prayer/fixed/index.php  

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

deadsea[1]Matthew 18:19-20

The Isaiah Effect

I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. 

In his publication THE ISAIAH EFFECT, Gregg Braden “combines research in quantum physics with the words of the prophet Isaiah and the ancient Essenes” to illustrate that when we come together to petition God in common prayer we find a “correlation between the offering of the prayer and a shift of the events in question beyond coincidence – the prayers had measureable effects”.   The name Isaiah means “the Lord saves: and this prophecy was written at a critical time in the history of the people of Israel.   The universal message brought to us through this prophet is one of salvation”. (Braden, Editor’s Note)

God says: You send me endless petitions and this is as it should be.  I created you. I know your needs.  I know your desires.  I love to transform your life and open miracles to you.  I want to save you in every way each day.  It is true that when you agree to pray at the same moment each day it does not matter if you are physically in the same space. I also created space and I can adapt it to my ends.  It is also true that if the events of your day cause you to miss or even forget your prayer appointment with your friends, you can offer your petition when you realize the missed hour.  I created time and this also I can bend to my will.  I only ask that you agree to gather in Jesus’ name to fold your prayers together in offering.  Leave the rest to me.  Walk in The Way I am showing to you. 

We study God’s universe and develop themes and theories that we call quantum physics.  From these studies we understand that there are more dimensions than the three we experience of pitch, yaw and roll.  We also understand that time it not as linear and unyielding as we like to think.  When we are willing to step out of our own time and space in order to step into God’s world of possibility, we are rewarded.  Let us commit to making a prayer appointment with friends or family members who have a common petition . . . let us send our petitions forward to God . . . and let us be patient enough to witness God’s Isaiah Effect.

Braden, Gregg.  THE ISAIAH EFFECT. New York: Harmony Books. 2000. Print.  Editor’s Note.

Explore the world of the Essenes and read a FRONTLINE article by clicking on the image above or going to: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/essenes.html

Sandals found in the Caves at Qumran

Sandals found in the Caves at Qumran

For online access to the Great Isaiah Scroll discovered in the Qumran caves in the 1940s and 1950s, go to: http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah_video

To move around the scroll, click on it, and move the cursor above the citation for the English Masoretic translation at: http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah#66:6

For seven interesting facts about The Dead Sea, viait: https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/nature/intriguing-things-you-didnt-know-about-dead-sea

To read about The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran, and for a video visit to the vault where they are stored, go to the Israel Museum’s Shrine of The Book at: http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/dss_video

Visit with The Community Scroll and watch the video to see how the early Qumran sectarians wrote the word God in their manuscripts.  http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/community_video

To understand the concepts pitch, yaw and roll, and for a visual illustration of their intertwined movements, go to: http://howthingsfly.si.edu/flight-dynamics/roll-pitch-and-yaw

For a site which shares Bible citations about the power of prayer, go to: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-awesome-bible-verses-about-the-power-of-prayer/

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Luke 2:29-32


My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations.

In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours the Canticle of Simeon is sung as part of Compline or Night Prayer.  For the entire prayer, go to the Bible Gateway site linked in the citation above and explore the various interpretations of these verses.  For the story of Simeon, read Luke 2:22-35.

God says: Simeon is a faithful servant who waited patiently for the fulfillment of my promise that he would see the messiah before death came to him.  Just as Mary and Joseph were presenting the child, Jesus, in the Temple, this loyal servant saw in this family what I see, a trinity of hope, love and faith, promise, mercy and constancy.  Simeon also saw that the lives of these three people would be full of deep sorrow and great joy.  Simeon spoke words that I hear in waves from the faithful as they prepare to retire for the night.  Join yourself with them as you prepare for bed.  It is such a short prayer that it will not tax you.  Turn away from the cares of the world for a brief time and pray these verses.  You sleep ever so much better for having joined Simeon to visit with me.

Another faithful servant waited patiently for the appearance of God Among Us.  Tomorrow, the story of Anna . . .

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aert_de_Gelder_-_Het_loflied_van_Simeon.jpg

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Mary's greatness quoteLuke 1:46-55


My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. 

In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours the Magnificat is sung as part of Vespers, or Evening Prayer.  For the entire prayer, go to the Bible Gateway site linked in the citation above and explore the various interpretations of these verses.

God says: Imagine what I hear when so many voices are raised to me each evening with these words of Mary.  It is most pleasing to hear the babel of your many languages and even more pleasing to hear the petitions you lift up to me as you pray.  Do not worry if you find that the details of your life call you away at the appointed Evensong.  As best you can, pause for a moment to remember me and our Mother Mary who bravely stepped forward so that I might come to live among you.  Just say the word “Magnificat” with deep intention before you move into your evening.  I will unite your word with the other prayers that fly to me. Remember always how much Mary loves you as the sisters and brothers of Jesus.  And remember always that I also love you.

These words of Mary express the hope of all.  Let us spend a few moments of our precious time to unite ourselves with her and those millions of others who lift these verses to God each day as the evening closes in.

Image from: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Society-of-Our-Lady-of-the-Magnificat/270422953001042

To read more about Mary’s own Prayer by Fr. John A. Harden, S.J., go to: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=7340

To visit with a homily about this prayer by Msgr. Charles Pope and to reflect on an image of Elizabeth greeting Mary, go to: http://blog.adw.org/2010/12/the-magnificat-is-a-bold-prayer/

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Luke 1:67-79


In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours this Canticle of Zechariah is sung as part of Lauds, or Morning Prayer or Prime, and although the verses are intoned by Zechariah on the birth of his son John the Baptist, they prophesy the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the Light of the World. Commentary tells us that their origin may have been an early Jewish Christian hymn that Luke adapted for his story. (Senior cf. 100) Today we examine these verses to see how we might bring full voice to our thanksgiving that God is not a remote and distant deity who merely observes the events that surround our lives, but a merciful and loving parent who chooses to live and move among us.

Zechariah begins by praising God for releasing us from all that binds and for delivering us from our enemies the prophets have promised. He reminds us of the covenant we have with God and all that it promises, and then he urges his child, John, to fulfill his role as herald of the Word. Describing the coming Messiah as the dawn from on high, Zechariah recalls for us the purpose of this light for the world: to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. 

In our world of immediate satisfaction and quick fulfillment, it is difficult to find our place in God’s plan that unfolds through the millennia to unite billions of souls, and it is both fitting and helpful that we rise each morning to intone these words of Zechariah as part of our morning prayer. When we pray the Benedictus we unite ourselves with all the faithful who greet each day with these same words of thanksgiving, remembrance and promise. So let us give thanks. Let us remember God’s promises.  And let us walk with our God in the way of peace.

When we look at the entire first Chapter of Luke we discover how God prepares the faithful for the coming of Emmanuel, the incarnation of God’s Word Among Us, Jesus the Christ. We also understand more fully how carefully God’s heart and hand entwine with each precious life.

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/180214422562937316/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.100. Print.

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Monday, July 13, 2020

imagesCA8I90271 Kings 14-16

Lessons of History

Following King Solomon’s death, the territory of Israel was split into two, the northern (10 tribes renamed as Israel) and southern (the tribes of Benjamin and Judah renamed Judah) kingdoms.  (1 Kings 12)  The rest of these annals labeled Kings continues the story of these two kingdoms.  James Mays in HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY (Mays 290) characterizes chapters 14 to 16 in the following way:  They summarize the last fifty years or so of the reigns of Jeroboam’s transgression and Rehoboam’s folly.  “Judah’s transgression involved illicit sacrifice outside of Jerusalem at high places and is said to have been the fault of both the people and their kings”.  This culpability and apostasy were counterbalanced by king Asa’s attempts to reform his people.  Yahweh remained faithful to the covenant.  By contrast, Israel’s kings led the people astray; King Ahab and his queen Jezebel supported state-sponsored worship of idols and in particular the god Baal.  Yahweh, despite the repeated cycles of abuse, continues to maintain his part of the bargain with these stiff-necked, hard-hearted peoples.  What are the lessons these people or we today have learned from our God?

Reading these historical narratives is a bit like reading the tiny abstracts of soap operas or evening drama.  We watch the endless returning to past misdeeds.  It seems as though no one is listening, no one is paying attention; yet Yahweh remains faithful.

Jesus, when asked by his disciples the question How often are we to forgive others their transgressions? answers seven time seven or in other words, endlessly. Both the Father and the Son demonstrate goodness, and mercy, tempered with justice.

So today we might unravel these stories toward the end of 1 Kings and we might investigate what went on before and after these difficult times of the Divided Kingdom.  Putting these chapters into context we might understand the circumstances in which these people found themselves.  We might better see our enemies as reluctant learners, and we might also see ourselves as these same reluctant learners.

Why does God continue to love us when we refuse or are unable to learn the lessons of history?  Why is it that God forgives us endlessly when we have ignored and even laughed at the lessons history has to offer?

Because God is love, and God loves us fiercely.  We know this because we have read the first letter of John, chapter 4 verses 7 to 16.  We know this because countless times we have asked for forgiveness and have received healing and pardon.  We know this because we have been graced to witness countless reconciliations of bitter enemies.  We know this because we can feel the arms of Christ the Comforter stretched between ourselves and those with whom we are in conflict.  We know this because once we begin down the path of peacemaking, the world begins to look like the beautiful Eden we thought we had abandoned, and because from that moment onward, we are never the same.

First written on July 30, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 520. Print.

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Sunday, July 12, 2020

article-new_ehow_images_a07_uf_pj_different-types-angels-bible-800x800[1]Job 1:6


One day, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan also came among them. 

We know the sons of God as angels who minister to God and act as messengers.  The fallen angels are those who, because of their pride, have turned away from God’s goodness.  The leader of these demons is Satan and we see in this accounting from Job that he slides into God’s presence under cover of his enlightened brothers.  We must always be on the lookout for Satan when things are going well . . . he uses the cover of the presence of the faithful to gain access to God.

God says: I know that Satan prowls the earth looking for ways to slide into your hearts but do not fear.  You have only to keep your eye on me, and your hand and your heart in mine.  All that is required is that you follow me.  My angels deliver messages, they watch over and guard you, they protect and defend you, they worship and sing praises.  I have named each of them as I have named you.  They have free will, just as you do, to turn toward or away from me.  They are my special creatures but even with their great beauty and expertise . . . they are not as precious to me as are you. For you are my own wonderful children. You are made in my image.  I see myself in each of you.  You are mine.

We may have difficulty understanding how God moves in our lives when there are billions of us to tend to.  Understanding how angels act on God’s behalf, when they appear in human lives, and why they are important, we may want to visit: https://catholicstraightanswers.com/what-are-angels/ or http://www.catholic.org/saints/angels/ or enter the word angel in the blog search bar and explore the world of these special beings.

Image from: http://www.ehow.com/info_8339251_different-types-angels-bible.html

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Thursday, July 9, 2020

"Show me a denarius," Jesus said. "Whose portrait and title are on it?"

“Show me a denarius,” Jesus said. “Whose portrait and title are on it?”

Luke 20:23

Awareness of Cunning

So they waited their opportunity and sent agents as upright men, and to catch him out in something he might say and so enable them to hand him over to the jurisdiction and authority of the governor . . . They put to him this question, “Master, we know that you say and teach what is right; you favor no one but teach the way of God in all honesty.  Is it permissible for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” But he was aware of their cunning . . .

Sometimes we send our own agents as the upright.  Sometimes we stand in open and full light.  Sometimes we are the upright who are sent as one of the cunning.  Sometimes we stand with the Master to witness.

God says: I know that you live in a complicated world of complex alliances and arrangements.  I know that once you have established yourself with a group it is difficult to go against them even when you know they are off in the wrong direction. I know that you love me and rely on the fact that I am forgiving, and so I am.  But there is no need for duplicity or deceit.  It is not necessary to come at me sideways.  Am I not always open and honest with you?  There is no need for you to be cunning with me since I know all that you think and all that you do. So come to me and render to me what is divine . . . and so shall you come into your own divinity. 

Straightforwardness, constancy, honesty.  We know what we must render to Caesar and we know what we must render to God.  Let us not hesitate . . . and let us stay well away from any thought or word or deed that is duplicitous . . . for Jesus is aware of our cunning.

For other reflections on this blog about this story, enter Luke 20 into the search bar.

To read different translations of this verse, click on the citation above or go to: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2020:20-23&version=NIV;MSG;DRA;EXB

The emperor portrayed on the denarius above is Tiberius.  He ruled from the year 14 to 37 C.E.  To learn more about this coin, go to: http://topicalbible.org/d/denarius.htm

The denarius is often called a tribute penny. To discover more, visit: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/numiswiki/view.asp?key=Tribute%20Penny

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribute_penny

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