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Posts Tagged ‘prayer’


Genesis 18:1-15: Dissembling

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh”.  But he said, “Yes you did”. It seems that when we are afraid, or even uncomfortable, we hide.  Perhaps we want to protect ourselves from unwanted criticism at a time when we feel vulnerable.  Society would benefit from our willingness to put aside fear in order to practice honesty.  Our families would flourish if we might find a way to establish trust in order that we become less defensive.  Our work and play communities would prosper if we were free of ridicule.  Putting aside fear so that we might live a life of authenticity is what God asks us to do.  We all fail at this constantly . . . and this is something that God knows well.

Fear has been with us since our genesis as humans; it is not an aberration that arises after eons of human evolution.  Nor is it a modern phenomenon brought on by rapid change or sudden advances in technology.  Fear must have been with the first humans who hunted and gathered food and sought shelter.  Dissembling was likely a defense against isolation or separation from the tribe, a strategy for survival.  Is it a tool we want to use today?  Do we need to shave edges from truth?  Do we need to shape the opinion of those around us?  Are we willing to go to God and ask that we begin again . . . in total honesty . . . without dissembling?

It is good to remind ourselves that God is quick to pardon when we ask forgiveness, and that God has infinite mercy for us.  We know that all God asks is our gratitude and our willingness to do as he asks.  God constantly assures us that we are loved . . . and God asks for our love in return.  We need not fear.  We need not dissemble.  And we need not nurture this dissembling in ourselves or others.  When we are fearful . . . we know what we must do.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer (Cameron 129-130)

Jonah 2:3: Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.

Isaiah 43:12: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.  When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. 

And so we pray . . .

When we feel fear begin to consume us, rather than dissemble and begin to weave a complicated web, we must call on God to bolster us in the truth.

When we are tempted to mislead others, rather than add to the illusion, we must ask God to help us to be honest and authentic.

When we come upon a rat’s nest of lies and deceit, rather than turn away with blank face and trembling heart, we must rely on God to help us witness to what we know to be truth.

Good and honest God, you have allowed us to choose if and how we are to follow you.  Guide us to see through the clever tricks of the expert weavers of lies and lead us to be merciful with those who dissemble out of fear.  Protect us as we mark a straight path to you with the signs of our little and big sufferings.  Lead us out of the maze of confusing dissembled responses others give to us.  Give us the courage to speak candidly, to act compassionately, and to love into goodness those who would harm us with their dissembling words.  We ask this of you who has created us, you who has shown us the way of authenticity, and you who abides within us always.  Amen. 


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 13.6 (2011): 129-130. Print.   

Image from: http://listverse.com/2007/08/20/top-10-bizarre-phobias/

A re-post from August 10, 2011.

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John 2:23-25The Interior Life

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

This reflection is adapted from thoughts written on February 23, 2009; and it reminds us that Christ is The Life we seek to live. It calls us to find our lives in Christ through prayer. 

Saints and scholars have written much about the life of the soul.  We have been told through Scripture, and through the Creator’s revelation to us, what we can expect when we enter into honest and authentic relationship with Christ.  The Holy Spirit settles into the temple nest that we prepare to abide with us with her compassionate healing.  The Creator guides us to the potential molded with us at our inception.

What more can we say about our interior life?  How do we connect with Christ to better life the life that is our hope? What can we do to improve this life, to bring ourselves to fruition so that our inner life might blossom in our exterior life of thanksgiving and joy . . . even in the face of misery?

Today’s Meditation in MAGNIFICAT is from Philoxenus, a fifth/sixth century Syriac writer and theologian.  It is about prayer and how we come to God through prayer.

Theodorus Philoxenus Sotericus

One should be secretly swallowed up in the spirit in God, and one should clothe oneself in God at the time of prayer both outwardly and inwardly, set on fire with ardent love for him, and entirely engulfed in all of him, entirely commingled in all of him, with the movements of one’s thoughts suffused with wondrous recollection of God, while the soul has gone out in love to seek him whom she loves, just as David said, “My soul has gone out to you”.

The soul goes out in wondrous recollection of God.

God enters into the soul.

The interior life becomes a dialog with God in which all worries, woes and fears can be opened in trust.

The interior blooms.

This blossoming becomes evident through the exterior.

Our actions demonstrate our wondrous recollection of God. 

This afternoon, let us raise our voices together in a communal prayer . . . that we might illuminate the world with our wondrous recollection of God. 


Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 23.2 (2009). Print.

Images from: https://www.desiringgod.org/topics/prayer and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Theodorus_Philoxenus_Sotericus_A_01a.JPG 

For more information on Theodorus Philoxenus Sotericus, visit https://www.britannica.com/biography/Philoxenus-of-Mabbug 

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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. 

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Tobit 3:24-25: The Favor of Providence

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tobias_cura_a_cegueira_de_seu_pai_-_Domingos_Sequeira

Domingos Sequeira: Tobias Heals the Blindness of his father Tobit

As a Noontime companion, you will know that this book is a favorite. This story is full of fidelity, promise, hope, healing, courage, desperation, prayers answered and the mystery of how we gain most in ourselves by trusting God. The story tells us of the importance of the mystery of trust.  We see God move not only through the disguise of the archangel Rafael, but also through people who respond to God’s call . . . even when it places them in danger.

Today’s excerpt is brief but we gain much if we spend some of our time with these verses. They are a wonderful antidote for a dispirited day.  The story reminds us of all the Old Testament foretells, all the prophets predict, all the wisdom books proclaim, and all that Jesus comes to fulfill. We have valuable lessons here. On this second weekend of Lent, we serve ourselves well by reflecting with these verses and taking in their lessons.

First: Tobit shows us that God is good, and we are good. It also shows us that although life is brutal and unpredictable, it is good because it brings us to God.

Second: The faithful need not fight, they only need to stand and refuse to do anything that causes them to abandon their God. We need to kill people with kindness, we need to make our hearts open and vulnerable to God, we must become Christ’s hands and feet, head and heart through the act of healing one another, and through the act of interceding for one another, even our enemies. 

Tomorrow, we discover how these lessons teach us the importance of the mystery of wisdom and trust. If we take an hour or so to read more than these verses this weekend, we will not regret our decision to use our time in this way.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 10, 2008.

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The New Testament: Simplicity

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Adapted from a reflection written on March 5, 2009.

If your Bible has an introduction to the New Testament, now is a perfect time to read it.  The season of Lent is calling us to forgiveness, newness and rescue; this is also the message of the New Testament.

From La Biblia de América.  Together, these writings animate, illustrate and consolidate a new faith.  They came to life through an oppressed people longing to be free from the constant need to worry about their everyday subsistence.  Wealthy landholders held most of the power and control.  There was no social safety net.  The little people were left to fend for themselves.  These are the people to whom Jesus ministered.  They are still his dearest ones.  We love Jesus best when we love the marginalized.  This is a theology of simplicity.

The thinking and theology presented by Christ brought not only a newness and a simpleness to old ways, but a challenge that required answers.  The people who heard the message and embraced it even in the face of death served as the tinder that ignited a movement that has not – and will not – be overcome by darkness.  This is what the followers of Jesus know: that we are created out of and for love, and that the creator desires nothing more than our love in return. There is no greater news than this.  The story of Jesus and his actions is unparalleled.  It has no equal; nothing can be more simple.

How do we communicate our love to God, our understanding of the simplicity to which Christ calls us?  Through prayer.  Catherine de Hueck Doherty, the foundress of Madonna House, is quoted in today’s Meditation in MAGNIFICAT:  Prayer is conversation with God.  It does not require a thousand books.  It requires a simple and tremendous love of God and a total simplicity.  I am beloved by God.  He created me.  This is the first idea.  And he wants to be loved by me.  We have to get that into our heads.  Then we proceed to tell him we love him. 

A simple and tremendous love of God and a total simplicity.  This what the people of the Palestine had and knew.  It is what we can come to know.  For this we pray . . . Amen.

For more reflections on the books of the New Testament, visit the New Testament link on “The Book of Your Life” page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 5.3 (2009). Print.  

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

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Ephesians 6:14-20: A Prayer for Spiritual Warfare

Wednesday, September 7, 201632643-15133-armor-of-god.1200w.tn

Patience and perseverance. These are the qualities we know will open us to God’s nourishing goodness as we wade into daily spiritual warfare. Prayer and thanksgiving. These are the actions we need take as we look to Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesians.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (THE MESSAGE)

When we compare another version of these verses, we open ourselves to the strength that only God can provide.

So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people. And pray also for me, that God will give me a message when I am ready to speak, so that I may speak boldly and make known the gospel’s secret. For the sake of this gospel I am an ambassador, though now I am in prison. Pray that I may be bold in speaking about the gospel as I should. (THE GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

And so we pray.

When we meet circumstances that overwhelm us, we remember that our fidelity to The Word and our readiness to share God’s promise and hope are the strongest armor we might employ. Resilient God, lend us your strength.

When we stumble over obstacles that threaten our peace and security, we remember that our joy in The Word and our delight in Jesus’ story are the enduring armor we might put on. Confident God, lend us your hope.

When we falter with doubt and anxiety crushes us, we remember that our prayers always rise directly to you. Authentic God, lend us your love.

In Jesus’ name we wait patiently in you. In the Spirit’s power we persist always in you. In God’s name we give thanks always for you. Amen.

 

 

 

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Matthew 7:7-12: Ask, Seek, Knock

Friday, February 19, 2016ask_seek_knock_importunity

We read the familiar words from Matthew and hope they are true.

Ask, and you will receive . . .

We explore these same verses in other translations.

Don’t bargain with God. Be direct.

We repeat the familiar words from Matthew to take them in as our mantra of faith.

Seek, and you will find . . .  

We hunger and thirst for serenity, a serenity we already have but cannot fully experience.

Ask for what you need.

We pray the familiar words from Matthew as we pledge to live them in love.

old-wooden-door-opening-light-shining-33999556Knock, and the door will be opened to you . . .

We share the Good News with the world, and announce that the Kingdom has come.

This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. 

We feel the power of the Spirit, the hope of Christ and the love of God move through our flesh and bones.

Ask, and you will receive . . . Seek, and you will find . . .  Knock, and the door will be opened to you . . .

This is our prayer, the prayer of the faithful. This is our hope, the hope of the hopeless. This is God’s love, the love of Christ.

ask_seek_knock_lukeDon’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. 

This is life, life eternal. Let us begin to live as if we believe in the Good News of Christ.

The dusky tan verses are from the GOOD NEWS translation and the Lenten purple are from THE MESSAGE. When we use the scripture link above to read more of these translations and to look for others, God’s Word begins to lighten the load of the day. Consider the Luke 11:9 version of Jesus’ words. How does it differ from Matthew’s? 

As we reflect, we remember . . . rather than thinking: “I am misunderstood,” I will think instead, “God is so understanding”.

Tomorrow, finding happiness.

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Acts 2: The Coming of the Spirit

Monday, February 8, 2016

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

The second chapter of Acts contains the description of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the joy and enthusiasm of the apostles. This bursting forth from the Upper Room, this settling into communal life . . . this might be the description of the initiation of any intimate relationship that begins with fire and energy to settle into a constant, abiding love.   Joy settling into constancy returning to joy again.  This is what we seek.  This is what God seeks.  Why do we so often forget this?

There is an image in today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection which describes how the tiny particles of smoke fog our vision.  It continues with the thought that as we seek God through the haze, we pray for one another . . . and in so doing we exhibit our faith and longing for God.  God sees and recognizes this.  Father Men tells us that then all of us will ascend toward the Lord, as if holding onto that prayer.  This is the main thing – the rest will follow – but this is essential to our lives.  Then Jesus, seeing our faith, will say to all those for whom we have been praying: “My child, awake from your sleep and your sickness, from your palsy, your spiritual paralysis; arise, your sins are forgiven you”.

The image of the apostles who gathered in fear and spiritual paralysis in the Upper Room to pray as they consoled one another is strong as we read this chapter of Acts.  These early disciples are rewarded for their faith, for turning to God.  They receive the Holy Spirit in such a way that their ardor never flags.  We, too, receive this Spirit.  We, too, are loved.  We, too, are lifted up in joy to our God.  May our own desire and zeal for the Lord never falter.

A Favorite from March 3, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.3 (2008). Print.  

 

 

 

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Philippians 4:4-14: God’s Yardstick – Paul

Whatever is Truetruth

Saturday, January 30, 2016

We continue to look for God’s yardstick in the New Testament.

Paul writes his story of the good news in his letters to Christian communities he establishes, and in the acts of love recorded in Acts of the Apostles. What does he tell us about the measure with which God measures?

Paul urges the followers of Christ to celebrate always . . .

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 

Paul asks that we share Christ’s goodness with all we meet and in all we do and say . . .

Let your gentle spirit be known to all.

Paul urges the followers of Christ to rely on prayer . . .

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer.

Paul reminds us to put our petitions in the creator’s hands . . .

Let your requests be made known to God.

Paul advises us to focus only on Christ . . .

Guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Paul gives a yardstick that is strong, concise, simple and elegant . . .

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

When we explore Paul’s letters we find a consistent, clear message. This is a yardstick we will want to use. It is a yardstick we will want to share with others.

Tomorrow, James.

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