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Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’


Sunday. August 16, 2020

peace-it-does-not-mean-to-be-in-a-place-where-there-is-no-noise-trouble-or-hard-work[1]Mark 8:34-38

The Forfeited Life

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life?  And indeed what can a man offer for his life?  For if anyone in this adulterous and sinful generation is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”.

Discipleship, inversion, angels, and trust in God: these are the themes we have visited this week.  Today Mark reminds us that in order to follow Christ we must look for goodness in reversals; we must welcome God’s message and the messengers themselves for they bring us God’s presence.  And we must rely on God for all that we are and all that we have, for God accompanies us always and everywhere.

God says: I know that I am most visible to you when you are ill, frightened or broken-hearted.  I understand this for I created you and I created the world, and I understand the hold that the world can have on you.  I know that you welcome me when I come to you in a version of myself that matches your expectation and that I startle you when I arrive in a way that makes you uncomfortable.  I understand your reluctance to open your arms to me for I created you and I created the world. I understand that you rely more on your senses than you do on me.  Yet still I ask that follow me for I created you and I created the world.  I rejoice each morning with you when you turn to me in prayer.  I sing with you at noon when you remember me and call my name.  I celebrate with you each evening when you return to me in thanksgiving . . . for I created you and I created the world.  And I ask that you forfeit all for me so that you might know my peace . . . the peace that the world cannot give.  

Discipleship is hard-earned and well-worn. Inversion can be anticipated and yet still surprising. God’s angels are constantly with us yet they frequently go unseen. Trust in God brings a new way of life and a guarantee of eternal peace. Let us thank God for the grace and blessings bestowed on us this day and all days.


Image from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/48765608435979800/ 

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Michelangelo: Creation

Michelangelo: Creation of Adam

Psalms 7 to 18

Life, Death, Divinity, Humanity

This reflection was written upon the death of a friend’s father and is shared today as a Favorite. 

Much of life is lived in a confusion of fear and thanksgiving and we find a jumble of these emotions in Psalms 7 though 18.  Looking at just the New American Bible titles of these poems gives us a series of jubilant prayers mixed with sorrow-filled ones.  It is in this way that these poems bring us a faultless reflection of life.

The fusion of worlds present in the human made in the image of God is a dichotomy which we can either unite our id, ego and superego . . . or it can split us into child and adult separated by a chasm of fear.  Fear of what?  Fear of suffering.  Fear of humiliation.  Fear of loss.  Fear of abandonment.  Fear of loneliness.  Fear of knowing that we err.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of death.  And when I think of this litany of pain, I realize that each of these woes is accompanied by a restorative.  Joy in celebration.  Joy in exaltation.  Joy in gain.  Joy in companionship.  Joy in intimacy.  Joy in knowing that we are doing the right thing.  Joy in perfect, trust-filled union with another.  Joy in life.  Our fear-filled humanity struggles with our covenant-honoring divinity.

Psalm 8 brings us dichotomous images announced in the title: Divine Majesty and Human Dignity We find more in the psalm: earth and heaven, babes and foes, enemy and avenger.  The verses that tell all that we really need to know:  What are humans that you [God] are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?  Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.  You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet . . . O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!

What a wonderful God we have who loves us to the extent that he creates us, visits with us, loves and comforts us, feeds, houses and clothes us, heals and tends to us, listens to us, blesses us . . . always . . . with constancy . . . with fidelity . . . with dignity . . . with patience . . . through eternity.

We often feel closer in death to the ones we love than we did when these dear ones were yet in this life.  These loved ones speak to us constantly now that the physical distances of this world no longer separate us.  They bring us the very real presence of the next world with their constant visitation.  We cannot see them because of the limiting time and space of this globe but still their existence is real.

Teilhard de Chardin 2We are human.  We are divine.  And we feel the constant struggle of reconciling these two worlds of self.  A human death brings us up short because we are forced to consider if we believe that we are created as gift.  We pause to think again about the Resurrection, the forgiveness of sin, life everlasting.  We cannot help but reflect on how we have treated this departed one: with the dignity deserved no matter the situation?  With the witness of divine majesty?  Did we salute the gift of this person while they were still in this life?  Did we honor this person while still with us as well as we will honor them in death?

The ones we love who have died linger among us.  We love that much.  They still laugh when we laugh, cry when we cry.  We cannot see them with the eyes of this world, or hear them with these ears.  But they are here with us nonetheless.  As we are with them.  They hold us close.  They have not disappeared.  Their presence is still felt . . . and it will be . . . forever and ever.  Amen.


Adapted from the May 31, 2008 Noontime.

For more information about Teilhard de Chardin, click on his image above or go to: http://teilharddechardin.org/

Image of the creation of Adam from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Creation_of_Adam

For other reflections on eternal love and human vulnerability, enter those words into the blog search bar and explore.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Colossians 3:15-17

Faces_of_Christ[1]In One Body

Let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In this modern age we often discuss being in or out of control.  We struggle with understanding how much our genetics govern our behavior; we conduct studies and gather research about parenting and how to best nurture the human spirit.

God says: I have come to dwell among you in the form of the man, Jesus.  I live in you and you live in me. When you spend time with me – truly spend time – you come to know me better with each minute and hour.  When you dialog with me – truly dialog – you grow in wisdom. Dwell in me richly that your hands and feet and lips and mind and heart move and act in me.  Admonish one another lovingly.  Give thanks continually.  And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father.

Through human history we see that humankind prefers to be in control and we like to think that we govern our own destiny or at least have a hand in forming our circumstances.  We are most comfortable when we dictate conditions to others.  We are also content to follow blindly if questioning our goal and means makes us a bit too uncomfortable.  When we are in one body with Christ the conflicts and struggles that surround us resolve themselves well and sometimes easily.  When we live and act in one accord with Christ our petty differences and obstacles disappear as if they never existed.  When we give thanks to God through Christ in all we are and do, our need to control everyone and everything will cease.

Enter the words Mystical Body in the blog search bar, choose a reflection, and spend some time in a dialog with God.


Image from: http://blog.adw.org/2011/01/what-is-the-church/

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Zechariah, John, Elizabeth and Mary

Luke 1:67-79

Benedictus

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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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

providence[1]Psalm 33God’s Power and Providence

Rejoice, you just, in the Lord . . .

Each time we weather a new emotional storm and lay all of our worries in God’s hands . . . we become one of the just.

Give thanks to the Lord on the harp . . .

Each time we muster the courage and energy to thank God for even the smallest of blessings . . . we give thanks to God on the harp of our lives.

Sing to God a new song . . .

Each time we decide to deal with old woes in new ways . . . we learn to sing a new song.

But the plan of the Lord stands forever, wise designs through all generations . . .

Each time we ask God to be the architect of our lives . . . we discover that we stand with God in eternity.

Our souls waits for the Lord who is our help and shield . . .

Each time we shelter in the arms of God . . . we learn what it means to be divine.

For in God our hearts rejoice . . .

Each time we put aside our petty worrying . . . we unite ourselves more fully with God.

May your kindness, Lord, be upon us . . .

Each time we act as Christ acts . . . we experience more fully God’s goodness.

We have put our hope in you.

Each time we rely on God rather than our own little plans . . . we see our wildest hopes flourish.

The just are invited to praise God for creation, for intervention and help.  The psalmist also praises God for his revelation of himself to us.  We read that the Lord loves covenants, commitments, fidelity, constancy, love of creation and justice.  His own kindness is seen in the many ways he has saved his faithful.   The proper response to all of this is our own re-commitment to our covenant with God.  This psalm reads like a mini-Gospel as it contains the same message which we received with gift of Jesus to the world.

For the word of the Lord is true, and he is faithful in everything he does.

What can be more powerful than this?  What can be more providential? What can bring us more hope?  What can bring us more healing?

The gift and promise and covenant are freely given.  All we need do is . . . rejoice.

Tomorrow, the Trinity of Love . . .


Adapted from a reflection written on May 7, 2008.

Image from: http://www.soundanalarm.com/category/articles/christian-doctrines/providence-of-god/

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Sandys: Judith

Frederick Sandys: Judith

Judith 16

Praise in Celebration

During the shelter-in-place practiced in much of the world during the Covid 19 pandemic, we know that domestic abuse, and abuse against women in particular, will rise sharply. Let us remember that although we “turn the other cheek” to offense, we never promote the idea that anyone remain with an abuser. Wherever we are, whenever we find violence in the home, we look for help for ourselves or others. A helpful resource and hotline in the U.S. can be found at https://www.thehotline.org/help/ 

Imagine the consternation that would stir in hard hearts if instead of subjugating women we celebrated them as this canticle does: The Lord Almighty thwarted them, by the hand of a female!

Imagine the change that might take place in the world if we allowed our love of God to shine from our eyes and go forth from our mouths: Judith, the daughter of Merari, by the beauty of her face brought him down.

Imagine the world as a place where we helped those who have few or no resources rather than took advantage of the vulnerable: When my lowly ones shouted, and my weak ones cried out the enemy was terrified, screamed and took to flight.

Imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us when we have died: During the lifetime of Judith and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

The Canticle of Judith holds dreadful, vengeful, Old Testament imagery that celebrates retaliation against our enemies.  It also reveals the coming of the New Testament when Christ tells us that a new Way has come to dwell in us.  We are to turn the other cheek and pray for those who brutalize others; we are to heal the wounded with soft words and gentle gestures; we must take risks with Christ and trust in the guidance of the Spirit; and we are called to witness to the coming of this newness. We are called to be one of the powerless, one of the vulnerable, one of the abused disciples of this New Way.  And we are called to witness and celebrate God’s gift of discipleship to us.

Judith 16 is a famous canticle of praise for the woman who dares to do God’s will against all advice, against all odds. Her tools are not power and influence that she has gleaned for herself; rather, they are her beauty and her fidelity to God, both gifts from her creator.

Let us pause today to thank God for all we are given.  Let us sing a canticle of praise, and let us imagine how the world would be if we all believed that we can do the impossible by following God’s voice . . . just as Judith does. And let us imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us: During her lifetime, and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

Tomorrow . . . a prayer in celebration . . . Pentecost . . .


Image from: http://preraphaelitepaintings.blogspot.com/2009/06/frederick-sandys-judith.html

A re-post from May 18, 2013.

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Easter Friday, April 17, 2020

Isaiah 62:1-2: I will not be silent . . .

Edmunde Burke: 1729-1797

During this Eastertide we have celebrated our rescue from the depths.  We have praised God for the goodness and mercy shown to us.  We have spent time with the stories that so vividly tell us of God’s love for us.  Today we reflect on our response.  Do we sing out in gratitude . . . or do we remain silent?

We will always find imperfection in the relationships with our loved ones.  This one refuses to see common sense.  That one continues to repeat a cycle of failure.  Despite all of this . . . we must remember to ask God for more patience.  And we must not remain silent.

We will always find obstacles when we interact with our neighbors or our work colleagues.  This one is recalcitrant.  That one is toxic.  Despite all of this . . . we must remember to ask God for more wisdom.  And we must not remain silent.

We will always have a different perspective on life from members in our worship community, from those who actively lead us in civic life.  This one is deceitful.  That one is too simpering.  The other is too strident.  Still the other lacks compassion or common sense.  Despite all of this . . . we must remember to ask God for more prudence.  And we must not remain silent.

We will always suffer sorrow.  We will always experience strife.  No one is immune from life’s whimsical turnings.  Each of us will have need to call on God for clarity and support.  Each of us will need to heft some of our burden onto Christ’s broad shoulders.  There is a guarantee that each of us will want to hide in the hug of God’s embrace.  None of us is exempt from life’s brutal surprises.

God knows all before we dream it.  Christ walks with each of us although we might not believe it.  The Spirit dwells within us to abide with us through our sorrows and joys.  No one is immune from this promise.  No one is exempt from this truth.

We have experienced the transformation of Easter.  We are loved and protected by God; we are touched and held by Christ; and we are consoled and counseled by the Spirit.  So let us be patient.  Let us be wise.  Let us be prudent.  Let us be grateful.  Let us be loving.  And above all . . . let us tell the world about God’s immense care and love for us.   Let us never forget to tell this good news.  Let us always remember to give thanks . . . for we must never, not ever, remain silent.


“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke, an Irish statesman who stood in support for the colonists in the American Revolution.

To read more about Burke, click on the image above or go to: http://www.padfield.com/1997/goodmen.html or http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/burke.html

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Tuesday, February 25, 2020: Sirach 8 & 9Part III

A Prayer for Friends and Friendship

friendship013[1]The wisdom of Proverbs and Sirach may be dismissed as childish or old-fashioned, but this week we have seen the depth and breadth of their astuteness and their keen understanding of human nature.  Today we see these verses as a welcome counterpoint to the material world and its headlong rush to acquire all that is new; we strive to keep all things in balance: Spurn not the discourse of the wise, but acquaint yourself with their proverbs; from them you will acquire the training to serve you in the presence of princes.  Reject not the wisdom of the old ones which they have learned from their elders; from it you will obtain the knowledge how to answer in time of need. (Sirach 8:8-9)

In our modern age of hyper-communication we might draw into ourselves in fear as we hear constant news of conflict and violence.  We may be tempted to look at all that is wrong and forget to look for all that is right with the world.  Anxiety may outweigh optimism.  Fear may trump trust.  Self-protection and avoidance of vulnerability may outweigh our courage to enter into friendship with sincerity and integrity.  If this is so, and if the familiar stories in scripture do not inspire us, we will want to return to the wisdom captured by Jesus ben Sirach, for he has much to offer us.

And so we pray in gratefulness for our true friends and in thanksgiving for the presence of Christ in our lives . . .

Good and gracious God, I thank you for the true friendship you have shared with me in the person of my friends.  Keep me ever aware of their value.  Remind me to thank them often.  Guide me in returning their nurturing care of my humanity.  Help me to recognize their divinity, just as these true friends affirm my divinity when I reflect you to them.  Thank you for adopting me as your daughter.  Remind me often that I am a citizen of the next world rather than one of this.  Give me the patience to wait while the wine of relationships ages.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the friendship of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

Let us give thanks today for the gift of friendship.


Image from: http://www.cherrybam.com/friendship-quotes.php

For more wisdom from this text, type the “Sirach” into the blog search box and choose a reflection.   

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Saturday, February 23, 2020

Sirach 8 & 9Part I

Staying Within our Means

article-new_ehow_images_a05_rc_gs_seed-money-inventors-800x800[1]We have been visiting with the Book of Sirach all week.  Today and tomorrow we will want to spend time with Chapters 8 and 9 and think about how we spend our fiscal, physical and spiritual cash.  We will want to ask ourselves if and how and even why we will want to stay within our means.

Many hurdles in life are too big for us to handle.  We live in a society that tells us that we can do anything once we put our minds to it; but this is not true.  We must recognize the limits with which we are born, assess our strengths, find our best talents and gifts, and use them well.  This is also true of our spirituality.  We are each endowed with a God-center in our brains which scientists have seen activated in meditating monks and nuns with brain scans.  And each of these God-centers is likely to be as different as our physical being.  It follows, then, that some of us feel more keenly the desire to seek God than others.  I am guessing that some may not feel this desire at all . . . and these are people whom only God can reach.  It is for these wounded souls that I pray each day.

Sirach urges us to steer clear of the quickly angry, the powerful, influential and rich.  Kindle not the coals of a sinner, lest you be consumed in his blazing fire . . . Provoke no quarrel with a quick-tempered man, nor ride with him through the desert; for bloodshed is nothing to him, and when there is no to help you, he will destroy you.  For my part, these words ring true.

In Chapter 9 we read more advice about becoming ensnared in matters which will take us beyond our own control mechanism.  We are asked, in other words, to know and understand our weaknesses and strengths . . . to go not surety beyond our means (verse 8:13)  . . . to exercise restraint where we know we have no strength . . . to take God with us everywhere we go . . . to include God in every relationship we enter.

This is the challenge we offer ourselves today as we continue our Lenten journey.


Image from: http://www.ehow.com/how_6140444_seed-money-inventors.html

Tomorrow – The Measure of Friends

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