Friday, September 23, 2016

Francis . . .The little man with a ginormous mission!

Painting by Cimabue

On October 4th, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi will be observed. This man, small and fragile in stature, was able to move the political and religious worlds much like a “spiritual tsunami” which has lasted over 800 years. It was with these words heard in the little village church while praying before an ancient crucifix: "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin” that Francis turned the world upside down. We have all received from his spirit again and again to teach us the values that have empowered so many over these hundreds of years to carry on his mission, his dream, his call.

Today we know that there have been so many ways in which the memory of Francis is ever before us.  Besides the women and men orders that live in religious community and commit to his way of life, there are also all those other images, books, etc., that keep the life of the Poverello before us.  For instance, how many of us have Francis in our gardens?  Yes, and yet here are a few more items that have been created to remind us that he once lived and changed the world: books (both novels and biographies), films, classical music, poems, blessings, chapels, churches, songs, wineries and vineyards, pet blessings and even tags for identification.  Everything short of action figures or video games! And most of us can recite the St. Francis Peace Prayer; however, research has attributed the present form to Cardinal Francis Spellman from 1949.   

So let us ask Francis to intercede for us and our world as we experience our nation and our planet “falling into ruin” for so many reasons.  Let us pray together:

A Franciscan Prayer for Peace

Lord, make us instruments of your Peace.  In a world all too prone to violence and revenge, We commit ourselves to the Gospel Values of Mercy, Justice, Compassion, and Love; We will seek daily to promote forgiveness and healing in our hearts, our families, and our world.

Where there is hatred, let us sow Love; Where there is injury, let us cultivate Peace. Fear and distance prevent people from recognizing all as sisters and brother; tensions lead to violence and mistrust; We will strive to honor the dignity that God places in each and every human person.

Grant that we may not seek to be understood as to understand; To be loved as to Love.  Our failure to understand the other can create exclusion in all its negative forms – racism, marginalization of those who are poor, sick, the immigrant; it can also create situations of domination, occupation, oppression and war.  We pledge to see the way of solidarity, to create hearts, homes, and communities where all people will experience inclusion, hospitality, and understanding.

For it is in giving that we receive, in pardoning that we are pardoned and in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Let us pray: God, create in us;
- The capacity to hear and understand the voices of those who suffer from every form of violence, injustice, and dehumanization;
- The openness to receive and honor people from other cultures, languages, religious traditions, and geographical regions;
- The creativity to explore new ways of community and dialogue through music, poetry, performing arts, and mass media;
- The audacity to undertake the building of communities of forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation.
To God who is above all and in all are the glory and the honor.  Amen.

"Dancing Francis" Viterbo University Campus
La Crosse, WI

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Autumn Stories . . .

There was a small boy who when walking down the street one day found a bright copper penny. He was so excited that he found money and it didn’t cost him anything. This experience led him to spend the rest of his days walking with his head down; eyes wide open, looking for treasure.

During his lifetime he found 296 pennies, 48 nickels, 19 dimes, 16 quarters, 2 half dollars and one crinkled dollar bill ~ for a total of $13.96.

He got money for nothing. Except that he missed the breathless beauty of 31,369 sunsets, the colorful splendor of 157 rainbows, the fiery beauty of hundreds of maples nipped by autumn’s frost. He never saw white clouds drifting across blue skies, shifting into various wondrous formations. Birds flying, sun shining, and the smiles of a thousand passing people are not a part of his memory. (Author unknown)

A little girl walked to and from school daily.
Though the weather that morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trek to the elementary school.

As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with lightning.  The mother of the little girl felt concerned that her daughter would be frightened as she walked home from school and she feared the electrical storm might harm her child.

Full of concern, the mother quickly got into her car and drove along the route to her child's school.   As she did, she saw her little girl walking along.  At each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up, and smile.

Another and another flash of lighting followed quickly and with each, the little girl would look at the streak of light and smile.  

When the mother's car drew up beside the child, she lowered the window and called to her, "What are you doing?"
The child answered,  
"I am trying to look pretty because God keeps taking my picture."

An Autumn Dance . . .

A Prayer for Autumn Days

God of the seasons, there is a time for everything; there is a time for dying and a time for rising.  We need courage to enter into the transformation process.

God of autumn, the trees are saying goodbye to their green, letting go of what has been.  We, too, have our moments of surrender, with all their insecurity and risk.  Help us to let go when we need to do so.

God of fallen leaves lying in colored patterns on the ground, our lives have their own patterns.  As we see the patterns of our own growth, may we learn from them.

God of misty days and harvest moon nights, there is always the dimension of mystery and wonder in our lives.  We always need to recognize your power-filled presence.  May we gain strength from this.

God of harvest wagons and fields of ripened grain, many gifts of growth lie within the season of surrender.  We must wait for harvest in faith and hope.  Grant us patience when we do not see the blessing. 

God of geese going south for another season, your wisdom enables us to know what needs to be left behind and what needs to be carried into the future.  We yearn for insight and vision. 

God of flowers touched with frost and windows wearing white designs, may your love keep our hearts from growing cold in the empty seasons.

God of life, you believe in us, you enrich us, you entrust us with the freedom to choose life.  For all this, we are grateful.

Prayer:  God of love, you enter into our autumn season, into our deepest places of inner dwelling, into the heart of our transformation.  You give us glimpses of the truth.  May we allow our experience of autumn to speak to us of necessary change and growth.  May we accept the invitation to reflect upon our own life, growth and challenges.  Grant us an openness to the continuous process of letting go and moving on that is part of the human condition.  We are grateful that you are our faithful companion on this journey.  Amen                                                                                                                                 
Joyce Rupp
      May I Have This Dance?

Monday, September 19, 2016

God of Autumn Transformation!

A Song of Praise to our Autumn God 

O God of Autumn loveliness, we thank you for the many colors of our lives.     
We thank you for the rich hues of red, the promising hope of greens,
the depth of the golds, and the well-worn browns.

We praise you for all of the life you have given us, the life we celebrate at this harvest time each year. Like the leaves of the trees, we ourselves have been blown around, toasted in the sun, and whipped by rain and storms. Yet, we stand as a testament to life well lived.

Your trees, O God, remind us of our letting go, our need to trust transformation so that new life can come. Yet, like them, we resist the tearing, wrenching, pulling, and tugging.  We cling earnestly to our color and our home!

Release us, God of the Autumn, and free us so that the wind of your Spirit can fling us to the places we most need to go.  Bury us deep in places where we will find warmth.  Help us to find ourselves grounded in You.

As we look around in this harvest time, we celebrate the bounty all around us and deep within us.  May we be forever grateful for the plentitude!  May we be forever generous with all that is ours.  May we be forever willing to give of ourselves!

And as we journey towards this winter time, help us to always carry the spirit of springtime deep within us as a sign of hope!  We believe, O God of Transformation, that all of life is your belief and hope in us!  Ready our hearts, steady our hearts that we can respond fully in faith and love!

(Author Unknown)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Welcome, Autumn!

Autumn Equinox - Poem by Jacqueline C Nash

On this the first day of Autumn
the sun is now on the wane,
day and night are of equal length
so a balance of light and dark will reign.
Now the nights begin to get colder,
increasing darkness ensues,
the sap returns to the trees roots
and the leaves will be changing hues.
This is a time to look back on our past
and for a future to be planned.
The wheel turns to an ageing year
when we remember all things must end.
We must say farewell to the Summer
as Autumn leaves start to fall
and if we listen very hard we'll hear
the chill of Winter's call.

"Leaves On A Stream", Mindfulness Exercise With Naomi Goodlet


Autumn, Our Teacher!

Artist Unknown
“O Sacred Season of Autumn” by Edward Hays

O sacred season of Autumn, be my teacher,
for I wish to learn the virtue of contentment.
As I gaze upon your full-colored beauty,
I sense all about you an at-homeness with your amber riches.
You are the season of retirement,
of full barns and harvested fields.
The cycle of growth has ceased,
and the busy work of giving life
is now completed.
I sense in you no regrets:
you’ve lived a full life.
I live in a society that is ever-restless,
always eager for more mountains to climb,
seeing happiness through more and more possessions.
As a child of my culture,
I am seldom truly at peace with what I have.
Teach me to take stock of what I have given and received,
may I know that it’s enough,
that my striving can cease in the abundance of God’s grace.
May I know the contentment
that allows the totality of my energies
to come to full flower.
May I know that like you I am rich beyond measure.
As you, O Autumn, take pleasure in your great bounty,
let me also take delight
in the abundance of the simple things in life
which are the true source of joy.
With the golden glow of peaceful contentment
may I truly appreciate this autumn day.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Breathing a Blessing for Our World . . .

 A Blessing for Our World

• May the God of strength be with us; and may we be God’s strength to those in our world whose hands and hearts we hold.

• May the God of gentleness be with us; and may we be God’s tenderness to warm all who are hurt, alone, depressed, or in need of kindness.

• May the God of mercy be with us; and may we bring mercy, courage, and hope to those in our world who suffer from fear, lack of trust, or who have been hurt in any way.

• May the God of compassion be with us; and may we be God’s compassion to those who are weary, or in need of a listening heart. 

• May the God of patience be with us; may God’s patience be with us as we pray to stand with out-stretched arms, with an understanding heart - free of judgment -to receive those who are in need of our support.

• May the God of peace be with us; may God’s peace be with us as we pray for those in our world who are the least, the last, and the lost; and for those who are troubled, anxious, in doubt, and restless.  May God’s peace be a warm mantle of love to still their hearts.

 +Breathing in: Generous God  
Breathing out: Thank you