Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Listening

God is the Friend of Silence
We Need to Find God,
God Cannot Be Found in Noise and Restlessness.

God Is the Friend of Silence.
See How Nature . . .
Trees, Flowers, Grass
Grow in Silence.

See the Stars, the Moon and Sun . . .
How They Move in Silence.
The More We Receive in Silent Prayer,
The More We Can Give in Our Active Life.

We Need Silence to Be Able to Touch Souls.
The Essential Thing Is Not What We Say,
But What God Says . . .
To us and Through us.

All Our Words Will Be Useless
Unless They Come from Within.
Words Which Do Not Give the Light of Christ . . .
Increase the Darkness.
-Blessed Mother Teresa 

A Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square in Manhattan. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening. Suddenly, the Native American said, "I hear a cricket."

His friend said, "What? You must be crazy. You couldn't possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!"

"No, I'm sure of it," the Native American said, "I heard a cricket."
"That's crazy," said the friend.

The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed.

"That's incredible," said his friend. "You must have super-human ears!"
"No," said the Native American. "My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you're listening for."

"But that can't be!" said the friend. "I could never hear a cricket in this noise."
"Yes, it's true," came the reply. "It depends on what is really important to you. Here, let me show you."

He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.
"See what I mean?" asked the Native American. "It all depends on what's important to you."
- Unknown

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness; touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

+ + +

“God’s message is not written out in starlight . . . rather it is written out for each of us in the humdrum, helter-skelter events of each day . . . Who knows what God will say to me today . . . Not knowing is what makes today a holy mystery as every day is a holy mystery.”  
(Frederick Buechner ~ Listening to Your Life)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Candle Light

The Story of the Four Candles

The Four Candles burned slowly. Their ambiance was so soft you could hear them speak...
The first candle said, “I Am Peace, but these days, nobody wants to keep me lit."
Then Peace's flame slowly diminished and went out completely.
The second candle said, "I Am Faith, but these days, I am no longer indispensable."
Then Faith's flame slowly diminished and went out completely.
Sadly the third candle spoke,
"I Am Love and I haven't the strength to stay lit any longer.
People put me aside and don't understand my importance.
They even forget to love those who are nearest to them."
And waiting no longer, Love went out completely.

Suddenly ... A child entered the room and saw the three candles no longer burning.
The child began to cry, "Why are you not burning? You are supposed to stay lit until the end."
Then the Fourth Candle spoke gently to the little boy, "Don't be afraid, for I Am Hope, and while I still burn, we can re-light the other candles."
With shining eyes, the child took the Candle of Hope and lit the other three candles.
Never let the Flame of Hope go out. With Hope in your life, no matter how bad things may be, Peace, Faith and Love may shine brightly once again. (~ Author Unknown)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Winter Blessing

A Winter Blessing

Blessed are you, winter, dark season of waiting,
you affirm the dark seasons of our lives,
forecasting the weather of waiting in hope.

Blessed are you, winter, you faithfully guard a life unseen,
calling those who listen deeply
to discover winter rest.

Blessed are you, winter, frozen and cold on the outside,
within your silent, nurturing womb you warmly welcome
all that longs for renewal.

Blessed are you, winter, your bleak, barren trees
preach wordless sermons
about emptiness and solitude.

Blessed are you, winter, you teach us valuable lesson about waiting
in darkness with hope and trust.

Blessed are you, winter, season of blood red sunsets and star-filled,
long, dark nights, faithfully you pour out your beauty.

 Blessed are you, winter, when your tiny snowflakes flurry through the air,
You awaken our sleeping souls.

Blessed are you, winter, with your wild and varied moods,
So intent on being yourself, you refuse to be a people-pleaser.

Blessed are you, winter, when ice storms crush our hearts and homes,
You call forth the good in us as we rush to help one another.

Blessed are you, winter, your inconsistent moods often challenge
Spring’s arrival, yet how gracefully you step aside when her time has come.

            Author: Joyce Rupp from The Circle of Life         


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Advent Waiting

Light looked down and saw darkness.
“I will go there,” said light.
Peace looked down and saw war.
“I will go there,” said peace.
Love looked down and saw hatred.
“I will go there,” said love.
So he,
The God of Light,
The Prince of Peace,
The King of Love,
Came down and crept in beside us.
(Rev. John Bell)

Advent ~ by Lucy Rose Johns

“We are waiting for these aches and pains to be healed. We are waiting for the hunger within to be satisfied. We are waiting for love to touch us.
We are waiting to be understood and really listed to. We are waiting for decisions to be easy. We are waiting to be inspired to love unlovable people. We are waiting for financial cares to be resolved.
We are waiting for serenity to accept the things we cannot change. We are waiting for courage to change the things we can. We are waiting for wisdom to know the difference. We are waiting to be appreciated.
We are waiting for justice. We are waiting for the answers. We are waiting for the dawn of a new day. We are waiting for things to get easier. We are waiting for a time of rest, peace, quiet.
We are waiting for patience. We are waiting and waiting. We are waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our God!”

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Day Gospel Reflection

Image by James C. Christensen
Gospel: Luke 17:11-19It happened that as Jesus made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”

Let us begin by pondering the question: How are the Pilgrims of the first Thanksgiving and the lepers in our Gospel similar? Well, both groups were “outsiders” and “insiders.”

The historical events leading to the first Thanksgiving celebration can sound like a mini-series for a television drama. In the early 1600s, persecution, imprisonment, and death were the punishments awaiting those who separated themselves from King James’ rule of the Church of England.  The Pilgrims found corruption and practices that were in conflict with the Bible, and they desired to escape from England and find a place where they could worship freely.  They would become “outsiders” of the Church of England.

After two other attempts, they set sail on the Mayflower in September of 1620. There were approximately 41 of these Separatists aboard, who called themselves the “Saints,” – they wanted complete separation from the Church of England.  There were others, whom they called the “Strangers.”  These were hired men, servants, soldiers, and others who wanted to start a new life in a new land. 
After sailing for 65 days, the ship arrived in November of 1620 at what would become known as Plymouth Colony. The first winter was devastating to the Pilgrims.  Many had died during the long, difficult winter.  Of the 110 Pilgrims and crew who left England, less than 50 survived the first winter.

In the following year of 1621, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. The colonists celebrated it as a traditional English harvest feast, to which they invited the local Wampanoag Indians.  Now, the Pilgrims could be considered the new “insiders,” and we could possibly view the Wampanoag Indians as the new “outsiders.”  And so, as we say, the rest is history.

In our Gospel, we have “outsiders” and “insiders” as well.  Today’s Gospel is from Luke – which is often called the Gospel of Mercy and Forgiveness.  Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem – and in a few Chapters, we will read that he is in the final months of his life on Earth. He knows all too well what it is like to be an “insider” and an “outsider.”

In this middle place between Galilee and Samaria is a borderland where lepers dwelt. Here, Jesus encounters ten men - all lepers, who, with their weakened voices, call out to him, “Master” and beg for mercy . . . they desire human compassion and dignity.
As lepers, they were rejected from society, and they could not participate in worship. They were treated as outcasts and were required to live outside the city in leper camps, forced to ring a bell or shout “unclean” to warn others to keep away as they walked the streets. These lepers were the most miserable of all people, believing that they had been cursed both by God and humankind. 

In this time, leprosy was a permanent and external condition of shame, clearly evident in the disfiguring lesions covering the victim’s skin. Because lepers could not participate in worship, most people believed that the disease was due to sins that the individual had committed. The Jewish people couldn’t imagine a worse torment than not being able to worship God – for it was the most holy act of their lives. 
These ten “outsiders”– were a band of nine Jewish men - and one a foreigner, a Samaritan – who was even more of an “outsider” – a double outcast, because he was a leper and a Samaritan.  These men would normally not be in relationship with each other, but the fate of a terrible disease forced them to band together. 

When Jesus saw them and heard their faint cry for mercy, he doesn’t tell them to go and wash in the Jordan seven times; He doesn’t touch them as he did for the single leper earlier in his ministry. No, Jesus asks them to turn toward Jerusalem and sends the lepers on their way, knowing that his word will do its work. The faith-filled lepers, who will soon be “insiders,” are cleansed as they travel to meet up with the Jerusalem CDC! (Center for Disease Control).

To understand the reactions of these healed men, we must first consider that the Law of Moses provided that someone who was afflicted and then healed of an unclean disease was to go and show himself to a priest to verify the healing. This “presentation” was, in essence, his ticket of re-admission into the Temple and restoration of his place within the community of God’s people.
The nine who presented themselves were doing exactly what Jesus told them to do – but, Jesus had a dual purpose: when the priests verified that these lepers were healed, they were unintentionally affirming the divine authority of Jesus - the one who had healed these men, and the priests would not be able to deny that. For in the cultural world of Jesus, it was believed that God alone is the one who heals.  How clever of Jesus!

So, the ten head off to see the priests. Except for one of them, who turns around and goes back. It’s the Samaritan who returns to Jesus.
As a Samaritan and an outcast, he knew he couldn’t follow the others. Samaritans worshiped on Mt. Gerazim, and Jews worshiped in Jerusalem. He had no need to be officially pronounced clean and welcomed by the priests; so instead, he confides in Jesus, giving his best offering of gratitude for Jesus’ gift of divine mercy.
The Scripture states that he is shouting his gratitude . . . his loud voice signifies his complete healing and the intensity of his praise. Jesus pronounces him healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

He is restored to wholeness – and no longer seen as a foreigner but in God’s merciful eyes is accepted, welcomed, and loved unconditionally. Truly, Jesus’ mission was to be in towns, villages, and in-between spaces to proclaim that God is a God of mercy and compassion who loves us totally, tenderly, tenaciously!

It is written that in the ancient Middle East, to say “thank you” is to end or complete a relationship. The Samarian knew he was in the “wrong” place at the “right” time. He would not be able to be in relationship with Jesus again – the boundaries were clear.   Yet, his heart was in the right place at the right time! This Samaritan is no longer an “outsider” – now, he is blessed to be a “near” sider – he is near to God’s heart of mercy – he is near to God as disciple and friend  . . . the God of forgiveness, healing, and compassion.

This would seem like a good place to end the story. However, there is more to this story.  But what of the faith-filled nine? 
Perhaps we can find them in the final chapters of Luke’s Gospel – living their newly restored lives with their families and friends; worshiping at the Temple; having a place to call home – and no longer being “outsiders;” and, forever aware of the God with the gaze of mercy who restored them to health, to society, and to the Temple.  They now live lives of generous gratitude.
Therefore, when it came time to obtain a colt for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, and the owners were told, “The Master has need of it,” these owners, once the outsiders, give in gratitude to the Master.
When the time came for the Hosanna Parade through the streets of Jerusalem, these once outsiders, now walk and run in gratitude among the people with shouts of Hosanna happiness.
And, when the time came for Passover to be prepared, the man with the water jar, once an outsider, now generously gives his upper room in gratitude to the Master.
And the rest is history, and more, much more. . .

So what is the Good News for us today?
• For Luke - Jesus is the God of compassion, forgiveness, and mercy for all people whether rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, slave or sinner, winner or loser, saint or stranger. With Jesus there are no boundaries, borders, barriers, boxes, or biases.
• Let us pray for all whom this day experience being an outsider in our church, in governments, in society, and in nations throughout our world. May the God of mercy bless them with courage and integrity to shout forth their message and find meaning in their suffering.
•  For ourselves – our community, families, friends, may God’s grace, mercy, compassion. and wisdom accompany our lives as we strive to live with purpose and in gratitude day by day.
• So let us pray:  “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.... It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melodie Beattie

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Blessing

Graphic by Doris Klein, CSA
A Thanksgiving Blessing

May an abundance of gratitude burst forth
as we reflect upon what we have received.

May thanksgiving overflow in our hearts,
and often be proclaimed in our prayers.

May we gather around the table of our hearts the ardent
faithfulness, kindness, and goodness of each person we
encounter on our journey of life.

May the harvest of our good actions
bring forth plentiful fruit each day.

May our basket of blessings surprise us with
its rich diversity of gifts and its opportunities for growth.

May all that nourishes our lives bring us
daily satisfaction and renewed hope.

May we slow our hurried pace of life so we can be aware of,
and enjoy what we too easily take for granted.

May we always be open, willing,
and ready to share our blessings with others.

May we never forget the Generous One
who loves us lavishly and unconditionally.

Let us pray:
O gracious God who so generously lavishes our lives with goodness, create in our hearts a deep center of gratitude, a center that grows so strong in its thanksgiving that sharing freely of our treasures becomes the norm and the pattern of our existence.  Remind us often of how much you cherish us, of how abundantly you have offered gifts to us, especially in the hours of our greatest need.  May we always be grateful for your reaching into our lives with surprises of joy, growth, and unconditional love.  Amen. 

 (From a blessing by Joyce Rupp)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Together We Pray . . .

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
chinese philospher - lao-tse - 6th century bce

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Investment

There once lived a rich man who had no greater desire than to do good to those around him, and especially to those who worked for him.

He noticed that one of his workmen, a carpenter, was very poor, and was struggling to feed his family. He could see for himself that the hovel in which the man lived with his wife and children was falling into disrepair, and was no longer a match for the cold and the rain that beat down upon it. He felt great compassion for the carpenter and his family, and he had an idea.

He called the carpenter to him one morning and gave him these instructions:

‘I want you to build me a beautiful house,’ he said. ‘I want you to spare no expense, and to employ only the very best craftsmen for every job that is needed. I have to make a journey, and I will be away for a while, but when I come back, I want you to have the house ready for me.’

The carpenter was delighted to be given this task. Immediately, he set to work, and, knowing that the master would be away, he decided to make a good profit on this enterprise. Instead of hiring the best craftsmen, and using the finest materials, he cut corners wherever he possibly could. The master would never know, and he could keep the difference, and make a lot of money for himself.

And so the house was built. From the outside, it looked beautiful, but as the carpenter well knew, it was not at all sound. The timbers in the roof were weak and badly fitted. The bricks were seconds, which would soon begin to crumble. The roof titles were rejects from the quarry. The building had been carried out by inexperienced workers for low pay.

When the master returned, he came to inspect the house. ‘I have done as you instructed,’ the carpenter told him. ‘I have used the best materials and the finest craftsmen.’

‘I’m delighted to hear it,’ said the master. ‘Here are the keys. The house is yours. It is my gift to you and your family.  May it be a fine home for the rest of your life.’

And in the years that followed, the carpenter could often be heard to mutter, under his breath, ‘If only I had known that the house was meant for

me . . .’ (Author Unknown)

A Story of Sharing . . .

One morning, the sun got up in a bad mood.
‘I’m really tired of getting up every morning and giving light to the earth, day after day,’ it said. ‘I’m tired of ripening the corn and melting the snow. What does the human race ever do for me in return?’

The sun was still thinking all this over, when the rain arrived. ‘Lady Rain,’ the sun remarked. ‘You water the earth all the time and make the flowers grow. You turn the fields green, and fill up the rivers. What does the human race ever do for you in return?’

Hearing this, the rain furrowed her brow, broke out in a terrible noise and fell headlong on to the earth. And as she fell, she pounded out these words: ‘Listen, Mother Earth. You let humankind work you, rip you open, scratch and scrape you. What does the human race ever do for you in return?’

The earth turned into its own furrows and murmured to the grain of wheat, ‘Hey, little grain of wheat. You let yourself die so that humankind can eat bread. What does the human race ever do for you in return?’

And then the sun stopped shining. The rain stopped falling. The earth stopped holding the grain. Eventually, the sun became bored, because there were no longer any children dancing in its warmth and light.
The rain became saddened at never seeing the smile of the gardener in her garden.
The earth became weary at never hearing the joyful steps of laborers on her back.
And the grain of wheat began to rot in solitude.

Together, they decided to have a meeting with God, the creator, and this is what they said to God: ‘God, everything is dying in this universe that you created to be so good and fruitful. Give back life to the earth, we beg you.’

And God replied, ‘My friends, I have given you everything you need to support life on earth. Life cannot be born except of you and between you. And life will be born anew if each of you shares of its nature with all creation.  For life is born out of a sharing of life. And where cooperation is refused, life cannot be.’
(A French parable)

Monday, November 17, 2014

25th Anniversary of the University of Central America Martyrs

“The Work To Build The Kingdom of God Continues” by Monsignor Oscar A. Romero

It helps now and then to step back and take the long view.
The Kingdom of God is not only beyond our efforts,
It is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayers fully express our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
This is what we are about.
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects, far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.  Amen.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Courage to BE Myself!

The Courage to Be Myself . . .
I have the courage to . . .
Embrace my strengths ~
Get excited about life ~
Enjoy giving
and receiving love ~ Face and transform
my fears ~ Ask for help and support
when I need it ~
Spring free of the Superwoman Trap~
Trust myself ~ Make my own decisions
and choices ~ Befriend myself ~

unfinished business ~
Realize that I have
emotional and practical rights ~
Talk as nicely to myself
as I do to my plants ~ Communicate
lovingly with understanding as my goal ~
Honor my own needs ~
Give myself credit for my accomplishments ~
Love the little girl within me ~
Overcome my addiction to approval ~
Grant myself permission to play ~

Quit being a Responsibility Sponge ~
Feel all of my feelings and act on them
appropriately ~ Nurture others because
I want to, not because I have to ~
Choose what is right for me ~ Insist on being
paid fairly for what I do ~
Set limits and boundaries and stick by them ~
Say “yes” only when I really mean it ~
Have realistic expectations ~ Take risks and
accept change ~ Grow through challenges ~

Be totally honest with myself ~
Correct erroneous beliefs and assumptions ~
Respect my vulnerabilities ~
Heal old and current wounds ~
Savor the mystery of Spirit ~
Wave good-bye to guilt ~ Plant “flower,”
not “weed” thoughts in my mind ~
Treat myself with respect and teach others
to do the same ~
Fill my cup first, then nourish
others from the overflow ~
Own my own excellence ~

Plan for the future but live
in the present ~
Value my
intuition and wisdom ~
Know that I am lovable ~
Celebrate the differences between
women and men ~ Develop healthy,
supportive relationships ~
Make forgiveness a priority ~
Accept myself just as I am now ~

(Author Unknown)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dreams of Making a Difference!

And God said:
I myself will dream a dream within you.
Good dreams come from me you know.

My dreams seem impossible,
Not too practical,
Not for the cautious    
woman or man,
A little risky sometimes,
A trifle brash perhaps.

Some of my friends prefer
To rest more comfortably,
In sounder sleep,
With visionless eyes.

But for those who share my dreams,
I ask a little patience,
A little humor,

Some small courage,
And a listening heart.
I will do the rest.

Then they will risk,
And wonder at their daring
Run, and marvel at their speed;

Build, and stand in awe at the beauty of their building.

You will meet me often as you work:
In your companions, who share your risk;
In your friends,
who believe in you enough to lend their own dreams,
Their own hands,
Their own hearts,
To your building;

In the people who will find your doorway,
Stay awhile, and walk away
Knowing they, too, can find a dream . . .

There will be sun-filled days,
And sometimes it will rain.
A little variety!
Both come from me.

So come now,
Be content.
It is my dream you dream:
My house you build;
My caring you witness;
My love you share;
And this is the heart of the matter.

Sister Charity, RGS -

Friday, November 7, 2014

Remembering . . .

  • November 9, 2014 is the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall being taken down.  I recall its construction when I was in high school and watched it being dismantled in 1989 by people wielding large hammers.  I remember hearing the cheering of the people standing atop the wall and shouting freedom with each blow of the hammer.  This weekend 8,000 illuminated balloons will be released into the air and float over the city – free from borders . . . as people watch again and remember those who struggled to cross from East to West Berlin. 
  •  I can even remember a number of documentaries that I viewed on television.  One in particular continues to haunt me. It was the story of a young couple who planned their escape.  His girlfriend lost enough weight to be placed in a large suitcase – of which her boyfriend practiced over time to carry it with his one arm ( her folded within the suitcase) and he walking to and through the checkpoint without exhibiting any stress or difficulty to reach the freedom of West Berlin.
The Berlin wall was constructed in 1961 as a means to separate capitalists in the West from Communists in the East. The creation of the Berlin Wall ripped apart families, and led to severe isolation among the German people. Over a 28 year period at least 138 people were killed as they traveled too closely to the wall and even attempted to climb the structure.
November 11 ~ Veterans Day (USA), Remembrance Day (Canada)
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month of the year 1918, an armistice was signed, ending the "war to end all wars." November 11 was set aside as Armistice Day in the United States to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during the war in order to ensure a lasting peace. In 1938 Congress voted Armistice Day as a legal holiday, but World War II began the following year. Armistice Day was still observed after the end of the Second World War. In 1953 townspeople in Emporia, Kansas called the holiday Veterans Day in gratitude to the veterans in their town. Soon after, Congress passed a bill renaming the national holiday to Veterans Day. Today, we remember those who have served for our country in the armed forces in our prayers. (
+ + +
Great God, who has told us
"Vengeance is mine,"
save us from ourselves,
save us from the vengeance in our hearts
and the acid in our souls.
Save us from our desire to hurt as we have been hurt,
to punish as we have been punished,
to terrorize as we have been terrorized.
Give us the strength it takes
to listen rather than to judge,
to trust rather than to fear,
to try again and again
to make peace even when peace eludes us.
We ask, O God, for the grace
to be our best selves.
We ask for the vision
to be builders of the human community
rather than its destroyers.
We ask for the humility as a people
to understand the fears and hopes of other peoples.
We ask for the love it takes
to bequeath to the children of the world to come
more than the failures of our own making.
We ask for the heart it takes
to care for all the peoples
of Afghanistan and Iraq, of Palestine and Israel
as well as for ourselves.
Give us the depth of soul, O God,
to constrain our might,
to resist the temptations of power
to refuse to attack the attackable,
to understand
that vengeance begets violence,
and to bring peace--not war--wherever we go.
For You, O God, have been merciful to us.
For You, O God, have been patient with us.
For You, O God, have been gracious to us.
And so may we be merciful
and patient
and gracious
and trusting
with these others whom you also love.
This we ask through Jesus,
the one without vengeance in his heart.
This we ask forever and ever. Amen
prayer for world peace - sister joan chittister - benedictine sisters of erie
+ + +
We interrupt this war for doctors to heal,
teachers to teach, and students to learn.
We interrupt this war to marvel at sunsets,
listen to music, and to laugh.
We interrupt this war for poets to rhyme, sculptors to
chisel, and writers to paint pictures with words.
We interrupt this war to plant tomatoes, mow
the grass, and to smell the roses.
We interrupt this war to feed the hungry, build
new schools, and to stamp out ignorance.
We interrupt this war to clean up the air, save
the whales and to find a cure for cancer.
We interrupt this war to rebuild New Orleans,
tickle babies and for world peace.
We interrupt this war for PTA meetings, band
concerts, and high school graduations.
We interrupt this war for Girl Scout Cookies,
church bake sales, and the Special Olympics.
We interrupt this war for Disneyland, the
World Series, and the Super Bowl.
We interrupt this war for Halloween candy,
Thanksgiving Turkey, and 4th of July fireworks.
We interrupt this war for Hanukkah,
Christmas and Kwanza.
We interrupt this war to bring sons,
daughters, sisters and brothers home.
We interrupt this war to hear a message from
we interrupt this war - cappy hall rearick - 2001
+ + +
Let the rain come and wash away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then let the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.
Amen. (a prayer for the world - rabbi harold kushner – 2003)
+ + +
If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

chinese philospher - lao-tse - 6th century bce


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Apple-ing Season!

What to do with all those apples?

Apple Carrot Harvest Bread
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
3 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup milk
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
½ cup shredded carrot
½ cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cloves in large bowl. Combine eggs, oil and milk in another bowl.  Add to dry ingredients: mix well. Fold in apple, carrot and raisins.  Pour batter into greased and floured 9-by 5-by 3-inch loaf pan. Bake 1 to 1½ hours or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.  Makes one loaf.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Blessing Prayer

+Breathing in: Generous God 

Breathing out: Thank you

Generous God, you have poured so much into our blessing cups.  You have offered us many graced moments filled with wonders of your goodness.  You have been bountiful in sharing your presence of un-conditional love with us.  You call us to bless others with our cup of life.  Stir up within us a desire to offer our gifts to those who need them.  We pray this in gratitude for your continued belief in us - for you are always ready to fill our cup with your generous love. In hope and trust we pray. Amen.

+ + +

Quiet Reflection:
• Reflect on some of the blessings in your life.
• Which one means the most to you?
• What helps you to be aware of the daily blessings in your life?
• How have you prayed with these blessings?
• Speak a prayer of thanksgiving in your heart for a blessing you have received this week.

+ + +

   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


A seeker once went to the holy woman in the desert because life had become too chaotic and he yearned to have balance and order restored within him. The desert woman said to him, “Your life is chaotic because you have become dependent on change, on excitement, on variety. You want always to experience something new instead of finding what is new through the repetition of what seems old. If you would have balance and order within, do one small thing at the same time each day with gratitude in your heart and slowly the tattered fragments of your life will be bound together into a textured tapestry of beauty. It does not take great doses of hardship – only one small thing done every day at the same time with gratitude in your heart. One small thing every day, at the same time, with gratitude in your heart. One small thing, every day, same time, with gratitude. And that will be enough.” Ask yourself the question: How does the activity of my life keep me from practicing gratitude?