Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Advent ~ A Season of Beginnings and Endings . . .

O God of all seasons and senses,
grant us the sense of your timing                                                          
to submit gracefully and rejoice quietly in the turn of the seasons.

In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of endings;
children growing, friends leaving, loved ones dying,
grieving over,
grudges over,
blaming over,
excuses over.
O God, grant us a sense of your timing.
In this season of short days and long nights,
of grey and white and cold,
teach us the lessons of beginnings;
that such waitings and endings may be the starting place,
a planting of seeds which bring to birth what is ready to be born—
something right and just and different,
a new song, a deeper relationship, a fuller love—
in the fullness of your time.

O God, grant us the sense of your timing.

Taken from Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder

Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent: Teaching Us the Gift of Waiting . . .

“Certain words are employed so often during our liturgical seasons that they can easily be ignored due to overuse. ‘Waiting’ is one of these words. It may also be difficult for us to sense how the people of old waited for a savior. It’s quite another thing, though, if we are in the midst of a struggle or a situation where we are currently waiting for something painful to change.

I know many people who are waiting. Some have cancer, and are waiting to die. There’s a family waiting to be healed of the pain they all experienced when one of their little girls was abused by a family member. Another person is anxiously waiting to hear if he has the job for which he was recently interviewed. Yet another waits to know if she will have to move away from her home in which she has lived for 30 years.

What does this waiting have to do with longing for God’s coming? When we wait in tough times, we are in a special God-moment. We know we can’t ‘go it alone.’ The One who came into this world is our Peace-bringer. As we wait, we turn to our God and cry out for Peace to come and enfold us.

Source of Peace, bring your serenity and inner repose to those who wait to be relieved of their pain and struggle.” 

Taken from Inviting God In, by Joyce Rupp

Friday, November 25, 2016

Advent ~ Walking in Mystery!

In late September of 2015, Yogi Berra died at the age of 90. He was a great Major League baseball catcher, manager, and coach.  He was also known to be quite a character.  Besides his baseball competency, Berra was renowned for his impromptu pithy comments, malapropisms, and often unintentional witticisms, known as "Yogi-isms". 

I am sure that we are familiar with some of the quotes attributed to Yogi Berra; even though he says: “I didn’t really say everything I said.” These countless expressions are memorable because most of them didn’t seem to make any sense; yet, at the same time, they contained powerful messages that offered not just humor but wisdom

I’d like to share a few:
• Never answer an anonymous letter.
• The game isn’t over until it’s over.
• Always go to other people's funerals; otherwise they won't go to yours.
• It ain’t the heat, it’s the humility.

It makes us think and sometimes laugh, but I believe there are some witticisms that relate in particular to our Advent readings.  The expressions offer us a unique perspective and “theology” of how to view our liturgical journey over this Church year.

All three of the readings this Sunday are powerful messages of wisdom, as well as pronouncements of encouragement and hope for the future.  The “end time” texts that we have been hearing in the final days of Ordinary Time have now spilled over into today’s readings.  In our Gospel, Jesus proclaims, once again, a message to “stay awake” as he prepares for his next steps toward his Passion.  Here, he is clearly anxious about the future, as he paints a bleak picture of the end of the world. It is a Gospel that is difficult to hear and understand. 

Still, Jesus offers us the encouragement to stand firm against the tribulations which will lead to chaos, disorder, and distraction. We are to be vigilant and pray for the strength to survive all that is to happen. Jesus is always inviting us to be attentive with faith, courage, and resiliency as we face the distractions, denials, and disorders in our culture, in our personal lives, and in the global disturbances around us.

It is challenging to be alert, to be present to the moment with a hopeful heart. It is difficult not to let “the anxieties of daily life” absorb us. It is far too easy to get lost in the particulars of endless tasks, plans, meetings, and so many other interruptions and distracting choices that sometimes whirl us with frenetic energy.

A stance of spiritual watchfulness is what we are invited to cultivate during this period between the first and second comings. As many wisdom figures in our tradition have insisted, God often blesses us with opportunities to know God more intimately, but we can easily miss them by simply not paying attention.
A Yogi Wisdom to ponder from our Gospel: “You can observe a lot by watching.”

This week, Christians begin a new liturgical year and enter into the rich and ancient four-week season of Advent.  However, perhaps for a number of American Christians, Advent passes virtually unnoticed, as the celebration of "Christmas" as a secular and intensely commercial feast begins the day after Thanksgiving.  Yet, the time of Advent offers us an opportunity to dive deeply into a counter-cultural time of quiet reflection, a space of hopeful and patient waiting and discernment about how God's incarnation has meaning and is at work in our world today.

Our faith tells us that God communicates with us whether we know it or not by continuously creating and redeeming us.  We are being “spoken to” continuously by our God who desires us to notice that life communicates God to us.

Advent beckons us to intentionally carve out a sacred space and time for quiet reflection, patient and hopeful waiting while observing, watching, and pondering what the future may hold. As one author counsels,
• ”in an age of speed, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow,
• In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention, and
• In an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.” (Iyer)

Before the middle of the fourth century, there were no liturgical seasons, such as Advent or Lent, or any idea of a "liturgical year.” The great feast of Easter was the central focus of the Christian year, along with the Sunday gatherings, considered "little Easters."  Advent is first noted around the year 350, about the same time that Christmas is first mentioned as being celebrated. The date of Christmas might well have been placed near the winter solstice as a replacement to the pagan solstice celebrations of the Roman Empire.

As in the other yearly liturgical cycles, the readings of this Advent season reflect a movement through the four weeks from a cosmic in-breaking of God in the first Sundays to the more intimate stories, including Mary as a central figure, in the fourth Sunday, all of which prepare us for God's incarnation in the most unexpected and unpredictable manner -- as an infant in an occupied country to a poor and unwed teenager.

Advent invites us to set out on a great journey - to follow in the footsteps of Christ in all of his mysteries, so that we can live as he lived and truly be disciples of God’s mercy and compassion. These mysteries are stories to encourage our hearts, their meanings and wisdom are to permeate our being, and their truths are to sustain us through the long haul. 

Advent invites us to do more than simply commemorate Christmas; it invites us to embrace a larger vision. Advent draws us to prepare to live the mystery of the Word made flesh here and now. Life is Advent.

So perhaps Yogi Berra is a teacher for us in this in-between time, offering an opportunity for us…
• to cultivate a spiritual watchfulness and a patient waiting,
• to stand firm in our faith,
• to be present to the moment with a hopeful heart,
• to reclaim our space and time of quiet refection of the mystery of the Word made flesh here and now,
• to realize that we will truly need courage, compassion, resilience, wit, and wisdom.

A Yogi Wisdom to ponder as we take leave today on this First Sunday of Advent: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might wind up somewhere else.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Advent: A time to choose to change . . .


What we choose changes us.
Who we love transforms us.
How we create remakes us.
Where we live reshapes us.

So in all our choosing,
O God, make us wise;
in all our loving,
O Christ, make us bold;
in all our creating,
O Spirit, give us courage;
in all our living
may we become whole.
Author: Jan Richardson

Advent ~ Befriending the Darkness!

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Advent ~ Listening with our heart!

Story: Hearing

“Two old acquaintances, who hadn’t see each other for years, were walking down the street together, renewing old times. ‘Just a minute,’ said one, ‘I think I hear something,’ and turning a loose paving stone over liberated a cricket which was chirping merrily away. ‘Why, that’s astounding. Of all the people on the street at this hour, hurrying from work, you alone hear the cricket above all the traffic noises.’

‘My friend,’ said the first. ‘I learned a long time ago that people hear in life only what they want to hear. Now, the noise of traffic has neither increased nor decreased in the past few moments, but watch.’ And as he finished speaking he let a silver half dollar fall from his pocket to the sidewalk. Everyone within an amazingly large hearing distance stopped and looked around.’

• Do you think people today, who are plugged into digital devices, would hear the coin drop?

• Are there listening opportunities we miss today because of distractions, disconnection, and discontent?

Closing Prayers:
“God of the seasons, God of the years, God of the eons, Alpha and Omega, before us and after us. You promise and we wait: we wait with eager longing, we wait amid doubt and anxiety, we wait with patience thin and then doubt, and then we take life into our own hands. We wait because you are the one and the only one. We wait for your peace and your mercy, for your justice and your reign.

Give us your spirit that we may wait obediently and with discernment, caringly and without passivity, trustingly and without cynicism, honestly and without utopianism;  Grant that our wait may be appropriate to your coming, soon and very soon, soon and not late, late but not too late. We wait while the world groans in eager longing.”                        

Taken from: Prayers for a Privileged People, Walter Bruggemann

“May there always be a little light in our darkness. May there always be a little faith in our doubt. May there always be a little joy in our sorrow. May there always be a little life in our dying. May there always be a little hope in our despair. May there always be a little courage in our fear. May there always be a little slow in our hurry.” (~ From Song of the Seed by Macrina Wiederkehr)

“We who have lost our sense and our senses - - our touch, our smell, our vision of who we are; We who frantically force and press all things, without rest for body or spirit, hurting our earth and injuring ourselves; We call a halt. We want to rest. We need to rest and allow the earth to rest.

We need to reflect and to rediscover the mystery that lives in us, that is the ground of every unique expression of life, the source of the fascination that calls all things to communion. We declare a Sabbath, a pace of Quiet; for simply being and letting be; for recovering the great, forgotten truths; for learning how to live again.” (~ Hildegard of Bingen)


Monday, November 21, 2016

Advent: A Waiting Adventure!

“We need patience with each other;
with the old, the young, the sick, the slow,
and with God!
Psalm 36 speaks of this last need,
 the need to wait on God: 'Be still before the Lord and wait in patience.'
 We must learn how to sit still, to stop being in a hurry,
and wait for God to move within our lives.
We still ourselves in prayer,
aware that the graces we need,
the special gifts we desire,
will come to us when we are ready.
Whatever is necessary for our spiritual journeys
will come when the time is ready.
Until that time we simply sit in stillness,
waiting, and even seeing pleasure, finding fun, in waiting!”

Edward Hays~Pray All Ways

An Advent - ure in Waiting!

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 listened 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 the Lord!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

More Blessings . . .

Photo by Ann B.

What we choose changes us.
Who we love transforms us.
How we create remakes us.
Where we live reshapes us.
So in all our choosing,
O God, make us wise;
in all our loving,
O Christ, make us bold;
in all our creating,
O Spirit, give us courage;
in all our living
may we become whole.
Blessing the Threshold

This blessing
has been waiting for you
for a long time.

While you have been
making your way here
this blessing has been
gathering itself
making ready
biding its time

This blessing has been
polishing the door
oiling the hinges
sweeping the steps
lighting candles
in the windows.

This blessing has been
setting the table
as it hums a tune
from an old song
it knows,
something about
a spiraling road
and bread
and grace.

All this time
it has kept an eye
on the horizon,
keeping vigil,
hardly aware of how
it was leaning itself
in your direction.

And now that
you are here
this blessing
can hardly believe
its good fortune
that you have finally arrived,
that it can drop everything
at last
to fling its arms wide
to you, crying

 Poems by Jan Richardson


In Thanksgiving for Abundance!

In Thanksgiving . . .

“We thank our God every time we think of you. In every prayer we utter, we rejoice at the way you have all continually helped promote the Good News of Peace with Justice from the very first day. We are sure of this much, that the God, who has begun this good work in you, will carry it through to completion. Our prayer is that your love may abound more and more, both in understanding and in wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter, up to the day of Christ Jesus. It is our wish that you be found rich in the harvest of justice which Jesus Christ has ripened in you, to the glory and praise of God.” (Adapted from Philippians 1:1-11)

We thank you for visiting our CSA website and this blog. We wish you blessings and thank you for your prayers and support.

 Sister Jean

Thanksgiving Prayer 

 In the spirit of humility we give thanks for all that is.
 We thank the great spiritual beings who have shared their wisdom.
 We thank our ancestors who brought us to where we are now.
 We are grateful for the opportunity to walk this planet,
 to breathe the air,
 to taste the food,
 to experience sensations of a human body/mind,
 to share in this wonder that is life.
 We are grateful for the natural world that supports us,
 for the community of humankind that enables us to do many wondrous things.
 We are grateful that we are conscious,
 that as intelligent beings we can reflect upon the many gifts we have been given. ~ Tom Barrett

 Native American Prayers

Oh Great Spirit,
 Whose voice I hear in the wind,
 Whose breath gives life to the world,
 Hear me!
 I come to you as one of your many children.
 I am small and weak.
 I need your strength and wisdom.
 May I walk in beauty.
 Make my eyes behold the red and purple sunset.
 Make my hands respect the things that you have made,
 And my ears sharp to hear your voice.
 Make me wise so that I may know the things
That you have taught your children--
 The lessons that you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
 Make me strong, not to be superior to my brothers, but to be
 able to fight my greatest enemy: myself.
 Make me ever ready to come to you with straight eyes, so that
 When life fades as the faded sunset
 My spirit will come to you without shame. 

 ~ John Yellow Lark

 Earth Teach Me to Remember
 Earth teach me stillness
 as the grasses are stilled with light.
 Earth teach me suffering
 as old stones suffer with memory.
 Earth teach me humility
 as blossoms are humble with beginning.
 Earth Teach me caring
 as the mother who secures her young.
 Earth teach me courage
 as the tree which stands alone.
 Earth teach me limitation
 as the ant which crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom
 as the eagle which soars in the sky.
 Earth teach me resignation
 as the leaves which die in the fall.
Earth teach me regeneration
 as the seed which rises in the spring.
 Earth teach me to forget myself
 as melted snow forgets its life.
 Earth teach me to remember kindness
 as dry fields weep in the rain.
 ~ Ute, North American


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Meeting Our Edge . . .

Photo by John Hill

There is a story about a group of people climbing to the top of a mountain. It turns out it's pretty steep, and as soon as they get up to a certain height, a couple of people look down and see how far it is, and they completely freeze; they had come up against their edge and they couldn't go beyond it. The fear was so great that they couldn't move. Other people tripped on ahead, laughing and talking, but as the climb got steeper and more scary, more people began to get scared and freeze. All the way up this mountain there were places where people met their edge and just froze and couldn't go any farther. The people who made it to the top looked out and were very happy to have made it to the top.

The moral of the story is that it really doesn't make any difference where you meet your edge; just meeting it is the point. Life is a whole journey of meeting your edge again and again. That's where you're challenged; that's where, if you're a person who wants to live, you start to ask yourself questions like, "Now, why am I so scared? What is it that I don't want to see? Why can't I go any further than this?" The people who got to the top were not the heroes of the day. It's just that they weren't afraid of heights; they are going to meet their edge somewhere else. The ones who froze at the bottom were not the losers. They simply stopped first and so their lesson came earlier than the others. However, sooner or later everybody meets his or her edge.

Pema Chodron
From 'The Wisdom of No Escape'

Saturday, November 12, 2016

One Nation Under God . . .

A Prayer for Our Nation

May we as a nation be guided by the Divine
 to rediscover the sacred flame of our national heritage,
 which so many have given their lives to safeguard;

Let the wounds of separation and division be healed
 by opening our hearts to listen to the truth on all sides,
 allowing us to find a higher truth that includes all;

May we learn to honor and enjoy our diversity
 and differences as a people, even as we
 more deeply touch our fundamental unity;

May we, as a people, undergo a transformation
 that will draw forth individuals to lead our nation
 who embody courage, compassion, and a higher vision;

May our leaders inspire us, and we so inspire
 each other with our potential as individuals
 and as a nation, that a new spirit of forgiveness,
 caring, and honesty be born in our nation;

May we, as a united people, move with clear,
 directed purpose to take our place within
 the community of nations to help build
 a better future for all humankind;

May we as a nation rededicate ourselves
 to truly living as one nation, under God,
 indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

And may God's Will be done for the United States,
 as we, the people, align with that Will.

Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson in Prayers for Healing                              edited by Maggie Oman

Friday, November 11, 2016

Amen ~ Amen!

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. (catholicculutre.org)
+ + +
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)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A Presence . . .

When there is
nothing left
but God –
you become aware
that God is

A Blessed Attitude!

Sisters Pat and Marie with associate Barb


Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves; they will always have entertainment.

Blessed are those who can distinguish between a mountain and a molehill; they will save themselves a lot of trouble.

Blessed are those who can rest and sleep without looking for excuses; they will become wise.

Blessed are those who are intelligent enough not to take themselves too seriously; they will be appreciated.

Blessed are you if you can look seriously at small things and peacefully at serious things; you will go far in life.

Blessed are you if you can admire a smile and forget a scowl; your path will be sunlit.

Blessed are you if you can always interpret the attitudes of others with good will, even when appearances are to the contrary; you may seem naive, but that is the price of charity.

Blessed are those who think before acting and who laugh before thinking; they will avoid foolish mistakes.

Blessed are you if you know how to be silent and smile, even when you are interrupted, contradicted or walked on; the gospel is beginning to take root in your heart.

Blessed are you especially if you know how to recognize God in all those you meet; you have found the true light, true wisdom.
- Fr Joseph Folliet  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A November Prayer . . .

November Meditation

I do not know if the seasons remember their history or if the days and nights by which we count time remember their own passing.

I do not know if the oak tree remembers its planting or if the pine remembers its slow climb toward sun and stars. . . .

I do not know if the air remembers November or if the night remembers the moon.  I do not know if the earth remembers the flowers from last spring or if the evergreen remembers that it shall stay so.

Perhaps that is the reason for our births -- to be the memory for creation. Perhaps salvation is something very different than anyone ever expected. 

Perhaps this will be the only question we will have to answer:  "What can you tell me about November?"

~ Burton D. Carley ~