Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Prayer for Tired Spirits . . .

O God, help us to feel you; Help us to know how precious we are to you, that we might become at least half so precious to ourselves. 

Move with us, according to your desire. Ease our hearts, melt our harsh edges so that we might sense how intimate you truly are.

Guide us, God in an ever more complete embrace of you, that we might bear more of your endless embrace of us, and thereby embrace ourselves.

Keep alive within us, O God, your most precious gift to us which is our burning, longing, wordless yearning for you. Grant to us the courage and the vulnerability and the dignity to claim our hunger for you in every moment, celebrating, in each instant the pain and delight of our longing.

Touch us beneath our will, opening us where we cannot open ourselves, healing us where we cannot heal ourselves.

And, in the vibrant mystery of your Spirit within us, accept our eternal gratitude for every act of goodness that comes to us from another, for every nourishing way that souls may touch each other, for every bit of love we share, and for the wonder, the tender laughing touching calling beautiful wonder.

Gerald May
Photos courtesy of Sister Doris Klein, CSA

Labor Day Litany of Gratitude!

Litany of Labor:

Leader: Let us pray to the God of all creation, from whom comes life, work and purpose. Almighty God, when you lovingly formed us out of the dust of the earth, you breathed into us the breath of life and gave us work and purpose for living. We give you thanks, O God.

• For those who plow the field; for farmers and farm workers, for those who work with their hands and those who move the earth, for all who provide food for others.
• For those who tend the sick and those who seek new cures; for doctors and nurses, for scientists and technicians; for all who work to care for the sick.
• For those who design and create; for inventors and explorers, for artists and musicians; for those who write books and those who entertain; for all who open windows on their world through art and music.
• For those who work in offices and those who work in warehouses; for secretaries and receptionists, for stockers and bookkeepers; for those who market products and for those who move them; for all who serve others through administration.
• For those who inspire our minds and those who motivate us; for teachers and preachers, for public servants and religious servants; those who help the poor and those who work with our children; for all who encourage us to learn.
• For those whose labor is tidiness and cleanliness; for janitors and sanitary workers, for drycleaners and maids; for those who produce cleaning products and those who use them; for all those who add beauty and cleanliness to your world.
• For those who sail the waves and those who fly the skies; for captains and attendants, for astronauts and deep sea divers; for those who chart and those who navigate.
• For those who serve in the armed forces; for soldiers and airmen and women; sailors and marines; for all those who put themselves in harms way to protect others.
• You bless us all with skills and gifts for labor. You provide us opportunities to use them, for the benefit of others as well as ourselves and the growth of your Kingdom on earth. Guard and protect those who labor in the world.
• Send your special favor on the unemployed, the under-employed and the disabled, that they may find work that enriches their lives and provides for their families.
• Give health to the sick, hope to the bereaved.
• Keep us from laboring for ourselves alone.
• Make us loving and responsible in all that we do.

(Adapted from: Author: Carolyn Moomaw Chilton)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Prayer for All in the Hurricane Disaster

In Times of Natural Disasters

God, be with the rescue workers and keep them safe as they make heroic efforts in dangerous situations to rescue those in trouble.

Be with everyone waiting to be rescued, keep them safe, and bring help to them soon.

God, bless each and every person affected by this storm and surround them with Your love, protection, and resiliency.

Let them know there are millions of us out here praying for them and their loved ones.

We give You  praise and glory, and know that even in the darkest hours, You are always with us.

- Adapted from "Prayer for the Victims of Hurricane Katrina"

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Women's Equality Day . . .August 26

Women’s Equality Day

“And what shall we say of the obstacles which in so many parts of the world still keep women from being fully integrated into social, political and economic life? ...As far as personal rights are concerned, there is an urgent need to achieve real equality in every area: equal pay for equal work; protection for working mothers, fairness in career advancements, equality of spouses with regard to family rights, and the recognition of everything that is part of the rights and duties of citizens in a democratic state.” ~John Paul II, “Letter to Women, 1995"

On 26 August 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was certified granting women the right to vote. National Women’s Equality Day commemorates that day, both celebrating the achievements of women, and standing as a symbol of the ongoing struggle for equal rights.
 Women continue to earn less than men across all professions. This wage gap negatively affects the economic security of women and their families. In Economic Justice for All, the U.S. bishops note that wage discrimination is a major factor underlying high poverty rates for women and their families. They conclude that this discrimination is immoral.

Originally posted in Capuchin Newsletter . . .


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

For the Gift of Today . . .

Gracious God,
thank you for the gift of today.
Refresh me . . . Invite me . . .
to discover Your Presence in each person
that I meet, and every event encountered.

Teach me when to speak and when to listen,
when to ponder and when to share.
In moments of challenge and decision attune my
heart to the whisperings of Your Wisdom.

As I undertake ordinary and unnoticed tasks,
gift me with simple Joy.
When my day goes well, may I rejoice!
When it grows difficult
surprise me with new possibilities.

When life is overwhelming
call me to Sabbath moments
to restore Your Peace and Harmony.
May my living today
reveal your goodness.
(Author Unknown)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Preparing for prayer . . .

Gracious and Holy God
give us wisdom
to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to behold you,

a heart to meditate on you,
and a life to proclaim you;
through the power
of the Spirit
of Jesus Christ.

A prayer of St. Benedict

Humming with Hope!

Humming In The Darkness

Hope means to keep living
amid desperation
and to keep humming
in the darkness.

Hoping is knowing that there is love,
it is trust in tomorrow
it is falling asleep
and waking again
when the sun rises.

In the midst of a gale at sea,
it is to discover land.

In the eyes of another
it is to see that you are understood . . .
As long as there is still hope
There will also be prayer . . .
And you will be held
in God’s hands.   
Henri Nouwen ~ With Open Hands


Gratitude . . .

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.

Breaths of Life . . .

Life is not measured by the
number of breaths we take,
but by the number of moments
that take our breath away.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Candle of HOPE!

The Story of the 4 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)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mary's Uplifting! August 15th Feast . . .

The Wise Woman’s Stone
A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food.  The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without any hesitation.

The traveler left rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a full lifetime. But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. “I’ve been thinking,” he said. “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”

Today, we gather to celebrate, to remember and to affirm our belief once again in the passing of Mary into God’s embrace body and soul. We gather to celebrate all that she had within her that enabled her to trust in Mystery, to walk in the holy darkness of questions; to ponder her experiences in the light of faith; to hope in God’s love amidst her joys and sorrows; losses and findings and the deaths and risings she encountered; and to live with courage as she responded moment by moment to the challenges and surprises that resulted from her “Yes, let it be done”.

The Assumption of Mary into heaven is one of the oldest feasts of Mary.  It is easily traced back to at least the 5th century and some historians say it was even celebrated as far back at the 3rd century. The event is not found in Scripture, and there were no witnesses – the feast came before its definition – it came from the belief of the people, the heart of the people. It is written, that in 1946 Pope Pius XII sent an encyclical letter to all the bishops of the world and asked them to confer with their people about the mystery of the Assumption becoming a dogma of the Church. On the strength of their response and the testimony of history he declared the Assumption dogma in 1950. Isn’t this a great model for our Church!

Most of what we know about Mary in Scripture comes from the Gospels of Luke and John. As a young Jewish girl, she grew into womanhood with an extraordinary faith. Oftentimes she did not understand what God was asking of her, but she believed with all her heart that it could and would be done, and she acted accordingly. It was enough for her to be called to move within holy mystery and gently hold the tension of all that was being asked of her. She did not seek answers, clarity or quick results - we are told that “she held all these things in her heart” and treasured them until their meaning was revealed a grace at a time!

In our Gospel today, Mary, a young pregnant woman went with haste about 70 miles south to the hills of Judea to visit her older pregnant cousin, Elizabeth, who has lived the past six months, no longer barren, with a quieted husband. Mary remains there for at least 3 months to be of help and to share the joy of expectation that most mothers-to-be experience. They both embody God’s mercy while sharing their fears, finding courage through one another, expressing their hopes, and learning practical wisdom of body, mind, and spirit together. The mystery of the Incarnation is set in a familiar context – the friendship between pregnant women who await the birth of their children. Luke summarizes for us the deep relationship between Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and is the first person to recognize Mary’s child, Jesus, as the long-awaited one.

Elizabeth’s loud cry is translated with the same words used to describe the loud cry of the Hebrews before the Ark of God’s presence when it was brought into their midst.  Mary is now the living Ark of God and the promise to God’s people has begun to be fulfilled in her.

In response to Elizabeth’s greeting, Mary proclaims a song of liberation for all people; one in which ideals are reversed and the household of God will be peopled by the poor, the hungry, and the ones with no power. Hers is the first proclamation of justice in the New Testament.  Her song is revolutionary – she speaks of a political revolution in which God has shown strength and brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.  She speaks of a social revolution in which God has filled the hungry with good things; and she sings of an economic revolution, in which God has sent the rich away empty, and the poor are filled with good things.

Her message is so subversive that even in our time, it is written that “for a period during the 1980’s the Government of a Latin American country banned its public recitation.”  Her song of courage invites us to identify with the poor, the oppressed and marginalized of our day, to be in solidarity with them, and to dare to engage with God in the liberation of these people, believing, like Mary that this can be done so that we too can build up the kingdom with love and justice.

These women, who stand pregnant in an embrace of joy, laughter, and praise for God’s marvels, will give birth to children of the Magnificat. These children in turn will one day stand together and sing a new song that would be revolutionary as well. John will sing his song of Repentance and ring out the Good News that the Messiah is here. Jesus, will sing his song of Beatitude that will break through to the hearts of the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized and beyond the strict laws of purification.

No doubt that after Jesus' Ascension, Mary grew in age, grace and wisdom as well.  She, too, was filled with the Pentecost fire of the Spirit and would have received the same energy and power of the Spirit as the disciples. Legend puts her in Ephesus residing at the home of John the apostle. However, some scholars tend to think that Mary stayed in Jerusalem, the birthplace of the first Christian community. If so, then Mary’s mission was to reach out and speak to Jewish women and to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.  Her ministry was to build up the young community and make known this new faith to other women believers.

So how can this feast speak to us?  How can it encourage us on our journey?  How can it become part of our story?  Mary not only witnesses to the action of God in her life, but she is a woman who was fully human, gifted with grace, truth, mercy, compassion, faithfulness, on fire with the Spirit, generous in ministry, and centered in God.  These are a few of the treasures that she had deep within her that enabled her to be woman, wife, mother, sister, cousin, friend, disciple, prophet, and witness.  Finally, we ask boldly for all that she had within her that enabled her to be authentic, faithful, and trusting, so that we, too, will sing our prophetic song of faithfulness and proclaim that “God has done great things for us!”

I close with a selection from Soul Sisters by Edwina Gateley,
who reflects on this Gospel . . . .

“Affirmed, loved and comforted,
 You stayed with Elizabeth,
 Absorbing the experience and the wisdom
  of the older woman,
 deepening in your own resolve
 to nurture, hold
 and mother God.
 Your journey has blessed ours, Mary.
 Your Yes dares us
 to believe in the impossible,
to embrace the unknown,
 and to expect the breaking through of mystery
 onto our bleak and level horizons.
 The words you heard, Mary,
 we will forever remember.
 We will not be afraid,
 for the life that you birthed
 will not be extinguished
 in our souls.
 And the journey
 you took in faithfulness,
 we also take.
 We the people, women and men, the midwives,
 and the healers will also,
 like you Mary, our soul sister,
 Give birth to God
 for our world.”

Previously posted: August 2012

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

An Amazing Presence . . .

 I am touched to the core
  with a presence I can not explain
  A loving plan enfolds me
  Someone is always believing in me
  calling me forth, calling me on
  I am standing in grace
  filled with mystery
  touched with the eternal
  I cannot get away from goodness
  I think we name you God.
  You surround me like a gentle breeze
  My idols live on in my life
  My inconsistent values stay
  My immaturity walks besides me
  My sin is ever before me
  Your love for me stays the same
  I tremble in the face of such graciousness
  Your reverence for me astounds me
  You breathe out hope
  and I catch on …

  Macrina Wiederkehr
Seasons of Your Heart
  Photo by Doris Klein, CSA

The Mystery of Presence . . .

For Presence
Awaken to the mystery of being here and
enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to
follow its path.

Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.

May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek
no attention.
Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
around the heart of wonder.

~ John O'Donohue ~

(To Bless the Space Between Us)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Story of the Seed by Francis Kong

A successful business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business. Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, 'It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. 'The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued. 'I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO.'

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing.
By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by -- still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.
A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot...

But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the boardroom. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful -- in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!
When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives.

Jim just tried to hide in the back. 'My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown,' said the CEO. 'Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!'
All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, 'The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!'

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story. The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, 'Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!
His name is Jim!' Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed.
'How could he be the new CEO?' the others said.

Then the CEO said, 'One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow.

All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers. When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!'
(Previously posted 2014)