Thursday, November 30, 2017

Remembering the Roses in December . . .

Top: Ita Ford, Maura Clarke
Bottom: Jean Donovan, Dorothy Kazel

December 2nd marks the 37th anniversary of the martyrdom of Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, lay missionary Jean Donovan and Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, the four churchwomen of El Salvador who were savagely brutalized and killed for spreading the good news and teaching people to read and pray.

• Lord, make me your witness. In this world of darkness, let my light shine.
• In this world of lies, let me speak the good news of truth.
• In this world of hate and fear, let me radiate your love.
• In this world of despair, let me spread hope.
• In this world of systemic injustice and institutionalized evil, let me promote justice and goodness.
• In this world of sadness and sorrow, let me bring joy.
• In this world of cruelty and condemnation, let me show your compassion.
• In this world of vengeance and retaliation, let me offer your mercy and reconciliation.
• In this world of war, let me serve your gift of peace.
• In this world of violence, make me a teacher and apostle of your nonviolence.
• In this world of death, let me proclaim the new life of resurrection.
• Help me to witness to the resurrection of Jesus by loving my enemies, showing compassion, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, serving the poor, liberating the oppressed, resisting war, beating plowshares, and disarming my heart and the world.
• In the name of the risen, nonviolent Jesus, Amen

Taken from:
You Will be My Witnesses:
Saints, Prophets and Martyrs
By John Dear

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

An Advent Examen . . .

Ignatian Examen for Advent

The Grace of Gratitude
I speak from my heart telling God why I am grateful,
being very particular and naming specific things:
gifts, people, events, blessings
How do I wait with gratitude?

The Grace to See
I walk with God through the experiences of my day
(or past year) giving thanks where I have grown,
and noticing where I have stumbled.
Where do I need the gift of light?
How do I wait with a discerning heart?

The Grace of Freedom
I ask for the grace to awaken my memory to anything from
my day (or past year) where God is inviting me to greater
freedom and peace.
I spend some time listening to my heart.
How do I wait in peace… in silence… listening?

The Grace of Mercy
I ask to feel hope, knowing that God will always give me
forgiveness. I ask God’s mercy in personal words that come
from my heart.
How do I wait in hope and with trust this
Advent Season?

The Grace of Transformation
I listen to my heart for invitations to change the way I pray,
live, work, love, play, relate, serve, or define success.
What deep desire within me is waiting to be
uncovered, discovered, or recovered this
Advent Season?
I pray the Our Father that God’s Kingdom reign in my life.

Examen adapted by William Watson, S.J.
Advent Reflections

Ready. Set. Wait!

“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

It's Advent-ing Season!

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!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow . . .

Look to this day
for it is life
the very life of life.
In its brief course lie all
the realities and truths
of existence
the joy of growth
the splendor of action
the glory of power.

For yesterday is but a memory
and tomorrow is only a vision.
But today well lived
makes every yesterday
a memory of happiness
and every tomorrow
a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day . . .

~ an ancient Sanskrit poem

Friday, November 17, 2017

A Thanksgiving Threshold . . .

 Like Spring secretly at work within the heart of Winter,
below the surface of our lives
huge changes are in fermentation.
We never suspect a thing.

Then when the grip of some
long-enduring winter mentality
begins to loosen,
we find ourselves vulnerable
to a flourish of possibility
and we are suddenly negotiating
the challenges
of a threshold…

At any time you can ask yourself:
At which threshold am I now standing?
At this time in my life, what am I leaving?
Where am I about to enter?

A threshold is not a simple boundary;
it is a frontier
that divides two different territories,
rhythms, and atmospheres.

Indeed, it is a lovely testimony
to the fullness and integrity
of an experience or a stage of life
that it intensifies toward the end
into a real frontier
that cannot be crossed
without the heart being passionately
engaged and
woken up.

At this threshold
a great complexity of emotion
comes alive:
confusion, fear,
excitement, sadness,

This is one of the reasons
such vital crossings
were always clothed in ritual.

It is wise in your own life
to be able to recognize and acknowledge
the key thresholds;
to take your time;
to feel all the varieties of presence
that accrue there;
to listen inward
with complete attention
until you hear
the inner voice
calling you

The time has come
to cross.

John O’Donohue
From: To Bless the Space Between Us

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Blessing . . .

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
Jan Richardson 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

God comes to us disguised as our lives!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.  (Melodie Beattie)

Story: Sometime ago, I was sharing with someone who at one time had been homeless.  He told me of how often he would long for a sandwich.  So he would hang out at fast food restaurants to collect the discarded ketchup packets.  Then (if he was lucky that day) he would find a slice of bread and squeeze out the remaining ketchup from the assorted packets to make a ketchup sandwich.  He went on to tell me of the day that a gentleman noticed him and offered to take him to a near-by restaurant and buy him a hamburger.  He told me that it was one of the hardest decisions he ever had to make.  He said this is how it went down with his ordering: Did I want a white or whole wheat bun? Did I want a single burger or the deluxe double burger?  Did I want cheese on my burger?  Did I want my burger somewhat rare, medium, or well done?  Did I want onions on the burger?  Raw or fried?  Did I want lettuce, tomato, and mayo on the burger? Finally, did I want to have fries? Oops – what size order of fries?  Small, medium or large? Then it was the decision of what to drink.  As a result of all this burger decisioning, it took him at least 15 minutes to place his order.


Another Story: Another experience I had was with that of a person who had survived the genocide of Rwanda. The Rwandan genocide was the 1994 mass slaughter of an estimated 800,000 people in the East African state of Rwanda. In my inquiry as to how she and her family escaped and survived she said: “We only had each other and that gave us courage.  We prayed at first to find a cup for drinking.  But eventually we turned our prayer into a request for a cooking pot.  Then all of us could eat, drink, and share.”

A story tells of a man who went to the office every day in his expensive car, and made important decisions and signed big contracts.  Often, the important man would enjoy business lunches with his clients, and would try to distract the attention of his influential guests away from the unsavory spectacle of the beggars on the streets of his city.

One evening, after a hard day making money, he packed his briefcase to go home, where supper would be waiting for him.  As he was locking his desk for the night, he caught sight of a stale sandwich lying abandoned at the back of the drawer.  Without much thought he crammed it in his coat pocket.  No need for it to go moldy and mess up his desk.  And on the way out to the car park he saw a street beggar on the steps, huddled in an old blanket.  ‘Here, my friend’ he said to the beggar. ‘Here is something for your supper.’ And he gave him the stale sandwich

That night, the man dreamed that he was away on a business trip.  After the day’s meeting, he was taken with his fellow directors to the town’s most luxurious restaurant.  Everyone gave their orders, and settled down with their drinks before the meal to look forward to a convivial evening.
The orders arrived. Pâté de foie gras.  Medallions of venison.  Lamb cutlets with rosemary and garlic.  The dishes being brought to the table brought gasps of delight from all the company. Then his own order appeared.  A waitress set in front of him one small plate, on which was served a stale sandwich.

‘What kind of service is this?’ the man demanded, enraged.  ‘This isn’t what I ordered! I thought this was the best restaurant in town!’
‘Oh sir,’ the waitress told him, ‘you’ve been misinformed.  This isn’t a restaurant at all.  This is heaven.  We are only able to serve you what you have sent on ahead while you were alive.  I’m very sorry, sir, but when we looked under your name, the best we could find to serve to you was this little sandwich.’ (Retelling of a Jewish folk story)


How would you describe gratitude? For what are you most grateful?
How do the stories make you feel?
What is disturbing for you in the stories?
What is true for you in the stories?
How have you been a person of generosity in your life?
Have you ever been a recipient of someone’s generosity?
Where in your life have you encountered trauma or tragedy and came through it with a few scars but with great wisdom?

Thanksgiving in many forms . . .

Litany of Gratitude
For being in our world. For making a difference. For your wisdom. Thank you.
For being so thoughtful. For being there. For caring. Thank you.
For sharing your thoughts. For listening. For your inspiration. Thank you.
For your faith. For your talent. For your wonderful work.  Thank you.
For your leadership. For your character. For your spirit.  Thank you.
For your principles. For showing the way. For your warmth.  Thank you.
For your kindness.  For your encouragement. For your honesty.  Thank you.
For your helping hand.  For reaching out. For your touch.  Thank you.
For your support. For hanging in there. For staying in touch. Thank you.
For giving. For your example. For spreading joy. For your big heart.
Thank you.
For all you’ve done. For the memories. For being you.  Thank you.                                                       (Adapted from Gratitude compiled by Dan Zadra)

 Morgan Weistling Thankful Heart
A Gratitude Story:
A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year old daughter and said, "Would you like to say the blessing?"
"I wouldn't know what to say," the girl replied. "Just say what you hear Mommy say, " the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?"

Monday, November 13, 2017

A prayer during hard times and mean days . . .

Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.

Thank you for your presence
during the bright and sunny days,
for then we can share that which we have
with those who have less.

And thank you for your presence
during the Holy Days, for then we are able
to celebrate you and our families
and our friends.

For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.

For those who are lonely, we ask
you to keep them company.
For those who are depressed,
we ask you to shower upon them
the light of hope.

Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
world that which we need most—Peace.

prayer - maya angelou

A Thanksgiving Reflection . . .

In her poem, When Death Comes, Mary Oliver writes:
“When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

We gather to remember, to celebrate and to be grateful for the many ways
in which we have been blessed over this past year.  This prayer, this season of Thanksgiving and the Gospels are inviting us to live as gratitude people. For to live as gratitude people life calls us to do more than just visit here. 

Gratitude is an attitude we can freely choose in order to create a better life for ourselves, others and for earth. It is a quality that deepens and enriches our lives and the lives of others. It can be a personal act of self- expression or a spiritual practice. It is a wholehearted response to the bounties of life. 

Gratitude is a vital dimension of our lives that celebrates the ties that bind us to others. Every occasion for gratefulness is in some way a recognition that we belong to the world and to our fellow human beings and that we exist in community together. 

It is said that to take away the daily experience and expression of gratitude, then life becomes quickly diminished.  Like a weakened immune system, the spirit is left vulnerable to the diseases of cynicism, anger, low-grade depression, or with an edgy sense of dissatisfaction. When we are gratitude-deprived, then we suffer a relentless loss of vitality and delight.

The Gospels call us to live as BEattitude people.  The Beatitudes are inviting us to be surprised by the blessings in our lives. If we truthfully hear the “good news” of these Scriptures we then have to turn upside down all our notions of blessedness. So when we find ourselves spiritually poor and we have nowhere else to turn but to God - then in our poverty we discover who God truly is and who we really are. 

When we find ourselves small or mourning or starving for the justice that has eluded us, and we have nowhere else to turn but to God - then in this helplessness we learn to long for God to comfort and satisfy us.

When we find that our heart has known God’s mercy for our failings and we have been cleansed by all the pain and wounds we have received, then we can offer forgiveness and mercy to others - for then we become peacemakers.  And subsequently a special blessedness will overtake us and mercy will remain in our hearts and we will become people of God who can see our God face to face in the last, the least and the lost.

And when our trust in God earns us the ridicule of the world and our standing on the side of the poor and marginalized leads to rejection by the world, then we can really “rejoice and be glad” for we have been wrapped in the Reign of God.  Then we will, beyond any doubt, know that we are not just visiting here.  For at that moment we will totally and intensely understand that the purpose of life is not to be happy, but that the purpose of life is to matter, to have it make a difference that we have lived at all.

And so  we gather to remember, to give thanks, and to commit ourselves once again to move into these days ahead with courage and hope – for these are the days which dare us and challenge us to not just visit here, but to truly live as gratitude people and BEattitude people because God continues to surprise us with blessings.

So let pray:  May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we will live deep in our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people and the earth so that we will work for justice, equity and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer so we will reach out our hands to comfort them and change their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with the foolishness to think that we can make a difference in the world, so we will do the things which others say cannot be done. Amen.  Amen.

From 2006 and varied resources.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Presence . . .

discovering a new presence

In the second before a feeling hardens
in the instant before a sound is heard
in the helplessness we feel when language
is no longer sufficient to express
all that we want to say
in hope before it gives way to despair
in doubt before it changes to certainty
in certainty before it turns to doubt
in the familiar before it becomes wondrous
in the wondrous before it becomes stale
is the birthplace of your presence.
~ Shabbir Banoobhai

Friday, November 3, 2017

Global Climate Talks Held in Prayer . . .

Prayers for Global Climate Talks in Paris –November 6-17
From Global Catholic Climate Movement


• Nov. 6   We pray that refugees from the climate crisis find peace and a spirit of welcome, in their new homes.  We pray that migration policies include climate refugees among those who need special consideration.
Church teaching: “God clearly and repeatedly recommends hospitality and generosity toward the stranger.’ (Pope John Paul II)

• Nov. 7  We pray for the young and future generations, who will inherit the short-sightedness of past generations.  We pray that wisdom grows, and that we take to heart the imperative to protect young people and all our vulnerable sisters and brothers.
Church teaching: “Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.” (Laudato Si’, 13)

• Nov. 8  We pray for all of the creatures that suffer poor stewardship of creation, and we pray peace for the courageous advocates who are standing up for the Amazon.
Church teaching: “We cannot fail to praise the commitment of international agencies and civil society organizations which . . . ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources, without capitulating to spurious local or international interests.” (Laudato Si’ 38)

• Nov. 9  We pray that the Holy Spirit increases compassion for the victims of extreme weather, that they find God's grace and peace amid their loss, and that the nation's leaders open their hearts and minds to the realities of climate change.
Church teaching: “Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.” (St. Gregory Nazianzen)

• Nov 10  We pray for the safety of people who are affected by growing deserts.  We pray for compassion and healing in their new homes. In our pilgrimage of hope, Creator, draw us into deeper solidarity with vulnerable people.
Church teaching:  “We judge ourselves as a community of faith by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us.” (Letter from the bishops of Mexico and the United States)

• Nov. 11  We pray that the transition to clean energy is just and swift.
Church teaching:  “There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.” (Laudato Si’, 26)

• Nov. 12  We pray that the people of the Caribbean and all sisters and brothers around the world continue to find ways to safely adapt to the new reality of climate change.
Church teaching: “A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing, and limiting our power.” (Laudato Si’ 78)

• Nov. 13  We pray that the people of the Caribbean and all sisters and brothers around the world continue to find ways to safely adapt to the new reality of climate change.
Church teaching: “A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing, and limiting our power.” (Laudato Si’ 78)

• Nov. 14  We pray that communities on the front lines of the environmental crisis will lift their voices and be heard.  We pray that patterns of consumption will change, and start protecting the Earth and its people.
Church teaching: “We note that often the businesses which operate this way are multinationals. They do here what they would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world.” (Bishops of the Patagonia-Comahue Region)

• Nov. 15  We pray for the ingenuity and resilience of the Filipino people. We pray for a spirit of compassion and solidarity among people who live in nations and economies with excessive greenhouse gas emissions and unsustainable lifestyles.
Church teaching:  “Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry.” (Laudato Si’, 25)

• Nov. 16  We pray that South Asia will grow in its resilience to climate catastrophes.  We pray that everyone will have a safe home and support to recover from disasters.
Church teaching:  “Efforts to address climate change must take into account creation and its relationship to ‘the least of these.’” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

• Nov. 17  We pray for the goodwill and grace of Indigenous people and all people whose children will not live as they have because of the changing climate.
Church teaching:  “In this sense, it is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. . . For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values. (Laudato Si’, 146)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Heart of All Hearts . . .

Heart of Love, source of kindness,
Teacher of the ways of goodness,
You are hidden in the minutes of daily life
waiting to be discovered among us.

Heart of Gladness, Joy that sings in our souls,
the Dancer and the Dance,
You are Music radiating in our
cherished times of consolation.

Heart of Compassion, the Healing One weeping
for a world burdened and bent,
You are the heart we bring
to the wounded and weary world.

Heart of all Hearts,
You are the Gift living
in the depth of our lives,
connecting us with others. 

Holy One, in every moment we live in your expansive love and your tender embrace.  All around us we behold your presence.  May we continue to expand our lives and our living, accepting the responsibility to be co-creators with you.  May we live in such a way that generations to come will and say, “Radically Amazing!”
(Judith Cannato: Radical Amazement)

God is our enough . . .