Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 2/23

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Be still and know that I am God...
Ps. 46:11

It takes me some, time, Lord,
   to actually settle down,
      take a few deep breaths, relax
         and really be still in your presence...

But way too often I don't slow down all that much.
I steal a few free minutes, my cell phone still in hand.
I think I'm praying but my mind and my attention
   are a hundred miles away...
I read a few words, close my eyes, and hope for the best...

Real prayer comes when I put on the brakes,
   pull off my day's highway, step aside from my schedule,
      make a place to be quiet and still,
         clear some space in my mind
   and, in my heart's chapel, wait:
      and I wait for you, Lord...

And the waiting can be the hard part.
I know you're there, by my side - you're not hiding.
But I wait to see you,
   not with my eyes but with my heart...
I wait to hear you,
   not with my ears but in your word...
I wait for your touch,
   not on my skin but on my soul...

I wait for your presence beside me, around me,
   and especially within me
and only in the stillness, in the quiet
   will I find you...

Your presence is like a fine mist,
      translucent, spun of the Spirit's breath,
a soft but steady light burning
   in dark corners and at the tunnel's end:
only in the stillness, in the quiet
   will I find you whose presence is so real...

And though I wait to find you, Lord,
   I know that first - you wait for me...

You wait for me to slow my step and find you by my side...
You wait for me to nod my thoughts in your direction,
   to tip my heart towards you when I'm grateful,
      to open my soul's windows to your Spirit...
You wait all day and night
   for me to call upon your name...

You wait for me with help for this day's problems...
You wait for me with mercy for my failings...
You wait for me with healing for my bruises...
You wait for me with peace to ease my sorrow...
You wait for me with light to fill my darkness...
You wait for me with grace to bless my nights...
You wait for me to make some time and find a place
      where I might rest and wait for you...

Truth be told, Lord, many times I come to prayer,
   not so much to wait for you
      but to wait to see what you can do for me -
         even to "remind you" of what you've not yet done...

And while I know you understand when I pray like this,
   I also know your first desire is for me to know you,
      to know your love for me and to love you in return....

Your first desire is to reveal yourself for who you are:
   the One who's waited for me since before all time;
   the One who waits for me when I'm faithful and when I'm not;
   the One who waits for me to wait for you...

Help me, Lord, to be still that I might find you,
   help me wait for you, my Lord and God...

And in the quiet, in the stillness,
   let me find peace, even in the waiting:
      in my waiting for you and in your waiting for me...

In the quiet, in the waiting, in the prayer and in the peace
   help me see that you're my heart's desire:
      that when I find my joy in you I've found everything I need,
      that in your love for me you've given more
           than all my mind and heart and soul 
              might ever hope to hold...


Be still and know that I am God...

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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 2/22

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Got some friends, Lord,
   who are carrying some heavy loads,
   their plates full of cares and concerns,
   troubles and fear, loneliness and doubt...

So, I was wondering...

   Could you slow things down for them,
   even just a little, in the days ahead?

   Could you fill in the potholes and smooth the bumps
   on the road they're traveling?

   Could you make their lives a little less complicated
   and a whole lot simpler?

   Could you spare them the curve balls
   and throw a couple right down Broadway?

   Could you gently touch their grief
   and mend their broken hearts?

   Could you give them a break
   from disappointment, discouragement and distress?

   Could you take at least a few things off
   their already full and overflowing plates of problems?

   Could you let them catch a glimpse of you
   standing close by their side?

   Could you give them the time and space they need
   to sit back, relax and find a little peace?

   Could you relieve their doubts
   and refresh their faith in you?

   Could you bless their tender, wounded hearts
   with healing and compassion?

And I'd be grateful, Lord,
   if you could give me some hints
   on how best to help these friends of mine:
      like them, I often feel powerless
      over much of what they're facing....

And I know we're all powerless in many ways
and need to trust in you, Lord,
   to lean on you, to ask you to be:
      our strength in our weakness,
      our wisdom in our doubts,
      and our hope
         through the darkest and loneliest of nights...

Got some friends, Lord,
   who are carrying heavy loads, their plates overflowing
      with cares and concerns, with troubles and fears:
   help them know and see and feel your presence,
      your love, your strength, your mercy and your peace...



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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 2/20

I'm on a pilgrimage, Lord:
a group from my parish have come to Rome
to visit, to pray, to travel, to learn,
to spend the first week of Lent...

Things are generally going well
along with a few ups and downs
and fatigue and colds
and the desire to do too much
in too short a time...

Come to think of it,
life is something of a pilgrimage,
isn't it, Lord?

We begin somewhere
and, step by step,
make our way through thick and thin,
ups and downs,
in sickness and in health,
in good times and in bad,
through sorrow and joy -
all the while making our way back to you,
walking the path home to you...

And as important as it is to find you
at the end of our journey,
finding you now,
everywhere along the way,
along the road we take,
the path we make
perhaps even more important
for you make the journey with us,
you travel with us, by our side,
before us and behind us,
above us and below us...

Wherever my own pilgrim road has taken me
and no matter how many times I've got lost,
no matter how many times I put you aside
pulling off the road and charting my own course,
away from the sway of our Spirit,
apart from the plan you have for me,
as many times as I've done all this
you're still with me, by my side,
showing me, leading me, guiding me
on the pilgrim road that takes me home...

So, whether we're on a designated journey
or on the pilgrimage of life,
lead us, guide us, bring us home, Lord,
until we know you in all your fullness
and your love alone
is the joy of our hearts...



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Monday Morning Offering: 2/19

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

Help me discover, Lord,
what you want to do in my life
this Lent...

I'm so often blind to your presence, deaf to your voice,
too busy to see you right at my side:
open my eyes to the ways you'll meet me in these 40 days;
open my ears to the words you'll speak to me;
and open my heart to how you want to heal and mend me
in Lent 2018...
I know you invite and help me in this holy season:
to pray, that I might grow closer to you;
to fast, that I might hunger for what's truly satisfying;
to care for the poor and deepen my dependence on you...

Teach me to pray, Lord
- help me make the time.
Keep me faithful to fasting
- nourish me with your Word and your presence.
Give me a generous heart
- help me see that I have, already,
     much more than I need....

Oh, and I have a special favor to ask of you, Lord,
and here it is...

And there are some folks I know who need your help:
you know their names already,
but let me mention them now...

Lord, in your love and in your mercy, 
hear my prayer…

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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 2/18

I'm not suggesting that giving up this or that food
   won't help me get closer to God.

I'm just raising the question:
How will giving up some particular food
help me grow in my spiritual life?
Will God, for some curious reason, be happier with me
   if I don't eat _____ for 40 days?

If I'm faithful and successful in my effort,
   where will that leave me at Lent's end? 
More open to God's presence in my life or... 
   proud of my own accomplishment? 
   hungrier than ever for what I gave up? 
   ready to binge on my own forbidden fruit?

Will not eating _____ for 40 days
   make me a more spiritual person? 
      And if so, how?
      And if not, why do it?

Lent isn't a diet plan, it's a season for growth in faith. 
Whatever I do for Lent,
   whatever I give up for Lent
is meant to help me grow in my knowledge and love of God
   - and my mindfulness of God in my daily life.

In my parish in Lent, we often pray:
For fasting that leads us to prayer
and for prayer that leads us to serve the poor,
So where does my fasting lead me?
   Does it lead me to prayer?  to God?
And does my prayer lead me
   to be more generous in my outreach to the poor?

For fasting that leads us to prayer
   and for prayer that leads us to serve the poor,
      let us pray to the Lord...


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 2/17

Ash Wednesday by Amadeo Cristobal

 Check all that apply:

___ I knew that February 14 was Valentine's Day
          but I had no idea it was Ash Wednesday, too!

___ I knew that February 14 was Ash Wednesday but I forgot!

___ I remembered that February 14 was Ash Wednesday
        - but I was too busy to get to church.

___ I went to church on Ash Wednesday.

___ I went to church on Ash Wednesday and have been
         faithfully praying, fasting and serving the poor
            for three days now.

___ I went to church on Ash Wednesday
         but haven't thought much about since then.                                                                  

___ I think I've already given up on Lent this year.

No matter which one(s) you checked, you can be sure of 5 things:
   - The Lord loves you...
   - The Lord welcomes you to the season of Lent...
   - The Lord has something in mind for you this Lent..
   - The Lord wants to help you make this a season of growth,
         a springtime of peace within you...
   - The Lord isn't going to give up on you this Lent!

So, even if Lent hasn't started for you
  of if it got off to a rough start,
      it's not too late to start making the most of this season...

Take a few minutes today to reflect on:
   - how you might be more faithful to prayer this Lent...
   - how you might give up or let go some things
         that come between you
            and your love for God and your neighbor...
   - how you might, in the 6 weeks ahead,
         be generous to those in need...
   - what God might want to do in our life
         over the next month and a half...

And, now, let's all pause for prayer:
Lord, however faithful or jumbled 
   has been the beginning of Lent in my life,
I trust that you still call me to live this season
   as a way of growing in faith and love...
Keep me from being discouraged by my mistakes
   and open my eyes to all the ways
      you wait for me and want to help me grow...
Help me remember that it's no sin
   to be a few days late in beginning the season of Lent,
that the greater error would be to just give up,
   letting this opportunity for grace pass me by...
If I've made a good start, Lord,
   make me stronger in my resolve.

If I've made a half-hearted beginning,

   rev up my efforts.

If I've not yet begun at all
    then send your Spirit to jump-start Lent
       within my heart today.
O God of second chances and new beginnings,
   help me find in the weeks ahead
      a season of grace and prayer and peace.   Amen.
(If your Lent has had a rocky beginning, a great way to get things moving
would be to come to church this weekend for Mass on the First Sunday of Lent!)

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When words fail my prayer...

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I have no words, Lord,
no words to speak a nation's grief,
a people's panicked outrage,
the depths of loss and pain...

I have no words, Lord,
for words have failed for far too long
to make the changes, any change,
to curb the violent virus
now infecting our shared life...

I have no words to speak to powers deaf
to anguished cries
and to the silence of young lives
slaughtered, mute, lost in the classrooms,
in the hallways of our schools...

I have no words to speak
but I know well the words I long to hear:
a word of peace where now there's none;
a word of comfort for the grieving;
a word of healing for the broken;
a word of wisdom in the madness;
a word of change where only change
will change the danger in our streets...

I have no words today, no words
to bring to bring from heart to speech
and I yet I trust you hear and know
the words I cannot find...

So hear this one last word, Lord,
in my silence hear my cry, my prayer,
"Mercy, Lord!"

Have mercy on your people, Lord,
have mercy on us all...



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 2/16

This is the third day of Lent...  how's it going?

Or did you miss Ash Wednesday altogether and just stumble into Lent yesterday or today?  (If so, welcome aboard - it is NOT too late!)  

Has the fervor of Ash Wednesday worn off or has it deepened?

Have you got a plan for living Lent - or have you been just too busy to even think about it?

Are you wondering if you've missed the boat, that it sailed without you?

All of life is like this, isn't it?

I have false and late starts...  I sometimes miss what everyone else seems to be aware of...  I lose track of even the most important things I want to do... I get distracted and even lost and wonder if it's too late to start again... I worry that my own timeline isn't in sync with God's... I fear that I'm not doing things the way they're supposed to be done... I wonder if I'll ever figure out how Lent is supposed to work for me...

Life and Lent can be very much alike and that's because the same person who's living my life is the person who's trying to live Lent.

I don't become a better person just because it's Lent: I pray that because of Lent, in Lent, through Lent I might become a better, more faithful person.  And the only way for that to happen is for me to acknowledge that it's impossible for me to do this alone and that I really need God's help in this.

Lent, like life, is best lived one a day at a time.  My Lenten plans will help me grow if they're plans I can live with, if they're modest plans that will help me, a day at a time, to be faithful to the presence of God in my life.

So, give some thought to committing to praying for just 10 minutes a day.  That's a modest goal but not necessarily an easy goal. We have so many reasons to keep putting off those 10 minutes until our heads are nodding and we're ready to fall asleep at day's end.

Keep it simple!  Keeping things simple so often helps keep me on the right path...

Lent is a lot like life, isn't it?

Be still... and know that God is with you..

The Serenity Prayer seems a good way to spend 10 minutes in prayer today. Here's a longer version, usually attributed to Rienhold Niebuhr:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Keep it simple, 
one day at a time...


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Spending the first week of Lent in ROME!

This Friday afternoon (2/16) I'll be flying to Rome to spend a week there with a group from my parish (returning on Saturday 2/24).  While I'm away I'll be posting a daily Pause for Prayer.  Please be sure of my prayers for you while I'm in the Eternal City - and please pray a safe journey for us on our trip.


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