Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 10/26

Who's waiting for my help?
my encouragement?
my compassion?

Who's waiting to see me?
to hear my voice?
to lean on me?

Who's waiting for God's blessing to come
through my touch,
my words,
my care?

Who's waiting for me
to do that little job
God's been waiting for me to do?

Think for a minute...

You know who it is...


So, let's get to work!

Texting with God

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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 10/25

Image: Weather.com

Something's different in the sunlight,
these fine October days...

Old Sol, up in the heavens,
assumes an autumn angle, warming an October glow
on branches brushed to beauty:
leaves alive in light
no summer's green could match...

The light's above, Lord,
-- but I'd swear the leaves are glowing-
from within...

In my reverie, the trees,
still warm with sun soaked up from August skies,
now pray a psalmody of golden-bronzes, orange-reds
and dappled, purpled russets...

And can it be that, here and there,
fall's light now rises,
praising its eternal source?

Driving down an arbored road
it seems the glow is here and there
(not everywhere)
and, well, of course - it's evergreens
give backdrop for this blaze of autumn's finery...

Your light's above, Lord, and it's all around
and from every angle shines on us
in summer, winter, fall and spring...

And your light's within us,
deep inside, to warm us
from the depths of who we are...

We join the prayer of warmth and light
in trees and leaves upon the branch
and lift to you a psalm of praise
for your beauty all around us,
your gracious light within us...



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Monday Morning Offering: 10/24

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

The election is just two weeks away
and I'm wondering, Lord:
if you were a candidate -
would we elect you?

If you were running for office
I know how you'd campaign:
with open and transparent honesty
-- no need for fact-checking
your statements and sound bytes!

Your campaign promises would be many:
   justice for all;
   peace for those who work for it;
   pardon for those who freely forgive;
   unseating the mighty and lifting up the lowly;
   an economy based on filling the hungry with good things
      and sending the rich away empty;
   respect and reverence for life
      in all it shapes and forms...

Your platform would be flawless:
   laws rooted in truth, justice tempered with mercy;
   freedom bound by responsibility;
   executive clemency shaming the vengeful;
and an unapologetic preference:
   for the defenseless innocent,
   for those waiting to be born and their mothers,
   for the poor, the marginalized, the stranger
   and for victims of power, greed and arrogance...

But I know your name won't be on the ballot, Lord,
so I ask you to be with me as I study the candidates
and their platforms, pledges and policies...

Open my mind to all sides of the issues
lest I cast an uninformed, foolish vote
on matters of poverty and prosperity,
peace and war, life and death, rights and responsibilities...

Help me see through the ads and the hype,
through the vitriol and name-calling,
lest I vote on the basis of looks and appearances,
polls and promises...

Give me counsel to choose wisely
especially when the choices fail to offer
what I seek and expect
of those who would govern your people...

Make of me, Lord, a discerning disciple:
empower me to cast my ballot
as my faith, my intelligence, my conscience,
and the truth of your Word lead me to vote...

As November 8 draws near,
I offer you my heart, Lord:
inscribe on it your word of truth
in letters gospel-wide
and bold enough for me to clearly see...

I offer you my mind, Lord:
bathe my thoughts in wisdom ever ancient, ever new
and guide me on the path of truth...

I offer you my will, Lord:
bend it, shape it, mold it
and in the power of your grace conform it
to match your heart's desire...

I offer you my vote, Lord:
may it be a good decision,
may it speak a just word,
may it hasten your reign of peace
and bring life and liberty for all...

All this I offer, Lord,
and ask, in return,
the gift of your Spirit
to counsel and guide me...



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Homily for October 23

Homily for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily

The poor Pharisees often don’t fare very well in the pages of the gospel
but it seems this Pharisee did many good things:
he fasted and he prayed
and he gave ten percent of his whole income to the temple.

A generous man, he was not greedy;
a truthful man, he was not dishonest;
faithful to his wife, he was not an adulterer.
and in all this, in his own estimation
he counted himself more virtuous than most
- and that, of course, was his undoing.

The only thing this Pharisee might have left off
his self-congratulatory list
was pride in his political choices, whatever they might have been.

Suppose the Pharisee were in temple today: can’t you hear him saying,
 “I thank you, Lord,
that I’m not like the people in that other political party,
fools despised by anyone with common sense and half a brain.
I love it when my candidate rips apart the opposition,
and I take comfort in knowing how justified are my opinions.”
That might be the Pharisee’s prayer today.

And then there’s the tax collector.
Judging from his simple, one line confession,
O God, be merciful to me, a sinner...
there’s little doubt that he did some bad things --
perhaps things too shameful for him to even mention.
But we’re left in the dark about his political affiliation
since Democrats and Republicans are in an absolute tie
when it comes to the number of sinners in their ranks.

But it’s the tax man, the sinner
who goes home justified -forgiven- in God’s eyes
while the apparently virtuous man goes home
with little more than his biased self-approval,
propped up by what he sees to be the sins of others.

So, with whom do we more closely identify in this parable:
the Pharisee or the sinner?
It’s so easy to say to ourselves, 
 “What, me? A sinner? 
I’m not a murderer, bank robber,  drug dealer
- or a presidential candidate!”

Or as the Pharisee put it so succinctly in the parable,
 “Thank God I’m not like all the others - the real sinners!”

And perhaps it’s true that like the Pharisee,
we, too, do many good things.
But aren’t we also like, even more like, the tax collector?
Don’t we also have reason to ask, even to beg for God’s mercy?
Let’s take a look…

• In spite of the fact that in many ways we have more than we need,
in a world where so many have nothing or next to nothing at all,
do we find ourselves complaining that we don’t have enough?

• Are we sometimes so stretched to the limit working
to provide for those in our care,
that we’re too busy to spend time with them?

• Though I may be a very busy pastor,
do I keep just busy enough to avoid the things I least like doing?

• If I’m a teen, do I appreciate and love my parents, but seldom, if ever,
give them the time of day, let alone my affection?

• Do I keep my mouth shut
when a situation begs for someone to speak up?

• Do I allow my pledged love, my promised fidelity,
to fray at the edges,
outside the company of my spouse, my beloved, my ministry?

• In a divorced family, am I fair and just with my ex and my kids?

• Do I excuse my dishonesty at work, my cheating at school
by comparing myself to others more dishonest than I am?

• Am I so convinced of my own opinions, political and otherwise,
that I give myself permission to demean and demonize
those who disagree with me?

• Do I say things behind my neighbors’ back
that I’d never say to their face?

• In big things and in small ways,
do I stretch or deny the truth to insure my own comfort?

• Am I faithful to prayer outside and beyond my times of urgent need -
or am I usually too busy to pray?

• Do I hold on to grudges and resentments
rather than making peace with those with whom I’m at odds?

Well, I’m sure we could all add many more questions to that list,
questions that would find us off in the corner like the tax collector,
humbled, contrite, acknowledging our need for God’s mercy.

Make no mistake about it:
the Lord’s message in this parable is aimed precisely at any of us
who might have felt uncomfortable listening to my list of questions.

It’s folks like the tax collector -- and you and me --
who are invited to seek the healing of God’s mercy.
The Pharisee? He went home self-satisfied,
patting himself on the back -  and alone.

The tax collector went home with God in his heart,
God who filled him with peace when he bared his soul,
came to terms with his sins - and asked for forgiveness.

Today, it’s us, you and I, who have “come up to the temple to pray”
and like the Pharisee and the tax collector
we stand before God and one another.

May God keep us from pointing to the failings of others
to justify ourselves and our own behavior.
Instead, may we all bow and bend low before the Jesus,
who humbled himself and bowed his head on the Cross for us
and who now invites us to his table
to share in, to feast on,  the gift of his mercy.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 10/23

A month ago,
just four weeks ago today,
do I remember what then
bothered me? angered me?
ruled my day?  saddened me?   
worried me and brought me down?

Chances are,
I'll have to stop and think
and even then, 
I still might not remember 
what was happening -
just a month ago today...
So, help me keep today day in perspective, Lord:
today with all its problems, joys and sorrows,
its ups and downs, its worries...

Help me remember, Lord,
that whatever this day brings -
it, too, shall pass - and through it all  
you're ever at my side...   


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Pause or Prayer: SATURDAY 10/22

Image source

I watch a leaf, falling from its branch,
   skittering here and there,
      dancing down the street
         on the wind's own whim and will...

I follow that one leaf:
   it dawdles and it pokes along and of a sudden,
      with surprising lift, it leaps - a jeté -
         sprung of a spirit my soul desires...

I am that leaf, Lord,
   skipping all about but sometimes stalled
      still upon a grassy path,
         keeping secrets I long to shout...
I am that leaf
   and your Spirit's breath beneath
      gives me flight and then, gently,
         sets me down to rest...

I am that leaf and without your breath
   I'd have no power
      to rise above what keeps me down,
         to fly beyond what holds me back...
I am that leaf, I cry to you
    "Lord,  lift me up,
        raise me out of sorrow's depths
           to joy I'll find in you alone...

When your power lifts me up
   let nothing weigh so heavy on my heart
      that I should fail and fall
         and miss your Spirit's wing...

I'm that leaf and you're the wind I need
   to breathe, to dance, to run, to play, 
      to live and make my way with grace
         along my lonely path...

In the quiet of my prayer 
   and with your Spirit's power
      lift me up and carry me
         to where you'd have me go today...

In the stillness help me see
   the days and ways you've carried me 
      when I've not guessed or known 
         the source of all my strength...

In my prayer, Lord, help me know
   your Spirit's been my life and hope
      when I have been that lonely leaf,
         fluttering and falling from its branch... 



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 10/21

The first one arrived today, Lord,
with Halloween more than a week away
(not to mention a month till Thanksgiving)...

The first one, Lord, with more to follow -
I'm as sure of that as I am of your birthday
yet two months away...

The first one, Lord:
this season's first catalogue of
things I don't need,
things that my family and friends don't need,
things that will surely wear out
then be thrown into piles of all the things
that none of us need
but so many of us think we want...

A holiday catalogue of
things I don't need
yet, things that beguile ,
lure and seduce me
as sure as that fruit in the garden of Eden,
now photographed, catalogued
and hanging so low...

A catalogue of things I don't need
when at the same time, Lord,
there are so many things
I dearly, truly, deeply need:
things that I'll never find
in a catalogue, flyer or ad
for there's neither a price nor a discount
on things I really need...

I know I need love - your love, Lord -
and while I know that I have it
I'm often unmindful, distracted by
the bright and the shiny,
the new and improved,
the fastest, the biggest,
the smallest, the smartest,
the cleverly, beautifully wrapped
and the neatly presented on page after page
in catalogues brimming with
- things I don't need...

Don't let me fall for it this year, Lord!
Help me make a distinction between
the things that I need and don't need,
between things that I want but don't  really need,
between all that I already have
and the extras I surely could do without,
between all I treasure and hold as greater
than anything I will ever find
in catalogues
of things that I don't really need...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 10/20

Image source

What a shame 
when the burdens and sorrows and the fears and worries 
of any given day
keep me from seeing, hearing, tasting,
touching, knowing and enjoying
the simple blessings and joys
that same day holds...

Though this day may have its problems, Lord,
however troubled and anxious I may be,
let nothing keep me from this day's peace,
its refreshment and delights,
from it's sweeter moments and hidden blessings:
from the simple peace your presence brings...



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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 10/19

Kevin and Sanna 10/19/13
(In place of my usual Wednesday "Texting with God," I invite you to celebrate the third anniversary of this couple whose marriage I witnessed for the Church and about whose wedding I wrote this prayer the next day.)

Yesterday, Lord, the joy of a wedding,
Kevin's and Sanna's,
took me far from my worries
and far from all that haunts my heart...

For over an hour I rejoiced in their love,
in the promise and hope
of a bride and her groom blessed by your peace,
graced by your Spirit, united as one...

For an hour, Lord, your presence in them,
in their vows, in their kiss,
lifted my heart with most welcome delight...

You didn't free my soul of its cares
but you let me know, deeply:
whatever the burdens that weigh on my heart,
joy still comes to visit, to touch and uplift...

In "good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,
all the days of our lives"
you offer us peace - even joy -
and the grace to accept it,
if just for an hour...

Open my eyes, my ears and my mind, Lord,
open my heart to what joy comes my way
and let me not miss, let go or forget
the gift of sweet joy when it stops by my door...


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 10/18

Image source

Today's Pause for Prayer is very different:
a video, a TED talk...

Watch, listen - and be grateful...


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