Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 4/23

Image source

Doubt, self-doubt and second guessing -
   these three disturb my discernment 
      and delay my decisions:
afraid that I'll misunderstand or make a mistake,
   I stall and I get nowhere at all...

Confidence, Lord: I need confidence!

I need confidence in the smarts you gave me:
   not the ones I wish I had but the ones I do have...

I need confidence in you, Lord,
   to trust that your Spirit always leads me...

I need confidence in those who help me, Lord,
   the ones you've given me for guidance...

I need confidence, Lord, in the truth of the scriptures 
   and in the wisdom of the ages...
I need confidence in my own ideas and thoughts
   and in the gift of my own experience...

I need confidence in you, Lord:
   in your mercy and grace, in your love and care for me...  

I need confidence to trust that when I make a mistake
   you forgive me, pick me up and help me on my way...

I need confidence that everything will be okay in the end
   and that all's not okay, then it's surely not the end...

I need confidence that all shall be well, Lord,
   that all shall be well,
      that all manner of things shall be well...

I need confidence, Lord, 
   in trusting you'll give me confidence... 

Doubt, self-doubt and second guessing -
   these three, Lord, disturb my discernment
      and delay my decisions: 
           Confidence, Lord: I need confidence!


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 4/22

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Cope Amezcua

(This weekend's gospel tells the story of Doubting Thomas)

Thomas was a doubter, Lord,
and sometimes
I'm a doubter, too...

Sometimes I doubt you, Lord:
your love for me,
your care for me,
the mercy and the peace
you offer me...

And I often doubt myself, Lord:
others may believe in me
but I often doubt and second-guess
my self...
Doubt can back me into a lonely corner
and leave me short on hope...

Doubt can blind me to the truth
even when it stares me in the face...

Doubt can render senseless
any wisdom I have in me...

Doubt can warp the truth
even when the truth is mine...

Doubt can be a devil
when an angel's help I need...
Thomas needed to see
your suffering's wounds
before believing
in your risen glory:
sometimes it's my own wounds, Lord,
that keep me from believing
you're always there for me,
you're always by my side,
you always have my back
and want nothing but the best for me...

Thomas needed to see
your suffering's wounds:
don't let my wounds, Lord,
my suffering,
keep me from discovering,
discerning and delighting in
the peace you offer me...

Help me look with Thomas, Lord,
look upon your wounds
to remind me you're no stranger
to what suffering may be mine...

Remind me how my pain
marks just the very place
where you, Lord,  come to meet me,
to mend and heal
my soul and doubts,
to lead me to your risen peace...

Like Thomas, I'm a doubter, Lord:
   deepen my faith, my trust and my hope
   and make me a believer...



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 4/21

What's gonna be the boss of me today, Lord?
    my schedule? the past?  anxiety?  boredom?
    fear? fantasy?  others' expectations?  pleasure?
    my work? self-doubt?  routine? a relationship?
    food or drink? guilt?  debt?  laziness? loneliness?
    shame?  grudges and resentments?

I've got a lot of bosses, Lord, and just as many masters:
   free me from working for any
      who keep me from serving you;
   keep me from laboring for those
      who can't help make me whole...
   free me from plugging away
      at what will never bring me peace...

Be the boss of me today, Lord:
  let faithfulness be my supervisor;
  honesty, my manager;
  justice, my director;
  and charity my overseer...

Be the boss of my life today, Lord:
   the master of my words and deeds
      and of all my heart's desires...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 4/20

Image source

for times when I look back
on what has been
and find your fingerprints
on every moment in my life -
for this I give you thanks and praise...

For times when I look back
on what has been
and see how you, in mercy,
washed away,
erased my many sins -
for this I give you thanks and praise...

For times when I look back
on what has been
and see how you have healed,
have mended,
what I wounded and left broken -
for this I give you thanks and praise...

And for times when I look forward
to days all yet to be and see
how you will always touch, forgive,
heal and mend my soul -
for this I give you thanks and praise, Lord,
for this I give you thanks and praise...



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A gallery of Doubting Thomases!

The Doubting Thomas by Rocco Normanno

I hope these variations on Caravaggio's The Incredulity of Thomas (below) might pique your interest and lead you to this coming Sunday's texts and commentary and to spend some time with them along with these images. (And if you're bringing children to church, check here for tips for helping them prepare to hear the Lord's word this coming weekend.)

The Incredulity of Thomas by Caravaggio

Incredulidad de Santo Tomas by Reubens

Doubting Thomas by John Gregory Granville

Image source for Doubting Thomas

Doubting Thomas by Generic Art Solutions

Doubting Thomas by Jonathan Hilson

Resurrection by Peter Sheesley -with the artist's permission.

The Doubt of St. Thomas by He Qi

Doubting Thomas by Ben Steele
For some insightful commentary on Ben Steele's work (above) check out Anneke Majors' post at A Motley Vision.  Steele's subject and title form a visual pun playing on the work of Thomas Kinkade.


Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 4/19

Today's text with God looks back on Holy Week
and it's three pivotal moments: Jesus washing his
friends' feet at the Last Supper; the Crucifixion;
and the Resurrection.  Our work is to live what
we celebrated, to share what we received, to let
the movement of Holy Week shape our lives and
our relationship with our neighbor... 


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 4/18


When I can't see where you are,
remind me how you never lose sight of me...

When I strain to listen but just can't hear you,
remind me how you never miss a word I pray...

When I'm alone and feel abandoned,
remind me how you hold me in the palm of your hand...

When I just can't seem to find you
remind me how you seek me out, night and day...

When I find it hard to trust in you,
remind me how you never give up on me...

When I can't forgive myself
remind me how your mercy is forever...

When I don't know where to turn,
remind me how you guide and watch my every step...

And when I can't...  (well, whatever!)
remind me that you can, you do and always will
love and care for me...


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An Easter blessing in song for you!

Here's the Blessing and Dismissal we're singing in my
parish at the end of Mass in the Easter season.

An Easter blessing from my parish and me to you!

(I'll also post this at the top of the sidebar 
through the Easter season.)


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Monday Morning Offering: April 17

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

It's Easter Monday, Lord,
and time to look back a bit...

I'm thinking of the women who came to the tomb
expecting to find you dead
but finding that you had already risen
from the dead...

I'm thinking of the apostles
hiding in fear behind locked doors...

I'm thinking of Peter,
finally making his way to the tomb
and walking away in amazement...

I'm thinking of the two disciples
walking with you on the road to Emmaus
and not recognizing you until...

Seems like your closest friends
didn't get it right away, Lord:
even when you were right in their faces
they didn't understand what had happened...

It took time for it all to sink in...

It took time for them to understand,
to believe, to act on what they believed...

It takes me time, too, Lord...

All these years,
and the message of Easter
is still sinking in, making itself known,
making itself real in my life...

I still don't understand everything about Easter:
I get the dying part
much better than I get the rising part...

I want you in my life
but sometimes I hide from you
because I'm not sure what having you in my life
will cost me...

I believe you're somehow always with me, Lord,
so I'm sure I miss you lots of times
even when you're right in my face...

So this Easter Monday morning, Lord,
I offer you the ways I hope I will begin to live Easter
more this year than ever before...

I want to learn to wrap a towel around my heart
as you wrapped a towel around your waist:
I want to have a heart wrapped in your love
and ready to serve others' needs before my own...

Help me to see how my sins added
to the burden on your shoulders
on the cross:
my sins made your load heavier...

And help me learn, Lord,
that you are always just ahead of me,
drawing me out of myself,
out of my darkness into your light,
calling me to be closer to you,
beckoning me to follow where you lead
so that I will find you
even though I know you
are always right by my side...

Help me to understand
when I don't understand, Lord;
to "get it" when I'm confused;
to take the time to let the Easter story sink in
to the depths of my mind, my heart, my life...

And because I so often miss you
when you walk with me, Lord,
open my eyes and ears and heart
to those in need around me
and help me to find you in them,
to serve you in them...

It's Easter Monday, Lord,
and I'm looking back:
draw me out of the darkness into your light,
to see your risen face
shining on my own...



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Jesus, the risen guy, bumps into these two women making their way along the road to Galilee...

Homily for Easter Sunday
(Scripture for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

(I'd really encourage you to listen to the audio rather than just reading the text. There are elements in audio which are departures from my text and at the end of this busy week, I just don't have to revise the text below to reflect that.)

When I was a child, back in the 1950’s,  
I palled around with Lewis,
a boy who lived just a few doors away from me.
On Sunday mornings,
Lewis and his family went to the Maple Street Congregational Church
while my family went to St. Mary’s.
And we went to Sunday School in our respective houses of worship.
I remember Lewis asking me once if I had a bible
- and I told him I didn’t.
So he asked me how I learned about my religion without a bible
and I told him, “Oh!  I have a catechism.”
And I remember asking my parents about this and their telling me
that Catholic people didn’t read the bible
because of the danger that they might misunderstand what they read.

Looking back now, it seems that Catholics used to think
that ignorance of the Word of God
was somehow preferable to possibly misunderstanding it.
Well, we’ve come a long way since then - thank God.
Catholics are now encouraged to own bibles  - and to read them!

But you know there is something dangerous
about reading the scriptures.
While it’s good to read passages from the bible
and all they remind us of in telling the story of our salvation,
there’s the real danger in doing so -
the danger that we might come to think of the scriptures
as a history book,  a divinely inspired account of things
that happened thousands of years ago. 

There’s a danger in telling the story of Jesus rising from the dead
and that’s the danger of thinking that the resurrection
is a chapter in the history of world religions - which it is -
that’s why we’re here:
because Jesus did rise from the dead.

But it’s a dangerous thing if hearing that story
doesn’t help us believe -and experience- Jesus rising from the dead -

We’re here this morning not only because Jesus rose from the dead:
but also because he rises from the dead,
because he is risen in our midst.
If we don’t “get” this -
then we’ve pretty much missed the whole point.

One of our biggest problems is that we so often look for Jesus
in the wrong places.
We ask, we expect Jesus to rescue us from our problems and worries,
we beg him to rush in like a first-responder
and extricate us from our troubles.
We fail to see that the risen Jesus isn’t outside our difficulties,
waiting for some alarm to go off --
he’s right smack dab in the  middle of our troubles
and he’s keener on meeting us there
than he is on pulling us to greener pastures.

And that’s because his first desire is simply to be with us
and for us to be with him:
in good times and in bad, in hope and in despair, in joy and in sorrow,     
along whatever rocky, bumpy road life might be taking us
- or we might be choosing to travel.

Note that the flashiest character in the gospel we just heard
wasn’t the risen Jesus - it was that angel.
Kind of a super-hero angel who looks like lightening,
who glows like snow, brilliant in the sunlight,
and who’s strong enough to single-handedly
roll back the huge stone sealing the tomb of Jesus.
And he’s pretty smart, too - he reads minds (or hearts)
and tells the women he knows why they’ve come
before they’ve said a word.

On the other hand, Jesus is the risen guy the women bump into
as they make their way back to Galilee.
Jesus, like them, is someone making his way down the road,
looking for someone to walk with.

Jesus, the risen Jesus, met these two women in their grief,
in their misery, in their despair, in their misery.
It was in their broken hearts that Jesus came to meet them.
Did he rise from the tomb? Yes.
And then the next thing he did
was to rise in the hearts of these two women.

The scripture tells us the two women were “fearful, yet overjoyed.”
Too often, we’re just fearful.
We’re afraid of what’s gone wrong
and afraid of what might go wrong
and afraid of the wrong we’ve done
and afraid that what’s right will never be ours.
Jesus knows we’re afraid
but he invites us to share in his joy
- even in the midst of our fears.

Who could know how much joy in our lives you and I have missed
because we allowed our fears to consume us?

How much joy have we lost,
because we would not step outside our grief?

How much joy has passed us by
because we were stuck in our own disappointments?

How much joy has gone unnoticed
because we could not, we would not look beyond our troubles.

If Jesus rose from the dead, from a tomb,
you can be sure, you can be confident,
you can trust that he’s waiting to rise
from any depths in which we find ourselves.

If any moment in the forty days of Lent just passed,
if any moment in this Holy Week,
if any moment in our prayer today
has found you in touch with Jesus - in spite of your fears -
then know that he is rising in your heart - now.

And even if you’ve come late to the feast,
if Lent and Holy Week somehow got away from you,
be sure that the risen Jesus is walking whatever path you’re walking
and that his first desire to walk with you
and invite you to walk with him.
He may not appear to you and me as he did to the women in the gospel
but he comes to meet us nonetheless,
every time we gather at his table and remember his love for us
and his offer to come and dwell and live within us
in the bread and cup of the Eucharist.
Jesus rose from the dead over 2,000 years ago.
And he rises this morning in your hearts and mine.

Open your eyes, open your ears, open your mind and your heart
and, as the angel promised, you, too, will see him.


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