Divine anticipation

That feeling.
That sense of excitement.
Of an inexplicable, almost physical knowingness.
Signaling something momentous is about to happen.
Something extraordinary.

I have naught to do but wait
In the full incredulous knowledge that
You are at work and
About to reveal Yourself
In my life,
In the world,
In Your perfect answer to prayer.

Your answer will be thrilling.
Filled with such beauty and perfection.
A tapestry.
So complex
So vivid
So complete
Surpassing any of my dreamy fantasies.
Fulfilling desires I didn’t know I had,
Confirming dreams, I’d not dared to dream.

Thank You, Father.

Love Song

Words don’t flow the same way, Father, when I speak to ones other than You.

The point of my story is too easily lost, when I lose sight of You. And my purpose dims, when my eyes turn from You.

I only want to write to You, Father, My Heart.

My words are meaningless and so much cacophony without You as their recipient.

I have no value, I offer no value, Father, that does not originate with You…

That does not long to return to You.

I love You, my Holy Lord, and ask only that You show me how to love You always and more completely.

Learning to pray

Today’s reading is on prayer…how to pray and the story of how You taught Your disciples to pray.

I pray I’ve learned to pray, Father, to come to You, turn to You with complete trust in Your perfect love for me. It’s similar to that feeling a small child has for a parent. You’re so much more, Father, but it’s a way into that transcendent feeling in which You seem to take over and carry me and my thoughts and inspire my mind and heart to places I’d not otherwise find as I go about my day.

My thoughts become ordered, more clear. My feelings, which can seem a chaotic mass of confusion, loosen and separate from one another. They become unknotted, pliant, subject to an order that eludes me on my own. And my sight begins to clear, my ears unclog, my nerve endings, at times so frayed (so afraid?), and finally my breathing calms in a deep sigh and I know You’ve found me and entered that holy place that You’ve begun in me.

I pray that through Your grace that I may be made worthy of Your love, that I can be the ark here on earth that You created me to be. I pray that through the storms that surround and threaten our lives You have a safe haven in me through which to bring peace and light to others You will place on my path. And I give thanks, Holy Lord, that You’ve chosen me to be Your own.

Be a human bridge

Are you calling me Lord to participate in a sort of human bridge in these times? One that begins to span the chasms of our culture? Bridging races, classes, cultures, politics, religions? Spanning all the ways that we participate in separating ourselves from one another? How best, where best can I serve You on this bridge?

Don’t hold anger or animus or jealousy or fear in Your heart, my daughter, for those who don’t understand or believe, as you have come to believe. Hold everyone in love and caring. Allow your words to help prepare them gently for the conversion I alone have planned for them. Allow your words and your actions to soften their hearts as they brush against the divinity with which I have embued and blessed your soul.

My purpose for you, my daughter, is to be my light as I send you forth in the world. Tell others of the bridge in which I’ve called you to participate. Tell them the stories I will place on your way and in your heart. Tell them these stories lovingly, not to exclude or to lord, but to demonstrate and encourage and light the way of others I will send to you.

My purpose for you is a holy purpose. There will be crosses for you to bear along the way, but you will have my loving guidance and direction and support, my abundant grace. I will use these times to help you learn and to understand me better. Do not fear. I alone command the storms of your life. I will help you carry the burdens you face. I alone will lead you home and show you how to live fully in my sacred heart.

Amen. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Thank You, gracious Lord.

“Have faith, choose me,” said Our Father

Good Morning, Father.

What a day yesterday! Thank You for Your loving discipline, Father.

I intended to and wanted so much to attend Mass with You at noon. But I was waiting for a Fed Ex delivery and I didn’t want to miss the delivery guy. What to do?

And, I chose wrong. I chose to sit around a wait and missed being with You at Mass.

What could possibly have clouded my judgment, Father? Could the choice have been any more straightforward? You or …. what … stuff? Really?

As the afternoon progressed — one hour after another long hour — it became increasingly clear that the delivery wasn’t coming; that the address correction was still a problem, despite multiple attempts to correct an earlier mistake. And not only did my delivery not make it, but my husband failed to receive a package he was waiting for in a whole other town and our friend’s electricity issues promise to require an expensive fix.

We all found ourselves in a bit of a state.

I won’t say that my choice of waiting for earthly things, rather than coming to Mass was the cause of it all, but I do think You’re communicating with me in very clear terms.

When I make a spiritual commitment to You, as I had done (it seemed very like I was making a commitment to myself, but You were drawing me to You, weren’t You Father, by spurring my desire for You), even if earthly circumstances might suggest a scheduling problem, I need to HAVE FAITH AND CHOOSE YOU.

I knew — both spiritually and intellectually — that You would have taken care of whatever delivery problem might have ensued from my coming to Mass. Even though I can’t say how the problem would have been resolved, I know from all the experiences I have had with Your grace that You would have handled it for me, at a minimum, and more likely, would have blessed me with even greater grace. But instead I failed You and myself.

Thank You Father for this assurance of Your teaching. Forgive me for not choosing You. I know better. And because You know I know better, You disciplined me with the most gentle (yet the most clear and exacting) punishments. As You have done in earlier times when I have acted in ways at odds with Your teaching (that’s kind of the definition of “sin,” isn’t it, Father?), You not only punished me, but You allowed Your punishment to ripple out and affect others around me whom I care for. In that way, You know that, even if I missed the point about my own relationship with You, I will seek to protect others from the bearing the burden of my faithlessness.

Forgive me, Holy Lord. Thank You for Your discipline, for teaching me how to live life for You, with You at the center and highest most place.

Thank You for healing me after the bruise of my sin and for loving me as only You can do.

Thank You for Your Holy Words that You insisted I write down and remember: “HAVE FAITH, CHOOSE ME.

In the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

“For the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Good morning, Father.

In Your Word last week, You called us to be like little children.

Matthew 19:13-15 – Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

As I have been working to finally finish framing old family photos for our wall at home, I found myself fascinated with photos of our family when I was still little, before and just on the cusp of my age of reason.

The soft look in my eyes (even in those photos that where posed by a photographer), the slight upturn of my mouth, just hinting at a smile. When the rest of my family was obediently saying “cheese,” with their big open-mouthed smiles, mine stayed more hidden somehow. My eyes betrayed something — a depth of some sort — that seemed to overwhelm the photographer’s ability to direct the appearance of the rest of my face.

I have tried to couple those early views of myself, Father, with early memories— those times and events and words that stand-out from back then.

My earliest memory has always been at age three or so, when, walking with my mother, we witnessed a dog being hit by a bus. My mother shielded me from seeing anything but the initial impact. She told me not to look. Still, her fierce protection couldn’t make me un-hear the bus’s impact or the dog’s yelp or, indeed, to un-see the hit itself.

Fast forward several years and I was making mud pies with the little boy next door. My father came to fetch me asking what I was doing. I told him we were making special healing cakes for the little puppy (the little guy was part of a litter of bigger, healthier-seeming pups.) My father said he thought I’d always feel sorry for the ‘runt of the litter.’ I didn’t really know what he meant at the time, but his tone of voice made me sure he didn’t particularly approve.

Around that same time, we were all on a long day of shopping in a nearby city, a special time for the whole family to be together. I remember toward the bottom of the afternoon being so sleepy, probably whiny, too.

I don’t remember making a conscious decision to crawl under one of the garment carousels and curl up to sleep, but that’s where they finally found me. I understand now how terrified my parents must have been — not unlike when Mary and Joseph lost Your Son, Father — but back then, I can vaguely remember feeling like it was a good place to stay out of everyone’s way. Still, the spanking I received when we got home (Dad made sure I had several hours to consider what I’d done and the consequences that awaited me) was given with a clear message that my behavior put myself at risk and left those around me to worry without cause (Dad didn’t ponder things in his heart quite the way Mary did, but he encouraged me to.)

I’m not sure what any of this has to do with anything, Father, except that I can remember that little girl cared for the injured and the weak and puny and, even though I made my parents worry, my intention had not been to hide, so much as to stay out of everyone’s way.

I know I’m given to introspection, Father, maybe more than most, maybe too much. Yet, I want to know — as clearly as You allow me to, gracious Lord — who You originally created me to be, before my age of reason. Before I learned to sneak around, to lie, to do things I knew clearly I wasn’t supposed to do, to seek approval from the in-crowd, to lose Your way for me in search of my own. Before the fear.

Is it possible to recapture that person, that little girl, to whom the Kingdom of heaven belonged so long ago.

“Words are cheap,” he said.

This is what my friend replied in response to my suggestion that he write a letter to express his frustration and displeasure about how the church is handling one of its difficult current issues.

He’s an extremely bright, critical thinker and has a particular gift for written expression. I could do nothing to change or effect the issues he was writing to me about — except to pray for our church and its leaders and him, which I already do. He has strong opinions and questions and a desire to engage on the subject. So, I suggested he write and share his thoughts.

“Word are cheap,” he said in reply.

I have not yet responded to his dismissal, Father. But, I feel You are bit by bit giving me the words to say to him. Help me, if it’s Your will, to tell him how powerful our words are — all of them — and how crucial they can be, when they are speaking Your truth.

Words have power. My friend’s not wrong that some words can come cheap: Throw-away lines; thoughtless sarcasm; words that cut and are cruel, mean-spirited and malicious. Words can slander and mislead. They can give aid and comfort to the Father of Lies, who seeks to separate and divide us from one another and Our Lord, Your Word made flesh.

But, Father, You breathed our world into existence. Your words spoke us into creation. You sent Jesus Christ, Your Word made flesh, to us to help our humanity come to understand and develop right relationship with Your divinity.

With a few words You called a little girl back from death; Lazarus, too. And You calmed the storm and the fears of Your disciples when they were at sea.

You calm us, too, whenever we turn to You during the storms of our own lives. With only three words of love from my own angel when she said, “Don’t be afraid,” You calmed my fears and walked with me step by step as I was threatened and assaulted by a (ill-advised) hitchhiker. [Read the whole story here.]

Words are powerful. Words that speak Your truth can be the seeds necessary to speak to souls, to help change lives. We may never understand their influence on others. We may not get to see the changes in them or experience the fruits of words You’ve given us to plant — Thy Will be done in Your Time to Your Purpose.

But even if words speaking Your truth never find a welcome home in others, they nonetheless strengthen our own spirit and understanding. These words are not cheap or hollow or void of meaning and value. They go out, then they come back to us with on-going blessing.

When You call us to be Your own — when You choose us, Father — You promise to give us the right words — Your words — and then You choose how and when to bless them and help them to grow.

You commission us to act here on earth as Your body — ears, eyes, arms, hands, voice. And just as Your voice spoke our world into creation at the beginning, You place the divinity of Your Holy Spirit in us to speak and so to act with You — to plant seeds, to help light a fire for You in others.

Whether the fire takes hold in them or dies is not our concern, only Yours, Father.

So be it. Your will be done.

Isolation versus solitude

Contemplation and prayer are solitary endeavors, opportunities to be with You, Father, and Your Holy Spirit in me.

How does this feeling of oneness with You wander so easily during times of trial into a such desert of isolation and division?

There’s a part of me that wants to curl up and hide from all the realities of my life today. To separate and isolate myself from others; to run away from home; to hide myself in You.

And yet, it’s different than my desire to find my rest in You.

I think the Father of Lies is lurking about me, too close right now, possibly sensing my weakness and vulnerability to his promises. Waiting to cull me from the herd, then to separate me from You.

Pray, strengthen me, Holy Father against His lies and designs for my soul. Help me to submit only to Your holy and gracious plan for my life. Enslave me, Father, to Your will, Prepare me, by Your grace, to be worthy to be with You one day in Heaven.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Answered prayer

A while back, I prayed for Your guidance, Father, on how to share my faith — how to evangelize, even though that seems WAY too big a word for what I think I’m capable of.

Not long after, You answered me through a daily meditation published in Word Among Us magazine. You knew I read the prescribed daily scripture readings there, along with Word Among Us meditations on each day’s readings. Before all the busy-ness of the day takes hold of my attention, these readings — Your Word — help give me focus each day.

On this day Your Word was right on point with an answer to my earlier prayer. How could You be clearer, Lord, about sharing my faith? Thank You.

And to help me remember over and over again going forward, here’s what You said to me in that day’s meditation:

When they came to the town they reported everything. (Matthew 8:33)

Shouting demoniacs, possessed pigs, sprinting swineherds, and terrified townspeople—this has to be one of the most colorful stories in Matthew’s Gospel! But did you know that this is also the first story about Gentiles sharing the good news about Jesus? Imagine you were there when the swineherds raced into the town square to tell their story after they had encountered Jesus:

“You’ll never believe what happened! There we were, tending our pigs away from the tombs because we knew about those two demoniacs. But a group of men speaking Aramaic came ashore and got out of a boat—and the demoniacs charged right at them, screaming something about being tormented! The men didn’t run away. Instead, the man in front started gesturing toward our pigs. The next thing we know, our entire herd went racing toward the cliff and threw themselves into the sea. Every one of them drowned! We were terrified. How could this stranger do that?

“Right after that happened, we could see the demoniacs, but they weren’t violent any more. They seemed peaceful, calm. Even happy. And this man, this foreigner, had something to do with it. We just had to tell everyone! Who could this man be?”

Sometimes evangelism is simply sharing what has happened to you, what you have observed or experienced. The swineherds give us an example of what it looks like to share the good news, but for each one of us, it will be different. That’s because each of our stories is different!

But don’t forget; the townspeople weren’t half as enthusiastic as the swineherds. They ran to Jesus—and begged him to leave! They responded with fear, not faith. These townspeople show us that the response of our audience is not in our control.

You may not see the response you’re hoping for when you try to share your faith. But don’t worry. All you can do—all God asks you to do—is share what you’ve seen and heard. It’s up to the Holy Spirit to inspire a response.

Each one of us has a story. Whatever yours is, share it! (Emphasis added)

Jesus, you are amazing. Give me the chance to tell people what I have seen.”

And yet, I’ve needed continued reassurance and encouragement that this is Your desire for me. I’ve needed continual reminders to get myself and my ego out of the way and let You do the work; let You write the words; let You touch others’ hearts; let You use me to Your purposes.

At times, I’ve needed You to strengthen my faith, even as I feed my own fears.

Thank You, Holy Lord, for not losing patience with me, and for continually reminding me that evangelization may a too big word for what I think I’m capable of, but it’s You — always You, Father — who makes every thing I say or do have meaning and value.

Here I am, Lord

Holy Father,

Here I am, Lord. Please be here with me.

Even though my heart is burdened with the minutiae of my day and the continuing onslaught of evil in our world, please help me to quiet my mind and my heart, so I might experience Your presence here, so I might hear Your voice.

You are my only audience, my first and only love. Help me to keep my eyes and my heart fixed on You, and on Your purpose. Always grateful. Always faithful. Always Yours.

When the errands and the chores and the service to others call out for my attention, help me, Holy Lord, to turn first to Your beautiful face. Help me to pause to receive the gracious blessing that I know awaits me from You.

Be with me, Father, as I go and do today. Guide my thoughts and my words and my actions. Prepare them, strengthen my trust in You. Build the muscle of my knowingness — certain that You are everything I need, confident that You will provide everything I need to go about the tasks You given me to do today.

And wherever evil lurks, Holy Lord, lead me away, or so surround me with the light of Your Holy protection that I might find swift, safe passage. Or if is Your will, heavenly Lord, for me to act as one of Your defenders as I go, strengthen me to Your purpose that I might respond to hate with love, to false accusation and recriminations with understanding and forgiveness, and to despair with hope.

In Christ’s name I pray. Amen

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