A place of our own

If there’s one thing amiss here in this house, if there’s one little spot I have longed for — it’s that one obvious place where I can go to be with You. Just a corner of calm, where I am away from — at least off to the side of — the bustle of other daily activity.

We’ll find it soon, You and I, won’t we, Father.

But even beyond our place, Father, I believe and pray that You will help us begin to make — of both the community in which we live and the community where we worship — spaces in which we can feel a integral part. Places where our presence is a blessing and our absence is noticed — even missed by some. A home filled with family — Your children — that You choose just for us in this time of our lives — to love and by whom, through whom, You will love us.

That’s my prayer this day, Father.

Meditation before the Blessed Sacrament – Help heal our wounded love

Have you nothing to annoy you? My child, tell Me your annoyances, with every detail. Who has pained you? Who has wounded your self-love? Who has treated you contemptuously? Tell Me all, and then say that you forgive and forget; and I will give you My blessing.

I have a close friend, Holy Lord. You know her. You love her and long for her to be Your own, just as I do.

She and I disagree on so much—on how we view most of the world’s issues. She doesn’t believe in Your Son’s divinity. When I’ve tried to share my faith with her, she so strongly rejects my words — even going so far as to tell me not to talk “that way” — that I have since tried to avoid any direct mention of You or Your work in my life.

That happened a while ago, Father. But, I don’t know that I’m any better at describing You now. People who already believe understand. But, talking about You — trying to capture in words Your beauty and majesty — requires a whole different language…loftier concepts, better words, more precise images…or maybe that’s all wrong. Maybe, the key is in what I do, more than in what I say or how I say it. In any case, the solution so far is for us to speak of other things.

During this time of Covid 19 and self-quarantining, our conversations have seemed both more needed and more strained. She describes herself as stressed over these circumstances. I can hear her stress in her voice. Brittle, high pitched, hard-edged, frustrated.

I get it. I think all of us feel some of this, although I feel almost guilty at how reassured and consoled I have felt by Your constant Presence with me through it all. I’ve mostly felt energized and rejuvenated by this solitary retreat.

I long to ease her fears with my faith. I long to tell her that there’s something larger, stronger, higher out there — You, Holy Lord — who is in control and who loves her and who wants to help carry her burdens and ease her fears. But it seems as though even my joy — maybe especially my joy — upbraids her emotions even more deeply.

There must be better words — more patient, more kind, more comforting — than I seem to have for her. I’m sorry, Father. You’ve given me so much. I wish I could find a way to share it all with her.

Still, You’re in charge. So, I lift it up and leave it all in Your care…again and again.

When she abruptly hung up on our most recent conversation, I texted her to express my regret for our differences that have walled whole parts of ourselves off from one another. Since then, we’ve texted some. But we’ve not spoken. Baby steps, I guess. Ones we’ve taken on the same road traveled too many times before.

I texted her about planting my Mary Garden and sent her pictures. She loves to grow beautiful flowers and to paint and create beautiful things. I don’t know if she’ll ever engage in a real conversation with me about ‘why a Mary Garden?’ or what it means to me or why I planted it in May or why I prayed for Your blessing of it in my Rosary prayers. But, it is there for her to experience.

I pray that Your spirit moves in her and touches her heart. I don’t know what else to do, Father.

As to forgiving and forgetting, as You ask above of me? I’m not angry. I feel bad that she feels bad. I don’t know how to fix it. It feels as though my continuing to try to talk only exacerbates the situation.

So, forgive me, Father, and help me to wait in patience. And with this prayer help me to move to forget the pain of knowing there must be something more I could do, could have done, should say, should have said.

Thy will be done, Holy Lord, in Your time. Until then, I pray for Your mercy on her, and on me. I pray that You heal her wounds and me of mine, and that You save her from the snares of the Devil, as You save me each day. I pray that You free her, as You’ve freed me, from all that weighs her down and binds her from reaching her arms out wide and embracing the freedom of living her life in and through You.

And I pray that through Your grace and if it is Your will, I may recognize the opportunities You offer me in the future to tell her about Your work in my life.

As a post script, Father, and during this time of immense sadness for the pain and woundedness of our world and especially that of the family of George Floyd, I pray for Your mercy on all of us. I pray for Your healing and comfort for wounds inflicted throughout our time, both intended and untended. I pray that You save and protect all of us from the wickedness and the snares of the Devil. And I pray that You free us of our chains that we might live free of slavery to any will but Yours, oh heavenly Lord.

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

Meditation for the Blessed Sacrament – Satan and All His Works

Confide to Me your failures; I will show you the cause. Whom do you wish to see interested in your work? I am the Master of all hearts, My child, and I lead them gently where I please. I will place about you those who are necessary to you; never fear!

I have come to You often with deep concern and a deepening sense of failure and guilt for my step-daughter and her son. They struggle so and there seems so little anyone has been able to do to help.

You placed on my way last week a new book about the “world’s most popular exorcist,” Fr. Gabrielle Amorth, who passed away in 2016. It’s called “The Devil Is Afraid Of Me.

I’ve long feared for the souls of several people close to me. I have been tormented by the glee the Devil must take in so nearly capturing their unwitting hearts.

I’ve prayed. You know, Father. We’ve talked often about them. But it hasn’t felt … what? …efficacious? It feels as though my prayers — so often, my whining sense of impotence — aren’t enough, that somehow more is needed. More focus. More heart, maybe. More holy. More intense? There was this sense that what I am praying for is so weighty, so immense that there just needs to be something more, something better that I should sacrifice on their behalf.

After reading about Fr. Amorth, I feel You’ve offered me, if not the answer, then at least an answer.

What Fr. Amorth counseled for a lay person like me, who was trying to help save a soul of a loved one is simple: A strong faith. Period.

Joy of joys. I have that. I want to have it, anyway. I want to have complete faith in Your goodness and Your almighty power. Show me how. Strengthen my faith, Holy Lord.

Fr. Amorth directed emphatically that laity should not be dabblers (my word, not his) in exorcism or in any kind of occult. He suggested, though, that praying a Rosary of Liberation can be a fruitful enterprise. I was unfamiliar with this prayer. Apparently, so too are many others, Father, as acknowledging and understanding Satan and his forces has fallen out of favor over the centuries.

“Prayers are efficacious, if they are done with faith, humility, and charity (therefore without any material interest,)” says Marcello Stanzione speaking about Fr. Amorth. “Praying for one another is a recommendation that comes to us from God. Each one can do it in conformity with the faith that he derives from his baptism — that is, the priesthood of his baptism; and it is even more efficacious with the ministerial priesthood. These are cases of private prayer that have nothing to do with the sacramental of exorcism. But they are prayers that bear much fruit.”

I’ve so far only prayed one such Rosary of Liberation, but I during my first experience with it, I was gradually filled with a joyful certainty and confidence in its strength and benefit.

What a beautiful sacrifice of love. How could it go unnoticed, Father?

And, if it is Your will that the snares and entanglements of their lives be loosened and eventually that they be freed, then I know with certainty, that in Your mercy and through Your healing and saving grace, they will indeed be really and truly freed.

Little did I realize that, in this new grace, I too would be liberated from the debilitating sense that somehow I needed to do more than have complete faith in You to act when and however You know is best.

Meditation before the Blessed Sacrament – My Lord and My God

And have you no thoughts of zeal for Me? Are you not anxious to do a little good for the souls of your friends, for those whom you love, and who, perhaps, forget Me? Tell Me who interests you, what motives urge you, what means you wish to take.

Holy Father, Your presence never leaves me. Help me, I pray, that I never leave You, never separate from Your life-renewing spirit. I love You, my loving Father, and do not find in any other circumstance the peace we share here together.

Yet, when life intervenes and calls me to action, worldly responsibilities and distractions can take me from You. I’m sorry. Don’t let go of me, Holy Lord. I need You and I love You. Even when I am doing Your will, I can, it seems, lose sight of You. This human brain and heart seem only ever able to focus on one thing at a time.

Yet, I pray that all things in my life should be ordered by Your will. You first, Father, and only then, all else.

So, if I have one prayer for myself today, Father, it is this: Forgive me. Have mercy on my weaknesses. Cleanse my sin-filled heart. Show me Your Way. Teach me to love You and others as myself. Mold me to be Your own. Make me worthy of Your love that I might one day say with confidence: My Lord and My God, to You only do I commend my life and my spirit.

Meditation before the Blessed Sacrament – a garden for Mary

I read a piece recently on the six things every good Catholic household needs. I’ve also been reacquainting myself with our garden, Father — Yours and mine — after a too-long hiatus (a subject for another day). And, it’s May — Mary’s month. You’ve brought all these frayed ends together, Father, in a lovely plan for Our Lady.

Our fifth meditation is timely:

Have you no plans to interest you? Tell Me all about them. Do they concern your vocation? What do you think of? What would you like? Are you planning some pleasure for your mother, for your family, for your guardian? What do you wish to do for them?

During our worldwide retreat into ourselves by Your grace, You have given me the enthusiasm and the time and the resources I need to build a Marian garden. You’ve offered just the right place for it, too. It’s perfect along a heavily shaded and mercilessly ignored side of our house. It’s private, cool, and protected by an umbrella of trees.

And most of the basics — brick for the floor, a pedestal to hold Our Lady’s statue, even a metal bench — are already just laying around the yard waiting for their purpose to be better defined.

Add a simple trellis and some shade plantings, (especially meaningful for Marian devotion — bleeding hearts, lilies of the valley, Lenten rose), some crushed rock for the boggy path (that has needed help for some time), maybe some little LED lights. It’ll be lovely, Father! Thank You! Even the existing trailing ivy, which has to continually be removed from attaching itself to our foundation, can be trained to climb the trellis and find its new holy purpose.

What a wonderful project for this special month. Please bless my efforts, Holy Lord, and make it a beautiful and holy space. Amen

Meditation before the Blessed Sacrament – for health

The fourth meditation has been a hard one for me to articulate, Father. How do I ask You for greater good for my body, my health, when You’ve given me life overflowing?

Do not hesitate to ask for the good of your body – for health, for memory, for success. I can give you everything, and I always give when the gifts make souls more holy. What do you want today, My child? Oh, if you knew how I long to do you good!

Oh my precious Jesus. You have already given so me much — even Your life You’ve given for me — how can I possibly ask for more? You have chosen me to love and be loved by You, to hear Your voice calling me to follow You.

You’ve given me my husband, our children, our family and friends–those family by choice–even my bodily health and my earthly well-being have You secured for me each day. As I awake each morning, You, by Your grace, remind me to seek only to do Your will. But even as often do I yet stumble into sin and unmindfulness of Your holy presence.

My life is truly blessed by Your gifts, so freely given to one so unworthy, yet one so grateful.

So this day, Holy Lord,

All I need
Is a more willing heart open and prepared to do the work You give me to do.

All I desire
Is for You to be the true center of my world —
To feel Your holy presence each moment of my day.
To have open ears pitched to hear Your voice
In the rush of the wind,
In birds’ songs,
In the words of those through whom You speak to me.

All I long for
Is a conscience clear and filled with joy,
As I discern Your will for me each day.

All I thirst for,
Are clear eyes focused on seeing You
In each person You love and place along my path.

All I hunger for, my precious Lord,
Is a love for You, so fierce and full that I might come, one day,
To be worthy to behold You face to face.

Meditation before the Blessed Sacrament – for personal favors

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

I come before You today, Father, before Your Blessed Sacrament, with special prayers and to ponder the third meditation.

First, a friend ask for prayers for strength for her faith during this time of isolation, during this time of separation from Mass and the sharing of the Eucharist. I pray for her and for all souls who are hurting and hungry for You. Bless their poor spirits, Father, as You promised us You would do. Be with them, Holy Lord, and help them experience Your Spirit even more vividly, as they feel Your healing touch their very hearts. Take their wounds and hold them tight in Your sacred wounds. Help them to walk with You more and more fully as they experience with You the pain of Your passion.

Another friend’s sister is so weak and ill and filled with pain. Strengthen her, too, Holy Lord, and send her a miracle that will give her relief from her bodily pain, strengthen her to fight any nasty viruses that may threaten her during her already weakened condition, if it is Your will, and take this time and her pain to build her faith and her love for You.

The third of our meditations before the Blessed Sacrament asks us to consider this:

Have you no favors to ask for yourself? Write, if you like a long list of all your wishes – all the needs of your soul – and come and read it to Me. Tell Me simply how self-indulgent you are, how selfish, how cowardly, how idle; ask Me to help to you improve. Poor child! Do not blush! There are in heaven many saints who had the same faults as you; they prayed to me, and, little by little, they were cured.

Oh my Precious Lord, can You speak to me clearly and tell me what I need, help me to understand how I limit Your work in my life? As I sit here before Your Most Blessed Sacrament, please speak to me with Your holy words of mercy and longing for me.

My daughter, your understanding of faith is strong and beautiful and I have walked with you daily as you have sought to learn and educate your mind and your heart about Me and how I long for You. But, do you in all your knowing, know yet how to live your faith in me?

Does your faith assure and comfort you in the sure knowledge that I am always, always present with you, protecting you, guiding your way, steadying your footfalls, beckoning you to the sound of my voice? Here I am.

Have you any concern that I will not care for you if you become ill? Trust in me.

Do you worry that some other soul in his or her wretchedness will accost you and cause you harm and that I will not be there, that I will not protect you? Lean on me.

Or, are you still concerned that you may, in your agedness and increasing frailty, become dependent on others for your care, controlled by others in your living? Depend on me.

Why do you hesitate still to welcome and seek forgiveness from those special ones that I have placed on your path? Love them as I do.

What else do you fear, my little one? Give Me all your fears, believe completely in My Love for you so I may strengthen your faith.

Remember my daughter, it is I who called you, I who gave you your knowledge and understanding. It is I, too, who will help further to strengthen your faith.

Give me your whole heart in its restlessness and fear, that I may free you of all these chains and help you to find your rest in Me.

Meditation before the Blessed Sacrament – for the sick and the broken

As I meditate before Your most Blessed Sacrament, please bless me, Holy Lord, with Your presence and guidance.

Tell me about the poor whom you want to help, the sick whom you have seen suffer, the sinner whom you would convert, the persons who are alienated from you, and whose affections you wish to win back. For all recite a fervent prayer that comes from the heart; and surely the prayers are heartfelt which we say for those whom we love, and who love us.

Oh my Jesus. There are so many people hurting during this time. So many who, through no fault of their own, have lost their jobs and their livelihoods and their income and their ability to support their families and their workers, who cannot pay their bills, who are standing by, impotently, watching their way of life dissolve.

Not our leaders, Lord. Not all those continuing to receive regular pay. They are insulated from the most difficult suffering by their on-going salaries and benefits that continue without interruption. Help these ones, in our luxury and our comparatively carefree lives, to be generous, to act with generosity and with mercy during this time.

But there are so many others, Holy Lord — the most vulnerable of our world, even before this pandemic — people, especially those with truncated educations, who are just getting started in life or in a fledgling career, hourly workers, part-time workers, farmers and ag workers, restaurant and other small business owners, whose success is so critical to the well-being of their employees, millions of people, gracious and loving God, who have no way out of this without all our help. And the front line workers — the doctors, nurses, and other health care providers, police, fire, EMTs — they do their work every day risking their own lives, leaving themselves and their families vulnerable to illness and death.

These are the ones who are carrying the burden of this time, Father. Along with the ill and dying, certainly, and in no way am I minimizing the pain and suffering of the ill and dying, but so, too, are these other ones suffering so immensely.

And their children, Holy Lord, the children. How will they emerge from all this without terrible scars? Some, maybe even many, will thrive in those stable homes with parents who love and care for them and are prepared to assume the responsibility of their education. But what about those whose parents are struggling with financial obligations they cannot keep, jobs that have evaporated, jobs, which may never return, housing threatened by eviction or foreclosure. Those families and their children who are imprisoned together in forced isolation, some without food, many already suffering in circumstances highly stressed before all this started — by excessive drinking and drugs, abuse, physical and emotional violence, children who are separated from a part-time parent or grand-parent or from friends. What of all these ones, dear Lord? What of them?

I don’t have answers for them or even the right questions, Father. But You do. You know what each needs, what our country and our world need. Please have mercy on all of these ones, Holy Lord, and our whole world.

Through Your Amazing Grace, please capture our attention, Father, and help us each find our way to You and through You to somehow righting this world that has been so sorely upended.
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I place before you, also, Father, those special ones — You know who they are — from whom I am separated, whose reunion with me, with our family, is unlikely without Your holy intervention. Again, Father, I don’t know their needs well enough to even be specific in my prayers for them. And what I might deem to be their need may not, in fact, be their need in Your sight.

So I pray for their souls, Father, that You call to them, seek them relentlessly, and help them to turn to You, to give their lives over to Your plan and to Your way for them. Look upon them with mercy, Holy Lord, as I know You do in Your graciousness.

And in the meantime, until the broken can be made whole once again, help me to see in them the children You see, to love them as You do.
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I also place before You our friend’s twin sister, who is and has been for several years now in severe, debilitating pain. Again, I don’t know her as You do, Holy Father, but I pray that You make her and them a miracle as only You know how to do, in Your mercy.
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Finally, Father, there is so much evil and corrupting temptation stalking our world that lures unwitting souls every day to hatred and violence. Send Your angels of justice and protection to our aid and to the aid of Your truth. Strip these forces of their saccharine speech and their artifice, unmask them and expose their dark intent. And allow Your people a clear vision of their wretchedness that we may break free of their clutches and find our way, once again, to You.

I pray all these things in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Meditation before the Blessed Sacrament – for family

The Church of St. Joan of Arc has a wonderful pamphlet of meditations to ponder as we sit in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

Written in Jesus’s own voice, even the questions are comforting, as though He were holding us in the palm of His hand — intent on our concerns, lavish in His love, accepting of our whole being, ready to be with us no matter our fullness or failings.

There are 14 meditations. Here’s the first:

My child, you need not know much in order to please Me; only love Me dearly. Speak to Me as you would to your mother, if she had taken you in her arms. Have you no one to recommend to Me? Tell Me the names of your relations; of your friends; after each name add what you wish Me to do for them. Ask a great deal: I love generous hearts that forget themselves for others.


Oh, Mother Mary, blessed are you who carried Our Precious Lord into this world. Who nurtured and raised Him and encouraged Him as He took on the mantle of Our Father God. Holy Mary I give thanks for your faith-filled spirit of joy and acceptance of the role and mission God had planned for You.

Help me to say, ‘yes,’ as freely as You did to Our Father’s call. Help me to receive with a welcoming heart His invitation to love Him and to allow Him to love others through me.

Holy Father, you give all of us Your love, Your spirit of perfect love, freely, as a gift. You sacrificed Your Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ as payment for our sins, the sins of all the world.

The gift — freely given, totally undeserved — that You offer us, Jesus, in the sacrifice of Your life, becomes a sacrament — a holy and blessed — in our willingness to receive You, fully and in awe and in gratitude, without hesitation or question or unbelief.

As I sit before Your Blessed Sacrament — Your Real Presence, oh My Lord — stir in me this awe and gratitude and love that You so desire for me. Fill me, Holy Lord, with the belief of the child You created me to be.

I pray today for:

My husband. For his sweetness and light and deep devotion to You. Comfort him with Your teaching during this time and give him tangible ways to serve and to love You.

My daughter. For her goodness and love of You and for her desire to do what is right, so often in the face of resistance of others. Sweeten her words. Calm her fears. Ease her heart as You help her to feel Your presence and direction throughout her day.

My son and his family. For their devotion to one another and to You. Use this time to strengthen their faith and their understanding of You as they have new and expanded time to teach and to strengthen the faith of their daughter. Help them to teach her Your ways and the depth of Your love for her.

My daughter and her son. In their pain and suffering help them to find and reclaim the children You created in each of them. Teach them Your ways and protect them as they venture through the storms of their lives. Allow the winds of those storms to whip them closer and closer to Your only True Center, where they will find calm and peace and a love that surpasses all our understanding.

Our priest and for all bishops and priests and deacons and religious and for our Holy Father, our Pope: For their call to sacramental marriage with You in which they have devoted their whole lives to carrying You and Your love and truth to the world. Sanctify them and keep them holy. Comfort each of them according to their need this day, and purify their hearts as You help all them to feel the warmth of Your love.

Those ill and dying from Covid 19. Strengthen each of them, Holy Father, to find Your peace and healing love and to partake of it, so freely given. Allow that which You have so freely given to be enthusiastically received, that their lives may be lived joyfully in full knowledge of their lives to be lived eternally.

All of our world leaders. Help them as they turn to You for counsel. Do not make Your Word, Your Love obscure to them, Holy Lord. Bless them with Your insight and judgment and prudence, as they make decisions that affect the lives and deaths of so many throughout the world.

All of us who are either isolated or exposed to threat of illness. Strengthen our belief and deepen our love for and faith in You. Bless this time as a holy time in which we come more and more to find ourselves in Your mercy, our direction in Your Way for us.

I pray for all these things, that Thy Will might be achieved through them, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Revelation of irrelevance

Oh Lord, I have so much to give thanks for, yet so little energy for giving thanks.

Thank You for our health and for each other and for our relationship with You, most especially.

This is an odd time when I feel so very grateful and yet so reticent to sit down to spend time with You.

I’m always grateful when I get here, but so uninspired to be here—anywhere, really.

I don’t understand the near complete lack of compulsion, the ennui, when there’s really nothing keeping me from here, no other demands for my time.

This time in isolation due to Corona Virus is truly strange. I’m even grateful for it in many ways — especially for the slowing of our world and for the chance to stop and appreciate Your way and Your purposes for us — but it is strange.

Someone I was reading this morning likened it to a spiritual retreat — a time to be alone and uninterrupted with You, when I might be especially open to Your inspiration.

And so, I pray for that now Holy Lord. I pray that You might move me to write, just a little movement that might move me forward still to some worthwhile revelation; just a small word that might calm or move another somehow during this time.

Only with Your help will I find the strength to do this, for I am otherwise limp with irrelevance.