In this time, send us Your Peace

Good morning Father.

As with the whole of the last week, You have blessed us here with clear skies and warm weather. These blessings have been appreciated by everyone in our community and all our neighbors who are clearing and cleaning up debris, recovering after the treacherous tornadoes that attacked our area. So much devastation. So many lives lost. So many lives altered forever. I pray that You have them all in the palm of Your mighty hand.

My needs are so small by comparison. We were spared from the storm’s damage. But in its aftermath, I have had trouble concentrating on anything for long, trouble concentrating on You, Father.

You know. You’ve watched my struggle to be present with You in my Rosaries, at Mass, in my daily time with You. I’m sorry. My thoughts seem to have a mind of their own. How I should I act? How I should be helping? Who? Feelings of inadequacy, as I have tried to find ways to offer my help, ways that are relevant to others’ needs, ways helpful to their circumstance.

And I’ve worried for myself. Such a miserable worthless bit, am I, Father. Better to ask, how do I still my own chaos and neediness and simply be in Your presence?

I should be here on my knees with You praying for everyone. It’s always been my most useful work, yet it feels so small, such a little an offering, given from such safe and protected surroundings.

Still, You’ve already instructed me on this over and over in the past. My desire to offer big things, to help in big and tangible ways is my own ego whispering in my ear. You have most often wanted my prayers, been most responsive to my spiritual caring for others.

In this, too, Father?

So be it.

For whom do I pray? Where do I start?

I pray, Holy Lord, for all those poor and wretched human beings, who were homeless and outside when the storm passed through. Those who were terrified and lost and without a hand to hold or another’s heart to love them through the storm. I pray they felt then, and sense even now, Your loving spirit protecting them and consoling them in their confusion.

I pray for those who died, who sheltered as best they could, but still were crushed by the fury of the storm. I pray for their families and friends, who grieve and mourn their loss, I pray that You are with them and comfort them in their pain and loss. I pray for the souls of those departed, that You accept them into Your presence and loving care, as they find their way to You and Your peace.

I pray for those fearful and frightened, those terrorized by the rage and fury of the storm, who lost their homes, were ejected from the comfort of their shelter into the fury and the danger of the night, barefooted, bedraggled, newly homeless. I pray they draw closer to You as they receive Your love through Your Holy Spirit in their faith and their hope for the future; and through the loving care, the charity, of this community and their friends and neighbors and loved ones. I pray that You bless them with the knowledge and comfort of Your grace through the storm of their lifetime; and with the knowledge that, if through this storm, then surely, through any storm they may face.

I pray and give thanks for those whose immediate response was to act; those in whom You have placed gifts of knowledge and ability to act confidently and quickly in emergencies to protect people and property, identify needs, work immediately to board up windows, cut up downed trees, clear roads, disconnect downed power lines, if possible, until other professional emergency responders could be dispatched for the work of replacing power poles and transmission lines, restoring power, covering buildings whose roofs were ripped away, organizing debris for pickup and disposal. Those who came with chainsaws and trucks and bulldozers from hundreds of miles away and from next door to help, those receiving pay and those literal tens of thousands receiving only the comfort of knowing they acted through Your compassion.

I give thanks for the reporters who, at more personal risk than is often advisable, worked to let everyone know and understand what happened, what we could do, what we should not do, what is helpful, what is not…who reported the overwhelming abundance of Your love.

I give thanks for all those who took charge and organized the community response. There was such an outpouring of love and help and caring and aid that it was, at times, chaotic and confused, but it was out of the abundance of Your love, holy Lord. Even those who don’t know You well, yet, were acting from the Holy Spirit that You have given them. There has been no blue nor red, no Christian or Jew or Muslim, no Democrat or Republican, no hipster, rocker, or country crooner or, precious Lord, any ones other than those You created and loved into being. Those who, as a phoenix rising literally from ashes, stand strong. Hold us all close to You, Holy Father. Help us, I pray, and mold us into Your one perfect body here on earth, pleasing in Your sight, worthy of Your love.

I give thanks to You for all the generosity of businesses and celebrities who have given so generously of their resources — their time, their treasure and their talent — to rescue efforts. This is a special place. So many have said so. That the response here has been so overwhelming. Practically no one sat by watching, waiting for someone else to act. Everyone found something to do, some help to offer, some way to love.

I give thanks that You allowed us a chance to give and offer our helping hands. So little to offer; so much need; and yet, part of the larger body of benevolence and loving spirit of service.

And I give You thanks, Holy Lord, for helping me articulate these prayers, for placing them in my heart, for the grace of loving You and being loved so bounteously in return.

I give thanks that You have called me to prayer and time and again You have gently guided me to the knowledge that it is not my job to sort out the details of who and how and what and where, to be at the center, or to be the do-er of great things, but only to listen, to do what You ask, to love You and entreat You to do great things on behalf of those other ones whom You place in my heart through Your grace.

In this time, Holy Father,

This time of tornado destruction and recovery,

This time of plague of coronavirus Covid 19,

This time of global economic collapse being experienced worldwide,

This time of corruption and evil, which is overwhelming Your Church here on earth,

This time of Satan so skillfully and so deeply embedding his lies and deceit into the very fabric and sinew of Your creation, the creation that You named ‘good,’ even, ‘very good,’

This time which is described so completely by Your son, St. John the Apostle in Revelations, I pray that You come, Holy Lord, and save us this one last time for all time.

Reveal to everyone Your Most Beautiful Face, be our one and only true King, and bring peace — the peace that passes all our understanding — to our world.

It is in Your power, Holy Lord. Only Your power can heal and mend and put everything right again, that we might walk with You in the garden You planned for us from the beginning, that we might love You, delighting in all of Your creation, that we might know true contentment — even in our knowledge of good and evil — that we might know what it is like to live and love and have our being in the comfort and security of Your loving kindness.

When I’m feeling restless and dissatisfied

What should I do, Holy Lord? How should I be, when I’m feeling restless and dissatisfied?

1. Turn around, retrace your steps, figure out where you lost your way, where you lost sight of My love for you.
2. If you search and search to no avail, do as Mary and Joseph did when they lost sight of Jesus. Make your way to the temple. Seek Him in prayer.
3. Listen for Him. Wait for Him to speak. Do what He says.

In the meantime …

Pray for sight.
Plant a flower;
Feed the birds;
Go for a walk in the country;
Go to a market with fresh food and flowers;
Smile and greet those whom I have placed along your way.

Give away that which you wish to receive.
Pray for a friend;
Go to a movie;
Cook a new recipe;
Share it joyfully, maybe with someone in need.

Make a list.
What makes you happy?
What makes you sad?
Who makes you happy?
Who disappoints you?

Pray for ears to hear.
Call a friend;
Make a date;
Listen for My voice;
Do as I say.

Pray…
For all those things and people that make you unhappy.
Pray…
That I show you how to love them, just as I love them;
Pray for their good,
Will their good,
In your prayers to Me and through your action.

Pray…
For all those things and people that make you happy.
Pray…
That they are strengthened and renewed by your prayers;
Pray…
They are led deeper,
More meaningfully
Into their relationship with Me, their loving Father.

Pray for yourself,
That you learn to love all things as I love them,
That you learn to love yourself as I love you,
Unceasingly and without hesitation.

Pray.
Then breath.
Then pray some more,
Confident in the sure knowledge that I hear every word.
Certain that My peace,
Which passes your understanding,
Surrounds you,
Enfolds you, even now in this moment.

Love You. Trust You. Look to You. Rely on You.

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

Good afternoon, Father. Thank You for this beautiful day that You’ve given us in Your mercy and Your delight.

My daughter continues to be sad about her favorite pet’s and other’s recent deaths in her life and she’s still suffering from the flu. Now upon her return to work, she is feeling as thought she’s still ‘running on empty,’ emotionally, and very unappreciated and taken for granted.

And she probably is being taken for granted. Poor sweet girl. You know what’s going on, don’t You, Father?

So, what is the message You’re sending her? Can I help carry it to her for You? I felt at Mass this morning as though I had an insight from You that might be helpful for her. If it is Your will that I should talk with her about this, please help me to recall and recapture the thread and then, to find a way to express it to her that is pleasing to You and that resonates with her.

I tried to think about what You want for her to understand. It seems as though life has been piling an extraordinary number of challenges on her lately. At the same time, I feel as though there’s always a message from You somewhere in the midst of our strife — similar to the pony in a room full of horse manure — and maybe that’s the analogy that will resonate with her. She’s familiar with this story from childhood.

Where’s the blessing for her in all that has gone on in her life over the last several weeks?

I considered this morning that if I were to name my daughter’s greatest passion in life (so far), it would have to be service and caring for those too weak to care for themselves…animals being somewhere near the top of her list. She has always wanted to do things for people and she has always cared about rescuing people and animals in trouble.

I don’t think her motivation starts out being service or rescue in order to be recognized as a server or a rescuer. But like so many of us, when the recognition of our good works doesn’t come, the gratitude for our help isn’t expressed, we can become disappointed, dis-spirited. Not only that, but later, when we need others’ help in return or the understanding of another or just someone’s patience while we make our way through our own misery and sorrow, then, when our favors are not reciprocated, resentment and anger can well up in us.

Often, since we didn’t give or serve or rescue or exercise patience for the sake of recognition in the first place, the anger and resentment are followed quickly by guilt for being the one needing another’s understanding,…and yet…sigh.

It’s a nasty circle of neediness and dependence, Father. You understand. You’ve watched this tendency in us humans to look to other humans for our sense of well-being. It’s been like this ever since You created our first parents and they failed You in the garden. But today, even as You promised them back then, we have only to lift our eyes to You to find You watching us. We only have to call on Your name to be reminded that You know and see everything we do — each act of kindness, each act of forgiveness, each act of patience, each act of service in aid of another — You see it all and You bless us each time with Your love and Your comfort.

So why, right now, are You allowing her to feel so unappreciated, such sadness?

Is it Your way of helping her to lift her eyes to You? To seek only Your appreciation, Your blessing. To recognize that the only faithful, constant, true love we will ever experience is Your love, the love You have for us. To know, with everything that we are, that it is You who sends us out into the world, to serve You, Lord, as You bless others through our actions and our words.

Yours is the blessing, not ours. It is You who gives, You who serves, You who forgives. We are only Your vessels through which You act here on earth. So often, Father, others whom are blessed by You through us do not even realize they’ve been blessed. They may even think they deserve all that they’ve received from us. But still it’s Your blessing, Father, not ours. Yours to give. Yours to judge. All Yours.

So, are we to simply act to allow Your blessings to flow through us without any attachment to the quality of others’ reception, any expectation of a favor returned?

Yes, I think so. If they appreciate us, so be it. Glory to You, Lord.

If they do not, no worry, no shame. We have already received our reward by virtue of allowing You to break into our lives and to use us.

Our reward is Your presence here with us as we follow our passion — in M’s case to serve and to rescue.

In Your compassion, Father, — literally translated as You being with us in our passion — You are with us, around us, walking next to us, helping us to carry our burdens (all the elements of our passion — our fervor, our joy, our rage, our misery, our sorrow, our ecstasy, our suffering), helping us to carry the crosses of our passion.

What I sense You wanting her to understand — because she is so close now to lifting the veil that obscures Your beautiful mystery — is that You’re right there with her. All the time with her.

She has only to look up with her spiritual eyes, to clear the film blurring her spiritual vision and there’ll You’ll be: arms out-stretched, longing to enfold her in Your warmth and Your loving embrace, excited to explain to her all the ways in which You are calling her to Yourself, all the ways in which You envision using her here on earth in service to You, aching to share in her pain — for that’s what passion is really, isn’t it, Father? pain? When others ignore her or disregard her service or her contributions or her insights or when they scold her for her goodness or try to entrap her in their lies and misrepresentations, just as they did with Jesus, Your Son, when he walked here on earth with us — aching to help her know how very good and beautiful she is, how beautiful her heart is in Your sight — both in our physical reality and in Your spiritual sight.

Your way is so simple, Father, yet so difficult: Love You. Trust You. Look to You. Rely on You.

And when people here on earth don’t respond or worse, respond in hurtful ways, we must turn to You again and again and yet again. Love You. Trust You. Look to You. Rely on You.

All is Yours, heavenly Lord. All goodness, all righteousness, all beauty, all truth. Thank You for allowing us to share in this spiritual reality with You, Father, and to come finally to rest in You, to come finally to find our peace in Your grace.

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

Thank You, Father.

Impeachment anxiety

Thank You, Lord, for being here with me — waiting for me to be here, too — as I come to You.

The chaos and cacophony of our time — so troubled, so troubling — so wearying, so worrisome — sends me into flurries of activity.

As the storms rage around me, little blasts of energy, like whirling dervishes — those little devils — seem to pick me up, insist that I do — do anything, just do — no real plan or intent, just action.

“He’s corrupt and evil,” they scream, “immoral and bloodless.”

“But he’s our guy, doing our will,” the others yell back, “so, sit down and shut up.”

Or, switch channels to find yet another school shooter with victims and casualties in the process of being counted.

Or pause for a moment. Turn to a whole other source only to learn that Your beautiful bride here on earth has been — is being — raped and ravaged, her pure white garments bloodied and torn. It’s happening today, right now (still?), in front our of eyes, as we all look on stunned, impotent, each of us frozen and captive in our own bubbles.

And we’re left wandering like lost sheep, wondering what can I do? What should I do? Where is our worthy leader in this age to show us our way back to You? Where are our priests, our prophets? Your Magisterium has become so riddled with corruption, which of them can I trust?

Only here, Father, in this quiet place with You — the calm center of my soul — where Your Light radiates out, Your Holy Spirit warms my being, and soothes the frenzied and frayed edges of my mind — only here do the storms cease, the waters still, and I can find the faith (even if just for a moment) to step outside the security of my own little boat and walk with You on the water.

Steady my way, Holy Lord. Strengthen my faith. Be my Solid Rock, that I might strengthen others You place along my way.

Reclining at table

Jesus, we’re told, often “reclined at table,” with his disciples and with others. I wonder, do I ever ‘recline’ in the fullness of what this word might mean applied to Christ?

When I imagine Christ reclining, I see Him vulnerable, open, receptive, comfortable, resting. His feet are not under Him bearing the weight of His body, but outstretched. They are not ready to run or prepared to fight, but up and resting.

Similarly, His arms are not flexed and ready for action. He might be lying back on one or the other of them, using it for support.

How much more calm and prepared would our bodies be to receive nourishment, if we could recline, as our Lord did, trusting, relaxed, at peace, not only in our surroundings, but in our humanity.

Pray we are able to recline in peace knowing that our sins have been recognized and forgiven; our souls washed clean by His Blood.

Reclining at table

Jesus, we’re told, often “reclined at table,” with his disciples and with others. I wonder, do I ever ‘recline’ in the fullness of what this word might mean applied to Christ?

When I imagine Christ reclining, I see Him vulnerable, open, receptive, comfortable, resting. His feet are not under Him bearing the weight of His body, but outstretched. They are not ready to run or prepared to fight, but up and resting.

Similarly, His arms are not flexed and ready for action. He might be lying back on one or the other of them, using it for support.

How much more calm and prepared would our bodies be to receive nourishment, if we could recline, as our Lord did, trusting, relaxed, at peace, not only in our surroundings, but in our humanity.

Pray we are able to recline in peace knowing that our sins have been recognized and forgiven; our souls washed clean by His Blood.

Be a FROG – Fully Rely On God

FROG-Fully Rely On God

FROG-Fully Rely On God

Merton speaks today of  “paradox”…of wisdom manifest and yet hidden. He says

The words God utters are words full of silence, and they are bait to draw us into silence…If we hide the precepts of God’s wisdom in our heart — precepts of humility, meekness, charity, renunciation, faith, prayer — they themselves will hide us in God.

I can just barely relate to these words. I read them and I understand them intellectually (I think), but they kind of make my eyes glaze over.

I figure that Merton was at a different place on his journey than I am…further along, surely. And that these words, the concepts that they communicate, require a greater understanding that I have currently.

What they remind me of is the story of Martha and Mary when Jesus is visiting. Martha is busy cleaning and cooking, while Mary is sitting at His feet listening to Him, fully captured by His presence. Jesus told us that Mary has chosen the better part.

Luke 10:38-42 tells the story:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I’m still more like Martha than Mary. I’m still making preparations for Our Lord to live fully in me (Editor Angel: Probably suggesting that He direct everyone around me to do what I think they should be doing, too! …Ouch!).

I think it’s why peace rests beside me rather than within me. It’s why I still feel such excitement when I discover some lost aspect of my true self — the perfect self that God created — which I’ve bound up in fear or insecurity or bitterness over the years.

When I discover one of these nasty bits hiding in a back corner of my being, it’s like finding a tarnished piece of fine silver. I want to clean it up, polish it, find it’s original beauty. I want everything cleaned out and perfect for my Lord’s presence (Editor Angel: Fully relying on yourself still? What’s left for the Lord to perfect?).

What all my Martha-like busy-ness misses is that just as my close friends and family probably prefer my complete attention to my clean house, Our Father longs to just be with me. He wants me to rely totally on Him, to surrender to Him, to be cleansed and set free by the Light of His grace.

Hmmmm. What do you think? Are you putting off letting the Lord past the doorstep of your house until you’ve made everything perfect? Or, do you greet Him, invite Him into the mess of your life, and allow Him to help sort it…allow Him to shine His light on the you that He most wants you to become.

Peace Within, Peace Without

Finding our own selves — the unique and perfect selves that Our Father intended us to be — is necessary before we can participate successfully in community or in relationship with others. Merton says, in his meditation for Wednesday of the first week of Lent, that:

A man who is not at peace with himself necessarily projects his interior fighting into the society of those he lives with, and spreads a contagion of conflict all around him.

He goes on:

Even when he tries to do good to others his efforts are hopeless, since he does not know how to do good to himself.

In trying to make other people happy, Merton says,

he will overwhelm them with his own unhappiness.

I spent most of my early years thinking I had to please others…most especially my first husband (yes, I’m one of those divorced and remarried Catholic converts watching closely the church’s current discussion.)  I never viewed my need to please my husband so much as a product of my own insecurity or sense of unworthiness (although there was probably some of that). Rather, it always seemed to be more a product of the way I was raised.

I was taught that a wife’s main job was pleasing her husband and suborning her interests to his. It was just what women did. My mother modeled this behavior. My father expected it. My older sister fully embraced it.

By the time I came along though, women were just beginning to come into their own — in college, in the workplace, at home. In those early years of cognitive dissonance, I was a working professional during the day. Then at night, I’d bend myself in a pretzel trying to be whatever my husband wanted me to be.

“Oh, you want me to ask first for permission to go to lunch with friends from work? Okay, I can do that.”

“So I shouldn’t bother asking permission to go to lunch, if there are male co-workers going to lunch with us?” I guess I get that.

“You enjoy having a wife with an education. You just don’t want me to use it to have a career? Did I get that right?” Hmmmmm.

By the time we’d been together the better part of a decade, I’d so altered everything about myself to accommodate his expectations, that I no longer knew who I was. It was, to put it mildly, uncomfortable.

I’d become so bound up in being who I wasn’t, that there didn’t seem to be any room to move to a new understanding…any flexibility for us to unwind the snarl of do’s and don’t’s and why’s and wherefore’s.

I left.

But not before fulfilling Merton’s description of the person who’s “not at peace with himself.” He described him this way:

…he gets out of the work all that he put into it: his own confusion, his own disintegration, his own unhappiness.

All that was a long time ago now. I give thanks each day for God’s grace that has allowed me to re-collect much of the girl He intended me to be…the woman He intended me to become.

Amazingly though, I’m still finding corners of myself that got lost along the way. With His continued grace, peace and quiet may yet come to rest not just beside me, but within me.

I pray so.