There is no Sanctuary in this place

There is no sanctuary in our sanctuary.
In that holy time, in Your temple,
A time hopeful of preparation,
That time before we all join together
To celebrate the Holy Eucharist, the marriage feast—
that sacred memorial,
that hope-filled prayer—
Of You, Lord Jesus Christ, and Your bride, the church.

Between aspiring young voices braying pop gospel melodies,
Loudly, out of key;
And joyful elders (and all those others without the excuse of hearing loss)
Rejoicing in one another’s company,
Their voices pitched for sports stadia,
As even their whispers bounce to and fro
In a space fashioned to carry our praise of You to all corners.

There seemed no audial space remaining
for a quiet Hail Mary in the presence of our blessed sacrament.
So near to You, Father, yet so unreachable.

I resigned to the small chapel.
No blessed sacrament there.
But, with the human cacophony now muted,
I could hear Your soft cry, Oh Lord,
Weeping for us all.

For the aspirations of the young woman
Whose voice will forever be most appreciated in the pew;

For the lonely elders reveling in the presence of friends
After so long a time away from human companionship;

For You, Lord Jesus, our one and only divine companion,
Waiting patiently, watching hopefully,
Longing for just a glance,
A blessing,
A by-Your-leave, maybe?
A knee, oh gracious Lord,
For You who died for us,
For our salvation;

Most of all, for my sorrow-filled weakness, as I fled Your presence,
Removing myself from You, who is love,
Realizing my own frailty—spiritual, physical—
That overwhelms Your voice,
Singing to me
In the quiet of Your Sanctuary.

Lead me to follow You in faith

Lord, lead me to follow You faithfully,
To fall not into despair,
Nor to become impatient and full of self-pity
In those times when You lead me in quiet and aloneness.

But rather strengthen me to seek Your Will,
To listen for Your call;

Strengthen me to wait for You,
To stand alert and ready to protect Your precious prayer in my heart;

Strengthen me from weariness
And the temptations of the evil one.

Help me to prepare my heart for Your coming.
Teach me to trim my wicks,
To fill my lamps,
To soften my heart and open it fully to Your plan,
Ready at a moment’s notice,
To join You in joyful procession to our wedding feast.

Thanks be to God for You and Your Holy Spirit within me.

Amen.
+++++

And in Your loving way, Holy Lord, You answered my tears of loneliness with calls and invitations born on wings of love.

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ.

Sharing the Light of Your Love

Thank You for this day, for the family and husband You have given me,
And for the friends You’ve given into my care.
I pray, Father, for Your aid and strength in how I carry the light of Your love to them.
Help me to empty myself of myself, that Your light may be unfiltered and unfettered by the confusion, chaos, or corruption lingering in me, born of my sin against You and the Holy Spirit.

Give me, I pray, Holy Lord, Your divine and unquenchable thirst for doing Your Will for me, with this writing.
Determine for me when it is time to bring it into the world and to present it in Your temple for Your blessing.
Will there be a time, soon thereafter, when I must take it with me into the desert to protect it from hostile forces, like when Mother Mary and St. Joseph fled with You to Egypt for a time?
Will there be a time, even after that, during which it needs be fed and nurtured and conformed to Your will,
Before it will be ready to begin its own public ministry,
Before it meets with hostility and death and resurrection and eternity with You, Holy Lord?
Just so. Thy Will be done.
But not, I pray, before it has accomplished Your Will for it,
Accomplished all that You choose for it to be.
Not before it has touched the hearts of those You wish to touch,
Prepared the ones You have planned for it to prepare,
Shared the light of Your love with those future holy ones You have chosen to be Your own.

Thanks be to You, Holy Lord, for sharing Your abundant graces with one such as me.

Itnotfaotsaoths. Amen.

Morning Prayer

Morning Prayers

Oh heavenly Father.

You have brought me again to the beginning of a new day. Thank You.

Bless my efforts today and make them holy in their service to You and to those of Your kingdom whom you place on my way.

In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

+++++++++++++
Forgive me for all the ways I have sinned against you and separated myself from You and the Holy Spirit and for all the ways I will likely sin against You again today.

Unwittingly.
Without intention.
But relentlessly, it seems,
as my weaknesses persist.
Have mercy on me.

Only through Your mercy will I come to recognize and understand my sins well enough to begin — with Your grace and with help from the Holy Spirit — to correct my behavior, my thinking, my understanding.

When the time is right according to Your will, send Your Holy Spirit, Father, to be with me and teach me Your ways and conform me to the will of your Son.

Open my heart a little more this day to hear Your voice, Holy Lord.
Teach me to serve You,
Lead me to be Your hands and Your feet in this world, and
Allow me to help quench Your thirst for souls.
+++

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned against You and separated myself from You and Your Holy Spirit within me.

You know my desire to love and serve You, Lord.
Increase my desire for You, I pray.
You know I love You, Lord.
Teach me to love You better.
Teach me to love You as You deserve.
You know I long to be the person You created me to be.
Mold me. Conform me to Your will.
Strengthen me, that I might be pleasing to you.
You see and hear every errant thought and desire in me.
Cleanse my soul, precious Lord.
+++

Bless me, Father, for I have sinned against You and separated myself from You and Your Holy Spirit within me.

Bless my efforts this day, Lord.
Make them holy, that I might one day behold You face to face.

Until then, oh gracious Lord,
Help me to pray, as St Mother Teresa did, that I might give what you ask and accept what you give, all with joy and a big smile.

Itnotfaotsaoths. Amen

Slow Down, Pay Attention

Thank you for being here with me, Father.
For allowing me to feel Your presence,
To experience the warmth of Your love,
To imagine You sitting here with me,
A friend,
A healer,
A lover, present in all things.

I like to tell myself
I have full faith in You, Father.
Yet, why is it,
That I am surprised?
Unbelieving of Your gifts?
Your answers to my prayers?
For healing me
And others?

Why is it, My child,
That you’re uncertain of My work in you?
Of My answers to your prayers?

Why does your belief in Me wobble and waffle,
As you await ‘just one more day’ of healing?
Just one more day to assure yourself
You are really and truly healed?
Really and truly free of the condition
From which I freed you?

Does it have to be gone forever?
This condition, so distracting, so debilitating?
Or could I have answered you
With real relief just for a minute?
Or an hour?
Or a day?
Or a week?

I have freed you
Of your cursed itching now for nearly two weeks.
What is enough relief
For you to thank Me
And offer Me your gratitude?

How long must you find relief,
In order for you to believe
I have answered your prayer?
Performed what to you seems like a miracle?
Rid you of a condition
From which you have suffered for most of 20 years?

Come to me now, My daughter,
And believe in Me, trust in Me,
And in My abundant care for you,
Even in these little nagging things.

I am with you and shower you with My love
Every day in all sorts of little ways.
Slow down and pay attention.
Find Me,
Abide with Me,
Where every good thing,
Life itself,
Abundant and blessed,
Awaits you
In Me.

Close my eyes that I might see

Holy Lord,

You came to me
When I was in labor with my daughter.
I didn’t understand Your presence then.
Only later did I know it was You.
But there You were,
Holding my hand,
Helping me breathe,
Helping me manage the pains of childbirth.

I remember closing my eyes,
Needing desperately to disregard,
Shut out somehow,
All the distractions in the world around me.

It was a holy time.
Just You and me, Lord.

And later, in the days just after she was born,
I was certain that a blissful life
Would be one of birth upon birth upon birth,
As I relived again and again
That precious time of creation with You.

All these years later I realize
I still feel Your presence most fully
When my eyes are closed.
I guess the devil has just one less way
To distract me
And separate me from You.

Cover my ears, too, Lord,
That I am lifted from the noise and clamor
Just outside this holy place You are creating in me.
Cover my ears,
That I might only hear Your voice.
Shelter my ears, so I hear only
Your choirs of angels,
Singing holy hymns of Your beauty.

And close my mouth, Lord,
That the confusion and chaos of my day
Cannot take form and flow in free-fall,
Like vomit from my mouth.
Silence my lips
That Your presence in me
Is not drowned by the flood
Of our world’s corruption.

Allow Your Holy Spirit to live within me,
To fill me so fully that there’s room for naught else.
To soar in adoration of You,
To be lifted, if only for a moment,
To experience, if only fleetingly,
That holy heaven of Triune love
Shared between You and Your Son.

Help me Father to offer You
A pure and clean and holy sheet,
Free of the sights and sounds
And the furies of this world,
On which to record Your words for me.

And, if it is Your will, holy Lord,
Let me hear Your still, small voice
Calling me, beckoning me to come,
Sit a while with You,
Be with You, and
Rest in the warmth of Your love.

The light of this holy night

Scattered desire
Life on hold
Only one passion
Only You, precious Lord.

Suspended desire
Detached from care
Patient, peaceful rest,
Faithful in prayer.

Lone contemplation
Separate, at rest,
Filled full with Your grace,
Grateful and blessed.

Blood pours from Your wounds.
Tumult rages unspent.
Obscuring Your face
Hoards filled with dissent.

Come Holy Spirit.
Fill us with Your breath
Lead us to life everlasting
Only in death.

In death of our pride
In death our ego
Knowing the source of our good
As we confidently go.

Knowing to whom we belong
For whom we were made
Whose love conquers fear
Whose table is laid.

Come Holy Spirit
Fill us with Your light
Lead us through the darkness
Of this holy night.

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.

More worthy of You

Oh Lord, You are drawing me more and more deeply
into the mysteries of the Holy Rosary and
into praying for our world.
I pray that my prayers are pleasing to You and
through them that I am drawn
more deeply into relationship with You,
more worthy of You,
more formed by You,
more conformed to You,
more pleasing to You,
more worthy of You.
In Christ’s name I pray to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit
are One God for ever and ever.
Amen.

The passion of our time.

When I heard of the Supreme Court’s decision adding sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, my first reaction was: All humans deserve the opportunity to seek employment free from discrimination.

Yet, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of USCCB lays out the concern.

I am deeply concerned that the U.S. Supreme Court has effectively redefined the legal meaning of ‘sex’ in our nation’s civil rights law. This is an injustice that will have implications in many areas of life.

By erasing the beautiful differences and complementary relationship between man and woman, we ignore the glory of God’s creation and harm the human family, the first building block of society. Our sex, whether we are male or female, is part of God’s plan for creation and for our lives. As Pope Francis has taught with such sensitivity, to live in the truth with God’s intended gifts in our lives requires that we receive our bodily and sexual identity with gratitude from our Creator. No one can find true happiness by pursuing a path that is contrary to God’s plan. (emphasis added)

Every human person is made in the image and likeness of God and, without exception, must be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect. Protecting our neighbors from unjust discrimination does not require redefining human nature.

We pray that the Church, with the help of Mary, the Mother of God, will be able to continue her mission to bring Jesus Christ to every man and woman.

So (early warning) what follows is my way-too-long struggle to sort all this, as I talk with Our Lord.

——————

“During these times…”

I’m so tired of hearing this phrase, Holy Lord. I hear it drone out from both the sincere and the sanctimonious to initiate some monologue on masks or medicine or malevolence.

And yet, today, right now, in this time and place, You are offering us a way to sooth some of the pain and suffering of Your Son. You’re offering us an opportunity to share Your love and to find new ways that include all of Your people in Your grace.

All of us

All of us
We fallen,
We sin-filled,
Even we aspiring saints.
The ignored, the ignorant,
The neglected, the negligent,
The elite and the alone;
The famished and the fed;
The despised and the despicable.
All of us are Your beloved children, Holy Lord.

But, not all of us know You or Your love.

We, the privileged

We, who know You — we, who have been baptized into Your truth — we are the privileged ones of this world.

Through no fault or action of our own, You chose us. Just as we didn’t choose our parents or the country of our birth, or our station in life, we didn’t choose to know You, Holy Father, or Your Son. We were chosen. You found us right where we were and called us to You.

This is true privilege.
This is the real job opportunity.
For in You is the freedom and love
That passes all our understanding.

Too often, we forget that You’re the source of everything good in our lives. We believe that our good fortune is something we’ve earned, something we deserve, maybe — through some right of birth or heritage or even our own hard work.

But, no. These are all gifts of Your grace. You decided where we were born and when. And You selected our parents. You gave us the talents to succeed in our work and the strength to awake each day to embrace our lives. And You have given us the times in which we live.

In these times

Your gift in this time for those of us who know and love You is the blessing of sharing Christ with others, those less privileged, those needing—longing, possibly—to know You and to love You, too. Our gift is the opportunity to be an active part of Christ’s body — Your hands and heart — here on earth.

It’s that simple…and that profound.

What does this mean in action in this situation, Father? What does this look like on the holy ground of Your love?

Down here amongst Your unruly children?

Surely, we must share Your love through the way we live our lives. But what if we are asked to act—or made to act publicly—in ways that defy — or even defile — Your love for us, ways foreign to Your teaching?

We learn early that we are to hate the sins, love the sinners. But in this time many are telling us that in order to love the sinners, we must approve of — love, even — their sin.

How does a religious school, for example, allow into its midst individuals, who, gleefully, often vociferously, reject one of Your most basic, Your most foundational gifts — the beautiful gift of who they are as beloved male and female children of God, who they are as Your beloved creations?

How does the religious institution function within the dichotomy of You and Not You? God and not God? How do we ease the friction, act with mercy, heal the wounded, protect the innocent, help You to call the willing?

Where is the opportunity in this, Holy Father? Where—what—is Your gift that You seek to have us give?

Your Word in action

Sister Marilyn taught 2nd grade at my daughter’s Catholic school years ago. For decades she faithfully helped to prepare young Catholic girls and boys for their first communion. Our family was not Catholic at the time. I spoke with Sister once about how excluded my daughter felt from the first communion ceremony that eventually followed for all her classmates.

Sister corrected me, ‘Oh no, we don’t exclude anyone or leave any one out. Everyone is welcome to be part of the church and to participate in the beauty of what we believe.’

And there’s the nut of it, isn’t it, Father? The Church universal. The body of Christ. Living, yet unchanged and unchangeable. Broken, yet complete. Sacrificed, given away, that our souls might be sanctified through our faith in You and in Your Son.

You’ve created us to be free. You allow us to choose in what and in whom we believe. As Christians, we believe in You, Holy Father and in Your Son, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit — that beautiful breath of love shared by Father and Son.

But so many others don’t know You or believe in Your Son. Too many have not even been introduced.

How, Father?

How do we embrace these others, Father, who reject our faith and insist that it (and we) must change in order to conform to their devices and desires.

How do we share Your love with those who have no faith and who hope only in themselves?

How do we share Christ with them, who demand that we deny You and love them first?

How do we — under the force of law — share the truth of Your love that You have shared with us?

How can we do anything good, anything pleasing to You, without speaking with love and affection to these others — these hopeless, hapless creatures whom You love?

How do we do all this, any of this, except through Your grace, full of faith in You, knowing that Your hand is at work in this, as it is in all things?

You never said it would be easy

Indeed, You showed us the terrible pain of Your Son’s passion and told us to ‘follow Him.’

Even Mary and Joseph, when directed by Caesar Augustus, submitted to an arduous journey to Bethlehem in order to participate in a government-required census. Our Holy Mother was pregnant. She and Joseph were poor. But You chose that time for them to leave their home and family who loved them to carry Your Word-made-flesh to this distant place. And once they arrived, they weren’t welcomed or made comfortable. They weren’t treated lovingly. Indeed, there was no room for them — or for You.

But there, in that mean, inhospitable and humble place, is where You and Your love broke into our world.

You chose Mary and Joseph to carry Your light of hope first to the world’s poor and lowly. You even provided a bright light to guide the way of the world’s wise and kingly. They traveled their own difficult and dangerous journeys to Your Son, Jesus Christ, coming from far-away lands — from places that did not know You; from traditions foreign to Your Word. And yet, they came bearing their own gifts with which to honor and adore You.

Just as You sent the light to guide those foreigners to You so long ago, You are, even now, preparing us in this time to be the light of Your love for those who don’t yet know You. Those whom You are calling to Yourself. Those others in our midst.

And just as Sister Marilyn taught us year’s ago, You don’t exclude anyone from the beauty of Your truth. Nonetheless, like Mary, we each have to consent to Your will. When called by You, each of us has to say our own grace-filled, faith-filled ‘Yes’ to You and to Your Son.

Just say ‘Yes’

Now in this time of turmoil, my child, be My Light by how you live your life. Give witness to the truth of My love. Then, share the gift of love that I share with you. I’ll show You how.

To share and uplift other believers? Yes.

To make room for You, Lord—God’s own Word-made-flesh? Yes.

To be love for all those others among us—the least, the lost and the hopeless, the revolting, the reviled, and the wretched? Yes.

To include in our work and in our lives these other ones—forgotten for too long, ignored too fully? Yes.

For how else might they come to know Me?

Must we strengthen our resolve? Yes.
Understand Your Word better? Yes.
Prepare to share Your love with those who hate us and You? Yes.
Learn to be holy not just in our homes and our protected enclaves, but in public for all to see — to be Your light in our world’s darkness? Yes.

Are we ready?

As others scream and slur,
As they deface and disparage You,
As they have and surely will again,
Will we run away, like Peter and the others,
Will we deny You, again and again?
As they seize and distort our speech,
As they defame Your gifts,

Are we prepared? I pray so.

Will we turn our other cheek, Father,
The one of love offered,
Only to be rejected and scorned,
As You were? As Your Son was?

As others point at us with their accusations and allegations;
As they brutalize our hearts with their hatred,
And fill our world with their idols,
Are we prepared, even so, to include them in our lives,
But not give them our souls,
All for Your love of them?

Am I prepared? I pray so.