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.
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. ———- 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. ————- 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. ————- 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.
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.
I struggled early on after my conversion to Catholicism with whether to soldier through some of the challenges I was experiencing or whether to revert back to Anglo-Catholicism. I read whatever I could find to help understand what belief or lack of belief the Anglican martyrs held so strongly that they were willing to be tortured, burned, quartered…horrific atrocities. For most of them it came down to their disbelief in the Real Presence of God in the host and wine of the Eucharist. Many Anglicans also struggled with Marian devotions, but the central issue for most was whether and how God is…how He becomes…present physically in the host and wine. I felt convicted about the Anglican view for some time, and yet, periodically I continued to entertain conversations and prayer about the subject.
Finally, in the local grocery store one day I ran into the woman who had been my RCIA sponsor. We agreed to have lunch and, not surprisingly, the subject came up. There was the predictable back and forth, but I finally asked something like, ‘how can you believe in this?’ (I don’t remember my exact words.)
She said, ‘It’s the mystery. You have to leave room for the mystery of God’s presence.’
Well, I don’t know what it was about her words exactly, but something in me at that very moment just ‘got it.’
God is God. We aren’t.
We aren’t given to understand everything He knows with our rational minds, but we are able and are called upon to believe with our spiritual hearts.
I still don’t understand the Real Presence, but from that moment, I believed. And with that belief I was immediately awestruck with the incredible grace of this deeper relationship. Even today, it’s enormity thrusts me to my knees in praise and gratitude.
And, just one post script: more recently..a few years ago someone…maybe Bishop Barron…described how continual reception of the Real Presence changes one’s spiritual DNA. I’d go a step further to a belief that as my spiritual DNA has been altered over the last 15-20 years, my physical DNA has likely changed as well. It’s nothing I feel moved to test or prove or argue, but it’s one more of those things that I have complete faith is true.
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.
It’s a mystery why things happen as they do. We try to trust that God will not abandon us, but sometimes we feel alone. Well-meaning friends may try to cheer us up, yet tears are often the only possible response.
When we pour out our hearts like that, we are in good company. Jesus himself grieved. When his friend Lazarus died, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). Countless saints, too, suffered losses that caused them grief and agony. But when they poured out their hearts to God, he came into their grief. He might not have taken their grief away, but he walked through it with them.
Grief is authentic. David grieved over Absalom, and it was right. Jesus grieved over Lazarus, and it was right. We should feel free to grieve our losses. We don’t have to grieve alone. We can bring our sorrow to the Lord, lay it before him and allow him grieve with us. Allow him to remind us that He promises “to comfort all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:2). Let him remind us that our Father is “the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Then, when we have poured out our heart, rest in Him and let his love wash over us.
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.
So many thanks to each of You who has thought to check in on us here in Nashville after the tremendous tornado that blew through our lives early Tuesday morning — super Tuesday 2020 will forever have a different meaning for us.
We’re safe…now. But there are so many others — people who live just blocks from us here in East Nashville, people who live just across the Cumberland river to the west of us in Germantown and Buena Vista, people just across the river to the east of us in Donelson and Hermitage and Mt. Juliet, and still further east on the Cumberland Plateau in Cookeville — people we see at the gym and in the grocery store, along Shelby running trail, the coffee shop down the street — not just the few whose names we know or to whom we’ve spoken at some point, whose dog we may have petted along the way, but thousands of people — we’re all neighbors now. We all shared in the fury of the storm. We’ll all share — in ways I don’t think I can even imagine in just this minute – we’ll all share in the recovery.
Before dawn on this super-Tuesday — a redefined and repurposed super-Tuesday — people were posting on social media, ‘My truck and my chainsaw are both fully gassed. My hands are ready to help whoever needs them.’ And the immediate responses came, ‘I’m with you. I’ll be over at … I’ll meet you at…’ Or another questioned, ‘How can I help? I have extra room for you to stay, a shower, towels, clothes..PM me.’
So many people affected directly, personally — those who died or lost a loved one, those missing, and their grieving families, surely. Those, too — newly homeless, wandering the streets in the dark in their pajamas and house slippers, many carrying a pet, a few belongings, maybe, that they were able to salvage before being evacuated from their homes, before broken glass and boards with upturned nails and gas leaks further wounded their lives, before the nearby Farmers’ Market opened to offer them shelter.
And those too, also newly homeless, sitting dazed in their front yard as the sun dawned to reveal the leavings of the storm’s fury — roofs stripped from their houses, homes lifted from their foundations and planted yards away, brick siding hanging, threatening, and the trees, all the trees, across roads, atop houses, through windows; cars upturned, crumbled, one lifted and shot through the third story of a building; broken glass, nails, slivered wood and debris scattered and everywhere downed electric lines and poles and water from broken water mains and the smell of gas from broken gas lines and the flashing red and blue lights of police and fire and medical responders.
And the reporter, trying to capture it all for the world to see, standing in front of a local mural, mysteriously preserved from the devastation all around — a favorite, on a different day just 12 hours ago, for tourists taking memory photos — saying, “We Believe In Nashville.”
Already music concerts — fundraisers to help pay for the clean up and rebuilding — are happening, More are being planned in nearby living rooms and studios and by musicians throughout the region. Hope. Prayer in action everywhere around us.
Personally, it’s only in the storm’s aftermath that we realize the bliss of ignorance. As we were awakened to the roar of what we would only later learn were 165 mph winds circling continuous blasts of lightning with their immediate claps of thunder, just over our house, we wondered what was happening. After a few moments we heard what must have been delinquent sirens wailing in the distance, barely audible through the raging roar of the wind. And we wondered, amazed by the force of the storm’s fierceness, what was happening.
What is happening? What now? Who to help? How to help? How to give thanks that we were, in our bliss, passed over by a furious and awesome force? How to pray? For whom to pray?
We’re okay. Praise God, we’re all okay. Those of us who were passed over are each finding our way to be a prayer in action. Fears of the coronavirus seem a distant memory, a silly, self-indulgence. The other super-Tuesday, a nearly irrelevant after-thought.
We’re all neighbors now, all members of one body, all needed and all pleasing in His sight. He was very close last night and very Superior. He’s walking among us today on this Holy ground, working through us, as we begin the labor and love of restoration and repair.