Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 12/14

My favorite verse in the song, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel:
Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of humankind;
Bid all our sad divisions cease,
And be for us the King of Peace...
Let's pray...

You reign over all the nations, Lord:
lift our eyes from our self-destructive paths
to see as you do that there is one world,
one human family, one life given to each of us,
deserving of reverence and respect,
of care and compassion,
because that life is a gift from your hand...

Come and wrap my life in the reign of your love:
come and rule over my thoughts and desires,
rule over my dreams and schemes;
rule over my envy and jealousy,
my angry grudges and resentments;
come rule my heart
with your word, your truth,
your law and your justice...

Let your rule over me be the measure
of my compassion, my generosity,
my pardoning of others,
my mercy and my gentleness...

With princely power,
mend and make peaceful
all our sad divisions:
in my family,
in my neighborhood,
in my parish, 
at school,
at work
and among nations
around the world... 

And, Lord: mend the sad divisions
I know within myself...

As a newborn brings peace to a family,
bring joy and peace to these Advent days,
as we prepare to celebrate your birth...

Be born anew among us, Lord,
and be for us the King of peace,
the peace that only you can bring
the peace that only you can give...


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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 12/13


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Happy Chanukah!

While we light our trees and Christmas candles, our Jewish neighbors and friends light the first lamp of Chanukah which begins this year on December 12 and concludes on December 20.

Whether you celebrate Chanukah and light a menorah or not, I'm sure this beautiful reflection from my friend Alden Solovy will hold meaning for you...

Inside the Light

A rainbow shines
Inside the light.
If you could be the dew drop
You would always see it.

Stillness waits
Inside the light.
If you could be the sky
You would always feel it.

The sunrise dawns
Inside the light.
If you could be the horizon
You would always find it.

Freedom flows
Inside the light.
If you could be the wind
You would always ride it.

Beauty rises
Inside the light.
If you could be the sparrow
You would always reach it.

Mystery pulses
Inside the light.
If you could be the wonder
You would always know it.

Majesty reigns
Inside the light.
If you could be the wisdom
You would always hear it.

Faith rests
Inside the light.
If you could be the eagle
You would always hold it.

Your soul glows
Inside the light.
If you could be yourself
You would never leave it.

© 2012 Alden Solovy  

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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 12/12

Image Source

December 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe who appeared to Juan Diego, a Mexican peasant, on whose tilma (cloak) there appeared an image on the Blessed Virgin as he had seen her in the vision.  Read more of Juan Diego's story here.

I'm an occasional contributor to Give Us This Day, a daily prayer devotional.  Here's my reflection for today's feast:

Designer Faith?

Remember when a designer’s name and logo were discretely and neatly tucked away inside the shirt or pants we wore?  Then it became fashionable to sport an a little alligator or polo player right on our chest for all to see.

Saint Juan Diego was a man more than 5 centuries ahead of his time!  Or perhaps we should more directly and correctly credit Our Lady of Guadalupe for imprinting her designed image on Juan’s tilma.  Today we can purchase t-shirts bearing just what appeared on Juan’s holy cloak - or even have it tattooed on our back or shoulder.

More telling, of course, is what image we’re willing to have imprinted on my heart, the wellspring of our thoughts and words and deeds.  Faith assures us that we are made in the image and likeness of our Creator.  Our life’s work is to curate the divine image in which we’ve been shaped and molded. 

Others can easily read who crafted what we wear. So should they easily see, in our speech and deeds,  the word and will of the Designer who called us into being, whose grace seeks to clothe our soul and style our life with the Gospel’s truth.

In prayer today, let us look to see how clearly Our Lady of Guadalupe’s beauty, purity and graciousness mark our heart and design our life, letting the world see her Son’s image on our heart and his blessing on our entire being.

Image Source


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Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

I pray today
that you take from my heart, Lord,
whatever might keep me
from welcoming you with joy
this Christmas...

Would you do that, Lord?
Will you do that for me?
Might we work together on this?
That's my hope and prayer and so I offer
for your mending and healing
those things I think might keep me
from receiving you with joy
this Christmas...

My selfishness hinders me, Lord,
in this season of giving,
so I offer it to you for healing…

I offer you my impulse
to keep things for myself
when I already have so much,
so much more than I need...

I offer you the urge, the impulse,
to buy and buy some more,
and have and still want more
while others, millions of others
have so little or have nothing...

I offer you resources I hoard
while others have nothing for a rainy day…

Free me to see the needs of others
as more important than my own
and help me welcome you with joy
at Christmas...

My grudges and resentments hinder me, Lord,
so I offer them to you for healing…

I offer you the heavy backpack
of stale arguments, old disagreements and tired arrogance
that weighs me down and keeps me
from running to greet you, to meet you
at the stable in Bethlehem …

Help me let go any ill will I cling to, Lord,
and lift from my shoulders the weight of my pride
that I might welcome you with joy
this Christmas...

Some fantasies and daydreams, Lord,
keep me from receiving you with joy
and with a pure, unsullied heart...

So I offer you my troublesome desires:
tame them, heal them, shape them, mold them,
use them for your glory
that I might welcome you with joy
and with a clean heart
at Christmas...

Some of my circumstances might hinder me, Lord,
from receiving you with joy
this Christmas...

I might worry about keeping my job,
finding a job, needing a second job;
my limbs might be weak, my fingers grown feeble,
my heartbeat too fast, my movement slow,
my credit's maxed out, bills are due,
the car needs work,
my family’s in trouble,
my will power’s failing,
my commitments wavering
and, well, Lord - fill in the blank ______________...

So I offer you this morning
the unsure, broken pieces of my day-to-day…

I offer you my latest efforts to make things better
and my failed efforts of the past...

I offer you the empty feeling
that I have nothing left to offer…

Be with me in my difficulties, Lord,
and help me trust and know you’re there…

Help me know what I can and cannot do:
give me the wisdom to know the difference
and the courage to do what I can…

Help me to lean on others for support
and to understand their strength
as your gift to me through their hands...

Give me peace of mind and heart, Lord,
that I might welcome you with joy
this Christmas…

I offer you, O Lord,
all the hope and faith and trust I have
especially on those days
when that's all in short supply...

But what I have I offer, Lord,
and pray you make of that,
by your holy power and grace,
all I need
to welcome you
with joy
this Christmas day...



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Homily for December 10

Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

I love the season of Advent
and I try to “keep it” as a time of preparation, doing what I can 
not to celebrate Christmas before it gets here.
But with the whole world “going Christmas” all around me
– it’s not easy –  and sometimes, I just give in! 
Haul out the holly!
Put up the tree before my – spirits fall again!
Fill up the stockings, I may be rushing things but
deck the halls again now:
For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute,
candles in the window, carols at the spinet.
Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute,
we need a little Christmas, now! 

And I knoooow I’m supposed to wait,
- but waiting isn’t always easy.
It’s not easy for children
– and it’s not easy for many adults.
It’s not easy even if you’re only waiting for Christmas to be OVER!

So,  I’ve started writing my “What I Want for Christmas” letter
- but I don’t write to Santa Claus, I go right to the top – to God.
So I thought I’d share with you my first draft of this year’s letter…

Dear God,  
I “need a little Christmas”
and I’m not sure I can wait for December 25 to arrive.
I don’t mean to be impatient, but I need a little Christmas
 “right this very minute” – just like the song says.
And… here’s what I want for Christmas, Lord…

• I want COMFORT -         
the comfort Isaiah spoke of this morning -
and I want lots of comfort!
Oh, not so much for me, Lord!
I live a pretty comfortable life - and I’m grateful for that!
I want comfort for the folks who live with very LITTLE comfort
and right at the top of that list are the poor,
and the hungry homeless,
and refuges with no place to call home                                  
and nowhere to go,
and all who are marginalized and oppressed.
And I want comfort for the chronically and critically ill, Lord -
and for them I want the comfort of people to care for them,
tenderly - just as Isaiah said.

• And I want PEACE, Lord - peace in every place
where daily life is threatened, where lives are scarred
by terrorism, oppression,  violence and war.
I want peace for our troops who stand in harm’s way
and I want an end to any war not worth waging.
And I want peace for my family and my friends,
especially those who live in troubled families and broken relationships.
I want peace that lasts 
-  the kind of peace that only you can give.
That’s why I need a little Christmas, Lord,
because it’s your birthday and you’re the Prince of Peace.

• And for my parish this Christmas, for my parish I want
a real HOMECOMING to faith and to the Church, and to  you Lord.
Not just on Christmas but a homecoming that lasts,,
Sunday after Sunday, into the New Year,
bringing home those who’ve been away,
and especially those who have been wounded by the Church
and who are angry and mistrustful.
I want a Christmas star in the sky again,
guiding home all whose hearts long for you and seek you.

• And for those who are alone, and those who are lonely,
and for those who grieve the loss of a loved one this Christmas,
I want Mary, your Mother, to CONSOLE them, Lord.
I want the season’s joy to remind them of how much you love them.
I want angels and shepherds to guide and tend us
in caring for one another through the holidays.
And for those in troubled families and marriages, Lord,
 (and for all parents who worry about their children)
I want those gifts that all of us need:
patience… perseverance… understanding… compassion…
healing…   and forgiveness…
For Christmas, Lord, give us the love and humility we need
to be kind to one another -
even, and especially, to be kind to those who aren’t kind to us.

• And, Lord, I want RELIEF
for those whose plates are filled to overflowing
for people with bills, worries, anxieties, and fears about the future.
I want some relief for those whose troubles seem to have no end.

• And that’s not all, Lord:
Piled under the tree and stuffed in stockings, I also want to find:
- unity in our divided and broken nation
- some daily news that’s wholesome and uplifting
- truth to help us make good decisions and wise choices
- work for the unemployed 
- peace of mind and heart for the depressed
- care for the elderly
- respect for all living beings;
- recovery for the addicted
- and justice for the oppressed.
I know I’m asking for a lot, Lord.
I want so much -- maybe even too much.
But please don’t think me selfish.
Two-thirds of the world’s people are underfed or starving,
and so many lack even the humble shelter
of the stable where you were born.
We “need a little Christmas”
to remind us that it’s your birthday, Lord,
and that you and the poor wait,
you wait for us who have more than we need,
you wait for us to change the structures
that keep the poor so very poor while the rich grow richer.

So, if I could add just one more gift to my list…
Give us the faith and strength, and the wisdom and courage we need
to prepare the way for you to come into our lives
and to make level and straight the paths
by which we make our way into your life.

We “need a little Christmas,” Lord,
to remind us it’s not all about the toys and clothes and electronics
we want and hope to get.
It’s about how much we already have -- and need to share --
and what we need to give, generously,
to those whose needs are so much greater than our own.
So many of the gifts I’ve asked for, Lord, 
are already mine to give, to share with those around me:
in my family, among my friends at school and at work,
in my parish and wherever there are people in need.

Most of these gifts don’t even cost a lot of money
but to give them means I’ll have to spend myself – for others -
even as you spent yourself for me, Lord, on the Cross.

Well, that’s the latest draft of my Christmas wish list for God…

And once again this year,
I see that I’m quicker to tell the Lord what I want from him
than to listen to hear what he might want from me this Christmas. 
After all: it is his birthday and he should get the presents!

We’re gathered around a table
and even today, with Christmas two weeks away
we’ll find here, this evening, the very same gift we received
on the first Christmas, some 2000 years ago.
Here, in the Eucharist,
we’ll find, we’ll be given, we’ll receive: the gift of God’s love in Jesus.
He came to us in the flesh, born in a stable in Bethlehem.
and he comes to us today in his Body and Blood the Eucharist.

Pray that this gift of the Eucharist open our eyes  and our hearts
to the gifts we really need 
and, more importantly,
to the gifts we need to give to others - who need so very much.
We don’t have to wait until December 25th to find the Lord.
He’s already with us, here, “right this very minute”
in our prayer, in our hearts, in our waiting and in Communion, 

Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute,
we need a little Christmas – now…


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 12/10

In today's scriptures, Isaiah writes of a voice crying out in the wilderness and Mark's gospel quotes Isaiah in reference to John the Baptist.  This video takes up the same theme in a song composed by Rachel Burckardt.  I sang the lead vocal on this when we recorded it 27 years ago! Today's Pause for Prayer is based on and follows the video.

Let's pause and pray...
Your one voice calls me, Lord:
you speak to my heart,
in my life's wilderness,
in all its dry and barren places...

You call me by name
to prepare a way for you
who come to make of my desert
a lush and blooming garden...

You call me to change,
to change my desires, my habits, my ways:
to clear a smooth path
for you to come and dwell within me...

You call me to make peace,
to be a peacemaker where I am, where I live,
where I work and where I rest,
from day to day, a day at a time...

Of all the voices 'round me, Lord,
help me hear your one voice calling me
to make a way, a place for you to dwell
deep within my soul this Christmas...



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 12/9

And so we light the second candle on the Advent Wreath.  If you have a wreath at home, pray for faith as you light the first and second candles each day this week. If you don't have an Advent Wreath - light any candle and pray for faith. If you don't have a candle, simply stay right here with candles above and pray for faith, each night of this second week of Advent...

As we light the second candle on the Advent wreath, 
let's pray for the gift of faith...

For the deepening of faith

   in those who have it...
for the gift of faith
   for those who seek it...
for the strengthening of faith
   in those who doubt...
for any whose faith
   is shaken or broken...
for stronger faith
   that leads us to act...
for unity and harmony
   among people of all faiths...

God, give us:
the faith we need to help us live,
the faith we need to help us love,
the faith we need to help us believe,
the faith we need to give us hope,
the faith we need to act with justice...
the faith we need to speak your word of truth...

Give us faith that leads us
to share what we have in serving the poor;
to work for a harvest of justice and peace;
to restore the beauty of your creation...

God, give us faith in you
and in our neighbors
and in ourselves...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 12/8

Every year around this time
I look for ways to reach out
to those who need some comfort,
who find the holidays to be a difficult time...

Perhaps you're one of those folks and,
whether you are or you aren't, 
you know someone who is...  

So let's pause and pray...
the jolly jingle's all around -
but not in every heart...

Red and green are everywhere -
but some folks
just feel blue...

The rushing 'round to buy and wrap
lonely souls...
Plans for Christmas eve
leave out
the ones who'll be alone...

Yes, this merry month will be
for some
the hardest time of year...
Then, help me, Lord, I pray...
Help me hear
the tears that softly fall
as Christmas bells are ringing...

Let me see
the hidden shades of blue
that cloud a neighbor's heart...
Help me wrap my love
to give and share
with those who'll be alone...

On hearts that ache
and know the pain
this season often brings,
let your touch come
with grace to heal
with peace on Christmas day...
If this prayer describes someone I know,
   how will I reach out to that person this Christmas? 

If this prayer describes me,
   how will I respond to those who reach out to me?

Or perhaps I'm a person who needs to reach out to others
   while welcoming others' gracious gestures towards me...

Is there someone I might visit or call
   or invite to join me for Christmas? 

Will I isolate and hibernate through holidays
or step outside my grief to join with those
who bid me share their love?


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Gotta love this cap and its colors!

Today's mail brought a new cap knitted by my sister, Ruth. It fits perfectly and it's warm - I tried it out tonight! Here's a close up of the yarn involved:

My sister designed this color called Georgetown which is also the name of the town where she lives and runs her shop, The Quilted Purl.  The colors in this yarn include: green for the Colorado spruce and pines; blue for Georgetown Lake, Clear Creek and the sky; tan and rusty brown for the mountains; and purple for Columbine, the state flower.  I love the concept and the blend of colors!

If you're near Georgetown in Colorado - stop by my sister's shop and say hello!

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