Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 4/24

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Sometimes, Lord,
the mountain I'm climbing
turns out to be only
a bump in the road...

Sometimes, Lord,
the crisis I'm in
is not much more
than a false impression...

Sometimes, Lord,
my greatest fear
isn't fear at all
but only my lack of trust in you...

Sometimes, Lord,
when I'm feeling most sad
it's because I've lost sight
of what makes me glad...

Sometimes, Lord,
when I'm lost and alone
the only way home
is to take your hand...

Sometimes, Lord,
when you seem far away
it's time for me
to find you in prayer...

And sometimes, Lord,
when prayer won't come,
what I need then is rest
in the silence we share...



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Monday Morning Offering: 4/23

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

The Good Shepherd of yesterday's scriptures is still with me...
Many readers will be familiar with "Shepherd Me, O God,"  
Marty Haugen's setting of Psalm 23 and its beautiful refrain:
          Shepherd me, O God,
          beyond my wants, beyond my fears,
          from death into life..."


Today's Pause for Prayer is meant to help us look at some
of the other passages in life in which we might pray for the
Shepherd's guidance... 

Shepherd me, O God, from here to there,
from where I am to where I'm meant to be,
from this moment to the next,
from today into tomorrow,
from my past into my future...

Shepherd me, O God,
from yesterday's problems
to tomorrow's solutions...

Shepherd me, O God,
from the memories I'm stuck in
to the ones I've yet to make...

Shepherd me, O God,
from all that haunts me from my past
to a future I've yet to experience...

Shepherd me, O God,
from my failings, sins and errors
to the grace of a new beginning...

Shepherd me, O God,
from daydreams and fantasies
to life that's real and mine to lead...

Shepherd me, O God,
far from my foolish ways
and closer to the path of wisdom...

Shepherd me, O God,
from selfishness and greed
to a giving, generous spirit...

Shepherd me, O God,
from my prideful arrogance
to humble self-knowledge...

Shepherd me, O God,
from the lies I've come to believe
to the truth that sets me free...

Shepherd me, O God,
from all that's less than pure
to what's clean and clear and chaste...

Shepherd me, O God,
from my habits of laziness
to work that satisfies and serves...

Shepherd me, O God,
from my mindless wandering
to the path you'd have me walk...

Shepherd me, O God,
from flirting with temptation
to doing what is right...

Shepherd me, O God,
from prejudice and bias
to understanding and acceptance...

Shepherd me, O God,
from wasting what I have
to sharing all that's mine...

Shepherd me, O God,
from hopelessness and fear
to trust and confidence restored...

Shepherd me, O God,
from feeling sorry for myself
to feeling grateful for my life...

Shepherd me, O God,
from doubts that cloud my thoughts
to faith that fills my soul...

Shepherd me, O God,
from here to there,
from this moment to the next,
from today into tomorrow,
from my past into my future...

Shepherd me, O God,
from all my wants,
from all my fears,
from death into life...



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A song for Good Shepherd Sunday

The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want.
He makes me lie in pastures green.
He leads me by the still, still waters,
his goodness restores my soul.
And I will trust in you alone.
And I will trust in you alone
for your endless mercy follows me:
your goodness will lead me home.
He guides my ways in righteousness
and he anoints my head with oil
and my cup, it overflows with joy:
I feast on his pure delights.
And I will trust in you alone.
And I will trust in you alone
for your endless mercy follows me:
your goodness will lead me home.
And though I walk the darkest path,
I will not fear the evil one
for you are with me and your rod and staff
are the comfort I need to know.
And I will trust in you alone.
And I will trust in you alone,
for your endless mercy follows me:
your goodness will lead me home.

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Homily for April 22

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Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Easter
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily

“I will lay down my life for my sheep.”

Who, at this very moment, on Sunday, April 22,
who, right now, would be willing to lay down his or her life 
- for you?
It could be that you are actually sitting right next to that very person -
especially if you’re sitting with your mother or father,
or your wife or your husband
or a faithful friend or a close relative.

And even if you came here alone today,
it’s possible the person sitting next to you, even a total stranger,
might in the right circumstances, jump in harm’s way,
sparing no personal cost,
to save you from attack by a criminal
or from being hit by a speeding car
or from some other danger you might encounter
- even on the streets of a small town like ours.

And of course, right now on Sunday, April 22, here in Concord,
there are men and women on duty ‘round the clock
with the Concord Police Department,
the Concord Fire Department,
and on ambulance and rescue crews:
waiting, keeping vigil for your safety and mine
pledged to do all they can, including laying down their lives
for you and for me.
And that’s just in Concord.

All around our nation and around the world,
on land, at sea and in the air,
the men and women of our armed services keep the same vigil,
prepared to protect and defend us from any enemy
and, if need be, to lay down their lives for us.

Don’t our thoughts turn here to Sergeant Sean Gannon on the Cape
who last week gave his life, keeping vigil
over the safety of the people of Yarmouth and Barnstable.
Keeping vigil...  keeping watch...
That’s why we refer to the death of an officer killed in the line of duty
as the “end of watch.”  The end of watch…
Someone is watching over you and me, near and far,
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd,
said he would lay down his life for his sheep, for us.
He said he would - and he did!
On the Cross, our good shepherd laid down his life for us,
for you and for me, the people of his flock.
Some thought then - and some think now -
that the Cross was for Jesus the “end of watch.”
But we who know the good Shepherd,
the One who knows us so well,
we believe something more.

We believe that there is no end to Jesus’ keeping watch over us,
that not even his suffering and his death
sounded the end to his vigil of mercy and love.

The amazing thing here, what makes this truly “good news,”
is that you and I have done nothing,
to deserve such love.
In fact, you and I have done (or failed to do) MANY things
that ought to exclude us from the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness.
But he doesn’t turn us away.
He does not exclude us on account of our sins.

Rather, as a good shepherd would, Jesus goes out of his way
to find, to rescue, to save, to hold safe in his arms
PRECISELY those of us who are least deserving of his love.
He goes out of his for the sheep who is lost
- the one who goes astray.

He does, however, ask for something in return.
He asks that in return, you and I shepherd one another,
reach out to one another, include one another, forgive one another
and love one another - to reach out especially to those
whom we might deem LEAST deserving
of our help, our pardon, our love.

Jesus offers the Cross as the measure of the love he expects from us.
He has commanded us to love one another
and he has reminded us that there is no greater love
than to lay down one’s life for one’s neighbor.

Fortunately, few of us will ever called to offer the ultimate sacrifice.
But we are all called, every day, to love one another
by putting the needs of others ahead of our own.
In other words, Jesus calls each of us and all of us
to be shepherds for one another.

So, let me offer a challenge, a shepherd’s challenge,
for all of us in the week ahead.
It may seem at first a simple challenge
- UNTIL it comes face to face
with our own needs, our own schedules and calendars,
our own comfort and desires.

And the challenge is this:
spend some time today pondering how, in the week ahead,
you and I might lay down one extra hour 
serving the needs of others.
How might you and I spend one extra hour this week
being a good shepherd for someone else?
How, this week, might you and I lay down - not our lives -
but how might we lay down ONE HOUR of our lives
for someone else in the Lord’s flock?

As the Good Shepherd laid down his life for us on the Cross,
so he lays it down today, on the altar,
offering us again here
what he offered us on the altar of the Cross:
the gift of life,
his Body broken for us,
his Blood poured out for us.

Nourished by the sacrament of the Eucharist,
let’s see how he will call us this week
to break ourselves open, to pour ourselves out,
laying down one extra hour in service of one another.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 4/22

Good Shepherd by Ilse Kleyn

I was searching for art for Good Shepherd Sunday and came across this contemporary work by Ilse Kleyn.  My first thought was of a FaceBook friend who regularly posts photos of himself and his young son.  It's clear from his posts that Greg is shepherding his boy through the early years of life with love, devotion, strength, protection - and pure joy: a good shepherd!  I then began to think of the many "good shepherds" in all our lives who guide us and guard us, who keep us safe and on the right path.  Thus, today's Pause for Prayer on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday...

Good Shepherd of us all,
I thank you today for all the good shepherds in my life
and for all the ways you've shepherded me
through their love, their watchful presence,
their devotion and protection...

I thank you for my parents, my first shepherds;
I thank you for their protection, for the shelter of their love,
and for all they sacrificed for me
to help me grow...

I thank you for other shepherds in my family
and for all my friends
who comfort and challenge me,
who dry my tears and make me laugh,
who stay faithfully close by my side...

I thank you for all the shepherds
who taught me in school,
who counseled and directed me,
who shaped me and helped me to become
the person I am today...

I thank you for shepherds
whose names I don't know, who stand in harm's way
'round my town and 'round the world,
keeping vigil through the night to keep me safe,
standing guard that I might sleep without a worry...

I thank you for the shepherds you've called home,
especially those gone much too soon,
whose gentle shepherd's crook I miss,
whose presence still abides within my heart...

I thank you for those shepherds
who remember me in prayer,
who keep me in the sheepfold of your grace,
lifting up my name and needs to you:
to you, my good and gentle Shepherd,
Good Shepherd of us all...


The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all I need,
He makes me lie down in green meadows,
Beside the still waters he will lead.

He restores my soul, he rights my wrongs,
He leads me in a path of good things,
And fills my heart with song.

Even though I walk through a dark and dreary land,
There is nothing that can shake me,
He has said he won't forsake me,
I'm in his hand.

He sets a table before me in the presence of my foe,
He anoints my head with oil,
And my cup overflows.

Surely, surely goodness and kindness will follow me,
All the days of my life,
And I will live in his house,
Forever, forever and ever.

Glory be to our Father, and Brother,
And to the Holy of Holies,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
Life, without end.  Amen.


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 4/21

When I cut in line and get in the way
   of others' peace and progress,
sit me down, Lord, right away
      and put me in my place...

When I get in my own way, Lord, 
    and litter my path with self-pity, gripes and grudges
then open my eyes to what's good in my life
   and give me a grateful heart...

When I get in your way, Lord,
   and fail to follow where I know you lead,
show me the path I'm called to walk
   and remind me that you have the right of way...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 4/20

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Open my mind and heart, Lord,
open my eyes and ears
and help me know, help me see
whose life you'd bless and heal
through mine

Open my eyes to the needs
of those whose paths cross mine
and help me know, help me see
what I might do
to bear their heavy load

Open my ears and help me hear,
help me answer the cry of those
who need a word that I might speak,
a word of comfort I might share
to heal a broken heart

Open my mind and heart, Lord,
open my eyes and ears
and help me know, help me see
whose life you'd bless and heal
through mine



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 4/19

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Lord, I don't want to look at life
through rose colored glasses
but I would like to see the world
through your eyes,
through the lens of your wisdom...

I want to see the truth
wherever it waits to be found,
and with the same precision
I want to spot what's false
lest I confuse it with the truth...

I want to see the inner beauty
in every human being I know and meet:
I want to see and love in my neighbors
what you see and love in them, Lord,
and not be distracted
by my resentments and grudges,
my bias, prejudice and pride...

I want to see your warm fingerprints, Lord,
in every corner of creation:
from atoms to the Atlantic
from ants to elephants,
from my own backyard through the universe...

I want to see clearly and always, Lord,
what decision to make,
what choice is the best,
which path is the one you call me to follow...

I'd like to see, before it's too late, the consequences
of my words and deeds,
my silence and my passivity,
my courage and my fears...

I'd like to see, with clarity,
all that tries to deceive, seduce and delude me,
whatever tempts me to go astray,
entices me to play with fire,
clouds my judgment,
blurs my vision,
and tempts me to look at life
through rose colored glasses...

I want to see as you see, Lord,
to see beyond appearances
and into the heart of things,
to know and understand the world around me
through your eyes, Lord,
and to see all that is good and true,
right and just,
holy and gracious,
pure and wholesome...

Open my eyes that I may see, Lord,
not through rose colored glasses
but as you see, Lord,
as you see...



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