Pandemic and Prayer

Four months ago, Florida announced its first coronavirus cases. On Sunday, it broke the US record for the number of cases reported in one day — 15,300 with positivity levels almost 20%. Reuters noted that if Florida were a country, “it would rank fourth in the world for the most new cases a day behind the United States, Brazil and India.” Continue reading

Complain or Pray

From Pope Francis’ homily on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul:

“It is pointless, even tedious, for Christians to waste their time complaining about the world, about society, about everything that is not right. Complaints change nothing. Let us remember that complaining is the second door that closes us off from the Holy Spirit, as I said on Pentecost Sunday. The first is narcissism, the second discouragement, the third pessimism. Narcissism makes you look at yourself constantly in a mirror; discouragement leads to complaining and pessimism to thinking everything is dark and bleak. These three attitudes close the door to the Holy Spirit. Those Christians did not cast blame; rather, they prayed.

We today can ask: “Are we protecting our unity, our unity in the Church, with prayer? Are we praying for one another?” What would happen if we prayed more and complained less, if we had a more tranquil tongue? The same thing that happened to Peter in prison: now as then, so many closed doors would be opened, so many chains that bind would be broken… (cf. Acts 12:10-17).

Let us ask for the grace to be able to pray for one another. Saint Paul urged Christians to pray for everyone, especially those who govern (cf. 1 Tim 2:1-3). “But this governor is…,” and there are many adjectives. I will not mention them, because this is neither the time nor the place to mention adjectives that we hear directed against those who govern. Let God judge them; let us pray for those who govern! Let us pray: for they need prayer. This is a task that the Lord has entrusted to us. Are we carrying it out?  Or do we simply talk, abuse and do nothing? God expects that when we pray we will also be mindful of those who do not think as we do, those who have slammed the door in our face, those whom we find it hard to forgive. Only prayer unlocks chains, as it did for Peter; only prayer paves the way to unity.

Our Hearts

This weekend we celebrate the patronal feast of our parish – The Sacred Heart of Jesus. There is an earlier post on the history of the feast day in which St. Bonaventure in his writing, “With You is the Source of Life” (which is the reading for the Divine Office on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart) described the heart as the fountain from which God’s love poured into our lives.

But what about our heart? In Scripture, the heart symbolizes the center or “core” of our being, from which prayer and moral actions originate. The heart is mentioned frequently by Jesus explain spiritual truths. Continue reading

Prayers and Change

In today’s readings, we hear the St. Matthew’s version of Lord’s Prayer (there is also St. Luke’s version). The prayer has been constant over the ages because it is there in Sacred Scripture. When reviewing the two millennia of Christian writings (liturgies, breviaries, prayers, commentaries, etc.) there is a real constancy in the wording of this prayer. Continue reading

Called in the time of Coronavirus

One of the most frequent calls in all of Scripture is “Fear Not!” or one of its many parallel phrases. Perhaps were are not fearful per se in these, concerned for sure, but these are definitely confusing, stressful times. This pandemic affects numerous facets of life from the personal to the societal. It impacts each person in different ways. Whose life is not disrupted? Children from pre-K through college are at home as the educational institutions adapt to the digital classroom. Churches are closed. The local gathering spots offer take-out at best. Sports have disappeared from ESPN – well, live sports anyway. Cocktail hours, retreats and business meetings are now on Zoom. Your gym, YMCA, and the like are closed. Here in Tampa the bicycle shop business is booming, but only one person at a time. Not too often you see a line outside a bicycle shop. There is stress just managing the changes. There is stress wondering if the next person you meet is infected but asymptomatic, the next door handle tainted, and… well, you know your own stress risers and anxieties. Now imagine you are facing this uncertainty and have a mental illness. How much more challenging must it be to navigate this uncertainty? Continue reading

After all these years…

Arising early on Sunday morning, I prayed the Divine Office, sat for a bit in the church before the Real Presence of my Lord and Savior (there are advantages of living in a friary attached to the church), shaved (hadn’t done that in a few days, although you’d barely notice), and sat down to read the Tampa Bay Times, our local newspaper (digital version). Continue reading

The habit of Patience

So far this Advent, every pastor’s column has explored one of the many gifts that await us under the tree, that is, the cross of Christ. And there are some awesome gifts – to name the ones mentioned in previous weeks – forgiveness and mercy. Now we have arrived at the Third Week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday! The name comes from wording in Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!  It is another week, and another gift awaits. Like any kid in the days leading up to Christmas you have begun to peer under the tree, assessing the shapes, sizes and weight of gifts – and guessing what could possibly be under wraps. You have to wonder what other awesome gift is waiting right there under the tree, the cross of Christ. Let’s open up another gift!  But wait…it’s not Christmas yet.  What’s the rush? Christmas is only over a week away. Of course, when I was 7 years old, “only a week” seemed liked a lifetime. Now that I am 67, “only a week” is but the blink of an eye. I am much more patient about most things…. Not all things, most things. So, what’s the rush? Maybe we should practice a little patience? Continue reading

Prayer and the long defeat

In the epic novel The Lord of the Rings, the elves of Lothlorien admit that they are losing their forest lands. But they battle on. The describe their struggle as “fighting the long defeat.” This is source of the comment made by Paul Farmer, who has fought a “losing battle” for health care for the poor. In Tracy Kidder’s biography of Farmer called Mountains Beyond Mountains, Farmer says, “I have fought the long defeat and brought other people on to fight the long defeat, and I’m not going to stop because we keep losing… I actually think sometimes we may win… So, you fight the long defeat.”

Reminds me of the persistent widow. Continue reading

Daily Bread

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 17th Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:  Father, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread  4 and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” Continue reading

Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

1 ”(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.2 When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,4 so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.5 “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.6 But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Continue reading