A closing prayer

Early in the morning of January 7th, at the conclusion of the congressional joint session that affirmed the electoral college results, the Senate chaplain, Barry C. Black (a Seventh-day Adventist minister and retired Navy rear admiral), closed the session with prayer

Lord of our lives and sovereign of our beloved nation, we deplore the desecration of the United States Capitol building, the shedding of innocent blood, the loss of life, and the quagmire of dysfunction that threaten our democracy.

These tragedies have reminded us that words matter and that the power of life and death is in the tongue. We have been warned that eternal vigilance continues to be freedom’s price.

Lord, you have helped us remember that we need to see in each other a common humanity that reflects your image.

You have strengthened our resolve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies domestic as well as foreign.

Use us to bring healing and unity to our hurting and divided nation and world. Thank you for what you have blessed our lawmakers to accomplish in spite of threats to liberty.

Bless and keep us. Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to do your will and guide our feet on the path of peace. And God bless America. We pray in your sovereign name. Amen.

The Gift of Patience

So far this Advent, every Monday’s musing 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 doorstep of Christmas! 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 a few days away. Of course, when I was 7 years old, “only a week” seemed liked a lifetime. Now that I am…ah… a lot older than 7, “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

Making time to listen

Several years ago, I was fortunate to have the time and opportunity to go to Israel on pilgrimage. I remember when I first caught sight of the Sea of Galilee…. I thought it would be bigger. Trust me it is big, but not “Lake Michigan” big. The Sea of Galilee is 8 miles across at it widest and 13 miles in length. So it’s big… I just thought it would be bigger. Continue reading

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