Blog posts

BLESSING: What Fire Comes To Sing In You, by Jan Richardson

From: The Cure for Sorrow This blessing had big ideas about what it wanted to say, what it wanted you to know, to see. This blessing wanted to open your eyes to the joy that lives in such strange company with sorrow— wanted to make sure to tell you, lest you forget, that no matter how long it seems absent, no matter how quiet it becomes, joy has never been far from you, holding a space of celebration, watching for you, humming as it keeps vigil. But now that it comes time to speak it— comes time to lay these words on your brow, your beating heart— all this blessing can think to say is Look— your life a candle, this day a match. Strike it and see what blazes, what fire comes to sing in [...]

POETRY: Let Everything That Hath Breath Praise The Lord, by Christina Rossetti

All that we see rejoices in the sunshine, All that we hear makes merry in the Spring: God grant us such a mind to be glad after our kind, And to sing His praises for everything. Much that we see must vanish with the sunshine, Sweet Spring must fail, and fail the choir of Spring: But Wisdom shall burn on when the lesser lights are gone, And shall sing God’s praises evermore for [...]

POETRY: We Take The Sky, by Susanna Childress

We take the sky, as if red is something we could own, something we might find in the stillest moments, as if the earth is humane and wouldn’t break our bones. (None of His were broken. Not one.) Red is in the land too, is in the way we look at each other, the hardness of our sleep, the need to fall down, to tell of the pox that swept Aunt Jess, the drink that ushers Father, the path that never leads to wealth or rest or health—but the one we always take. Shalom, we say. Buena suerte. We always take the sky, fold it over ourselves, the soil, run it across our skin and cling to it, savoring the tart of a lemon, palming a bar of soap even when our hands are clean, naming the insects that fly across the white bulb of moon late at [...]

JESUS: No Pillow, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture: A scribe then approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18-22)   Reflection: Throughout the gospels, Jesus is portrayed as an itinerant preacher.  Itinerancy characterizes Jesus’s mission and that of his followers.  Using two sayings he found in Q (referring to quelle, the German word for “source” and indicating material found [...]

PSALMS: “Lord, Teach Us To Pray”, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So spoke the disciples to Jesus.  In making this request, they confessed that they were not able to pray on their own, that they had to learn to pray.  The phrase, “learning to pray,” sounds strange to us.  If the heart does not overflow and begin to pray by itself, we say, it will never “learn” to pray.  But it is a dangerous error, surely very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself.  For then we confuse wishes, hopes, sighs, laments, rejoicings – all of which the heart can do by itself – with prayer.  And we confuse Earth and Heaven, man and God.  Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart.  It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, [...]

JESUS: Word Doers, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture: Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.  For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. (James 1:22-24)   Reflection: Listening and believing, one aspect of a spirituality of mission, includes acting on – in the word of the letter of James, “doing” – the word.  The letter of James addresses Jewish Christians in the late first century CE.  James, in contrast to Paul’s position on works, advocates the practice or living of the word heard.  From James’s point of view, if a person hears the word and doesn’t [...]

BLESSING: Blessings, by J. Janda

From The Embrace Blessed be the shy blessed be the gentle blessed be the meek blessed be the mild blessed be the courteous blessed be the reverent blessed be the humble for theirs is the kingdom of heaven blessed be the scorned blessed be the rejected blessed be the outcast blessed be the mocked for all illusions as nightmares must pass but what shall remain is each soul’s light flashing forth from the Father of Light ringed in constellations of light now and forever [...]

THE LORD’S PRAYER: Introductory, by Evelyn Underhill

Prayer is the substance of eternal life.  It gives back to man, insofar as he is willing to live to capacity – that is to say, to give love and suffer pain – the beatitude without which he is incomplete; for it sets going, deepens, and at last perfects that mutual indwelling of two orders which redeems us from unreality, and in which the creative process reaches its goal.  There is, as Henri Bremond has said, even in the poorest and crudest prayer, “a touch of Pentecost.”  It awaits and expects the action of the Spirit, acknowledges the most mysterious and yet the most certain reality of our experience; the intercourse of the Transcendent God with fugitive man, and of fugitive man with the Transcendent God.  Yet all our [...]

JESUS: Two-Edged Sword, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)     Reflection: A  two-edged sword is one that is sharpened on both edges.  The person wielding a two-edged sword cuts another in two ways in opposite directions, leaving a huge wide-open wound.  This is why the author of Hebrews declares that God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword.  The words God speaks are alive; they achieve the purpose for which God speaks them.  In the book of Genesis, God speaks the word, “light,” and light appears.  God speaks the word, [...]

BLESSING: Blessing Of The Resurrection, by Peter John Cameron

From: Blessing Prayers Word of God Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)  Litany of Resurrection Graces Lord Jesus, by your Resurrection you have reconciled all people to God.  Risen Savior, stay with me. Lord Jesus, when you rose from the dead you blessed us with the Easter gift of peace.  Risen Savior, stay with me. Lord Jesus, by your rising you restored us to friendship with the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 15 — The Resurrection, by Joan Chittister

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Perhaps the most difficult – even spiritually dangerous – dimension of the Stations of the Cross is that lacking a sense or slightest awareness of resurrection, they leave the Christian standing at the edge of the tomb.  Numb, lost.  Bereft.  Without a single thought of what comes next.  And all of that despite the fact that Christians are not meant to be the people of the cross; Christians are the people of the empty tomb.  We are alleluia people, Augustine writes, and alleluia is our cry.  Perhaps that’s true, theologically so.  But it is not the final emotional impression of those whose immersion in the life of Jesus centers around the crucifixion in the Stations of the Cross [...]

ART: Window Twelve — Easter, The Day of Resurrection, by Michael Sullivan

From: Windows Into the Light O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the Unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) God, you promise new birth in the midst of life and you offer light wherever I find my darkness.  As you rise forth from the ashes, bring me with you along the pathway to a new hope and show me how to see my journey as an invitation to fullness in all that I encounter. Amen. Matthew 28:1-10 (Mary [...]

JESUS: Speaking Words Of God, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:The one who comes from Heaven is above all.  He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony.  Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true.  He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:31c-34)   Reflection: Several times in John’s gospel the narrator of the events gets carried away and inserts his own reflections on an event.  After narrating the account about Jesus and John baptizing and John declaring Jesus to be greater than John, the writer records a reflection about the one – Jesus – who comes from the world above (where God lives) to the Earth (where people live) to testify to what he has [...]

SAINTS: The Beloved Disciple — It’s All About Love, by Greg Friedman

From: Lent With The Saints Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4; John 10:1-9 In 1984 singer Tina Turner had a comeback hit with her recording of What’s Love God To Do With It?  Years later I drew a lot of smiles when I began an Easter Sunday homily with the song’s title.  It’s a question that explains the Easter Gospel, John 20:1-9, which tells us that Peter and the “disciple Jesus loved” came to the tomb early on the first day of the week after hearing Mary Magdalene’s report of the empty tomb. The Beloved Disciple arrives first but waits until Peter enters and sees Jesus’s burial wrappings neatly folded.  Peter doesn’t understand what he sees.  But the other [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 14 — Jesus Is Laid In The Tomb, by Joan Chittister

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Death is not a single action; it is many actions overlapping that haunt, plague, empty the soul of every strand of life and all at the same time.  It is a time of mixed emotions.  There is a relief that comes when the suffering ends.  The one we love cannot be hurt again.  And that is good. But now the focus shifts from them to us.  Everything that was glorious and challenging, uplifting, and meaningful in life has ended.  What is there left for us in life now?  Is there the means to go on?  And if the means is present, is there yet the will to go on, the energy the down-deep care of even beginning to go on again? There is the sense of weightlessness, the thought that life comes down [...]

ART: Window Eleven — Holy Saturday, by Michael Sullivan

From: Windows Into the Light O God, Creator of Heaven and Earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) God, I don’t like to wait on you.  Too often, I prefer my own ways to yours and either stay stuck in darkness or afraid to consider new life because I can’t fathom turning things over to you.  Help me to let go and let you lead and guide, and through my own cross, may I too find my empty tomb.  Amen. Matthew 27:55-66 (Sealing the tomb) Many women were [...]

JESUS: Zechariah And Mary, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:The angel said to Zechariah, “I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. (Luke 1:19, 13)     Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel likes to narrate a story about a man and balance it with a story about a woman.  He begins this literary technique with the twin appearances of the angel Gabriel to a man named Zechariah and, six months later, to a woman named Mary.  Zechariah hears the word of God as Gabriel delivers it to him, but he does not believe that he and his aged wife, Elizabeth, can conceive a child.  So, because he did not believe Gabriel’s [...]

SAINTS: Mary Magdalene — Witness To Death And Resurrection, by Greg Friedman

From: Lent With The Saints Exodus 14:15-15:1; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Matthew 28:1-10 Mary Magdalene is one of the main characters in the story of Jesus’s Passion, death, and resurrection. Mary was not a public sinner.  Nor was she the figure who anointed Jesus’s feet with her tears or wiped them with her hair.  She was, however, a faithful disciple.  Unlike the male disciples, who fled from Jesus’s crucifixion, Mary was present.  Matthew and Mark place her among those “looking on from a distance.”  Luke identifies her, as do the other gospels, with the women who went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. We can imagine what she must have endured after Jesus’s violent death.  Like anyone [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 13 — Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross, by Joan Chittister

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Now when it is finally, irrevocably over, when there is nothing left to do but to admit the loss, the inevitability of reality takes over.  Faith is bruised.  Hope is gone.  The door to yesterday has clanged shut and we are forever bereft of whole segments of our life.  We are alone – the worst word in the English language has descended on our shoulders.  And suddenly we begin to realize how limited we ourselves have always been but only now had to admit.  We are not meant to be alone. The insight crushes us to the ground.  Where is the rest of me, if not in a coffin of pain in the front of the world, never to be able to hide again? The realization that death eclipses time, that it alone [...]

ART: Window Ten — Good Friday, by Michael Sullivan

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) Today, God, I go with you as we carry the cross.  Help me to let you take my life as we walk the journey toward Golgotha, and trusting in you, let me plumb the depths of your light and love in my life. Amen. John 19:1-37 (The crucifixion) Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe.  They kept coming [...]

JESUS: Hear!, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus said to those who were around him along with the twelve, “And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:10, 20)     Reflection: Once a person is called, he or she must hear the word of God.  As the Markan Jesus puts it, Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!  After telling the parable of the sower, Jesus interprets it, explaining that the sower “sows the word,” and those who hear the word produce amazingly.  In fact, the kingdom of God grows day by day in the lives of those who hear, according to the Markan Jesus. There is an aspect of trust that is involved in hearing.  Just like no one [...]

SAINTS: Mary — A Mother At The Foot Of The Cross, by Greg Friedman

From: Lent With The Saints Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42 No mother should bear the death of her son. I heard that sentiment expressed in my family as a teenager, when my favorite uncle died of cancer in his forties. My grandmother was never the same afterward. The Stations of the Cross capture similar feelings, at the fourteenth station, popularly known as the Pietà. It is a scene full of grief, a mother holding the lifeless body of her son. John’s Passion story, read on Good Friday, depicts Mary at the foot of the cross. Standing next to the disciple whom Jesus loved, Mary hears Jesus say, Woman, here is your son. And to the Beloved Disciple he says, Here is your [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 12 — Jesus Dies On The Cross, by Joan Chittister

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience What is worse than the actual event of death is the awareness of the degree of loss that comes with it.  Simply announcing that someone has had “a peaceful death” does nothing to damp the pain of it.  When the death is a violent one, the deprivation – the sense of having been able to do nothing to have stopped the pain – burrows down into the center of the soul dark and endless. Violent death, natural or not, haunts us at night and plagues us during the day.  It stops time at the moment before the loss.  It suspends us in an orbit of pain.  Now what? What can possibly fix the lives that are left to mourn the dead who die out of time and at the hands of the uncaring, the [...]

ART: Window Nine — Maundy Thursday, by Michael Sullivan

From: Windows Into the Light Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (The Book of Common Prayer) Christ, you gently reach down and cleanse us, as a mother washes a child’s hands coated with dirt from the playground.  But many times, we turn and run away, seeking not your face nor your love in those around us.  Help us to see our place with all your children, and knowing your grace, to gather together in feast and [...]

JESUS: Called By Lot, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Peter said to the believers, “One of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us – one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.”  So they proposed two, Joseph, called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.  Then they prayed.  And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:21-24, 26)   Reflection:The Acts of the Apostles is the companion volume to Luke’s gospel.  In other words, Luke’s gospel is the first volume of a two-volume work, and the Acts of the Apostles is [...]

SAINTS: John Paul II — The Witness Of A Pope, by Greg Friedman

From: Lent With The Saints Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14; Psalm 116:12-13, 15-18; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-5 On Holy Thursday, 2003, Pope John Paul II issued his final encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, “On the Eucharist and Its Relationship to the Church.”  At the beginning of chapter one, the Pope quoted tonight’s Second Reading from Saint Paul, on the institution of the Eucharist.  The Holy Father wrote: The words of the Apostle Paul bring us back to the dramatic setting in which the Eucharist was born.  The Eucharist is indelibly marked by the event of the Lord’s Passion and death, of which it is not only a reminder but the sacramental re-presentation.  It is the sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated down the [...]

JESUS: The Dying Of Jesus, by Hubert van Zeller

The Roman soldiers watched our Lord die but gave him little attention; they were rolling dice at the time.  Zacharias, five hundred years earlier, had prophesied that they shall look on him whom they pierced.  Mary, John, and the holy women “looked on” the dead Christ but they had not pierced him.  Nor had Nicodemus and Joseph.  The crowds had gone, and the priests and Roman officials who were responsible for the piercing had not been present anyway.  So apart from the unimpressed guards, who would not have stayed on longer than they had to, to whom is the prophesy most applicable?  To ourselves.  We are not in the position of casual bystanders or military torturers: we know that here is the Second Person of the Holy [...]

JESUS: Tax Collector, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus went out again beside the sea; the whole crowd gathered around him, and he taught them.  As he was walking along, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.”  And he got up and followed him. (Mark 2:13-14)     Reflection: Besides the call narratives of Peter and Andrew and James and John, there is the call of of Levi, a very short story about a tax collector invited to follow Jesus.  The author of Matthew’s gospel alters the story he found in Mark’s gospel by omitting the detail of Jesus walking by the sea, changing the name of the tax collector from Levi to Matthew, and omitting his father’s name.  The author of Luke’s [...]

SAINTS: The Suffering Servant — “Here Is My Servant”, by Greg Friedman

From: Lent With The Saints Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34; Matthew 26:14-25 Beginning on Palm Sunday, continuing Monday through Wednesday of Holy Week, and ending on Good Friday, the Liturgy of the Word presents to us a series of four special oracles.  The poetic utterances by the unknown prophet whose writings are found in the second half of the book of Isaiah are often referred to as the “Songs of the Suffering Servant.” The identity of the Servant is unknown.  The author may have had a contemporary figure in mind, but the context of the oracles has led contemporary scholars generally to see them as describing the “ideal Israel.”  This ideal represents the people who have come through the [...]

JESUS: The Suffering Of Jesus, by Hubert van Zeller

We are told in the Fioretti that, Through love and compassion Francis was wholly changed into Jesus.  This took place initially on Mount La Verna but persisted for the rest of the saint’s life.  The transformation seems to have been immediate, though clearly Francis had been preparing for it, without knowing what was to come, since he first set himself on the way to perfection.  This kind of change is something which, less dramatically, should be taking place in all of us.  The passage quoted adds: The marks of the nails began anon to appear on the hands and feet of Saint Francis.  The word “anon” and later the word “after a space” would seem to show that the significant grace was the interior one of [...]