PRAYER: Litany For Humility

From: Our Catholic Prayers (First published on The Value of Sparrows on April 16, 2012.) The litany of humility, for private devotions, is a moving prayer that can bring us closer to Christ. Do you worry constantly about what others think of you? Do you feel empty or frustrated if you’re not the center of attention? The litany of humility asks for our Lord’s assistance in humbly following in his footsteps and casting aside, or at least offering up to him, all those nagging doubts and fears that come with our self-centeredness. Our Lord asks us in Matthew’s gospel to learn from him, “for I am meek and humble of heart,” as he is described in the first line of this prayer below. We ask in this litany, composed by Rafael Cardinal [...]

POETRY: Six Holy Week Triolets — Saturday, by L. N. Allen

Saturday To set the mind on the flesh is death. Set the mind on the Spirit for life and peace. Note where the sun rises, not where it sets. To set the mind on the flesh is death. Pray to Abba for hope. Not for breath, but for mercy, forgiveness, release. To set the mind on the flesh is death. Set the mind on the Spirit for life and [...]

POETRY: Instructions To An Artisan, by Amit Majmudar

Into the rood wood, where the grain’s current splits around the stones of its knots, carve eyelashes and eyelids. Dye the knots, too—indigo, ink-black, vermilion irises. These will be his eyes, always open, willing themselves not to close when dust rises or sweat falls, eyes witnessing, dimly, the eclipse that shawls the shuddering hill, Jerusalem’s naked shoulder. The body itself? From a wick that still whiffs of smolder, wax, because wax sloughs a smooth skein on the fingers just below sensation’s threshold. Prop the cross upright and let the tear-hot wax trickle, slow, clot, taper into a torso, thighs, calves, feet. Of Gideon Bible paper, thinner than skin, cut him his scrap of cloth; embed iron shavings in his [...]

POETRY: Six Holy Week Triolets, by L. N. Allen

Friday Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow afterward, with prayers and sighs too deep for words. Where I am going, you cannot follow now, yet though a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloe are between us, I will not leave you orphaned. Where I am going, you cannot follow now. But you will follow [...]

POETRY: Thursday, by Hannah Faith Notess

Hands harvested the grapes, and feet crushed them in the winepress. Hands held the vessel under the dark stream till the vessel ran over, sealed up the wine and carried it down to the cellar. Hands shaped the water basin on the wheel, set it to dry. Hands worked the loom that wove the towel now folded under the basin. Fingers held the needle that, hemming the towel’s edge, drew a drop of blood. Hands kneaded the unleavened dough, worked in more flour, stoked the oven coals. Hands shaped the loaves and baked them, then set the bread to cool. Hands picked and washed the bitter herbs. Hands laid the table, lit the lamps. And when supper ends and hands raise up the cup, the men will remember (though nobody will say), the hands that drew [...]

POETRY: Six Holy Week Triolets, by L. N. Allen

Thursday “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” Each of the twelve cried, “Surely, not I?” “As it was for the fig tree, it will be for the spy— Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me— Take, eat, this is my body.” He broke the bread, he passed the wine. “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” Each of the twelve cried, “Surely, not [...]

POETRY: Truly No Man Can Ransom Another, by Katherine James

Or give to God the price of his life If there is a kettle steaming It is there for the battle inside The structure that changes From water to fog And a mist rising damp to the ceiling If a person seeks to have moments And stretches during which Molecules transgress Their state and buzz unaware In temperatures worth noting Because of the changes within, Then truly it is the heat that gives life Not the ransom of another Or replacement of structure One life gives life that is life If life came from that first Boil, then reach for the heat And plunge into the horror Of molecule’s rapid chant Over and over The love the love the love Your love that ransoms [...]

POETRY: Six Holy Week Triolets, by L. N. Allen

Wednesday Walk while you have the light so the darkness may not overtake you. Believe in the light. Walk while you have the light. Become children of the light. For a little longer, the light is with you. Walk while you have the light so the darkness may not overtake [...]

POETRY: The Love Of The Cross, by Clare of Assisi

Look, I say, at the border of this mirror, that is, the poverty of Him Who was placed in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes. O marvelous humility! O astonishing poverty! The King of angels, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, is laid in a manger! Then reflect upon, at the surface of the mirror, the holy humility, at least the blessed poverty, the untold labors and punishments that He endured for the redemption of the whole human race. Finally contemplate, in the depth of this same mirror, the ineffable charity that He chose to suffer on the tree of the Cross and to die there the most shameful kind of [...]

POETRY: Six Holy Week Triolets, by L. N. Allen

Tuesday Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies it remains just a single grain. Only the fallen and buried can rise. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies it cannot grow and multiply and it thirsts, although drowned in rain. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies it remains just a single [...]

POETRY: Six Holy Week Triolets, by L. N. Allen

Monday After he cursed the fig tree, it withered to its roots. Faith can throw mountains into the sea. After he cursed the fig tree he told his disciples Trust in me, pray, walk the path, preach the truth. After he cursed the fig tree it withered away to its [...]

PRAYER: Forgive Us Lord (Polynesian)

Lord, today you made us known to friends we did not know, And you have given us seats in homes which are not our own. You have brought the distant near, And made a brother of a stranger, Forgive us, Lord… We did not introduce you. [...]

LENT: Thorns And Impediments, by Richard Valantasis

From Centuries of Holiness The ascetical struggle has often been metaphorized as a difficult hike up a high mountain.  The metaphor includes the strenuous effort required, the difficulties of climbing, and the occasional encounter of impediments on the road, especially a thorny path.  Macarius the Egyptian, a fourth-century ascetic monk, writes in particular of the encounter with thorns on the way of progress, and his vivid descriptions give important instruction about the attitude and effort in the face of thorns and other impediments.  This theory of thorns provides important information for the postmodern ascetic. The thorns, theorizes Macarius, demand that the ascetic pay attention.  Thorns cannot be ignored, because if one tries [...]

PRAYER: Father Forgive Us (Congregational)

God of our salvation, our rescue, our health: all things are yours and when we bring our hearts and hands and voice to worship, we bring you what is yours. Yet we do not serve you as we should, and the world is racked by all the tensions and outright conflicts which come from the worship of that which is less than yourself. Our goodwill towards men has no firm foundation, and crumbles at the first tremor of real testing. In our personal affairs, and in our communal judgments, we try to heal deep wounds with superficial cures. Father, forgive us. Confront us with your way of righting wrong, your strange work of redemption through the sacrificial love of Jesus. And help us to love one another as he has loved us. [...]

PRAYER: He Hath Redeemed My Life, by Eric Milner-White

Withhold not from me, O my God, the best, the Spirit of thy dear Son; that in that day when the judgment is set I may be presented unto thee not blameless, but forgiven, not effectual but faithful, not holy but persevering, without desert but accepted, because he hath pleaded the causes of my soul, and redeemed my life. [...]

LENT: Living Lent, by Barbara Cawthorne Crafton

From Living Lent: Meditations for These Forty Days We didn’t even know what moderation was.  What it felt like.  We didn’t just work: we inhaled our jobs, sucked them in, became them.  Stayed late, brought work home – it was never enough, though, no matter how much time we put in. We didn’t just smoke: we lit up a cigarette, only to realize that we already had one going in the ashtray. We ordered things we didn’t need from the shiny catalogs that came to our houses: we ordered three times as much as we could use, and then we ordered three times as much as our children could use. We didn’t just eat: we stuffed ourselves.  We had gained only three pounds since the previous year, we told ourselves. [...]

PRAYER: To Glorify His Name, by Gilbert Shaw

In these dark days when negation has so deeply entered into thought, and the futility of life oppresses many souls, when belief and unbelief appear indifferent and what is left is natural passion to express the pride of life, or the empty void of nothingness when the nerve to live and to create is weakened and suicides increase— O Lord, forgive the failures of your church to witness to the world that justice should run down as water and righteousness a mighty stream, O Lord, forgive the failure of the Christian life that lives so worldly that few can see the life of Spirit that must proclaim the kingdom of God’s love to glorify his name. [...]

PRAYER: Prayers Of Confession (Presbyterian)

Gracious God, we are a people formed by your Word in Christ; but we have wandered away from your truth, we have broken your commandments, we have distorted your teachings to serve our own ends, we have failed to trust your promises, we have refused your mercy. Ground us again, O Holy One, in the written wisdom of Scripture and in the living Word which is Christ Jesus. Nourish us on the bread of his teachings until we can taste your goodness. Renew us at the fountain of his wisdom, so we may find joy in obedience and freedom in giving ourselves to you. Amen. Manna God, who fed Israel in the wilderness, we confess that we have not fed your world. People go to bed hungry who could be nourished just on what we throw away, and we are divided [...]

PRAYER: Covering Our Sins, by Søren Kierkegaard

Your love covers the multitude of my sins. So when I am fully aware of my sin, when before the justice of Heaven only wrath is pronounced upon me, then you are the only person to whom I can escape. If I try to cover myself against the guilt of sin and the wrath of Heaven, I will be driven to madness and despair. But if I rely on you to cover my sins, I shall find peace and joy. You suffered and died on the cross to shelter us from our guilt, and take upon yourself the wrath that we deserve. Let me rest under you, and may you transform me into your likeness. [...]

FORGIVENESS: Lent 2016 — Tasting The Blood

Knowing God’s heart means consistently, radically, and very concretely to announce and reveal that God is love and only love, and that every time fear, isolation, or despair begins to invade the human soul, this is not something that comes from God. (Henri J. M. Nouwen / In The Name of Jesus) I am here at my 30th day of Lent. Thirty out of 40. Or 47, depending how long you make your Lenten disciplines. Plunging around in my imagination to find blessings from people I’ve only always associated with a grunt and a shrug is like having to go to the dentist every day and having a root canal. Being scraped and scraped and scraped.  Down to the nerve.  And then scraping the nerve. And, then, every day after the procedure, having [...]

PRAYER: Grey Clouds, by Gilbert of Hoyland

When we see dark grey clouds forming in the sky, we fear a mighty storm. In the same way, when we see the darkness of our sin, we fear the storm of your wrath. But just as in truth rain brings new life to the Earth, so you rain down mercy on our sinful souls, bringing forgiveness and peace. Be to us always like a mighty storm, raining down upon us the abundant waters of your mercy. [...]

POETRY: Solar Ice, by Paul Mariani

The sudden shock of what you really are. Early March. The tentative return of afternoons. Saturday, and Mass again. The four. All about swelling buds on beech & ash & maples. Crocuses & snowdrops trilling. Four months impacted ice at last receding from the north side of the house, and bobbing robins back & soon, soon, red- winged blackbirds strutting on the lawn. Soon too the sweet familiar groundswell of peepers in the marshes. Reasons enough to melt the frozen heart. Father lifted the host above his head & prayed: a small white sun around which everything seemed to coalesce, cohere & choir. But as I raised my head, the thought of some old insult likewise reared its head, and in that instant the arctic hatred [...]

POETRY: To Keep A True Lent, by Robert Herrick

Is this a fast, to keep The larder lean? And clean From fat of veals and sheep? Is it to quit the dish Of flesh, yet still To fill The platter high with fish? Is it to fast an hour, Or ragg’d to go, Or show A downcast look and sour? No ; ‘tis a fast to dole Thy sheaf of wheat, And meat, Unto the hungry soul. It is to fast from strife, From old debate And hate; To circumcise thy life. To show a heart grief-rent; To starve thy sin, Not bin; And that’s to keep thy [...]

PRAYER: A Monarch’s Thanksgiving And Confession, by Queen Elizabeth I

O most glorious King, Creator of the whole world, to whom all things be subject, both in Heaven and Earth, and all best princes most gladly obey, hear the most humble voice of thy handmaid, in this only happy, to be so accepted. How exceeding is thy goodness, and how great mine offences. Of nothing hast thou made me not a worm, but a creature according to thine own image, heaping all the blessings upon me that men on Earth hold most happy. Drawing my blood from kings and my bringing up in virtue; giving me that more is, even in my youth, knowledge of thy truth, and in times of most danger, most gracious deliverance; pulling me from the prison to the palace; and placing me a sovereign princess over thy people of England. And above all [...]

LENT: The Relinquished Life, by Oswald Chambers

From My Utmost For His Highest So it is ourselves that we must spread under Christ’s feet, not coats or lifeless branches or shoots of trees, matter which wastes away and delights the eye only for a few brief hours.  But we have clothed ourselves with Christ’s grace, with the whole Christ – “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” – so let us spread ourselves like coats under his feet. (Andrew of Crete) No one is ever united with Jesus Christ until he is willing to relinquish not sin only, but his whole way of looking at things. To be born from above of the Spirit of God means that we must let go before we lay hold, and in the first stages it is the relinquishing of all pretense. [...]

PRAYER: A Confession, by John Dunne

Forgive me, O Lord, O Lord, forgive me my sins, the sins of my youth, and my present sins, the sin that my parents cast upon me, original sin, and the sins that I cast upon my children, in an ill example; actual sins, sins which are manifest to all the world, and sins which I have so labored to hide from the world, as that now they are hid from mine own conscience, and mine own memory. Forgive me my crying sins, and my whispering sins, sins of unchaitable hate, and sins of unchaste love, sins against thee and against they power, O almighty Father, against thy wisdom, O glorious Son, against thy goodness, O blessed Spirit of God; and sins against him and him, against superiors and equals, and inferiors; and sins against me and me, against [...]

LENT: Meeting Christ In The Liturgy, by Fr. Cusick

From the website: The Word on the Web Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite, omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis: ut exsultetis, et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae. Laetatus sum in his, quae dicta sunt mihi: in domum Domini ibimus. Though we engage in the prayer, penance, and almsgiving of Lent, and join ourselves to our divine Lord in his trial in the desert, we never forget that the Lord has risen from the dead. Every Sunday of the year is a “little Resurrection” where we put aside penance and rejoice in the Lord’s Resurrection by which we begin now to share in his unending life. This Fourth Sunday of Lent, in particular, is named for this [...]

PAIN: A Time To Heal, by Joan Chittister

From For Everything a Season I remember the rush of insight that seeped through me the day I realized the situation.  It had suddenly occurred to me that none of us can really be sure that we understand the Book of Ecclesiastes.  What’s more, I realized that maybe no one is supposed to be able to grasp its meanings completely, in one burst of consciousness, in one gift of light.  Maybe it is supposed to come over us slowly, in layers, one bright moment at a time when life becomes new with pain, fresh with joy, different from its beginnings.  Maybe it is the very obscurity of the book of Ecclesiastes that is its meaning. The problem with the book lies in the fact that it is very deceptive.  It reads with such simplicity that, at [...]

PRAYER: Prayer Of Confession, by Eric Milner-White

O God our Father, help us to nail to the cross of thy dear Son the whole body of our death, the wrong desires of the heart, the sinful devisings of the mind, the corrupt apprehensions of the eyes, the cruel words of the tongue, the ill employment of hands and feet; that the old man being crucified and done away, the new man may live and grow into the glorious likeness of the same thy son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. [...]

FORGIVENESS: Lent 2016 — God, the Rumpelstiltskin

Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners, Whose mouth speaks lying words, And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood— That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; That our daughters may be as pillars, Sculptured in palace style; That our barns may be full, Supplying all kinds of produce; That our sheep may bring forth thousands And ten thousands in our fields; That our oxen may be well laden; That there be no breaking in or going out; That there be no outcry in our streets. Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord! (Psalm 144:11-15) I never expected this from God, to be honest. And I’m not sure there would be many who would either.  Unless they [...]