Prayer

PRAYER: The Underlying Rhythm Of Lectio Divina by M. Basil Pennington

February 18, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer If we are to practice lectio Divina effectively, we must travel back in time to an understanding that today is in danger of being almost completely lost.  In the Christian past the words action (or practice, from the Greek praktikos) and contemplation did not describe different kinds of Christians engaging (or not engaging) in different forms of prayer and apostolates.  Practice and contemplation were understood as the two poles of our underlying, ongoing spiritual rhythm: a gentle oscillation back and forth between spiritual “activity” with regard to God and “receptivity.” Practice – spiritual “activity” – referred in ancient times to our active cooperation with God’s grace in [...]

BLESSING: A History Of Blessing by Pierre Pradervand

February 18, 2019

From The Gentle Art of Blessing Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. (Deuteronomy 28:6) Blessing is a millennial art.  In the religious context, blessings have existed throughout centuries across almost all cultures.  Lay forms of blessings also permeate our culture in the form of housewarming parties, the European custom of mounting an evergreen on the gable of a new house once the roof has been erected, the rice thrown on newlyweds, and so on.  In some regions of the Swiss Alps, shepherds today sing out a blessing through a very primitive kind of wooden megaphone to the four cardinal directions.  North American Indians have tribal blessings for numerous occasions. Caitlín [...]

PRAYER: Septuagesima—Prayer Of The Church

February 18, 2019

From The Lutheran Church Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs. Brief silence For the church, that all who labor in her vineyard, whether for a moment or for a lifetime, may receive the reward prepared for her, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. For those who labor in the church as leaders, our pastor(s); and all deaconesses, teachers, and other servants, that they may remain faithful to the Holy Scriptures in all they say and do, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, have mercy. For all of our congregations, especially this congregation, that we would repent of quarreling and testing the Lord’s bountiful goodness and receive from him all good things that he gives us, let us [...]

PRAYER: The Process Of Lectio Divina by M. Basil Pennington

February 11, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer A very ancient art, practiced at one time by all Christians, is the technique known as lectio Divina – a slow, contemplative praying of the scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God.  This ancient practice has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, enabling us to discover in our daily life an underlying spiritual rhythm.  Within this rhythm we discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves to God, and to accept the embrace that God is continuously extending to us in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. Lectio (reading / listening) The art of lectio Divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear “with [...]

BLESSING: Everyday Blessing by Pierre Pradervand

February 11, 2019

From The Gentle Art of Blessing Many spiritual teachings and numerous mystics stress the importance for the spiritual disciple to develop a constant awareness of the divine.  The Vietnamese Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suggests this be done by striving to live in the present.  One of the great classics of Christian mysticism, The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth-century Cistercian French monk who worked in the monastery kitchen, stresses this practice as a privileged way of developing such awareness.  Such practices may not be excessively difficult in an ashram in the Himalayas, a monastery in Montana, or with fellow pilgrims during the Muslim hajj to Mecca – or even during your morning [...]

PRAYER: Prayer Of Confession Based On The Parable Of The Wheat And The Tares by Moira Laidlaw

February 11, 2019

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, [...]

PRAYER: The Prodigal Father by M. Basil Pennington

February 4, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer As Jesus spoke a very mixed crowd gathered around.  On the fringes were the big shots, the Pharisees who had all the answers, the scribes who knew the law, and the priests, the holy ones.  They looked down on the motley crew pressing in to hear Jesus – a sinful crowd that did not know the law. What was more painful to Jesus was the fact that many of the poor little ones who were listening to him readily believed that they were indeed the sinful ones.  They knew their sins too well.  They longed to hear words that would bring them peace. Jesus told them then this story. A rich man had two sons.  The older was a very righteous lad, painfully faithful to his duties.  He knew he was the firstborn [...]

BLESSING: The Gentle Art Of Blessing (Part 2) by Pierre Pradervand

February 4, 2019

From The Gentle Art of Blessing In the following months, I shared this short text with friends in different countries.  As months turned into years, I started receiving letters and phone calls from all around the world, mostly from people I had never met. A mother in a small town in Burkina Faso, West Africa, wrote, “As a result of studying your text, we bless those who harm us and pray for them.”  Mahmooudou, a man who works at the grassroots with farmers in the Mopti region of Mali, a western neighbor of Burkina Faso, shared his experience of blessing in a moving letter: I have started to turn blessing into an everyday experience, in all situations.  It has become part of my very marrow.  And each day, it fills me more and [...]

PRAYER: Sick—Jesus Heals A Man With Leprosy

February 4, 2019

From Daily Prayers Father, your Son accepted our sufferings, teaching us the virtue of patience in human illness. Hear the prayers we offer for our sick brothers and sisters. May all who suffer pain, illness, or disease realize that they are chosen to be saints, and know that they are joined to Christ in his suffering for the salvation of the world. [...]

PRAYER: It Begins With Faith by M. Basil Pennington

January 28, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer Through this little book we have been listening to the Lord.  Jesus has told us that he and the Father dwell with us, that they want to refresh us, that all things are ours and we are God’s.  We can believe all that, we know it is all true, because God has given us the gift we call faith. Faith is the ability the Lord gives us to know something is true because God has said it.  It is a precious gift because it lets us in on a whole lot – really, on the whole story: “I have made known to you all that my Father has made known to me.” Like our muscles or our minds, faith is a gift that grows by use.  Faith comes from hearing and it grows by hearing.  Each day we want to grow in faith.  [...]

BLESSING: The Gentle Art Of Blessing (Part 1) by Pierre Pradervand

January 28, 2019

From The Gentle Art of Blessing One day, about seven months after starting the practice of blessing, I was preparing a talk, “Healing the World,” for an international youth meeting in Zürich, Switzerland, when suddenly I was overwhelmed by an inspiration to record the practice of blessing that I had been living.  I felt literally like a scribe under dictation, so much so that my hand had difficulty keeping up with the ideas that flowed into my mind.  What follows is the result of that inspiration, which describes blessing as a spiritual practice and offers guidelines for incorporating the art into your everyday life. On awakening, bless this day, for it is already full of unseen good which your blessings will call forth, for to [...]

PRAYER: Safe Journey Prayer

January 28, 2019

I come before you Father God and confess my fears about traveling. I confess my insecurities about connections and times, My concerns for my safety and security, And my anxieties around this journey. I come to lay these things down and choose to put my trust in you. My faith will rise up and lead me through. My hopes will find light as I praise your name. My love will remain strong and firm holding me steady. My peace will be your peace, one that surpasses all these worries. You are with me. I am safe with you. Thank you. [...]

PRAYER: Coming Home by M. Basil Pennington

January 21, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer One of the young men who headed east in the course of the fifth century was a wealthy young man from Dalmatia who had gone to Rome to study – John Cassian by name.  John traveled widely in what we call today Asia Minor and Syria, and finally he settled in a monastery near Bethlehem.  But he was far from satisfied.  He set out again on a seven-year quest only to return to his monastery still filled with longing.  His third journey took him into the depths of the Egyptian desert where he sought out the fabled fathers of the desert.  There he came upon a wise old man who was said to be the holiest, oldest, and wisest of the fathers: Abba Isaac. John and his traveling companion Little Herman [...]

BLESSING: Blessings Returned by Pierre Pradervand

January 21, 2019

From The Gentle Art of Blessing Thanks to this gentle art, I started having rather amazing experiences.  One such incident occurred when in my position as a volunteer in a world campaign against hunger, I organized a benefit concert on World Food Day (October 16), the proceeds of which were to be sent to several peasant-farmer groups in southern Senegal.  An Afro-Caribbean orchestra managed by a friend of mine was offering its services free of charge for the concert, which had been advertised both on the radio and in local newspapers.  The technician of the large college hall where the concert was to be held showed, for no apparent reason, immense hostility toward the project from the start.  He wanted nothing to do with it.  We even [...]

PRAYER: Baptism Of The Lord—Morning Prayer Intercessions

January 21, 2019

From The Liturgy of the Hours Our Redeemer desired to be baptized in the Jordan by John; let us make this prayer to him: Lord, have mercy. Christ, you made your light shine on us by revealing yourself, —grant us the spirit of humble service to all people. Christ, you humbled yourself and received baptism from your servant to show us the way of humility, —grant us the spirit of humble service to our fellow men. Christ, through your baptism you cleansed us of every blemish and made us children of your Father, —bestow your spirit of adoption on all who seek you. Christ, through baptism you have consecrated creation and opened the door of repentance to all who prepare for baptism, —make us servants of your Gospel in the world. Christ, [...]

PRAYER: The True Self by M. Basil Pennington

January 14, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer When we were born – of course, most of us don’t remember it for ourselves, though it is all written deep in our memories – we experienced ourselves as little bundles of need.  We needed warmth, we needed stroking, we needed nurture.  All these things were very important to us.  And we yowled to get them. And most of us got them. Our consciousness expanded.  The persons who supplied these needs became very important to us.  There was a deep bonding. As we grew and our consciousness continued to expand, we became aware of how important were the things we did, our doings.  We learned that if we acted in a certain way, people would give us what we wanted.  If we kept certain people happy with [...]

BLESSING: How It All Started by Pierre Pradervand

January 14, 2019

From The Gentle Art of Blessing Bless them that curse you. (Matthew 5:44) At one point in my career, I was employed in the field of international development, working in the Swiss school system with both students and teachers.  During this time I had to make one of the most difficult decisions in my career: keep my job but accept a situation that violated the most elementary professional ethics, or quit.  (I learned later that the people who put me in this situation were actively banking on my leaving!) So, rather than commit moral hara-kiri, I quit. In the following weeks, I developed a deep-seated and all-consuming resentment such as I had never experienced before against the people who had put me in this impossible situation.  When I [...]

PRAYER: Prayer To The Three Kings by Evelyn Waugh

January 14, 2019

Like me, you were late in coming. The shepherds were here long before, even the cattle. They had joined the chorus of angels before you were started. For you the primordial discipline of the heavens had to be relaxed and a new defiant light set to blaze amid the disconcerted stars. How laboriously you came, taking sights and calculating, where the shepherds had run barefoot. How odd you looked on the road, attended by what outlandish liveries, and laden with such preposterous gifts. You came at length to the first stage of your pilgrimage and the great star stood still above you. What did you do? You stopped to call on King Herod. Deadly exchange of compliments in which there began that un-ended war of mobs and magistrates against the [...]

PRAYER: Lord, Where Are You? by M. Basil Pennington

January 7, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer History repeats itself.  We’ve all heard that.  We ask the same questions others have asked before us.  We seek the same things others have sought before us: A meaning for our lives, friends, and some kind of relationship with God that grounds all the rest. We look for a wise person who has some answers and who shows by the peace in his eyes and the serene joy in his face that these are answers that work. In recent years a lot of men and women have headed to the Far East in search of those answers.  They have gone off to India, Thailand, and even more exotic places.  Some have found something, but most have returned home to their own roots. This isn’t the first time men and women have gone [...]

BLESSING: The Gentle Art Of Blessing, Introduction by Pierre Pradervand

January 7, 2019

From The Gentle Art of Blessing Blessing has been a spiritual practice of humankind since time immemorial.  The ritualized form of blessing that usually concludes many Christian religious ceremonies is only one of the many forms of blessing found across almost all cultures.  But far from being simply a ritual that punctuates religious ceremonies, the practice of blessing has the power to enrich your life in ways you never dreamed possible, ways that I have experienced personally. This book is born of a spiritual experience that profoundly marked my life and enabled me to discover the deep meaning of the act of blessing.  Blessing rests on spiritual laws that each of us can discover so that we may live better and more fully.  My own [...]

PRAYER: Be Our Daily Star

January 7, 2019

God of all Heaven and Earth, From the breath of your love came the creation of the world. We are amazed at the vast beauty of the night sky and at the intimate nature of the love you have for us your children. Be our daily star, Guiding our lives to search for kingdom love. May we always follow your light of truth in all that we do, Forever trusting, hoping, and believing in your word. Lift our eyes tonight to see your eternal life shining brightly, Leading us home. [...]

PRAYER: Christmas Eve by Mitch Finley

December 24, 2018

From Season of Promises Marriage, which seems to us to be such a wonderful consummation of love, is only a faint shadow, a kind of symbol, of the wedding of the Spirit of God to humanity; and it is from that wedding that Christ is born into the world. (Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God) Christmas Eve, the day before the deep and holy Feast of the Incarnation.  The day before.  Can it be?  Is Advent over already?  “Time went by so quickly,” wrote singer/songwriter John Stewart, “that I didn’t see it go. / But I never saw it coming so how was I to know?” That’s life, and that’s Advent.  Over so quickly. Time, sacred time.  Weeks gone so soon, and now we verge on Christmas.  It’s such a great mystery that we find [...]

PRAYER: Fourth Sunday Of Advent by Mitch Finley

December 23, 2018

From Season of Promises In winter silence is visible: the snow is silence become visible. The space between Heaven and Earth is occupied by silence; Heaven and Earth are merely the edge of the snowy silence. Snowflakes meet in the air and fall together on to the Earth, which is already white in the silence.  Silence meeting silence. People stand silent on the side of the street.  Human language is covered by the snow of silence.  What remains of man is his body standing in the snow like a milestone of silence.  People stand still and silence moves between them. (Max Picard, The World of Silence) Do you live in a snowy land?  Or do you remember living in a snowy land at an earlier time in your life, waking up to find the world under [...]

PRAYER: Third Saturday Of Advent by Mitch Finley

December 22, 2018

From Season of Promises As truly as God is our father, so just as truly is he our mother.  In our father, God Almighty, we have our being; in our merciful mother we are remade and restored.  Our fragmented lives are knit together and made perfect man.  And by giving and yielding ourselves, through grace, to the Holy Spirit we are made whole. (Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love) One of the images of Advent: the Christmas manger scene in the church or in our home, all the figures arranged, Mary here, Joseph there, the shepherds thus, the animals just so, maybe the magi over there.  But during Advent, the season of patient waiting, the crib is empty, waiting, ready to be the resting place of the Child. What does this image of [...]

PRAYER: Third Friday Of Advent by Mitch Finley

December 21, 2018

From Season of Promises If we are not humble, we tend to demand that faith must also bring with it good health, peace of mind, good luck, success in business, popularity, world peace, and every other good thing we can imagine.  And it is true that God can give us all these good things if he wants to.  But they are of no importance compared with faith, which is essential.  If we insist on other things as the price of our believing, we tend by that very fact to undermine our own belief.  I do not think it would be an act of mercy on God’s part simply to let us get away with this! (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation) The messages and meanings of Advent are many.  Advent, oh Advent, what do you have to say to us?  Come.  Hold [...]

PRAYER: Third Thursday Of Advent by Mitch Finley

December 20, 2018

From Season of Promises The time of action does not differ from that of prayer.  I possess God as peacefully in the bustle of my kitchen, where sometimes several people are asking me for different things at the same time, as I do upon my knees before the Holy Sacrament. (Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God) A brief meditation upon Advent leads us to ask a question: Where do we find God?  In the months prior to the birth of the Christ child, what did Mary do?  According to the Gospel of Luke, Mary does not sit around contemplating the mystery of what is happening to her.  Instead, she dashes off to visit her cousin Elizabeth for three months.  No doubt she helped Elizabeth prepare for the birth of her own child. We [...]

PRAYER: Third Wednesday Of Advent by Mitch Finley

December 19, 2018

From Season of Promises You have given your holy body to strengthen my weak mind and body, and you have given your word for a lamp to my feet.  Without these two things I cannot live as I ought, for the word of God is the light of my soul, and your sacrament the bread that gives me life. (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ) Advent is a time of quiet hope and expectation.  But it is also a time to recall that we cannot live as we ought as long as we simply “go with the flow.”  The secular world bombards us daily with secular values, beliefs, and assumptions that know nothing of God’s love or a spiritual life.  Advent is a special time that reminds us that our values, beliefs, and assumptions are different.  We look forward [...]

PRAYER: Third Tuesday Of Advent by Mitch Finley

December 18, 2018

From Season of Promises There are people who cannot keep the first commandment because in their heart or hearts they are afraid to keep the second.  They look upon human love as something which competes with the love of God, not as it is – something which completes it.  This in spite of the words of Christ, who said that it is IMPOSSIBLE to love God and not to love one another, and who implored his followers with his dying breath to love one another. (Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God) Advent is not completely overwhelmed by the Great Shopping Binge.  Not completely.  In most cities and towns we also hear about activities geared to nothing more than giving to those who have less.  Food banks.  Toys for Tots.  Winter coat [...]

PRAYER: Third Monday Of Advent by Mitch Finley

December 17, 2018

From Season of Promises Radio is a machine producing absolute verbal noise.  The content hardly matters any longer; the production of noise is the main concern.  It is as though words were being ground down by radio, transformed into an amorphous mass. (Max Picard, The World of Silence) Listen.  Do you want to know a secret?  Doo-dah-doo.  Closer.  Let me whisper in your ear.  Here it is.  Advent is a quiet season, but everywhere we go we are surrounded by noises, music, words flying through the air, pummeling our ears constantly.  Often, we become dependent on the noises, music, and words produced by electronic devices.  We get jumpy and nervous if we don’t have them.  We get so we can’t cope with quiet.  Put the average [...]

PRAYER: Third Sunday Of Advent by Mitch Finley

December 16, 2018

From Season of Promises God says, “Do not blame yourself too much, thinking that your trouble and distress is all your fault. For it is not my will that you should be unduly sad and despondent.” (Julia of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love) You got trouble and distress, I got trouble and distress, all God’s children got trouble and distress.  So don’t feel like the Lone Ranger.  Thing is, it is not God’s will that we should feel bummed out all the time.  Someone said, “A sad Christian is a sad Christian.” Why do we think that if we have “trouble and distress” it must be all our fault?  Why are we so inclined to beat up on ourselves for the slightest reason?  Advent is the season of hope and expectation, hope and [...]