PRAYER: Faith And Beliefs—The Faithfulness At The Heart Of All Things by Brother David Steindl-Rast

November 20, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer The idea behind all this [living by the Word of God means feeding on it] is one of the deepest insights in the Bible: God speaks.  What does this mean?  It is image language, of course.  But what experience stands behind the idea that God speaks?  It is the experience of listening with our heart.  For there is an aspect to that experience which we overlook all too easily.  When we truly listen with the heart, we do not merely overhear something that is going on “out there,” with or without us, regardless.  No. We find ourselves addressed.  We realize in a flash: Whatever is “out there” concerns us, because it is somehow concerned with us, it is “toward” us in some mysterious [...]

PRAYER: Hear My Voice by Pope John Paul II

November 20, 2017

To you, creator of nature and humanity, of truth and beauty, I pray: Hear my voice, for it is the voice of the victims of all wars and violence among individuals and nations. Hear my voice, for it is the voice of all children who suffer and who will suffer when people put their faith in weapons and war. Hear my voice when I beg you to instill into the hearts of all human beings the vision of peace, the strength of justice, and the joy of fellowship. Hear my voice, for I speak for the multitudes in every country and in every period of history who do not want war and are ready to walk the road of peace. Hear my voice and grant insight and strength so that we may always respond to hatred with love, to injustice with total dedication to [...]

POETRY: The Rosary by Frances Caryll Houselander

November 15, 2017

In the doorway of a low grey house, built of stones as old as the Crusades, a woman of Bruges sits in the sunlight, among the flowers, saying her Rosary. She seems to be carved out of season walnut and polished smooth by the constant touch of the hand of God, and the beads that twine her crippled fingers are scarlet berries on the thorny twigs. The running rhythm and the repetition of the Paters and the Aves is like the rhythm that in nature moves through the seasons from seed to harvest with the unity and the pause and stress of music; like the bloodstream of Christ, that flows through the seasons from Advent to Easter in the Liturgy of the Church, the ebb and flow of the tide of love in the Mystical Body of Christ. II God has given His [...]

PRAYER: Four Prayers by Frances Caryll Houselander

November 13, 2017

Descend, Holy Spirit of Life! Come down into our hearts, that we may live. Descend into emptiness, that emptiness may be filled. Descend into the dust, that the dust may flower. Descend into the dark, that the light may shine in the darkness. Amen. Be born in us, Incarnate Love. Take our flesh and blood, and give us your humanity; take our eyes, and give us your vision; take our minds, and give us your pure thought; take our feet and set them in your path; take our hands, and fold them in your prayer; take our hearts and give them your will to love. Amen. By your heaviness and fear in Gethsemane, comfort the oppressed and those who are afraid By your loneliness, facing the Passion while the Apostles slept, comfort those who face evil alone [...]

PRAYER: Faith And Beliefs—The Ascent Of Faith by Brother David Steindl-Rast

November 6, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer The faith of the heart, our primordial faith, is something we have all experienced in our peak moments of aliveness.  How did we experience it?  As simple trust, as confidence: trust in life; confidence that we won’t be let down.  At those moments, when we live from our heart, we are in touch with the heart of things.  Spontaneously we realize: “There is faithfulness at the heart of all things,” as Oscar Cullmann put it so well.  Spoken or unspoken, this conviction of faith is the root from which our beliefs spring.  It is the touchstone also to test beliefs.  If they are genuine, they will express that core conviction and so serve as helpful reminders.  Beliefs can never replace the [...]

PRAYER: For Unity Of Faiths by Thomas Merton

November 6, 2017

O God, we are one with you.  You have made us one with you.  You have taught us that if we are open to one another, you dwell in us.  Help us to preserve this openness and to fight for it with all our hearts.  Help us to realize that there can be no understanding where there is mutual rejection.  O God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely, we accept you, and we thank you, and we adore you, and we love you with our whole being, because our being is in your being, our spirit is rooted in your spirit.  Fill us then with love, and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways, united in this one spirit which makes you present in the world, and which makes you witness to the ultimate reality that is [...]

PRAYER: Faith And Beliefs—The Heart Of Faith by Brother David Steindl-Rast

October 30, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Faith is trust and courage.  Its opposite is fear – or, rather, fearfulness, unhealthy fear.  What, do you think, is the most often repeated commandment in the Bible?  Think twice.  It is this: “Fear not! – Be not afraid!”  If it is the courage of faith that makes us perfect, what we must most urgently get rid of is fear.  Faith courageously sets out toward the Promised Land, but fear holds on to anything it can get hold of, and so it weighs us down, slows us down.  Faith is courage to let go.  Fear clings. There is something healthy in this clinging of fear.  Doctors or midwives sometimes test a newborn baby by shaking the table on which it is lying or by causing it a little fear in [...]

PRAYER: The Lord’s Prayer From New Zealand

October 30, 2017

From The New Zealand Prayer Book Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, Source of all that is and that shall be, Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is Heaven: The hallowing of your name echo through the universe! The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world! Your Heavenly will be done by all created beings! Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on Earth. With the bread we need for today, feed us. In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us. In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us. From trials too great to endure, spare us. From the grip of all that is evil, free us. For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and for ever. [...]

PRAYER: Faith And Beliefs—Faith Walks by Brother David Steindl-Rast

October 23, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer There is another decisive beginning in the Biblical history of faith, the starting point of God’s covenant with Abraham.  This time the account starts by telling us that Abraham was now ninety-nine years old.  Since one hundred stands for perfection, we are alerted here that our Father in Faith is still not quite perfect.  So God appears to Abraham and says, “I am El Shaddai,” (Genesis 17:1).  That means, according to one way of reading that Hebrew name of God: I am the One who sets the limit; who tells you what “enough” means, who determines the measure of fullness and perfection.  And what is it that Abraham is still lacking?  “Walk in my sight and be perfect.”  This is [...]

PRAYER: Black Elk’s Earth Prayer

October 23, 2017

Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on Earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you – the two-legged, the four-legged, the wings of the air, and all green things that live. You have set the powers of the four quarters of the Earth to cross each other. You have made me cross the good road and road of difficulties, and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in, day out, forevermore, you are the life of things. Hey! Lean to hear my feeble voice. At the center of the sacred hoop With tears running, O Great Spirit, my Grandfather, With running eyes I must say The tree has never bloomed. Here I stand, and the tree is withered. Again, I [...]

PRAYER: Faith And Beliefs—Trusting Courage by Brother David Steindl-Rast

October 16, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Suppose our argument thus far is convincing.  Suppose we agree that gratefulness is that fullness of life for which all of us are thirsting.  Then the task ahead is simple enough: to learn to live gratefully.  The key question is: How shall we go about it? Earlier on, when we spoke of learning to live prayerfully, I suggested that we take the most prayerful moments in our daily life and start from there.  This gives us the advantage of starting with something we already know from experience.  In certain situations we have experienced an inner attitude that we consider prayerful; now the task is to approach not only some but all situations in that attitude.  At least we already know what it is [...]

PRAYER: Prayer Of Confession, 19th Century India

October 16, 2017

Like the bounding stag I have sought sensual pleasures and fallen into the lake. I am the greatest sinner among sinners, unwilling to part with even a grain of rice to the noisy crow. Like the fly buzzing about without any rest, I seek. O, Father, tell me what to do that I may not die without your grace, and grant me your grace to support me. Like the bull bearing heavy burdens, I have toiled carrying the load of my own grief. Not knowing anything, I have roamed like the unclean animal feeding upon the refuse of the streets. I am lower than the dog, which tires itself out with barking in utter thoughtlessness. Holy Father, what can I do to obtain your grace to support me in my distress? I have taken pride in regarding my darkness as light [...]

WISDOM STORY: Providence by Nathalie Leone

October 12, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom A priest had shut himself in his cell to write a sermon on divine providence. Suddenly he heard an explosion.  The dam that protected the small town had just given way and the river burst its banks in a roar of flood water that swept along everything in its path. The priest, distraught, was about to give way to panic when he caught sight of his sermon on divine providence.  He pulled himself together and calmed down. The village was flooded and most people stayed cloistered indoors.  Some of them, however, did venture out, waist-deep in water, in search of help.  A rescue boat soon arrived under the presbytery windows. The rowers called out to the priest, gesticulating to him. “No, no,” he said to [...]

PRAYER: Contemplation And Leisure—Responding From The Heart by Brother David Steindl-Rast

October 9, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Contemplation Leisure (ideal) (give) Vision (order) Meaning (yourself) Play (practical) (take) Action (realization) Purpose (in hand) Work As we recover this comprehensive sense of the term contemplation, we are restoring a key term of Christian spirituality to its full significance.  But we are doing much more.  We are rescuing contemplation from specialists and returning it to all those to whom it belongs as their birthright, to every human being. Far too long has contemplation been regarded as the private domain of contemplatives.  Contemplatives in this impoverished sense were only those who were preoccupied with the vision of meaning and withdrew from purpose and action.  They often set an [...]

PRAYER: Prayers By Chinese Christian Women

October 9, 2017

Prayer when opening a door I pray thee, Lord, to open the door of my heart to receive thee within my heart. When washing clothes I pray thee, Lord, to wash my heart, making me white as snow. When sweeping floors I pray thee, Lord, to sweep away my heart’s uncleanness, that my heart may always be pure. When pouring oil I pray thee, Lord, to give me wisdom like the wise virgins who always had oil in their vessels. When posting a letter I pray thee, Lord, to add to me faith upon faith, that I may always have communication with thee. When lighting lamps I pray thee, Lord, to make my deeds excellent like lamps before others, and more, to place thy true light within my heart. When watering flowers I pray thee, Lord, to send down spiritual [...]

WISDOM STORY: Prayers Heard! by Nathalie Leone

October 5, 2017

From: Christian Stories of Wisdom Two men in conversation were seated on the edge of a pubic fountain whose fine jet of water splashed them gently. The first man said: “When I need a favor, either for myself or others, I ask for it on my knees, behaving with the good Lord as I would with a merchant who seeks only to dispense his surplus knowledge.  And I pray, ask, and beg.” “Are your prayers always answered?” asked the other man, skeptical. “Always.  Either the favor is granted or I feel my will merge in such a manner with God’s will that, at that very moment, I wish for everything he wishes [...]

PRAYER: Contemplation And Leisure—To Work Playfully by Brother David Steindl-Rast

October 2, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer This brings us to the topic of leisure.  To recover a healthy understanding of leisure is to come a long way toward understanding contemplation.  But few words we use are as misunderstood as the word “leisure.”  This shows itself right away when we speak of work and leisure as a pair of opposites.  Are the two poles of activity really work and leisure?  If this were so, how could we speak of leisurely work?  It would be a blatant contradiction.  We know, however, that working leisurely is no contradiction at all.  In fact, work ought to be done with leisure, if it is to be done well. What then is the opposite of work?  It is play.  These are the two poles of all activity: work [...]

PRAYER: An African Canticle

October 2, 2017

All you big things, bless the Lord Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria The Rift Valley and the Serengeti Plain Fat baobabs and shady mango trees All eucalyptus and tamarind trees Bless the Lord Praise and extol him for ever and ever. All you tiny things, bless the Lord Busy black ants and hopping fleas Wriggling tadpoles and mosquito larvae Flying locusts and water drops Pollen dust and tsetse flies Millet seeds and dried dagaa Bless the Lord Praise and extol him for ever and ever. [...]

PRAYER: Contemplation And Leisure—Building The Temple by Brother David Steindl-Rast

September 25, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Those who first introduced the term “contemplation” into our Christian vocabulary, in spite of the fact that it still was a technical term of the rival Roman religion, must have found it irreplaceable.  They may well have been aware that contemplation stands for a primordial and universal human reality.  They realized, for sure, that the concept was central to Biblical tradition.  It stands behind a whole theology of the temple, connecting Moses, the great contemplative, with Solomon’s temple and with the temple that Divine Wisdom builds; with Jesus Christ, in whom both Wisdom and the temple are seen personified; and with his body, the new humankind, temple of the Holy Spirit. [...]

PRAYER: Celtic Blessing — Lord Of My Heart

September 25, 2017

Source unknown Lord of my heart, give me vision to inspire me, that, working or resting, I may always think of you. Lord of my heart, give me light to guide me, that, at home or abroad, I may always walk in your way. Lord of my heart, give me wisdom to direct me, that, thinking or acting, I may always discern right from wrong. Lord of my heart, give me courage to strengthen me, that, amongst friends or enemies, I may always proclaim your justice. Lord of my heart, give me trust to console me, that hungry or well-fed, I may always rely on your mercy. Lord of my heart, save me from empty praise, that I may always boast of you. Lord of my heart, save me from worldly wealth, that I may always look to the riches of Heaven. Lord of my heart, [...]

PRAYER: Contemplation And Leisure—The Sense of Measure by Brother David Steindl-Rast

September 18, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Stonehenge, the mysterious monument in England, more than three and a half thousand years old, is a circular arrangement of enormous rock pillars.  There are scores of them up to thirty feet in height and fifty tons in weight.  No one knows by what ingenious means they were moved to this place from a quarry twenty miles away or how they were capped with huge slabs of rock for lintels.  No one is even sure who accomplished this feat.  Neither the ideas that bound them together nor the ideals that inspired their common effort are known to us.  All is shrouded in the darkness of pre-history.  We look at the intricate pattern of pillars, ditches, banks, and pits as we would look at runes inscribed [...]

PRAYER: A Hermit’s Desire attributed to Saint Kevin

September 18, 2017

I wish, ancient and eternal King, to live in a hidden hut in the wilderness. A narrow blue stream beside it, and a clear pool for washing away my sins by the grace of the Holy Spirit. A beautiful wood all around, where birds of every kind of voice can grow up and find shelter. Facing southwards to catch the sun, with fertile soil around it suitable for every kind of plant. And virtuous young men to join me, humble and eager to serve you. Twelve young men – three fours, four threes, two sixes, six pairs – willing to do every kind of work. A lovely church, with a white linen cloth over the altar, a home for you from Heaven. A Bible surrounded by four candles, one for each of the gospels. A special hut in which to gather for meals, [...]

PRAYER: Prayers And Prayerfulness—Genuine Prayer by Brother David Steindl-Rast

September 11, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Once we realize how the interplay between prayerfulness and prayers builds the temple of our prayer life, we should be able to ask the right questions to see where we stand in this process and how we need to proceed.  Our prayers have a twofold relationship to our prayerfulness, as we have seen.  Prayers both express and reinforce our prayerfulness.  Hence we need to ask two basic questions: Are my prayers a genuine expression of my prayerfulness?  Do they make me more prayerful? Since these two questions go to the heart of the matter, we can use them to check both prayers in community and prayers by ourselves.  The context will be so different, however, that we shall here test these two areas [...]

PRAYER: A Pilgrim’s Plea attributed to Saint Brendan

September 11, 2017

Shall I abandon, O King of mysteries, the soft comforts of home? Shall I turn my back on my native land, and my face towards the sea? Shall I put myself wholly at your mercy, without silver, without a horse, without fame and honor? Shall I throw myself wholly on you, without sword and shield, without food and drink, without a bed to lie on? Shall I say farewell to my beautiful land, placing myself under your yoke? Shall I pour out my heart to you, confessing my manifold sins and begging forgiveness, tears streaming down my cheeks? Shall I leave the prints of my knees on the sandy beach, a record of my final prayer in my native land? Shall I then suffer every kind of wound that the sea can inflict? Shall I take my tiny coracle across the [...]

PRAYER: A Hymn Of Praise by An Irish Monk

September 4, 2017

Hail to you, glorious Lord! May chancel and church praise you, May plain and hillside praise you, May the three springs praise you, Two higher than the wind and one above the Earth, May darkness and light praise you, May the cedar and sweet fruit-tree praise you. Abraham praised you, the founder of faith, May life everlasting praise you, May the birds and bees praise you, May the stubble and the grass praise you. Aaron and Moses praised you, May male and female praise you, May the seven days and the stars praise you, May the lower and upper air praise you, May books and letters praise you, May the fish in the river praise you, May thought and action praise you, May the sand and the earth praise you, May all the good things created praise [...]

PRAYER: Prayers And Prayerfulness (Part Two) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

August 28, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer The Art of Prayer We need only watch little children in their playpen to realize how perfectly they combine concentration with wonderment.  Often they are so concentrated on sucking the ear of a toy rabbit or simply on wiggling their toes that you might have a hard time trying to divert their attention to something else.  If only our children could grow up without losing their power of recollectedness.  How often adults destroy that gift with the best intentions.  Children have a need to stand and look.  A simple thing may absorb their attention for a long time.  But then you see everywhere adults pulling children out of their wonderment and concentration.  “Let’s go.  We have no [...]

PRAYER: Prayer For Understanding by Athanasius

August 28, 2017

Anyone who wishes to understand the mind of the sacred writers must first cleanse his own life, and approach the saints by copying their deeds.  Thus united to them in the fellowship of life, he will both understand the things revealed to them by God and, thenceforth escaping the peril that threatens sinners in the judgment, will receive that which is laid up for the saints in the Kingdom of Heaven. Of that reward it is written: “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man the things that God hath prepared” for them that live a Godly life and love the God and Father in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom and with whom be to the Father himself, with the Son himself, in the Holy Spirit, honor and [...]

PSALMS: The Blessing Of Morning Prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

August 22, 2017

From Psalms The entire day receives order and discipline when it acquires unity.  This unity must be sought and found in morning prayer.  It is confirmed in work.  The morning prayer determines the day.  Squandered time of which we are ashamed, temptations to which we succumb, weaknesses and lack of courage in work, disorganization and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our conversation with other men, all have their origin most often in the neglect of morning prayer. Order and distribution of our time become more firm where they originate in prayer.  Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God.  Decisions, demanded by work, becomes easier and simpler where they [...]

PRAYER: Prayers And Prayerfulness (Part One) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

August 21, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Making Prayers Prayer May we presume that everyone knows what prayer is?  From one point of view the answer is, “yes.”  Every human being knows prayer from experience.  Have we not all experienced moments in which our thirsting heart found itself with surprise drinking at a fountain of meaning?  Much of our life may be a wandering in desert lands, but we do find springs of water.  If what is called “God” means in the language of experience the ultimate Source of Meaning, then those moments that quench the thirst of the heart are moments of prayer.  They are moments when we communicate with God, and that is, after all, the essence of prayer. But do we recognize these [...]

PRAYER: Prayers Of Antony Of Egypt

August 21, 2017

When the holy Abba Antony lived in the desert he was beset by despair, and attacked by many sinful thoughts.  He said to God, “Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction?  How can I be saved?”  A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Antony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray.  It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him.  He heard the angel saying to him, “Do this and you will be saved.”  At these words, Antony was filled with joy and courage.  He did this, and he was saved. When the same Abba Antony thought about [...]