Prayer For The Rough Patches

We all have had rough patches during our lives.  These are the times when our life situations can seem to be difficult, chaotic, and uncertain.  We question why things did not turn out as we hoped; and what the future holds.  I have rediscovered a prayer written by the Trappist monk, and spiritual writer, Thomas Merton.  He included this prayer in his 1958 book, “Thoughts in Solitude.”  I discovered it on a prayer card, issued by a society dedicated to promoting his writings.  I would pray it at times, then forget about it, find it, and forget about it, again.  It does seem to pop up in my sight or consciousness during those times when I need it.  I offer it below for any of you who might need it:

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My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will, does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

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Morning Prayer – From Psalm 143

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At dawn let me hear of your kindness, for in you I trust.  Show me the path I should walk, for to you I entrust my life.

Rescue me, Lord, from my foes, for in you I hope.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.  May your kind spirit guide me on ground that is level.

For name’s sake, Lord, give me life, in your justice lead me out of distress.

(Psalm143: 8-11)

This psalm is  one of those that is recited during Morning Prayer in the Liturgy of Hours.  It is a prayer of hope, that God will be with us throughout our day, through good times, and difficult times.  It is a prayer of someone who is seeking the Lord’s guidance in one’s daily life.  No matter how mundane, how boring, how stressful our lives may be, we hope that God is guiding us.  We pray that we are open to that guidance.

Fifth Week of Lent Reflection – 2017

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise.’  Martha said to him, ‘I I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day’  Jesus told her,

‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and in me will never die.’

I think that in many ways, the above statement by Jesus is among the most powerful in Saint John’s Gospel.  It is indeed, the “Good News” that a suffering, weary world is waiting for, yearning for.

I feel, however, that these words give more than hope for eternal life, after death.  For those of us weighed down by the life’s heavy burdens; we will rise!  For those of us threatened by persecution and discrimination; we will rise!  For those of us who are in depression and despair; we will rise!  By the love and power of Christ; we will rise!


2017 – A New Year

2017-new-yearSo the year 2016 is past, the year 2017 has begun.  The world, our country has been afflicted by violence whether by state sponsored or terrorist sponsored attacks.  Many times the violence has been random.  The call of “Peace on Earth; Goodwill to all!” seems to ring hollow during this holiday season.

Our country has been through the most raucous presidential election season, since the early days of the Republic!  And it has revealed that there are deep divisions in our nation.  The concept of civil discourse and debate seems to have flown out of the window.  And we have elected a person as President that many do not respect; that others are a little concerned about his style of governance; and what it portends for the next four years

While engaged in Morning Prayer, I came across this verse from Psalm 42 “Why are you downcast my soul; why do you groan within me?  Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.”  This will be verse I think will become my new mantra for this coming year.

On New Year’s Eve, I joined my wife at a worshipping community she goes to; and participated in a Burning Bowl ceremony.  We were invited to write down on a slip of flash paper, something negative we wanted God’s help in taking away from us.  We then placed the slips in a bowl that had a small fire; which consumed the petitions.  It was very moving.

The year of 2016 has been a year of some changes for me personally.  I finally found employment at a South Shore company; starting in January, 2016.  So I will be entering my second year of employment, and it has been good.  The commute is long, two hours to and back; using commuter train and subway.  I am always telling people that at least someone else is doing the driving.

In September of this year, I will be entering my fifth year as an ordained Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church.  I cannot believe that much time has passed.  I have been assigned to three Beverly, MA, parishes; where most of my work has been liturgical, assisting at 5 of Masses celebrated in two of three parishes.  It seems a lot; but I have experienced spiritual aid, that helps me perform my sacred duties well.  The Deacon has several ways of service he offers to the Church; a service of Worship, service of the Word, and a service of Charity.  I am still reflecting and discerning what that means in my daily life.  What role should daily prayer, daily reading, and meditating of Scripture should have.  I am not where I think I should be.  Maybe, this New Year, I will find some guidance; and perhaps some improvement.

A New Year begins, a year of fear, a year of anxiety, but also a year of hope, a year of change, and a year of trust in the Lord.

Yearar

Exultation of the Holy Cross

On August 14th, throughout most the Christian world, churches commemorated the finding of the True Cross.  It was found under the leadership of St. Helen, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, during her pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  Miracles confirmed it’s authenticity; it’s wood was divided between the Churches in Jerusalem, Rome, and  Constantinople.

Those Romans who had been around during the old Empire, would have shake their heads; seeing a symbol of punishment and death, become a symbol of life and hope.

We all have our own crosses, that we have to bear, that we have to live with.  Jesus Christ calls on us to take up our crosses daily and follow him.  When we open ourselves to his Spirit; we discover that we are not only following him, but he is walking with us.  He is there, helping us bear the burden, helping us, giving us hope.

 

Terror Strikes Again!

pray for parisMy wife and I do not turn on the TV much during the day.  When I do, I am usually watching TV reruns, until it is time for the evening news.  So yesterday, I was shocked when I saw the breaking news on WCVB TV, Channel 5, about the terrorist attacks throughout the city of Paris, France.

I know the scientific research is out there explaining it, but I still cannot understand why a human person can inflict so much pain, so much suffering, on another person.  How individuals can turn the great religions of humanity, faiths that teach peace, tolerance, charity, and mercy; and use them as the reason for slaughtering so many innocent men, women, children, and themselves!

In the face of so much evil, so much suffering, so much death; you cannot blame someone losing their faith in a merciful God.  As bad as things are in the world, as much as I may, at times, give in to despair; I cannot abandon my faith in God, nor my love for my Creator.  The Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to show us the path to true peace.  God the Son, came into the world, so that by his death and Resurrection, we are freed from the fear of suffering and death.  That does not mean that we will not encounter suffering.  That does not mean we will not continue to experience death, of loved ones, and our own.  But God has shown us that there is a sunrise to defeat the darkness, that life, transformed and glorified, does exist.  That there is hope.

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.  They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction.  But they are in peace.” (Wisdom 3: 1-3)

Praying Before the San Damiano Cross

Most High, Glorious God,

Enlighten the darkness of my heart,

And give me true faith, certain hope,

And perfect charity, sense, and knowledge,

Lord, that I may carry out

Your holy and true command.

(Prayer before the San Damiano Cross – Saint Francis of Assisi)

Francis and San Damiano CrossOnce a month, I go into Boston, MA, for a meeting with my spiritual director; who is a Franciscan friar at St. Anthony Shrine on Arch St.  I was crossing that street, on my way for my July session, when I ran into two of my former co-workers.  We exchanged pleasantries; I learned that the company was still having a rough time of it.  We said our goodbyes, and I entered the Shrine.  Now this all took place on July 7th, I was entering the seventh month of unemployment.  I have been sending electronic job applications, three to six of them on a weekly basis.  To date, I have had two telephone interviews, each lasting, on average, about fifteen minutes.  I have been to several job fairs, left resumes with prospective employers; never heard anything back.  Life is getting a little “interesting.”

Usually, when I enter the first floor chapel of the Shrine, I go to the left side, where the tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament.  That day I went to the right side of the chapel, where in the sanctuary is a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, praying before a large representation of the San Damiano cross.  The original cross was in the Assisian chapel of San Damiano, where a young Francis went to pray.  The origins of the cross are shrouded in mystery, but it is made in the Byzantine icon style.  Praying before the cross, Francis heard the voice of Jesus speaking from the cross: “Francis, rebuild my church!”  The rest, as they say, is history!

I seated myself before the large replica of the San Damiano cross, and began to pray, saying over and over the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”  I was focused on the face of the Crucified Jesus.  I was drawn to the eyes, which are unique.  I cannot describe the experience, only to say that at that moment, I was in a different space.  The anxieties, the concerns, the worries, suddenly disappeared from my consciousness, if only for a moment in time.  A light dispelled the darkness that was in my heart.

Many of us, perhaps most of us, when times get tough, will pray to God for some kind of miracle that will solve all of our problems.  Usually we are hoping the Lord will influence the interviewer, or we will win the Lottery!  And miracles can happen, will happen, and does happen!  But what we can really hope; what we need to be aware of is that we are never alone.  We may be carrying a burden, but we do not carry it alone.  Jesus calls us to take up our crosses daily, and follow him.  The One who carried his cross to Calvary, knows our suffering, knows what pains, and fears weigh us down.  He is walking with us, encouraging us onward.  His Spirit is within us, filling us with peace, with hope.  We need only to keep our hearts; our souls open to that light.  And hear Jesus assure us, that over that dark hill of Calvary, a new dawn does await us!