Formation, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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Lord Jesus, you have chosen your priests from among us and sent them out to proclaim your word and to act in your name. For so great a gift to your Church, we give you praise and thanksgiving.

We ask you to fill them with the fire of your love, that their ministry may reveal your presence in the Church. Since they are earthen vessels, we pray that your power shine out through their weakness. In their afflictions let them never be crushed; in their doubts never despair; in temptation never be destroyed; in persecution never abandoned.

Inspire them through prayer to live each day the mystery of your dying and rising. In times of weakness send them your Spirit, and help them to praise your heavenly Father and pray for poor sinners. By the same Holy Spirit put your word on their lips and your love in their hearts, to bring good news to the poor and healing to the broken-hearted.

And may the gift of Mary your mother, to the disciple whom you loved, be your gift to every priest. Grant that she who formed you in her human image, may form them in your Divine Image, by the power of your Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. Amen

~Archdiocese of Boston web site.

Hidden, Buried, and Rummaging to be Fed

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The large fox squirrel is gathering and burying a cache of nuts. Making short raspy barks, his tail twitches furiously. He sprints up and down, and then circles the black walnut tree’s trunk wanting to make sure I know how annoyed he is that I am in his territory. I mimic back his bark and laugh as he looks at me and then really begins to use some bad squirrel grammar.

Black walnut trees are a great food supply for squirrels and numerous in this region of Michigan. The rough green husk covering the shell makes the nut a sizable two inch ball, which can cause significant dents to a car shooting down a farm lane at fifty. The husk is removed by the bushy tailed marauders, and if they don’t eat the nut right then, it is buried–and if not dug up during the winter, becomes a tree.

I see farther off there are several squirrel cousins also harvesting this grove. Even though there is plenty, all are annoyed with each other at having to share their food source. My presence as I walk along the path makes them madder, and with sudden bursts they dash around chasing each other, chattering. The winner, at least for that moment, shoots a dominant glare at the other and returns to gathering. The chastised one works the far side of the tree out of sight…until the argument erupts again.

Winter is coming and these diligent creatures are preparing for the season of lack, and the challenges of remaining fed.  Instinctively they know the time is coming when their world will turn to ice and snow. It is then that they will rummage below the snow, seeking the food that is hidden beneath.

We too face times of hardship, though we lack the instincts to know when they will come. We think we have readied ourselves, tried to prepare sufficiently for those times when our world turns cold and hard. Sometimes we succeed, often, we do not.

It is then that we must intentionally seek sustenance. We start to rummage for God, looking for something we know must be there somewhere, hidden, buried and possibly left behind.

In times of hardship, we seek The Food that will nourish. The thing is we must always seek to be fed; we cannot be nourished by the Eucharist if we do not seek Jesus in it. And this being fed is not a feast of gorging all at once, but in incremental morsels.

I often rummage about looking for God, for Our Lord hidden in the visible world. I also look for Him buried beneath my anxiety, concealed by my insecurities, and am often surprised by some one else unearthing of the love I have hidden even from myself.

Image from Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons.

(11/3/2012)

Speed and Delays, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

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In the speed of technology comes delays as well…its been one of those days with communication between my brain, the computer, and web site being a bit off-kilter.

I nearly gave up being able to post a prayer, and realized that prayers, written or not, are still reliable with the Holy.

And so a late, and simple prayer today for our Sisters and Nuns is that they persevere in their prayers and good works.

That, with the words of Pope Francis’ Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, they will be rejuvenated in their commitment to share the Word of salvation. We pray that they are strengthened to resist even more so the wickedness and snares of the devil that entice us all in small and insidious ways.

Hear us, Oh Lord, in our prayers for your holy women, discerning and consecrated, who strive to lead us in faith.

Amen.

Image Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons.

 

Fullness of Truth, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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Most loving Jesus and our Lord, who have redeemed the world at the price of your Most Precious Blood, look mercifully on poor mankind, which in a greater part, lies in the darkness of error and in the shadow of death.

Shine on it the fullness of the light of truth.  Multiply, Lord, the apostles of your Gospel.  Make them fervent and fruitful.  Bless with your grace their zeal and their pains so that through them all unbelievers may come to know you and turn to you, their Creator and Redeemer.

Call back again into your sheepfold those who have strayed, and back into the womb of your only and true Church, the rebellious.  O Most lovable Savior, hasten the long-awaited advent of your kingdom on earth.  Attract all men to your sweetest Heart so that all may participate in the incomparable benefits of Redemption.  Amen.

~  Pope Pius XII

Peace Lilies and a Suicide

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In the Adoration Chapel the lights are low. On the altar the oil candles flicker behind the gold monstrance, making the Blessed Sacrament appear opaque. I am soothed when here, comfortable and comforted.

Usually I write when I come before Our Lord. There is a narrow table at the back of the chapel where I am often found leaning over a spiral pad, blue gel-pen scratching in words.

Today I chose a pew near the front. I alternate between sitting and kneeling as I pray. My knees are a bit more stiff and do not allow staying on them for very long.  As I leaned against the back of the pew in front of me, the rosary moving between my fingers taps a whispering cadence against the wooden surface.

I can hear the clock on the opposite wall clicking away the seconds. I am gently reminded and heartened at how their passing brings me closer to eternity, my reunion.

My thoughts and prayers begin to focus on a woman, near my own age, who has faced too many traumas in her life. She was recently found near death in a motel room after a failed suicide attempt.

My heart aches for her. Her feelings of being unloved and hopeless, was a pain she didn’t know how to manage, a sorrow she couldn’t navigate.

My eyes refocus from the internal vision of her and her suffering to the altar and then the body of Christ. Looking down I see three pots of Peace Lilies—one of the few houseplants capable of living in low-light environments. The larger plant is near the windows, the smaller two are in front of the altar.

What I notice is different about one of these smaller lilies is that someone has removed the dead stems and leaves. The remaining leaves are sparse but healthy looking and shine even in the dim light.

I reflect on this and the suicidal woman. I wonder if she will soon come to realize, while institutionalized, that she too is being cleansed. That all that is dead and decaying in her heart is being removed. That she will be lighter once the purging has taken place. And like the Peace Lily, her growth will continue to be healthy in environments not as intense as others she may have known.

As I ready to leave I see something I hadn’t noticed before—a single small white flower emerging from the plant. Once cleansed of the unwanted decay, there is room for flowers to bud. Genuflecting low as I exit the pew I smile to myself…the woman for whom I’ve prayed will blossom soon enough. I am eager for her to know peace.

Image pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons.

St JPII, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests and Religious

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October 22 was the Feast Day of Pope St. John Paul II’s inauguration–not of his death on August 6. In his memory, let us pray the prayer he penned:

Mary, Mother of the Church and Mother of God, to you we turn. With your “yes” you have opened the door to the presence of Christ in the world, in history and in souls, receiving in humble silence and total submission the appeal of the Most High.

Grant that many men and women may know and hear, even today, the inviting voice of your Son: “Follow Me”. Stretch out your motherly hand over all missionaries scattered throughout the world, over religious men and women who assist the elderly, the sick, the deficient, the orphans; over those who are engaged in teaching, over the members of secular institutes, the silent leaven of good works; over those who in the cloister live on faith and love and beg for the salvation of the world. Amen.

~ Pope St. John Paul II

Image Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons

My Father’s Hands

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The love of greenhousing began when I was very young. I remember being carried on my mother’s hip along a cobble-stoned path that ran the length of the greenhouses—my family had an acre under glass. We walked through the warm and humid houses, past benches of colorful flowers. I would breathe an air unpolluted by cigarette smoke and diesel fumes.

Even when days were cloudy the world within seemed bright.

Flowers and verdant greens illumined the space and gave energy to what was dull and dim. It was the Creator’s peace of silent living things.

A greenhousing memory of peace surfaced from when I was five and my father in his early thirties. He was working at transplanting seedlings, and I was working at displacing fear.

In a smaller single greenhouse wooden benches formed a U against the outer cinder block walls. In the center was a long narrow bench. I was little and could walk straight on down the aisle between, but father—a muscular and fit 5’ 4”—had to scooch sideways in a step-drag motion.

Father was often silent and brooding. He was jovial with employees, clients, and suppliers but rarely as animated with his family. The only sound that late-winter day was the clack and pop from overhead steam pipes.

The man barely acknowledged my presence as I pushed a crate from under the cobwebbed bench to within inches of his leg. I wanted to be near him. I loved my father and was terrified of his bursts of violence.

The section of bench in which he worked was filled with perlite beads that reminded me of snow. Lines of seedlings ran perpendicular across the bench in plump tangled ribbons of green. On a plank that rested on the edges of the bench he’d set one of several wooden flats—made earlier “out-back” and filled with potting soil.

His thick calloused fingers, some split at the tip, pushed easily into the sand-like beads and under the roots of seedlings. He would place his thumb on the side of an inch or two of watery stems and pull gently up. He deftly teased apart fragile seedlings and never broke a single hair-like root. Those same hands could with rapid fire movement draw his belt from pant loops and leave a child tattooed for days with welts and bruises.

With his pinky finger he plunged a hole in the flat of soil, and twirling a seedling placed its roots within. With the two fingers that previously held the tiny plant he would pinch the soil about the stem. Occasionally I would dare to glance at his sun-tanned face—from a child, a gesture of insolence. Mostly I focused on his hands. I wanted to believe that his gardener’s hands that so carefully touched plants could be just as gentle with me.

Methodically my father worked. He pulled seedlings, filled flats, stepped sideways down the aisle and lined the trays along the south wall. I remained at his side through the silent afternoon and mimicked his busy hands. I put my fingers into the perlite and pushed about the powdery beads. I plucked leaves from nearby potted plants and tucked them into the artificial soil in lines as far as my arms could reach.  I pretended they would grow. I imagined them mature. I expected to be scolded.

Stepping down from my perch I went to the moss covered spigot and filled my pink Tupperware glass with water. Back up, I leaned against the wooden bench and dribbled water over the leaves. The perlite drew down. Having watched my father do the same, I knew I had watered enough.

The dozens of flats filled were watered in. When my father walked back with the hose I knew the work was done. I got off of the crate and pushed it under the bench. Reaching over my head I grabbed my empty pink cup and headed for the door.

My father was not following. I looked over my shoulder and saw he was straightening the leaves of my endeavor instead of pulling them out. I had planted in my father’s house and felt pleased.

As a child I didn’t understand that I was not the cause of his violence. Nor was I capable of ever being “good enough” to prevent his outbursts or earn his love.

What I am left with is a questioning—if he could manage plants with gentle attentiveness, why not his children?

I was one in the fourth generation of growers and, though not one of his sons, managed to learn about greenhousing by watching him work. One legacy I chose not to continue was his violence.

The Lord promised to show mercy, especially to those most in need. I prayed this for my father, that he be freed from his torments while he lived, and that now he rest in eternal peace. I look forward to the day in heaven when my gardener’s hands will finally embrace his.

Image Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

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In their Humanness, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

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To be a Sister or Nun does not mean to be without humanness. It means that in their humanness they have offered who they are as they are to God.

Let us pray for these consecrated women that in their desires and their downfalls, in their laughter, hopes, and humility they persevere to be always all of themselves for the Glory of God.

Amen.

Image Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

In all Stages of Life, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

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O Jesus, I pray for Your faithful and fervent priests; for Your unfaithful and tepid priests; for Your priests laboring at home  or abroad in distant mission fields or in fields of war; for Your tempted priests; for Your lonely and desolate priest; for Your young priests; for Your dying priests; for the souls of Your priests in purgatory.

But above all I recommend to You the priests dearest to me; the priest who baptized me; the priests who absolved me from my sins; the priests at whose Masses I attend and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy communion; the priests who taught and instructed me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way.

O Jesus, keep them all close to Your heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.

Image Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons.