Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
The OAntiphons, one of the oldest liturgical rituals in the Church, are prayed around the world during the final days of Advent. For seven days before Christmas, we recall in these prayers a quality of Christ that must be realized before the presence of Christ can consume the world.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Help us prepare for the miracle of the coming of Jesus.
Help us not to be blind to the gifts of getting ready.
Help us be sincere in the greetings we send and receive, with love and prayer.
Kind St. Nicholas, protect us from shoppers’ fatigue, stress, overspending, yet help us to be kind and generous of heart to all, especially those who are alone, poor and fearful.
May our celebration of your feast lead others to see the true meaning of giving and receiving and to guide all people to the greatest of all gifts: Jesus Christ, prince of peace and child of Mary, Our Lord and only saviour.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
to the wonder of life.
May they let go of the hurt
that is our joyous unity with the Holiness.
May they discover through pain and torment
the strength to live with the grace and humor.
May they discover through doubt and anguish
the strength to live with dignity and holiness.
May they discover through suffering and fear
the strength to move toward healing.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen....We choke the space with continuous music, chatter, and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place.
-Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Monasteries, hermitages, and retreat centers have been created to that people who wanted to hear the still, small voice of God could turn down the deafening and disquieting cacophony of sound coming from a busy, bustling world. - John Michael Talbot
Is your world to busy and noisy? Are you looking for that place to find peace and solitude? Have you been to our retreat center? Come in and pay us a visit. We have a labyrinth you can walk for centering or for prayer. There is also a library if you would like to settle into a good book. We are more than happy to vist with you and share our Franciscan vision with someone new...maybe that's you!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Praised be my Lord God with all creatures; and especially our brother the sun, which brings us the day and the light; fair is he, and shining with a very great splendor: O Lord, he signifies you to us!
Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon, and for the stars, which God has set clear and lovely in heaven.
Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind, and for air and cloud, calms and all the weather, by which you uphold in life all creatures.
Praised be my Lord for our sister water, which is very serviceable to us, and humble, and precious, and clean.
Praised be my Lord for brother fire, through which you give us light in the darkness; and he is bright, and pleasant, and very mighty, and strong.
Praised be my Lord for our mother the Earth, which sustains us and keeps us, and yields diverse fruits,
and flowers of many colors, and grass.
Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon one another for God’s love’s sake, and who endure weakness and tribulation; blessed are they who peaceably shall endure, for you, O most High, shall give them a crown!
Praised be my Lord for our sister, the body of death, from which no one escapes. Woe to him who died in mortal sin!
Blessed are they who are found walking by your most holy will, for the second death shall have no power to do them harm.
Praise you, and bless you the Lord and give thanks to God, and serve God with great humility.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Thanksgiving is such a uniquely American holiday. While turkey, cornstalks, and the images of pilgrims and their native hosts can trace their origins to the colonization of the United States, one of the most commonly found Thanksgiving symbols is rooted in folklore.
The horn of plenty symbolizes abundance and was originally a goat’s horn, not the straw creation we see today. According to legend, it was overflowing with fruit and grain but could be filled with whatever its owner desired. It came to represent inexhaustible riches. Perhaps that is why early colonists chose it to symbolize their prosperity (or survivability) in the new world.
Regardless of its heritage, it also has a more practical meaning today. It symbolizes gratitude. Without support from people like you, we would not be here. We are grateful and thankful to you! Just as early pilgrims celebrated Thanksgiving together, we are always mindful that all of our successes come from the support of people like you.
The horn of plenty is an interesting symbol. At one end is abundance; fruit, grains and flowers fill a large funnel-like opening that tapers into almost nothingness. The greatness at the end traces its beginnings to very small, very humble origins. That is not unlike the mission and successes of the Church. We, too, can trace our origins to very humble beginnings.
Often people believe their resources may be too small to make a difference; only large gifts and huge talents can propel a mission. However, the horn of plenty does not start large. It starts with only a small point. Each of us can be that small point if we choose to be!
As regularly as Thanksgiving arrives in November each year, our experience has taught us that there are more than large gifts that sustain our Center. Rather, like the cornucopia, it is the small gifts that combine, emerge and grow together to form the abundance we know today. Thank you for all that you have done, and thank you for all that we can do together!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Incline us O God!
to think humbly of ourselves,
to be saved only in examination of our own conduct,
to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness,
and to judge of all they say and do with the charity
which we would desire from them ourselves.
Luke 6:31 says "Do to others as you would have them do to you."
As we approach Thanksgiving, who are you considering with kindness today?
Monday, November 21, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
“Stress is a perverted relationship to time. We need to slow down so that we can find our rhythm: stillness, silence, solitude. There is something intrinsically sacred in awakening to your own belonging to the divine.” John O’Donohue.
In your quietest moments, where is your attentiveness leading you? What is it that you long for?
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in hear: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.
Wherever they are, or wherever they go throughout the whole world they should not be quarrelsome, contentious or judgemental towards others. Rather, it should be obvious that they are joyful, good humored, and happy in the Lord as they ought to be, and in greeting others, let them say, "The Lord give you peace."
~St. Francis' Rule
How are you being called to be a peacemaker? Are there people or places in your life that are in need of prayers for peace? List those prayers here and let "The Lord give you peace."
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
please us back...always making little surprises and springing
them on us when we least expect them."
-Alice Walker The Color Purple
What little surprises is God springing on you lately?
Friday, November 11, 2011
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
I lost them yesterday
Among the fields above the sea,
Among the winds at play;
Among the lowing of the herds,
The rustling of the trees,
Among the singing of the birds,
The humming of the bees.
The foolish fears of what may happen,
I cast them all away
Among the clover-scented grass,
Among the new-mown hay;
Among the husking of the corn
Where drowsy poppies nod,
Where ill thoughts die and good are born
Out in the fields with God.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“The dawn comes slow and cold. Only occasionally, somewhere along the creek or on the slopes above, a bird sings. I have not slept well, and I waken without much interest in the day. I set the camp to rights, and fix breakfast, and eat. The day is clear, and high up on the points and ridges to the west of my camp I can see the sun shining on the woods. And suddenly I am full of ambition; I want to get up where the sun is; I want to sit still in the sun up there among the high rocks until I can feel its warmth in my bones.”
As winter fast approaches with its cold and dark days, it’s easy to stay curled up in bed and not be interested in our day. There are appointments, meetings, family duties…a barrage of activities that we don’t have the energy to face. But, there is a place somewhere or a loved one in our lives who beckons to us like the sun on the mountain peaks, coaxing us to see what is shiny and warm in the world. Where is that place for you? Who is that place for you? Think about it today as you set your sights on the high places!
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Grant me the ability to be alone;
May it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grasses,
among all growing things
and there may I be alone,
and enter into prayer
to talk with the one
that I belong to.
Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav
Thursday, November 3, 2011
the softness og the air,
the fragrance of the grass,
speaks to me.
The summit of the mountain,
the thunder of the sky,
the rhythm of the sea,
speaks to me.
The faintness of the stars,
the freshness of the morning,
the dewdrop on the flower,
speaks to me.
The strength of fire,
the taste of salmon,
the trail of the sun,
and the life that never goes away,
they speak to me.
And my heart soars.
Chief Dan George
During this time of transition of seasons is when nature delights us with the beauty of creation. The days a little more brisk. The sun a bit more golden. The trees alive with color. Stepping outside is stepping into the glory of creation. What are you doing this autumn to immerse yourself in such glory? What are your favorite parts of this season?
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
• The celebrations do not include images of ghosts, dead people, witches or the devil. Therefore it is not scary or morbid.
• This ritual has nothing to do with cults. It is a Catholic Christian ritual intermingled with folk culture. Going to mass is an essential aspect of this celebration.
• This celebration is not about honoring Death, but revering and fondly remembering the deceased relatives. It is an opportunity to cast a reflecting glance on the lives of our ancestors, our heritage, and ponder upon the meaning and purpose behind our existence.
• Ofrendas or altars are not for the purpose of worshipping but for offering our love and remembering our departed family members.
• It is not a sad, scary or morbid ritual. It's a day of happiness because the loved ones are being remembered with fondness. Although when in the graveyard, people tend to assume an introspective attitude. It is about Love not Fear.
• It may appear a weird ritual to those alien to the culture, but in fact it is quite similar to visiting a grave and leaving flowers or stuffed animals, and lighting a candle to remember those who have left for their heavenly abode.
• It is not a careless or daring confrontation of death. It is rather a reflective moment to muse upon one's life and the cycle of life and death.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
“I have always been drawn to the Feast of All Saints. It is a time to remember with gratitude all those persons whose goodness has inspired me in my beliefs and given me courage to act on what I believe. It is a day to acknowledge that these holy men and women have helped me find my own potential for goodness.
I think of “saints” as not only those women and men who have been canonized by the church, but all people whose lives reflect the goodness of God. Saints are not perfect people. They have their faults, idiosyncrasies and weaknesses. They have their own struggles and difficulties. Even the canonized ones are noted to have been difficult to live with because of some of their unique mannerisms. Yet, the saints are people of integrity. They have a central focus at the core of their lives: the love of God. They consistently choose to act out of that central reality, no matter how ordinary or extraordinary their lives may be.
As we celebrate this feast on November 1st, we gather to commemorate not just the martyrs or people we might tend to put on spiritual pedestals, but all those people who have drawn us to God because of who they are and how they lived.”
Monday, October 31, 2011
O sacred season of Autumn, be my teacher,
for I wish to learn the virtue of contentment.
As I gaze upon hour full-colored beauty,
I sense all about you
An at-homeness with your amber riches.
You are the season of retirement,
Of full barns and harvested fields.
The cycle of growth has ceased,
And the busy work of giving life
Is now completed.
I sense in you no regrets:
You’ve lived a full life.
I live in a society that is ever-restless,
Always eager for more mountains to climb,
Seeking happiness through more and more possessions.
As a child of my culture,
I am seldom truly at peace with what I have.
Teach me to take stock of what I have given and received;
May I know that it’s enough,
That my striving can cease
In the abundance of God’s grace.
May I know the contentment
That allows the totality of my energies
To come full flower.
May I know that like you I am rich beyond measure.
As you, O autumn, take pleasure in your great bounty,
Let me also take delight
In the abundance of the simple things in life
Which are the true source of joy.
With the golden glow of peaceful contentment
May I truly appreciate this autumn day.
Friday, October 28, 2011
What are those questions for you? Is it hard to be patient and trusting when there are no answers? Famous writer Rainer Rilke approaches the subject like this, “…don’t search for the answers which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Thursday, October 27, 2011
It is morning,
or is it just
A new beginning
or just a continuing yesterday?
How I wish for morning:
a light soft
and bleaching a night’s pain.
A new beginning,
a new day.
But I fear morning’s no longer with me.
Beginnings rarely seek me out-
I am too much with middles.
-Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro
How do you view your day? Are you an eternal planner always anticipating the next move? Or, perhaps you have that live in the moment attitude. Which ever description fits you best. The fact is, we all have an opportunity for a new beginning. J.R.R. Tolkien tells us "All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us."
So, how did you start your day?
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
“Be confident in making your needs known to one another. For each of you, to the extent that God gives you the grace, should love and nourish one another as a mother loves and nourishes her child.” ~St. Francis of Assisi~
It's hard for many of us to ask for help when we need it; we are often the caregivers of our entire family and the cliché about being the glue that holds everything together is not so far off in our crazy lives. If you are a parent or a caregiver, you understand this concept of nourishing love, the feeling of showering another with compassion, understanding and attendance to their need. On the other hand, you also understand the concept of another human being making their needs known to you, constantly in some situations. St. Francis calls us to be confident in sharing our needs with others too, reflect today on what your needs may be and make a mental list of the people in your life that you can make your needs known to.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Francis saw that the world’s noise has a way of deflecting people from the deeper realities of life. It keeps us preoccupied with the superficial at the expense of the meaningful. It deafens our souls and subdues our hearts. For Francis and other saints, monastics, and mystics down through the ages, the desire for solitude isn’t an effort to flee from the world; it’s an attempt to run toward God, to know God better, and to hear God’s voice amid the din.
Excerpt from The Lesson of St. Francis by John Michael Talbot
Do you find yourself running toward the noise? Or, away? I find that when I am not noticing it I seem to be drawn to the noise, to the busyness of life. It takes a conscious and concerted effort to turn away and find the solitude. How does the process work for you?
Monday, October 24, 2011
Our true home is in the present moment.
To live in the present moment is a miracle.
The miracle is not to walk on water.
The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment,
to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
Peace is all around us-
in the world and in nature-
and within us-
in our bodies and our spirits.
Once we learn to touch this peace,
we will be healed and transformed.
It is not a matter of faith;
it is a matter of practice.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Do you allow yourself to be in the present moment? How is this time spent? For some it is in the delight of silence and solitude. For others it is having heightened awareness of what is happening "now." How can we slow down from the hustle and bustle of life and be more in the present moment?
Friday, October 21, 2011
“When I was a youngster I wanted to go out running among the mountain peaks. And when, between two summits, a gap appeared, why not leap across the Chasm? Led by the angel’s hand, all my life long this is what happened, this, exactly.” ~Dom Helder Camara~
We all reach these ‘gaps’ in our lives where we are paralyzed by fear and anxiety because we cannot see a safe way to cross over the Chasm. All we see is a wide open canyon with no bridge or road to pass safely onto the other side. Today, can you trust that there is an angel waiting to lead you by the hand? Reflect on what that feels like to have a sense of security and companionship on your journey. Who are the angels in your life? Have you thought about the fact that YOU may be the angel guiding another across the Chasm of life?
Thursday, October 20, 2011
It’s true: Solitude, silence, and stillness help us connect to God. But God doesn’t intend that we take such spiritual riches and keep them to ourselves or hoard them away. Instead, the genius of the Franciscan approach is its balance between quiet meditation and activity in the world. Intimacy with God becomes a prelude to intimacy with and service to others.
I have found that the discipline of solitude brings three important beliefs:
- You know yourself better.
- You know God better.
- You know your purpose better.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
As Christians, we are taught that we can find hugely vibrant, potent hope in the smallest things. This has sometimes been called “mustard seed faith” because of Jesus’ words, “if you have the faith the size of a mustard seed you can say to this mountain, move from here to there and it will move. Nothing will be impossible to you.” It is a kind of law of inverse proportions.
At a minimum, religious teachers in many traditions tell us that times of fasting make our experiences of our feasts all the better. For as our Proverbs teach: “He who is full loathes honey, but for the hungry every bitter thing is sweet” (Prov. 27A:7). It is a matter of perspective. The feast of Easter is the ultimate experience of this truth for Christians.
We must be careful, however, that our notions of fasting are not left to the realm of food only, as means of self-punishment, piousness, duty and deprivation, because to do so cuts us off from the “go- spell”, the good news! Returning to that canny theologian Mame, the entire quote is, “Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” Whoa. Could it be that when we get caught up in our “to do’s” and, let’s face it, daily struggle to be humans, in certain ways we are starving to death? How do we get in on this banquet? Mame’s prescription was to receive it, celebrate it and enjoy it.
I saw a card in a gift shop recently that had a picture of a Buddhist monk, seated in meditation on a rocky cliff. Behind him the sun blazed in a brilliant blue sky. The inscription in the card read, “Nothing to do. Nowhere to go.” As I let myself drop down momentarily into the imagined experience of nothingness, it felt as if the blueness of the sky, the breezes in the canyon, the radiant stillness of the sun were all suddenly right there for me to enjoy.
Speaking personally, the invitation to simultaneously “fast from and feast on” life reframes the entire practice of fasting. It is the gift that Saint Francis holds before us in his well-loved Canticle of Brother Sun in which the Poverello or the poor one, as he was known, finds in his experience of self-emptying his place on earth in kinship with all created things, even the elements. “Praised be you, My Lord, through Brother Wind and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather through which you give sustenance to Your creatures.”
In a simple and yet ultimate way, this way of being, a way that “fasts from (fill in the blank) and “feasts on” brings us home to the planet, ourselves, our community and our Creator.
“And God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Gen: 1:31)
Monday, January 17, 2011
“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”