Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Free Car Wash

It was a day of United Way meetings today, budgets, audits and strategic planning. I was returning home in the bright afternoon sun, considering the possibility of a chocolate shake or an ice cream cone and some time out on the deck, when I passed by the neighbor’s girls holding up signs: Free Car Wash.

I slowly drove past and parked in my drive, then walked back to them. “Free car wash,” I asked? “Yes,” they said in unison,“Free.” “Why is it free,” I asked? “Because, it’s fun!!”

I turned to their mom, who was washing screens nearby. She shrugged and said: “They washed mine and said they wanted to do more, so I told them to make a sign. You’re welcome to take them up on their offer, but I don’t think they offer any satisfaction guarantees.” I said to the girls: “Okay, I’ll be right back.” As soon as I parked in their drive they began spraying water, and I had to rush out of the way to keep dry. I could see their point: yes, they were having fun.

The soap went on everywhere, then they sponged every spot, being careful to get under the bumpers. They each did a wheel, and the littlest got to do the extra one. As they worked, I asked: “It’s free, but do you accept tips?” They stopped momentarily and looked at one another. Then in unison, again, they said: “Sure!” The rinsing got a bit rowdy, and their laughter picked up. Finally they were done rinsing.

I looked at the dripping car for a moment, then asked: “Done?” “Yes!” they said, smiling. (Of course they’re done, stupid, their sign did say “Free Car WASH,” didn’t it?) I offered my tip to them and they quickly huddled to check their take. There were big smiles and thank you’s.

A sunny day, a free car wash, and happy children’s smiles. For all the words I’ve written here, I can think of no better way for you to ease your worries and “Do Not Be Anxious”. The next time you see some little kids and a roadside sign for “Lemonade”, or a “Free Car Wash”, please stop. You won’t regret it --- even if you get a bit wet.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I am not a prophet.

A dear friend wrote to me about my “Writing on the Wall” post: “This is a little curmudgeony!” I love her as close as a daughter and I know she means me well, but she did not understand the message I wrote. My dear friend didn’t see the connection between a city accepting TARP money for unnecessary construction and my example of Ford preparing for dire times. She looked on them as not-too-interesting stories, irritated commentaries from her crusty old dad.

I do not intend to waste your time and mine, my friends, with stories or rants. I write of things which have opened my mind; I offer them that perhaps they may open yours. It is why I suggest they are meditations, rather than “interesting” things. But yet I humbly admit, your mind may already be opened much more than mine; I am not a prophet, nor do I claim wisdom. I do not seek to convert you in any way to my thinking on any matter. I only say that my mind was opened by my thoughts, but, for all others who also may not have seen the connection I perceived in what I wrote, I offer this parable:

A disaster strikes a farming community; all the crops are wiped out by pests. The fields will yield no food. The farmers are shocked at what they see; this has never happened before; they can’t comprehend fully the disaster, the starvation which awaits them. And then a neighbor visits one of the farmers and brings over a large roast. The farmer stares at the roast incredulously and thinks: “What do I say and do now? Perhaps my neighbor who has never faced crop failure does not perceive the coming disaster --- should I politely refuse the roast, for surely he will need it in days ahead? Or shall I accept the gift and celebrate tonight, for surely we will both starve no matter what I do? Or do I take his gift and save it for myself, for when I am really starving?”

Now the farmer in this story is not a prophet. He just knows farming; by circumstances of life, that is what he is, and what he knows. I am a business and financial analyst by the circumstances of my life. Like the farmer who sees starvation coming, I see great financial difficulties for cities, states, and even our country coming. (Some people at Ford saw dire times coming.) The farmer was offered a gift he did not need --- right now --- even as my city was offered TARP money by the federal government. I didn’t tell you what the farmer did with the offer of the roast in my parable, but I believe he should have politely refused it. My city accepted the TARP money. (Ford refused bailout money.)

Now the farmer, despite all his experience may be wrong. Perhaps somewhere, somehow, there is excess food available which he may buy or be given --- although he knows of no such place. Perhaps his fields will miraculously be re-seeded and the plants will grow in record time so he still will have a needed harvest. Perhaps, but he views this as much less likely than gifts falling from the sky, or from other areas unknown. No, the farmer is not a prophet, but he can see the handwriting on the wall, and he will take whatever action he can to preserve what little food and money he has left. He will take actions he has never considered in the past. He will accept any offer of advice. (These are the type of actions Ford took.) And yes, if starvation has entered his household, he will even then accept the offer of food from his also starving neighbor. But not before.

I perceive, as the farmer does, that our cities, states, and country are facing down times. I see the writing on the wall, even as Ford did, as I wrote in my original post. Perhaps I do not know of aid to our governments to be had from across our borders or elsewhere; perhaps miracles might happen to save us, or ease the pains. I read much, to try to understand if perhaps I am wrong in my interpretation of the “handwriting” I see – there certainly are others more intelligent than I. I look for their wisdom. I read of some other Christians predicting that these are the end-times – Jesus speaks to them, they say; these writers trouble me because Jesus said in Scripture that only the Father knows the date of the end. I will think on all these things, but meanwhile, I will take action, even as I have described the farmer in the parable might do. Until I starve myself, I will offer a roast, while I have one, to my starving neighbor. I will offer advice on how he might delay disaster, or minimize its impact. And even if he says (perhaps in his ignorance; perhaps in his wisdom) that he needs none of these things, I will pray for him.

But I will not do nothing. I will not accept gifts which I do not direly need from those too blind to know they will need those gifts. I will not seek to take from my neighbor, but rather to give to him. And I fear whatever I do is wrong only if it is too little. (Mt 25:41-46)

I read this morning’s prayers:
Look kindly on all who put their trust in our prayers, fill them with every bodily and spiritual grace. Give us your Spirit, Lord.

Father, may everything we do begin with your inspiration and continue with your saving help. Let our work always find its origin in you and through you reach completion. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns forever with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Eucharist II

Another Sunday morning. Another mass at which we celebrate the Eucharist. Why is this so important?

Passover --- Remembering the Freeing of His People
His people lived in slavery in Egypt.
An innocent lamb was slain; it’s blood was used to shield them from God’s just vengeance.
The lamb’s flesh was then eaten during a meal of thanksgiving, which was the people’s final act before passing over from the house of bondage into a new life of freedom.
His people were commanded to repeat this meal, in thanksgiving (The Passover). It was a sign of the covenant.
Moses led his people forth into their new earthly life.

Eucharist --- Remembering the Freeing of His People
His people lived in sin.
An innocent lamb, Jesus, was slain; His blood was used to shield them from God’s just vengeance.
The Lamb’s flesh was then eaten during a meal of thanksgiving (The Last Supper), which was the people’s final act before passing over into a new life of freedom.
His people were commanded to repeat this meal, in thanksgiving (The Mass). It is a sign of the new covenant.
The priest prays at each mass: “May this Body and Blood of Christ bring us to everlasting life.”

Eucharist means “Thanksgiving” in Greek.

What don’t you understand about its importance?

Learning From God

As I leave my car for the short walk to church, I turn and see the full moon in the clear night sky. I say a Hail Mary for our country. “Mary, He said He would not destroy Sodom if He could find but ten righteous men there. Are there not ten in our country? Mother, please pray for His mercy on us.”

Inside the Adoration chapel, in front of me and before God, a student studies. He looks serious as he pores over the text, glancing occasionally at his notes. Perhaps he is studying for a test; perhaps he studies Scripture; I do not know. Sometimes he pauses and stares at the monstrance, and the large host it contains.

I wish I had the opportunity when I was studying to study – and pray – before the Blessed Sacrament: “Lord, guide my thoughts. Teach me what You would have me know. Strengthen my heart and mind, that I might never forget it.” Were those opportunities there in my life, but I failed to see them? Was God calling to me; was I too distracted to hear?

So much of my college learning was quickly forgotten. Useful data for passing a test, but with no thought of how it might be useful in my life. I wish I had the chance to pray for Wisdom, as I studied. I wish I had the chance to be in the presence of God, to make my efforts a holy thing. I could have, perhaps, learned so many lessons --- the easy way.

My cell phone buzzes. A friend texts me: “Please pray for my mom.” I respond: “I am” and then pause to ask Jesus for His mercy. The disruption does not disturb me; is this not what friends are for? These friends are some of the sheep He brings into my life, the lambs He gives me the opportunity to bring close to His care that they might not be lost – or afraid. I tell Him they need Him and His Holy Spirit, now (Lk 9:23). I trust in the Shepherd.

How can you love someone, if you don’t pray for them?

The student kneels and extends his arms wide, opening his heart to God. He bows, picks up his texts and leaves the chapel.

Remembering my earlier prayer I think: “Is he a righteous one, God?” I hear only silence.

Even as he leaves, a couple walks in and prays a few moments, to seek His presence and His will. It’s late at night, but not too late to spend some time in prayer with God.

It’s never too late --- to seek His Wisdom, or pray for His mercy: for our country, or for our friends. Or for ourselves.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Writing on the Wall

I was stopped by construction this morning and, well, it irritated me. It caused me to drop yet another letter to the local newspaper editor. Considering the call here, to not be anxious over events, especially those over which we have no control, I think it appropriate I show you the letter. While we should not be anxious, God is in control, yet it points to just one example of how we SHOULD take actions.

I won't do any research on Scripture or the saints' writings to find appropriate supporting quotes, but suffice it to say that God does not expect us to TOTALLY rely upon Him; He does expect us to take action where we can. Sometimes we don't like to do that because it is hard, but He never offers us that excuse. Some things we have to do WILL be hard.

My letter:

I read about a charity that will pay for surgery to add an arm: get a new arm for free. It didn’t say it had to replace a defective one, so I’m thinking of applying and getting a third arm – I might be able to find a use for it. I mean, it’s free.

I feel the same way about that offer as I do about (my city) taking TARP money to build right turn lanes at (a local intersection). Someone just doesn’t get it, yet.

About 5 years ago at Ford we saw the writing on the wall and did a “cut 50%” exercise. We assumed we would have to cut 50%, and identified what would go in what priority, and what changes we would make to do (upon deep reflection) what had to be done with the remaining resources. The exercise did not allow: “That won’t happen,” or “You can’t do that,” or even “That will cost more than it saves.” No, the exercise was treated as: “Cut 50%, or your wife and children will die.” And so we came up with what would stop being done, and what priorities would change.

The results were put on a shelf. They were not a blueprint for what would later be done as cutbacks did come, but they were a starting point, hard thinking and long-term changes that had to be made. It helped to cut costs in an organized fashion, and correctly look at priorities.

Michigan, (my city), … America: You need to see the writing on the wall.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Anne, A Lay Apostle

I have been posting to this blog for about a year now, and recently did my 250th post. Have I bored you enough yet?

This is something I sent to friends a while back, and was one of the things which led them to suggest doing this blog:

Orig: 06/05/08

Despite the arrival of summer (finally!), recent news and events in a number of our lives seem to weigh heavier than the humid air. It can get a bit depressing. I pray for all of you.

The below message (one of many) is said to have been given to a woman by Jesus. She says she has heard him since she was a child. She chose the name Anne for publishing them, as recommended by her local bishop, to keep herself out of the limelight. I found her books very interesting; I could give you the names if you are interested. But whether you would believe her words or not, the below message is representative of many she is said to have heard.

If these words are not from Jesus, I think they are the types of words he would speak. And they are certainly ones I need to hear, especially in 'heavy' weeks like these.

On the first of every month, Our Lord gives Anne a new message about His
call to service.
June 1, 2008
I am here, with you at all times. I watch you struggle for holiness and I
encourage you to continue along on the path you have chosen. When you are
discouraged, you sometimes look to other paths, chosen by other people.
From where you are looking, their path might look smooth and easy, happy
and fulfilling. Perhaps their path does not include the sacrifices that you
find are necessary to travel along the path I have marked out for you.
Perhaps their path does not appear to be as steep, as filled with
obstacles, and perhaps their path appears to include more worldly acclaim
and acceptance. Poor little apostles. Here is what you cannot see when you
admire the apparent easiness of the paths of others who are not chosen as
you are chosen. You do not see that others, who have not made the same
level of commitment, are not enjoying the same level of unity with heaven.
Yes, their struggle seems less. Yes, their rewards seem immediate and
plentiful. But you have something that nobody else has in the same way and
that is Me. Nobody has the same relationship with Me that you have. You are
My beloved apostle and I love all of My apostles. But the love I have for
you and the plan I have for you is unique. It will never be repeated. I
need you to continue on in your service to Me. I need you to remember that
you are called to live differently, that your life, which may not be
proceeding exactly as you planned, is proceeding exactly as I planned. Can
you accept this? Can you remind yourself that you have allowed your Saviour
to navigate your earthly journey? Can you rejoice in the path that I have
marked out for you, even if it includes suffering? Please, My beloved
apostle, try. I will help you with this. Rejoice in your apostolic
commitment to Me. I will send you graces in each moment. These graces are
unrepeatable, meaning that if a person rejects My grace in this moment,
that grace moment cannot be recaptured. Time passes while you are on earth.
Opportunities also pass. You are taking advantage of your time on earth for
the family of God and for your loved ones and for you, yourself. You are so
precious to Me. I am caring for you, I promise. When you are tempted to
discouragement, remember that I am with you in each moment, sending perfect
graces and blessings to you and through you. Be at peace in My will for you
and I will protect My plan for you. You are loved by all of heaven and you
are loved by Me.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Staying A Priest

“Lord I am not worthy to receive you,” I pray each day before receiving communion. I pray that prayer most sincerely and deliberately, for I know I am a sinner, and despite my resolutions otherwise, I will always remain one. The tempter is there, and despite my will to ignore him, I hear his call. And I am no one; I am a common man. I know in my heart that Jesus loves me deeply and eternally; how could the evil one desire me as much? But he seems so often present.

No, no. That is my pride speaking. I am not wanted in love by Satan, but only in Envy. “To those whom much is given, much will be expected.” To the degree I use God’s gifts, and return them to Him, perhaps with even more, I may in some small way sometimes live up to His expectations, His love. I choose to have blessings and give them back to the Father in the same way a mentally-challenged child does, who smiles back at his father and says, “I love you, father.” He can’t give much, but it pleases the Father. I also try to give what I have.

Satan is envious of me; he who received so much, so much more than I, and yet could not return it to the Father, much less with interest. No, he greedily kept all that he was given --- and wanted more. He’s envious that sometimes God shows me His affection, for he gets none. Satan doesn’t love me so much that he wants me in hell with him, no he only wants that the Father not love me, or me the Father. In envy, he does not lust for what I have, no, he only wants the pleasure of seeing me not have it.

But if he who had so much and lost it, wishes the same fate befall me, who have so little, what must he feel about the first sons of God, those whom He has called in a special way, with special gifts, with a deep, special love? What must Satan feel towards priests and those who choose a life focused not on earthly pleasures, but only the pleasure of pleasing God? What must he think of those who have the strength to continue in the Father’s service, when he who was among His strongest, could not?

I know of priests who have left their vocation. Perhaps they really didn’t have a priestly vocation, so some say. I’m sure that’s what the tempter said to them, but not only occasionally as I am targeted, but almost constantly. I’m sure Satan would love to see me fall of the cliff, out of the Father’s love. But oh the joy he must feel if he can lead a shepherd off the cliff, because so many sheep will follow.

The shepherd’s life must, at times, be a lonely one. Out in the pastures, no comforting home in sight, and with the responsibility for sheep, sheep who almost always seem to be in trouble. And there are so many! Surely he must be tempted: “Yes, that one is wandering, but he’ll probably be okay as I nap for a while.” He must think, “Look at all the new young ones --- I’ll leave them in their parent’s care.” And sometimes, even in the night, he must think: “What was that noise? I must have been imagining it. Surely there aren’t any wolves around here.”

And, sadly, some shepherds must think: “It’s lonely out here. No one comes to offer me relief, food for my journey, companionship. Is this the life I’m meant to live, alone like this? I have so many abilities; I could be doing so much more than this. Perhaps I could please my Father if I did something more visible, more important. Surely he would be pleased with that. And so would I.”

While a vocation to the priesthood must be hard to discern, staying a priest must be so much harder. My temptations must be nothing compared to theirs. If I could even think the question: “Perhaps he (Satan) might love me”, how much more must they be tempted by him --- and all he can get to help him. Even us.

How often the flock must ask: “Why don’t you get a misses priest; you can spend some time with her; we’ll be okay.” “Why don’t you take us closer to the house, or into other fields – come on, WE know the way.” “Why don’t you take some time off, we’ll be at a neighbors --- you can trust them.” “Rest some, take it easy, turn down all those requests for help. People need to learn to do things on their own and not be calling you all the time.” How often does the flock tempt him?

It’s hard to accept a Father’s love, his confidence in us, and be content with that, and just doing his will because we know that’s what He expects of us. Especially when our will seems so much more, well…, tempting.

I pray that priests not forget, during their long, sometimes lonely days, the feelings they remember in their hearts of long warm nights, snuggled in their father’s arm on the couch, the fire gently cracking in the fireplace, the music – soft as angels singing – in the background, as they tell dad about their day, and he listens and hugs them. I pray they remember that reward. That’s the supreme temptation they should give in to, to so much want their Father’s love, and His pleasure with them, that they would endure anything. Even us.

I pray that priests not work as stupid children work, just for an allowance, a quick reward for simple tasks like making the bed or washing their hands. No, I pray they remember the satisfaction of a hard day’s work and the receiving of a large paycheck at the end of a long week. I pray they not succumb to the desires for quick rewards, but dedicate themselves toward bigger rewards, and bigger pleasures.

I pray them remember there is a reason they chose to be – and stay – a priest. There is a reason.

P.S. Check out this new website, started on June 20, 2010: www.EncouragePriests.org

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Father's Day Story

If you’ve been following these ramblings, you may remember that last year I “hired” an unemployed man to do some work around my house. I had a rainy day fund; it was pouring on him. It seemed like a fit. He seemed a good man, put out of work but working a number of part-time jobs to hold house and family together. Pride didn’t enter into his work decisions; he’d do any menial job for pay. He delivered pizzas; he cleaned my messes. He was a good worker.

Last fall, I ran out of things for my “hired man” to do. That last day we sat down over coffee and talked. Things were still bad for him, and I was silently embarrassed I could not find more for him to do, and I knew he wouldn’t accept charity. So I took out my checkbook and wrote. He looked at the check I handed him and protested that he couldn’t take it, and I responded that it was not charity, but that I was continuing to hire him to do work for me. “What work?” he inquired. I answered that I was hiring him to take some time off from his stress-filled life, some quiet time to meditate alone, to pray, to get away from all his worries. I told him I was paying him to do this work – for me. Like all those days when he let himself into my house and went about the chores I gave him, I said I would trust him to track his hours, to justify this check, his pay. I told him I trusted him. He thanked me and he said he would do it.

Then I forgot all about it.

This spring he again contacted me, still looking for work. I created another list and invited him to come over and dig in --- really! I left the money to pay him on the kitchen table, as before. As before, when I got back from caring for mom I saw his note explaining what he had done that day, and the hours it had taken him at our agreed-upon rate. Then one day he called me on my cell phone and said he had an upcoming job interview, “for a good job”. He asked me to pray for him. Later, he called to tell me he had gotten the job, but still wanted to work for me weekends “to help get out from under my debt load.” And so our arrangement continued.

Yesterday I wrote in this blog about how we are all charged by the Scriptures to treat others as children of God, and to also act as children ourselves. I had totally forgotten that today is Father’s Day, but yesterday’s blog now seems appropriate to today’s theme: We should all love one another as a father loves his children. I thought of this theme as I read the below note, which was sitting on my kitchen table, as I arrived home from Adoration at 2:30AM --- on this Father’s Day:

Last year you gave me a very nice bonus and asked me to pray to Jesus in return. I probably said thank you and maybe said it twice or something. But now let me share with you what that gift has done for me.

I’m quite sure you know I’ve been in a tight spot for a while. When we met, I was quite certain, and was totally resigned to the idea that I was going to be thrown out of my house and have nowhere to go. I wasn’t as much concerned for myself as I was for my chronically ill wife and our last two kids. I did everything I could and it was never enough; I was drowning.

I was drowning in debt, in stress. In anger about my situation I had already decided that the Lord had to take over, because I was on the verge of total collapse. And although I had given up on my situation, I just kept going anyway.

I believe it was the Holy Spirit who pushed me forward when I had no reason to go forward. It was the Holy Spirit who guided all of my moves at that point because I hadn’t the will to move forward on my own. And it was the Holy Spirit who introduced you and I to each other.

Well, I’ve always felt the presence of God in my life. I should have died many times, but haven’t yet. So many times in fact, that logically and mathematically it’s beyond reason that I haven’t. And so I have always believed that there must be a God, and He must have a plan for me.

Last year when I worked for you, it was one of the darkest times for me. After your gift, I decided that this was the moment of reckoning. It was yet one more sign from Him that He wasn’t done with me yet. So I capitulated. I decided once and for all that he would have to “take over the wheel” because my driving had gotten me lost. And if indeed He does have a plan for me, He can just “drive me there Himself.” So now I’m on the “Prayhound” and I’ve left the driving to God.

Well for no good reason that I can explain, I am still living in our home. Have been unable to make ANY payments since Nov. of 2008, and cannot explain why we have been ignored by the bank for so long. On May 3 I started my new job, back in my field of choice, making the money I need to make. After just nine days on the job, the bank called for their money. And they seem willing to forgive most of the back payments and modify our mortgage to keep us in the house. And now I can prove enough income to be able to stay. And although my wife will never fully recover from her ailments, she has stabilized somewhat. I’ve been able to unbury myself from nearly all of the crushing debt I was under. In general, things have turned around for me. I don’t know what his plan is, but I can tell you that I trust His driving better than I trust mine. Oh yeah, and besides all that, I’m actually finding it easier to smile again.

So in case you were wondering if your gift had any effect? Rest assured it has. More than you know. More than a mere “thank you” could ever convey.

Your friend for life,
(s) Mxxxx

It’s been an interesting week for me. One old friend dies, and now one new one lives. And in all these things, I know that God is good. God is good.

My Protestant “daughter” was waiting for me in church this morning, and we attended mass together. Afterwards, she bought me breakfast and gave me beautiful shirts (to replace some of my many stained ones), great cherry salsa, and some wonderful, sentimental cards.
It has been a beautiful Father’s Day for me, loving and caring for my friends/children, and being loved and cared for by them also. God is good. He is indeed good.
Thank you, Father.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Leaving or Leading?

Sometimes I grow concerned about the numbers of people leaving the Church. I often run across them, some even before they have left. One thing they all seem to have in common is a quickness to point out some critical (to their mind’s eye) fault of the Church, or her members. And while they want to talk about these faults, they rarely want to talk about the virtues of the Church, as if (they seem to think) it is not all bad – but, hey, let me tell you how bad it is. They act as if there were nothing good about the Church, and a billion people worldwide are wrong or stupid, but THEY know the answer, to everything.

If you listen to their concerns, you get the sense that they don’t really know why they are dissatisfied with the Church. Oh, they point to this or that, but you get the feeling that you’re not hearing the whole story, like you are missing something – or they are. You get the sense that they don’t know what they want, but this isn’t it. So they are willing to wander, searching for the “right” church.

It bothers me, because I have read so much on the Catholic Church and its teachings – even those I once disagreed with. In my honest research, to understand the Church’s “silliness” on some teaching, I invariably found a sound basis for why those billion people are wise to accept the teaching that I couldn’t. As a result of my research, I found that it wasn’t the Church which was “silly”, it was me. I didn’t understand, and I was condemning without knowing the facts --- kind of like the jury who know the guy’s guilty before any of the facts of the case are in. Yes, in some instances I think I literally put the Church on trial for her teachings, and often assumed her guilty beforehand, but the facts then showed me otherwise. It’s hard to be humble and admit I was wrong, so often wrong. But like a child who assumes their parent is wrong, time and wisdom often reveals the truth. Some people don’t want to wait for time and wisdom, nor search for the truth.

The problem with many people who are leaving the Church today is not only that they don’t know what they want, the problem is that they don’t know what they have.

We read that whoever receives a little child in Your name receives You, and unless you acquire the heart of a child, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. We have to receive others as if they were children, and we must ourselves have the hearts of children. What the Scriptures are talking about here is trust. We must trust others as if they had the innocence of children, and treat them accordingly, with a gentleness and loving concern. We ourselves must trust God and his Church, as little children trust their parents. Unfortunately, so many of us lack that trust; we are like little children alright, only in the form of children going through “the terrible two’s”. We act stubborn and want our way; we don’t trust anyone, only our own feelings. We don’t want to hear explanations; we just want what we want and when we want it, and that’s --- NOW. (Sometimes as I listen to or read of some complainers, I can almost hear a faint “Waaah!” in the background.)

Like the stubborn child, for some there will only be one way back to the correct path: punishment. And unfortunately, in their stubbornness, the required punishment is often self-imposed. Like the Prodigal Son, the stubborn person often trusts no one and goes off on his own to get what he wants – many people leave the Church. Like the Prodigal Son, many find that the grass isn’t really greener somewhere else, and they come back – and they come back for no better reasons than they left – they still don’t understand. They still don’t understand the love of their Father; they still don’t understand His wisdom; they still don’t understand who or what to trust, as a good child does. Trust is earned, and it is a hard thing to earn, especially when the Church often seems to make mistakes. Sometimes we think even God does.

The “dis-trust-ers” often can accept the admonition to receive others as children – they care about so many social issues in the world, but they can’t seem to accept the fact that they too must act as little children. It’s hard to accept that, when we see ourselves as adults, we are still needy. We still need to learn more; we still need to accept that others can care for us. We need to learn how to be loved, as much as how to give love.

In thinking on this necessary innocence, this necessary acceptance of the will of God, and of this necessary humility involved with trust, I remembered the Parable of the Good Shepherd. Jesus and His Church are the Shepherds, and we are the sheep, but I also reflected on how hard it is to be a sheep. We think: “sheep”, and we think: “dumb.” We don’t want to be thought of or act as “dumb”. We read that we should hear his voice and follow, but it’s hard to just follow. We always want to say that we’ll follow “if” …. And then we put in our interpretation, or our “exception to the rule”; we’ll follow if … The “if” is a statement of our confidence in our knowledge, of our stubbornness, of our pride, of our unwillingness to trust in the Shepherd. We trust in ourselves more.

For those who have left the Church, or are thinking of it, I don’t know how to address their “ifs”. Oh, when they point to this or that teaching as wrong, I can often explain it, but usually that isn’t really the problem. It’s just an example, and if I answer that one, they’ll realize they have others. And so I feel some level of angst at my role here: I am not a Shepherd, but I don’t really feel like a sheep. Or if I am, I am concerned about my fellow-sheep. And the parable doesn’t really define the role I believe I’ve been given.

So I’ve made up a role for myself.

Unless you become as a child …, Lord, I want to become even less than that. Shepherd of us all, I wish to be as Your sheepdog. I want to help; I want to follow Your will. Help me to help You guide the sheep that You place before me, whether it be one or many. Train me, so that following Your will becomes instinct for me, and any necessary instructions become only a nod, a wink, or a quick pointing of Your finger, which I’ll understand.

Send me after the lost one; let me nip at their heel and bring them back, whether they want to or not. I’ll try not to be anxious about their fate; I’ll trust You to love them and convince them to stay in your flock. Feed me with scraps from Your table, and perhaps an occasional bone to show me You love me. Punish me if necessary; toss me out into the cold if I break Your rules. But, O Lord, let me follow You. I want do Your will.

I think this is an image of my life’s purpose that I can live with, like a sheepdog: learning what I am to do, doing it with care and love for each individual, and trusting and loving my Teacher. I think that will bring me happiness. I can still have my bit of individuality, my stubbornness, my wanting to do things my way, but I can temper them with what I am taught, so that my self-desires also merge with the desires of my master, and we can work together as a team. If I don’t like how things are going, I don’t have to leave, I just have to learn. To learn to do and understand what I was created to be, to learn and understand His instructions, and to learn to be a witness to His truth and love to all I meet.

The next time you meet someone who wants to trash a teaching of the Church, or you are tempted to do it yourself, remember the sheepdog that you also are called to be. Nip at the heel of the critic, not trying to convince them of anything, but just steering them back towards the flock – trust the Shepherd to teach them. And if you are tempted to stray, remember the flock and what we are all called to be, in unity. Don’t forget the admonishments in Scripture or those of the great saints regarding “Woe to those who would lead my flock astray.” Don’t leave or encourage others to leave, learn and encourage others to learn.

Some things may seem hard for us to understand or bear at times, but remember when it was said to Jesus: But this is a hard thing, and afterwards many were no longer his followers And He then looked at his disciples and said: Will you leave me, too?

Have faith, my friends, so that in all our troubles we can always say with confidence: My Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

One Final Thing

I’ve read some books on Alzheimer’s and dementia (A&d) illnesses, how they impact the brain, and how we can relate to people with these illnesses. My mother has dementia.

One thing about these mental illnesses which was new learning for me was the fact that these illnesses diminish the abilities of the brain in roughly the reverse order in which the brain achieved new abilities. So with A&d, one of the first things to diminish is short-term memory. This is seen when older people begin repeating themselves. My mom may repeat the same thought 5 or 6 times in a row, only minutes apart. She’s forgotten that she just said the same thing.

With age also comes wisdom, the linking of complex thoughts and a lifetime of experiences. With A&d, these more complex wisdoms and insights begin to diminish. (I read that the brain doesn’t really “forget” the facts, it just loses the ability to “link” them.) The Alzheimer’s person may put on their clothes in the morning, but the underpants are outside of the jeans; they forget the complex sequence of properly getting dressed.

Among the last things to go, as A&d patients become more disconnected, are those things which were first gained, as babies. So even if they can no longer communicate verbally, a hug, a touch, or the sight of a loved one can be very comforting to a frightened, confused A&d patient – whose brain holds so many facts, but they just don’t make sense. One of the very last things to go is an appreciation of music, which might have been played to a baby in the womb.

Recognizing this regression in an A&d patient is important to those caring for their needs. It was written that the caregiver needs to “put themselves in the patient’s reality.” So if the Alzheimer’s patient believes it is 1985, talk about 1985 events. If he asks where a deceased brother is, answer that he is out shopping, or perhaps sleeping. Address the questions and anxieties with calming answers – they’ll forget the question, and your answer, shortly. This is true caring for them, true love for them. Without having to say it aloud, you are telling them to “Do not be anxious.”

I was reminded of all these thoughts at the funeral of my friend, Pat. The priest spoke lovingly of her, he knew her well, and mentioned how Pat “lived in the reality of others.” (No, she didn’t treat everyone as if they had Alzheimer’s!!) No, Father Richard was making the point that Pat was so loving of everyone that she immediately forgot her own cares or worries and had a great empathy for her friends. If her friends were happy, celebrating some joyous occasion, Pat was among the first to loudly proclaim: “Wonderful! That’s great! God is so good to you; I’m so happy for you!” And if a friend was sad, had lost a loved one, was having a fight with their kids, or was just in a down mood, Pat was the one who quickly sought to hear their stories --- with loving empathy (and almost always with a hug), but then help move their spirit on, to see the positive side of events, and to help return their joy with life. Pat was a real friend to so many people. A real friend.

Especially in her final months, life was anything but kind to Pat. To see the large 50” television her family had bought her, Pat had to sit up right next to it. To read her email, the font size was set on 50 or 60, and it took hours for her to slowly read the words of her friends --- “they might be important.” To go anywhere, to the hair dresser, to her Civitan meetings, to church, or to her many doctor appointments, she had to find someone to take her (“I had to bother someone”). To prepare her simple lunch at her small apartment often took an hour of slow, deliberate, and sometimes painful actions. And as she struggled to live out her simple life, friends and neighbors would often drop by, unannounced, and Pat would drop whatever she was in the middle of, smile and loudly proclaim: “Wow, it is so great that you took time to come here. No, I’m not busy with anything. Come in! I’m so glad you’re here! What’s going on with you.”

That was Pat, dropping her many concerns and worries and putting herself in the reality of her friends, as if we were the patients needing help. She dropped everything, to be happy with them, or to cry with them. She was instinctively concerned about others, it was not a sacrifice she made: that was just Pat, the way she was.

Fr. Richard said it well: “That’s just the way she was.”

Would that we could all have friends like that.

Would that we could all BE friends like that.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Equality With God

Though he was in the form of God,
Jesus did not deem equality with God
Something to be grasped at.

(Phil 2:6)

So much of what we do in this life is aimed at our achieving equality with God. We strive for more knowledge, for relief from pain and sorrow, for happiness --- always, and are upset with the least disruptions to our plans. If we had a life which we could choose (indeed, we strive for), it would be one of the beginning of heaven here on earth.

But that is not the example Jesus gave us:

He was known to be of human estate,
And it was thus that he humbled himself,
Obediently accepting even death,
Death on a cross.

(Phil 2:8)

Jesus accepted the life He was created to live. “He humbled himself, obediently accepting”. He certainly didn’t have to. He truly could have chosen to live the life we strive for, a heaven here on earth: “He was in the form of God.” He could have achieved anything he wanted, and he had the same earthly temptations before him that we have, but he chose obediently accepting the humble life that he was created to live.


Because of this,
God highly exalted Him.

(Phil 2:9)

In choosing not to achieve heaven here on earth, he achieved heaven in eternity, for him and us. In choosing not what he wanted but what the Father created him to be, “God highly exalted Him.” In choosing to say with his entire life: “Not my will, but Thy will be done(Mt 26:39), he lived the perfect human life. He achieved the ultimate, eternal human happiness.

By: “obediently accepting.”

How accepting are we of our life, of being who WE were created to be? How often do we say: “Not my will, but Thy will be done?”

May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, Jesus our Lord, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. Through Jesus Christ may he carry out in you all that is pleasing in him.
(Heb 13:20)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Closing My Eyes to See

Pat ended her vacation with us, and went home this evening.

She stayed with us a long time, and in truth at times we both thought about the adage: “After three days, both guests and fish begin to stink.” And some days were, well, pretty stinky ones at the end. But she remembered some days, oh, some days were so wonderful, so wonderful.

Pat saw so many wonderful things on this earth. She described to me the Florida Everglades and the Ding Darling Nature Reserve, the Rockies, Yellowstone, and the Painted Desert. She saw storms, yes, but also so many beautiful sunrises. And, although through a mist, everywhere, she saw God.

She loved to talk about all the heavenly things she had seen on earth, because in recent years she saw them not so well. Her eyes were just one of many things in her body slowly growing tired. Pain became more common than comfort.

She spoke no words as she peaceably left this life, but I suspect that if she could, she would have told us: “Goodbye; don’t grieve; I’m just going to close my eyes now, so that I can again see.”

And she would have smiled.

She will be missed.

In Vigil

Sitting in vigil, with a friend:

Rosaries, Evening Prayers, Office of Readings, Morning Prayers, words of peace. Soft music, soft lights. Waiting.

The evening passes; the morning slowly, quietly comes. I count the hours ‘til I see a dawn; she only waits, but she waits a much brighter day than mine. For now.

Eyes will close, but you, unsleeping,
Watch by our side;
Death may come: in Love’s safe keeping
Still we abide.
God of love, all evil quelling,
Sin forgiving, fear dispelling,
Stay with us, our hearts indwelling,
This eventide.

(Evening Hymn)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Answer to Why

The Holy Spirit gives us the answers to those questions which the mind cannot answer because the mind invariably couples the word why with the word I. “Why must I endure this suffering?” “Why am I denied what others have?” “Why must I be the way I am, live the way I do?” These are some of the most essential and decisive questions in the life of the individual, and to those questions men and books remain silent. The true answer comes only when our heart is free from revolt and bitterness; when our will has come to terms with life as it is for us, recognizing in it the working of the will of God.

The intellect may acquiesce readily enough, but this is not sufficient. Instruction must go deeper; acceptance must come from our inmost heart. Only then will we find the answer to the why, and with it, peace, for truth alone brings peace. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer in Practice, ( 93-95), by Romano Guardini
(as quoted in Experiencing the Mystery of Christ, by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., & Gerard and Yolanda Cleffi)

When I read this rather succinct excerpt, I realized it summarized many of the thoughts (and posts) I have had in recent days. Much of our problems, and worries, stem from our concern about “why”, but we seek solutions, or to be truthful, just reactions, in the “I”. So often, “I” try to figure out things, when the truth is really to be found in the workings of the Holy Spirit, and the will of God in our lives.

So often I (get irritated and) try to figure out what I should be doing, when I should be trying to figure out what He is doing --- and even if I can’t, to accept it as His will. All bad things are not bad; we only see them as bad because we don’t really SEE them, see them with the eyes of the Holy Spirit. If we were able to see with His eyes, we would see the truth, and we would not worry so much about solutions we could create, for truth alone brings peace.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Corpus Christi

Lord, who at your first Eucharist did pray
That all your Church might be for ever one,
Grant us at every Eucharist to say
With longing heart and soul, “Your will be done.”
O may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest Sacrament of Unity

For all your Church, O Lord, we intercede;
O make our lack of charity to cease;
Draw us the nearer each to each, we plead,
By drawing all to you, O Prince of Peace;
Thus may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest Sacrament of Unity.

We pray then, too, for wand’rers from your fold;
O bring them back, good Shepherd of the sheep,
Back to the faith which saints believed of old,
Back to the Church which still that faith does keep;
Soon may we all one bread, one body be,
Through this blest Sacrament of Unity.

So, Lord, at length when sacraments shall cease,
May we be one with all your Church above,
One with your saints in one unending peace,
One with your saints in one unbounded love;
More blessed still in peace and love to be
One with the Trinity in Unity.

Morning Hymn, on the Feast of Corpus Christi

This hymn, read before mass, set me in the mood for today’s feast. At mass, the readings recalled Melchizedek and how he blessed Abram, who had offered his son Isaac’s life to God the Father (Gn 14:18-20). They then recalled the Last Supper, and the bread and wine offered by Jesus, as He would later offer His own life to the Father (Cor 11:23-26). And finally, the gospel recalled the feeding of the 5000 with the loaves of bread, and: “They all ate and were satisfied.” (Lk 9:11-13).

The feast of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the Eucharist, our Communion, where at every mass, we all eat and are satisfied.

For this great gift, we celebrate today.

You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be.
Amen. Alleluia.

(Sequence: Lauda Sion)

I am the bread of Life, he who eats of this bread will live forever. (Jn 6)

Consolations From God

In my readings and my conversations of late, I have been met with two opposite points of concern: the distress over dryness of spirit – the feelings of despair at being abandoned by God, and the extreme satisfaction over consolations received, and the desire to serve God even more – to achieve even more (and perhaps greater?) consolations.

One complains of receiving nothing, and the other is not satisfied despite receiving much.

When I met the individuals in these situations, I searched for the proper words of understanding and advice (although I admit that if there were any truly good spiritual advice to be given, certainly it would not come from me but only insofar as God chose me as a conduit of His words of wisdom). Having done the best as I could conceive with these situations, I tried to put them out of my mind. However, as is often the case, two things happened to me: 1) I continued to think and worry unnecessarily on their concerns (and my feeble advice), and 2) God rather quickly put before me much better words of advice --- HIS Wisdom, not mine.

Such, I believe, are these words which I read tonight on the subject of consolations and aridities, in the book: Holy Abandonment, by Rt. Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey, O.C.R.:

St. Francis de Sales: “It will happen that you will enjoy no consolation in your practices of devotion. That, undoubtedly, is the good-pleasure of God. Hence the necessity to remain absolutely indifferent to consolation or desolation. If consolations are offered you, receive them with gratitude; if they are refused, desire them not. You must have a strong resolution never to give up prayer, no matter what difficulties you may encounter in the holy exercise. And you must never apply yourself to it, preoccupied with a longing to be consoled and favoured.”

St. Alphonsus: “God gives (consolations) to us in order that we may be better disposed to make the sacrifices which He intends to demand of us, or perhaps to support the trials which He is about to send. In consolation we must prepare for tribulation.” (And) in spiritual desolation we must be resigned: “I do not pretend that we should suffer no affliction at seeing ourselves deprived of God’s sensible presence. We cannot help being afflicted at such a loss, or even complaining of it, since our Divine Saviour Himself complained of it on the cross.” But we should imitate His perfect resignation and that of the saints.

Let us humbly resign ourselves to the divine will, and we shall discover that “desolation is more to our advantage than any sensible devotion.” And St. Alphonsus further recommends us to recite this admirable prayer:

Jesus, my hope, my love, the only love of my soul! I do not deserve that Thou shouldst impart to me Thy consolations and sweetness. Reserve them for the sinless souls who have always loved Thee. As for me, who have so often offended Thee: I am unworthy of them, and do not ask them of Thee. There is only one thing I desire of Thee, and it is this: Grant that I may love Thee, O my God! Grant that I may accomplish Thy will during my whole life, and then dispose of me in the manner that pleases Thee best.
Unhappy me! I have deserved to be condemned to much worse darkness, terror, and desolation, in order to expiate the many injuries I have done Thee. Had I been given my desert, hell would now be my portion, where, separated and banished eternally from Thee, I should have to join in the everlasting lamentations of the lost, deprived of the power to love Thee any more forever. Ah, my Jesus, save me from so horrible a doom. I am ready to submit to any other penalty … Give me the grace to conquer my temptations, to conquer myself. I desire to be all for Thee alone. I consecrate to Thee my body, my soul, my will, my liberty. I no longer desire to live for myself, but only for Thee. Afflict me as it pleases Thee; give me only Thy grace and Thy love, and I shall be content to be deprived of everything else.

Are we permitted, at least, to desire … divine consolations or the cessation of aridities? We may do so, but we are not obliged. We may do so, on account of the important support we find in sensible favours and the despondency in which persistent aridities might leave us. The Holy Spirit in the psalms, and the Church in her liturgy put on our lips petitions of this kind. But we show much more confidence when we abandon ourselves entirely into His hands, when we peacefully await His good-pleasure, and accept in advance whatsoever He shall please to appoint. This is at the same time a superior prudence, a more perfect generosity. And what can be better qualified to touch deeply the heart of our Father in heaven?


Saturday, June 5, 2010


It is possible that a person will be disturbed and troubled by his brother’s words, either because he is not in a good frame of mind, or other reasons as well. Yet the reason for all disturbance, if we look to its roots, is that no one finds fault with himself.
It does not matter how many virtues a man may have, even if they are beyond number and limit. If he has turned from the path of self-accusation, he will never find peace. He will always be troubled himself, or else he will be a source of trouble for others and all his labors will be wasted.

From the teachings of Saint Dorotheus, abbot.

Yesterday I read a blog by someone who confessed their ease at being irritable at others. And this irritability was in itself, it seems, irritable. I confessed the same problem. So when I read the above meditation in the morning’s readings, it caught my attention. The problem is that no one finds fault with himself. And even further, if he has turned from the path of self-accusation, he will never find peace. Some pretty blunt statements, and worth considering --- and then looking in the mirror.

This morning I read about Job and his “irritations,” and then how he was humbled by God: Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? I fear that is what many of us may in effect be doing; we can’t criticize ourselves, and so we criticize God. We criticize His action in our irritation at things we don’t agree with or understand. We would condemn Him before ourselves. And then I read further:

Saint John gives us these words of advice: “Test the spirits to see if they are from God.” Now no one can test the spirits to see if they are from God unless God has given him discernment of spirits to enable him to investigate spiritual thoughts, inclinations and intentions with honest and true judgment. Discernment is the mother of all the virtues; everyone needs it either to guide the lives of others or to direct and reform his own life.
In the sphere of action, a right thought is one ruled by the will of God, and intentions are holy when directly singlemindedly toward him. … This then is true discernment, a combination of right thinking and good intention. Therefore, we must do all our actions in the light of discernment as if in God and in his presence.

From a sermon by Baldwin of Canterbury, bishop

Perhaps here is a clue on how to control our irritations and actions which flow from them. Thinking on how we feel and how we act when something irritates us: are we acting as God would act, or even as we would act if we were in His presence?

When we feel ourselves irritated at another, an alarm should be going off in our head. Whether they disagree with what we said or did, whether they ignore it, or whether they do not understand it, it matters not. If we become irritated, we should hear an alarm in our head, and should first be questioning ourselves. It is not a lack of self-confidence or a weakness of character to question ourselves, to look at our actions or positions. It is a strength of character, and a witness of humility and of love of neighbor, to hear another’s opinion or view his action, and consider if we have something to learn there. It is an admission of the value of every person. It is an admission that we may be wrong, or may not fully understand all the facts of a situation. It is an admission that God may have other plans here; ones I do not understand. The alarm we hear should be a brake to our irritation, to keep our peace --- and perhaps that of others.

Last night in the chapel someone politely asked me: “How are things going?” My response was to voice (with some vehemence) my latest irritation. I think I committed then a double sin! Not only had I ruined my own peace of mind, but I actually sought to ruin theirs, implying by my rant: Be sympathetic with me, get upset also, and agree with me!

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace”, is my morning prayer. How easily I forget. How easily I forget (what Baldwin reminds me), that at each moment of each day, I AM in His presence.

I wrote a while back about the realization that I was an evangelist. I noted in that reflection that I am most often an evangelist not by my words, but by my actions. So ……, how much of an evangelist was I last night, by my actions? Ranting on my irritations, was I an example of Christ and His actions? Did I bring this person closer to God? Did I help make their prayers more fruitful, or did I distract them from prayer altogether? I often pray: “Lord, help me to do Your will.” Just who’s will was I advancing last night, in giving rein to my irritation?

Lord, have mercy.

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace. But if I am to be your instrument, I fear I am so badly out of tune. Lord, grant me the gift of discernment, that when faced with something contrary to my will, I might know, and do, Your holy will. Not mine.

Give me the humility to accept things beyond my control, without irritation, and the faith to know that no things are beyond Your control, nor Your loving concern. Help me to understand that any irritation I may have is a lack of faith in others, and in You, and at its source an over-confidence in myself.

Lord, grant me peace.

And may He grant peace to you also, my sisters and brothers. Do not be anxious.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Dawn

Sometimes the words I write here are very personal. They have deep meaning for me; they touch my soul. I write them in part selfishly, that in weaker times, in times of trial, I might go back to them and remember how good God is to me. I write in these deep reflective times words which may have no meaning for you, at least at this moment. I feel a bit selfish in wasting your time; I apologize.

These days many thoughts come to my mind, and sometimes I even start to write down a word or two, but then something I read, something I hear, or something I remember takes my mind back to my friend. I guess this is a good thing, to think on, to worry about, and to pray for, a dying friend. Death is such a huge change of location, and a long trip to get there, and like any trip, we worry if we are ready, have we thought about everything that needs to be done before leaving. And while we look forward to the wonderful times we will have ahead, we pause and look back fondly on the things we will leave behind --- like one final look before closing the door on the home we grew up in.

This morning’s readings and prayers reminded me of these things.

Holy Church, inasmuch as she keeps searching for the rewards of eternal life, has been called the dawn. This reference to the dawn conjures up a subtle consideration. The dawn intimates that the night is over; it does not yet proclaim the full light of day. While it dispels the darkness and welcomes the light, it holds both of them, the one mixed with the other, as it were. Are not all of us who follow the truth in this life daybreak and dawn? While we do some things which already belong to the light, we are not free from the remnants of darkness.
When he writes, “the night is passed,” Paul does not add,” the day is come,” but rather, “the day is at hand.” Since he argues that after the night has passed the day as yet is not come but is rather at hand, he shows that the period before full daylight and after darkness is without doubt the dawn, and that he himself is living in that period.
It will be fully day for the Church of the elect when she is no longer darkened by the shadow of sin. … When the Psalmist writes: “My soul thirsts for the living god; when shall I go and see the face of God?” does he not refer to the effort made by the dawn to reach its place? Paul was hastening to the place which he knew the dawn would reach when he said he wished to die and to be with Christ. He expressed the same idea when he said: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

(From Moral Reflections on Job, by St. Gregory the Great, pope)

When morning fills the sky,
Our hearts awaking cry:
May Jesus Christ be praised.
In all our works and prayer
His Sacrifice we share:
May Jesus Christ be praised.
The night becomes as day,
When from our hearts we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised.

The powers of darkness fear
When this glad song they hear:
May Jesus Christ be praised.

In heav’n our joy will be
To sing eternally:
May Jesus Christ be praised.
Let earth and sea and sky
From depth to height reply:
May Jesus Christ be praised.
Let all the earth now sing
To our eternal King:
May Jesus Christ be praised.
By this the eternal song,
Through ages all along:
May Jesus Christ be praised.

(Morning Hymn)

Have mercy on me, God, have mercy
for in you my soul has taken refuge.
In the shadow of your wings I take refuge
till the storms of destruction pass by.

My heart is ready, O God,
my heart is ready.

I will sing, I will sing your praise.
Awake, my soul,
awake, lyre and harp,
I will awake the dawn.

Psalm 57