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Feb 22 18

Surrounded by love

by davesandel

Surrounded by love

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

– From Psalm 23

This rain-soaked dark-cloud day invites me inside myself, into memories and gratitude, into recollection. Books of old photographs and newspaper articles abound in our family because Mom loved history all her life. Projects for her first elementary school classes in 1941 included studying the Lindberghs, their triumphs and tragedies, and seventy-five years later we can still look at them.

Driving through Arkansas after Christmas last month, we found Stuggart on the map. Aunt Mary taught there in the Lutheran School for years after World War II. She prayed for me while she was still alive; sometimes I ask her to pray for me now, too. At first I wonder if that makes any sense, but then I follow my heart and just ask. Surely we are closer now than ever.

I think of accidents not gone bad, escaped hazards, catastrophes avoided. In my mind these were moments of rescue. I don’t see them, but angels and my family “spirits” see me. All those phantoms shape themselves around me and protect me.

Now I really wonder if I’m making any sense. It’s strange to talk about what you can’t see as if it were really there.

But scientists have practiced that art forever. And sciences of the material world and the spiritual world have more in common than we know, because material and spiritual reality are bonded into one. The most important parts of both are invisible to our naked eyes.

Our family doctor argues sometimes about anecdotal vs evidence-based medicine. In my own life, though, my stories are evidence. At midnight in Pennsylvania, a tree smashed through the windshield into my lap, but no farther. Our four-year-old daughter Andi put the car in reverse, it quietly headed toward the busy street and stopped. Last week I tried to change lanes on an icy day, heard a honk and swerved back just in time. The car went crazy and we were headed for the ditch. But then … suddenly we were fine.

You will tell me stories about your lives, too. And I know we are not always protected. There are as many tales of terror and loss as of joy and rejoicing. I don’t understand this any more than Monty Python did. There are things which we cannot see.

But I lean more toward Psalm 23 than Psalm 88 (which ends, “The darkness is my closest friend”). And on this gray day of warm remembering I also recall the words of Father Martin about the Gospel prayers of our imagination: “I let God take me where God wants me to go.”

Lord, memories cloud my mind, but these are cumulus clouds mostly, and the sun shines all around them. Thank you for blue skies, and then for gray. For my grandparents and parents, for my brother and sister and wife, for our children. And now at last for our grandchildren. Once in heaven, I promise to pray for them. As for now, thank you for providing place so others can pray for me. Teach me through the eyes of my heart, Lord, to see what you want me to see.

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Feb 21 18

While you were sleeping

by davesandel

While you were sleeping

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

There is something greater than Jonah here.

– From Luke 11

So Jonah was this really smart guy who was sure God was making a mistake. Jonah wanted those barbarians in Nineveh to be wiped from the earth, and God’s job was to do just that. But he was disgusted at God’s willingness to warn them before he killed them. Jonah tried to get away, he tried hard to get away, but God apparently wanted angry old Jonah to bring his message.

Jonah boarded a boat bound for Tarshish in Spain, which is exactly opposite the direction of Nineveh in Assyria. He told the ship’s crew he was running from God. The ship was hit by a storm and shipwreck, and with great remorse the crew threw Jonah overboard. Then, quite unexpectedly, a huge fish swallowed Jonah and took him straight to the shore near Nineveh. He “vomited him out onto dry land.”

Now Jonah was quickly famous among those seashore people who believed in Dagon, a fish god. Perhaps they even carried him to Nineveh, where he had no choice but to proclaim the message of the Lord. And the people listened. The king listened. God changed his mind.

Jonah … well, he was SO angry. Such a short little Bible book, so full of anger and fear.

Of course Jesus knew that story. He knew the Assyrians listened to God’s messenger Jonah. Why didn’t his own people listen to him? There is something GREATER than Jonah, right here, right now, in your face. Will you please open your eyes and see?

Jesus often said, “Those who have ears to hear, let him hear.” He seemed to know that the people he loved so much, the people chosen by God hundreds of years earlier, were going to kill him. And perhaps he also knew he would not stay dead for long. Nineveh “was an enormously large city; it took three days to walk through it.”

After Jesus died, he was gone for three days. I wonder if he stayed in his tomb at all. Perhaps Jesus walked through the enormously large city of mankind past, mankind present, mankind future, calling out to them how much God loved them.

In Nineveh, when the people heard God’s words through Jonah, “all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.” Sackcloth is not smooth like silk or satin. It is coarse and rough. Your skin itches wherever it touches. It’s made from the same stuff that rope is made of.

Sackcloth allows its wearers to beat themselves up and feel penitential. (There’s a reason why that word sounds like penitentiary, another name for prison.) They needed to feel bad about their sins in hopes that God would feel sorry for them and forgive them.

But that sounds so endless and defeating. Maybe God doesn’t need our self-pity but loves us anyway. He doesn’t care how much we stink, or how much we revel in our stinkage. Jesus encourages us to follow his example, to learn to sit still and let God love us.

There is an old word, “compunction,” which means that beyond constant self-examination, our guilt allows us to open to God. Meg Funk says of this, “There is gratefulness to God for being forgiven, being alive, being in relationship. The sorrow of compunction is a wholesome sorrow, knowing the hard times are over and the past is past. This is a celebration of having come home” (p 108, Thoughts Matter).

David says this vividly in Psalm 32: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and stopped covering up, and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Now you are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

That’s what Jesus is saying, and that’s what he wants us to hear.

In the quiet of the morning all the birds sing their songs. The squirrels do not remember their quarrels from yesterday. Let me forget my grudges toward myself and others today, Father. You are full of love for me. Let me be full of love too, for you, for others, for myself. Let this be another day of homecoming for you and for me.

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Feb 20 18

On earth as it is in heaven

by davesandel

On earth as it is in heaven

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

“Pray this way,” Jesus said. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

– From Matthew 6

Echoes of old movies and Lutheran churches in my childhood. The sound of a whole congregation just before Mass, in English at the hospital on Ash Wednesday and in every language every day across the world. Jesus tells us to pray this way. So we do.

Philosopher and theologian Dallas Willard’s body gave out before his mind. Often he woke up in great pain, and the middle of the night is no place to be alone with pain. So at 3 am Dallas Willard prayed the Lord’s Prayer, one little bit at a time, over and over, giving himself to the words for God to soothe his soul.

Martin Luther too, prayed one phrase at a time:



Who Art in Heaven.

Hallowed by Thy name.

Thy Kingdom come.

Thy will be done.

On earth.

As it is in heaven …

There are so many ways to pray. If necessary, we can even use words. When we use these words, we follow in Jesus’ footsteps as surely as when we follow him into the desert.

Many churches include them in each week’s liturgy. Bill and Lynne Hybels pray this prayer before they get out of bed. On Monday evenings, centering prayer at St. Patrick’s in Urbana is followed by the Lord’s Prayer. At each of the eight fixed-hour liturgies at a three-day Transforming Community retreat, we share the Lord’s Prayer. And recitation of a full rosary includes six repetitions of the Lord’s Prayer.

Give us this day.

Our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses.

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation.

But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom.

And thine is the power.

And thine is the glory.

Forever and ever.


The first and last parts of the Lord’s Prayer honor God the creator. In the middle we essentially say, “O Lord, make haste to help us.” Jesus knows how helpless we are, even as we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We exist and thrive because God put us here, enables every breath and heartbeat, and takes us home.

Of course this is a prayer for the ages, a gift Jesus bestows on us as well as his disciples. In the morning when we rise, we can pray this prayer on our knees. In evening before we sleep we can pray this prayer with our hands raised to the sky. There’s no hurry, and we need no other words.

Father, my thoughts so often get ahead of the words, and then the words are rushed and don’t seem to mean a thing. But as Thomas Merton said, “I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.” Well, I do want to please you. Increase the stillness inside me, quiet my inner commentaries. Let me relax into your arms.

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Feb 19 18

How do I do that?

by davesandel

How do I do that?

Monday, February 19, 2018

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

– From Leviticus 19

Of course Jesus includes this in his instruction about the greatest commandment (Mark 12:30-31). But I know that loving myself is no easy task. My self-talk swings from sweet to sour more than once each day. I stinketh. Yes I do, no I don’t! I do.

I learned this the honest way, from my parents, who learned it from theirs, who learned it from theirs. There have been about four hundred generations (6000 ÷ 15) between mankind’s biblical origin and you and me. We’ve all learned how to stink and pretend we don’t. We’ve learned all too well.

Neither Moses nor Jesus gave detailed instructions. But common sense tells me this: learn to love others and myself by loving God. Strive to love God. Pray to love God. Work at loving God. And by that I mostly mean, sit still for awhile each day and let God love me.

As I pray like this, God shows me simple things I can do to practice love. I am not always sincere, but God can change that. In Matthew 25 Jesus keeps it simple: trust the requests of those in need. He wants me to share my food and drink, my home, my clothes, and my time. “Whatever you do for one of these least brothers of mine, you do for me.”

St. Benedict was a sixth century Conrad Hilton, especially for pilgrims and the poor. At his monasteries the rule was, “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ.” Pray with them, wash their feet, share your meal with them. Give them a place to sleep. “Whether they are arriving or departing, let all humility be shown.” Five-star hospitality is good for the goose and good for the gander, good for the guest and the host, good for you and good for me. Jesus says God loves it.

Our post-post-postmodern culture can do with a little more “humility.” I can do with a lot more, actually. Can I learn just to say hello to a stranger, let alone feel welcoming? I hope so. It’s really not an option, but it’s not going to happen unless I sit in silence when I can, pray with my mind and my body and my desire, and let God’s love soak into my skin, into my head, into my soul.

We are all in this together. We stink. But somehow, we smell sweet in the nostrils of the Lord. I think we should go with that – sit still and let it happen. Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.


Your law is perfect, Lord. There is nothing in that law you won’t show me how to live. Give me a place to be still and show me the ways of prayer. Find me in the streets of my city and give me something to do. And make your will my will, Lord. You are so good at this. May it be unto me according to your word.

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Feb 18 18

Sand between my toes

by davesandel

Sand between my toes

First Sunday of Lent, February 18, 2018

A voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert.

– From Mark 1

Ignatian contemplation invites me to spend time with Jesus in the desert. When I “compose the place,” my feet suddenly fit into Jesus’ footprints and I follow him away from the glory of his baptism into solitude.

The sky is blue, the air is dry and hot. But the sun is going down soon, and I know it will be cold out here tonight. Jesus does not carry any food with him; I guess we’ll be fasting. He finds a water hole and drinks. Following him, so do I.

Jesus says nothing as his eyes find mine. I feel no need to leave, but we both realize this pilgrimage is not for us to share except in place. He will have his temptations, and I will have mine. He will have his revelations, and I will have mine.

Inside my sandals the sand between my toes squeaks, chalky, rough. In the oncoming dark I find a place to sleep not far from Jesus and curl up inside my clothes.

My Bible tells me this is a 40-day journey, but I’m not sure Jesus knows that yet. He listens for God and doesn’t seem to care about how long this takes. When I awaken, skin chilled and craving the heat of the rising sun, there is Jesus kneeling, leaning up against a rock, hands and eyes lifted to the sky. He sighs, murmurs, cries out words I don’t understand. Aramaic. His deep throaty voice catches me off guard; there has been so much silence. Surely he is praying.

Day after day we’ll walk, mostly in circles I suppose. The sun comes up, the sun goes down, the hands on the clock go round and round. But I think it’s different for Jesus; I’m the one with the watch, I’m the one that thinks I have places to go and promises to keep. Although I think that is changing inside me as I walk fifty yards behind Jesus, drinking the water he drinks and feeling the hunger he feels.

Desert creatures cry insistent against the endless sand. They scream over and over, but it’s the silence between the sounds that rushes at my ears. Jesus walks, I follow. Of course there are bathroom breaks. Night comes. Again without food, we sleep.

Jesuit James Martin, who has written some wonderful books, talks about his experience with this kind of prayer: “Once you’ve met Jesus in a gospel scene, in your own imagination, nothing is the same. Remember he’s risen and alive and is present to us through the Spirit, who works through prayer, so you’re truly encountering Christ. It’s also something that completely changes your appreciation of that gospel passage.”

Seek to be as vivid as possible when you compose the place. All your senses get to play. What do you see? What do you hear? What do your hands feel, and your feet, what do you taste and smell? There is dust, and dust, and dust. It gets in my nose, it gets in my mouth. When the blessed rain comes the flowers spring up bright red and green and yellow. Then we can smell the sky.

Prayer comes in the interplay of my senses and my mind’s sense of the story’s meaning, and how it grows inside me. And then, as Father Martin says, “I let God take me where God wants me to go.”

Lead me into the desert, Lord, if that’s where we’re going today. And lead me beside still waters, if those waters are right for us just now. And lead me in the way everlasting. Please hold my hand while you show me something of all these ways, day by day by day.

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Feb 17 18

Let’s hang on to what we’ve got

by davesandel

Let’s hang on to what we’ve got

Saturday, February 17, 2018

If you bestow your bread on the hungry … then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even from the parched land. He will renew your strength and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.

– From Isaiah 58

In Illinois’ East Lincoln Township, where I was born and grew up, where my mother and brother still live, the corn crop overflows the concrete bins almost every year. A vast three-football-field-sized semi-circle, eight feet high, holds the overflow. The corn rolls and flows out of the local fields. And there is joy in Mudville.

Once I read a closely argued novel about a gorilla bestowing wisdom on men. In the fiction the gorilla could speak, and he talked of the days of hunting and gathering, before we farmers began to claim and store up crops for the winter. Before this change, everyone had enough. No one went hungry. In the most important ways, we all shared the bounty of the land.

We were given the gift of seeds and learned how to save back – insurance in case of famine, food for the winter. Joseph in biblical Egypt saved back, and saved his people when the famine came. Then, when the people were hopelessly lost for forty years in the Sinai desert, God sent them both meat and bread called manna. Water came from solid rocks. They received enough each day and behold, it was good. But when they began to save it back it turned to rot and smelled putrid and was ruined. The people muttered and complained. They spent several more decades in the desert.

In spite of this demonstration of plenty from God, Mosaic law expected the people to farm and store their crop. That law did make provision for both rich and poor. Farmers were expected to leave some of their crop in the fields for others to glean. Slavery seemed to be an accepted norm, but slaves were freed after seven years. And most importantly, after 49 years came the year of Jubilee when all indebtedness was forgiven.

Both in the desert and in the cities, God encouraged his people to believe, “We have enough. There is plenty for all.” But our selfishness made that difficult and then more difficult, and now it seems impossible. What have we done!

How has the economy of scarcity ravaged us? David Brooks finds a metaphor: “The scarcity mind-set is an acid that destroys every belief system it touches … the scarcity mentality and perpetual warrior style it demands are incompatible with any civilized political creed … the scarcity mentality always ends up eating the host philosophy because it operates on a more fundamental level of the psyche.”

When I fail or forget to acknowledge my “shadow,” I lose my way even in the light. There is sin in my soul, and fear, and because of my fear I strive to protect what I have rather than offer it up and give it away. I easily become consumed by my frightened mental commentaries on the future, about which I know so little, and lose the moment.

This is less of an option than I would like it to be.

God says he will hold us, cover us, surround us. All of us. On this third day of Lent we can choose to believe him and accept his simple covenant: “Bestow YOUR bread upon the hungry.” And God promises to guide us always and fill our plates with plenty. This what God saves up for us.

But we are determined to do this our way. We have not yet finished our love affair with the “knowledge of good and evil.” The apple still seems ripe. And so … we take a bite.

O Lord, we are broken by our part-time wisdom! Replace my will with your will. Lead us beside still waters. You fill our table with your feast, and we only need to sit down with our enemy to discover how we are all your children and there is more than enough for us all.

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Feb 16 18

Sitting in the sun with my Father

by davesandel

Sitting in the sun with my Father

Friday, February 16, 2018

Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast! Tell my people their wickedness … You must share your bread with the hungry. Shelter the oppressed and the homeless. Cloth the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.

– From Isaiah 58

Daniel Berrigan went to prison more than once because he cried out full-throated and unsparingly. He filled his lungs with air and his pen with ink and called out injustice. But although he lived into his 90s he saw little change and much that stayed the same.

Why do we hang on to what we’ve got, and turn away from the people with their “help me” signs on the side of the road?

Today we got a pile of $5 bills to keep in our car and give away. But there is no question in my mind about whether we will keep the car.

The consequences of our stubborn selfishness has a name: we call it structural sin. All of us both contribute to and are caught in a web of cultural unfairness and pretense. In his column February 8 David Brooks said, “You can have a nation filled with local change-makers, but if the government is rotten their work comes to little. The social sector has never fully grappled with the permanent presence of sin.”

The “social sector” is everywhere: our banks, schools, media, government, and much more. Joseph Tetlow, a Jesuit teacher, says they “are structured to serve first of all the little gods: profit, pleasure and power, the ‘ruling forces, masters of the darkness in this world’ (Eph 6:12)”.

Father Berrigan wrote a book-long commentary on Isaiah. Isaiah never gave up hope, nor did Berrigan. Neither can we. Tetlow knows how deeply we are embedded in our world. “Like polluted air, the earthly order gets into every one of us. And every one of us adds our part to that earthly order.” But he goes on to remind himself and us to pray. Prayer is the “best means for us to grasp this. Thank God as you go along for what you are and what you have. Gratitude is our best defense against the miseries of sin in the world.”

“Come, let us reason together,” says the Lord. The idea behind “simple” prayer is that I take a little time to tell God what I’m thinking and feeling. No need for me to sort things out. My friend Neal says this kind of prayer is “the prayer of beginning again.” I need that so much, because one day after another life can be crushing and my response, my contribution to the evil in this world, is all too clear.

The grace God gives me to begin again today brushes up to me like a warm cat purring, and licks my face. For this moment again, we sit together in the window, feeling the sun.

You call me out of my self into your presence, O Lord. “Return to me!” you shout and sing. “Let me love you like the children that you are.” O Father, let my ears hear you and my eyes see what you have done in my life, and always let me give thanks. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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Feb 15 18

All the Sunday and daily Roman Catholic lectionary readings for Lent and Easter 2018

by davesandel

All the Sunday and daily Roman Catholic lectionary readings

for Lent and Easter 2018


Readings for the Sundays of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost (Year B)

2/18/2018     1st Sunday of Lent      Gen 9:8-15, Ps 25:4-9, 1 Pet 3:18-22, Mark 1:12-15

2/25/2018     2nd Sunday of Lent     Gen 22:1-18, Ps 116:10-19, Rom 8:31b-34, Mark 9:2-10

3/4/2018       3rd Sunday of Lent     Ex 20:1-17, Ps 19:8-11,          1 Cor 1:22-25, John 2:13-25

3/11/2018     4th Sunday of Lent      2 Chr 36:14-23, Ps 137:1-6, Eph 2:4-10, John 3:14-21

3/18/2018     5th Sunday of Lent      Jer 31:31-34, Ps 51:3-15, Heb 5:7-9, John 12:20-33

3/25/2018     Palm Sunday              Mark 11:1-10, Isa 50:4-7, Ps 22:8-24, Phil 2:6-11, Mark 14:1-15:47

4/1/18            Easter Sunday                        Acts 10:34-43, Ps 118:1-23, Col 3:1-4, John 20:1-9

4/8/18           2nd Sunday of Easter  Acts 4:32-35, Ps 118:2-24, 1 John 5:1-6, John 20:19-31

4/15/18         3rd Sunday of Easter  Acts 3:13-19, Ps 4:2-9, 1 John 2:1-5, Luke 24:35-48

4/22/18         4th Sunday of Easter   Acts 4:8-12, Ps 118:1-29, 1 John 3:1-2, John 10:11-18

4/29/18         5th Sunday of Easter   Acts 9:26-31, Ps 22:26-32, 1 John 3:18-24, John 15:1-8

5/6/18           6th Sunday of Easter   Acts 10:25-48, Ps 98:1-4, 1 John 4:7-10, John 15:9-17

5/13/18         7th Sunday of Easter   Acts 1:15-26, Ps 103:1-20, 1 John 4:11-16, John 17:11-19

5/20/18         Pentecost Sunday       Acts 2:1-11, Ps 104:1-34, 1 Cor 12:3-13, Gal 5:16-25



Readings for the Weekdays (Cycle II)


Weekdays including Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday until the First Sunday of Lent

2/13/18         Mardi Gras                 James 1:12-18, Ps 94:12-19, Mark 8:14-21

2/14/18         Ash Wednesday         Joel 2:12-18, Ps 51:3-17, 2 Cor 5:20-6:2, Matt 6:1-18

2/15/18                                             Deut 30:15-20, Ps 1:1-6, Luke 9:22-25

2/16/18                                             Isa 58:1-9, Ps 51:3-19, Matt 9:14-15

2/17/18                                             Isa 58:9-14, Ps 86:1-6, Luke 5:27-32


First Week of Lent

2/19/18                                             Lev 19:1-18, Ps 19:8-15, Matt 25:31-46

2/20/18                                             Isa 55:10-11, Ps 34:4-19, Matt 6:7-15

2/21/18                                             Jonah 3:1-10, Ps 51:3-19, Luke 11:29-32

2/22/18                                             Esther C:12-25, Ps 138:1-8, Matt:7-12

2/23/18                                             Ezekiel 18:21-28, Ps 130:1-8, Matt 5:20-26

2/24/18                                             Deut 26:16-19, Ps 119:1-8, Matt 5:43-48


Second Week of Lent

2/26/18                                             Daniel 9:4-10, Ps 78:8-13, Luke 6:36-38

2/27/18                                             Isa 1:10-20, Ps 50:8-23, Matt 23:1-12

2/28/18                                             Jer 18:18-20, Ps 31:5-16, Matt 20:17-28

3/1/18                                                Jer 17:5-10, Ps 1:1-6, Luke 16:19-31

3/2/18                                                Gen 37:3-28, Ps 105:16-21, Matt 21:33-46

3/3/18                                                Micah 7:14-20, Ps 103:1-12, Luke 15:1-32


Third Week of Lent

3/5/18                                                2 Kings 5:1-15, Ps 42:2-4, Luke 4:24-30

3/6/18                                                Daniel 3:25-43, Ps 25:4-9, Matt 18:21-35

3/7/18                                                Deut 4:1-9, Ps 147:12-20, Matt 5:17-19

3/8/18                                               Jer 7:23-28, Ps 95:1-9, Luke 11:14-23

3/9/18                                               Hosea 14:2-10, Ps 81:6-17, Mark 12:28-34

3/10/18                                             Hosea 6:1-6, Ps 51:3-21, Luke 18:9-14


Fourth Week of Lent

3/12/18                                             Isa 65:17-21, Ps 30:2-13, John 4:43-54

3/13/18                                             Ezekiel 47:1-12, Ps 46:2-9, John 5:1-16

3/14/18                                             Isa 49:8-15, Ps 145:8-18, John 5:17-30

3/15/18                                             Exodus 32:7-14, Ps 106:19-23, John 5:31-47

3/16/18                                             Wisdom 2:1-22, Ps 34:17-23, John 7:1-30

3/17/18                                             Jer 11:18-20, Ps 7:2-12, John 7:40-53


Fifth Week of Lent

3/19/18                                             Daniel 13:1-30, 33-62, Ps 23:1-6, John 8:1-11

3/20/18                                             Numbers 21:4-9, Ps 102:2-21, John 8:21-30

3/21/18                                             Daniel 3:14-20, 91-95, Daniel 3:52-56, John 8:31-42

3/22/18                                             Gen 17:3-9, Ps 105:4-9, John 8:51-59

3/23/18                                             Jer 20:10-13, Ps 18:2-7, John 10:31-42

3/24/18                                             Ezekiel 37:21-28, Jer 31:10-13, John 11:45-56


Holy Week and Triduum

3/26/18                                             Isa 42:1-7, Ps 27:1-14, John 12:1-11

3/27/18                                             Isa 49:1-6, Ps 71:1-17, John 13:21-38

3/28/18                                             Isa 50:4-9, Ps 69:8-34, Matt 26:14-25

3/29/18         Holy Thursday           Exodus 12:1-14, Ps 116:12-18, 1 Cor 11:23-26, John 13:1-15

3/30/18         Good Friday               Isa 52:13-53:12, Ps 31:2-25, Heb 4:14-16, 5:7-9, John 18:1-19:42

3/31/18         Saturday Easter Vigil Gen 1:1-2:2, Ps 104:1-35

Gen 22:1-18, Ps 16:5-11

Exodus 14:15-15:1, Exodus 15:1-18

Isa 54:5-14, Ps 30:2-13

Isa 55:1-11, Isa 12:2-6

Baruch 3:9-15, 32C4:4, Ps 19:8-11

Ezekiel 36:16-28, Isa 12:2-6, Ps 51:12-19

Romans 6:3-11, Ps 118:1-23

Mark 16:1-7

The Octave of Easter

4/2/18                                                  Acts 2:14-32, Ps 16:1-5, Matt 28:8-15

4/3/18                                                  Acts 2:36-41, Ps 33:4-22, John 20:11-8

4/4/18                                                  Acts 3:1-10, Ps 105:1-9, Luke 24:13-35

4/5/18                                                  Acts 3:11-26, Ps 8:2-9, Luke 24:35-48

4/6/18                                                  Acts 4:1-12, Ps 118:1-27, John 21:1-14

4/7/18                                                   Acts 4:13-21, Ps 118:1-21, Mark 16:9-15






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Feb 15 18

Humble beginnings

by davesandel

Humble beginnings

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Moses said to the people, “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then! Heed his voice, hold fast to him, for that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live.”

– From Deuteronomy 30

Margaret got up early today. She’s gone now, but our computer is still playing her music: “Relaxing Coffee Jazz Café.” What a gift. While her chiropractor and acupressure genius works on her, this music is working on me.

Can I believe my eyes that the sun is shining? Ice melts like wax on a day like this. My heart rests in the warm.

What about my mind? Mostly I am prey to monkey mind. A whole herd of thoughts rush through my head like it’s a Serengeti tree, swinging from limb to limb, cackling and cringing and calling my name in every language. “Come, follow me.”

Moses, speaking for God our Father, seems to be giving the people a choice. “Choose life, then!” But this “choice” requires tools of mindfulness, discernment, and decision. Some things I learned as a child, and so did you. Paul McCartney wrote “When I’m Sixty-four” when he was 16. What did he know then?

What do I know now? How does my physical maturity serve my spirit? In the morning I choose life. By afternoon I reconsider and am on the fence, a painful place to sit for long. But I don’t want to fall off in the evening on the side of death.

In her two books Thoughts Matter and Tools Matter, Mary Margaret Funk helps me. She reads the primary sources and points out that Origin in the third century used the term “active life” to refer to the work of controlling my own thoughts.

What are these thoughts? In the fourth century John Cassian sorted them into eight categories: thoughts about food, sex, things, anger, dejection, acedia, vainglory and pride. Getting some control over one makes it more likely I’ll get control over the next.

By the sixth century these “thoughts” had been boiled down to seven “deadly sins.” Because behaviors are easier to see, the thoughts behind them tended to be ignored.

No wonder Freud and Jung seemed to be breaking important ground. Those thoughts are important! But often I’m not aware of them, and when I do think about my thoughts, I can quickly get more tangled up than ever.

In Meg Funk’s words, I have been “exhorted to be virtuous without any training of the mind.” In our history as humans, “distractions at prayer were a primary concern, but there were no practical suggestions about how to deal with them.” What to do so that we can choose life?

It’s good to start simple and be patient. About food, Meg writes, “After a few years of conscious discernment the body begins to establish a preference for well-ordered patterns of eating.” A few years! Well, for now I am learning to put my fork down between every bite. Every bite. Every day.

There is joy in this daily grind. She writes about herself, “A solitary cup of morning coffee takes on sacramental dimensions in the dawn. First light is a precious time.”

And the great news about instruction from the Holy Spirit is that the choosing, though difficult, is infused with grace. No matter about the last one, the next choice can be for Life.

O my Father, the music still plays, and your love grows warmer in my heart. As my thoughts leave by the back door of my mind, I hear Jesus knocking at the front. Please, come in. I am choosing life. I am choosing you.

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Feb 14 18

Hear our prayer, O Lord

by davesandel

Hear our prayer, O Lord

Ash Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Brothers and sisters, we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. Be reconciled to God. Now is a very acceptable time; now is the day of salvation.

– From 2 Corinthians 5

Four short simple words: “Be reconciled to God.” Jesus tells me how. “When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

God has no need for my careful words or perfect inflection. When I was born we were close without speaking. And now my words can get in the way of our friendship, when even when we are alone together I feel myself trying to impress, say the right thing.

So I often resort to ritual prayers because they don’t feel scripted or false. The Lord’s Prayer, Gloria, Jesus Prayer, Rosary. Like my own prayer language, these words slip through my lips and quiet my mind. In their rhythms, in their repetition, gradually they help me be still and listen.

The SIMPLE prayer, though, is for me to put into words what I’m thinking and feeling, and then just wait for what Jesus says. In the list of ancient sacred disciplines, I think that is called a “colloquy.” What did the old priest tell Samuel to say in the night? “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Because this is not exactly a dream. It’s a visitation.

At this dawning of Ash Wednesday, what can I do to be reconciled with God? What will God do? Does he wait for me to speak … and does he wait for me to listen? Speak, Lord. I want to hear your voice.

We honor Jesus’ Paschal sacrifice today and continue for the next forty days. We celebrate with all our might and we grieve with all our tears. Here we are, Lord. Ashes, ashes, dust to dust. You do not come in the earthquake, you do not come in the wind. You do not come in the fire, Father. It’s in the silence that you come. From Alexi Murdoch’s song “Breathe”:

You’re aware in all the silence

Of a constant that will turn

Like the windmill left deserted

Or the sun forever burn

So don’t forget to breathe

Don’t forget to breathe

Your whole life is here

No eleventh hour reprieve

So don’t forget to breathe

When I was a child I prayed like a child. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep.” Let me pray that way again.

In the morning when I rise, “Now I awake and see the light; Lord, thou hast kept me through the night. To thee I lift my voice and pray that thou wilt keep me through the day.”

Hear our prayer, O Lord, hear our prayer. Incline thine ear to us, O Lord, and grant us thy peace. Amen.

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