Prayers for Ever-Changing Times
In times of fear and uncertainty
“If life be harder, love makes it also stronger, and only this love, grounded on suffering, can carry the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. Love without egotism, without relying on self, but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst to love and suffer for all those around us: a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish... I believe, O Lord; but strengthen my faith...”
--attributed to Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J.
“The principle of giveaway is to always have your hands open to a gift. Either you're giving it or you're receiving it with the possibility of giving it again. If someone hands you a gift, you never put your fingers around it. ..Hold it in an open hand to look at it. As you look at it, you wonder if it should rest with you or if it should rest with someone else...You have been listening and you know the needs of many, so that gift may come to you with the sure message that it is to be passed on. That's a spiritual understanding of recycling.”
--Sister Mary José Hobday, O.S.F., from Simple Living
For those facing terminal illness
“What a blessing it is to have things clear with no need to make a lot of difficult decisions. God has manifested in me my my good health…Now God wants to manifest in even my terminal illness and this is great, too. What I really want is to become the Flow of the Spirit. My desire is to enter fully into the movement of Reality. No scenarios about what’s to come. Just live the Now.”
--from a letter by Hando S.J. (Tom Hand). Fr. Hand, who died in 2005, was among the first group of California Province Jesuits assigned to found Hiroshima Gakuin School in the ruins of that bombed city.
In times of doubt
If Jesus lies asleep with the waves slapping
and a storm wind up—as calm as can be,
his head on some coiled rope—it’s so I can see,
O me of little faith, just who is napping.
It’s not God, in whom Jesus snuggles now,
though I’m frantic, sure we will all go down.
“How could you doubt?” he asks with a hurt frown
when forced awake by the faintheart at the prow.
As if my voice had never lifted a psalm
telling in whom I confide, or in pitch dark
my feet hadn’t done the trust walk at all
where the spirit says to the pulse, “Du calme!”
Or my eyes hadn’t ever lit with the spark
Of the love that holds wind and sea in thrall.
--James Torrens, S.J., from Uphill Running: A Jesuit Life
In celebration of God's love
Nothing is more practical
than finding God,
than falling in love
in a quite absolute,
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination,
will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of
bed in the morning,
what you will do
with your evenings,
how you spend
what you read,
what you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you
with joy and gratitude.
Fall in love,
stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
--Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus, 1965-1983
O God we pray for new awareness of the battlefield within us
new ways of challenging aggressive instincts
new thought patterns, language and ideas
new appreciation of the world as one community
new methods of dialogue and negotiation
new attempts to befriend those different from ourselves
new readiness to forgive and reconcile,
new visions, new love new hope....
and a new faith that the peace that passes all understanding can reach out from within us to embrace the world.
--Kate Compston, from Beyond our Tears
For Earth Day
“The world is round so that friendship may encircle it.”
--Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.
For Father’s Day
How difficult it must have been, standing in, as every father
must sometimes feel. But where else did your son find
his courage and sense of outrage against injustice,
how did he become the man he was, if not for you?…
like so many other fathers, who have watched over
their families, not knowing what the right words were,
but willing to be there for them, up to the very end. Be with them now,
as you have been for countless others. Give them strength.
--Paul Mariani, S.J., from Shadow of the Father, a poem to St. Joseph
For Mary's guidance
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
you have given the world its true light,
Jesus, your Son--the Son of God.
You abandoned yourself completely
to God's call
and thus became a wellspring
of the goodness which flows forth from him.
Show us Jesus. Lead us to him.
Teach us to know and love him,
so that we too can become
capable of true love
and be fountains of living water
in the midst of a thirsting world.
--from the encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est of Pope Benedict XVI, Dec. 25, 2005
For forgiveness (can be adapted for a baptism)
One tiny bit of water rests on the palm of my hand.
I bring it to you and with it I bring the whole ocean.
This tiny drop has the power to ease the burning thirst of men;
when spread on the earth, to give life to the seed and the future harvest;
when poured on the fire to quench the blaze.
A tiny drop of water
can cleanse the whole of my impurity when blessed by your forgiveness.
But, O Lord,
more than all this, this tiny drop of water passed over my head
is the symbol of my birth in You.
--Sr. Ishpriya, R.S.C.J.
It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
-- Oscar A. Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated in 1980
For an open heart
O God, come to our assistance.
O God, make haste to help us.
Glory to the One in Three as it was in the beginning,
Is now and evermore shall be.
The evening creeps in.
The shadows fall.
Now falls away the hours of toil.
Now falls away the hectic pace.
Now falls away the day’s dissent.
Now falls away the discontent.
The evening envelops.
The darkness falls.
The day is past, let go regrets.
This night is now, enter in.
The hearth is lit; it casts a glow.
Kindle the heart from sparks below.
O God, let me calm down so that I might ease into the quiet of this night.
--from Evening Prayers, worship for the St. Barnabas Women’s Retreat, Castle Rock, Ariz., March 2002