Mindfulness

Nourishment for the Journey

“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” (I Kings)

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“I sought the LORD, and he answered me. And delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34)

“So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 4)

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”(John 6)

Another shooting on the news, another riot, or raging forest fire, how much more can we take?  Another day of political bickering, violence and hatred all around the world. How much more can we handle? There are days the challenges of daily living and the challenges of living in a polarized world are too much. Where do we find the strength we desire for our journey through life? Where?
How timely it is that we are in the midst of the “Bread of Life” discourse at this uncertain time in the world.  “Death” is all around us and we hear Jesus say, “I am the living bread come down from heaven, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” Life need not be full of death. There is life in Jesus Christ.  Life in God.
This week we see the recurring theme of “nourishment for the journey” in all the readings.  I highlighted a few at the beginning of this post.  Elijah received nourishment for his arduous journey to the “mountain of God.” The Psalmist praises God for deliverance from all his fears. Paul reminds us to live in love, sacrificial love. Sacrifice our selfish motives and love each other and ourselves unconditionally. Finally, we hear Jesus say the nourishment you seek is found in me–believe.
This nourishment is available to us each and every moment of our life’s journey, but in a special way we are nourished at the Eucharist. “Take and eat, take and drink”…”Become what you receive”…”Go out and glorify the Lord by your life.”  Each time we partake of Christ’s body and blood we are like Elijah on our journey to the mountain of God. We receive the continued strength to love and serve each–no matter the circumstance or challenge.
We are witnesses of God’s love through Jesus Christ every time at Mass.  We taste and see the signs and miracles that the people in Jesus day were clamoring for, but refused to see.  Jesus’ sacrificial love is our sign, is our greatest desire, our surest hope in this world of “death.”
We are coming to the point in the “Bread of Life” discourse that we must ask ourselves, do we believe?  Am I willing to find my nourishment in Jesus?  Is the cost too great or too little to follow and believe in the living bread that came down from heaven?  Is Jesus’ teaching of unconditional love too difficult for me to live by.  Holding a grudge, not forgiving hurts is so easy to do.  It’s much easier to grumble about what’s wrong in our lives than to trust that God is with us and guiding us and nourishing us through every twist and turn, mountain and valley.  It’s easier to believe we are all alone on this journey, or we don’t need anyone to accompany us on our journey.  But that kind of “nourishment” or “food” is so fleeting and unhealthy.  We always end up wanting more and starving for what really brings us life.
This week, meditate on how Jesus–the living bread from heaven–is present with you on your journey.  Where do you see Jesus? Where are you experiencing Jesus’ loving nourishment? How will you praise God for seeing and tasting the goodness of the Lord?

 

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Mindfulness

Bread of Life; Bread for the World

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“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, (John 6)

“…be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.  (Ephesians 4)

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6)

“Bread for the world A world of hunger Wine for all peoples People who thirst May we who eat Be bread for others May we who drink Pour out our love…” (Bread for the World: Bernadette Farrell)

What strikes me this week as I meditate on these scriptures for Sunday is Jesus’ response to those following him after the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000.  “Do not work for food that perishes…”  I hear Jesus speaking to those people and our world today, “Don’t get so caught up in yourself and your ego.  Focus on something eternally more important.”

We live in the midst of so many distractions – technological, political, relational, personal.  We get so caught up in the noise that we forget to listen to what Jesus tells and shows us each time we hear God’s Word and partake of Jesus’ Body and Blood.

We want the “bread” of this world.  We keep wanting it with an insatiable hunger that we totally forget about that “Bread” which will always keep us satiated and strengthened to live in this world being “bread” for others.

St. John Paul II tells us that “the celebration of the Eucharist is a missionary event.” We empty ourselves of our selfishness and fill up on the selfless love of Jesus Christ each time we come to the table.  With that nourishment we can go out and “glorify the Lord with our lives, our words, and acts of selfless love.”  St. John Paul II also reminds us that the Eucharist is also a permanent school for charity, justice and peace, for renewing the surrounding world in Christ. From the presence of the Risen One, believers draw the courage to be artisans of solidarity and renewal–committed to transforming the structures of sin in which individuals, communities and at times entire peoples are entangled. (cf. Dies Domini 73)

This world needs what we have to offer from Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life.  The world needs more selfless unconditional love, kindness, respect, understanding and peace for every person regardless of color, economic position, political viewpoint, orientation or nationality.  Let us be that Bread to the World. Why? Not out of selfish ambition (food that perishes) but because the love of Christ, the Bread of Life, compels us.

Let us be bread and wine, love and peace to our hurt, broken world…

 

 

 

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Mindfulness

Jesus Christ: Bread of Life

bread“The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145)

“…live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all…” (Eph. 4)

“Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.  When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”(John 6)

We have entered into the dog days of summer.  The sun, warm weather, vacations at the beach or in the north woods or some far away place beckons us to come away from our everyday living and get away.   If we are mindful of what we are hearing at Mass, God is beckoning us to delve deeper into our relationship with Jesus Christ, the bread of life.

Beginning with the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, we are entering into some heady scriptures and challenging concepts to our faith life as Christians. These next few weeks, in our effort to be more mindful at Mass and in our daily living as Jesus followers, we will dive into what Jesus claims to be the Bread of Life and what consuming his body and blood means for us inside and outside of Mass.

The scripture quotes at the beginning of this blog help us begin to meditate on what Jesus is calling us to be and do.  God provides all that we need. Jesus vividly demonstrates this with the loaves and the fishes. Paul calls us out of ourselves and reminds us of who and what we are.  Sit with these passages, pray with them, listen to what God is telling you.  Reflect on their meaning and impact on the world we live in today.

Enter into the conversation and let me know of your reflections and observances as we look at the Bread of Life discourse and its meaning at Mass and in our daily living.   Let us all become more mindful of who we are and what we become.

“We are one body, one body in Christ;
and we do not stand alone.
We are one body, one body in Christ;
and he came that we might have life.” (Refrain: “We Are One Body”: Dana Scallon)

 

 

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Mindfulness

Advent Mindfulness

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Peacefully  Waiting

“In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!..” Isaiah 40
 “Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace….” 2 Peter 3               

I can be a very impatient person sometimes.  I don’t like to wait for things or people.  I can get agitated, nervous, anxious, worried. My waiting sometimes  is not very peaceful.  I know I am not alone in these feelings.  More and more we hear about people dealing with their anxiety issues. People complaining about how long they had to wait for their drive through food—it wasn’t fast enough or hot enough.  Our daily living has increasingly gotten faster and faster.  Faster internet, faster deliveries, faster results.  It seems like the art of waiting has gone out the window, has become obsolete.

Thank God for the time of Advent—a time for peacefully waiting.  Each week the prophets, apostles and Gospel writers encourage us to slow down. They encourage us to take a different look at our lives. They call out to us to listen differently and prepare differently for Christ’s coming again as a child and Christ’s coming into our lives anew each day.

Isaiah calls us to prepare the way, level out those valleys of anxiety and despair and be at peace.  Our shepherd is coming to tenderly take care of us and our every need.  The writer of 2 Peter reminds us of God’s patience and to be at peace. Yes, it seems the world is going up in flames all around us, but be at peace the Lord is always near (nearer than you think). John the Baptist calls us to bring our attention back to preparing our hearts and minds for Christ’s coming.

This all takes time.  It takes time to peacefully wait. Breathe, be mindful of God’s presence in you and around you. Be at peace, the Lord is near.

A blessed Advent and peaceful waiting.

 

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Mindfulness

Advent Mindfulness

Be Watchful

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“No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him. Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!”  Isaiah 63

 

Distractions abound in the busyness we call daily living. We are called this Advent season to leave the busyness of life and become more mindful of God’s presence in our daily living and in our preparations for Christ’s coming again as a child in the manger.

The above quote comes from the Old Testament reading for the First Sunday of Advent.  When you come again God—find us mindful of your ways, doing right…would that you find us doing right…but…in actuality we aren’t so mindful of God’s ways. We are oftentimes distracted by life and forget about loving as God loves; living God’s ways. The last line of this reading is beautiful.  “Yet, O LORD, you are our father; we are the clay and you the potter: we are all the work of your hands.” In the midst of our distractions and forgetfulness of God’s presence, you love us, you form us into the people who long to see your face…” Help us be watchful of your presence in how we love and care for others. Let us be watchful how we treat others, especially those who are hard to love.

This Advent season, let us take time to be mindful of God’s presence.  Let us be present with one another and present with God as we gather for Mass each week and when we take time to  be quiet in our daily prayer conversations and our Advent meditations. Let us take on an Advent Mindfulness to better prepare ourselves for the great celebration of Christ’s birth—God’s incarnation as a little babe, come to be our Savior.

Here are some ways to help you in your Advent Mindfulness

http://www.dynamiccatholic.com/best-advent-ever

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/

https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/liturgical-year/advent

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Mindfulness, Prayer

Liturgy of the hours 101

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Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening offering.(Psalm 141)

Our communal prayer takes on many forms.  We begin this part of our journey with a study of the “Liturgy of the Hours.” The parts of the Liturgy of the Hours that are more well known are Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer (Vespers).  But there is much more to the Liturgy of the Hours than this.

“The Constitution on the Divine Liturgy of Vatican II tells us that praying the Liturgy of the Hours has special status, immediately after the Eucharist in importance as the public prayer of the church.”*

On the USCCB website, the Liturgy of the Hours is described this way: “The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office or the Work of God (Opus Dei), is the daily prayer of the Church, marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer.  The Hours are a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ, using scripture and prayer.”**

Liturgy of the Hours encourages us all to be in prayer all through the day.  We may not always have the opportunity to gather with others withing our worshiping community for a more formalized time of prayer, but we can do all or any part of the Liturgy of the Hours alone. And it is an important reminder that we are to hold in our minds and thoughts and prayer our needs and the needs of those around us and to live each moment in thanksgiving and praise.

“In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church fulfills Jesus’ command to “pray always” (Luke 18:1; also 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Through this prayer, the people of God sanctify the day by continual praise of God and prayers of intercession for the needs of the world.**

“The Liturgy of the Hours includes several specified times of prayer. The most important times, called the “hinge hours,” are Morning Prayer (which takes place upon rising) and Evening Prayer (which takes place as dusk begins to fall). The other hours are the Office of Readings (a service with a biblical reading and a reading from the Fathers or Church writers or a reading related to a saint which may take place at any time of day), a Daytime Prayer (which may take place at Midmorning, Midday, or Midafternoon), and Night Prayer (said before going to sleep).**liturgyofthehours

“Bishops, priests, deacons, and many men and women in consecrated life pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day. Their work is organized around this prayer, keeping God always at the center of their days. Lay people are encouraged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as well, especially Morning and Evening Prayer. Many parishes in the United States schedule communal Morning and Evening Prayer on a regular basis.”**

The form for Morning and Evening Prayer are similar, they both include the singing of Psalms and Canticles from scripture, readings and prayers.  Morning prayer is more focused on praise and Evening prayer is focused on thanksgiving.

Here is a link to a more complete description of the Liturgy of the hours.
https://divineoffice.org/liturgy-of-the-hours/how-to-pray-the-liturgy-of-the-hours/

At this point in our journey, let us take a few moments to contemplate how we may use these prayer opportunities in our lives.  How would praying the hours help me be more mindful of Christ’s presence in my daily living? How may the hours help me to gain a better appreciation of my personal prayer life and my prayer at Mass?

May we continue to grow in our understanding and mindfulness of the many ways we can grow in relationship with God and with each other.

*Spirituality Committee of the Federal Association USA, The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and Malta, 28 Different Ways to Pray, Paulist Press, 2011.

**http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgy-of-the-hours

 

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Mindfulness, Prayer

The Two Sides of Prayer

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A prayer written by Dag Hammarskjold

“Give me a pure heart–that I may see Thee, a humble heart–that I may hear Thee, a heart of love–that I may serve Thee, a heart of faith–that I may abide in Thee.”*

St. Teresa of Avila–Carrying Out God’s Work

God of Love, help us to remember that Christ has no body now on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours.  Ours are the eyes to see the needs of the world.  Ours are the hands with which to bless everyone now.  Ours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.

~ ~ ~

Prayer’s Two Sides: Personal and Communal:  “We need both personal prayer and communal prayer.  Our prayer isn’t really prayer without both.”**

Prayer is a mystery. Prayer is a matter of faith.  Prayer is not for the “faint of heart”–yet it is precisely for the “faint of heart.”  To me, the mystery is the connection between personal and communal prayer. One does not live and thrive without the other. It’s a matter of faith, trusting that someone is listening and acting on my personal prayers and the communal prayer of those gathered together in worship. Prayer opens us up to vulnerability, not only to ourselves and God, but to those we gather with for prayer on a regular basis.

I am reminded of what Bishop Morneau has written on prayer. “Three key qualities of personal prayer are humility, charity and honesty; and three qualities of communal prayer are objectivity, support and solidarity. . .”**

My personal prayer life is vital to my relationship with God–it is where I fully open my heart and soul and bask in God’s presence and the spirit’s direction, but if I am all there is, it can quickly turn into some self-centered diatribe of either my deplorable faults or stunning qualities.  If I am all there is, I block out the myriad of people praying for me and for the entire needs of the world.

When we enter into our prayer, let us enter into it with humility, charity and honesty.  God knows our every fault and failing, every fear and worry, every joy and happiness, but God wants us to open our entire selves–to be vulnerable–to be openly receptive to all of God’s abundant love and guidance.

We also enter into prayer as a community. When we gather with others at worship we join our personal prayers to the prayers of the worshiping community  and to the needs of the world.

“Personal prayer has a partner, the prayer of the community.  We call this ‘liturgy,’ the public expression of our faith in word, song and gesture.  . . .Prayer, alone and together, is a spiritual menu that nourishes our soul, the community and the world.  Three qualities underlie communal prayer, this communication with God that we do together.”**

“Henri Nouwen writes, ‘Without community, individual prayer easily degenerates into egocentric and eccentric behavior, but without individual prayer, the prayer of the community quickly becomes a meaningless routine.'”**

When we enter into the other side of prayer, we bring those qualities and add objectivity, support and solidarity.  We expand our horizon to see the hurting world around us, the needs and joys of fellow believers. We have support in our journey through life.  People who know what we are going through and who pray for us. We pray for each other. We belong to a global village, a community of believers. We are all members of God’s family.

This week in our journey, keep in mind who is praying for you. maxresdefaultRemember in your prayers those around you who are in need, those you don’t even know who is in need. Pray for the needs of our country and our world.  We are all connected and we need each other’s prayer and spiritual support.

When we gather for Mass, or other prayer opportunities, let us always be mindful of who and what we pray for.  Let us give thanks for this mystery of prayer, let us grow in our faith and trust in God’s presence and let us grow stronger as we become more vulnerable and open to each other and God’s loving presence in every moment of prayer and worship together.

*Dag Hammarskjold, Markings, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1966.

**Robert F. Morneau, Paths to Prayer, Cincinnati, OH, St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1998.

 

 

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