Before writing, preaching, and perhaps even blogging, we all need to pray. So today, I’m featuring a prayer before writing from Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274), a Dominican friar, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. Aquinas’s Feast Day is January 28.
O Creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with the loving knowledge of you, that I may bring your light to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries which you have revealed.
Today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we pray with the minister and civil rights activist for peace and enemy love.
God, we thank you for the inspiration of Jesus. Grant that we will love you with all our hearts, souls, and minds, and love our neighbors as we love ourselves, even our enemy neighbors. And we ask you, God, in these days of emotional tension, when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail, to be with us in our going out and our coming in, in our rising up and in our lying down, in our moments of joy and in our moments of sorrow, until the day when there shall be no sunset and no dawn.
As we ring in the new year, let’s pray with Howard Thurman, the 20th-century theologian, mystic, and civil rights leader.
Through the Coming Year
Grant that I may pass through
The coming year with a faithful heart.
There will be much to test me and to make weak my strength before the year ends. In my confusion I shall often say the word that is not true and do the thing of which I am ashamed. There will be errors of the mind and great inaccuracies of judgement which shall render me the victim of my own stupidities. In seeking the light, I shall again and again find myself walking in darkness. I shall mistake my light for Thy light and I shall shrink from the responsibility of the choice I make. All of these things, and more, will be true for me because I have not yet learned how to keep my hand in Thy hand.
Nevertheless, grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart. May I never give the approval of my heart to error, to falseness, to weakness, to vainglory, to sin. Though my days be marked with failures, stumblings, fallings, let my spirit be free so that Thou mayset take it and redeem my moments in all the ways my needs reveal. Give me the quiet assurance of Thy Love and Thy Presence.
Grant than I may pass through
The coming year with a faithful heart.
The Feast of Epiphany is Wednesday, January 6. Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Christ to the world, as epitomized by the visit of the Magi. This week, we have a blessing for Epiphany.
God has called you out of darkness,
into his wonderful light.
May you experience his kindness and blessings,
and be strong in faith, in hope, and in love.
Because you are followers of Christ,
who appeared on this day as a light shining in darkness,
may he make you a light to all your sisters and brothers.
The wise men followed the star,
and found Christ who is light from light.
May you too find the Lord
when your pilgrimage is ended.
This week’s Advent prayer is from Karl Rhaner, S.J. (1904 – 1984), a German Jesuit priest and theologian.
Now God says to us
What He has already said to the earth as a whole
Through His grace-filled birth:
I am there. I am with you.
I am your life. I am your time.
I am the gloom of your daily routine. Why will you not hear it?
I weep your tears – pour yours out to me.
I am your joy.
Do not be afraid to be happy; ever since I wept, joy is the standard of living
That is really more suitable than the anxiety and grief of those who have no hope.
I am the blind alley of all your paths,
For when you no longer know how to go any farther,
Then you have reached me,
Though you are not aware of it.
I am in your anxiety, for I have shared it.
I am in the prison of your finiteness,
For my love has made me your prisoner.
I am in your death,
For today I began to die with you, because I was born,
And I have not let myself be spared any real part of this experience.
I am present in your needs;
I have suffered them and they are now transformed.
I am there.
I no longer go away from this world.
Even if you do not see me now, I am there.
My love is unconquerable.
I am there.
It is Christmas.
Light the Candles! They have more right to exist then all the darkness.
It is Christmas.
Christmas that lasts forever.
Las Posadas is a tradition among Spanish-speaking people that reenacts the journey of Joseph and Mary as they sought shelter in Bethlehem. Following is a traditional Posadas prayer.
Divine and eternal Word, who descended from the Father into the heart of the ever Virgin Mary, your love for humankind leads you to Bethlehem where you are born at midnight in a poor and humble stable.
In truth, thousands of angels accompany you on this journey, and yet we, whom you came to save and lead to that Bethlehem of eternal joy, stubbornly turn away from you.
Forgive us, God and Lord of the universe, and help us to walk alongside Mary and Joseph, thus giving us the courage to fight against and triumph over every adversity. Amen.
This week’s Advent prayer is from the theologian and author Walter Brueggemann.
In our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will.
And in this privileged place
we are surrounded by witnesses who yearn more than do we
and by those who despair more deeply than do we.
Look upon your church and its pastors
in this season of hope
which runs so quickly to fatigue
and in this season of yearning
which becomes so easily quarrelsome.
Give us the grace and the impatience
to wait for your coming to the bottom of our toes,
to the edges of our finger tips.
We do not want our several worlds to end.
Come in your power
and come in your weakness
in any case
and make all things new.
Yesterday marked the first day of the Advent season. We are now preparing our hearts for the coming of Jesus. We’ll begin the season with this prayer by theologian and priest Henri J. M. Nouwen.
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day,
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!’
In honor of Thanksgiving, we pray this beautiful prayer from Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981), a theologian, mystic, philosopher, and civil rights leader.
In Your presence, O God, we make our Sacrament of Thanksgiving.
We begin with the simple things of our days:
Fresh air to breathe,
Cool water to drink,
The taste of food,
The protection of houses and clothes,
The comforts of home.
For all these we make an act of Thanksgiving this day!
We bring to mind all the warmth of humankind that we have known:
Our mothers’ arms,
The strength of our fathers,
The playmates of our childhood,
The wonderful stories brought to us from the lives of many who
talked of days gone by when fairies and giants and diverse kinds
of magic held sway;
The tears we have shed, the tears we have seen;
The excitement of laughter and the twinkle in the eye with
its reminder that life is good.
For all these we make an act of Thanksgiving this day.
Today’s prayer comes from Mechthild of Magdeburg (ca. 1207 – ca. 1282), a German mystic and a Beguine. She was one of the first mystics to write in German rather than Latin. Her feast day is November 19.
O burning Mountain,
O chosen Sun,
O perfect Moon,
O fathomless Well,
O unattainable Height,
O Clearness beyond measure,
O Wisdom without end,
O Mercy without limit,
O Strength beyond resistance,
O Crown beyond all majesty:
the humblest thing you created sings your praise.