A PRAYER FOR HOLY WEEK

A prayer for Holy Week from Henri Nouwen:

Dear Lord, your disciple Peter wanted to know who would betray you. You pointed to Judas but a little later also to him. Judas betrayed, Peter denied you. Judas hanged himself, Peter became the apostle whom you made the first among equals. Lord, give me faith, faith in your endless mercy, your boundless forgiveness, your unfathomable goodness. Let me not be tempted to think that my sins are too great to be forgiven, too abominable to be touched by your mercy. Let me never run away from you but return to you again and again, asking you to be my Lord, my Shepherd, my Stronghold, and my Refuge. Take me under your wing, O Lord, and let me know that you do not reject me as long as I keep asking you to forgive me. Perhaps my doubt in your forgiveness is a greater sin than the sins I consider too great to be forgiven. Perhaps I make myself too important, too great when I think that I cannot be embraced by you anymore. Lord, look at me, accept my prayer as you accepted Peter’s prayer, and let me not run away from you in the night as Judas did.

Bless me, Lord, in this Holy Week, and give me the grace to know your loving presence more intimately. Amen.

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BOOK OF THE MONTH: WONDROUS ENCOUNTERS BY RICHARD ROHR

Rohr Lent coverWeek Four: What Is Life and What Is Death?

This month at The Contemplative Writer, we’re reading Wondrous Encounters by Richard Rohr. Rohr is leading us through some Scripture meditations for the season of Lent.

The Scripture reading for yesterday, the fifth Sunday of Lent, is John 11:1-45, and its theme is key: life and death. Rohr writes:

Humans are the  only creatures who have knowledge of their own death . . . This places humans in a state of anxiety and insecurity from our early years.

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On this last Sunday before Palm Sunday, we dare to look at the “last enemy,” death. And the only way we can dare to part the curtain and view death is to be told about our resurrection from it!

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We get a foretaste of resurrection in the raising of Lazarus, from the Gospel of John. Many of us are familiar with this story: in calling forth Lazarus from the grave, Jesus conquers death! I love what Rohr emphasizes about this passage:

[I]n a final brilliant finale to the story, he [Jesus] invites the onlookers to join him in making resurrection happen: “Move the stone away!. . . Unbind him, and let him go free!” It seems that we have a part to play in creating a culture of life and resurrection. We must unbind one another from our fears and doubts about the last enemy, death.

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The stone to be moved away is always our fear of death, the finality of death, any blindness that keeps us from seeing that death is merely a part of the Larger Mystery called Life. It does not have the final word.

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Scripture Reading:

‘This sleep is not to end in death, but is instead to reveal the glory of God’. . . . With a sigh that came straight from the heart . . . He cried out in a loud voice, ‘Move the stone away! . . . Lazarus, come forth!’ . . . ‘Now, you unbind him and let him go free.’ — Jon 11:4, 34, 38, 43-44

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Even as we prepare to accompany Jesus to his own death during this Lenten season, may we always remember that he is the resurrection and the life.

Read Wondrous Encounters here.

WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer for understanding from Evelyn Underhill:

O Lord Christ who, in this difficult world, was tempted in all things, as I am, yet fell into no sin, look pitifully, I pray you, upon me. Guide me with your adorable wisdom. Teach me in everything and in every hour what I ought to do. You alone know, both that I suffer, and what I need. To you that perfect path that I should walk is known. Show it to me and teach me how to walk it. Keep me, O Saviour, in body, mind and spirit, for into your strong and gentle hands I commit myself. Give me, O Lord, I beseech you, courage to pray for light and to endure the light here, where I am on this world of yours, which should reflect your beauty but which we have spoiled and exploited. Cast your radiance on the dark places; those crimes and stupidities I like to ignore and gloss over. Show up my pretensions, my poor little claims and achievements, my childish assumptions of importance, my mock heroism.

Take me out of the confused half-light in which I live. Enter and irradiate every situation and every relationship. Show me my opportunities; the raw material of love, of sacrifice, of holiness lying at my feet disguised under homely appearance; and only seen as it truly is…in your light.

Amen.

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WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer from The Venerable Bede (ca. 672 – 735):

I beseech thee, good Jesus, that as thou hast graciously granted to me here sweetly to partake of the words of thy wisdom and knowledge, so thou wilt vouchsafe that I may some time come to thee, the fountain of all wisdom, and always appear before thy face, who livest and reignest, world without end.

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WEEKLY PRAYER

A prayer from Origen (184-253):

Let us pray that Jesus may reign over us and that our land may be at peace — i.e., that our bodies may be free from the assaults of fleshly desires. When these have ceased, we shall be able to rest, beneath our vines, our fig-trees and our olives.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit will shelter us as we rest, our peace of mind and body once recovered.

Glory to God the eternal, age after age.

Amen.

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FRIDAY FAVORITES FOR PRAYER AND WRITING

Welcome to Friday Favorites! I hope you enjoy this week’s round-up of Advent posts and resources. This will be our last post of the holiday season. After today, we’ll be taking a short break and will see you again in a few weeks.

May you have a blessed Advent weekend and a joyful Christmastide!

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Holiday Prayer Guide 2017 via The Ezer Group (a beautiful prayer resource to center your soul, including a painting for visual meditation and a prayer from Catherine of Siena; you can hear me reading the prayer in this resource)

The Both-And of Our Faith via Mary van Balen (God is already here . . . and God is coming soon)

Into Safe Hands: A Meditation On Dying for Advent and Christmas via Ronald Rolheiser (a hopeful reflection if you or someone you know is experiencing grief and loss this season)

Who Would Have Thought the King of Heaven Would Be So Earthy?|Alexander’s Story via Tanya Marlow (a delightful historical fiction account of the kings’ search for the Christ child)

A Medium Aevum Advent via Lisa Deam (a link to my recent post — a personal reflection on the four advents of Christ as taught by medieval theologians)

All About Elizabeth (Luke 1) via Marg Mowczko (exploring Elizabeth’s advent story)

Our Favorite Christmas Books! via The Englewood Review of Books (check out this great holiday reading guide)

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CONTEMPLATIVE PROFILE: AN ADVENT POEM FROM MADELEINE L’ENGLE

Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) was a beloved American writer. If you’re like me, her novel A Wrinkle in Time was formative for your young adult years. L’Engle also wrote poetry; today, I invite you to reflect on her beautiful poem about silence, brokenness, and the coming of Jesus.

Ready for Silence

Then hear now the silence
He comes in the silence
in silence he enters
the womb of the bearer
in silence he goes to
the realm of the shadows
redeeming and shriving
in silence he moves from
the grave clothes, the dark tomb
in silence he rises
ascends to the glory
leaving his promise
leaving his comfort
leaving his silence

So come now Lord Jesus
Come in your silence
breaking our noising
laughter of panic
breaking this earth’s time
breaking us breaking us
quickly Lord Jesus
make no long tarrying

When will you come
and how will you come
and will we be ready
for silence
your silence

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BOOK OF THE MONTH: PREPARING FOR JESUS BY WALTER WANGERIN, JR.

Wangering cover 2Week 2: Let it be a “Yes!”

This month we’re reading Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr., a wonderful Advent devotional that will help you get ready for the coming of Christ.

In his reflection for December 11, Wangerin leads us to meditate on Mary, mother of Jesus. Mary joins four women named by Matthew as ancestors of Christ. Mary enters a sisterhood that we are called to enter, too.

In the passage below, Wangerin asks us to emulate Mary’s “Yes!” to the angel that announced Christ’s coming:

Mary, mother of our Lord, I wish I could be as pure a disciple as you were even from the beginning!

 

For you were invited to join a sisterhood–with Tamar and Bath-sheba–of sorrow and human suffering, since the child of your womb would draw the hatreds and the outrages of a scoundrel world.

 

And you said, “Yes.”

 

For you were asked to serve faithfully on behalf of others, like Rahab to protect a few for the sake of the many, like Ruth to turn disappointment into joy.

 

And you said, “Yes.”

 

. . .

 

For heaven itself was swelling within you, and you were the door. Not in terrible glory would he come, this Son of the Most High God. Not in the primal blinding light, not as the shout by which God uttered the universe, nor yet with the trumpet that shall conclude it, but through your human womb, as an infant bawling and hungry. By your labor, Mary, by the fierce contractions of your uterus, eternity would enter time. The angel said, Will you be the door of the Lord into this place?

 

And you said, “Yes.”

 

. . .

 

You, the first of all the disciples of Jesus, said, “Yes.”

What would you say?

Read more here.