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Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Prayer. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Witness


Taken by my dreams
Transported to the heavens
Like the Apostle

Filled with promises
Chaos, blowing in the wind
All my work, refuse

We can have justice
We are entitled to it
We are called to it

Make it if you can
In the shadow of heaven
Parched prayers, hanging limp

Visions of flowers
Sterile seeds falling. withered
Promises, broken

The divine embrace
Amid the ashes, thirsting
Immanuel comes

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Patron Saint of Philosophy, Angelic Doctor of the Church - A Reflection





When I finally made it to university, I went to a place named for this man, The University of Saint Thomas, in Saint Paul, Minnesota and I studied philosophy there.

It was a grand place, it felt like a university, with its tall stately buildings made from massive blacks of light tan stone, Minnesota sandstone quarried from the hills nearby, when I passed through the arches into the quad I felt like I had arrived.

I studied philosophy, theology and the classics during my time there. Saint Thomas prepared me for advanced studies elsewhere, I continued my theological work, though not as exhaustively as he, his Summa Theologica remains a unique achievement in the history of Western thought, more important for the mode of thinking he transmitted his ideas through, than for the conclusions that he made. His work bridged the gap between the ancient philosophers: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle (and others), re-employing the tools of logic, and discursive reasoning that allowed Europeans to leave the Dark Ages, clearing the way for the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason that followed.

Saint Thomas died on March 7th, 1274. In 1969 the Church moved the day we celebrate his feast to January 28th, we celebrate his sainthood today. He was Italian by birth, and a member of the Dominican order, a scholastic, and he was famous in his day. He died while making a pilgrimage on the Appian Way, death took him at the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova, and the monks there knowing that he would be famous, and a saint of great renown, coveted the relics of his body.

They boiled his carcass down and polished his bones, preserving all of the water for distribution in the relic-trade, they refused for years to turn his body over to his Dominican brothers, parceling out his bones and the water bit by bit over time, keeping his skull until the very end.

The University of Saint Thomas has a vial of that water in its collection of sacred artifacts, as silly business, really, and beneath the dignity of the intellectual giant that Aquinas was known to be.

There is a prayer that Thomas wrote, it is carved into a column of the main entrance to the school grounds, and I read it every day or recited it aloud every day that I attended classes on the campus in Saint Paul.

It is a prayer that I carry with me still, as if it were written in my heart:

Grant, O Merciful God
That I may ardently desire,
Prudently examine,
Truthfully acknowledge,
And perfectly accomplish
What is pleasing to thee
For the praise and glory
Of thy name


Given First 2020.01.28

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Prayer


Listen to my prayer, hear it echoing in the dark chamber of my heart

Take me from this island, free my shadow beneath a shower of light

Listen to the music, the harmony of the spheres, the rolling wave beneath the tranquil sea

Remember me, the forgotten, the poetry of Anonymous

The greatest philosopher who never was, the poet of graffiti artists

Pray for the travelers, trudging through this life, marching forward with their doubts

Listen to the forsaken, the wailing of the self-defeated, stretched and thin

Enlightenment reaches everyone, in the end; like the sun-going super nova, small comfort

Pray for the release of the captive, the deliverance of the addict, I pray for you

Say a prayer for me, for mercy on the sinner, broken from the first breath I drew

Pray, as I pray for you

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Human


Lost in love, drunk with passion, stumbling

The watcher within waits for the dance, to give form to rhythm

It was a dream, the flight of angels, leaping in the light

A million refractions from the point of a pin

Each ray, a prayer, unbroken in the night

Lost in madness, like Romeo in his cups

Drinking to the dawn, a sweet and bitter potion

Like Tristram and Isolde who met their fate in a cave

Impaled on the bright spikes of desire

They crawled back into the earth to sleep, stirring nevermore

Lost in time, in the clever whispers of the world

Wind tossed and weary like Odysseus, compelled

To eat the lotus, to drink the hemlock, to relinquish all care

Socrates found what he was looking for in the dregs of despair

A longing to hold what cannot be held, to measure the fathomless deep



Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Eternity


Heaven’s child, stranger
Witness to our suffering
Remember us here

Recall us in prayer
Your brilliant countenance
Flashes like starlight

Beyond all learning
Sleeping and dreaming, Brachma
Beyond all knowing

The strident will
Triumphal, touched by sorrow
Clutching at the wind

Reach beyond the world
Fall back down to earth, humbly
A transcendent life

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Propitiation

Mother, ancient-one
Mother, goddess of the field
We plead for mercy

Mother, ancient-one
We need you, spare your children
Misery and doom

My prayer is a plea
How much blood do you require?
Flesh, the human feast

Mother forgive us
Virgin Mother, goddess, light
Winged crone, darkest night

Faith, I pray to you
Fidelity, I offer
Giving you my life

Flesh to bless my flesh
Spare us from the darkest death

Wash the earth in blood

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Beauty

You overwhelm me
I am caught, lost in your scent
Sea foam and honey

Goddess, Aphrodite
Venus, daughter of Titans
I bow before you

Queen of Olympus
Uncrowned, ruler of the heart
I am your servant

Six billion prayers
One in every kiss, love spills
From your blushing lips

In the light of hope
Desire, take me in your heat
Bless me in your fire

Touch the solar wind
I dive into the maelstrom

Washed in beauty’s flame

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Greatest of All Time

Mohammed Ali left the world
            One year ago
The greatest of all time is gone

Mohammed Ali held the world
In his hands
The greatest of all time, lives on

I heard the news of his passing 
I woke in the middle of the night
I heard the news of his passing
I listened to the stories and cried

Ali, the greatest of all one has died

Of all the heroes I ever fell for
He was the one that was truly alive
The only one I ever prayed for
The only one I thought
Could make a difference in our time.

Mohammed Ali spoke to the heart
            Of everyone

About justice, freedom, he told the truth
Showed us love.

He spoke to the world, as he fought
            For everyone

In rhythms that dazzled, words that hurt
            He floated
                        He stung

Like the butterfly, and the bee
            Symbols of his fame

He struck the powers of the world
            Bumaye

He was a prophet in our time
He praised, and he scolded
He was sharp tongued in his youth
A silent witness as he aged

I remember the day in 1980
I heard the news that he lost
Mohammed Ali lost!
Ali would never fight again!

Kids on the bus they murmured
Ali was not the greatest of all
The world stopped making sense.

Mohammed Ali gave my generation
Permission
We could be ourselves, be bold, and brag
            Be good, do right

Mohammed Ali taught us to question

Challenge authority, shun war

Risk the things you desire most

Give up titles, and money, and fame

Let them go for things that matter most

Ali taught us to serve the truth, seek justice
Do good
As long as you draw breath, the greatest
            Of all time

Mohammed Ali handcuffed lightning
He jailed thunder

His star rose like the sun
It has set
and will never be forgotten


2017.06.04


Given First (as an essay) - 2016.06.04

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 18:9 - 14 ©

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 18:9 - 14 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.10.23

On Pride and Humility

Jesus spoke the following parable to some people who prided themselves on being virtuous and despised everyone else: ‘Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood there and said this prayer to himself, “I thank you, God, that I am not grasping, unjust, adulterous like the rest of mankind, and particularly that I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes on all I get.” The tax collector stood some distance away, not daring even to raise his eyes to heaven; but he beat his breast and said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” This man, I tell you, went home again at rights with God; the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.’

Understanding

Do not be mistaken; both of these people are beloved by God.

God, the creator of the universe; God loves all people, without qualification. God gives to all people without preference.

In the person of the Pharisee, and in the person of the tax collector; there is good and there is evil; both. This is true of everyone. God loves us despite our faults and failings.

The Pharisee was born into the life of a Pharisee, was given the means to live the life he lived. He had some say in how he would handle his inheritance; as we all do, whatever that inheritance might be.

We are each of free to be prideful, or humble regardless of what we do or do not have.

A person who manifests an ugly sense of pride in relation to one aspect of their life, may be loving and humble in another. Do not believe that because you see one side of a person, you have seen everything about them.

The tax collector also inherited his circumstances; perhaps making choices along the way to establish himself in the role he occupied, nevertheless, like all people, his role in his community was partly determined by free will and partly determined by the exigencies of his community life.

A person may have an occupation where they know they are doing harm to others, but cannot walk away from it, because of unseen obligations; to family, to friends, to community. The fact that they are engaged in a sinful occupation does not tell us the whole story of who they are. They may be fierce and aggressive in the pursuit of their duties, and yet come to their prayers with humility and contrition.

Be welcoming to all who come to you. Do not judge them based on the outward expression of their piety, their occupation, their place in society.

We are all of us a mix of good and bad intentions.


30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 11:1 - 13 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.07.24

The Prayer of Jesus

Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘Say this when you pray:

“Father, may your name be held holy,

your kingdom come;

give us each day our daily bread,

and forgive us our sins,

for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.

And do not put us to the test.”’

He also said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.

‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’

(NJB)

Pray

Christians all around the world pray a version of this prayer, every day, every week, every time they are in church. At every hour of every day this prayer is said, in churches around the world. It is quite possible that not a minute goes by without it being said somewhere.

God, creator of the universe; God you are the creator of all that is, of everyone who is, who ever was, and who ever will be.

God, you are not a king, you are not a lord, or a prince but we pray for your will to be the measure of our lives.

We thank you for this life, and the foods that sustain us, as it is your will, we work toward a time when no person will be hungry.

It is our desire to repent; God, in turn we will forgive those by whom we have been hurt, love them, and work toward reconciliation.

God, we ask of you that you make this task easy on us, and be forgiving toward us as we fail (knowing that we will).

This is the path of holiness and the way of Jesus.

Treat all people as if they were your own beloved child, your own dear family, your greatest friend. 

Treat them as you would like to be treated; whether your days are lean or full of plenty.


17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of John 17:20-26 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.05.08

A Prayer for Understanding

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said:
‘Holy Father,
I pray not only for these,
but for those also
who through their words will believe in me.
May they all be one.
Father, may they be one in us,
as you are in me and I am in you,
so that the world may believe it was you who sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave to me,
that they may be one as we are one.
With me in them and you in me,
may they be so completely one
that the world will realise that it was you who sent me
and that I have loved them as much as you loved me.
Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am,
so that they may always see the glory you have given me
because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Father, Righteous One,
the world has not known you,
but I have known you,
and these have known that you have sent me.
I have made your name known to them
and will continue to make it known,
so that the love with which you loved me may be in them,
and so that I may be in them.

(NJB)

Confusion in the Gospels

There are passages in scripture, and there are many of them, in which the Gospels provide the reader, or the listener, with only a tangled and confused set of words and concepts that do little to shed light on anything good or meaningful.

This is one of those passages.

It is nearly impossible to get an accurate bead on their meaning.

Let us set aside for a moment that John’s Gospel, of the four, has the least concern for historical accuracy. The Gospel was written more than one hundred years after his death. It is likely that this event never happened, that Jesus never spoke these words in this way. Though it is possible he said something like it, but that is neither here nor there.

This meandering passage does represent the thoughts and feelings of John’s community at the end of the first century CE. It fully represents the mystical and mysterious way in which Christians had come to see the life of Jesus, and Jesus’s relationship to God, the creator of the Universe. It does this in terms that have a connection to some of the prevailing philosophical beliefs regarding the metaphysical structure of reality, but does nothing to explicate the system of beliefs it is specifically engaging.

This has been a burden on the faith over the centuries and millennia, and should be struck from the cannon. It is impossible for us to know what the Gospel writers meant, what the limits of their thinking was, never mind the fact that the philosophies of the ancient world, their metaphysical systems, were false, were wrong, were errant, there is little in those thought systems that can help us understand ourselves, the world we live in, or our relationship to the divine.

We can glean from this passage is this:

Jesus prayed to God on behalf of his followers that they would understand both his mission, and the mission that he was passing on to them.

He prayed for their unity.

He prayed that they love one another, and that the message they carried forward in his name was one of love.

This Gospel passage has the appearance of being directed specifically to Christians, and that is unfortunate because the mission of Jesus crossed all boundaries; sectarian, national, ethnic, and gender.

This Gospel passage is overly concerned with the message regarding the identity of Jesus, it is dogmatic, it pushes the message of who John’s community believed Jesus was, over the mission to preach the love of God. That was not what Jesus himself taught. In this way the Gospel deviates from the faith.

Who Jesus was in the world, and what we believe about that is not germane, and has no bearing on the Christian life. We need to concern ourselves with how Jesus was in the world and living a loving life according to that standard.  


7th Sunday of Easter