Monday, July 29, 2013

Does Prayer Change God's Mind?

What do you think?  Does prayer change God's mind?  
In last Sunday's reading from Genesis, 
Abraham is certainly persistent in his communication with God.  
But maybe it all depends on how you define prayer...
To read a recent Busted Halo article on this topic by Fr. Stephen Bell, CSP, click here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Parish Potluck Picnic July 2013

To see pictures from the parish potluck picnic, click here!
(No need to have your own Facebook page to access this album; it's open to the public.)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sunday Gospel Reflection, July 28, 2013: See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord...

When you pray, are you confident that God is listening? And, oh my, what if God is?

In this Sunday’s reading from the Book of Genesis, Abraham is confronted with a moral dilemma:  should he challenge God, interceding for the inhabitants of the city of Sodom whom God plans to destroy?  Entering into conversation with God, Abraham fights for justice, seeking evidence of God’s love in the face of sin.  In this first book of the Bible, the people of Israel are still tentatively learning who God is, learning to have trust and confidence in God.  Abraham’s prayer of petition is effective (God will ultimately send the righteous away before he acts), but the most important discovery that Abraham makes is that God’s love has no limits – Abraham thus expands his capacity to trust God.  And he trusts entirely.  Psalm 138 confirms the ongoing grace that is God’s care and love for the world:  When I called, you answered me

Persistence and confidence are key elements of this week’s Gospel reading from Luke as well.  Following his introduction of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells the story of a man who is in need of bread to feed a friend recently arrived from a journey.  He asks another friend, only to meet with refusal:  Do not bother me… But the first man will not leave, and ultimately, Jesus says, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.  Note that Jesus is not saying the petitionee will give the man whatever he wants, just as God does not necessarily answer our prayers with what we want.  Prayer, after all, is an interaction, not a fast-food order.  It is meant to expand our hearts, to unfold them, so that we can open ourselves to God, letting go of control, surrendering, entering into God’s plan rather than holding closely to our own.  And the more we come before God in prayer, the more we come to know God’s way, God’s plan, what God is unfolding in our lives.  We need to pray, to pray always…  and to have faith in the power of God (Colossians) who raised Jesus from the dead.  He can bring us to life also, if only we think to ask, and open our hearts to the surprising ways God works in our lives.

Seek and you will find.  Seek, and you shall find God.  Are you ready for that?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Photo source

Monday, July 22, 2013

Prayer for a Busy Life

Prayer for a Busy Life

(Even medieval nuns had trouble balancing their efforts to serve others with finding time for Jesus, as this prayer attributed to St. Theresa of Avila demonstrates!)

How is it God, that you have given me this hectic busy life when I have so little time to enjoy your presence? Throughout the day people are waiting to speak with me, and even at meals I have to continue talking to people about their needs and problems. During sleep itself I am still thinking and dreaming about the multitude of concerns that surround me. I do all this not for my own sake, but for yours.

To me my present pattern of life is a torment; I only hope that for you it is truly a sacrifice of love. I know that you are constantly beside me, yet I am usually so busy that I ignore you. If you want me to remain so busy, please force me to think about and love you even in the midst of such hectic activity. If you do not want me so busy, please release me from it, showing others how they can take over my responsibilities.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sunday Gospel Reflection, July 21, 2013: There is need only of one thing...

As the Body of Christ, we are called to simple hospitality:  a heart open to Other and a desire to serve -- but first and foremost, open and hospitable to Jesus.

Hospitable is what Abraham endeavors to be in this Sunday’s first reading from Genesis.  Admittedly, his efforts may at first be self-serving:  to a nomadic people, anyone approaching could be an enemy, so it behooved one to treat them well just in case.  Fortunately, although he doesn’t know he is facing angels, Abraham goes overboard in his preparations, expending significant resources to greet his guests.  His gestures are generous, nourishing, life-giving, as is their response:  a promise that Abraham’s elderly wife Sarah will bear a son within the year.  In part, this is because Abraham fulfills the description of the just man described in Psalm 15:  he is one who walks blamelessly and harms not his fellow man.  The grace of a son will be his recompense, and Abraham will live in the presence of the Lord, dwelling in right relationship with God.

But hospitality can be complicated, as we see in this week’s Gospel from Luke.  Jesus is in a room with Martha and Mary – an odd circumstance, as they are women who are not his relatives.  Mary is seated at Jesus’ feet, in the position of disciple, while Martha is doing the work necessary to see to Jesus’ needs.  And Martha resents Mary’s choice:  Mary has chosen the better part.  Is Mary being inhospitable?  To the contrary:  her welcoming of the Word in the person of Jesus is a greater act of hospitality, and because she does so, she will be able to serve with joy, for that joy will come from the depth of her being, fueled by the Word.  As for Martha, working hard to feed Jesus, she may not be able to be as open to being fed herself, though she is very hospitable to the man before her.

When we are focused on being fed by the Word that is Jesus, we see the depth of God’s love as only Jesus can reveal it.  And, fueled by that love, we can act upon our faith in service to other.  In terms of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we do this by living as the Body of Christ in the world, though we constantly struggle to do so.  Christ is in the Colossians, Jesus tells them; it’s up to them to allow him to be revealed in them.  If we embrace that reality, indwelling, then we will demonstrate that we are capable of the kind of open heart that ensures simple hospitality for other… starting with Jesus, present in us as we participate in his death and resurrection, revealed in us for the glory of God.

This post is based on OLMC's Thursday night Scripture class.
Photo source

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O all-blessed, immaculate Virgin, ornament and glory of Mount Carmel, thou who dost look with most gracious countenance on those who have been clothed with thy venerable livery, look kindly also on me and take me under the mantle of thy maternal protection. Strengthen my weakness with thy might; enlighten the darkness of my heart with thy wisdom; increase in me faith, hope and charity. So adorn my souls with graces and virtues that it may always be dear to thy divine Son and thee. Assist me during life, comfort me in death with thy most sweet presence, and present me as thy child and faithful servant to the most Holy Trinity, that I may be enabled to praise and extol thee in heaven forever. Amen.

(This prayer is followed by the Hail Mary (3 times) and the Glory Be.)

Today, July 16, is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel!
For more information on St. Simon Stock and his vision of Our Lady, click here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

C.S. Lewis on falling in love

The event of falling in love is of such a nature that we are right to reject as intolerable the idea that it should be transitory. In one high bound it has overleaped the massive wall of our selfhood; it has made appetite itself altruistic, tossed personal happiness aside as a triviality and planted the interests of another in the centre of our being. Spontaneously and without effort we have fulfilled the law (towards one person) by loving our neighbour as ourselves. It is an image, a foretaste, of what we must become to all if Love Himself rules in us without a rival. It is even (well used) a preparation for that. 
-- C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves