Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Virus "Stay at Home" - 30 Day Retreat - Day 13

Sometimes prayer seems the only response.  I am feeling that way more and more as we live our sheltering experience. This prayer to the Holy Spirit filled me with peace today.  I hope it does the same for you.

Pray ...

Holy Spirit
I'm not asking you to cause life or death to disappear
hardship or distress to vanish
persecution or peril to evaporate.

But you can settle fears within this soul of mine
this panicked heart
this anxious spirit

Holy Spirit
Banish the Unholy Spirit
as real as you
but unwelcome.

You can quiet my qualms
Anxieties that dog my steps by day
Forebodings that haunt me by night

Holy Spirit
I'm not asking you to cause death or life to disappear
But to hearten me with the love of Christ
with a love for Christ


Friday, April 3, 2020

The Virus "Stay at Home" - 30 Day Retreat - Day 12

Today is Friday.  

Friday is the traditional day for the Stations of the Cross.  

This 17 minute video is powerful.  

As we begin Holy Week, Jesus' passion is on our hearts.

If this link is not working please post it to your browser to begin the video. 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

The Virus "Stay at Home" - 30 Day Retreat - Day 11

Let us pray:

God of healing and mercy, 

we come before you with our hearts filled with grief 

as we see the devastation of the Covid 19 virus. 

We pray that your presence would be felt by those who are grieving, 

who are infected, who have lost their jobs and livelihoods. 

We pray for wisdom and safety for those who are responding to the people in need 

the first responders, the nurses and doctors and our president and his advisors.

Help them as they face down the many challenges left in the wake of this event. 

We pray for our church, that it may be a witness to your compassion and care 

for all who suffer. 

Lord we ask you to enlighten the researchers and laboratory workers seeking a cure.  

Please let them be successful in finding a medicine quickly. 

God, you are our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. 

Lord we are desperate.  

Please answer our prayers quickly.

Prayer:  Let us offer this prayer or one of our own several times a day   Prayer works!

Action:  Reach out to someone you know is hurting.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Virus "Stay at Home" - 30 Day Retreat - Day 10

Shangrala's                                                          Wisdom Of                                                          Peanuts

So many of us, even those strong in faith, wonder how they can stop worrying.

While worry may be part of the human condition, it's important to hear what Jesus had to say about it in the Bible: 

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt 6:34).

No matter how much we try, we can't control everything in our lives. With this virus we are fighting, many of us feel more out of control than ever. It's time to learn to trust God. 

When you wake up— and whenever you begin to worry during the day — stop for a moment and give your concerns to God. Consider adopting a short and simple prayer such as: "Lord, I abandon myself to your will." Or, "Jesus, I trust in You." As your trust and surrender grow, your worry will lessen.

My wife, Linda, has a great devotion to Padre Pio.  His most famous quote fits our current situation to a tee.  He said:  "Pray hope and don't worry."

More than ever now is a time to focus on excellent life skills. All of us need to focus on eating right, getting a little exercise like walking around the block, taking some time each day for reflection and prayer, getting plenty of sleep, nurturing our relationships via the phone, email, Facetime, or Zoom and maintaining regular rituals that help dissipate stress.  I am cleaning the garage and find it very therapeutic!  The closets are next.

Worry is ultimately about fear — the fear of what might happen. We all have fears, and sometimes they can hold us hostage to a future that doesn't exist — and may never exist. The best way to combat fear is to focus on its opposite — love. One way to flood your life with more love is to be more grateful. If you can't stop worrying about our current medical crisis, start listing all the things you're grateful for in the situation — the roof over your head, the food in your refrigerator,  loved ones who support you, your faith, time with family, etc.

Feel free to reachout to me if you need to chat. You are loved! 

Prayer:  Spend some time in a prayer of gratitude, thanking God for all the gifts in your life.

Action:   Call someone you know is worrying.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Virus "Stay at Home" - 30 Day Retreat - Day 9

God Works in Mysterious Ways—Through Your Sermon! by Danny MacMunn ...  Abraham Pleads for Sodom- Genesis 18

When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

The story goes on, and Abraham ultimately convinces God if there are ten good people in Sodom to spare them. It may sound a little crazy, but I've imagined this prayer as I talk to God lately.  I am praying He will save us from this pandemic because so many good - "righteous" - people are suffering.  One mystery that is entirely beyond my understanding is the mystery of human suffering.  Even the best rational explanations of why suffering exists and how it fits into the whole order of things fall short.

I do know from many experiences in my life, that it is impossible to see God's Providence as it is happening.  We can only see it when we look back in reflection on the past. In times of crisis, it is tough to sense that God is present and working to bring good out of a bad situation. However, when we look back at such times, we can often see the gentle hand of God at work. After 9/11, an event so far from God's will, the love, and charity that poured out of all people, not only in the United States but around the world, was astounding!

In times of tragedy, we may not be able to see that God is there, leading us to peace and comfort, and so much more. However, we can rest assured that this world is set up in such a way that all can be bent and turned toward good.  God's work always takes on the faces of the saints who stand tall in the crisis.  Pray for our healthcare workers!  Pray for the truck drivers and warehouse workers and grocery clerks.  They are the face of God for us in these difficult times.

Prayer:  Pray as Abraham did for the people of Sodom.  Ask God to spare us from this crisis because excellent people are being hurt.

Action:  Call a nurse you know to thank them and let them know you are praying for them.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Virus "Stay at Home" - 30 Day Retreat - Day 8

A call to all & the gift of hospitality - Do Not Depart

For the past few years, the Saint Brigid parish staff has been laser-focused on hospitality.  We have worked very diligently to create an environment of welcome.

Today I was struck by the questions:

What does it look like to be a people of hospitality in a world of social distancing? 

How can we welcome our neighbors in a world where they may be infected, or we may infect them? 

The answers to these questions may look a bit different in this time of isolation. Perhaps the answer is not physical hospitality but rather spiritual hospitality. Many of us have said things like, "I would pray more if I just had more time." Well, now is your time. The distractions are gone.

Now is the time to pray and read scripture.
Now is the time to sit in silence and meditate.
Now is the time to reflect on Jesus' identification with the sick, the vulnerable, and the sinful.
And now is the time to pray for each other!

While it is true we cannot share a hug, we can offer a spiritual hug and offer a prayer for each other.  We also have the time to focus on hospitality toward God.  Let's all spend some quite time inviting God into our hearts, asking God for a closer relationship. There can be no hospitality toward God without first a silent, meditative, prayerful invitation to God.

While it maybe from six feet away, we can all practice hospitality to a neighbor, even a neighbor that’s been a challenge. There are vulnerable people around us who may have been forgotten, ignored, or overlooked. Hospitality in a world of COVID-19 looks like thinking of them when no one else does. It looks like letting our neighbors (including that challenging neighbor) know you’re there if they need anything.

We can also send encouraging prayers via text or email to people cloistered in their homes, living in fear. Or we can send prayers of healing for people who get sick. There is no better time than this to reach out to our neighbors and simply let them know you are praying for them. Social distancing does not mean we cannot live out the radical Christian ethic of hospitality.

In the weeks and months ahead, our lives may change in ways we cannot now imagine. And our faith may grow in ways we could have dreamed without the testing of COVID-19. Christian hospitality shines brightest in days of persecution and plague. It is during hard times—dangerous times—when Christians demonstrate that real love takes courage, we model Christ to a watching world.

Do not fear, COVID-19 is not going to overcome the world. Christ is. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).

Prayer:  Invite God into your heart, show him true hospitality.  Pray for your neighbors especially the ones who challenge you.

Action:  Send a prayer to someone you know needs one.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Virus "Stay at Home" - 30 Day Retreat - Day 7

Who Betrayed Anne Frank?
Times of crisis can cause us to let go of the worries of our day to day bustle and cause us to think about the truly important things in life.  Crisis times set at zero, the ordinary concerns of daily life. They invite us to ponder with proper awe the seriousness of the real mystery of life. Challenging times can deepen our faith and bring out the best in us.

Lately, Anne Frank and her family have often been in my thoughts.  Anne Frank was a Jewish teenager who went into hiding during the Holocaust. Her family's happy, tranquil life, as well as the lives of all other German Jews, were derailed by circumstances beyond their control.  Despite her enormous challenges, Anne's diary is amazingly optimistic.  She is an inspiration for us now.

She said in her diary: "I still believe that people are really good at heart ... if I look into the heavens, I think that it will come out right and that peace and tranquility will return again."  Thirteen-year-old Anne wrote this in her diary while she and her parents were hiding from the Nazis in World War II.

Was Anne's faith in the goodness of people merely an opinion?  Or was it rooted in something deeper than mere logic?  Anne expressed this belief in the face of horrifying events that drove others to despair.  I can't help but ask myself - why?  What was it about her that allowed her to find goodness and optimism in her challenges?  She is a model for us as we too face a challenge beyond our control.

Pope Francis seems to have a similar optimist spirit.  He sees his personal mission as welcoming people to the life and energy of the gospel as an antidote to the despair and cynicism of the world. As such, he has been welcomed by millions of men and women as a breath of fresh air. 

He said recently,  "We find ourselves afraid and lost. We were caught off-guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented ... all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other."

On a rainy evening, in front of an empty St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis offered a prayer of hope for Christians around the world battling to stop the virus and save lives.  "May God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace, Lord, bless the world. Give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.”

Peace be with you!

Prayer:  Repeat Pope Francis' prayer several times today.

Action:  Offer a word of hope to someone you know who is really struggling.