PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL

WEEK OF APRIL 5, 2020

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Inspire Pope Francis and the entire church. May this be a time of inspiration and deep prayer. May the Church strengthen the world to believe that suffering will lead to joy and that pain will bring new life.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Give us the courage and grace to empty ourselves, to surrender our worries and anxiety into your hands, o embrace our suffering with hope, and to live each day with courage.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who carry the crosses of poverty and suffering, unemployment, stress, persecution, abuse or addiction. For those who are forgotten.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Guide governments and people of every nation to work together to bring healing to our world, to resolve conflict peacefully and to envision a new co-existence that accords dignity to all.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For peace in the world and an end to violence, particularly in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East. May the sacred events we recall this week inspire our world and fill us with hope in new life.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the prayers we hold in silence. We remember our friends and loved ones who are separated from us at this time …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship
  • To the point: Jesus warns the disciples at the Last Supper that their faith would be shaken, but the disciples deny that this will ever happen. Nonetheless, faith is greatly threatened when there is great cost, and we instinctively protect ourselves: the disciples flee; the Jewish leaders are adamant about destroying Jesus. Jesus alone remains unshaken in his faith: in the garden he says yes to his Father’s will, he is silent before his accusers’ false accusations, he willingly gives up his spirit on the cross. Instead of protecting himself, Jesus embraces the cost of his suffering and death—the great sign of his own faithfulness. An even greater sign is yet to come.
  • Connecting the gospel to the first reading: The selection from the third Suffering Servant song in Isaiah poignantly underscores Jesus’ conscious and active choice to remain faithful to his saving mission no matter what the cost: “I have not … turned back” and “I gave my back to those who beat me.”
  • Connecting the gospel to our experience: The more something costs us, the greater the demand on our resources and personal commitment. The cost of our salvation was Jesus’ very life; he did not shy away from the demands or cost or personal commitment. And remains even now so committed to us.

“Hosanna!” is a cry of praise precisely because it means “Save us now!” Shouting “Hosanna!” says, “Jesus is the way and the truth!” It is a cheer for this man whose power is love, healing and forgiveness. “Hosanna” proclaims, “You are the one who saves!”

WEEK OF MARCH 29, 2020

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the church and for Pope Francis. May we together embrace the paschal mystery, knowing that God always brings us new life from death and darkness. Strengthen our faith that new life will come. Give us what Bishop Lucia calls a strong hope in resurrection.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For our world and for all who face sickness and death. For those who live amid violence and with fear, for those who struggle with abuse, addiction and disease. Bring them hope, comfort and strength

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For all who experience loss and for those who wait in pain. May God’s love guide them to find pathways that will bring healing and fuller life. May faith be the tool we use often during these times.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For a deep awareness of the signs of resurrection around us. Though we may not be together at Easter this year, may we find ways to recognize the Risen Lord through the courageous words, actions, decisions and prayers of others who bring us hope and strengthen our resolve.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For peace in our world. May God pour out the spirit of love and compassion so that all governments and nations may work together to bring healing to our world and lead us away from war, aggression, selfishness and hatred.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For those we love — friends and family near or away. For all are in special need at this time. And for the many intentions we hold in our hearts…

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls his friend Lazarus back to life after he has been dead for three days. This beautiful story highlights for us the places on our lives where we need to be brought to fuller life.

  • To the point: Martha and Mary express great conviction in Jesus’ healing power: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Their conviction, however, was tied to their human experience of the fragility of sickness and the finality of death. Jesus’ action surmounts human experience and reveals something entirely new: “everyone who lives and believes in (him) will never die.” Belief in Jesus unties us from the limits of human experience and frees us for the eternity of risen Life.
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 11:1-45) to the first reading: Ezekiel describes God’s desire to untie Israel from the grave of their captivity and lead them back to the freedom of their land where they can renew their covenantal relationship with God. In the gospel Jesus commands the bystanders concerning the raised Lazarus to “Untie him and let him go free”.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: Our experiences of living can sometimes limit us. For example, when a friend has hurt us, we can become leery of deep relationships. In other words, “once bitten, twice shy.” But if we never allow Jesus to break open the limits of our human experiences, we can never receive the unexpected gifts of freedom and Life he offers.

WEEK OF MARCH 22, 2020

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For Pope Francis and the church. May we be light and a source of wisdom for all who struggle to discern good from evil, truth from lies or who seek direction, energy and optimism.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For our country and for the entire world. May we find our way through these difficult times. May governments come to the direct aid of all who have been rendered powerless.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For those who are blinded by their own prejudice and judgment. And for those who have no physical sight or who are losing their sight. May God’s love provide new awareness and courage.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For all whose lives have become darkened because of addiction. May they find the strength to follow the light of the Gospel  and to seek new pathways for their lives.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For peace in our world.  And for comfort to the sick, the dying and the grieving; e especially remember all who are suffering with complications from the coronavirus, for those who are most vulnerable, and for all who are afraid.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the prayers we offer in silence …

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

In the gospel, Jesus heals a man born blind from birth. This story calls us to reflect on the areas in our life where we need clearer vision.

  • To the point: In making clay from his own saliva and smearing it on the blind man’s eyes, Jesus re-creates the man by transferring something of his own being to the man. The man is anointed by Jesus as “I am” and comes to be a stalwart, believing disciple. Not even the powerful Pharisees can sway him from his testimony to the work of Jesus in him. In baptism we, too, encounter Jesus and become a new creation in him. Are we as stalwart and as believing as the blind man?
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 9:1-41) to the first & second readings: By Samuel’s anointing, David is re-created from shepherd to king. By Jesus’ anointing, the blind man is re-created from unseeing to believing. By our baptism, we are re-created from doing “fruitless works of darkness” to being “children of light.”
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: When we are young, we flip-flop about who we are. Only time and experience grant us the wisdom of knowing with sureness who we have grown to become. This sureness enables us to be stalwart in our values and beliefs.
Reflection

From Father Ron Rolheiser about “Seeing the Resurrection” through the words of today’s Gospel: “What makes some see the resurrection while others do not? What lets some understand the mystery and embrace it, while others are left in indifference or hatred?

Hugo of St. Victor used to say: love is the eye! When we look at anything through the eyes of love, we see correctly, understand, and properly appropriate its mystery. The reverse is also true. When we look at anything through eyes that are jaded, cynical, jealous, or bitter, we will not see correctly, will not understand, and will not properly appropriate its mystery.”

WEEK OF MARCH 15, 2020

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Bless and strengthen Pope Francis. May the church be like a fountain of living water or all who thirst for meaning in their lives.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the world. Remove all our prejudice and discrimination. Heal the wounds caused by political division. Help us welcome and embrace all people.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the grace of courage and strength. Free us from our fears. May world leaders work together to give people direction about how to deal with this world crisis.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For all who thirst and hunger daily. For those who lack clean drinking water. For refugees, immigrants and all displaced by violence and war. May we find ways to alleviate their suffering.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For a greater recognition of the unique gifts that women bring to the church. May we acknowledge that women help us to know God’s presence more fully.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For an end to bloodshed, and for all who are sick, dying or grieving. May we find our way during these times of crisis. And for any other intentions we hold in silence …

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

In today’s Gospel, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well. He listens to her story, accepts her as she is and transforms her shame to dignity. Jesus is ready to give us all life-giving water and to transform us on our Lenten journey.

  • To the point: When Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water, she completely misunderstood what Jesus was really asking: to understand the “gift of God” already given to her. What he was offering her was the gift of his very self: the living water that would lead her from chance meeting to divine encounter, from being a woman who attempts to deceive Jesus to becoming one who gives true testimony to “the Christ,” from her expectation of the Messiah to her belief that the “savior of the world” has come. True encounters with Jesus never leave anyone the same.
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 4:5-42) to the second reading: This reading spells out explicitly what the “gift of God” is — “the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” The Holy Spirit empowers us to recognize Jesus for who he is and be changed by him.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: How often in daily life do we simply “talk at” one another. Genuine conversation is harder work, but it opens up encounter with the other and brings life-giving transformation. In fact, transforming encounters with others are encounters with Jesus.

The Samaritan woman at the well was accepted for everything she was, just as she was. That fulfilled a need that no affair of the flesh or the mind could ever satisfy.

WEEK OF MARCH 8, 2020

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the church. May we be willing to follow Christ in new and dynamic ways and toward a fuller vision, so that we can live more deeply in holiness.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the grace of courage. For all who face crisis at this time transform them with grace. May this time of Lent bring offer a new beginning to all.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For a deeper realization of our blessedness. May we find ways to end poverty, hunger, discrimination, violence and persecution. That as descendants of Abraham — Christians, Muslims and Jews — may welcome, honor and embrace each other.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the gifts of peace and healing. Ease the many tensions that threaten our world. Help us to find ways to treat the coronavirus and deliver us from all that threatens life.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

For our personal needs and for the needs of our beloved sick, dying and grieving …

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

In today’s Gospel, Jesus shows us the glory that will be ours, one day. The story of Abraham reminds us that we are never too old to embrace new life. Lent is our time to delight in God’s blessing.

  • To the point: What high mountain must we climb for us to witness Jesus’ transfiguration? We must climb the high mountain of listening to Jesus, the high mountain of being pleasing to him, the high mountain of opening ourselves to the touch of his presence. When we climb this mountain, we forsake our own agenda of pitching the tent of satisfaction with our own works to enter into the glory of the life Jesus offers us. The mountain is steep; the climb is ours to choose; the vision at the top is divine — “white as light,” shining “like the sun.” Can we see him?
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matt. 17:1-19) to the first reading: God commanded Abram to leave the homeland he knew and to seek an unknown homeland that God would show him. “Abram went as the Lord directed him,” and for this he was greatly blessed. Jesus’ transfiguration bids us to let go of where we are (the “homeland” we know) to climb a high mountain (an unknown “homeland”) that leads to new, risen, transfigured, Easter life.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: No matter how insightful or imaginative, all human vision is limited by the boundaries of human experience. The vision of Jesus’ transfiguration explodes the boundaries of human experience yet is very real and attainable. Jesus shows us the glory that is ours to come, attainable because it is God’s gift to those who are faithful.

Today’s liturgy invites us to gather with a few others and to climb our symbolic mountain, away from distractions, where two or three can be together with Christ. There, we can share our own visions of who God is in our lives.

WEEK OF MARCH 1, 2020

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Strengthen Pope Francis and the church. Renew us in mind and heart that we may live as your beloved sons and daughters.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For world leaders. May they help us restore a proper balance with all creation by promoting life, dignity and welcome wherever there is poverty, aggression, violence and a thirst for power;

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the grace of conversion. May your Spirit lead us to confront the demons in our lives with the strength of our faith that we may bring a deeper holiness to our living.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For those preparing for in our parish. For RCIA candidates, engaged couples, expectant parents, First Communion and Confirmation classes. May the time of Lent draw them closer to you.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For all who are alienated from the church. Touch their hearts. Bring them a renewal of spirit and help them find a community of faith.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For all who struggle with addiction or attraction to wealth, power and control. Free their hearts to know more wholesome love.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For our own intentions that we hold in silence. And for the needs of our beloved sick, dying and grieving …

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

In today’s Gospel, the devil tempts Jesus to trade his oneness with God for selfish attention to created things — food, honor, control and pride.The followers of Jesus take the journey of Lent seriously. We reject temptation, rebalance our priorities, and choose to be in relationship with God.

  • To the point: Jesus spent 40 days alone in the desert and was vulnerable, so the devil tried to allure him with tantalizing temptations. Temptation is essentially an enticement to put our own desires and needs first. Resisting temptation, then, is really resisting self-centeredness. Like Jesus, we must choose instead to surrender ourselves to God who alone should be the center of our lives. To make any other choice is to choose a false god. This First Sunday of Lent poses this question: Do we serve god or God?
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matt. 4:1-11) to the second reading: The second reading contrasts Adam, who did not resist temptation with its consequences for humanity, and Christ, who did resist temptation and so gave humanity the promise of new Life. How frequently we are like Adam; how continuously grace calls us to be like Christ.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We use the word “temptation” rather lightly in all kinds of contexts. For example, we say we are “tempted” to abandon our diet for a sumptuous dessert. But the nature of temptation described in this Sunday’s readings is much more serious, for its consequences involve our very life and salvation. The time has come to march into the desert with Jesus. This trek is designed to teach us who we are, to teach us to assume the power we have been given as people made in the image of God, free of the insecurity that makes us selfish, free to become the lovers we were created to be.

WEEK OF FEB. 23, 2020

Please respond: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Strengthen Pope Francis and fill our church with courage. That we may we learn how to love and accept others without condition or expectation.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Give us wisdom that opens our hearts in generosity and welcome wisdom that helps us to recognize and respond to the needs of others, especially refugees and immigrants.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For government leaders in every nation. May they establish structures that promote life, peace, justice, dignity and safety for all.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For a growth in holiness and a deeper sense of discipleship. May we be drawn into a fuller relationship with Christ. For an increase in priestly and religious vocations and for growth in compassion from all ministries of the church.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For those victimized by poverty, war, injustice, addiction or abuse. For all who have been infected with the coronavirus. May they find hope, care, health and well-being.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For Bishop Lucia. May God bless him with discernment, that his decisions and directions for our diocese may promote life, faith and service.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For all who are sick, dying, or grieving, and for all who seek and need our prayer …

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

Today’s scriptures call us to be holy as God is holy, not by seeking revenge through the law but by turning the other cheek, by going the extra mile, by giving more than is wanted, by praying for our persecutor. In these ways, we show our holiness and perfection.

  • To the point: In this gospel, Jesus challenges us to go beyond our expected responses to human interactions. But challenging as they are, his examples of this “beyond” are nonetheless still finite human actions and limited love. Jesus’ examples are shocking — but not nearly so shocking as what he really expects of us: “be perfect as our heavenly Father,” who gives life, sunrise and rain to the just and the unjust” alike. Infinite actions. Limitless love. What a challenge!
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matt 5: 38-48) to the first reading: The first reading is a selection from the holiness code of the book of Leviticus. When this book teaches we are to “be holy” as God is holy, it is saying the same thing as Jesus who challenges us in the gospel to “be perfect” as our “heavenly Father.” God’s holiness is God’s perfection.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We encounter God’s holiness or perfection in the traces of God’s glory all around us — for example, the glory of a sunrise or the refreshment of a rainfall, or the radiant smile of an innocent child or the limitless love of a selfless caregiver.

WEEK OF FEB. 16, 2020

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Bless Pope Francis and the church. May we grow in our understanding of the law — that we may be a holy people and a loving and accepting church.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the gift of courage in our world. Empower us to make life-giving decisions — choices that can us bring happiness and that can bring peace and joy to the world.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who suffer because of poverty, violence or abuse. For immigrants who seek safety and refuge. May we open to welcoming all who are in pain and find ways to alleviate their suffering.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For married and engaged couples. For those who have lost a spouse because of death, separation or divorce. For those who lead single lives. May we always be channels of love for others.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For peace in our world and for the problems and concerns that we face in our personal lives. For our beloved sick, dying and grieving.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

In today’s scripture readings, Jesus breathes new life into old laws so that we can understand how deeply God loves us and how deeply we should love each other.

  • To the point: What does it mean for Jesus to fulfill the law? Jesus sees in the law the means to the fulfillment of time (“until all things have taken place”) when the law will be replaced by righteous relationships within the kingdom of heaven. The fundamental law is gift of self to others. When self-giving is lacking in any act of keeping the law, the law, in fact, is not kept. We are to keep the law as the way to enter a manner of caring for and relating to others that leads to fullness of Life. Our model for so doing is Jesus.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matthew 5:17-37) to the first reading: Keeping the law as an act of love is a matter of “life and death.” We have only to make the choice.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We don’t choose to fall in love, it just happens. But staying in love requires constant choosing, that what just happened by chance and grace becomes pattern and commitment. The same is true for the fundamental law of self-giving, which is really a fundamental law of love. The mystery of God’s plan for humanity is not so much about grasping for understanding as it is about being grasped by love.

WEEK OF JAN. 26, 2020

Please respond: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

For the church. May we have the freedom to leave everything behind in order to follow Jesus’ gentle call to serve others and proclaim the reign of God.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

For a spirit of hope in our world. May those who find themselves in darkness, depression or addiction find hope and renewal in the Word of God.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

For unity. May all Christians work together to manifest the love and presence of God in every society of our world.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

For blessings upon world leaders. May they have the wisdom to work for peace and unity, and develop policies for the common good of all.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

For all who are discerning a call to ministry in the church. May those called to the priesthood and religious life be encouraged and supported, and may their motives be pure and selfless.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

For a greater appreciation of human life. May we respect and defend all of humanity from conception to natural death.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

For our beloved sick, dying and grieving, and for the prayers we offer in silence …

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

The old prophesy ended with the death of John the Baptist. Jesus brought a new reality, leading the world from darkness to light, calling us all to listen to God’s Holy Word.

  • To the point: John’s ministry is finished; with his arrest, the tradition of Old Testament prophets dies. Enter Jesus, inaugurating a new reality. Jesus calls Peter and Andrew, James and John to leave their life as they knew it and become disciples who now proclaim the “gospel of the kingdom.” Humanity moves now from darkness into “a great light.” New teaching happens now.  New healing comes now. New life is given now. Now, a new presence.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matt 4:12-23) to the first reading: The darkness to which Isaiah refers is a political reality of oppression and subjugation. The “great light” symbolizes Israel’s deliverance and freedom. Matthew situates Jesus in the same land of darkness, asserting that the great light shining in the darkness is Jesus.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We easily identify figures of immense personal presence — Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. — who changed the course of human history. Jesus’ personal presence is so utterly immense — he even more dramatically changed the course of human history.
Reflection

Today’s first reading echoes the Christmas Eve proclamation of the birth of Christ as a light dawning in the darkness. Today, these same words refer to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Both his nativity and ministry are aspects of a single event: the coming of light into the darkness of our world. Jesus’ light is more like a gentle candle in a window on a dark night than a powerful fluorescent that penetrating every nook and cranny. Jesus is not the powerful searchlight from which no flawed thing can escape. He came as a simple person, a forgiver of souls, a quiet observer of human faces. We watch him walk along the seashore talking with fisherman, and gently inviting them and us to follow him into a new way of living.

Meditation for this week

In our deepest selves, if we can enter there, we may discover a peace and a goodness, a forgiveness, a gentleness and a hope. That light is Christ. In our deepest selves, we may discover a desire — a most inner desire — that what we want is to do God’s will. This desire is all we can really know or be sure of about ourselves. It is enough. This is grace.

WEEK OF JAN. 19, 2020

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the church. May we allow divine grace to work in us and form us into the people of God.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For all the disciples of Christ. May we be a light to the nations, a united beacon for those who seek deeper meaning.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • As we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. we pray for an end to all kinds of prejudice against others. May we teach our children to see as God sees.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • We pray for blessings upon those places in our world where poverty and violence compromise the dignity of human life. We pray for the courage to speak for justice and for generosity to share our gifts.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For a deeper respect for human life. May we find ways to alleviate the suffering of those who live with anxiety, depression or addiction.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For our own intentions. May our beloved sick, dying and grieving find comfort, snd for the needs of our families and friends …

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship    

John the Baptist humbly recognized Jesus as the Lamb of God upon whom God’s Spirit descended. As Christian disciples, we also are called to discover Jesus in new ways and to point others toward him.

  • To the point: This gospel is a testimony of what John knows about Jesus. He is the Lamb of God, he forgives sins, he pre-exists, he is Spirit-filled, he baptizes with the Holy Spirit, he is Son of God. But John’s testimony does not exhaust the richness of Jesus’ identity; there is even more. The mystery of Jesus continues to be revealed to us and through us today. What more are we discovering and revealing?
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 1: 29-34) to the first reading: As God formed Isaiah from his mother’s womb to be his prophet and a “light to the nations,” so are we called from our baptism to be that same “light to the nations,” revealing the Christ in us to all those we meet.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We often hear limited, trite descriptions of who Jesus is (“Jesus is the answer” or WWJD). But the richness of the mystery of Christ encompasses a breadth and depth that cannot be exhausted in quick answers or pithy statements — not even in a life faithfully lived!
Reflection

This week’s readings lead us into the season of Ordinary Time with a reflection on who we are called to be as Christians. They remind us that being a Christian is never a solo performance. We are called together, formed by God’s word to become a light to the nations. Like John the Baptist, we are called not for ourselves, but to be able to point out the Lamb of God to others. When we know and accept that vocation, we can call ourselves the church of God in our own hometown and in our world.

WEEK OF JAN. 12, 2020

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Renew our church. Stir the gift of the Spirit within us. Make us bold in faith and dynamic witnesses to your love.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Embrace our world. Strengthen us to bear our daily challenges. Show us which pathways to take to end poverty, addiction and violence.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Inspire all who have been baptized and confirmed to be faithful to our promises, to believe that we are Your “beloved” and to understand our mission in the world.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Reconcile all Christians. Bring unity and peace to the church and to the world.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Shepherd the sick and the grieving. Console the homebound and the imprisoned. Comfort the dying and the abused.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the prayers we offer in silence …

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. When we hear God’s words that Jesus is his beloved, we know that we, too, are beloved sons and daughters of God. Baptism identifies us as God’s own children.

  • To the point: John is pointing to a baptism greater than his and to a person greater than him. Jesus asks John to baptize him in order to “fulfill all righteousness” and thus show forth his continuity with the tradition in which John stands. But more happens. When the heavens open, the Spirit descends, and Jesus is announced as the “beloved Son,” a new tradition is born, and humanity’s relationship with God is changed forever.
  • Connecting to the Gospel (Matt 3: 13-17) to the first reading: Isaiah speaks of a servant in whom God is pleased, upon whom God’s spirit rests, through whom God’s work of justice is brought to completion. This servant image is fulfilled in Jesus who is announced in the gospel as the “beloved Son.”
  • Connecting to the Gospel to our experience: The economy identifies us as consumers, and our purpose in life is to buy. The entertainment industry identifies us as spectators, and our role is to “tune in.” Baptism identifies us as God’s beloved children, and our calling is to remain faithful to our identity and act in accord with our new relationship with God.

WEEK OF JAN. 5, 2020

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Bless the Church with wisdom and understanding. Give us a mature faith open to healing those who have been hurt, angry, abused or who have felt inferior or unwelcome. May we understand and alleviate the spiritual hungers of our young people.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Bless our world and its leaders with honesty and compassion that we may stop the hateful violence caused by prejudice. We pray for an end to racial intolerance and anti-Semitism. May we embrace that truth that all people are God’s children.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • May this be a year of blessing and grace for the needy. May the poor find dignity, the hungry be fed, the hurting be strengthened, the angry find forgiveness. May migrants and refugees be welcomed and respected and allowed to establish new lives for their families.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Bless Father Jim and our parish family. May this be a year of imagination and grace for us so we can celebrate our faith in deeper ways and grow as a parish directed by our dreams. For blessings upon the Vietnamese and Burmese members of our parish.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Sustain all who are in need — the sick and dying; those experiencing grief, depression and addiction; the people of Australia through this season of wild fires; and for all who need our prayer.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. The Wise Men found the newborn King in an unexpected poor place, not in a palace of kings. People of faith find Jesus in unexpected places.

  • To the point: The magi come from the East sincerely searching for “the newborn king of the Jews.” The self-serving, deceitful plotting by Herod does not thwart their finding the newborn King. Like the magi, in spite of our own “Herods,” we too must diligently search for Christ. Even when we seem to lose sight of the star and the way forward is no longer clear, even when evil forces seek to thwart our search, we can trust that God never leaves us in darkness, but always leads us to light.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matthew 2:1-12) to the first reading: The first reading reveals God’s work: divine glory shines upon us to lead us, to gather us and to enrich us with God’s own splendor. What are we to do with this splendor? We are to walk in God’s light so that we become that light for the world.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: Sometimes we grow discouraged in our search for God. In truth, we find God not primarily because we search but because God reveals the divine splendor and presence to us.

WEEK OF DEC.29, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. Give us the faith and trust of Mary and Joseph. May our dreams help us persevere when we confront trials, dilemmas or uncertainties.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For healing in our human family. Help our brothers and sisters who struggle with poverty, hunger and war. Open our hearts to migrants and refugees. Bring lasting peace to our world.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Bless married and engaged couples and single people. Bless our children and our aged parents. Heal all who are alienated by broken families. Show us how to best accept and love each other.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who are away from their families at this time. For children who are missing or at risk. For those who live alone and without family support. Help them find healing, direction, and care.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For those who suffer because of bad health or grief. For children and adolescents who need direction. For victims of abuse and addiction. Open their pathways toward healing.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the intentions we bring to mind in our silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

On this Feast of the Holy Family we reflect on the tensions of human struggle — in our own families,and in the family of humanity. May we be faithful to each other, acknowledging the sacredness of every person.

To the point: Joseph, in this Gospel, clearly acts as the father of the family. To him is given the revelation that danger is at hand and they must flee to Egypt. To him is given the further revelation that it is safe to return to their homeland. Whether going or coming — Joseph is attentive to both the needs of his family and the overtures of God’s presence and guidance. He is head of the Holy Family: one in which the members discern God’s will, risk change for each other’s growth and good, and are united in fidelity to God and each other. This feast calls us to be this same kind of holy family.

Connecting the Gospel (Matt 2:13-15) to the first and second readings: What does it mean to be holy? The first reading suggests concrete behaviors that a holy family exhibits: honoring, respecting,obeying one’s parents. Paul also suggests behaviors for the holy family of the church: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness.

Connecting the Gospel to our experience: Holiness is not a goody-goody, otherworldly mode of living. Rather, it is a realistic engagement in life—in the difficulties, struggles, and tensions of human life and relating — that always reflects fidelity to God’s will.

WEEK OF DEC. 22, 2019

Response to each petition: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For wisdom in the church. May we find ways to follow God’s spirit and open wide the doors of faith to so many who are lost, searching or angry.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For peace in our world. May we find answers to alleviate the burdens of the poor and all who suffer. We remember the urgent need for peace in so many parts of our world.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For anyone who is waiting. For parents expecting birth or adoption, for families welcoming loved ones back home, for members of the military or any who are away from family and friends, for immigrants who seek welcome. Bring them consolation and peace.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For blessings upon our young people. May optimism fill their minds for all who dream of a better world. May they have courage and strength to follow their visions.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For those who are sick, dying or grieving. For the addicted and the depressed. May a tender joy touch their hearts and bring them hope.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For the needs we hold in our silence …

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

Call to worship

On this last Sunday of Advent, the church calls us to reflect on how we embrace the birth of Jesus. Can we hear God’s voice in our dreams calling us to being more open and to welcome Christ in real ways?

  • To the point: In this Gospel, the state of affairs is not what it appears to be. Mary is not unfaithful, but faithful. Mary is with child, but a virgin. The infant is not only an earthly child, but also a heavenly one. Yet the infant is not heaven-bound, but an Earth-bound Emmanuel. Joseph, not the father, but in a father’s role, names the child Jesus. When the Spirit of God is at work, and we cooperate as did Mary and Joseph, something altogether new happens: mystery abounds, and “God is with us.”
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matt 1:18-24) to the second reading: It is the gifts of the “grace of apostleship” and “obedience of faith” that enable us to cooperate with the “Spirit of holiness,” as did Mary and Joseph. Mystery abounds and something new happens in us: “God is with us.”
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: Mystery abounds when we are willing to relinquish control and open ourselves to the unexpected.
Reflection

In this fourth week of Advent, the readings invite us to pray for Joseph’s kind of openness to God’s unpredictable projects for our world. Our fourth candle kindles so that we might open our minds to see beyond our own dreams and schemes — that Emmanuel may be ever more present in us and through us.

Joseph challenges us to live lives of profound discernment. He was one of the first to experience the paschal mystery, in which what seemed to be the worst day of his life was actually a day of unimaginable grace.

As Joseph faced his decision, the stakes were immensely high. Matthew’s story tells us how God gambled on Joseph. Luke’s nativity reveals how God gambled on Mary. In reality, God gambles on all of us. In return, our faith is a gamble that God’s love will lead us in times of confusion and doubt.

If Joseph were to visit us today, he might counsel us to worry less and pray more. He might even give us a pre-Christmas gift of Thomas Merton’s prayer for doubters. The key phrases of that prayer are, “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. … But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. … I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. … I will not fear, for you are ever with me.”

Even in confusion, that’s an act of faith in Emmanuel.

WEEK OF DEC. 15, 2019

Response to each petition: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For the church and for the world. May Advent satisfy our deep longings for wholeness, vitality, dignity and joy.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For greater awareness in our relationships. May this season help us recognize the love we have for each other — for spouses, family members, friends and for all who are significant in our lives.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For all who struggle with doubt about Jesus. May their hearts and minds be open to the marvelous and miraculous things that God does within and around them.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For those who are ill, disabled, addicted, imprisoned, suffering or depressed. For immigrants, and those who struggle through war. May the God of Advent bring comfort, hope and peace.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For peace and justice in our nation and our world. For healing in our relationships. For attention toward our young people and the sustenance of our world and morality. And for the prayers we offer in our silence …

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

Call to worship

On this great Sunday of our rejoicing, Advent calls us to patiently look deeper to discover God’s goodness within and around us and to recognize Christ and to rejoice.

  • To the point: The gospel begins with John questioning who Jesus is and concludes with Jesus extolling who John is. What makes John great is that he recognizes in “the works of the Christ” the person and presence of the Messiah — “the one who is to come.” This is exactly our Advent challenge: to see in the goodness around us the works of Jesus and the presence of “the Christ.” Advent calls us to look deeper and then to trust what we see. Whom we discover depends upon what we see.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matt 11:2-11) to the first reading: Isaiah announces that salvation is revealed in such wonders as making the blind see, the deaf hear and the lame walk. These are exactly the works Jesus does, revealing to all that Jesus is “the Christ,” the Savior.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We learn who a person is by observing how that person lives and behaves. We learn who Jesus is by observing how faithful believers live and behave.
Reflection

Today invites us to rejoice in all the good around us. It challenges us to recognize the presence of God in everything that promotes freedom and communion. The more we participate in Jesus’ work of transformation, the more we will understand that we have encountered God with us and need not look for another.

If John could talk to us as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, he would probably encourage us to join with him in questioning. At a time when there was a wide variety of religious opinions and paths offered for public consumption, John asked Jesus if he were the One. Today, Christians seem content to say that Jesus is the One, but we too often trim him to our own expectations rather than wonder who he is and where we should look for him.

If we allow today’s scriptures to guide us, we will ask more questions and give fewer answers about the Christ of Christmas present. If we wish to seek him, our starting place must be among those who are serving the blind, the lame, the outcast and the poor. Some of those people are scandalous, but so were Jesus and John. Blessed will we be when we see God at work through them.

WEEK OF DEC. 8, 2019

Response to each petition: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For renewal in the church. May the Spirit grant wisdom, strength and understanding so we can know what it means to be children of the light and come to honor the dignity of all.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For a deeper sense of justice on Earth. May we be inspired to work aggressively to establish God’s order in the world, to sow seeds of kindness and compassion, to work against corruption, violence and injustice.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For prophets in our day who call us to face the truth, live the truth and speak the truth. May they be strengthened and not silenced. May we find courage in their message and inspiration in their witness.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For healing and forgiveness where there is hurt or division. For openness and welcome wherever immigrants suffer. For freedom for those oppressed by addiction. For our beloved sick, dying and grieving. May all people find wholeness, acceptance and peace.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For the prayers we hold in our silence …

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

Call to worship

Today’s scriptures call us to repentance and a change of heart. We can burn with the fire of God’s Spirit and prepare the way for the Lord when we let go of our judgments and embrace kindness, gentleness and truth.

  • To the point: John the Baptist prepared “the way of the Lord” by calling the people to repentance so they would not be “thrown into the fire” of “the coming wrath.” John announced impending judgment and offered a baptism of repentance. John also announced the one to come who would enact that judgment and bring a baptism in the Holy Spirit and fire. The fire of judgment destroys those who are fruitless; the fire of the Spirit helps the faithful bear good fruit. Advent is all about jumping into the fire.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matthew 3:1-12) to the first reading: During Advent the readings from Isaiah are prophecies of the Messiah. Thus, the “sprout from the stump of Jesse” is the Christ. The “spirit of the Lord” that rested upon Jesus bringing him wisdom and understanding, counsel and strength, knowledge and fear of the Lord is the same Spirit we are given at baptism bringing us the same gifts enabling us to be faithful and fruitful.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: The misuse of fire, arson, is considered a very heinous crime because it destroys more than property — it is an invasion of personal space. In this gospel John refers to fire as a destructive force but also as a gift that brings personal worth — new life.
Reflection

As we hear about John today, we might try to imagine ourselves among the crowds. With whom would you identify? Are you with the conservatives who think they know God’s truth and are clear and strict in its moral demands? Are you with the politically correct liberals who strive to be pure, adjusting moral demands to the times, all the while enjoying the certainty that comes from ongoing in-group prayer and reflection?

Representatives of the least respected people probably won’t be reading this article. The ones who would have been John’s ardent followers are out begging on the streets or protesting climate change; they may be marching for LBGTQ rights, starting alternative farms or vegan restaurants, joining volunteer groups, or doing something else that make Sadducees and Pharisees alike shake their heads. Most of us have a foot in more than one group.

John appears in our liturgy today proclaiming that Advent is a wake-up call. Like it or not, we can’t ignore his message.

Today’s Scriptures force us into a choice: Either we confess that we’re part of the problem and take the plunge to work for a really different future, or we hang on in the style of the Sadducees or Pharisees. The biggest warning is that if we ignore John and his crowd, we’re not likely to recognize where Christ is working today.

WEEK OF DEC. 1, 2019

Response to each petition: Come, Lord Jesus

  • We pray for the church. In the midst of the darkness of selfishness, jealousy and greed that covers so much of the Earth, may we live as children of light bearing God’s love, patience and compassion to all.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • We pray for the world. May God open the hearts of our human family so that all swords, guns, bombs and weapons for war may be converted into plowshares and resources for peace and human development.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For all who await God’s blessings. For those who are pregnant or engaged to be married, for those who are separated from family or homeland, for prisoners and for immigrants, for all with AIDS or other illnesses, for those who face death. May God’s strength comfort and sustain all who wait.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • During this season of hope and expectation, may we make time for reflection and silence, preparing our hearts for a new and deeper awareness of Christ’s presence in our lives.

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

  • For those who find this season difficult, and for the many needs we hold in our silence …

We ask: Come, Lord Jesus.

Call to worship

Today we begin the season of Advent. Scripture calls us to be awake and ready. Advent is not about God coming to us — it is about us coming to God.

  • To the point: “As it was in the days … so it will be.” With these words Jesus points to patterns in human conduct. Humans have been both unfaithful and faithful to God’s ways; have not paid and have paid attention to God’s instructions; have not been awake and stayed awake to God’s comings. The people in Noah’s days did not know that the flood was coming; Jesus’ hearers did not know when the Son of Man would come. We, however, do know that Jesus has come, taught us the way of faithfulness, and brought us salvation. We need only to “stay awake” as we work in the field. Advent is about our coming to God.      
  • Connecting the Gospel (Matt 24: 37-44) to the first reading: Isaiah describes the day when all nations will “climb the Lord’s mountain.” “Mountain” is a metaphor for God’s presence. Our Advent journey, as in the days of old, is to climb the mountain of the Lord, to come to God.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: Advent itself is a metaphor for Christian living. As Advent is a progression toward celebration of the Nativity, so is our daily life a journey toward the fullness of Life to come. We need only to “stay awake.” Today’s readings invite us to focus on the end, not to emphasize our vulnerability but to remember where we’re going.

WEEK OF NOV. 24, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For Pope Francis and the church. May we bring healing, forgiveness and reconciliation to all who have been alienated or marginalized.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who exercise authority over others. May they use wisely the power of the offices entrusted to them. May they lead with honesty, integrity and compassion.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For those who struggle with life’s demands. The poor, the homebound, the immigrant, those with mental illness or suffering with addiction. May they be supported and helped by the love of others.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who will be travelling this week. May they do so safely. And may the coming holidays bring renewal to families and to friends.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For those who are sick, dying, or grieving. For those who we need to forgive and who seek our forgiveness. May faith and love be our guide and support through difficult times with heavy burdens.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For what we hold in our silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

On this last Sunday of the church year, we celebrate Jesus Christ, king of the universe and savior of the world. Christ is a king whose throne is the cross of love and forgiveness.

  • To the point: “If you are King … save yourself,” the soldiers jeered at Jesus on the cross. So did the rulers and one criminal crucified with Jesus taunt him about saving himself. But they misunderstood what “save yourself” means. They thought being saved meant that Jesus should come down from the cross, avoid any more suffering and avoid death. But Jesus shows us through his words to the other criminal what being saved really means: “You    will be with me in paradise.” Salvation is less a matter of being saved from, than a matter of being saved for.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 23:35-43) to the second reading: Paul expresses what we have been saved for: the inheritance of holiness, membership in the kingdom of the beloved Son, a share in Christ’s fullness, reconciliation with all things, and peace.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: What we are celebrating with this solemnity is not a style of government (earthly kings and kingdoms), but the victory of Christ over all things — even death. Christ the King makes possible among us a reign of goodness, mercy, forgiveness, justice, reconciliation, peace.
Reflection

We have only one, very short document written about Jesus during his own lifetime: the inscription explaining the reason for his execution. Luke quotes it as saying: “This is the King of the Jews.” Short as it is, it has the power to indict everyone who contemplates it.

The accusation, which John tells us caused controversy as soon as Pilate wrote it, explains the government’s reason for executing Jesus. He was subversive. He refused to worship at the altars of imperial power where people are coerced to accept that “might makes right.”

Jesus was charged with atheism, with sedition regarding the gods and rulers of his day. The alternative he offered was the God who wielded the power of merciful love as the only option to a world of violence, division and death.

The other criminal became the gospel’s final and perhaps most unanticipated model disciple. Like the humble tax collector of Jesus’ parable on prayer, his focus was on God and the blameless man who shared his fate.

Unlike anyone else in the scene, he perceived God’s presence in the innocent victim by his side. This criminal alone grasped the mystery that the King of the Universe was powerful enough to lay down his life, trusting only in God. Understanding this he could turn to Jesus and pray, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

He was perhaps the only person present at that moment who desired a place in Jesus’ kingdom, and thus he was a comfort to Jesus even as Jesus promised him salvation.

WEEK OF NOV. 17, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. May we offer hope and vision to the human family during times of confusion and chaos.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the gift of hope. May we deeply trust that God is always with us and that God will never abandon us.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our nation. May we seek healing during these times of division. Guide us toward clarity and truth. Give us a deep wisdom that will lead us to healing and understanding.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who suffer in any way. For the impoverished and the hungry. For the victimized, the persecuted and the addicted. For those who seek refuge and safety and who cannot find welcome in a new home.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • May we strengthen and nurture our faith so that it can sustain us during our times of fear and guide us when we despair.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the sick and the dying. For all people who grieve and for the needs we lift to God in our silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

As we approach the end of the church year, we reflect on the end of all things. As Christians, we do not fear the end. Instead, we are faithful to the work of establishing God’s Kingdom.

  • To the point: Catastrophes, disasters, wars, insurrections, etc., are not signs of the end of the world but of how far we actually are from the end. We hasten the end not by being fearful of these events but by being faithful to Jesus’ work of establishing God’s kingdom. Preaching, teaching and living in Jesus’ name is the one sure way of discipleship that hastens Jesus’ Second Coming and secures for us eternal life.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 21:5-19) to the first reading: The first reading describes the day when evil will be destroyed and those who fear God will walk in the light of God’s justice. On this day the end will come because God’s purpose will have been accomplished.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: There are billboards and doomsday criers who point to catastrophes and evil as signs of the end times. What happens when we change our perspective and realize that the end times will be upon us only when goodness and justice reigns?

WEEK OF NOV. 10, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • May the church be a faithful witness of your constant, vibrant and dynamic love. May we be a sign of resurrection and new life, opening our hearts to those in doubt, depression and despair.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who grieve. May counseling and faith provide the strength they need to continue relationships with their loved ones.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For those who are afraid of dying, or who are close to death. May their faith be strengthened so that they may find confidence, consolation and healing.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • May all people know how deeply our beloved deceased live on with us, in our memories, in our hearts, and in the communion of saints that gathers with us every time we celebrate our faith.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For peace in our nation and in our world. For blessings upon all newly elected leaders. May they govern with kindness, in fairness and with justice, upholding the rights of all people and the common good.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all veterans and for agencies and people who support and encourage them. We give thanks for their service and for their dedication.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our personal prayers and for the needs of our friends and loved ones  that we hold in our silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

In November, the Church calls us to reflect upon the end of all things. The scriptures speak about resurrection hope. Because our God is not  a God of the dead but rather a God of the living, we believe that all relationships continue after death.

  • To the point: The Sadducees are fixated on dying; Jesus is focused on living. The Sadducees deny there is resurrection; Jesus proves there is by rising from the dead. The Sadducees are trapped by affairs of this life; Jesus abides with angels and “the children of God … who will rise.” The Sadducees’ idea of this life ends with death: there is nothing more. Jesus knows that this life continues in newness of life. And there is even more: we already participate in what the Sadducees deny. To God “all are alive” now.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 20: 27-38) to the first reading: In no uncertain terms, Jesus affirms resurrection and eternal life. This “hope God gives of being raised up by him” (first reading) fortifies us to remain faithful to God even when the price in this life is ultimate (an extreme example of which is the death of the seven brothers). We can give our life because God gives us new life.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: In our ordinariness and busy everyday living, we rarely think about either the end times or eternal life. Nearing the conclusion of the liturgical year, the readings invite us to reflect on the reality of the end of the world and God’s promise and gift of fullness of life.
Reflection

Although we are tempted to evaluate the limited human lifespan on the accomplishments a person leaves behind, Jesus proposed that the meaning of life comes from God’s own self-gift and that we find fulfillment in relationships of love “like the angels,” rather than on anything that society recognizes as achievement.

These stories invite us to reflect on our life in community and the fact that life is not about self-aggrandizement or even self-preservation, but about cultivating reverence for the uniqueness of each member for the good of the whole.

WEEK OF NOV. 3, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. May we extend your love to all who are on the fringes of society, inviting them to know Christ and to find friendship within the Christian community.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For those who have grown wealthy in dishonest or unfair ways. May we usher in and embrace a new culture in which no one uses others for their own benefit.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Guide all who are lost: Young people without direction or addicted; older people who suffer memory loss, loneliness or disability; all who are estranged from families; and Immigrants who seek peace and safety.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For Syria, Ukraine, Mexico, Hong Kong and Venezuela. May God break the cycles of violence in those lands. That governments may protect those who are victimized and accord dignity to all people. We pray for peace in all parts of our world. Calm our unrest and make us instruments of mercy.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For what we hold in our silence … Bless those who are sick and dying. Help those who grieve the deaths from our own community on this weekend of remembrance. Grant eternal peace to our beloved deceased.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

Today, we celebrate an interlude of mercy, that divine moment when we see God, who has chosen, forgiven and saved us. As we celebrate new life for our beloved deceased, we recognize how much Jesus wants to come close to us, touch us and save us. No matter who we are, no matter what we have done.

  • To the point: Jesus did not intend to stop in Jericho, but Zacchaeus stopped him short. Jesus responds to Zacchaeus’ uninhibited enthusiasm by doing for him the very thing Jesus came to do: “To seek out and to save what was lost.” Their dramatic encounter brings out something about each of them that escaped the grumbling crowd. Zacchaeus is open to being changed through an encounter with Jesus. Jesus is the one who inspires the kind of change that leads to salvation. We are to be just as uninhibited and enthusiastic about encountering Jesus and just as willing to be changed by him.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 19:1-10) to the first reading: Wisdom poetically describes the same dynamic dramatically depicted in the gospel between Jesus and Zacchaeus: changed behavior is called forth, God loves and spares all things, God desires conversion and grants salvation.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: Some people we meet have a lasting effect on us. For example, St. Pople John Paul II’s effect on the young people gathered for world youth days, a respected teacher’s influence on a youngster’s choice of career, a beloved grandparent’s impact on a youngster’s behavior. The challenge of the gospel is to allow Jesus to come close enough to us to have lasting effect.
Reflection

The atmosphere in two of the liturgy’s readings can be termed “an interlude of mercy.” The phrase captures a sense of God’s patience with us sinners as we figure out how to respond to love. This interlude is the time between transgression and awareness, when God invites us forward into life; it is so much more powerful than anger or violence. If nothing else in these readings touches us, that particular dynamic —  that interlude of mercy in the face of our error and sin, that space in which to face ourselves free of external judgment and condemnation — offers wisdom on how we might act when we are confronted by the error and sin of others. Like Zacchaeus, we can thank God for the interludes of mercy when, for whatever reason, we once again know God, who waits patiently for us to awaken to what the Divine holds out to us.

WEEK OF OCT. 27, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. May your Spirit teach us to pray with total dependency on You, that we may be open to the depth of your mercy and love

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our world. May there be an end to tyranny in every form. May the powerless be exalted and the powerful experience genuine compassion and offer generous help to all who are burdened and in need.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • May we each hold the grace of humility. May we present ourselves to God, to each other, and to our own selves by honestly surrendering our pride, and by recognizing the limits of our strength and power.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For those who are bound by their own self-righteousness. Free their hearts and break down the walls of their prejudice. Open them to know the dignity of each person and to find new dimensions for their faith.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the needs of the immigrant families, widows and orphans. For all who live on the margins of society. And for our beloved sick, addicted, dying and grieving. For all that we seek and hold in silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

Only those who know their deep need for God can pray honestly and hear God. When we are filled with judgment or prejudice we can never hear God speak to us.

  • To the point: The Pharisee is faithful to pious practices but misses the heart of prayer: the inward turning to God that carries us outward to right relationship with others. We cannot honestly pray to God if we judge harshly and set ourselves apart from those we meet every day. The tax collector is justified; he admits that he has not been in right relationships (“me a sinner”). True humility is honesty about who we are before God and others. True prayer leads to God exalting us (“went home justified”) because we have humbled ourselves before God and exalted others through our just actions toward them.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 18:9-14) to the first reading: Sirach states in a poetic way what Jesus in the gospel parable teaches: Our just God extends justice to those who petition God, serve God and live rightly.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: The Pharisee uses his pious practices to separate himself from “the rest of humanity.” Authentic religious practices — for the Pharisee and for us — ultimately lead us to communion with God and one another.
Reflection

Jesus’ parable explains God’s preferential option for the poor. The needs of the materially poor, such as hurting children, call forth God’s parental concern.

But more than that, only those who know their need for God will pray in a way that God can answer. God likes us best when we are humble enough to admit to ask for help and are open to receive what God wants to give.

Today’s reading from Sirach says that the prayer of the lowly pierces the heavens. That’s exactly the point Jesus made with this story. God may not have favorites, but God can do no more with us than we will allow.

There’s no point in going to God if we only want to talk about ourselves and our plans for the world. God sees through all of that and finds tragic emptiness at the far end.

This is not to say that we are to put ourselves down as worthless. Paul gives us an example of genuine humility in today’s selection from Timothy. Paul knows that he’s done everything possible to fulfill his mission. He ran a good race and he didn’t lose faith in God.

That’s exactly the combination that makes for living the Christian vocation. His mission came from God, and with the help of God he completed it as best he could. With a clear conscience, he can look forward to receiving the crown of righteousness, a gift for him and the others who long for God.

While Paul knows that he’s done his best and believes God will bring him home, he doesn’t single himself out. He doesn’t have to. Something about his way of being points beyond himself because his prayer always has aimed toward God with hope and thanksgiving.

If we seek a one-line summary of what this week’s scriptures teach us about prayer, it might well be “Let God be God.” And we can take that in many ways.

WEEK OF OCT. 20, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For perseverance in the church. May we consistently pray in our times of need and thankfulness. May we be open to be changed by God’s prayer to us.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who have no voice or standing in society. For those who face injustice and indignity at every moment of their lives. May they be a persistent presence in the consciences of the righteous and the satisfied.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For judges, attorneys, politicians and government leaders. Guide and inspire their work to so that justice is served, so that those who are hurt and hopeless are assisted, so that the war-torn may be aided and immigrant families be welcomed and healed.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For growth in our own sense of prayer. May we learn to move beyond rote and repeated prayer. May we discover how deeper sincere prayer is the onl way to be able to see God’s horizon.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For anyone who feels crushed by the pressures of life. Hold our beloved sick, addicted, dying and grieving. Bring them peace and comfort. Hear the prayers we offer in silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

Jesus tells us today that our prayer must be strong and persistent so that we can change the hearts of those who are complacent and unfair.

  • To the point: The widow’s persistence in petitioning the judge is to change his mind so that he will render a just decision. Our prayer is not a matter of changing God’s mind. Persistent prayer is about faithful relationship to God; it expands our expectations of how God is to act. God always acts justly. The gospel challenge is to keep on praying to a God who wills only good for us. Sometimes this requires that we must change our minds.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 18: 1-8) to the first reading: The obvious connection between these readings is that Moses and the widow persist in their petitions. But there are other connections as well: the widow and Moses are God’s “chosen ones;” the petitions are in line with God’s will; prayer petitions, when just, always are answered by our just and caring God.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We tend to be most persistent about what is most important to us — we are persistent in exercise, athletic training, musical practice. So it is with prayer: we remain faithful in prayer when God is at the center of our life and what we ask flows from the deep faith that God always hears and answers us.
Reflection

The widow’s persistence, her unstoppable attempts to wake him up to what he ought to do, are a way of preaching conversion. She is demanding the sort of relationships that characterize the reign of God.

Of course, a just solution will be to her benefit. It also will be to the benefit of the whole world, including the judge and whoever it was who took advantage of the poor widow. The tale about the widow is a reminder the Christian vocation necessarily includes the call to disturb the false peace of the complacent.

Every three years, this image of Moses returns to remind us about the persistence of prayer. When Moses lowers his arms, the enemy prevails. So until sunset and victory, Aaron and Hur become living crutches for his aching shoulders.

This is the perseverance Paul recommends — “Preach the word, stay with the task whether convenient or not … never lose patience.”

But there are so many days when the battle seems to have no end.

Who will prop up my arms wearied with prayer? Why even bother when my begging brings no relief?

Jesus answers — A widow pleaded before a corrupt judge for vindication. Irritation rather than compassion finally moved the judge to help her.

How different is our God from this corrupt judge. God is eager to answer our cries. And yet, chants arise from Dachau, requiems from Rwanda, dirges from bloody wars, screams from desolate ghettos.

Lost in the din of history is the weeping of battered children, abandoned souls, lost hearts, unwelcomed immigrants.

Who can prop up the outstretched aching arms of humanity?

Free of the limits of our time and space, God made our outstretched arms his own in Jesus crucified, who, in crushing loss, cried out: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Those who follow this Christ never give up. We are persistent in prayer and faith. Our hands extended in service, our entire bodies struggling to uplift and support each other. Justice will prevail; we give our entire lives to the effort.

WEEK OF OCT. 13, 2019

Response after each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. May we influence governments of the world to open their borders with healing, acceptance and welcome for all who are excluded or marginalized and to offer safety to those who seek a better life.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our world. May we accept all people as children of God. May we free ourselves from prejudices we hold and open our hearts to dismiss politics and embrace love.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For a deeper sense of gratitude. May we be more consciously thankful for whatever happens in our lives. May we embrace a humility that calls for a deeper surrender to God’s healing.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For understanding where there is anger or hurt. For forgiveness and reconciliation where there is silence and division. For resolution and peace where there is conflict and pain.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For blessings upon the sick and the dying. For those who have long-term diseases. For those who are burdened with addiction. Bring understanding and patience to all who grieve.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our special needs that we hold in silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

By healing the 10 lepers in today’s Gospel, Jesus offers all of us the chance to live life more abundantly. Faith can save us, too, if we live with gratitude and realize the need to grow in our relationship with Jesus.

  • To the point: Ten lepers ask Jesus to take pity on them and he heals them. But only the Samaritan leper returns, glorifies God, and gives thanks. This leper reveals himself as someone who knew he needed healing, but also as someone compelled to return to his Healer, throw himself at his feet and further the fledgling relationship begun with the healing. For this action he received even more than physical healing. He hears Jesus declare to him, “Your faith has saved you.” This is faith: knowing who we are before God, gratefully coming to God, and ever deepening our relationship with God. The leper’s love and gratefulness is a passionate response to God. Our response should be no less.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 17:11-19) to the first reading: Both readings present foreigners (Naaman the Syrian, the grateful leper, a Samaritan) who are healed of leprosy and who return to give thanks. Their response to being healed is to glorify God. The Samaritan leper fell at Jesus’ feet; Naaman takes “two mule-loads of earth” so that he can worship the God of Israel.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: The sense of entitlement often makes us neglect even such common social gestures as saying thanks. The ungrateful nine lepers were the original entitlement crowd! We are moved beyond taking for granted that what is given to us is owed to us when we grow in the kind of mutual sharing that deepens relationships.
Reflection

True humility frees us to embrace the truth about who we really are. It can bring deep healing. Our hurtful past does not need to accompany us into our future. Physical hurts take time to heal, but interior hurts and angers can– with faith – be tempered, softened, and released.

Naaman was changed radically, not only cured, but because of his intensely conscious humility and gratitude … the same for that leper who stood with the other nine shouting for healing, but remained alone to shout thankful praise.

Giving thanks grounds us. Whether we are military heroes such as Naaman or societal outcasts such as the lepers, thankfulness puts us all in the same boat. No one is entitled. Our readings gently prod us to humbly accept our humanity, to redeem our hurts with faith, and to change our lives with thankfulness.

We usually interpret today’s Gospel story as a lesson about gratitude, but that might be selling it short.

What was it like from Jesus’ point of view? Jesus never asked for gratitude. John quotes him as saying, “I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” In this episode, Jesus saw that nine people got restored to their old life and one was open to real abundance.

Perhaps this incident is supposed to teach us that God gives us life, hoping that, like the Samaritan, we will really get it — in abundance.

Each time we celebrate the liturgy, we pray for mercy. This Gospel urges us to consider what we hope for in that prayer. Our friend the former leper shows up to remind us that if we are open, we can receive more than we can imagine.

WEEK OF OCT. 6, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. Stir up your spirit within us that we may love without expectation, forgive without condition and hope without limits.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For a flowering of faith in the world. That all people can believe in the reality of a more humane and compassionate world where the hungry, the poor and the alienated are satisfied and treated with dignity. We pray for patience so that we never abandon our hope.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For world leaders and governments. May they seek vision so that their work may bring joy, promise and peace for all people, and especially for those who are weak, powerless and hopeless.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For a greater respect for human life. May every person deeply honor and appreciate the great gift of life from conception to natural death.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the grace to support each other’s hopes and dreams, and the strength to build and affirm each other’s faith through all of life’s difficulties and transitions.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Bring comfort to our beloved sick, dying and grieving — and hear the intentions we hold in silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

God’s vision will be fulfilled. We will not be disappointed. God’s reality burns bright, even in the tiniest shreds of our faith and hope.

  • To the point: Jesus tells the disciples that even a smidgen of faith can achieve great things. How do we increase faith? Faith increases through decisive obedience to what is commanded. How do we measure this kind of faith? By measuring our faithfulness. The faithful disciple of Jesus is never finished serving. The faith of a disciple is never finished increasing.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 17:5-10) to the first reading: The prophet Habakkuk shows us in the first reading where our never-finished, increasing faith leads: to life.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We tend to think of everyday responsibilities as mundane. But this gospel reveals the hidden dimension of such ordinary actions — they reveal and increase our faith.
Reflection

Disorder is everywhere. With the prophet Habakkuk, we plead for help, but God does not seem to listen. There is ruin in our cities, terrorism in our world, misery among the voiceless old, skepticism among the hungry young, division called by politics, greed among tyrants and would-be leaders. Even the Earth groans with ominous quakes, hurricanes, floods, and drought.

Wars are waged, women degraded, children disposed of. It is too much to bear.

Habakkuk’s words resonate — “Destruction and violence are before me.” Where is hope?

What reasons do we offer loving spouses to bring children into this world? Increase my faith, they say. Give me a reason to believe. Show a sign; make a promise.

Jesus pierces through this disaster — “With faith the size of a mustard seed, you could uproot the sycamore.

What could our paltry human acts of mustard seed faith, hope or love accomplish amid such turmoil? Darkness is pierced by humble tiny sparks of light. “Stir into flame the gift God has given.”

Christians speak of peace when there is war, hope amid despair, truth where there are lies and cover-up. We have gospel faith. We know how to wait patiently, hopefully. The vision still has time; it presses on and will not disappoint.

In the Northern Hemisphere, we are about two weeks into the season of autumn, the time of harvest. It’s a time of winding down — hints of winter tempt all living things to claim some hibernating time.

This week’s readings counter any tendency we might have to put away the plow and apron. Our selection from Habakkuk reminds us that the evil and chaos that seem to be winning the day are merely temporary. Although violence and ruin seem to win the day, the vision of God’s reign that we have inherited will come to fruition. Like evolution with its fits and starts, “the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment and will not disappoint.”

Thus, singing Psalm 95, we remind ourselves to keep our hearts ready to hear God’s voice. All of that is summed up in Paul’s call to Timothy to “stir into flame the gift God gave you.”

Remember the days when the vision of faith set your heart on fire and understand that glowing embers are all we need to set the world afire. In today’s opening prayer, we ask the God whose gifts never fail to stir up our faith so that its power becomes visible in our lives.

In these autumn days, let us remember that God’s grace is like the mustard seed — yearning to sprout anew in us and in our world.

WEEK OF SEPT. 29, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our pray, O God.

  • For the church. May your Spirit guide us to show care and compassion toward the poor, the hungry, the immigrant and the alienated.

We ask: Receive our pray, O God.

  • For those who are owned by their possessions, and who continue to create the growing abyss between the rich and the poor. Open their hearts and minds toward generosity and continuous sharing.

We ask: Receive our pray, O God.

  • For our country. Heal the divisions that politics has caused among us. For a growth in understanding and compassion toward people of all races, faiths, and economic status.

We ask: Receive our pray, O God.

  • For all who suffer in despair. For refugees and for the homeless. For children orphaned by war, terrorism or disease. For those dying of hunger or untreated illness.

We ask: Receive our pray, O God.

  • For a lasting peace. Inspire efforts of diplomacy to end human bloodshed, terrorism and destruction.

We ask: Receive our pray, O God.

  • For the needs of our community and parish family.  Strengthen the weary, the sick and the dying. Enlighten those who are confused or grieving. Bring hope to the addicted and to all who are in pain. Hear the intentions we offer in our silence …

We ask: Receive our pray, O God.

Call to worship

Those who hear the gospel do not neglect or ignore the poor. They do not close their doors or borders. They do not become complacent with their wealth. Prophets have asked us to share for ages. When will the world listen?

  • To the point: The rich man in the gospel can neither see nor hear — he does not see Lazarus in need at his door; he does not listen to Moses and the prophets who guide him in right ways. The rich man is not in “the netherworld, where he was in torment” simply because of the good he received during his lifetime, but because his self-contained, self-satisfied lifestyle was not faithful to the teaching and practice of the Mosaic covenant. We who live today have even a further revelation beyond Moses and the prophets: we are to hear and put into practice the truth of the gospel affirmed by Jesus who rose from the dead. By so doing, we choose now on which side of the chasm we will be in the next life.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 16: 19-31) to the first reading: The rich man’s problem is not his wealth but his complacency. Like the “complacent in Zion,” the rich man is unconcerned for Lazarus because he has not listened well to “Moses and the prophets” nor acting according to their dictates to be concerned for one’s neighbor.
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: We tend not to listen to those who challenge us to hear the truth about ourselves and how we should live. But we also have learned that when we take to heart the challenge to listen, we grow toward fullness of life.
Reflection

If we open our eyes to the Word of God and unstop our ears to hear the cry of the poor, we will be careful about the politics and economic policies we endorse. We will insist that politicians address the plight of the needy.

Paul’s letter to Timothy reminds us to be people of integrity, kindness, piety, steadfastness and love. The words of the prophets are not there to make us feel guilty; they are there to free us so that we can open our lives and our minds with generosity.

The less our hands are wrapped up with our own identity and ego, the more they can be open to giving, receiving and sharing.

When we hear today’s Gospel, the multiplicity of vivid details can obscure a key element. Abraham told the dead man that a chasm had been established that prevented people from crossing between one side and the other. Isn’t it possible that the rich man and his family and friends had been the architects of that chasm?

The dead man had spent years in power on earth. In that time, he had obviously done quite well and enjoyed the best he had ever hoped for. And that was precisely his problem. The hopes and achievements that may have once appeared so large actually were so puny in scope that in the end, there was only room for him and his chosen few. He refused the knowledge that the table he set would be his forever. He had closed himself off from Abraham and those he would welcome to his bosom and abode.

Moses and the prophets had warned him, but he kept his doors secured. He locked himself into his own little world, and while that may have been fine for a few years, it didn’t take long to realize that it was going to be an eternal inferno.

WEEK OF SEPT. 22, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • May the vision of Pope Francis become contagious throughout the entire world — that we may become more and more a church for the poor, using our gifts for the benefit of others.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For growth in ethics, honesty and morality in business and in government. May those who lead be guided by God’s Spirit to show greater compassion, respect and justice toward all.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the grace to live life to the fullest. Grant courage, energy and opportunity so that all people can pursue goals and develop abilities.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For blessings on our parish religious education program. May the faith of our children and adolescents deepen and may our teachers and staff understand their mission yo work in harmony and in concern for each other in order to create stronger disciples.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the gift of peace and serenity. Inspire world leaders to find ways to end hatred, bigotry, prejudice and violence. May we welcome immigrants and work to establish peace everywhere.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the prayers we hold in our hearts. For our beloved sick, dying and grieving. And for the needs of our parish, families and friends.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

Today’s Scriptures call us to understand that earthly wealth means nothing, that we must nurture compassion in our relationships, pray for others and forget about ourselves. This is what it means to follow Jesus.

  • To the point: The wily servant has concern only for his immediate future and uses underhanded means to assure that his needs are met. In his efforts to protect his future, however, he limits it — he will only be welcomed into the homes of those whose favor he bought dishonestly with his master’s wealth. By serving himself, the wily servant ultimately limits his world of possibilities. By contrast, disciples are to serve in such a way that they open their future to unending possibilities. Faithful disciples first choose not themselves nor the things of this world, but to serve God and others. This choice leads to an eternal future (“eternal dwellings”).
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 16:1-13) to the first reading: This reading presents the same scenario about the future as does the gospel. God will hold accountable those who serve themselves for personal gain and will never forget “a thing they have done.”
  • Connecting the Gospel to experience: In the everyday humdrum of life, we rarely think about the ultimate future. Life itself pressures us into shortsighted choices for living. Discipleship, on the other hand, calls us to live in such a way that our daily choices form patterns of behavior that move us toward God’s promise of life eternal.
Reflection

Luke’s focus today is on care of the poor and sharing with the needy. The story of the unjust steward has been debated for centuries. Jesus is not praising the steward’s unjust manipulation of his master’s contracts; he praises the steward’s decisive action in a crisis. Christians don’t seem to “get it” in terms of kingdom behavior — they are less prudent (clever) as children of light than people who aren’t believers. One form of kingdom prudence is using this world’s goods by sharing them with others, especially the poor.

WEEK OF SEPT. 15, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O Lord.

  • For the church. May we find and welcome those who are lost or estranged from religion or community, that they may return to God’s loving embrace.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O Lord.

  • May we have the grace to forgive those who have injured us, and together, may we return to God’s loving embrace.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O Lord.

  • For runaway and missing children. For orphans, or family members who are alienated or separated by distance. For those who live alone by choice or circumstance. May they know God’s care and love.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O Lord.

  • For all who died in the 9/11 attacks and for all who mourn or still suffer from those events. May God’s love shepherd the deceased into life eternal. And may those affected find compassion and healing.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O Lord.

  • We pray for our parish religious education program and for blessings upon our religion teachers and upon our staff. May they be unified in purpose and care for each other, and may our parish children grow in grace and in faith.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O Lord.

  • For all in need of our prayer. May we find ways to establish peace and justice for all who are threatened by poverty, violence or terrorism. And for the intentions we hold in our silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O Lord.

Call to worship

God’s love and mercy always is there for us. Like the shepherd who finds his lost sheep, the poor woman who finds her lost coin, and the generous father who welcomes his lost son, God always welcomes us back with an open heart.

  • To the point: What the shepherd, the woman and the father all have in common is having lost something dear to them. When they find what they have lost, they rejoice extravagantly. In the parable of the prodigal son, he is found because he chooses to return to his father’s house: he chooses life. By contrast, the older son — in his anger, resentment and jealousy — truly is the one who is lost because he refuses to rejoice in his father’s mercy and goodness: he chooses death. The extravagant mercy and goodness of our divine Father urges us to choose life over death.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 15: 1-32)  to the first reading: Both readings describe the mercy God extends to sinners, whether the sin is idolatry (first reading); dissolute living (younger son); or anger, resentment and jealousy (older son). Such divine mercy begets new life.
  • To experience: Many parents anguish as they watch a son or daughter go astray in life. They will do anything to help their children come to their senses and turn their life around. Parents only want life for their children, although sometimes children seem to choose death for themselves.
Reflection

The over-the-top reactions of the shepherd, the woman and the forgiving father are intended to assure sinners that God is crazy in love over each individual human being and rejoices exuberantly over finding one that had been lost.  

WEEK OF SEPT. 8, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For wisdom in the church and in government. Give us insight that we may lay aside all selfishness and divisions, that we may be of service to the poor and and seek to provide safety for immigrants and refugees.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the grace to set priorities correctly. Open us to renounce all those obstacles, beliefs and practices that prevent us from being true disciples.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For all who suffer. For the addicted, for people afflicted with disease, for prisoners, for victims of human trafficking, for people who struggle through rehabilitation and treatments. We remember those devastated by hurricane Dorian. Give them strength, encouragement and pathways toward healing.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For people in ministry who are challenged. By those faith is closed and whose lives are torn. For any who suffer injustice because of faith. For all who struggle in any way with the church. Give them insight, perseverance and hope.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the blessings of the end of summer. For students and teachers and all who begin new endeavors in autumn. We pray for our new bishop and the challenges he meets daily. We pray for the needs of our parish community, and for those experiencing sickness, dying or grief. Hear all the prayers we hold in silence …

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

Call to worship

Jesus requires radical discipleship. Following Jesus means giving up everything, taking calculated risks and being ready to embrace suffering.

  • To the point: Discipleship requires renunciation and calculation. Those who wish to follow Jesus must renounce everyone and everything that gets in the way of a single-minded response to Jesus’ invitation to be his disciple. At the same time, disciples are not naively to follow Jesus. They must calculate and consent to the cost — the price is giving their all, even their own life. The One who calls gives disciples in return something beyond calculation — fullness of new life.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 14: 25-33) to the first reading: Wisdom reminds us “the deliberations of mortals are timid.” Jesus, however, challenges us to be anything but timid. With bold calculation and conviction we are to embrace the cross. This is the way of discipleship.
  • To experience: We take much time and care over major decisions — buying a house, marrying, having children, taking a new job. Nevertheless, each of these brings surprises and new challenges, not initially considered. The same is true for committed discipleship — even after we make the informed decision to follow Jesus, there are still many surprises on the road of discipleship.
Reflection

Jesus bluntly challenges the crowd to take up the demands of discipleship with eyes wide open. Discipleship demands radical and calculated choices.

The king waging war shows how shrewd calculations can bring fullness. What king would not rather send a peace delegation knowing that his army is so drastically outnumbered?

Likewise, we must abandon our own wishes and whatever holds us captive. Jesus says that even our loved ones should not keep us from full discipleship. Paul’s abandons his slave and names him as a brother.

Jesus is not telling us to stop loving our family; but no relationships should ever possess us. We are not to be prisoners to our desires, goals, wealth or relationships. Free of these things, we can follow Jesus with single-minded hearts such as the tower builders of the Gospel who begin with the proper foundations.

WEEK OF SEPT. 1, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For greater humility in the church and in government. May we grow in awareness that whatever we accomplish is the result of God’s love and grace.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For greater hospitality in our world. May all people experience welcome in new countries, neighborhoods, places of worship, in their jobs and in social circles.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For deeper intimacy with God and with humanity. May those who are sick, aged, handicapped, addicted or challenged in any way receive our tender care, attention and love.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who are declining mentally or who have dementia. May God protect them from harm and give strength and wisdom and for those who care for them.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who labor. Bless their work and their rest. And for the unemployed and under-employed. Give them hope, courage and opportunity.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the gift of peace. May God inspire all who are working to end war, prejudice, terrorism and violence between nations, religious and ethnic groups.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the particular needs of our parish community. For those returning to school, for those travelling this weekend, for the grieving, and all who we remember in silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Prayer for Labor Day

O God, source of all wisdom and purpose, and the blessing of those who labor; be with us in our work to guide and govern our world. Give all people work that enhances human dignity and bonds us to one another. Give us pride in our work, a fair return for our labor and joy in knowing that our work finds its source in you. Through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Call to worship

Sincere humility helps us to recognize our true worth and the deep value of all others, especially the poor, those crippled by society, and those who are outcast by judgment. We sit together with them at the banquet of the Lord

  • To the point: In this Gospel Jesus challenges guests and host at a dinner. Jesus calls the guests to let go of seeking places of honor and to choose seats that lead to being called “to a higher position.” Jesus calls the host to invite as his guests those who have only themselves to give in return, for which the host will be repaid at the “resurrection of the righteous.”
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 14: 1, 7-14) to the first reading: Humility is in part, knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses (first reading) and one’s place (Gospel). But it is more. Humility is the virtue by which we acknowledge our status before God: We are “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” who come to God’s table because of God’s invitation and generosity.
  • To experience: Jesus in this Gospel is not negating meals with family and friends. He is teaching us that our generosity must extend beyond our immediate circle to include everyone — especially those in need.
Reflection

Today’s scripture highlights an irony of inverted expectations. Sirach says that love is in giving rather than receiving, greatness in humility, and wisdom comes to the listener, not the speaker. The psalm reveals God as the dwelling of the homeless, the liberty of prisoners, a refreshing rain for dry hearts. Hebrews says that while we think God is unapproachable as a high mountain, all-consuming as a raging furnace, impenetrable as a dark abyss — God really is a loving parent whose dwelling place is the festive, healing, and life-giving Zion. Knowing that parties of his time were for the rich, Jesus proclaimed that it better to invite the unwanted poor and discarded to our parties, and to be happy when they could not repay us since repayment comes in heaven. Mary proclaimed, “God routs the proud, dethrones the prince and exalts the lowly.” Her lowly soul magnified God; our own diminishment reveals God’s greatness.

WEEK OF AUG. 25, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. Shape us into courageous disciples filled with your Spirit, opening our hearts to all people and always willing to grow in our faith.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all who face trials or difficult choices. May government leaders find ways to work together so that all people may have better lives, especially those who have struggled so long to find freedom, integrity and wholeness.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the grace to enter through the narrow gate. May your Spirit inspire us to live with forgiveness, compassion and openness?

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our new bishop. Bless him as he faces the challenges of our diocese. May he bring us healing and new energy.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For places in our world where there is tension. For immigrants separated from their families. Open our hearts, banish our fears, help us to establish peace for all people.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our beloved sick, dying and grieving. And for the intentions we hold in our silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

Jesus tells us today that the gate to salvation is narrow. We close the gate to salvation ourselves when we are judgmental and when we are comfortable and complacent in our spiritual growth.

  • To the point: Entering the narrow gate to salvation is not guaranteed by privilege or tradition, but guaranteed by openness to the in-breaking of the Messiah. The gate is narrow because the way is difficult — journeying with Jesus leads to Jerusalem and the cross. The strength needed to persist on this journey comes from reclining “at table in the kingdom of God.” It comes from eating and drinking the messianic Food with the Messiah.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 13: 22-30) to the first reading: Isaiah prophesies that salvation is offered to all peoples (“from all the nations”). The gospel makes clear a condition for salvation: those who desire salvation must journey with Jesus to Jerusalem and accept all this entails.
  • To experience: Our society tends to declare “numero uno!” We tend to want to be first, to find things easy, to have everything handed to us on a silver platter. This gospel says exactly the opposite. We are not first — Christ is. Things will not be easy — the road to salvation is narrow, difficult, demanding. Everything will not be handed to us. Rather, we are asked to hand ourselves over.
Reflection

The question to Jesus should have been, “Who will be saved?” These readings reinforce salvation’s wide reach to all people, gathered by God’s hand. But it is not enough. Being saved means deciding to “enter through the narrow gate,” which is Jesus himself. Those who choose to do so walk faithfully with Jesus toward Jerusalem’s self-denial and self-surrender. It is not enough to be in Jesus’ company, or to have eaten with him. Salvation is for the disciple who follows closely and who follows through.

WEEK OF AUG. 18, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • May the church find stronger ways to influence the world; that greed, selfishness, divisions and wars will end; that all nations may be ignited by stronger faith, and filled with deeper respect for humanity.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For all Christians in our own nation. May we find unity in times of political division. That faithfulness may mark our values, choices and thinking. May we come together as people of God.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our relationships that need healing within families, among friends and with co-workers. May we be able to open inroads of kindness and gentleness.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For those who are mistreated in any way. Those abandoned or shunned by society, those suffering in prisons or other institutions, those victimized by human trafficking or immigration. May they find freedom, safety and peace.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For young people heading off to college, particularly those going away for the first time. May God guide them to make wise decisions and to develop good friendships.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For what we ask in silence … We pray for blessings on our beloved sick, dying and grieving …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

Staying faithful to Jesus will bring division among people and even within families. We must let our baptism empower us with the fire of God’s Spirit so that our choices will be clear and loving.

  • To the point: In today’s Gospel, fire is an image referring to divine judgment. Jesus clearly states that he has come to judge the people. His own faithfulness to this task led to his anguish and ultimately to his passion and death. So will we, his faithful disciples be treated. Jesus’ intent is not primarily to condemn people, but to challenge them to right living according to the covenant established with God. This is our intent.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 12:49-53) to the first reading: Jeremiah’s preaching divided the city and incited such opposition that people sought his death. Standing in this prophetic tradition, Jesus, too, preaches a word which divides families and leads ultimately to his death.
  • To experience: None of us seeks or desires division and strife, especially among those whom we cherish most. Sometimes, however, the choice is so clear and the values are so important, that we accept division and strife as a consequence of our choice.
Reflection

The fire of Christ must burn brightly and intensely. Christ’s fire must blaze in us. From Teilhard de Chardin: “Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

WEEK OF AUG. 11, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. May we believe that faith will guide us through any turmoil. May we trust in God’s will and direction for our lives.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For those who have lost faith. May God’s Spirit renew their hearts and open them to pathways of discovery.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For patience and trust to all who wait. For those expecting children, for families who wait for the return of loved one, for anyone waiting for reconciliation with a friend or family member, for immigrants seeking welcome and a new life.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For a deeper awareness of God’s presence in our lives. May we learn to live each day as faithful disciples, trusting in God’s promises and serving others.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the needs we place in God’s heart during this time of silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that being blessed means that we must be prepared and vigilant, always ready to meet our Master.

  • To the point: What, really, does the Father give us? What is the treasure that is to claim our hearts? The “inexhaustible treasure in heaven” the Father gives us is the Son (the Master). Our hearts must lie with the Son, for he is our Treasure. Those servants who are formed by this treasure abide by the Son’s expectations and seek to carry them out. Faithful servants do as the Son would  do — their actions follow their heart.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 12: 32-48) to the first reading: The “holy children of the good” were putting God’s plan into effect just as the “faithful and prudent steward” in the Gospel was putting into effect the Master’s will.
  • To experience: There are many treasures found in this life — for example, family, home, community, friendship, integrity. Good as these are, they are nonetheless exhaustible. What the Father offers us is an inexhaustible treasure: the fullness of the life of the risen Lord.
Reflection

Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for seeing in trust. Faithful people have conviction about things unseen. So it was with Abraham and Sarah who believed they would give birth in old age, with Noah on his improbable ark, with Moses abandoned as a child against improbable odds. Faith felled the walls of Jericho and fed the hungry with manna. These heroes of faith did not live to see what was promised; though faith eases confusion, dulls pain and redeems time, it never brings final clarity. Faith-filled people wait with vigilance, like the blessed servant doing his master’s will, even in the master absence. Being prepared for the master’s arrival is not a matter of calculating time; it is about faithfulness. In the master’s absence, the faithful servant acts as the master himself — caring for others, giving them all they need. Doing the master’s will means becoming the master in his absence. This is true discipleship.

WEEK OF AUG. 4, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For a deeper commitment to the teachings of our faith. May we not allow ourselves to be seduced by the illusions of wealth, fame, power or control.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • Sustain all who bear the burdens of hunger and poverty. Help us find ways and opportunities to be more generous in our sharing;

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For all who struggle with finances and employment. Guide their decisions and open new pathways for them.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • Touch the hearts of all who are depressed, alone or addicted. May they know the grace and beauty that you unfold for us with each new day.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For an end to prejudice, judgment, terrorism and violence. Inspire all people to be peacemakers so that we may courageously end divisions in the human family and promote reconciliation.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the needs we hold in silence, and especially for our beloved sick, dying and grieving …

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

Call to worship

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells the story of a rich man who deeply cares about his earthly possessions. Today we acknowledge and celebrate the treasures we have stored in heaven.

  • To the point: The rich man in today’s Gospel parable judges that he has stored up enough possessions to guarantee a good life without worries — so he thinks. Any reliance on wealth and possessions, however, is pure folly —worldly possessions and this life are fleeting. What truly matters is the inheritance that only God can give: the fullness of eternal life. What “matters to God” is spending our life dispossessing ourselves of anything which hinders us from growing into the fullness of life.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 12: 13-21) to the first reading: The first reading describes in greater detail the misfortune that befalls the rich man in the Gospel parable. Laboring for wealth and possessions is not only foolish, but results in sorrow, grief, and anxiety.
  • To experience: We naturally and responsibly store up wealth to take care of our future. There is nothing wrong with this kind of planning. The issue of the gospel is that we must look beyond the wealth, guard against sheer greed, and keep our eye turned toward what “matters to God.”
Reflection

Today’s scriptures remind us of the brevity of life and the dangers of self-containment. Our possessions, knowledge, and work avail us nothing. When we die, all we have could be easily given to another who does not deserve it at all.  The self- satisfied man who builds bigger storehouses for the fruits of his labor will die before he enjoys any of it. He symbolizes the self-contained person delighting in his possessions, proud of his accomplishments – the hoarder set up for an easy life. He has lost contact with the fragility of his own life; his possessions own him. He has shared little. Today’s readings warn us about the illusions that beset us, the sounds of the sirens that lure us. Ours is a plain and crucial choice. Who will be our God? Before what powers will we fall on our knees?  Our real inheritance lies in the fullness of life that God wishes to give us. We lose sight of that when worries, obsessions, and possessions obstruct our view.

WEEK OF JULY 28, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the church. May we be persistent in our prayer, seeking growth in our relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters in every land.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the world and for those in need of daily bread. Provide new opportunities for them. Touch the hearts of those who have abundance to share more freely.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For a deep spiritual renewal in our lives. Help us discover new directions and new energy. May truth and integrity set higher standards for ethics in our lives.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • Provide safety for all who travel and guidance to those who are away from home. May all countries treat immigrants humanely. Bless those serving in the military or in the missions.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the needs we offer in silence … for our beloved sick, dying and grieving ….

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

Call to worship

As Jesus teaches his followers how to pray, He assures them that God answers their prayers. We need to trust God’s faithfulness always and to continue praying steadfastly, honestly and humbly.

  • To the point: Jesus instills confidence in his disciples that they will receive from God that for which they pray. He teaches them (and us) to pray for daily needs: the food we need to live, the forgiveness we need to grow in our relationships, the protection we need to remain faithful. Because of what we already have received (our daily needs), we are certain that God will give even more to those who ask: the Holy Spirit, a share in the plenitude of God’s very Life. Such a gift! Why would we not ask?
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 11:1-13) to the first reading: Abraham directly, confidently, persistently and courageously petitions God to spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the Gospel Jesus teaches us to pray with the same directness, confidence, persistence and courage.
  • To experience: Nothing breeds confidence like success. This also is true when we turn to God in prayer. Although not always in the way we expect, God always answers our prayer.

WEEK OF JULY 21, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the church and for the world. May we offer hospitality, welcome and acceptance to all people, and especially to immigrants and refugees who seek safety and opportunity for their families.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For openness to the great gift of life. May parents and relatives joyfully welcome and care deeply for each child in their family and extended family. May we encourage all children to know how deeply they are loved by God.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For those who are too busy with work and who neglect the joy of living. May they free themselves to recognize and celebrate the relationships that bring them life.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For blessing on our parish community. May this weekend of festivity be filled with love and joy and be a sign of our hospitality and welcome to many.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For our beloved sick and dying, and in grateful memory of our ancestors who built and sustained our parish community. May their dedication inspire us to build our future.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For what we place before God in our silence ..

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

Call to worship

Visits, conversations and hospitality are deep within the loving nature of God. This weekend, as we celebrate our own faith community, the readings proclaim the holiness of hospitality and welcome.

  • To the point: Martha’s generous hospitality is marred by her upbraiding Jesus and complaining to him about Mary. Rather than being truly hospitable, she is “anxious and worried” only about accomplishing a task. Her welcome shifts away from Jesus to herself. Busy about herself, she misses the “better part” — centering on Jesus. The “better part” is to be undividedly present to the person of Jesus. Even when serving.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 10:38-42) to the first reading: Abraham exhibited true hospitality. All of his efforts and busyness were directed toward the presence of his guests and their comfort and needs. This is what Martha in the gospel failed to do: keep persons at the heart of hospitality.
  • To experience: How uncomfortable we feel when our presence takes second place in the attention of a host who is busy about the details of our being there. On the other hand, how welcome we feel when we are the host’s center of concern and attention.

WEEK OF JULY 14, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • May we be a Church of compassion and insight, Finding ways to alleviate suffering and moving beyond boundaries to respond with genuine love.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • May victims of crime and prejudice find healing. May immigrants be welcomed and treated with care. May there be reconciliation and peace wherever there is division, suffering or violence.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the addicted, the sick, the dying and the grieving. May they know tenderness and love.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For all who care for others in need. For people who work in outreach ministries to prisoners or to the homebound. Renew and strengthen their work.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For our own community. May this Boilermaker weekend be a time of safety and refreshment for all.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the prayers and intentions that we offer in silence …

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

Call to worship

The law is within our hearts. It tells us to love mercifully and generously, to open our hearts like Good Samaritans — welcoming, comforting, using our gifts to help those who are in need.

  • To the point: What is written in the law?” Jesus asks the “scholar of the law.” Many would tend to answer by citing the Ten Commandments or civil law. But the lawyer in the Gospel answered correctly when he named love as the law. Law is not about keeping rules, but about loving others. Eternal life is not inherited by keeping laws, but by caring for others and treating them with mercy. The law of love teaches us that love is nothing less than the unconditional gift of self.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 10:25-37) to the first reading: The  law is not “mysterious and remote” but is “already in (our) mouths  and in (our) hearts.” We “have only to carry it out” and, as the Gospel reminds us, it bears the human face of our neighbor in need.
  • To experience: As a framework to guide human behavior, law is good and necessary. When rearing children, we teach them to go beyond mere observance of laws’ external demands to grasping the laws’ deeper intent: building a community of care, respect, mercy — love.

WEEK OF JULY 7, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the church. Show us how to be welcoming and loving joyful witnesses of the gospel.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For our world. Provide hope for all who struggle with crime, poverty, terrorism and injustice. Open our hearts to those seeking refuge and peace.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For missionaries and all called to lay ministry. Renew their spirits. Give them courage and support for their work.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For our country. We pray for healing from all that divides us. May we abandon our fears and prejudices, envision the power of our unity and work together for the common good.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For those in special need. Tenderly hold the sick and the dying, all who are addicted, alone or grieving.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For our personal intentions that we hold in silence …

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

Call to worship

Jesus sends out the 72 disciples into the world warning them about rejection a nd promising them that their names are written in heaven.

  • To the point: Jesus sends the disciples out to plant the seed of the Good News and harvest its fruit of peace and the in-breaking of the kingdom of God. The “kingdom of God is at hand” because wherever disciples are present and received, God is present and received. Despite the disciples facing “wolves” and sometimes being rejected, their labor will bear fruit for it is God’s power that works through them. For this divine power and presence the disciples — and we — rejoice.
  • Connecting the gospel (Luke 10: 1-12) to the first reading: Isaiah’s vision uses different images to describe the same reality presented in the gospel. The fruit of the disciples’ labors (peace, healing and God’s kingdom at hand) are described in Isaiah as comfort, abundance, and prosperity. Both readings envision God’s power and presence now and a future when our “heart(s) shall rejoice.”
  • To experience: Many people live in fear of a future marked by destruction and chaos; they have abandoned hope. These readings invite us to hope in the future God has in store for us- one of blessing and joy. At the same time, because God’s kingdom is already at hand, we live in this blessing and joy now. God has richly blessed our nation. Isaiah and Jesus remind us that God’s kingdom does not measure abundance by possessions or resources- but by the quality of our relationships. We pray for healing of the divisions within our nation.

WEEK OF JUNE 30, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the church. May we become stronger disciples of Christ willing to confront all types of injustice so to create pathways toward peace.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For our world. May tensions and conflicts end so that nations may use their resources to cure disease and alleviate poverty and hunger.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For high school graduates and for all who are making life decisions. May they have the courage to choose pathways that are life-giving and holy.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • May summer bring us peace and refreshment. Time to nourish our spiritual lives and time for reflection and discernment.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For our beloved sick, dying and grieving. For those who are prisoners of addiction. And for those who seek welcome in new lands.

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the needs we hold in our silence …

We ask: Lord, receive our prayer.

Call to worship

As Jesus journeys to Jerusalem, he and his disciples encounter a number of conflicts. There always are obstacles in life’s journey. When we face them with faith our convictions are strengthened.

  • To the point: As Jesus “resolutely determine(s) to journey to Jerusalem,” he encounters a number of conflicts. Jesus is not welcome in a Samaritan village, he rebukes disciples who want to take revenge, he predicts the lack of comfort and security for his followers and he chides those who have excuses for not immediately following him. These conflicts arise because the journey to Jerusalem entails death — dying to self in facing this journey’s conflicts and death at this journey’s end. Nevertheless, the journey must be made — by Jesus, by his disciples, by us — because this is the only journey that leads to life.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 9:51-62) to the first reading: Just as the continuation of Elijah’s prophetic mission was assured by the call of Elisha, so is the continuation of Jesus’ saving mission assured by the call of disciples who follow him on his journey through death to life.
  • To experience: Often, opposition and conflict enable us to clarify our goals, strengthen our conviction and increase our courage in pursuit of a vision. So it is with the inevitable conflicts that arise when we follow Jesus on the journey through dying to new life.

WEEK OF JUNE 23, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. Guide us to live as a Eucharistic people, generously giving and sharing ourselves so that all may have life.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our pastor, Father Jim, all priests, and all who exercise priestly ministry. Renew their vision and strengthen them. Draw them closer to your people.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the hungry and the poor of our world. For immigrants seeking refuge, safety and peace. Open our hearts to find ways to sustain their lives and to work for justice.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the gift of peace in our world. Heal our divisions. Enlighten our dialogue to encourage unity to end selfishness, greed, prejudice and all forms of violence.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Bring comfort and healing to those who suffer through illness, addiction and grief. Bring understanding and peace to the dying, and hear the needs we hold in silence …

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. Today’s Gospel reminds Christians that no matter how much we have, we must be willing to share it all.

  • To the point: Healing, nourishment, satisfaction and abundance are all signs of the presence of God’s kingdom. Jesus’ actions in this gospel, however, reveal an even more telling sign. By taking, blessing, breaking and giving the bread and fish, he foreshadows the total gift of his very self — on the cross, in the Eucharist. The fullest presence of the kingdom of God is revealed by the total gift of self. When we receive Jesus’ gift of self in the Eucharist and choose to be transformed into being that same gift for others, we are the visible presence of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God comes to fulfillment in every act of total self-giving.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 9: 11-17) to the second reading: The focus of this solemnity is not limited to our eating and drinking the Eucharistic elements, but leads to our living the total self-giving of Christ: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”
  • To experience: Total self-giving seems beyond human capability. Only little by little do we grow in our capacity to give ourselves as Jesus did. The Eucharist nourishes and encourages us as we more and more in our daily lives choose self-giving.
Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

This solemn feast began in 1247 as a response to attacks on the real presence of Christ in the sacrament. By the 14th century, it included a procession with the sacrament after Mass that became a petition for good weather with the monstrance offered at four stations — blessing north, south, east and west.

Fourfold blessing for the Feast of Corpus Christi

We bless our neighborhood,  city, country and world in the north, south, east and west. May the Eucharist be a sign of God’s loving presence for all people.

We pray for the blessings of every season — for a renewing summer, a fruitful springtime, a gentle winter, an inspiring autumn. May we grow in peace, vision and holiness.

God and Lover of all, bless all our relationships. Bring us harmony and joy i the name of Father, Son and Spirit. Amen.

WEEK OF JUNE 16, 2019

Response to each petition: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the church. May we seek to understand and proclaim the length, the breadth and the depth of your love. Empower us to be faithful disciples of Jesus.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our world. Help us appreciate and delight in the gift of nature. May we behold your handiwork and exert energy to conserve creation’s beauty for our children and their children.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the entire human family. Kindle within us a desire for truth. Help us renew our relationships and strengthen our commitment to justice.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For our fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers and godfathers. Bless and strengthen them to be guide for our lives and for our souls. May they be models of holiness and truth.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • Heal the sick and the grieving. Comfort the dying. Sustain those who suffer through hunger, poverty or need. Bring peace to those who are alienated and alone. Open our hearts to immigrants and refugees.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

  • For the intentions we make in silence … We remember our deceased fathers and grandfathers.

We ask: Receive our prayer, O God.

Call to worship

Everything is given to us from God our creator, through Jesus Christ our savior, and in the Holy Spirit our helper. On this Feast of Trinity Sunday we celebrate the fullness of life and love that we have in God.

  • To the point: The Spirit guides us to all truth. Such a bold statement. That truth is the Holy Spirit — the life given by the Spirit. Everything the Father has is given to us. An even bolder statement. What the Father gives us is divine life. And it is for Jesus’ glory that his disciples are empowered by the Spirit to bear what belongs to Jesus and the Father: divine Life. Our triune God holds back nothing from us.
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 16: 12-15) to the second reading: Since we have received everything that is of God, the Trinity’s divine life is within us (see Gospel). This life “poured … into our hearts” empowers us to be justified and even to “boast of our afflictions” (second reading).
  • To experience: Our age has an inherent optimism about unraveling the mysteries of life, whether it be the origins of the universe or the genetic makeup of a person. If there’s a mystery, “We’ll solve it.” This solemnity presents the Trinity as a mystery not to be “solved” or “explained,” but as a Trinity of Persons who share their very life with us.

WEEK OF JUNE 9, 2019

Response to each petition: Come to us, Spirit of God.

  • For the whole church. Fill us with the fruits of your Spirit that we may receive and offer your love, your joy and your peace in every situation.

We ask: Come to us, Spirit of God.

  • For all who are burdened by grief or despair. Bring hope to their hearts and new vision to their lives.

We ask: Come to us, Spirit of God.

  • Help us end divisions in our world. Show us ways to find common ground that we may promote healing and reconciliation.

We ask: Come to us, Spirit of God.

  • For all who experience injustice, heal their pain and inspire them to trust again.

We ask: Come to us, Spirit of God.

  • In thanksgiving for your many gifts, and for the needs of the poor, the sick, the dying and the grieving, which we hold in our hearts.

We ask: Come to us, Spirit of God.

Call to worship

Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost. When the gift of the Spirit given to the apostles, they were empowered to recreate the world with energy, discernment and love. We are given the same gift and call today.

  • To the point: “If you love me.” “Whoever loves me.” Our love always is a free choice and, as human beings, we never are quite sure of our choices. God’s love, on the other hand, is sure and steady. God continually sends the Spirit to dwell within us. This indwelling Spirit empowers us to love with God’s steadfastness. Transformed by the Spirit, our love moves from “if” to “I can, I choose, I will.”
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 20-19-23) to the first reading: St. Paul enumerates the effects of the Spirit’s dwelling within us: we belong to Christ, are made righteous, are given new life, become adopted children and heirs of God. Here is God’s gift of Love to us: an unprecedented relationship made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  • To our experience: It is so much easier to act with love when we know we are loved. We can act with love in all times and places, all situations and circumstances, because we know we are filled with the Spirit who is God’s love.
Pentecost fire lighting prayer

Today we remember Mary and the apostles who gathered in the upper room afraid, prayerful and waiting, hoping to find direction for their lives. God’s Spirit of Peace empowered them with tongues of fire over their heads, enlightening their hearts, kindling their spirits, calming their fear.

God’s Spirit touched them with enthusiasm, energy and boundless abilities, God’s Spirit filled their hearts with burning desire and kindled in them a vibrant joy and a deep peace.

In this fire, O God, may we know the presence of your Spirit among us, a Spirit who breaks through our suffering, opens our hearts and enlightens our vision.

WEEK OF JUNE 2, 2019

Response to each petition: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For unity with Christians and with all world religions. May all strive to be one in love, one in truth, and one in compassion.

We pray: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For healing within the human family. May men and women, adults and children, young and old, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, celebrate our common humanity with joy.

We pray: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For a deeper perspective and vision. May we understand God’s call in our lives and surrender ourselves to God’s will. May we gratefully and generously respond to all that God asks of us.

We pray: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For all who suffer through illness and unbearable grief, for the addicted and all who feel powerless to help themselves. For those who face insurmountable problems, or immfigrants and refugees who seek welcome and a home. Grant them peace, and hold them in love;

We pray: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the intentions we hold in our hearts …

We pray: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

Call to worship

The scriptures remind us that our love and our unity bind us to God, strengthen our mission and witness to God’s great glory.

  • To the point: Jesus prays that the intimate love and union he shares with his Father may take root in his disciples. Experiencing such divine love and intimate union enables and sustains the disciples who are to take up Jesus’ mission to the world. In fact, love and unity among believers is their primary mission, their first witness to the glory of the risen presence of Christ. We even see Stephen dying in God’s glory.
  • Connecting the Gospel  (John 17: 20-26) to the second reading: John’s vision is of the fulfillment of time when Jesus returns to gather the faithful to share his eternal glory. When we disciples embrace the love and unity for which Jesus prays in the Gospel, we are responding to Jesus’ invitation to “come.”
  • To experience: Too often, the notion of love portrayed in our society does not bring unity but disharmony because the love is selfish. Unselfish love is about care for the other, and this care strengthens relationships and is tangible in the unity of minds and hearts.

WEEK OF MAY 26, 2019

Response to each petition: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the church. Make us attentive to the creative work of the Spirit. Inspire us to find new ways to nourish faith and to remove unnecessary obstacles that hinder faith-

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For all people. May we know God’s presence that surrounds us, the peace and comfort of the Spirit within us and the strength of Christ that encourages and supports us.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the many promises held by the month of May. For college students facing graduations’ new directions. For couples preparing for marriage. For deacons and priests who will be ordained. For those expecting children to be born. May they have God’s blessings.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • Bring peace to all who are troubled, particularly to the hungry and the homeless; to victims of crime, terrorism and natural disasters; to the homebound, the sick and dying; to the addicted and to all who grieve.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the intentions we hold in silence …

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

Call to worship

During these final weeks of the Easter season, the church invites us to reflect upon God’s gift of the Holy Spirit , who brings us peace, who strengthens our faith and who binds us together in divine love.

  • To the point: Jesus promises to send us the Holy Spirit, who will “teach us everything.” The Holy Spirit does not teach us what to believe but to believe. To believe means to live out of the divine indwelling, live out of the peace given, live out of the mutual exchange of love between God and us. Believing is living what the Spirit teaches us.
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 14:23-29) to the second reading: The second reading describes the heavenly Jerusalem that “gleam(s) with the splendor of God … and the Lamb.” The divine indwelling in us and our believing make us citizens of this city.
  • To experience: Gifts most often are tangible, and the most prized ones satisfy our wants and desires. Jesus offers us a gift beyond anything we can imagine or desire — his risen presence as the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. This gift satisfies beyond all human expectations.

WEEK OF MAY 19, 2019

Response to each petition: Risen Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the church. Show us how to be more gentle and loving. Help us grow in compassion and forgiveness. May we recognize your love and goodness in every part of our world, in every person.

We ask: Risen Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For the world. Heal the abused and the addicted. Help those who struggle with daily burdens. Relieve the sufferings of the sick, the poor and the hungry.

We ask: Risen Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For freedom of mind and heart. Inspire us to refashion our broken relationships to enter new forms of service, to welcome new visions for our lives, to love those who we have judged negatively.

We ask: Risen Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For peace. Help us to recognize the value of each person, to cherish the treasure of our loving relationships, to understand that your love is always bringing us closer together in divine glory.

We ask: Risen Lord, receive our prayer.

  • For our personal needs that we hold in silence …

We ask: Risen Lord, receive our prayer.

Call to worship

The Easter season calls us to understand the new creation — the mutual union of God’s love and human love — a force that becomes more real every day. Loving is the only way to show God’s glory.

  • To the point: Jesus’ new commandment is, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” The nature of our love as disciples is specific, singular and incomparable. We are to love to the extent and in the manner Jesus loved. Our love is to be the self-sacrificing love of Jesus. It is this kind of love that brings Jesus glory. It is this kind of love that brings God glory. It is this kind of love that enables us to share in that same glory.
  • Connecting the gospel  (John 13: 31-35) to the second reading: When we live Jesus’ new commandment of love, the results are dramatic: “A new heaven and a new earth,” “new Jerusalem,” indeed, “all things new.” This is the reality we must believe we are becoming every day of our lives.
  • To experience: We are keen on underscoring obligation — we must “love one another.” This is only possible because of the power and grace that come from our first being loved by God.

WEEK OF MAY 12, 2019

Response to each petition: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the Church. May we recognize your voice as our Shepherd. Help us to wipe away the tears of all who suffer, especially those who have been victimized by the church.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • Ease the worries and the burdens our world carries. Open our hearts and minds to envision and support better ways of living, to practice thoughtfulness and compassion, and to work together for the common good.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • Let us pray for peace in our world. For calmness where there is division, mistrust and violence. May we work together so that all people may find happiness.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For our own pastor and shepherd Father Jim, and for all who minister in our faith community. May their compassionate and welcoming service be a sign to all of your generous love.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For all mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers and godmothers. May God bless them abundantly. May their continued love influence our lives and our relationships.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For our beloved sick, dying, and grieving. We especially remember our mothers who have died and any intentions that we hold in our silence.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

Call to worship

Today we proclaim and celebrate that we are a part of God’s flock ready to hear God’s voice and ready to follow on the pathways where God leads us.

  • To the point: Our being “sheep” does not mean that we blindly follow Jesus but that we actively pursue a relationship with him by hearing his voice and heeding his words. Though following the Good Shepherd truly leads to eternal life, the way of discipleship is not easy. Yet, nothing can interfere with Jesus’ care for us: we are secure in his hands — never alone with the Good Shepherd.
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 10: 27-30) to the first reading: Jesus is the Good Shepherd (gospel) and the Lamb who was slain (second reading). As shepherd, Jesus is the one who cares for us and leads us even when we face jealousy, abuse and rejection (first reading). As lamb, Jesus is the one who lays down his life in sacrifice for us.
  • To experience: The tumult of the world is not a sign that God has abandoned us. Jealousy, violent abuse, persecution, expulsions, etc., always have been part of our human condition. In all of this, Jesus shepherds us, lead us to “springs of life-giving water” and “wipes away every tear” (second reading).

WEEK OF MAY 5, 2019

Response to each petition: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the church. Broaden our vision. Help us find new ways to love all people through genuine forgiveness and hospitality.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the world and its leaders. Make them unafraid to honestly confront the challenges of inequality, racism and violence

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • Inspire Pope Francis and all church leaders and ministers. Help them make decisions that uphold the dignity of our human family.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For all gathered at worship. Nourish the hungers of our hearts. Open us to the needs of immigrants and strangers.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For peace on our planet and for a flourishing of love in our homes and workplaces.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For those who are suffering — the sick, the addicted, the dying and the grieving. And for our personal needs.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

Call to worship

Easter calls us to remain faithful to Christ who constantly nourishes us, who continually believes in us, who always calls us to recognize God’s gifts within us and who brings us new life.

  • To the point: The gospel hints at two failures: the fishermen coming back with no fish and Peter’s denial of Jesus before his death. Yet these failures became occasions for Jesus’ gift of abundance: a large catch of fish and a fuller love that would “glorify God.” Faithful discipleship is not measured by absence of failure but by openness to obeying new commands from Jesus, recognition of God’s abundant gifts and willingness to grow into new life. Today, we celebrate Easter openness and abundance.
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 21:1-19) to the first reading: Strict orders from the Sanhedrin did not deter the disciples from obeying “God rather than men.” Faithful to Jesus’ command to follow him, they even rejoiced that they were able to “suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.”
  • To experience: Sometimes we can be so discouraged by our failure to follow Jesus faithfully that we tend to give up trying. Remembering that Jesus never gives up on us can instill in us the courage to stay the course of discipleship.
Penitential Rite

Kyrie Eleison / Christe Eleison/ Kyrie Eleison

You continue to love and empower us, even when we deny you or distrust our faith. When we are humbled and recognize our shortcomings, we are most ready to receive your grace. Bring us together, Lord in our humanity, and show us the great power of forgiving others.

WEEK OF APRIL 28, 2019

Response to each petition: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the Church. May we reveal the power of resurrection and new life in every part of our global society, especially to those who have lost hope.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the gift of peace. May nations and people know the power of forgiveness that there may be a lasting peace in every part of our world.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For the grace of healing. May our wounds of body, mind and spirit enable us to become instruments of new life and hope to others.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For a blossoming of hope. May our world be flooded with faith. May we not trust the illusions and false promises of secular society but rather bring all people to a deeper awareness of God’s love.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For those who question their faith or who have left the church or hurt by her. May our constant witness lead them to a deeper understanding of God’s abiding presence.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

  • For our own intentions. For our sick, dying and grieving; and for those needs we hold in silence.

We ask: Risen Lord, hear our prayer.

Call to Worship

The Easter Message is filled with peace, joy and forgiveness for all, especially those who have difficulty with faith.We are called to bring others to a deeper experience of Jesus’ peace.

  • To the point: Three times in the gospel, the risen Lord addresses the gathered disciples with “Peace be with you.” This peace he brings allays fears, empowers forgiveness and prompts us to accept the reality of suffering and death as doorways to new life. This peace is new life: the Spirit breathed into us by the risen Lord with Jesus. Though we sin, Jesus only wishes new life for us.
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 20:19-31) to the first reading: The risen Lord “holds the keys to death.” He unlocks the doors to new life not only for himself who is “alive for ever and ever,” but also for us. We who believe in him as the gospel bids do not live in fear but in the peace his risen life brings.
  • To experience: The “signs and wonders” that reveal the presence of the risen Christ stretch far beyond miraculous healings. People see the risen Christ also in our everyday acts of kindness, sensitivity, generosity, patience and forgiveness.

WEEK OF APRIL 14, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Inspire Pope Francis and the entire Church. Give us renewed vision and strong direction. May Holy Week all over the world be a sacred and vibrant expression of our common faith.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Give us the courage to empty ourselves, to gratefully surrender our lives into God’s hands, to give up our anxieties and worries and to embrace our suffering with understanding

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer

  • For all who carry the crosses of life. For all who are hungry, poor or suffering. For all who are unemployed or experience stress. For all who are persecuted, unjustly accused, abused, forgotten, sick or addicted.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer

  • Guide governments and people of every nation to welcome immigrants, reject violence and resolve conflict peacefully. May we find the best ways to foster reconciliation and healing.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer

  • For peace in the world and an end to violence, particularly in the Holy Land and throughout the Middle East. May the sacred events we recall this week inspire our world and fill us with hope in new life.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer

  • For the prayers we hold in silence.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer

Call to worship
  • To the point: Luke’s Passion account highlights how much Jesus loved life. His struggle to say yes to his Father’s will (“take this cup away from me”) was so intense that he sweats blood. He also intensely loved others and their lives: he healed the man with the severed ear, comforted the women of Jerusalem, forgave his executioners, promised paradise to the repentant thief. For the sake of others’ life he was willing to give over his own life (“not my will but yours be done.”) Jesus’ struggle and self-giving is to be ours. While intensely loving the life given us, we also are to give it over for others.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 22/23: 14-49) to the first reading: Isaiah’s prophecy finds its fulfillment in Jesus. It not only describes his suffering but also his concern for others, “speaking to the weary a word of comfort.”
  • To experience: When we hear the proclamation of the Passion, we are most mindful of all the suffering Jesus endured. Luke reminds us that the passion also proclaims Jesus’ ultimate self-giving ministry for others.

WEEK OF APRIL 7, 2019

Third Scrutiny: Deliverance from cosmic, universal evil

God is power God is might. God will triumph over sin.

Kyrie Eleison … Christe Eleison … Kyrie Eleison.

  • When the dignity of humanity is threatened or destroyed; when the thirst for power drives government and politics,; when people are victimized by discrimination, deceit or neglect.

Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison

  • Wherever we are indifferent to the cries of the poor and the needy; wherever people are threatened by political oppression; wherever addiction and suicide result from our depression; wherever the innocent are victimized by war.

Deliver us O God – Christe Eleison.

  • Where prisoners are tortured and humiliated; where people are not free to practice faith; where the spirit of the powerless is stifled and crushed.

Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison.

  • From the ungrateful depletion of our atmosphere; from our failure to save energy and resources for future generations; from our exploitation of natural wonders given freely by God.

Deliver us O God – Christe Eleison.

  • That peace and love may reign in our world; that justice and dignity may prevail in our time; that all creation may live in unity and harmony.

Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison.

God is power, God is might – Christe Eleison

God will triumph over sin – Kyrie Eleison

Prayer of Exorcism

We lift before you O God, our brothers and sisters preparing for the Easter sacraments and this entire assembly who seek renewal in our faith. May the power of your word change our lives and invigorate our spirit. Free us from any falsehood and evil, and create in all of us a clean heart, a renewed vision, a deepened sense of your indwelling holiness. We ask you this through Jesus, your son and our Lord. Amen.

Laying on of hands

Lord Jesus, in your gentle strength set free our spirit, touch our minds and our hearts, awaken our sense of mission. Guide these chosen people in the journey of our lives. May they be signs to the world of the greatness and power of your unconditional love. Amen

Call to Worship

During this last week of Lent, we recognize how God is doing something new within us. As Christ touches the woman caught in adultery, so also does he touch us with generous and nonjudgmental love.

  • To the point: The scribes and Pharisees brought an adulterous woman to Jesus and made her stand in the middle. In their self-righteousness they wished to make an example of her as a grave sinner deserving of death. Ironically, Jesus makes an example of them as sinners: they turned away from him and “went away one by one.” The woman, however, remained with Jesus. Our own work during Lent is like that of the adulterous woman: truthfully face our sinfulness and faithfully remain with Jesus. Though we sin, Jesus only wishes new life for us.
  • Connecting the Gospel (John 8:1-11) to the second reading: Paul admonishes us not to be prisoners of our sinfulness but to strain forward to the new life that lies ahead. This new life is the “supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus” and remaining with him (“be found in him.”)
  • To experience: When we focus exclusively on our own sinfulness we can easily lose sight of our goodness and God’s mercy. Jesus responds even to profound sin with even more profound mercy.

WEEK OF MARCH 31, 2019

Second Scrutiny: Deliverance from institutional evil

God is power God is might. God will triumph over sin.

Kyrie Eleison … Christe Eleison … Kyrie Eleison.

  • When we disregard the rights of children and their education. When we refuse to help the poor, the hungry & the homeless When we degrade others because of sex, race, lifestyle or social class.

Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison.

  • When we ignore the wisdom and dignity of the elderly.  When we refuse medical care or insurance to the needy.  When we silence our prophets and our visionaries.

Deliver us O God – Christe Eleison.

  • From the prostitution of people and principles. From the enslavement and domestic abuse of children and adults. From injustice in the church and in enterprise. From violence in our homes, on our streets and in our schools.

Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison.

  • From the power of false news, propaganda and pornography.  From mismanagement and greed in enterprise and industry. From corruption and the abuse of time in our political systems.

Deliver us O God – Christe Eleison.

  • From mistreatment in prisons, old-age homes and institutions for the marginalized. From the cult of Satan and the exaltation of evil. From our refusal to grow in our faith. From our denial of the holiness of others.

Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison.

God is power, God is might – Christe Eleison.

God will triumph over sin – Kyrie Eleison.

Prayer of Exorcism

We lift before you O God, those preparing for the sacraments, and this assembly who seeks a renewal in faith. May the power of your word change our lives and invigorate our spirit. Free us from any falsehood and evil. Create in us a clean heart, a renewed vision, a deeper sense of your indwelling holiness.

Laying on of hands

Lord Jesus, in your gentle strength set free our spirit, touch our minds and our hearts, awaken our sense of mission. Guide your chosen people through life’s journey.  May we be signs to the world of the great power of your unconditional love. Amen.

Call to Worship

As the loving father welcomes back the son who has squandered his inheritance, so, too, does God generously welcome us home — no matter who we are, or what we have done.

  • To the point: This familiar parable often is referred to as the parable of the prodigal (wasteful) son. On one hand, the younger son is prodigal when he prodigiously squanders his inheritance. On the other hand, the real prodigality of the son lay in that he loved his life enough to swallow his pride, return home and throw himself on the mercy of his father. The father, too, is prodigal: he welcomes him as son, clothes him in the finest array, and throws a lavish feast. He gave him new life. This is the most prodigal act possible: to give new life.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 15; 1-3, 11-32) to the second reading: Paul reinforces what the gospel parable points to — sureness in the Father’s prodigiousness — “new things have come.” As the younger son is reconciled with his father, we are all reconciled to God through Christ.
  • To experience: Good parents spare nothing for their children’s sake — sometimes even being prodigious beyond their means. How much more so is our loving Father prodigious with us!

WEEK OF MARCH 24, 2019

First Scrutiny

On the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent, the church encourages all people and especially those who are to come into full communion in our faith at Easter to ask for freedom from all evil. On the third week of Lent, we pray for deliverance from personal evil:

  • When we fail to seek and proclaim you, when greed and selfishness divide us, when hatred and fear enslave us.

Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison.

  • Wherever we ignore the needs of others, wherever we have built walls of division, wherever we have shown arrogance or prejudice.

Deliver us O God – Christe Eleison.

  • From the lure of wealth, power and glory, from our desires to manipulate and exploit, from our need to stay in control,

Deliver us Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison.

  • When we desire to hold revenge, when we hesitate to forgive, when we injure by our words and gossip

Deliver us O God – Christe Eleison.

  • From our impatience, anger and deceit. From our mistrust, conceit and pride. From our addictions, self-pity and envy,

Deliver us Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison.

Deliver us Deliver us O God – Kyrie Eleison.

God is power, God is might – Christe Eleison

God will triumph over sin – Kyrie Eleison

Prayer of Exorcism

We lift before you O God, those preparing for the Easter sacraments and this assembly who seeks a renewal in faith. May the power of your word change our lives and invigorate our spirit. Free us from any falsehood and evil. Create in us a clean heart, a renewed vision, a deeper sense of your indwelling holiness.

Lord Jesus, in your gentle strength set free our spirit, ttouch our minds and our hearts, awaken our sense of mission. Guide your chosen people through life’s journey. May we be signs to the world of the great power of your unconditional love. Amen

Call to Worship

Lent is all about redirecting our lives. The fig tree that bears no fruit gets added nourishment and a second chance to bear fruit. The same is true for each of us.

We must redirect our lives to be life-giving.

  • To the point: The owner of the fig tree only cares about whether the tree bears fruit — he has no regard for the tree and its life. The gardener, on the other hand, cares about the fig tree, sees the life still there and wants to give it every chance (“I shall cultivate … and fertilize it”) to produce. He knows that as long as there’s life, there’s potential to bear fruit. What wastes away life within us and prevents us from bearing fruit is sin. Repentance, then, means choosing to nurture new life and all the fullness it can bring.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 13: 1-9) to the second reading: Paul, like Jesus, offers examples from Israel’s history as a “warning to us” not to stray from God’s guidance. God offered every means for coming to new life to the people of Israel — including the burning bush through which Moses heard God’s words of compassion. So, too, Jesus offers us every means for coming to new and fruitful life (“I shall cultivate the ground … and fertilize it.”)
  • To experience: Growing up takes hard work. Getting ahead in life takes hard work. Deepening our relationship with God and others takes hard work. It is no surprise, then, that repenting takes hard work. The discipline of Lent includes this kind of “hard work repentance” which leads to the new life Easter promises.

WEEK OF MARCH 17, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the Church. Enlighten us with your Spirit in these times of chaos and confusion. Help us to be vessels of holiness.

We ask. Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For our world. May the homeless find shelter and welcome. May those who have lost hope find fulfillment. May we acknowledge everyone as a holy child of God and end so much separation, prejudice, violence and killing.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For those who live under clouds of fear; who suffer from depression or mental illness’ who live in unsafe communities; who do not believe in God.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the blessings of Lent. Inspire those who prepare for sacraments and bless all who are on a spiritual journey.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • Bring peace to the human family. Guide us to find ways to end hunger, terrorism and war.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For our personal needs. For our beloved sick and dying. For all who grieve, and for the prayers we hold in our silence.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

In today’s Gospel, the disciples experience Jesus in his full glory. They are transformed by his holiness. We also can be changed during this Lent when we allow ourselves to be overshadowed by God’s presence.
To the point: During prayer Jesus’ “face changed.” This phrase is biblical language indicating that Jesus himself changed. The transfiguration is a fleeting glimpse of the glory of his risen life. To come to this glory, however, Jesus could not remain on the mountain but had to continue his journey to Jerusalem and the cross. During prayer we, too, encounter God in such a way that we are invited to change. We, too, are emboldened to follow our life journey and embrace the cross. And we, too, will be glorified now and forever.

  • Connecting the Gospel  (Luke 9:28b-36) to the second reading: On the mountain of transfiguration the disciples witnessed the glory of Jesus’ identity as the “chosen Son.” We, too, are destined for glory when Christ will “change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body” (second reading).
  • To experience: We often have glimpses of glory: in a remarkable sunset, in the shining face of a delighted child, in the radiant joy of new parents. Like the transfiguration, these glimpses of glory encourage and strengthen us to continue the journey of life toward eternal glory. Even the very old Abraham was asked to count the stars.

WEEK OF MARCH 10, 2019

Response to each petition: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For the universal church and for Pope Francis. May this time of Lent bring clarity and healing to those suffer or who have left us because of our sin.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • May governments all over the world offer safety to those fleeing danger and oppression. We pray for policies and borders that welcome the stranger.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For all who are incarcerated. For those imprisoned by addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, technology or pornography. We pray for adequate funding and for skilled treatment, and that these victims may be healed.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For us as we begin this Lenten journey. For strength to overcome temptations. That hurt our relationship with God. For reconciliation in our broken relationships and for a strengthening of the faith that supports us.

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

  • For all who are sick, dying or grieving. For people who are alone and need support and love. For a deeper care and understanding toward all who are living.
  • For the intentions we hold in silence …

We ask: Lord, hear your people’s prayer.

Call to worship

This is the time of fulfillment. We begin the holy season of Lent facing human temptations with the support of our faith and the love of God ready to change our lives for the better.

  • To the point — Twice the devil entices Jesus to give into temptation by saying, “If you are the Son of God …” Jesus is divine, but he also is fully human. Jesus resists the devil’s temptation to put aside his humanity and act like God, thus remaining true to himself and to why he came. But Jesus’ resisting the temptations has implications for us, too. By fully embracing his humanity Jesus lifts us up to be who we are in our relationship with God. Only from this relationship do we have the inner strength and conviction to make right choices in face of the temptations that are an inevitable part of being human.
  • Connecting the Gospel (Luke 4: 1-13) to the second reading — In the Gospel the devil sets himself up as Lord when he tempts Jesus to worship him. Paul reminds us in the second reading that Jesus is the One whom we are to profess.
  • To our experience — All temptation presents us with a choice in the face of a perceived good. We are able to see through the ruse of the perceived good to the inherent selfishness of all temptation when we spend our lives deepening our sense of who we are in relation to God.