First Friday in Advent: A Prayer for this Season

Prepare a way for you, Lord?
I’ve got lots of work to do!

Help me prepare a way for you into my home, Lord:
help me find a place, a room, a corner, a chair
where you and I can meet each day to pray.
Perhaps I’ll put a candle there, with a Bible;
maybe a statue or a picture; a rosary or a prayer card:
something to mark the spot as the place I keep
to go each day to sit and rest, to take a deep breath,
to remember your presence and open my heart in prayer.

Help me prepare a way for you on my calendar,
an “appointment” each day;
even just ten minutes for you and me to get together,
to talk about the day, its ups and downs,
and get to know each other just a little better than yesterday.

Help me prepare a way for you to enter my thoughts, Lord.
When I’m trying to figure things out, nudge me
to ask for your guidance and counsel,
your Spirit and your wisdom,
when I’m making decisions and choices.
Help me prepare a way for you, Lord,
in my family and among my friends, at work and at school,
in my parish and in my neighborhood.
Help me prepare a way for you to come into the hearts
of those around me who are alone.

Help me prepare a way for you, Lord,
in the crazy rush of Christmas all around me.
Help me remember it’s your birthday
and that you should get some presents—from me.
Help me remember the poverty of your nativity:
make your way into my wallet and spend generously
on those whose needs are so much greater than my own.
Help me remember that of all the gifts I might receive,
none is greater than the love you have for me.

Help me prepare a way for you
to enter my life decisively, Lord.
In the quiet of my prayer, Lord,
help me clear the path you walk into my life, into my soul.

In the stillness of my prayer, Lord,
help me see you as you make your way towards me,
and show me that no matter the roadblocks I put up,
you’ll find a way to come, to enter,
and to fill me with your presence. Amen.

From Good Morning, Good God! by Fr. Austin Fleming, The Word Among Us Press, 2015, via

https://wau.org/resources/article/a_prayer_for_advent/

 

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Doing the Impossible and More

For those readers who struggle with getting things done, here is my favorite quote from St. Francis of Assisi–whose feast day is today.

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Speaking of impossible, here’s a timely reminder for what we can do to improve this crazy world we live in.

“Sanctify yourself, and you will sanctify society.”

May your day be one of sanctified, intentional living so that God, through you, is doing the impossible.

 

Feast of the Archangels

In honor of St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael, here’s a prayer from today’s Morning Prayer of the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours):

O God,
who dispose in marvelous order ministries both angelic and human,
graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to you in heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Coffee and Canticles

In my last post I referred you to Daria Sockey’s excellent blog post, “Breviary Bootcamp.” However, I should have mentioned that her entire blog is a unique resource for anyone interested in learning more about the Liturgy of the Hours, from novice to veteran. Her site has a few posts that are helpful overviews to various aspects of the Divine Office (a.k.a. the Liturgy of the Hours) plus the five years of  engaging posts and the lively comments provide a treasure trove of valuable information. You can find Daria’s conversation about praying with the Church, known as Coffee and Canticles, here:

http://dariasockey.blogspot.com

 

Praying with the Church

Have you heard of the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours as it’s also known? If not you are in for a pleasant surprise. Many lay Christians in the Catholic Church and liturgical faith communities as well as other believers have been discovering this public prayer of the church–normally associated with the clergy–that stretches backwards across centuries of the faithful and around the globe to join a great host of brothers and sisters in Christ. One of its beauties is that it can be prayed privately or in conjunction with fellow believers. Rather than try to explain it in detail here I commend to you the excellent and accessible slim volume on the subject, The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, by Daria Sockey.

http://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Catholics-Guide-Liturgy-Hours-ebook/dp/B00BSI816S/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1459421181&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=everyday+catholic%27s+guide+to+the+liturgy+of+hours

Additionally, should you just want an overview of the Liturgy of the Hours or start praying them, Daria has written an extended blog post called Breviary Boot Camp that is a terrific tool for throwing yourself into the Divine Office prayers–if you read about them and discover you are so inclined.

http://dariasockey.blogspot.com/p/breviary-bootcamp.html

For me, a previous participant in these prayers who eventually fell out of using them and then came back several years later, they have been serendipitous in helping my faith journey stay on course during some tough times over the past few months. Now that things are looking up I am addicted to continuing them as I can’t imagine trying to get through my day without their help. If you’re curious about the idea of praying the Psalms and other Scriptures regularly you should read Daria’s post and consider diving right in.

Finally, there’s a wonderful website you can use to get started without any outlay of cash. It provides the prayers in either visual or audio form and you don’t have to figure out where in the cycle of prayers you should be on any given day as the work has already been done for you. It is also available for purchase as an app for iOS, Mac OS10 Lion, Android, Kindle and Nook platforms.

http://divineoffice.org

If any of this sounds intriguing I encourage you to check it out. And remember: you don’t have to pray all the hours. You may be a Night Prayer user as my family and I were when our son was much younger and this was part of our family’s prayer routine. Or you may switch things up daily and pray whatever hour or hours that work for you that day. The beauty is that you can’t fail to benefit from whatever you pray in conjunction with believers all over the world, however that looks for you. No doubt if you become devoted to it your practice will change with the ebb and flow of the seasons of your life.

But no matter whether you stick to it faithfully or go on sabbatical you will always find it there waiting for you to pick up and be refreshed. Peace be with you as you draw closer to the Lord Jesus through the prayer of His Word.

Guardian Angels

Today is the feast of the Guardian Angels and I found these two posts to be the best explanations of what Scripture teaches us about these wonderful helpers. Thank you, Lord, for my guardian angel!

http://lifeteen.com/blog/to-protect-and-serve-the-truth-about-guardian-angels/?utm_content=bufferf09dc&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

 

 

Music for Eastertide & Beyond

If I had thought about it sooner, I would have posted this on Holy Thursday…

Music for the Triduum/Easter season:

Good Friday:

Traditional hymns: “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” “At the Cross Her Station Keeping,” “The Old Rugged Cross,” & “Were You There?”

Bach’s St. Matthew Passion or St. John Passion

Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri

Contemporary: Matt Maher’s “You Were on the Cross,” “Jars of Clay’s “O Come and Mourn With Me Awhile,” and Bruce Carroll’s “Driving Nails”

Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday:

Contemporary: Carman’s “Sunday’s On Its Way”–and for the young at heart, here’s a fun video:

Easter Sunday/Easter Season:

Traditional hymns: “Christ Arose”, “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”, “Alleluia! Alleluia!” [Ode to Joy tune]

Classical: Bach’s Easter Oratorio & Widor’s Toccata from the Fifth Organ Symphony in F, Op 42 #1–Here’s a wonderful performance:

Contemporary:

Anthem: Matt Maher’s “Christ is Risen” (backing vocals by Audrey Assad); nice concept video done by a fan:

Worship & praise: Adam Young (a.k.a. Owl City)’s cover of “In Christ Alone (I Stand)”

Contemporary hymn: “Easter Song” (Keith Green performance, although the 2nd Chapter of Acts is good, too)

Anthem: James Ward’s “Death is Ended”

Vintage anthems: Don Francisco’s “He’s Alive” & Dallas Holm’s “Rise Again”

Finally, I would be remiss to not include at least a few other year-round favorites that come to mind about the grace of God at work in our lives:

Bach’s Halellujah Chorus

Rich Mullin’s “Step by Step”

Audrey Assad’s “O Happy Fault,” “Sparrow,” & “Breaking Through”

U2’s “Magnificent” & “Pride”

Matt Maher’s “New State of Mind,” “Alive Again,” “His Grace is Enough”

Eleanor Farjeon’s “Morning Has Broken”

Johnny Cash’s “When the Man Comes Around”

Contemporary hymn: “You Are Mine”

Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses”

Any musical setting and/or performer for “Ave Maria,” although I’m especially fond of Andrea Bocelli and Perry Como’s versions.

 

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