An Evening Prayer

In this season of shortening days and early darkness, I’d like to share with you an evening prayer from my Episcopal days:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give thine angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for thy love’s sake. Amen.

 —Book of Common Prayer

The Good Samaritan by John Mosiman. Courtesy Sacred Art Pilgrim.

The Good Samaritan by John Mosiman. Courtesy Sacred Art Pilgrim.

Taught by Student

One of my Catholic Biblical School students wrote this on her homework. Brilliant!

I want to be priest, prophet, and king — not judge, jury, and executioner.
— April Brilvitch
Christus by Giovanni Meschini, goache-painted pochoir print (Courtesy Sacred Art Pilgrim)

Christus by Giovanni Meschini, goache-painted pochoir print (Courtesy Sacred Art Pilgrim)

Upcoming Programs for Advent

Join me for one or both of the following Advent programs!

Advent Morning of Reflection: "God of Power and Smallness"
Sat., Dec. 2, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
St. Thomas Becket Church, 435 N. Brooksvale Rd., Cheshire, CT
To register, call Sr. Patricia Cigrand at 203-272-3531 x1312.
Join me for a morning of reflection and quiet prayer as we prepare our hearts for God's coming among us. Will we recognize this God of power and smallness? A free will offering will be accepted by the parish.

Evening of Music and Reflection for Advent
Mon., Dec. 18, 7:00 p.m.
St. Ann Church, 501 Naugatuck Ave., Milford, CT
Join me and the talented choir of my home parish for an evening of music and reflection. One week before Christmas, let's settle our hearts and reflect on God's presence among us! Meditations by Amy Ekeh and music by the Saint Ann Choir under the direction of Peter DeMarco. There is no cost for the evening. All are welcome!

Elise Anna Wood, 1935.

Elise Anna Wood, 1935.

Seed and Bread: A Fall Poem by Scott Eagan

For those of you who are new to the blog, Scott Eagan is a farmer and poet who is a member of the Madonna House community in Combermere, Ontario. Scott sees God at work in the seasons, the animals, the harvest, and in the people of his life. I'm ever-grateful that he shares his work with us.

SEED and BREAD

Summer has come and gone
seamless seasons pass by, pass through
and we are still here, we remain
the planted seed pushing its roots deeper.

Spring sun and June showers
softened seed and warming soil
these have fed our souls, our wintry souls
we have scattered seed, and toiled and hoped.

July's hot blaze, long days and hay
our green meadows and pastures and fields
a sea of waving grasses are living proof of creation's
design, the order and harmony of Life.

Weeds have thrived there too, we have grown together
the Hand of Love will sort it out
sandy soils dry and some plants wither
waving grain, now a golden sea, August's passing.

Harvest promises a full granary
days shorten, the grain is plump
all creatures come to the fields to taste and fatten
and will we be harvest, Christ's seed and bread?

Roots and seed -- sun, rain and soil
stem, leaf and grain -- life is holy toil.
Green to gold, grain ground into flour
dough become bread; God, woman and man power.
 

© 2017 Scott Eagan

Van Gogh, Wheat Fields with Sheaves, 1888.

Van Gogh, Wheat Fields with Sheaves, 1888.

Will They Know We Are Christians

When I was a child, my family attended a Presbyterian church for several years. This was the place where I received my first Bible (a Good News Bible that I still cherish), and my teacher, Hessie Smith, wrote me a note and told me to put it in my Bible at Matthew 6:33 (it’s still there). Her lesson on John the Baptist was so descriptive that for a week I couldn’t stop thinking about how disgusting it must be to eat locusts with wild honey.

At the end of every Sunday service, we would hold hands with the people seated to our left and to our right, until every person in the church was connected. Then we would sing They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love:

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love.

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

I heard this message over and over again, Sunday after Sunday, my hand grasped by my mom or dad, or sometimes by a stranger, maybe even by one of my brothers on a rare occasion! Even as a child I knew the message rang with idealism but called us to something real. And I wondered how we were doing, and if we were failing. Because it was so obvious – you didn’t have to read every word of that Good News Bible to know it – you didn’t have to be a grown-up to know it – it was so obvious that the song should be true. But was it?

Jesus said, “By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). It’s so easy to say or to sing. Much harder to do.

The Church is holy – we profess this – but it is not because she is perfect. It is because she is set apart. Set apart to do one task, to do it better than anyone else because she has had the perfect example. She is one with the Perfect Example.

The Church was created to love. This is the one thing that lies beneath, behind and beyond every aspect of her existence, from liturgy to evangelization. If it doesn’t, then we have failed before we have even begun.

Pope Francis said, "I desire a happy church with the face of a mother, who understands, accompanies, caresses. Dream of this church, believe in it, innovate it with freedom."

I see this church, and yet I dream of it. I have seen that loving face, and yet I yearn for it. I have been accompanied, and yet I dream of accompaniment. Let us innovate – transform – with love, and not fail each other. Let us innovate with every step, breath, word and song. And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Every year on October 21, at Mount Sacred Heart in Hamden, CT (the home of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), sunlight shining through the stained glass in the chapel illuminates the heart of Jesus, turning it red. Sisters, students, and friends of the community gather to witness this natural sign of God's supernatural love. The motto of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Pauline declaration: "The love of Christ impels us" (2 Cor. 5:14).

Every year on October 21, at Mount Sacred Heart in Hamden, CT (the home of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), sunlight shining through the stained glass in the chapel illuminates the heart of Jesus, turning it red. Sisters, students, and friends of the community gather to witness this natural sign of God's supernatural love. The motto of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is the Pauline declaration: "The love of Christ impels us" (2 Cor. 5:14).