Pray over this Memorial Day weekend for prudence and safety for all those celebrating the holiday in the company of large crowds.
Remember and pray for the our deceased military service personnel and military families coping with their loss and often with lingering mental health and other conditions that plague retirees and their loved ones.
God bless you each with good health, much happiness and abundant peace.
Start Where You Are
I ask you the same question Moses asked the people in Sunday’s first reading: “I ask now, did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking as you did?” “This” Moses says: “is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other. I enjoin this upon you today that you and your children after you may prosper, and you may have long life on the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you forever.”
Is there any greater reason, and motivation, found in Scripture than these words to prompt us to take stock of what we have and where we are going? If you need another nudge, just read the Gospel passage for this weekend. “The disciples gathered with Jesus and worshiped him, BUT they doubted!” Jesus stepped closer to them and reminded them: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Then, in so many words, Jesus told them to put their own hands on the plow and get on with the job. “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded YOU.” Then, he reassures them and he guarantees us …“Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the ages.”
That’s a tall directive! But Jesus is serious! “Therefore, GO!” Or as Father Henry said earlier today: “Jesus is saying: No excuses!” So, where do we begin? This much I know: we have to start where we are. Awaken our hearts to recognize and embrace the truth of who we were and who’ve we become; who we are. In the message of a song performed by EMBRACE, an English band: “I’ve been running for oh so long; there’s a light that guides us, I don’t see. Catch the light, reflect it down on me; show me where I went wrong. The lies are bad; the truth is worse. One day there’ll come a time when our questions have all dried up and chance can come back into your life. Til then you’ll know that it’s all a waste. Invite the chance back into your life; it’s time to invite all the chance back into your life.”
You’ve probably heard the principle that if a person doesn’t treat inanimate objects with respect, we can predict she/he will have no respect for living things. Benedict knew this, didn’t he? In RB 31 he cautions the members, not solely the person given charge of the inventory, “To take care of everything; to regard all utensils and goods of the monastery (that includes the persons) as sacred vessels of the altar, aware that nothing is to be neglected.” It could not be clearer that as Benedictines we are charged to care of ALL creation. To practice good stewardship, sound environmental practices, reverence for all persons. To operate machinery and tech tools; close a door, set a table and push in chairs with the same gentleness we cradle a chalice. This attitude of devotion and sensitivity starts with our own person and extends to all persons. It is reflected in our demeanor and decorum; our respect for an atmosphere of monastic quiet. We move with a touch of gentleness for the environment in which we find ourselves. It shows in our manner of walking, speaking, acting and interacting.
You’ve heard of the “butterfly effect” – EVERY thing we do or say sends seemingly unending ripples into the environment – affecting and effecting and infecting a circle of influence beyond our imagination. When we acknowledge this our response must be one prayer for forgiveness any negativity we’ve spewed into the world. May I suggest we offer a prayer inspired by Servite Sister Joyce Rupp and adapted for this community:
A PRAYER FOR THOSE WHO HAVE TOO MUCH
To our brothers and sisters in developing areas of our country and around the world:
While I was deciding which of seven cereals to eat this morning, you were searching in dumpsters for leftover scraps.
While I was working out in the exercise room or walking the paved track, you were working in the wealthy landowner’s fields under a scorching sun or in teeming rain.
When I choose between soda or juice, your parched lips are yearning for the touch of water. When I choose between brands of bottled water, you search in the landfill for something you could exchange for pennies to buy food for your children.
While I complain about the poor service in the local restaurant or turn up my nose at the food on our buffet table, I think of you who gratefully accept a bag or box of government commodities from Daystar.
When a sudden noise startles me, a shout for a winning team or the ice machine motor interrupts conversation, I think of you who live in fearful threat of unpredictable noise and violence and the frequent eruption of gunfire day and night.
When I complain about a lack of connecting speed on my shining laptop, I remember 1000s of children who are losing a year of education because they have no WiFi connection, no Internet service or probably not a computer to use.
While I poured my “all-in-one” detergent into the washing machine, you stand in the river with your small bundle of clothes.
While I watch the evening news on our wide-screen TV, you are among those I witnessed being terrorized by the dictatorship government.
While I scanned the ads for a bargain price on a new shirt, you woke up and put on the same shirt and pants that you have worn for many months, thankful for others’ cast-offs.
While I grumbled over the need for more storage space, your family of l0 found shelter in a one-room packing-box hut you call home.
When I went to chapel and felt slightly bothered at the length of the prayer service or the silence or a boring homily, you looked out upon the earth and those around you and felt gratitude to God just for being alive for one more day.
(So, we pray) My brothers and sisters, forgive me for my arrogance and my indifference. Forgive me for my greed of always wanting newer, bigger and better things. Forgive me for not doing my part to change the unjust systems that keep you suffering and impoverished. I offer you my promise to become more aware of your situation and to change my lifestyles as I work for transformation of our world.
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB