A different set of ‘commandments’

Part of what draws me back to the internet each day is the rediscovery of wisdom seen—and marked, partially studied, and partially applied—days, weeks, months, or years ago. The rediscovery keeps me learning and growing. Here is one such rediscovery:

Join me in learning and growing every day.

Come Holy Spirit …

From January 1993 until July 1997 I was privileged to share ministry with The Rev. G. Bradford “Brad” Hall. Brad would begin his sermons with a short prayer. As with many sayings, once it is repeated enough the saying ‘sticks’ it becomes part of you. So it is with Brad’s Sermon Prayer: it is part of me, part of my faith journey, a profound part of how I take the next step and the one after that and so on. Here is the prayer:

Come Holy Spirit,
come with your fire and burn us,
come with your rain and cleanse us,
come with your light and reveal to us;
convict us,
convert us,
consecrate us,
until we do something with our lives. Amen.

Two additional items: notice that Brad prayed not just for himself nor for ‘them’ but for ‘us.’ Brad joined his hearers and on behalf of all of us prayed that the Spirit would fill us until we (together) did something with our lives. Second, Brad would sometimes insert a decisive verb in that last line: “¬until we choose to do something with our lives.”

For more on the back story of this prayer see: Come Holy Spirit posted by Stanley Hirsch on our Sunday Morning Forum Blog, Hear what the Spirit is saying.

Simplicity

Pope Francis at MassThis was an unexpected joy. The image is from a post on a new favorite blog: Dating God | Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century. The picture “says it all.” You may, however, want to read the post, “Do we honor God or ourselves?” by Daniel P. Horan, OFM.

L:ittle things, simple things, matter. What do you think?

Image: “Vatican News” via Dating God

What? Me? A shepherd?

Yesterday (4/21/2013–”Earth Sunday”) Katharine Jefferts-Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, offered the homily at the National Cathedral. She called me, and you, followers of the Way (that began in Creation and continues—in Love—into our own day with the promise of more to come). Listen:

The 23rd psalm may seem like a romantic idyll, but it’s profoundly about what sheep need – food, water, rest, and the ability to fend off predators. The psalmist describes behavior that is just as essential to human thriving as it is for sheep or goats. In order for any human community to be effective or live in productive harmony, it needs leadership. When we start to talk about godly leadership, or shepherds like Jesus, we mean guidance toward what will nurture the life of the community as well as away from what will threaten or end the project. Good shepherding is life-giving and sustaining, and in the kind of language we use around here, it’s eternal. It is about what is ultimate, gracious, and abundantly life-giving. It seeks the welfare of the whole community, not simply the desires of an individual.

This kind of holy shepherding is meant for all of us, in all our variety.

This kind of holy shepherding is meant for all of us, in all our variety. We aren’t meant to march in lockstep, but to use the varied gifts of our creation and circumstances to gather others and move toward that kind of abundant life ….

Read the complete text of her homily Presiding Bishop uses Earth Day to call for ‘holy shepherding.’ The video of this homily is here.

May we have the grace in our own day to shepherd wisely and well, may we be ‘holy shepherds—a blessing to each other and to all the created order.

An encouraging word

For the first 30 years of my life I identified myself as “Roman Catholic.” I continue to claim my Roman Catholic roots. I have a great love and respect for the Roman Catholic Church. But I am happily being prodded along by the Holy Spirit in The Episcopal Church. With 1.2 billion members, the Roman Catholic presence in our world is significant. The Pope as leader of this church is a powerful voice on the world stage.

To hear today what he said about Vatican II, the Holy Spirit, stubbornness, and the courage to go forward is therefore, ‘an encouraging word’ to me. Some excerpts from his homily yesterday (4/16/2013):

“the Holy Spirit upsets us because it moves us, it makes us walk, it pushes the Church forward.” He said that we wish “to calm down the Holy Spirit, we want to tame it and this is wrong.” Pope Francis said “that’s because the Holy Spirit is the strength of God, it’s what gives us the strength to go forward” but many find this upsetting and prefer the comfort of the familiar.

Nowadays, he went on, “everybody seems happy about the presence of the Holy Spirit but it’s not really the case and there is still that temptation to resist it.” The Pope said one example of this resistance was the Second Vatican council which he called “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit.” But 50 years later, “have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council,” he asked. The answer is “No,” said Pope Francis. “We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” This, he went on, “is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.”

View the post on Vatican Radio

He concluded “by urging those present not to resist the pull of the Holy Spirit. ‘Submit to the Holy Spirit,’ he said, ‘which comes from within us and makes go forward along the path of holiness.’”

Very encouraging words to me. What does it sound like to you?

“Tend my sheep”

On Sunday, April 14, 2013, many of us will hear the text of John 21:1-19. Jesus and Peter dialogue after breakfast, verses 15-19:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.” [NRSV]

Earlier this week we remembered Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Hear what he has to say about ‘shepherding.’ I believe Peter lived into this understanding.

Jesus, the good shepherd (John 10:11), has nothing to do with shepherd idylls and pastoral poetry. All such ideas spoil the text. “I am” makes it clear that the subject is not shepherds and their work in general but Jesus Christ alone. I am the good shepherd—not a good shepherd, which might mean that Jesus is comparing himself with other good shepherds and learning from them what a good shepherd is. What a good shepherd is can be learned only from the good shepherd, beside whom there is no other, from the standpoint of this “I”—from the standpoint of Jesus. No other pastoral office in the church of Jesus Christ sets beside the good shepherd a second and third shepherd; rather, it lets Jesus alone be the good shepherd of the church. He is the “chief shepherd” (1 Pet. 5:4). It is his pastoral office in which the “pastors” participate, or else they spoil the office and the flock. That this is a question of the good shepherd himself, and not of one shepherd among many, becomes immediately clear in the unusual activity that he ascribes to himself. He speaks not of pastoring, watering, and helping. Rather, “The (again, note the article!) good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). So Jesus calls himself the good shepherd because he dies for his sheep.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich (2007-09-04). I Want to Live These Days with You: A Year of Daily Devotions (p. 178). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.

The Little Way

One of my favorite saints is Thérèse of Lisieux (“The Little Flower”). She is remembered by the Roman Catholic Church on October 1st. I encourage you to take 10 minutes of your day to hear Fr. James Martin, SJ tell the story of Thérèse. Within the video you will hear more about her “little way.” It is a way for you and me, don’t you think?

I do not have the courage to force myself to search out beautiful prayers in books. There are so many of them it really gives me a headache! and each prayer is more beautiful than the others. I cannot recite them all and not knowing which to choose, I do like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me. For me, prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.
From Story of a Soul (via Wikiquote)

Read more about Thérèse

Therese of Lisieux on Wikipedia