March 30, 2020 | Friendship

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

All: With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.

Psalm 130

Side 1: I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in his word.
Side 2: My soul waits for the Lord more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
Leader: “When Jesus saw Mary weeping and the others who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?  They said to him, “Sir, come and see.’ And Jesus wept.”  John 11:33-35
The centerpiece of this fifth week of our Lenten retreat is the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
In this story, it is easy to miss the central part played by relationship. There is very little in our lives that is not rooted in relationships. These connections draw us deep into life’s meaning. They call us to our best selves, to faithful companionship and to conversion of life when we fail others in that companionship.
Reader 1: The household in Bethany of Martha, Mary and their brother, Lazarus, was dear to Jesus. He had spent many hours among them, enjoying their hospitality and a fully mutual friendship. From his childhood on, Jesus learned the ways of friendship, and, like any us, his friendships deepened his humanity and helped teach him about God (see Hebrews 5:7-10).
Reader 2: We can easily understand Jesus’ weeping at the death of his friend Lazarus. This came from the depths of his human experience. But we need also to understand the mystery of his weeping from the depths of his being as God. For Christians, Jesus is both fully human and fully the Son of God. In this story we see him fully inhabiting both realities. The deep groan from within him is also God’s heartbreak in the face of human suffering and loss. To submit to relationship in this broken world is to choose to love and, in that love, to risk suffering. This story helps us see that God loves us, and in choosing this love, chooses to suffer not only for us, but with us and alongside us, every step of the way.
Reader 3: In our health care ministry we are privileged to glimpse this mystery every day: families who keep faithful vigil for days or weeks at the bedside of dying loved ones; colleagues who reach out in support of one another in time of need; volunteers who show up faithfully to visit those in long-term care. The faithfulness of others is a testament to the God who has chosen to be in relationship with us and will not rest until that relationship is fully healed of all suffering and death. Until the story is fully done and creation once again the Garden that God intended, God journeys with us, sorrows for and within us. The unique friendship of Jesus with Lazarus and his sisters became the means of his greatest miracle and prelude to his own resurrection. Our own friendship with God and one another, especially in our health care setting, offers us this same tender hope of life and resurrection.
Leader: For Reflection
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”   John 15:13
How can you continue to nurture God’s friendship with you this Lent?
What friendships in your life lift you up and speak to you of God’s friendship? How can you express your gratitude for them?
Is there a relationship at work or among your friends that needs mending this Lent?

Intentional Prayer

Leader: Hear our cry for mercy, O Lord, we pray:
All: Faithful Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader 1: For all those who have died and for those who mourn them, we pray:
All: Faithful Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader 2: For CommonSpirit Health to minister to our communities with great compassion, we pray:
All: Faithful Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader 3: For those who are caring for elderly parents and for their peace of mind, we pray:
All: Faithful Lord, hear our prayer.
Reader 4: For those who must live with the uncertainty of illness, we pray:
All: Faithful Lord, hear our prayer.
All: Personal Petitions:
All: The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father…

Closing Prayer

Leader: Let us pray together,
All: Tender and loving God, your gift of friendship lifts our hearts in hope and gratitude. Our relationship with you calls us to relationship with our friends and with all those we serve in our health care ministry. Continue your friendship with us, Lord. Lift us up and keep us faithful in friendship to one another, that your healing purposes may shine through this broken, beloved world. In your holy name we pray. Amen.
Leader: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Peace be with you all and have a most wonderful week!

March 25, 2020 | In This Moment

In This Moment
I am living in the now – fully present to divine possibilities in each moment.  Each day begins with unknown possibilities.  As I progress through the day, my experiences are shaped by what I believe is true and where my attention is focused.  If I believe life is wondrous and see only evidence of that, then I experience life as a wonder.  I choose to believe this day is a unique opportunity to discover the activity of Spirit in and through my life. Time in prayer reveals a sense of peace available within me when I still the busyness of my mind.  I go about the day pausing to enjoy the glimpses of wonder and beauty in my surroundings.  While interacting with others, I make connections and find reminders of the power of love to heal and uplift me.  I claim the gifts in this day by being present to each moment.

May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all day long.—Psalm 72:15

Morning Prayer
Annunciation of the Lord

All: Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Luke 1:46-55
Side 1: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

Side 2: He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he has made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.

Reading – Luke 1:26-29, 38
Reader: The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Reflection: The astonishing news from the angel Gabriel is followed by a second announcement: Mary’s cousin Elizabeth will also conceive and bear a son in her old age. The salvific plan of God choose two unlikely human vessels, a young virgin and an elderly woman. Both women will bring forth a child that will change the course of history for the people of God. Mary’s hesitant but willing fiat leaves us with an example of obedience to God’s call to each of us to be bearers of new life into the world.

Prayer
Leader: Trusting in Christ, the Light of the World, we pray:
All: Be with us, O Lord.

Reader 1: That CommonSpirit Health always serve the common good, we pray:
All: Be with us, O Lord.

Reader 2: That those who are hesitant to trust in the mercy of God, find strength in the Holy          Spirit, we pray:
All: Be with us, O Lord.

Reader 3: That our Lenten practices continue to bring us closer to a repentant heart, we pray:
All: Be with us, O Lord.

Reader 4: That all people recognize the astonishing love of God on their journey, we pray:
All: Be with us, O Lord.

All: Personal Petitions

All: The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father…

Closing Prayer
All: God, in your plan of salvation, you have chosen Mary as the vessel for the Word made flesh. Grant to us the same courage as Mary that we might be obedient to your grace and faithful in our communion with your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns, for ever and ever. Amen.

Leader: Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Peace be with you all and have a wonderful week!

March 23, 2020 | Light

FOURTH WEEK OF LENT

All: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Psalm 136

Side 1: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.
Side 2: Give thanks to the God of gods, for his mercy endures forever.

Leader: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

Seeing Relies on Light

Because of light, we are able to make out distinct shapes and objects through contrasting colors and shadows. Consider, for example, the difference in our appreciation of a landscape from first light to full light. At first, it is just suggestive of what is before us. Later, the scene is all color and contrasting shapes and hues. Contrast, distinction, difference fill most of our hours and days. For human beings, this work of separating out has physical, mental and spiritual dimensions.
Reader 1: From the perspective of faith, to see things truly is to see them both in their distinctness and in the light of the whole of which they are a part. We do the first instinctively. The second is harder and part of a lifelong spiritual labor that we are invited to foster during this Lenten retreat. We live in a culture that exceeds in making distinctions. Too often this is for the purpose of barring some people from communities of relationship.  With families in crisis and record numbers of migrants and refugees on the move the world over, alienation and movement are everywhere.
This Sunday’s gospel of the man who was born blind is such a story. A man who had been born blind is given sight by Jesus. This caused division among his family and friends and within his religious community. Rejected by the religious leaders for his acknowledgment of Jesus, his life became a judgment on them in Jesus’ strong words: “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind” (John 9:39).
Reader 2: If our seeing leads to the sense that we alone see things correctly, we are in trouble. True “seeing” is an act of community, a labor of mutual discernment of what God asks of us in our time and place. This leads to the humble understanding that in this life we see as St. Paul emphasizes, “For now we see as through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1Cor. 13:12).
Still, our task is to try to see things as God does, whole and in relationship. With humility we long and pray for such spiritual insight and acknowledge that our blindness, our partial view, is so that God may be the true light in our life. This is the conversion asked of us in this holy season.
Reader 3: As we in Catholic health care hunger for such humility, we cannot help but honor others’ inherent dignity as they come to us in need. We will see each in God’s light, as a unique moment of God’s grace in this world and with an unrepeatable web of relationships. This light reveals that there is no “other.” All are one — each of us a distinct yet intimately connected moment in the great rebirthing of that garden of right relationships where the whole story began.

Leader: For Reflection

“Light unshared is darkness. To be light indeed, it must shine out.
It is of the very essence of light, that it is for others.”             George McDonald
Am I grateful for light in my life, and do I pray to see things more as God sees them?
What relationships are calling me to conversion of heart?
Who is the “other” that I fear, and what will I do to overcome this fear?

Intentional Prayer

Leader: Be with us, O Lord, we pray:
All: Faithful God, hear our prayer.
Reader 1: May the sacredness of our work bring light and renewal to those who work with us and those we work for, we pray:
All: Faithful God, hear our prayer.
Reader 2: For CommonSpirit Health to bring light to those we serve, we pray:
All: Faithful God, hear our prayer.
Reader 3: May the healing presence of God be known and be the hallmark of our commitment to improving the health of our communities, we pray:
All: Faithful God, hear our prayer.
Reader 4: May we approach each new day with joy and hope for us to share with those whom we meet, we pray:
All: Faithful God, hear our prayer.
All: Personal Petitions:
All: The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father…

Closing Prayer

Leader: Let us pray together,
All: God of light, enlighten us with your wisdom and love. During these Lenten days, increase our capacity to see others as you do and to love and serve them as our calling from you. We ask this in your holy and light-giving name. Amen.
Leader: Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Peace be with you all and have a most wonderful week!

March 18, 2020 | Pray for Others

Pray for Others
In the spirit of oneness, I share my prayer.  During the course of my day I may think fondly of a friend, revisit memories of someone from my past, or see others’ stories of pain or triumph in the news.  Each situation offers me a unique chance to hold someone in the sacred energy of prayer.  I might send a quick heart-to-heart blessing to someone I love or direct waves of supportive energy toward someone I’ve never met who appears stressed or upset.  I may even embrace the opportunity for healing if an old hurtful memory surfaces, before sending thoughts of forgiveness out to another who had a role in what happened.  Through the energy of prayer, I share the spirit of oneness, harmony, and love that connects all life.

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.—Psalm 141:2

Morning Prayer

All: A contrite and humble heart, O God, you will not spurn.

Psalm 51
Side 1: Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.

Side 2: Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.

Reading – Jonah 3:1-5, 10
Reader: The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So, Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD’S bidding. Now Nineveh was an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. When God saw by their actions how they turned away from their evil way, he repented of the evil he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.

Reflection: The story of Jonah is about a reluctant preacher, a message to repent, a people doing penance and a forgiving God. God calls on Jonah twice before he sets out to Nineveh to exhort the citizens to repent. And so effective is his message that they do indeed repent and God relents from a promise to destroy them. The God of Jonah, the God of Nineveh, is our God. We too are called to do penance and to repent. When we come before the Lord God with contrite hearts, the astonishing mercy of God is bestowed on us, and we are renewed in the love of God.

Prayer
Leader: For forgiveness, O Lord, we pray:
All: Merciful God, hear our prayer.

Reader 1: That we find ways to heal divisions and stand in union with God, we pray to the Lord:
All: Merciful God, hear our prayer.

Reader 2: That communities find ways to see that no one is hungry in our midst, we pray to the Lord:
All: Merciful God, hear our prayer.

Reader 3: That our Lenten journey, bring us closer to the spirit of God, we pray to the Lord:
All: Merciful God, hear our prayer.

Reader 4: That those who are ill and anxious find peace in the words of the Lord, we pray to the Lord:
All: Merciful God, hear our prayer.

All: Personal Petitions:

All: The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father…

Closing Prayer
All: Almighty and ever-loving God, you do not remember our transgressions and your mercy is our hope and our stronghold. Let your compassion heal every one of our sins and keep us always faithful to your commands. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Leader: A contrite and humble heart, O God, you will not spurn.

Peace be with you all and have a wonderful week!