Pray for That Jerk

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz

Dreading it as much as dental drilling, I forced myself to go to Confession last night.

During my face to face meeting with the priest (who listened intensely while I talked to my knees) I mentioned, among other transgressions, that I was finding it hard to forgive someone.

Exuding a holy, loving spirit through deep gentle eyes, he said ‘Forgiveness does not mean agreement.  You don’t have to approve what happened.  Just forgive.”  To forgive, pray for the person who offended you — it helps you to let go and cuts the cord.


forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

Pray for that jerk? Ask God to be good to he who was such an idiot?  The look must have shown on my face.

Father told me a story about one person’s approach to forgiveness in a very difficult situation.  His prayer: “Okay Lord, I won’t object if you help that SOB.”

Minimalist.  But hey, it’s a start.

Try it.  The effect for me was immediate. My heart felt lighter; my soul felt as if a layer of dust had been lifted.

Thank you Lord for a priest so full of your spirit.  His irreverent humor let me laugh, and led me to pray and forgive.  Amen.

Go to confession.  It’s not only good for your soul, it’s good for the jerk.


A Clear Answer, Especially for a Writer

IMG_7184 Hello again world.  After a blog hiatus during which I was co-chairing Catholic Schools Week at my children’s elementary school, I am back to the blog.  (Catholic Schools week was so much more work than I expected, but worth it.  More on that later.)   Thanks for your patience!

I had an enlightening prayer experience from this morning.  I had a simple decision to make:  should I go to my prayer group this morning (having not been in many weeks) or should I stay home and write?   I know I need to write, and I love to write, but that’s part of the problem.  I love it so much, it feels like an indulgence.  The prayer group is good for my soul, right?

Well, yes..  (Also, not going gives me a good case of Catholic guilt.)  I prayed: “God, help me. What should I do?”

As I sat down to have some breakfast, I picked up a Lenten Prayer booklet based on Thomas Merton’s writings.  Today’s entry is  The Healing Silence of Recollection, based on Psalm 62, verse 1:  For God alone my soul waits in silence; from God come my salvation.  The reflection includes this advice:

There should be at least one room, or some corner, where no one will find you and disturb you or notice you.  You should be able to untether yourself from the world and set yourself free…  O God, help me to seek silence to be with you.


prayer.. (Photo credit: aronki)

It doesn’t get much more direct than that.  The answer to my prayers is not always so clear, but today it is, and I am grateful. There is more than one way to be with God.  And today, for me, it will be through prayer and writing.

Thank you O Lord for your help and guidance, and for noticing even the small things in my life.  Help me to write well, through your will and in your name.   Amen.

To Newtown, with love

Oh Newtown.  How we wish we could turn back time and save your children, your teachers, your town.  In Newtown we have viewed a dark abyss, now punctuated by painfully petite coffins and children streaming into funeral homes.

Your grief is unbearable, yet you must bear it.   Remember that while you suffer and your days seem interminable, your children, your victims are wrapped in God’s warm and loving arms.  For you it is a lifetime until you meet again; for them, it is but a blink of God’s eye.  Today, their souls live and glow in the everlasting light of God’s love.  Through your prayers and their intercession, may you know this and feel God’s compassion.

You will never get over it, but somehow you will learn to live. Your righteous anger will be plentiful and just, but don’t let it eclipse your love for the people still here on earth with you.  I pray that with God’s grace and love, through the support of family, friends and community, you find comfort, strength and love.

The world will move on, too fast, beyond your tragedy.  The loss of innocent life everywhere, from senseless violence, war and other conflicts is far too common.  In this sophisticated and technologically advanced world, let us pray that we are smart enough to find ways to prevent such horrors.

Maybe a simple start, for us observers in particular: in honor of innocent lives lost, let us act as children want the grown-ups in their lives to act:  as ideal role models.  Let each of us engender and glorify kindness and love.  Keep violence as far from innocence as possible.

Newtown, may God give you solace and in your time, grant you peace.

Prayer for CT Victims

This prayer was posted by Fr. James Martin, S.J. (author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything) on his Facebook page.  Thank you, Fr. Martin, for giving us words for this difficult time.

Where were you, God?

We are crushed with grief, God.
We cannot bear to think of so many people killed.
We cannot bear to think of children being killed.
It is unthinkable to us, the worst tragedy.

Children.Where were you, God?
How could you let this happen?
Why is your world like this?
We are sad and angry and confused.But God, we know that you know what it means to have
A child die.
For your Son died a violent death.

And we know that your Son understands grief.
For he wept bitterly when his friend Lazarus died.
And he was moved with compassion when he saw suffering.
His heart broke like our hearts do.
He cried like we do today.

We know too that your Son raised Lazarus from the dead.
And that you raised your own murdered Son from the grave,
As a sign of the eternal life you have planned for us.
The life into which you now place the victims, whom you loved.
And love.

We know that you understand our terrible anguish.
You accept our bitterness and our confusion too.
And we know that your Son is beside us, weeping with us.

We know that you are still with us God, in the darkness.
In our compassion for the families and friends of the victims.
In the love that moves us to care for one another.
In the anger that drives us to put an end to violence,
As your Son tried to do in his time with us.

Most of all, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon them.

While You’re Waiting

You have a few extra minutes — waiting for the doctor or a bus or a meeting;  in line for a coffee or lunch.  Scan the phone?  Yes, I often do.  How about read a prayer mediation?  Sounds embarrassing, right? Yeah, I’ll just pull out that little Bible, IN PUBLIC, and let everyone know that yes, I’m thinking about GOD, right now.  You imagine people staring and thinking “Jesus freak!  I never would have guessed…”

Ok, Ok.  Have I got the resource for you:

Little Book

Little Book

The Little Books. The beauty of these small paperback booklets (published by the Diocese of Saginaw) is that the cover is completely plain:  no title, no picture, nothing.  No one knows what you are reading.  These six minute reflections are a brilliant way to increase your knowledge and your faith, not to mention improve your life.

A bargain:  $3 to $4 for a single booklet or much less in volume.  My church buys them and gives it away (lucky me!).  Certain seasons are available in a children’s edition as well.  (Note that each season is a different color, so this year Advent is called The Little Blue Book.  Other seasons use a different color cover and corresponding title “The Little Purple Book” for Lent, etc.)  Can you tell I like these books?  They were a big help to get my prayer life moving.

Pray, pray, and pray some more.  Especially now:  it’s Advent, it’s the Year of Faith.  What are you waiting for?

A Better Gift

Galeries Lafayette store, Paris.Credit:  Benh LIEU SONG

Galeries Lafayette store, Paris. Credit: Benh LIEU SONG

Advent is upon us:  four weeks until Christmas!  Oh, the stress.  I just taught second graders that Advent is about preparing.  Yes, yes, my head screams:  buy presents for my three children, my husband, my brother and his children who are coming, order the turkey, decorate the house, the tree…

No.  I hear a quiet voice somewhere in my head.  Advent is the time to prepare for the real meaning of Christmas: Christ.  God.  Love.  Grace.

Thank you God, for the gifts you give us. Thank you for the wisdom and sacrifice of the ultimate role model, Jesus.  Help us try to give back to you, God by giving back to people around us.

One of the biggest gifts you can give is forgiveness. God forgives us. He expects us to forgive others.  Forgiveness is a great way to prepare your heart and open it to God.  Forgive for big and small things — your spouse fought with you, again?  Your co-worker said something unkind?  A waiter left you waiting?  Find forgiveness.

Credit:  Johann Jaritz

Step into their shoes.  Think what the situation seems like from their perspective.  Pray. Pray more.  Reflect on the fact God loves you, and calls you, by name.  God wants you to be a sign of his love.

David's Joy over Forgiveness, as in Psalm 32; Providence Lithograph Company

David’s Joy over Forgiveness, as in Psalm 32; Providence Lithograph Company

God loves them too.  So should you.  

Forgiveness is not easy, and not always immediate.  However, forgiveness is as big a gift to yourself as it is to those you forgive.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”


Have a Better Day

In an effort to continue to deepen my faith I went to a weekday morning Mass.  Again, I find it is so worth it — like a 25 minute power nap, except it’s full of prayer and wisdom.

Two nuggets to share:

That’s what we do.

In doing good, and doing right, we are only doing what we are supposed to do.  Sometimes the world sees that as extraordinary and tremendous.  It’s not.  It’s the way the world should be.  As good people, people of God, etc. (describe yourself here) that’s just what we (try to) do.  See the Good Samaritan for a good example.

Don’t look for trumpets blaring and pats on your back.   Know that you did the right thing.  Know that God knows.  True heroes don’t stand and look for applause.  They almost always say “I just did what had to be done.”

See the gospel reading here.

Prayer Opens Your Heart

The more I pray, the more I want to pray.

I enjoy it more; I need it more.  I hear more and talk less.

Do good.  Pray.  You’ll have a better day. Promise.