Shepherding, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

Eternal God,

Please bless our priests, who represent you on this earth. Make them more greatly aware of the grace that you pour out through them when they minister the sacraments, and help them to fall more deeply in love with you after each and every Mass that they celebrate.

Please strengthen our priests, who shepherd your flock, when they are in doubt of their faith, that they may be examples of your truth and guide us always on the path to you.

We ask these things of you in Jesus name, our Eternal Priest.

Amen

Taproots and Stability

The stability of any plant is contingent on healthy and strong roots. Some plants have a lateral root system made up of wide spreading roots, nearer the surface; others have a deep central taproot that has a network of roots all along its shaft.

A tree that has a taproot is one of few plants that are found thriving in hardened soils such as clay—which, by the way, is rich in nutrients bound too tightly for most plants to utilize. As the tree begins to develop, its tiny root hairs push down and through the compacted soil, penetrating the clay, absorbing the nutrients, and as it grows becomes solidly anchored.

I was reminded of root systems when reading Suffering and the Courage of God by Robert Norris (Weavings XVII, 5, p.12).

 “[Jesus] was not standing passively accepting abuse, but nobly, without fear, facing his enemy with courage and compassion, because he was rooted in a goodness deeper than suffering. Even in the midst of suffering, the taproot of his spirit was deeply anchored in the goodness of God.”

It is not hard to imagine, or maybe you remember, a storm of such power that trees were uprooted. Did you notice the exposed roots? Often those trees had wide surface roots that held them secure through most storms. But when hit with the full force of a wind shear, especially when the soil is weakened by repeated rains, their roots were not deep enough to hold fast.

Persistent pain, whether physical or psychological, is like repeated storms that weaken our footing, and can uproot us if our roots in faith are not deep and sound enough. Pain is a normal part of the experience of life and contributes to our development. Words from an unknown poet speak of purposefulness in that suffering, “There is a ministry of pain…in the making of the soul.”

Only if we stay grounded with Christ.

Horticultural science revealed that if a tree’s root system is bruised or damaged, buffeted by winds, and still in the soil, it will grow more roots to create a greater stability against future storms—the organism becomes stronger specifically where the stressor was greatest.

Again from Robert Norris,

 “In the midst of agony, the sufferer stays connected to a larger goodness instead of being pulled out into the terrible vortex of fear, anger, helplessness, and grief that swirls in his soul.” (p.13)

There is a liberation of the soul in suffering, in the living into the pain knowing that there is healing—if not a cure—as it unites itself to God. The soul recognizes a life, an eternity, worth suffering for.

A prayer from a beloved priest kind of sums it up: Increase in me Oh Lord, my dependence on you.

Taproot (n.): something that provides an important central source for growth or development.

Image: Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

Jesus Crown of Holy Women, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns

An Intercession from the Divine Office, with slight modification on my part, seemed appropriate to pray for our women religious:

Christ is the spouse and crowning glory of Sisters and Nuns. Let us praise him with joy in our voices and pray to him with sincerity in our hearts: Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

Christ, the holy women loved you as their one true spouse; grant that nothing may separate Sisters and Nuns from your love. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

You crowned Mary, your mother, queen of virgins; through her intercession, let Sisters and Nuns continually serve you with pure hearts. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

Your handmaids were always careful to love you with whole and undivided attention, that they might be holy in body and spirit; through their intercessions grant that the lure of this passing world may not distract Sisters and Nuns from you. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

Lord Jesus, you are the spouse whose coming was anticipated by the wise virgins; grant that Sisters and Nuns may wait for you in hope and expectation. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

Through the intercession of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who was one of the wise and prudent virgins, grant Sisters and Nuns wisdom and innocence of life. Jesus, crown of holy women, hear us.

Amen.

Image: Determined, Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons

Cardinal Carberry, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests

Here s a familiar rhyming prayer that as a child I prayed with my maternal grandmother. Maybe share it with the children you love, so they too could learn it and pray for our priests.

A PRAYER FOR PRIESTS

Keep them; I pray Thee, dearest Lord.

Keep them, for they are Thine

The priests whose lives burn out before

Thy consecrated shrine.

Keep them, for they are in the world,

Though from the world apart.

When earthly pleasures tempt, allure —

Shelter them in Thy heart.

Keep them and comfort them in hours

Of loneliness and pain,

When all their life of sacrifice

For souls seems but in vain.

Keep them and  remember, Lord,

they have no one but Thee.

Yet, they have only human hearts,

With human frailty.

Keep them as spotless as the Host,

That daily they caress;

Their every thought and word and deed,

Deign, dearest Lord, to bless.

~Cardinal John J. Carberry

Image: Roman Catholic Priest, Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons

 

A Softer Rain

The ground had grown hard from the drought. There had been a few passing rains with less than ¼” falling, but nothing had penetrated the soil enough to reach the roots of withering plants. The lawn was the color of yellow ocher.

The spiritual drought I’d been experiencing had also been prolonged, like the rainfall that was minimal; there were moments of the Holy passing by, but nothing to saturate my roots.

Though my prayers felt hollow, I was encouraged to continue each time I read the quote from St. Teresa of Avila that is taped to the mirror—“Take no notice of the temptation to give up prayer.”

Spiritual droughts are nothing new to most of us; we all experience them now and again. It’s the prolonged ones that test the endurance of our faith—the soundness of our roots, to persist and grow with and beyond the struggle.

I looked at the small ornamental crab in the front yard. For the most part it was fairing well enough. A few of the smaller interior branches showed signs of dying-off with leaves yellowed and fallen. I too know of that small dying to self.

The weather station predicted a thunderstorm for later in the day. It came, but with such force that small limbs of trees and shrubs were broken, and flowers were laid flat with many stripped of petals. It was the complete opposite of a drought; a storm with such force that most of the rain ran in rivulets down the street, it had barely penetrated an inch into the hardened soil.

I recognized a similar thirst in my parched soul; waiting to be refreshed and instead encountering a different storm. I was swinging between extremes—the hardness of depression and the reality of being blessed.

I sought the equilibrium of a steady rain. An all day rain that would reach my roots, cleans my dusty leaves, and swell the shriveling fruit.

Image: Drought, Pixabay.com, CCO, Creative Commons