To Slow the Decline


I wrote about how both God and Satan work incrementally.

Not so long ago I came upon this quote in the book, Song of the Sparrow by Murray Bodo, OFM:

We drift away from God so easily; not fast but easily. And before we know it, we are far downstream from God trying desperately to break our acceleration and reverse our direction.

As a Benedictine, we are called to be pray-ers in the world. And I do pray — for people by name, for groups and their causes, for our near-sighted government, and for our world where the infection of evil is spreading, seemingly at an exponential rate.

I don’t know that I can pray hard enough, fast long enough, offer up suffering deep enough to even slow the momentum of decline. I am but a beggar.

I can only hope that the Lord hears us, and helps us. I’m assured He hears us, even when we fail to listen.

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In the Course of Priestly Life, Thursday’s Prayer for Priests


O Jesus, our great High Priest,

Hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Father give him a deep faith, a bright and firm hope and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of his priestly life.

In his loneliness, comfort him. In his sorrows, strengthen him. In his frustrations, point out to him that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show him that he is needed by the Church, he is needed by souls, he is needed for the work of redemption.

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your son who is close to you because of his priestly ordination, and because of the power which he has received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs him so much.

Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength, and especially help him to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.


Prayer from Catholic Ireland.

Image by J. Plenio at

Pinched Back

Platycodon grandiflorus

There are several perennial flowers that bloom more abundantly when pinched back in late spring and again after about 4 weeks in early summer.

Those flowers are of the type called ‘terminal bloomers’, meaning they flower on the ends of stems. Perennials in my yard that are terminal bloomers and trimmed back include mum, sedum, platycodon (balloon flowers), and the shrubby Annabel hydrangea.

Because these plants bloom on the ends of stems, by pinching back the tips the plant sends out additional lateral (side) stems and thereby creates more terminal ends for blooms.

The other day, after yet another rain, I saw from the kitchen window how leggy some of the plants had become. I had failed to finish the task of pinching back started several weeks ago and now, with all the rains the platycodon and mum were getting long and floppy—the stems soft from rapid growth due to the warm rains.

My arthritic body ached—which was the reason I had delayed the chore for so long—but knew what had to be done, and it was such a small chore. As soon as there was a break in the rain I slipped on my boots and grabbed the nippers, heading out to the garden.

It felt good to be in the lushness of an early summer garden, and to enjoy the birds singing and tree frogs chirping.

Good for about 7 minutes!

My back and knees began to hurt so I rushed through trimming the remaining plants. Being careless, I cut several stems too far, and having done so knew the flowering would be inhibited rather than enhanced.

Closing the shed and heading for the house I prayed…

Dear Lord, I ask that in my own frustrations of who I am as I mature, trying to grow too fast through the storms of aging, that you do not prune me with such reckless abandon.

As I dried the nippers and pulled off boots I knew Our Lord would prune with love, attentive to the flowering to come.

Image by Walter Stern at

Before Striking the Ground


Horses fascinate me.  From the stout and powerful march of the Percheron to the rhythmic gate of the Paso Fino. Watching them trot and gallop freely in pasture is a simple beauty from God.

While driving country lanes, I came upon a boarding farm and pulled over to watch the horses running and tossing their heads, and noticed something never realized before.

In dressage it’s called passage: a slow, cadenced trot executed with great elevation of the feet and characterized by a moment of suspension before the feet strike the ground.

That motion, the moment before the hoof strikes the ground, a brief second of suspension in the continuation of a walk. That is how I pray at times, an elevated lightness mid-step, somewhere between silence and closeness.

Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning,  that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.

Henri J. M. Nouwen


May God’s peace lighten us this day.

Image by Irhaij at



Season of Lent, Tuesday’s Prayer for Sisters and Nuns


Beloved Mother Mary, Mother of Sisters and Nuns, take to your heart your daughters who are close to you because of their higher calling and because of the power which they have received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs them so much.

In this holy season of Lent be their comfort, be their joy, and be their strength. Loving Mother help them to live and defend the ideals that your son suffered and died for so that we may have life eternal.