Redwood Journal

Writings by Harry Martin, Permanent Deacon.



Lent ~ Discoveries of Prayer

Second Sunday of Lent
16 March 2014
Homily ~ Cyber Version

Lent ~ Discoveries of Prayer

How many of us, during the day or before coming into the church checked to see if there was any emails or text messages that perhaps we were expecting?   We are a people who have come to expect others to be messaging us, in some shape or form.

Now, how many of us, during the week, or perhaps coming to Mass, walking into the church expect to hear from God?  Maybe we think God is too busy.   Maybe we think God has no need or great desire to speak to me.  Or perhaps we are afraid of what God may ask or speak about.  Are we afraid of those discoveries to be made in prayer.

God does long to speak to our hearts and lives.   Christ, present in the readings of Scripture this day clearly expresses accounts and examples of how, this powerful season of Lent, we can grow in discoveries of prayer, of God, of ourselves.

Prayer ~ Talking to God: 
For many we understand prayer as “saying our prayers”, i.e., talking to God.  With faith and blessing we say the rosary, the Our Father, or the Stations of the Cross.  We tell God of our needs and hopefully our thanksgivings.  In our    Gospel reading we see Peter, James and John taken by our Lord, to the Mount of Transfiguration.  There Peter seems to understand this is a time and place for prayer.  And he starts talking, a lot.  Our Heavenly Father, hearing Peter’s chatter, interrupts.   This brings us to ask..does God need to interrupt our prayers to get a word in edgewise?  It shows us what we miss by failing to listen, by not watching…Him.  How often do we come to a moment, time or place of prayer, rattle off what our intentions are and then rush on without really looking to God or hearing a reply?

Prayer ~ Watching & Listening:  We are, as disciples of Christ are called to follow Him.  To watch and listen, to His way, His Will,  His purposes.  We see this relationship illustrated in the roles acted out in such dramas as Downtown Abbey.  The footmen, the butler, ladies maids are all and always attentive to their masters.  They tend to their tasks often with no verbal direction from their lord and his household.   They watch and they listen.   Sadly in our prayer life we miss this grace, profoundly and often tragically.
In our Old Testament reading we witness God speaking to Abram, telling him to follow His guidance to the promised land.  In that era of primitive faith Abram knew how, knew and listen for God.  Times have changed. God has not.  As it was in Abram’s day, as it was that day on the Mount of Transfiguration, God yearns for our attention.  And it is in that faith, the listening in the silence that we learn to hear God speaking, in the Scriptures, in creation, in and through the fullness of His Eucharistic Body and His Body of we we are.

Prayer ~ Responding to God: 
It is as we seek to watch and listen, as we share our hearts  of hope or wounds that Jesus calls us to respond to Him.   God the Father, speaking in the cloud clearly spoke to the disciples, “Listen To Him”. The first words Jesus spoke after that command were simple and clear:  “Rise and do not be afraid”.  As God called the early disciples to rise from their fears, as God called Abram to rise from his earthly securities so God calls each of us, to rise, from our fears and follow Him to discover the promises of His Kingdom,  this season of Lent and for all eternity.
It is in our watching and listening that the response of our lives becomes the real Amen.

Persevering Prayer

Bible Readings for Mass 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time:  { Ex. 17:8-13; Ps. 121:1-8;
II Tim. 3:14-4:2; Lk. 18:1-8
Mass Readings

 Homily 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time  ~ 20 October 2013

Persevering Prayer

Power.   The struggles for power have flooded the news.  Whether we look to the politicians in Washington, striking workers and management, or even within families and relationships, these struggle are seen.   The grasping for power is seen as essential if we are to live with the intent of being in charge, being in control.  Our culture is obsessed with this struggle.  IF we stay in touch (especially through the pretense  of electronic media),  IF we keep on top of the information and knowledge we need..then we will have the power, we will be in charge of our lives.  
Sadly this  struggle for power is pursued on the shifting, sandy myths of the world.   Sadly our pursuit of power often neglects the most power-filled practice provided to humanity.
Our Bible readings speak directly to this struggle  as God calls us to …..prayer,  more specifically, 

Persevering Prayer.

Persevere in Prayer through Conflict:   Our shared story of Moses in the Old Testament today clearly illustrates this reality.  God had called the Israelites to the Promised Land.  Then, as now, Satan’s intent was to deter and to rob God’s faithful from that promise.  This battle is at the heart of the challenges of prayer.  WHY is it so difficult?   Why  is it so hard to to come to Mass and then to truly enter into the prayer as opposed to just warming a pew?  Why is it so hard to go to Adoration?  Pray the Rosary?  Pray the Stations of the Cross?  Or to, in the most simple sense…to pray with perseverance?  As Moses and the Israelites encountered, seeking the Kingdom of God is a battle.   St. Paul, millennia later, would remind us : “we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against spiritual; wickedness in high places”.  Persevering prayer is a call to battle.  But it is only through the battle we come to victory.  As Winston Churchill once said: ” if you are going  through hell, keep going”.   We must not stop praying.  We must allow God to send us His help of His Spirit, His angels and saints that we may persevere.

Persevere in Prayer through the Weariness.  Our wine country is very popular for racing.  Walking, running, bicycling all are disciplines popularly pursued through the hills and valleys of our land.  The winners, those completing their race, must persevere.    Why is this concept so difficult for those seeking God in prayer?    Truth be told,  prayer is often wearisome.  It is, especially when real prayer is being done, WORK.   This is complicated by the extra stuff we bring with us in prayer.  We love ours distractions.  The cyber-electronic  obsession of many has not neglected prayer.  A quick Google of “prayer Apps”  brought….44,500,000 Apps in less than 20 seconds.  Now some are possibly helpful.  But are any of them necessary?   Going back to the racers we see on our roadways, what would we think if we saw someone in a race carrying loads of baggage?  We would think they are not to keen to finish the win.  Yet how often do we come to a time of prayer burdened with trinkets and stuff in hand and soul, that distract us from the goal of persevering in prayer.  The extra baggage only hastens the weariness that can deter us from completing the race.  Let us allow the Holy Spirit to lift from our hearts and hands anything that hinders us in our prayers.

Persevere to God.  Jesus in the Gospel spoke of the woman who was frankly pestering the unjust judge until he responded to her plea.  He closes the parable with a question.  When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?    When Christ comes in glory, or, when Christ calls us to the ultimate realization that we are not in control, and calls us home will He find faith in our hearts?   God is not seeking a scoreboard of success.  God is looking to see who prays the most rosaries or attends Mass most often.  God is not looking to see how much Bible we have read or memorized.  Those are all very good things to do.  But we must remember…God is looking for …you.  If we come to Him wounded, weary, scarred from conflict He will embrace us with His healing, cleansing grace.  If we come having foolishly followed the prodigal, He will again hear and help us return to His feast.  If only we could see it isn’t about power or control.  It isn’t about the conflict or our weariness.  It is about the majestic joy and love as we enter into His Presence. 

And though we realize it so late we understand that in persevering into His Presence we enter the most powerful and peaceful place in Heaven and earth.

A Christmas Prayer

A Christmas Prayer

Joseph, thank you for caring Mary and her Son.
May I follow your example of love, courage and faith.
Joseph, pray for us.

Mary, Blessed Mother, thank you for bringing Jesus to us.
May I follow your steps of yes to the Word and Will of the Father.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us.

Holy Jesus, Eternal Son of God the Father,
seeing you in the manger I pray.

Touching your infant’s feet, to be pierced by the nail, I pray,
guide me in your pathway,
out of sin, to your holy, healing embrace.

Taking your tiny hands,
soon to work the carpenters tools,
but, more, that will heal , and also
will know the nails piercing,
take my hands,
make them yours
for your work.

My finger touches your tiny rosebud lips,
from which will soon be heard,
Living words of life, eternal, rich.
Help me listen in humble silence,
and share in gentle boldness.

And, now, as Your Mother places you in my arms,
I feel your tiny heart beating, so close to mine.
To grow in strength and holy love to send our fears fleeing.

Sweetheart of Jesus,
be my love.

"Lord, teach us to pray"

Cyber Homily ~ 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 25 July 2010

teach us to pray”
His disciples sought,
And seek we too today,
for Heaven’s glory wrought.

When you pray, shared our Savior,
give praise and worship to God our Father.
From hearts of faith and love,
So He did implore.
For so will, with angels help,
our prayers, our hearts,
to His Presence soar.

Pray in humble thankfulness,
for blessings felt and seen,
and for those hidden behind Heaven’s screen,

And in sorrow for our sins,
God’s mercy, His holy grace, to seek.
To cleanse away sin’s wounds and stains,
to quell and silence the accuser’s blame.
Then, in God’s forgiveness sought and found,
may our forgiveness so abound.

In prayer, with each other, then,
to at His holy wounds attend,
and discover,
that one,
through His sacred Body,
and His Blood,
the power of His love to send.

Then in the sacraments of prayer,
in those sacred places, shared,
with God,
we draw near.
In God’s Presence,
His strength to know,
empowered in His love,
to grow,
strong to pray,
as long as needed;
for seeds of grace to swell,
all evil for to quell.

Teach us to pray,
and in You grow.
Make us bold,
Your love to show.

Martha? Mary? or both?

For the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cyber-version homily):

This weekend our Bible readings bring us a rich lesson from both Old & New Testaments. God’s Word also enlightens the sometimes conflict between work and prayer, the hunger and needs of this world versus those of the spirit and soul.

The Scripture from Genesis (Gn 18:1-10a) shares the account of the visit of the Lord and two angels to the house of Abraham. It goes on to show the ancient and sacred place of hospitality in the Mid-east. It was through this lifestyle of justice and hospitality, the WORK of the hands and hearts of Sarah and Abraham that they both entertained God and His angels but also received the promises and graces of God.

This brings us to the Gospel. From Luke (Lk 10:38-42) we read of the visit of Jesus to the house of Martha and Mary. Over the centuries this story has the extolled the prayerful listening of Mary versus the care and toil of her sister. Most Christians today, if asked, would probably say it would be better to “be a Mary” rather than a Martha. This may well miss the point that Jesus was seeking to make. It is important to notice that Christ never rebuked Martha for her service, her work. He only replied to her question and concerns. It also overlooks the context of the rest of the Gospel account of Martha’s life. It was Martha who got up and sought the Lord when her brother Lazarus died. It was Martha to whom Christ shared the revelation of the resurrection.

Jesus seeks us to listen to and rest with Him. The call of prayer and contemplation is sacred, holy and urgently needed in the rush and noise of this world. Our call to follow the example of Mary cannot be ignored. Yet we are also called, as our Epistle (Col 1:24-28) reminds us to fill up in our flesh, that is the actions , WORK of our hands and life, the sufferings of Christ. We are also called to serve our Lord, in the example of Martha, Abraham and Sarah. In our simple acts of cooking, cleaning tending to the chores of this life we can know and hear the voice of our Lord as we also make our tasks, acts of prayer.

In the work that God gives our hearts, and hands may we hear the voice and take the hands of He who carried the wood of our salvation in love for each of us.

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