Tag Archives: prayer

LENT: Wearing Love

One word keeps coming to me in my prayer these first days of Lent in 2022: Love.

In our first reading today from Leviticus we hear the great commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I have long wondered if the greatest crisis in our world today isn’t that we don’t realize how much we are, each of us, worthy of love. We are all God’s own beloved. God loved us into being. God calls us to love one another as God has loved us.

This morning I prayed with a booklet created several years ago by a group in my religious Congregation focused on growing in nonviolence. Each week the booklet explores Lent with the Principles of Nonviolence. The principle for the first week of Lent is: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.

Our founder Margaret Anna Cusack wrote in 1874: “Force was no longer to be the rule, except, indeed, the force of love.”

In 2020 Philadelphia singer songwriter Joy Ike released a song called “Wearing Love.” It is a song I return to again and again to reground myself on this journey. (It is also good to dance to.)

Slow your breathing
No more scheming
Quit competing
Just love 

And everyone will wonder
You did not go under
You were undercover
Wearing love 

 Keep your words
They won’t fix anything
All that works is the love that you bring

This Lent, and beyond, may I find my ground and center in God’s unconditional love. May I bring the force of that love into my actions and relationships. May I wear love always. Just love.

Thoughts and Action

Prompt our actions with your inspiration, we pray, O Lord, and further them with your constant help, that all we do may always begin from you and by you be brought to completion.

The above words come from the collect for today’s liturgy on this Thursday after Ash Wednesday. As we begin this Lenten journey, there is so much in need of constant help.

The wars raging in Ukraine and so many other parts of the human family.

The cries of Earth as temperatures rise and our planet’s ecosystem struggles to keep up with harm caused by human activity.

The cries of people who are living in poverty or otherwise on the margins, wondering how they will provide just the basic necessities for their loved ones.

The divisions between and among us that deny human dignity and prevent us from treating each other as the beloved of God we are.

This is the context as we begin Lent. And we are called to begin the Lenten journey in our own hearts.

Purify my heart!
May every word, every thought!
Every motive, every intention!
Be pleasing in your sight O God!
Be pleasing in your sight O God!

This song by Jess Ray, based on Psalm 119, rings true of my heart’s desire for this Lenten journey.

May my heart, my every, word, every thought, every motive be pleasing to God. A high order, but all things are possible with, through, and for God.

In our CSJP Constitutions we say that prayer leads to action, while action leads us to pray. As we hold the many needs of our world crying out for help, may our heartfelt prayer lead us to actions for peace through justice.

Amen

Learning to love, give, and weep in 2022

I prayed this morning with this song by The Porter’s Gate: Teach Us Your Ways.

Such a fitting prayer as we lean into 2022 and all it will hold. A prayer that we will:

Learn from one another.

Learn to love each other.

Give ourselves for one another.

Weep with one another.

There will certainly be lots to learn this year, lots to give, and tears to be shed. This is life. And we are learning, this is life in times of uncertainty and ambiguity.

May we live into it all with love.

Advent Thoughts

You might be forgiven for thinking that it is Christmas time. Shopping, lights, carols and the general hustle and bustle of a commercialized holiday season are already upon us.

The Church year however begins on Sunday with a different season … Advent.

It is a time of expectant waiting for the coming of God with us. A pause. An opportunity to be.

I don’t know about you, but I especially need Advent this year. My spirit yearns for the rhythm.

The candles of the Advent wreath each symbolize something we need: hope, peace, joy, and love. Each of these are desperately needed in our wounded world.

And so we pray in hope. We work for peace. We celebrate joyfully. And we live in love..

Let it begin…

Introducing … My Friend Joe

Just in time for the end of the Year of St. Joseph, I am excited to share the news that my little book of reflections on St. Joseph has been published by Kenmare Press: My Friend Joe: Reflections on St. Joseph. It is available for purchase as a paperback ($8) or ebook ($1) from the Kenmare Press Online Bookstore.

Description:

St. Joseph, husband of Mary and foster-father of Jesus, is central to the Christian story. Yet, so little is known about St. Joseph, either as an historical figure or as recorded in scripture.  Much of what we understand about Joseph comes to us from tradition, art, and the lived experience of the faithful over the centuries.   Sister of St. Joseph of Peace Susan Rose Francois reflects on her growing spiritual friendship with St. Joseph, who she affectionately calls her friend Joe. Inspired by photographs of Joseph taken by the author, she reflects on her personal encounters with Joseph in conversation with church tradition around this saint.  Through art, prose, history, and prayer she encourages the reader to discover, or deepen, their own spiritual friendship with St. Joseph.

Read more about the book and view the pictures that inspired it here.

I am – a video prayer

“I am,” a new-to-me song by Jill Phillips, speaks deeply to me of the invitation to let God be God. So I did what I do, and made a video prayer.

Lyrics by Jill Phillips:

Oh, gently lay your head upon my chest,
And I will comfort you like a mother while you rest
The tide can change so fast, but I will stay
The same through past, the same in future, the same today

I am constant, I am near
I am peace that shatters all your secret fears
I am holy, I am wise
I’m the only one who knows your hearts desires
Your hearts desires

Oh weary, tired, and worn
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold, ’cause mine is light
I know you through and through
There’s no need to hide
I want to show you love that is deep, and high, and wide

Oh, gently lay your head upon my chest
And I will comfort you like a mother while you rest

Resting in God – a photo journal

With all happening in our world this past week, from Afghanistan to extreme climate events to challenging events in the lives of some folks I know, this was an interesting time to be on retreat. I don’t think I fully understood, until I got to the spot of grace and beauty that is Mercy by the Sea, how very tired and weary I have been. I wasn’t entiretly surprised, given the past year and a half in the time of COVID. Plus the fact that I just finished a six and a half year term of leadership for my religious community and have started a second term. What was suprising was the depth of my need for rest. Lucky me … a whole week to rest with God. A privilege really. A luxury. The grace and beauty of this time, for me, has been God’s abundant presence. And my own presence to the wonder of God’s creation.

I usually have so many words rumbling around my head. It can make it harder for me listen for the voice of God. Sixteen years ago, on my first silent directed retreat, the invitation was to let go of the words and focus instead on images. Ever since, on retreat, I feel drawn to pay attention to the beauty of creation through a contemplative photography practice. Resting my eyes on signs of God’s creating presence, God’s love.

Prayer and Friendship with St. Joseph – Online Retreat

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, during the Year of St. Joseph!

As a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, this is a feast day for our community. I’ve also been spending a lot of time with St. Joseph lately. In fact, I’ve recently finished a short book entitled My Friend Joe: Reflections on St. Joseph which will be published this summer by Kenmare Press.

On Wednesday, yes St. Patrick’s Day, I led a Peace Day retreat on Prayer and Friendship with St. Joseph for our sponsored ministry, the Peace and Spirituality Center.

I am now happy to share this presentation as an online retreat video that can be used by individuals or groups during this Year of St. Joseph. I have also created a prayer resource which you can download below for free.

My hope is that this resource might help others grow closer to St. Joseph, who I affectionatly call “My Friend Joe. May you go to Joseph and go in peace.

Showing Up

From talking with friends and family, I know I’m not the only one who is a wee bit tired these days. Pandemic. Politics. Life in the midst of pandemic and politics. No elaboration is necessary. If this is where you are at these days, you might like this video prayer I just put together, set to “Show Up” by Jill Phillips.

I’ve been praying with her song this weekend. I’ve also been praying in gratitude for the book of creation. The seasons show up like clockwork, even if our human activities add stressors. The animals go about their business, sometimes letting us get close enough for inspiration. So I paired some of my recent photos I’ve taken on walks the past two months, some in Federal Way, WA and some in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. (Yes, I took my first plane trip in December, with built in quarantines on either end so that I could visit our sisters).

Back to the song. I find it both consoling and inspiring.

… Afraid that what we have to give is so small.

You don’t have to save the world.
All that hero talk is only superficial stuff.

If you want to change the world,
What you gotta do is show up, show up, just show up.

We’re so used to an immediate response,
So used to giving up when things don’t work.
The road of long obedience is hard,
No shortcuts will make it easier
Because the journey so long
But the difference is made
By the million small steps along the way.


This song is a good soundtrack for my prayer right now. I share it in case it is helpful in your own prayer and discernment on how you might show up and make a difference through small things and small steps in great love.

My new hawk friend that made an appearance on a walk I took this weekend and was kind enough to pose for this picture, and several others!

Coffee, prayer and a very busy squirrel

This morning
I luxuriated in the day
Cool autumn breeze
Sunlight illuminating everything
And the leaves and the lake
I sit and watch with my coffee
to keep me
company

What better way
to be
to pray
to sit with the wonder of it
all

From time to time
I spy
with my little eye
a very busy
squirrel

The first sighting
he or she
I see has a mouthful of
leaves

The squirrel freezes
perfectly still
looking at me
-nothing to see here-
but then apparently decides
I am not
dangerous

Next squirrel sighting
is high up in the branches
of a tall
evergreen

Then jumping back to the
mostly barren
branches of the next door
tree

Then the ground
for more leaves
Bunches and bunches
Mouthful upon mouthful of
leaves

Jumping
climbing
building a nest
actually called a
drey

(No the squirrel did not tell me,
that would be the internet)

Busy squirrel
Not so busy me
On a sunny autumn
morning

Amen