Prayer reflection

Over the past 8 years, I have had the privilege of writing a number of scriptural reflections for Give Us This Day from Liturgical Press. Recently I was given the opportunity to write about a prayer. With the permission of the publication, I share it with you here. If you don’t subscribe, I urge you to consider doing so, not because of my contributions, but the devotional is simply rich and beautiful to spend time with.

August 2022

Devotional Prayer Reflection

Prayer for God’s Blessing

Bless all who worship you, almighty God,

from the rising of the sun to its setting:

from your goodness enrich us,

by your love inspire us,

by your Spirit guide us,

by your power protect us,

in your mercy receive us,

now and always.

—Ancient Collect

Often referred to colloquially as the “opening prayer,” the Collect serves to gather people and intentions to prayer, invit­ing us to a deeper place in God. While a Collect may seem like a door to pass through quickly so as to get to the “important” parts of the liturgy, the prayer should help us to slow down, to pause, to listen to with the ear of our heart.

Such is the case with this ancient collect, a prayer that orients us to our unity. Beginning with the blessing of all who worship God, ideas of exclusivity are immediately dispelled. With many different ideas about what prayer or worship should be, or about who is welcome or not, this establishes that we are called to be one.

As in ancient times, ideological divisions tamper with the integrity of families and faith communities, not to mention the Church universal. Fault lines erupt across the landscape of our lives, tearing once-solid ground apart, opening chasms difficult to bridge. How can we respond?

This prayer gives us clear instruction by reminding us that it is God’s goodness alone that enriches us. It might seem that we are hardwired by our culture to think we can “make” ourselves good, but nothing happens without God. We may long for God to fix this or change that, but should we approach God with a list of demands? How often do we, instead, simply ask God to enrich us with goodness?

Along with goodness, inspiration can seem in short supply today, but this prayer invites God’s love to inspire us. God’s love animates each of us, but only if we allow it. The Holy Spirit—that is where guidance comes from, that hand of God leading us to where we need to be.

As the prayer concludes, it establishes that God’s power alone protects us and that mercy will receive us. It is a total embrace of us by God, as individuals and as a common body called to worship God alone.

Suddenly this short prayer, one that might be easy to miss, encourages us to open wide, day and night, and welcome God. In doing so, we respond to the call to welcome one another with goodness, love, guidance, protection, and mercy—in God’s name, now and always.

            Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn is a writer exploring the intersection of faith and daily life. She is a contributor to the Homilists for the Homeless project and blogs at “There Will Be Bread” at breadhere.wordpress.com.

[CREDIT]   Fran Rossi Szpylczyn, “Prayer for God’s Blessing,” from the August 2022 issue of Give Us This Day, www.giveusthisday.org (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2022). Used with permission.

Things I am pondering…

Wisdom House, Litchfield CT July 2014

Today I am wondering about how compartmentalizing our spiritual life keeps us from God. Many of us seem to think that the place to pray is Church, perhaps at mass. I’ve heard the remark that mass is “my time with God.” While I do understand that, and have thought it myself, I have to wonder how this harms our spiritual growth and well-being.

This is not to say that mass is not time with God, but it is time with God in community. For me, I see it as a rather large, raucous, dinner party with Jesus. I love time alone with God, but mass is not where I expect it.

This is not meant to be a post delineating liturgical elements and ecclesiology. Maybe we will do that another day, but today I am pondering the nearly invisible but resilient fabric of integrated spiritual life. It is something I long for, gratefully something I glimpse, but it can appear to be elusive.

This got me wondering about how I compartmentalize, without fully understanding the utterly shocking reality of Christ in the most mundane and often annoying moments of life. Doing the grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, dealing with a difficult person, and so forth. How many times am I sitting in a meeting as a sense of growing testiness rises up within me because I am impatient, thinking to myself “I can’t wait to go on retreat.”

If I cannot experience the presence of God in all moments and all things, how can I expect to find God at a monastery or retreat house?

Of course retreats, mass, spiritual direction, and other such pursuits are important. However, today I am hoping to smooth out the ridges that keep me from traversing the ordinary and the holy in one journey. Maybe my need for this day is to experience the “Quiet Area” that is deep within my heart, rather than seeking it as part of something external.

What is your quiet area? The one in your heart and the one outside. How can any of us stitch the interior and exterior together with the thread of God in our very being into a quilt of holy integration?

This will be my prayer today. Will you join me?

But he was silent

 

But he was silent and answered nothing.Mark 14:61

Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.Mark 15:5

PalmsToday is Palm Sunday and we hear once again the Passion proclaimed in our churches. These two sentences struck me as I listened and prayed with the Gospel at mass on Saturday night.

Jesus’ silence says more than his words at these moments. And of course silence is probably one of the Continue reading

Why pray?

resizeWhy do we pray? And how does it work? I’m not sure that these questions can be easily answered, or if they are even the right questions to ask. Not that I know what the “right” questions are. Given recent events, and after seeing the Facebook page of a non-religious friend, I did post the second question on Facebook, and was surprised to find over 50 replies in the comments! They came from a wildly diverse group of people, and not only from church-goers. The long, thoughtful thread that emerged moved me deeply.

Would any of the replies have satisfied the original question on my other friend’s page in the first place? Probably not, and for more multiple reasons. This goes back to my point about if “how does prayer work?” even being the appropriate question.

An internet search of that very question brings Continue reading

About that camino…

6It hardly seems real that in a little over one year from now, Sue and I will be boarding a plane to begin our Camino Santiago. Such a thing would not be possible without the outpouring of support received from so many of you. And how I thank you for that on-going support – not simply material support, for which I am deeply grateful, but for the tremendous friendship, love, encouragement, prayer and more that comes to me every day from so many. There truly are no words.

questions-and-anwers-5-728If I know you, I have your email. To those of you generous ones who I do not know… please leave a comment here, or simply send me your email at festinalente07 at gmail. To all of you who who donated, if I don’t have your snail mail address, and if you are willing, please also send my way so that I can (eventually) send a handwritten thank you. You may not feel that it is necessary, but I would like to do so!

I’ve been slow to Continue reading

There is no path

This is not the camino, but it reminds me of the camino. ©Fran Rossi Szpylczyn photo

This is not the camino, but it reminds me of the camino. ©Fran Rossi Szpylczyn photo

When I launched my camino campaign, I had no idea what to expect. I certainly did not expect it go take off. As I have said before, I was nervous – and I felt awkward. My expectation level was low, so I figured if nothing happened, so be it. So many people have responded, and continue to respond, with tremendous generosity, both materially and in friendship, love, prayer, as well.  It is overwhelming, but it is primarily awe inspiring and I am overflowing with gratitude that is beyond words.  Thank you all so much.  My heart and my prayers for all of you who have supported me in whatever ways you can!

Since I did not have any expectations, rather unusual for a super-controlling person like myself (those who know me well and personally can attest to this! 🙂 ) the entire experience has shifted how I view my  Camino de Santiago. Suddenly what felt like a dream, has more reality to it. The thought of going had a Brigadoon-like Continue reading

Looking Towards Lent

Keeping-a-Holy-LentAlthough it may be hard to believe, Lent begins in less than three weeks, on Ash Wednesday, February 18. For many of us, Lent offers us the time to re-orient ourselves through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  As we walk with Jesus in the desert, we are given gifts which may appear heavy and burdensome, as we are confronted with the weight of our own sin. That said, we are also given the gift of change and transformation, ultimately dying and rising with Christ our Lord.

Long before Lent begins, I am on the lookout for prayer resources to use during that season. This year, I have before me, three books, each one offering different gifts of prayer that you may Continue reading

Touchstones of Faith – a guest post by Linda Berkery

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For the past twenty-five years, whenever I have faced a difficult trial, or feel uneasiness in my faith, I return to the same “touchstone” memory. It was the day when a change of health taught me to cherish small moments, and write daily prayers of gratitude. It began with the day I focused on the present rather than fear the future.

On a cold January day with a brilliant blue sky I was roasting a turkey and frosting a cake for my husband’s birthday. The baby was napping and four-year-old Tommy was upstairs with his new friend, Glenn. Lego music of clinking, dumping, and swishing blended with giggles. I remember checking the clock when the garage door opened. I was not expecting to see my husband Jack until dinner.

“Why are you home so early?” I asked. Jack mumbled, grabbed some Tylenol, and Continue reading

Making time for prayer #whynot

whynotThe other day I posted about New Year’s Resolutions – or lack of them. If you read the post then you know that they have never been my thing – and that I have been prompted by the Spirit to ask the question #whynot? Why not try something new or different, something that has been long desired – or recently imagined – and see what happens? Most change, as we know, comes slowly. Many times one small change can bring forth more sweeping ones over time.

One thing that seems to come up for a lot of people is the desire to pray; either to begin a regular prayer practice, or to deepen an existing one. Speaking as the world’s most undisciplined person, I can tell you that the only consistent practice in my life is Continue reading

The Rosary

91M-xFSA0KL._SX466_October is designated as the month of the Rosary. Does this idea make you want to roll your eyes? With images of a kind of quaint piety tumbling through your imagination. Perhaps you are reminded of times when old grandmothers and other elderly women were seen in church, clutching their beads.

As for me, I am very sentimental about the Rosary, but not in a way that is pious or saccharine. It was 25 years ago, in late September/early October, that I, as a young woman, clutched a rosary in my hand and made my way back to Church. Anyway, that is a story that I told before, and I won’t retell it today.

As this month begins this year, it is impossible for me Continue reading