Saturday, August 1, 2020

"Life Eternal -Now" by Bridget Mary Meehan, Prayers for Comfort and Strength

"The truth is, today you'll be with me in paradise!"
Luke 23:43 (INT)

After my mother died I received a letter from a friend that said, "You are grieving, but she is in a warmer embrace now."Although I will always miss her, I know that she is with God. I feel her presence near me-  guiding, assuring and comforting.

The day after my mother's burial, my sister, Valerie, threw three flowers from one of Mom's funeral bouquets into the ocean. Two days later, as her niece was walking along the beach, she noticed that one of these flowers had drifted back to the place where they had been flung into the ocean. She showed it to Valerie and, after they threw the flower back into the ocean, they found a beautiful shell where the flower had been.

In this Scripture verse, Jesus responds to a dying criminal's prayer request: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your glory." What a comfort it must have been to this man to experience forgiveness in his last moments of life. In these words, Jesus promises that no matter what happens- including death itself­ God is with us. The challenge is to live this promise of life eternal­ now. In God, all time is one. So even though we live our lives in linear time, hour after hour, day after day, it is also true that we are living our eternal life in God-now. As St. Paul tells us, it is like seeing through a glass darkly. Death is merely the final transition
we experience into the fullness of God's presence.

How can we celebrate our life eternal in our everyday life? Married couples celebrate life eternal in God in their lovemaking, in the diaper changes, in the demands of their jobs. Single parents celebrate life eternal in God in their tireless efforts to care for children and balance home and career responsibilities. Middle­
aged adults celebrate life eternal in God in the care they give to their elderly parents and in dealing with the loss of loved ones.

In these situations, prayer can be described as our encounters with God, who lives in our homes, offices, classrooms, fast-food restaurants, nursing homes, bus stations. In our familiar surround­ ings we discover that we already are living Jesus' promise of a warmer embrace: life eternal- now.

DAY  1
Make this your prayer today:

Dear God, help me discover you today in the people around me. I rejoice that you are present in those who love me and in those I love. I know that you are hiding, waiting for me to recognize you in the people I find boring or who argue and bicker with me. May I recognize your voice in every human  voice I hear this day. Let
me respond to each one as I would to you.

(Alternative prayer, especially for married couples)

0 God of Passionate Love, may we experience our sexual union in our married love as a time of exchanging grace for grace, giving and receiving, healing and renewing, accepting and trusting, speaking and listening, touching and feeling, embracing and delighting in each other, heart to heart, spirit to spirit, body to body. Let the ecstasy and pleasure we share with each other in this unity of holy love be our prayer of praise to you.

Make this your prayer today:

0 Mothering God, embrace and hold me close this day. Comfort me in the hurts that I still carry in my soul. Teach me to leave the past in your tender mercies and to live now, where I am, fully and freely. Let me share my gifts, especially (name your gifts) with (name the people you will touch with your gifts today).

(Alternative prayer, especially for parents)

0 Nurturing  Parent, who holds us close to your heart like a loving mother and father, be with us through the years of raising our children, as we change diapers, read bedtime stories, rock tiny bodies to sleep, make peanut-butter-and- jelly sandwiches, pick up toys, put band-aids on little fingers, clean up spilled milk, mop floors, help with homework, drive to little league, scout meetings, music lessons, and dance class, chaperon dances, stay up late waiting for teens to come home, argue about curfews, smile and
cry at graduations, and (name memories  of child-raising that are special for you).Thank  you for the gift of our children.

Make this your prayer today:

God, may I serve you in each person I meet this day. May my smile brighten those who are sad or lonely. May my hug warm those in need of tenderness. May my voice bring encouragement to those who are hurting. May my hands lighten the load for the heavily burdened. May I discover your face ever before me as I offer others my time and energy.

(Alternate prayer, especially for those employed)

Holy One, I am grateful for my job. Even though you listen to a lot of complaints from me, I know how blessed I am to have work that challenges me and pays the bills. Stir up my creative energies that I might make a worthwhile contribution to this endeavor. May
my boss and co-workers experience my support and teamwork. When  they look at me, may they see you.

Make this your prayer today:

Loving One, comfort those who hurt and grieve. In their darkness, pour the light of eternal life. Grant them the courage to walk into the void, where life once was, to find the abundance of life in your eternal heart of love. Offer them a warmer embrace, where they
can trust in your grace and goodness for the future.

(Alternative prayer, especially for those who grieve)

The funeral is over, God, and family and friends have gone home. The house is now empty and still. I feel like a part of me has been ripped out. My heart is broken. I am grieving. Memories are my only comfort. Be with me, God, through the long, lonely night of griefs darkness and pain. Help me to realize that my loved one is with you this day in paradise- beautiful, strong and radiant in your glory. No more suffering or pain, only joy. My loved one is near me now, loving and caring for me. Wonders and miracles are on their way. Through my tears, I smile and say, "(her/his  name), welcome home!"

Make this your prayer today:

Peaceful One, help me to slow down. Let me savor each moment and not rush around so fast that I lose sight of the precious gift of each day, each moment, each breath. You are the still point of my being. Let me pause now to discover this place deep inside me, where I can rest and hear your quiet but powerful life as part of my own heart beat.

(Alternate prayer, especially for those over fifty)

God, I see more than one gray hair. New wrinkles are appearing, and my waist is thickening. It's time for salads, moisturizing creams, and the exercise bike. Teach me how to age gracefully in the years ahead, God, aware that all my relationships and activities are grace- filled opportunities  for growth. May I let go of my fears and discover the peace and harmony  within. May I care for my body as a treasured friend - your gift of life to me.

Light a candle and place it in your prayer space. Pour oil mixed with perfume in a favorite bowl and bless it in your words or by saying, "I bless this oil in the name of God the creator, the healer, and the sanctifier." Stand or sit as you touch the holy oil to each
area of your body with blessing and appreciation. Use the following blessings- or your own words:

I anoint my mind and give thanks for the times I have thought loving thoughts about others.
I anoint  my eyes and give thanks  for the gift of sight to see the beauty I see all around  me each day.
I anoint my ears and give thanks for the times I have listened to others who were upset or hurt.
I anoint my mouth and give thanks for the words I have spoken that have encouraged others.

I anoint my heart and give thanks for the love I feel toward others, especially (name  family and friends).
I anoint my hands and give thanks for the service they allow me to
give to others.
I anoint my feet and give thanks for the service they allow me to give to others.

Listen deeply to God speak within your soul today:

Everyday I reveal myself to you. I sing you awake in the morning in the birdsong. I dance in the wind across the sky. I laugh in the brightness of the sun that shines in the day and in stars that glow in the night. I meet you in your busy schedule and the deadlines that you must meet. I embrace you in the love of your family and friends. I talk to you through the many  voices who call your name each day. I whisper to you in the quiet of your heart. Listen and often you will hear me say: "I love you! I love you! I love you! I am with you everywhere you go and in everything you do."
(Adapted from A Promise of Presence by  Bridget Mary Meehan and Regina Madonna Oliver

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