Category Archives: Spiritual & Religious Writings

prayer for insight

Most merciful and gracious Lord, we thank you for another night of safety and rest. We praise you for another glorious day filled with the promise of your presence and power.

We pray today to be more mindful in all we do.  We pray today to have more understanding, especially for those in dire circumstances and deep difficulties. Help us to see beyond the superficial. Help us, Creator God, to glimpse the same beauty in those in need  for which you allowed your Son to go to the cross.

Allow us to be fully open to your leading. Allow us to be perfectly useful to you in touching those that crave a loving touch, those who shiver with the chill of neglect, and those whose hunger is far deeper than just bread.

Help us this day, o Lord, to have insight in how best to meet the deepest needs of those you place in our path. AMEN.

“this is your prayer”

One sister told me that, years before, my aunt [sister Josephine] had summoned all the young sisters from their morning prayer, led them to the house of a poor family whose mother lay ill. They cleaned, prepared breakfast, got the children off to school. “This is your prayer” was all she said to the sisters. “None of us ever forgot that,” the sister said. — Daniel Berrigan

transforming the Jericho Road

We are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will only be the initial act. One day…the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It understands that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I call this transformation crossing the bridge from compassion to justice. It’s not enough to respond to the sight of the poor and hungry with a reactionary gift. It’s not enough to even give regularly to help feed and care for those we know are in need.

Both are good. And both make a real difference. But neither is what is truly needed.

An infection cannot be cured with bandaids.

We can end hunger in our lifetime. We can change the world forever. But to do so requires more than compassion.

Ending hunger in our lifetime requires us to take the bone away from the dog. It requires us to confront the systems that oppress the poor and hungry and say ” Enough. No more.”

We can transform the Jericho Road. It just requires justice.

through our hands

Make us worthy, Lord,

     to serve those throughout the world who live and die in poverty or hunger.

Give them through our hands, this day their daily bread;

    and by our understanding love, give peace and joy.   Amen

A prayer for those serving the poor by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

is there honor among us?

When someone steals another’s clothes, we call him a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belongs to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor. — Basil the Great

St. Basil the Great was a man of deep personal holiness. Born in Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330 AD, Basil was a man of great learning and piety, a true giant of the early Christian Church. In 370 he was made bishop of Caesarea. Basil actively aided victims of droughts and famines, insisted on rigid clerical discipline and was fearless in the renunciation of evil.

Was Basil the Great correct in his assessment? If so, is it time to clean out a few of our closets?

if any man is hungry

If any man is hungry, this is both a religious and a political concern, and out of a religious concern for one created in God’s image, political means must be devised for ensuring that everyone gets enough bread — which is a suitable definition of the art of politics. —  Robert McAfee Brown The Spirit of Protestantism 1961

Brown writes that hunger is a religious concern. I think it if far more a spiritual concern. How we deal with hunger determines the depth of our discipleship and is a real indicator of just how vital our spirituality actually is. If there is no real care, compassion and ministry with those of our family lacking their daily bread, then our spirituality must be treated as suspect and is superficial at best, and at worst, a total sham.

However, Brown is absolutely correct that we must ensure the political will to empower the poor and hungry with the basic right to provide themselves food. The lack of political will  among global leaders to seriously address ending hunger is one of the single greatest obstacles to ending hunger in our lifetime.

 

forgive us

For the sin we have committed by ignoring the poor….

And for the sin we have committed by not respecting God’s image in every human being….

 And for the sin we have committed by not allowing others to become what they could be….

And for the sin we have committed by keeping silent in the face of evil….

For all these sins, O God of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement.

Robert Hammer, Jack Riemer, and Jules Harlow in Yearnings: Prayer and Meditation for the Days of Awe published in 1968

“And flesh and blood so cheap!”

 

Happier were those pierced by the sword than those pierced by hunger, whose life drains away, deprived of the produce of the field. – Lamentations 4:9

The words of the Prophet Jeremiah echo loudly today as we witness the brutality and senseless violence in South Sudan. The echoes can be heard in the headlines as the world’s leading relief providers have already started warning of an even uglier tragedy beginning to unfold in that young and reeling nation.

Famine is coming to South Sudan. Unless immediate response is mounted we are being told to expect the starvation, not of dozens of children, not of  hundreds of children, not of thousands of children, but to prepare for the unnecessary death of tens of thousands of innocent South Sudanese children.  These are the children who will  starve to death within the next six months, pierced by hunger, unless we act to prevent it.

Already malnourished and weakened, these children cannot survive the agony of their life draining away as it will during the hunger season. Once the rains begin the hope of these children, the life of these children, will wash away.

I am reminded of the words of Thomas Hood, the 18th century English poet. In The Song of the Shirt he wrote:

“Oh, God! That bread should be so dear!
And flesh and blood so cheap!”