communion of saints

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent
enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of
saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection.

No pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an
opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master
builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.


*This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.” The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.

for lost friends

As twilight makes a rainbow robe
From the concealed colors of the day
In order for time to stay alive
Within the dark weight of the night,
May we lose no one we love
From the  shelter of our hearts.

When we love another heart
And allow it to love us
We journey deep below time
Into that eternal weave
Where nothing unravels.

May we have the grace to see
Despite the hurt of rupture,
The searing of anger,
And the empty disappointment,
That whoever we have loved,
Such love can never quench.

Though a door may be closed,
Closed between us,
May we be able to view
Our lost friends with eyes
Wise with calming grace;
Forgive them the damage
We were left to inherit;
Free ourselves from the chains
Of forlorn resentment;
Bring warmth again to
Where the heart has frozen
In order that beyond the walls
Of our cherished hurt
And chosen distance
We may be able to
Celebrate the gifts they brought,
Learn and grow from the pain,
And prosper into difference,
Wishing them peace
Where spirit can summon
Beauty from wounded space.

-John O’Donohue, in To Bless the Space Between Us


“Enlightenment is not about knowing as much as it is about unknowing; it is not so much learning as unlearning. It is more about entering a vast mystery than arriving at a mental certitude. Enlightenment knows that grace is everywhere, and the only reasonable response is a grateful heart and the acknowledgment that there is more depth and meaning to everything.”

-Richard Rohr


I’m sitting in traffic on 202, something that has become part of my morning routine. It’s a construction zone. I join hundreds (thousands?) of other people in a solid, 2-lane mass of cars, creeping along the rolling curves of road. It’s morning drive time. The rhythmic nature of my foot moving from the gas pedal to the brake pedal, the music playing from the iPod, and the sun streaming through the clouds makes the experience meditative.

This day, my eye catches some abnormal movement in my rear-view mirror. When I focus my attention to take a look, two solid lanes of traffic are dividing right up the middle. I spot the ambulance, its flashers blazing, driving only slightly faster, advancing through the space made between the lanes of cars as they move out of the way. The slow-motion scene in my rearview mirror finally catches up to me. I move my car to the right, off the roadway, onto the shoulder. The ambulance passes. Then, I watch as the emergency vehicle disappears into the sea of cars in front of me, crawling along, and I re-focus my attention to the song playing through the speakers: Life is wonderful. Life goes full-circle. I pray for the people that the ambulance is heading towards.

Eventually, I come upon the accident scene on the side of the road. The EMTs are huddled around the door of a locked car, working on opening it up. It doesn’t look good, from my perspective. I continue on my way to work and find myself acutely aware that it all could have been a dream. Because here I am, sitting in traffic on 202 again.

It’s been a few weeks since I witnessed the scene on the side of the road. And yet it stays in my memory, as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. I find myself wondering, what are you trying to tell me, God?

All those things have vanished like a shadow,
and like a rumor that passes by,
like a ship that sails through the billowy water,
and when it has passed no trace can be found,
nor track of its keel in the water…

– Wisdom 5:9-10

I wonder about the person who was in the locked car. Has their life changed significantly since that day? The life of their family?

Recently, my college-aged daughter made the decision not to return to the school 3,000 miles away that she chose as a freshman. The reasons are many, but they all converge to where we are today. She’s taking classes at a local university and hopes to be a bit closer to home when she moves to a new college next semester.

I wonder about her experience. Her year of living in a strange and new place. The things she learned. The ways she matured. The path she took to get to today. Today, I am acutely aware that her keel has steered her in a new direction. The year she spent there has changed her. The path was not an easy one. And yet, today, she is radiant, and energized, and happy.

Life is wonderful. Life goes full-circle.

Today, I give thanks for the ways that God steers us through the rough waters. I invite you to do the same.