Prayer for Our Nation In Transition

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Our priest, Fr. Thomas Gallagher OFM, wrote the following prayer for us to recite antiphonally on Sundays.(Each side of the congregation takes turns reading a section. Then we read the last two lines together.) I find it very soothing and inspiring, so with his permission I have copied it for you.

Blessed Are They

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT:

     the marginalized,

     the sinner,

     the person who does not fit in,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN LOSSES:

     of love, of freedom, of dignity,

     of home–the refugee,

     of identity–the exile

for they will be comforted.

BLESSED ARE THE MEEK:

     the unseen, unappreciated worker,

     the physically, emotionally, spiritually abused,

     the one who is bullied,

for they will inherit the land.

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS:

     the one who teaches through deeds of compassion,

     the one who stands in solidarity with the marginalized,

     the peaceful protester,

for they will be satisfied.

BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL:

     the one who opens doors, hearts, minds,

     the one who forgives,

     the person of hospitality,

for they will be shown mercy.

BLESSED ARE THE CLEAN OF HEART:

     the one who holds no grudges,

     the visionary,

     the one who welcomes the least one,

for they will see God.

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS:

     those who strive to create a space for others to be at home,

     those with the vision to see from another perspective,

     those who accept forgiveness,

for they will be called children of God.

BLESSED ARE THOSE PERSECUTED FOR THE SAKE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS:

     those who remain faithful to love despite opposition,

     those who hold space for others to become themselves,

     those whose witness speaks truth to power,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

YOU ARE THE SALT OF THE EARTH.

YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.

The Rosary and Me

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When I was a teenager and my parents were loudly arguing in the room below me, I used to tune my bedside radio to a station in San Francisco, 600 miles away. Late at night, I would hear a very repetitive prayer go–it seemed–on and on. It was very soothing, though I really had no idea of what it was. I would fall asleep to its calming words.  I was unchurched and really didn’t even think to ask anyone about what I was hearing.

Fast forward 30 years and I was praying in a place in Portland, Oregon called The Grotto. It is a lovely sanctuary open to all. I found the quiet very grounding. One day I heard a group of mainly Philippine women saying that same repetitive prayer while holding strings of beads. Then the woman in front of me turned around, handed me one, a lovely amber string of these beads and said, “I am supposed to give this to you.” She handed it back to me and went back to prayer.

By then I was Christian, but I had heard horror stories about Catholic prayer practices which supposedly prayed TO Mary, as if she were God. But it didn’t seem to me to be the case. The sequence of prayers included a recitation of the Apostles’ Creed and five repetitions of the Lord’s Prayer. It was, as far as I could tell, theologically sound.

Fast forward another 20 years and my next door neighbor, newly widowed, asked if I would join her once a week to pray the Rosary with her. So I printed out the prayers, picked up my amber beads and went to her house that Tuesday. We meet each Tuesday morning and pray the prayers. I still get flummoxed occasionally, worrying that I am counting wrong, which definitely interrupts the contemplative nature of the prayer! But when I can drop down into the repetition, it has the same calming effect on me that it had 55 years ago.

Now when I get to Mass early (God’s sense of humor leading me to Catholicism over my Protestant friends’ dismay) I see others quietly holding the beads and moving their lips silently. I feel grateful remembering how important those beads were so many years ago.

If you want to learn more go to http://www.rosary-center.org. (As always, I respect many traditions, and I have no interest in proselytizing; I’m just sharing my perspective.)