Pastoral Series

Prayer: Don’t grant what I ask

Teresa of Avila was born in Spain in 1515.  Her overly protective father caught her fliting with a young man – and swiftly deposited her in a convent, where she stayed until her death in 1582. Fragile in health, she became a brilliant theologian, and legendary in her spirituality.  It was said that she often…

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Prayer: I only say I trust you

Thomas Merton was one of the greatest writers on the spiritual life – ever.  His words are unfailingly thoughtful, eloquent, theologically rich, and constructive.  In one of his published journals, The Sign of Jonas, in which he shares his daily experiences and more profound wrestlings with God and himself in a Trappist monastery in Kentucky…

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Prayer: Oceans, and Clothing

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) was one of the great theologians of the Middle Ages.  Deemed a “Doctor of the Church” (a small, exclusive group, with very few women), she and Francis of Assisi are the patron saints of Italy; she was an advisor to popes, and brought peace among various rulers of Europe. I love…

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Prayer: Don’t let it be cancer

Popular with generations of children for her A Wrinkle in Time (and its sequels), Madeleine L’Engle has always been one of my favorite writers – and thinkers.  She wouldn’t claim to be a theologian, but her poems, and then her books about Genesis and other religious themes are always thoughtful and profound. Her personal life…

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Prayer: the Hands of Christ

   Last week, for All Saints’ Day, we pondered a prayer from of John Henry Newman.  Still thinking of saints, let’s turn to another English guy.  Lancelot Andrewes was chaplain to Elizabeth I (to whom he preached surprisingly prophetic sermons!), and oversaw the translation of the King James Version of the Bible. One of his…

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Prayer: Holy rest & peace at the last

Prayer: Holy rest & peace at the last John Henry Newman was one of the brightest lights in English-speaking Christendom during the 19th century.  He shocked many by converting from the Anglican church to Roman Catholicism.  His preaching and publications helped a lazy Christianity think openly and creatively about a changing world. I’ve always been…

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Prayer: A Sigh

Prayer: A Sigh There is so much to love and savor about the life of Martin Luther – but then there are the embarrassments: his ferocious invective against Catholics, and his demeaning of the Jews are just plain embarrassing. Luther was a gregarious guy who loved company, food, beer, music and conversation.  He always had…

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Prayer: Reformation and Prayer

Prayer: Reformation and Prayer We think of the Reformation as dazzling courage on the part of the heroic Martin Luther, or as the grievous splitting of the church.  But the term, re-formation, is what we as individuals and as a church require – always.  We get malformed living in the world, succumbing to sin, just…

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Prayer: Help me! I promise I’ll…

Prayer: Help me!  I promise I’ll…. Martin Luther is getting lots of attention in church circles this month as we approach the 500th anniversary of his touching off the Protestant Reformation.  One of his most interesting prayers is laughable in many ways – and yet entirely understandable, shared in some way at some point by…

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Prayer: Only you know that place

Prayer: Only you know that place In one of his more obscure books, Heart Speaks to Heart, Henri Nouwen imagines himself talking with Christ hanging on the cross.  His prayer, his words to Jesus?  “O Lord, why is it that I am so eager to receive human praise and human support when experience tells me…

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