May 26, 2020
by Mary Lee Brock
Creighton University's Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, priest
Lectionary: 298

Acts 20:17-27
Psalm 68:10-11, 20-21
John 17:1-11a

Celebrating Easter

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying As We Age

When I was growing up my parents created a rule that we could not use a gift we had received until the thank you note was written.  When I would feel overwhelmed with writers block my mother was willing to offer helpful support.  She would ask me to imagine what I might say if I were on the phone with the gift giver.  She suggested I think about what they would be interested in hearing about my reaction to the gift.  Her guidance helped me craft many meaningful thank you notes and helped me develop the gift of gratitude.

Those feelings of thank you note writers block from my childhood are very familiar in these days.  My sense of time is undefined and I have no vision of what the future might bring.   While I expected spending time at home would offer more time for prayer, I encounter times when my prayer life feels a bit desolate.

That was just the space I was in when I looked to today’s readings for inspiration.  Happily when I discovered the readings for the Memorial for St. Philip Neri I felt a lightness in my spirit.  The first reading from Paul to the Philippians offers a prayer that is perfect for these unsettling times:

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again:  rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

If St Paul while imprisoned could extend this joyous invitation, I can tap into gratitude for the many gifts in my life.  My prayer life reignites as I use the lessons my mother taught me to express gratitude.  I imagine I am talking to God and I trust God is interested in hearing how grateful I am to feel the peace of God.  I feel called to share words of gratitude and encouragement with others near and far.  I pray we all remember to experience and express gratitude in these challenging times.

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