Welcome!

Welcome to what I like to think of as a spirituality smorgasbord I call Hearts on Fire.

The hearts of believers have caught fire ever since the disciples on the Road to Emmaus.  I hope to share poems, prayers, stories, scriptures, songs, humor and wisdom to kindle a spiritual spark inside the reader’s heart.  Hearts on Fire casts stones at nobody, encourages cooperation and tolerance  with people of faith everywhere, and promotes a positive agenda.

I have not been active of late for various reasons particularly moving to St. Leo’s in Inwood West Virginia. I hope to get back up to speed in the near future.

Posted in Site Admin/Updates | 15 Comments

Thoughts on Fasting by Jesus AND Saint John Chrysostom 

[Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving or Charity are spiritual disciplines practiced by people of many faiths.  They are closely associated with the Christian Season of Lent.  The words of Jesus are from the gospel for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  They challenge us to consider our motivation for fasting  The words of the saintly preacher and Bishop remind us to fast from sin as well as food.]    

[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds 
in order that people may see them; otherwise, 
you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

When you fast,do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. 
They neglect their appearance, so that 
they may appear to others to be fasting. 
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting, 
except to your Father who is hidden. 
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

– (Matthew 6:1, 16-18)

“Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. 
If you see a poor man, take pity on him. 
If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. 

Do not let only your mouth fast, 
but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands 
and all the members of our bodies. 

Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.

Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.

For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, 
but bite and devour our brothers?

May the One  who came to the world to save sinners, 
strengthen us to complete the fast with humility! 
Have mercy on us and save us.  Amen.”
– Saint John Chrysostom (347-407)

[Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.] 

[PHOTO by QueenSheena at photobucket.com]

 

Posted in Humor, Wisdom | Leave a comment

Yet Still Another Litany for Healing

JesusHealsaLeper

A Litany for Healing

Loving and compassionate God,
Lord of all health and wholeness
We are fearfully and wonderfully made
Thank you for your miracle of healing

You gift our bodies with incredible means of protection and repair
Immune systems that shield and heal us
Wounds that heal, bones that knit, tissues that repair themselves
Thank you for your miracle of healing

You gift our world with plants and herbs that cure our diseases
They provide our medicines and pain killers
They form the basis of our antibiotics and antiseptics
Thank you for your miracle of healing

You gift our lives with your healing life
Your Cross that saves and redeems us
The bread and wine that draws us into your presence
Thank you for your miracle of healing

Jesus you came to save and heal us
You healed the sick and raised the dead
You touched lepers and outcasts
Jesus you came to save and heal us

You stopped on the way to the rich man’s daughter
To heal the woman abandoned and despised because of an issue of blood
Jesus you came to save and heal us

You raised a poor woman’s son from death
And promised that one day all children will have a full life
Jesus you came to save and heal us

You gave you disciples power to cure disease
And sent them out to heal the sick and to preach the good news of the kingdom
Jesus you came to save and heal us

May we too be worthy disciples and become your caring hands
Anointing others with your healing balm and binging them to health and wholeness
Jesus you came to save and heal us, have mercy on us

[Pause to pray by name for those you know who are in need of healing.]

God of health,
God of wholeness,
God of love
Heal our bodies
Heal our minds
Heal our souls
Heal our spirits
Redeem our lives

[SOURCE: http://godspace.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/a-litany-for-healing%5D

Posted in Prayer | 5 Comments

A Moment of Blessing by Alden Solovy

Northern Lights

A Moment of Blessing

Every breath and every blink,
Every moment and every heartbeat:
Each one, a blessing.
This is a moment of blessing.
Blessings given. Blessings received.

Every trail and every vista,
Every journey and every homecoming:
Each one, an adventure.
This is a moment of adventure.
Adventures alone. Adventures together.

Every sunrise and every sunset,
Every crash of thunder and every roar of the sea:
Each one, a moment of majesty.
This is a moment of majesty.
Majesty from heaven. Majesty on earth.

Every birth and every death,
Every love and every loss:
Each one, a mystery.
This is a moment of mystery.
Mysteries hidden. Mysteries revealed.

Blessed are you, Adonai our G-d,
G-d of blessings, G-d of adventures,
G-d of majesty and G-d of mystery,
You fill our days with Your glory
And our lives with precious gifts.
Praised are You, Source of love.

© 2010 Alden Solovy and http://www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

[SOURCE: http://tobendlight.com/2010/06/13/a-moment-of-blessing/%5D
 
[Fish-eye lens view of the northern lights taken mid July 2004 Photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Wikimedia Commons]

Posted in Prayer, Songs and Poetry | Leave a comment

A Christmas Reading and Franciscan Blessing

Chartres Saint-Aignan802

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!
– Isaiah 9:1-6

May God bless you with discomfort…
at easy answers, hard hearts, 
half-truths, and superficial relationships. 
May God bless you so that you may live 
from deep within your heart
where God’s Spirit dwells.

May God bless you with anger…
at injustice, oppression, 
and exploitation of people.
May God bless you so that you may 
work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears…
to shed for those who suffer from pain, 
rejection, starvation and war. 
May God bless you so that you
may reach out your hand 
to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with 
enough foolishness 
to believe that you can make a difference 
in this world, in your neighborhood, 
so that you will courageously try 
what you don’t think you can do, but,
in Jesus Christ you’ll have all the strength necessary.

May God bless you to fearlessly
speak out about injustice, 
unjust laws, corrupt politicians,
unjust and cruel treatment of prisoners,
and senseless wars, 
genocides, starvations, and poverty that is so pervasive.

May God bless you that you remember 
we are all called
to continue God’s redemptive work
of love and healing 
in God’s place, in and through God’s name,
in God’s Spirit, continually creating
and breathing new life and grace
into everything and everyone we touch.

[Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.] 

[Source: "Troubadour: A Missionary Magazine," published by the Franciscan Missionary Society, Liverpool, UK: Spring 2005.  Posted on this site:
 http://www.educationforjustice.org/node/1609]

[PHOTO by Reinhardhauke. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.  Wikimedia Commons]

Posted in Feasts & Seasons, Prayer, Scripture | 1 Comment

Blessed Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) ON PRAYER

[This is the ? of a series of posts featuring a saint, mystic, or writer to include some of their thoughts on prayer as well as a prayer written by or ascribed to him or her.  No Pope traveled as often and as far as this Holy Father. Perhaps, no other has had such a profound and lasting impact on church and world history]

Prayer can truly change your life. For it turns your attention away from yourself and directs your mind and your heart toward the Lord.

The goal and target of our life is He, 
the Christ who awaits us – 
each one singly and altogether – 
to lead us across the boundaries of time 
to the eternal embrace of the God who loves us.

Prayer gives us strength for great ideals, 
for keeping up our faith, charity, purity, generosity; 
prayer gives us strength to rise up from indifference and guilt, 
if we have had the misfortune to give in to temptation and weakness. 
Prayer gives us light by which to see and to judge from God’s perspective 
and from eternity. That is why you must not give up on praying!

How to pray? This is a simple matter. I would say: Pray any way you like, so long as you do pray.”

For a stalk to grow or a flower to open 
there must be time that cannot be forced; 
nine months must go by for the birth of a human child;
to write a book or compose music often years must be dedicated to patient research.
To find the mystery there must be patience, interior purification, silence, waiting.

A Prayer by Blessed Pope John Paul Ii
O God, You are our Creator.
You are good and Your mercy knows no bounds.
To You arises the praise of every creature.
O God, You have given us an inner law by which we must live.
To do Your will is our task.
To follow Your ways is to know peace of heart.
To You we offer our homage.
Guide us on all the paths we travel upon this earth.
Free us from all the evil tendencies which lead our hearts away from Your will.
Never allow us to stray from You.
O God, judge of all humankind, help us to be included among Your chosen ones on the last day.
O God, Author of peace and justice, give us true joy and authentic love, and a lasting solidarity among peoples.
Give us Your everlasting gifts. Amen!

This picture is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. See Copyright.
 

Posted in Prayer, Quotations | 1 Comment

St. Ambrose of Milan (c. 338-397) ON PRAYER

[This is the ? of a series of posts featuring a saint, mystic, or writer to include some of their thoughts on prayer as well as a prayer written by or ascribed to him or her.  St. Ambrose is perhaps best known for being elected Bishop before he was even baptized and for the conversion and baptism of St. Augustine.]

Photo

Let your door stand open to receive God, 
unlock your soul to God, 
offer God a welcome in your mind, 
and  then you will see 
the riches of simplicity, 
the treasures of peace, 
the joy of grace. 
Throw wide the gate of your heart, 
stand before the sun of the everlasting light.

When prayer is poured forth, sins are covered.

Jesus told us to pray urgently and often,
so that our prayers should not be
long and tedious but short, earnest and frequent.
Long elaborate prayers overflow with pointless phrases,
and long gaps between prayers even stretch out into complete neglect.
 
 
The apostle [Paul] teaches us to pray anywhere,
while the Savior says Go into your room –
but you must understand that this “room” is not the room
with four walls  that confines your body when you are in it,
but the secret space within you in which
your thoughts are enclosed and where your sensations arrive.
That is your prayer-room, always with you wherever you are,
always secret wherever you are, with your only witness being God.
 

A Prayer by St. Ambrose of Milan
O Lord my God,
teach my heart this day
where and how to see you,
where and how to find you. 
You have made me and remade me,
and you have bestowed on me
all the good things I possess
and still I do not know you.
I have not yet done that
for which I was made.  
Lord, teach me to seek you, and 
reveal yourself to me when I seek you.
For I cannot seek you unless you first teach me, 
nor find you, unless you first reveal yourself to me.
Let me seek You in longing, and long for You in seeking.
Let me find You in love, and love You in finding.  Amen.

[Late antique mosaic of Saint Ambrose in the church St. Ambrogio in Milan. This might be an actual portrait, made while Ambrose was living. Source: de.wikipedia]

Posted in Prayer, Quotations | 1 Comment

Saint Gertrude (1256-1302) ON PRAYER

POST AND LINK TO WEBSITE

And still the ocean of your boundless love is not exhausted. 
For you constantly grant my prayers, 
whether for sinners, for souls, or for other intentions, 
answering them with incredible benefits. 
I have never found a human friend to whom I would dare tell all I know; 
the human heart is too small to bear it.

And now, 
with all affection, all devotion and intention, 
may you join yourself to God in prayer, 
as if you saw the spouse Jesus himself present, 
who assuredly is present in your soul.      

Prayer to the Sacred Heart Written by St. Gertrude
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living source of eternal life, 
Your heart is a burning furnace of love. 
You are my refuge and my sanctuary. 
O my adorable and loving Savior, 
consume my heart with that burning fire with which Yours is enflamed. 
Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. 
Let my heart be united with Yours. 
Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. 
May Your divine will be the standard of all my desires and actions. Amen.

Posted in Prayer, Quotations | Leave a comment

A Prayer for Veterans on Veterans Day

US Navy 081111-N-2636M-173 Sailors march and wave to parade onlookers during New York's annual Veterans Day parade

God of peace,
we pray for those who have served our nation
and who laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.

We pray for those who have fought,
whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted by memories
too painful for the light of day.

We pray for those who serve us now,
especially for those in harm’s way.
Shield them from danger
and bring them home.

Turn the hearts and minds
of our leaders and our enemies
to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.

Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

Let the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!

– Rev. Austin Fleming. 

[Fr. Fleming is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston whom I've known since August of 1979 when we met at Notre Dame. His blog is on my blogroll on the right side of the page.  Please check it out:  http://concordpastor.blogspot.com]

[This file is a work of a U.S. Navy Sailor --  Mass Comm. Specialist 3rd Class Kleynia R. McKnight -- taken during her official duties. Thus the photo is in the public domain.  Thanks to Wikimedia Commons.]

Posted in Prayer | 3 Comments

St Thomas Aquinas  (1225-1274) ON PRAYER

[This is the ? of a series of posts featuring a saint, mystic, or writer to include some of their thoughts on prayer as well as a prayer written by or ascribed to him or her.  He is the most influential theologian in the Church's second millennium. However, he stopped writing theology after he had a mystical experience.] 

It is clear that he does not pray, who, 
far from uplifting himself to God, 
requires that God shall lower Himself to him, and 
who resorts to prayer not to stir the man in us to will what God wills, 
but only to persuade God to will what the man in us wills.

In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, 
and unless he takes medicine, he will die. 
Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. 
For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; 
and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.

The prayerless soul makes no progress whatever.

Without prayer we become deaf to the voice of divine love and 
become confused by the many competing voices asking for our attention. 
When we try to become very still, 
we often find ourselves so overwhelmed by our noisy inner voices 
that we can hardly wait to get busy and distracted again. 
Our inner life often looks like a banana tree full of jumping monkeys! 
But when we decide not to run away and stay focused, 
the monkeys may gradually go away because of lack of attention,and the soft gentle voice calling us may gradually make itself heard. 
 
A Prayer by St.  Thomas Aquinas
O creator past all telling,
you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom
the hierarchies of angels,
disposing them in wondrous order 
above the bright heavens,
and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.

You we call the true fount of wisdom
and the noble origin of all things.
Be pleased to shed 
on the darkness of mind in which I was born,
The twofold beam of your light
and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.

You make eloquent the tongues of children.
Then instruct my speech 
and touch my lips with graciousness.
Make me keen to understand, quick to learn,
able to remember;
make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.

Guide my going in and going forward,
lead home my going forth.
You are true God and true man,
and live for ever and ever.

[Saint Thomas Aquinas stained glass window. Cathedral of Saint-Rombouts, Mechelen (Belgium).    This image, originally posted to Flickr, was reviewed on 13 October 2009 by the administrator or reviewer Leoboudv, who confirmed that it was available on Flickr under the above license on that date. CC-BY-SA-2.0]

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A Homily I Wish I Had Preached on Zacchaeus — Father Austin Fleming 

[Just about every preacher is sensitive to comments about his or her preaching. Oddly enough many tend not to believe compliments because we are almost always our own harshest critics.  Here is a homily Father Austin Fleming preached six years ago. It is an excellent example of helping hearers and readers see themselves in the reading being preached and drawing connections for one's spiritual journey. Be sure to check out this Concord Pastor's blog that can be found on my blogroll in the right column of this blog.]  

Niels Larsen Stevns- Zakæus

We don’t know what St. Peter looked like,
or John the Baptist, or Mary, or Jesus himself.
We don’t know if they were tall or short,
handsome and beautiful or plain and unremarkable.
We don’t know if they were fat or skinny,
and we don’t know the color of their eyes or hair
The scriptures are pretty much silent
when it comes to the appearance of its characters.

But along comes Zacchaeus and for some reason
St. Luke decides it’s important
that we know that Zacchaeus was short.
Short! 
Who cares?
Who cares if Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to see Jesus?

Does it make any difference?
Maybe it does.

Luke tells us that Zacchaeus was 
seeking to see who Jesus was…
I’ll bet it’s a fair guess on my part
that just about everyone here this morning is,
in one way or another,
seeking to see who Jesus is…

Now, Zacchaeus had trouble seeing Jesus passing by
because he was – well, you know – short!
There was something about Zacchaeus
that made it difficult for him to see who Jesus was.

I wonder:
is there anything about you, anything about me,
that makes it difficult for us to see who Jesus is?

One thing about me
that makes it difficult for me to see who Jesus is,
is fear: my fear that if I see him,
he may look me in the eye and ask something of me
that I may not be ready or willing to give.

For some, it’s their doubts
that make it difficult for them to see who Jesus is:
doubts about faith; doubts about the church;
doubts about God…

For others what makes it difficult or them to see Jesus
may be an unhealed hurt from the past;
disappointment in prayer;
a skeptical mind;
anger at the church…

And for others…
well sometimes only I know for myself,
and you for yourself, what it is about us
that makes it difficult to see Jesus clearly.

Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus.
I wonder; what do we need to climb?
How do we need to change our perspective
so that we might see Jesus more clearly?

Zacchaeus had the sense to get above things,
to get beyond his own limitations
to see the One he was seeking.
And once he did that, once he climbed that tree,
then the One he was seeking not only saw him
but called him down from the tree
- and went home with him!

(See! That’s what I fear!
Jesus getting so close
that he invites himself to lunch at my place
and sits down at my kitchen table to – talk…)

Zacchaeus often gets a bad rap as a tax collector
and it’s often presumed that he was a cheat and a thief
until he met Jesus.
But the Hebrew word from which Zacchaeus’ name comes
means “pure, clean and innocent.”

The Jericho tax collector up in the tree is “Mr. Clean!”
Perhaps Luke is telling us something here.
No matter how good we might be,
there’s always more to see in Jesus
than what we have already seen.
There’s always more to seek, more to find.
I could climb a tree every day of my life
and every day see Jesus more clearly than the day before.
Acknowledging our own limitations
and looking for ways to work with them,
and to work around them,
and to get beyond them,
is a challenge that will be with all of us, always.

We are here, today, because we want to see Jesus
more clearly today than we did yesterday.

Well, we’ve come to the right place:
we’ve climbed the right tree!
For in this place:
we can hear his very voice in the scriptures;
we can meet him in one another;
and as he invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house,
so he invites himself to our table, his altar.
Here he gives us much more than half of all he has,
he gives everything for us in the Eucharist.
In bread, broken as his body, he gives us healing.
In the cup, poured out as his blood, he gives us life.

He called Zacchaeus long ago and he calls us today
to come down quickly
for he wants to stay, to make his home with us.

For even as we seek to see him,
he has long been seeking us, the lost,
to find us and to give us his peace.

 
[LINK: http://concordpastor.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2007-11-06T01:14:00-05:00&max-results=10&reverse-paginate=true%5D

Posted in Wisdom | 6 Comments