Largeness of Heart

Morning Prayer: Largeness of Heart
February 26, 2014
Prayer by Dr. Kathryn Hamrlik, Theology Teacher:

A few months ago, I went on a retreat, where a friend gave a talk.  I’d like to share a story from her remarks there was particularly moving for me. These are her words:

Early last spring, on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I decided to do laundry before settling in with a good book. I live in a high rise apartment building and the laundry is in the basement. Having changed into comfortable clothes, meaning sweats and flip flops, I brought the laundry downstairs.

Returning to my apartment, I realized that I had locked myself out. No house keys, no car keys, no cell phone, no money, no subway pass….nothing except laundry detergent.

Luckily, I keep a second set of keys in my office desk at a non-profit organization about 2 ½ miles away.

Hoping to reach a friend to drive me in, I went outside, stopped a passerby and asked to borrow his phone. I quickly realized that I don’t know anyone’s number…they are all programmed into my phone.

Running out of options, I walked in flip flops, in the rain, the 2 ½ miles on a busy street. Fortunately, the office is accessible via keypad code, so I enter the building with no problem, albeit tired and soaking wet.

I retrieve my spare house key from my desk and begin to leave when I realize that I have no money to return home. Remembering the emergency cash the office keeps, I go to the admin assistant’s desk and there is $2.00. I take the money and head for the subway.

Putting my money in the turn-style, I quickly learn that without my usual monthly pass, the fare is $2.50. I plead with the transit person to no avail.

Then, I do the only thing I can do….I begin asking people for money. (By now, I look the part ). The first 3 people I approach, ignore me. The 4th, a young woman, smiles sweetly, and apologizes for not helping me. Most simply rush past.

A homeless man, whose territory I was clearly invading, came over to me and said: “Lady, you need a cup” and offers me a used Dunkin Donuts cup. Near tears, I explain that I have money… at home…I just need to get there. This man holds out his cup of coins and tells me to take whatever I need.

From his cup, his nothingness, he gave without judgment, without thought of his own need, with abandon….Clearly, for my new gentleman friend, the purpose of wealth is not security. The purpose of wealth is reckless generosity, the kind that sings of the lavish love of God, the kind that rekindles hope on dark days, the kind that reminds us that God is with us always.

Let us pray.

Loving God, give us the largeness of heart that lives inside the man who offered first, a cup; and then, his coins. Give us the gift that he had inside of himself that enabled him to give away his gold. Help us to see your face – your grace – in those whom we walk by every morning. And help us to be that face and that grace of love and generosity to others. Amen.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

the Sharkinator

Morning Prayer: the Sharkinator
February 25, 2014
Prayer by Joe ’15:

Now I’ve been here at Marist since the seventh grade, and I have never known how and where this whole Morning Prayer deal goes down. So to illuminate Marist on this mystery, I’m in a secret room behind the main office chilling with Ms. McGregor who is right next to me.  Pretty chill environment if I do say so myself.  So this morning I’d like to share with ya’ll a story. It happened back when I was five years old. I was a cute little dude…still am… and every Sunday after church my family and I would go to our favorite café, and then to a store next to it. One Sunday morning upon arriving at the store, something in the toy section caught my five year old eye. With the speed of a studly cheetah, I squeaked over to it in squeaky shoes, and as Nicholas Cage found National Treasure, I found a hot wheels invention of epic proportions – The Shark Park – a toy race track that had more bite then bark. With the speed of two studly cheetahs, I squeaked back to my mom. “Mom can you buy that for me pllleeeeassse?” The response was these evil words she still uses, “If you can save up the money you can buy it yourself”.  Extra chores were in my future.  The park was worth it though. It engulfed my thoughts. With a loaded piggy bank I made my return and walked into the store like “what up… I’m going buy the shark park”. When I was handed that box, I remember that being one of the happiest moments of my life. I assembled that bad boy in my room, and as a final touch, I threw a towel over it imagining a cool unveiling event. Now as anybody does with a new cool thing they own, I decided to show it off. I called up my friend Paul and he came over the next day. When Paul came inside, I eagerly brought him to my room and proudly stood next to the sharkinator. In a pathetic display of “showingoffmanship”, I pulled the towel off and to my dismay, half the park came with it.  It was a matter of seconds before PTSPD (Post Traumatic Shark Park Disorder) hit me. I started balling, like Kobe Bryant balling. I had just demolished my bread and butter and in front of my best friend. Now I’m guessing many of the priests and faculty at this point are wondering where I’m going with this story. Well here comes the game changer. With no laughs, no “nice one” look, Paul, my five year old friend, without a word started putting the shark park back together. In silence we restored not only the physical toy, but my happiness. That simple act of kindness strengthened our friendship. That simple act of kindness created a genuine moment of coming together between two friends.  That simple act of kindness taught me a lesson I have never once forgotten.

Let us pray – Dear Heavenly Father, today we ask you for strength. Strength mentally to remember your teachings throughout the whole day, not just part of it. Strength physically in order to carry out your will in actions guided by your grace. Strength emotionally to overcome our personal burdens so we can help relinquish those of others. Strength to carry out simple acts of kindness throughout our day to everyone around us. Because a simple act of kindness can make somebody happy; because a simple act of kindness can not only create a genuine moment of coming together with the other person, but also with you God; and because a simple act of kindness can touch somebody forever.  Amen.

Mary Seat of Wisdom… Pray for us

Vocational Prayer

Morning Prayer: Vocational Prayer
January 28, 2014
Prayer by Mr. Drew Ditzel ’01; Marist Theology Teacher:

Some of you are being called into the ministry. I know that is weird and kind of bold of me to say, but it’s true.

Trust me, I know you are not supposed to be a minister. I know you are supposed make money as easily and enjoyably as possible. But sadly, that is no one’s vocation. No one is special for wanting that. I currently also want that. And it is very easy to take what we want and think it is the way it is supposed to be.

But what vocation is is a claim that God is bigger than the way things are supposed to be. That a job can be more than a paycheck. It can be a place we encounter and pursue God.

I get to say the prayer today during religious vocational week because I am an ordained Presbyterian minister. And when I was deciding to be a minister, I had lots of thoughts. I remember being afraid I was going to let down my parents. That I was not good enough to be a minister. That people would judge me. That I would miss out while others were going after what we were all supposed to be going after in other jobs.

And then one day as I was supposing what other occupations would be better than minister, it dawned on me that if we are talking about what is supposed to happen with this life it is that I am supposed to work for a while and then die. That is everyone’s real supposed to.

But dang it if I didn’t worship the God of resurrection. So maybe I should stop thinking the things that are supposed to happen are going to give me peace and start wondering where the God of life might be calling me to do.

And I tell you the most freeing day of my entire life was the day I told my parents I was feeling called to be a minister. Not because that is what everyone’s job is supposed to be but it is where my vocation was.

I wonder where your vocation is?

Lord God,

Take the chains of what is supposed to be away and help us to dream what is possible. Turn the death of work and resurrect it into a vocation. Soften our hearts so we don’t feel the need to declare our future but can listen to where we may be called. Give us faith to believe we are your beloved people far above anything else.

Amen.

Mary, Seat of wisdom, Pray for us.

Catholic Schools Week Morning Prayer: Vocations by Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M.

Morning Prayer: Catholic Schools Week: Vocations
January 27, 2014
Prayer by Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M.

Good morning.  This week is recognized nationally as Catholic Schools Week.  You’ll see a banner attached to the bridge between the Gunn and Chanel Buildings that celebrates our Catholic school heritage.  We are welcoming today students and their teacher from another Catholic school, the Colegio San Jose in Callao, Peru.  Bienvenidos a nuestros visitadores de Peru.  Somos felices en acogerles a Vds.

This week here at Marist is also a time when we give attention to the theme of vocation—the calling that each of us responds to when we discern what it is we’re supposed to do with the gifts that God has given us.  Because we are in a Catholic school, the whole idea of letting the Holy Spirit move us toward where we can best use our talents is not strange to us.  We look and listen for signs, from what other people tell us our strengths are to what we feel drawn to over and over again.  For me, I had to acknowledge that it was service to the church that kept coming back to me, in my own prayer and discernment and in what I was hearing from others.

Some of us—most in fact—will be called to serve God as married persons and as parents, although that’s a few years down the pike for the majority.  Others will be called to live the single life and to serve that way.  Some will be called to the priesthood and religious life.  A few of us attended the funeral Thursday of Father Fogarty at St. Thomas Aquinas in Alpharetta, and it was a blessing to see some of our own Marist alumni as priests attending the funeral.

The Marist Fathers and the rest of the faculty feel we have a calling to help students discern what God might be directing you to do after you leave Marist.  We try not to do that by pushing you to one thing or another, but we are here to talk with you on retreat, or after school, or in casual meetings in any given week.  Whatever you are called to do, we have confidence that you will have the support of the Marist community behind you and that you will take seriously the need to look carefully at how you can best serve God’s people and realize your own hopes in the future.  Let us pray.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  O God, we praise you who have made us with different but abundant gifts to share with others.  Help us to know how we might best use those gifts for the sake of building up the Kingdom of God and for the betterment of those around us.  Guide us to good decisions about our future, and give us courage to respond with an open heart to even those callings that seem to be a challenge for us, so that we might serve you well in this life and come to be with you forever in the next.  In Christ we pray.  Amen.

Mary, Seat of wisdom.

Trusting God’s Path

Morning Prayer: Trusting God’s Path
January 9, 2014
Prayer by Sterling ’14:

I asked for Strength…
And God gave me Difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for Wisdom…
And God gave me Problems to solve.

I asked for Prosperity…
And God gave me Brain and Brawn to work.

I asked for Courage…
And God gave me Danger to overcome.

I asked for Love…
And God gave me Troubled people to help.

I asked for Favors…
And God gave me Opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted…
I received everything I needed.

 

We all turn to God in times of trouble and ask for assistance or for a material good that we feel is a necessity in our lives at that moment, whether that be a good grade on the test next period, or perhaps this week for school to be canceled. But because God doesn’t always answer our prayers on our terms, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t love, care, and look after us. It simply means he has a different agenda.  God is our creator, our provider. God knows what is in our best interest; now whether we agree, is sometimes a different story. But, God has the tendency to give us gifts in disguise, gifts we often do not ask for. Nobody wants or asks for difficulties, danger, or trouble, but it is with these gifts from God that we become the faithful disciples of the Lord that we strive to be. Everything happens for a reason. TRUST IN GOD.

 

I will share a brief prayer from Thomas Merton,

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

Mary Seat of Wisdom. Pray for us.

Bait and Switch

Morning Prayer: Bait and Switch
December 4, 2013
Prayer by Mr. Drew Ditzel ’01; Marist Theology Teacher:

A few years ago, I sat down to watch the movie Up with my wife. I was ready for a light hearted affair ala Finding Nemo. Amelia and I would share a few laughs. Have another exhilarating Friday night that ended by 9:30. It was going to be a great evening.

So imagine my surprise when eight minutes into the movie I found myself crying like a little child. I thought “kids watch this? How is this movie not rated R? I am balling my eyes out. This is some serious emotional manipulation.”

Pixar pulled a bait and switch. I don’t like bait and switches. I felt tricked and surprised.

You are probably feeling a bit of bait and switch right now. Why is this guy talking so much? I have homework that has become school work to do. I have rats to snowboard with and trucks to race. Pray and be done with it.

But the thing about the bait and switch, while we don’t like them at first, we remember them. I remember where I was sitting on my couch when Up ripped my heart out and trampled tears out of it. I remember what time of day it was, that it wasn’t quite dark.

With prayer, we think we know what is going to happen. Someone talks. We sort of listen. And then we mumble Mary Seat of wisdom and we move on. We don’t remember any of it.

Because deep down, we don’t think there is any chance of a bait and switch. We don’t think anything different is going to happen. We don’t think God is going to change anything. If we did, we would be wide awake. On edge to make sure someone doesn’t pray for God to do something we don’t have any interest in doing. If we did, we would treat prayer like the dangerous thing that it is.

This morning in the middle of my prayer, I am going to give you a moment of silence to lift your own prayer up. Maybe this morning you will pray differently. Like you don’t know what is going to happen once you say it. Pray like you will remember this moment. Pray like God might do something you could never expect like answer.

Good morning God,

Give us focus. Let us rest for at least one moment today here. Listen to our prayers this morning as we silently lift them to you.

 (silent moment)

Jesus, we admit we don’t think anything is going to happen. Bait and switch us Lord. And give us the faith to notice when you do.

Amen.

Mary Seat of Wisdom …pray for us.

Patience…

Morning Prayer: Patience…
November 19, 2013
Prayer by Emily ’14:

Ever since childhood, we have all been told that patience is a virtue. It can be hard at times, however, to see the necessity of patience. My most memorable experience occurred a couple years ago when I was at pole vaulting practice, working on a particular skill. I grew frustrated because I wasn’t getting it. I kept trying and trying, only to become more frustrated. My coach finally told me to stop. Suddenly she picked up a pebble and said to me, “Do you see this pebble? How long do you think it took for the big rock it started as to be grinded down to this itty-bitty pebble?” She then said, “It’s just like a diamond. You start with this huge, ugly rock. Over time, with work and help, the rock is chiseled away to become something beautiful.” She went on to explain that this is how I would master the skill. It would take time and patience, but I would get it down. Shortly after, I realized this is how our lives are. Often times, we find ourselves frustrated because we feel as though we keep failing or falling short of expectations. Yet, there is no simple answer to life. Like a diamond, our lives start confusing and sometimes ugly, but with the help and guidance of the Lord, we will uncover our own way to shine.

Let us pray.

Lord, teach me to be patient – with life, with people, and with myself. I sometimes try to hurry things along too much, and I push for answers before the time is right. Help me to trust Your sense of timing rather than my own, and to surrender my will to Your greater and wiser plan. Teach me to be patient as my life is chiseled at slowly. Amen.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

Oh, how I’ve been blessed!

Morning Prayer: Oh, how I’ve been blessed!
Mission Trip Week – October 22, 2013
Prayer by Katie ’15:

For the past two years, I’ve gone on a mission trip called Catholic HEART Workcamp. It has been such an amazing experience each time I’ve gone, and I want to share a little bit of that today.

Catholic HEART is a little bit different than a typical mission trip. Instead of working with everyone in the group that you go with, you work with random people from parishes around the country. They put you in these groups and then for four days, you work on a project or various projects in the area around the community. This year, my group and another group spent our time bonding with and helping our residents, Ken and Debbie. Ken and Debbie lived in a small, cluttered house in a mountainous area in Betsey Layne, Kentucky. Their home was in desperate need of general repairs, but they couldn’t afford any of it. I will never forget how many times Debbie thanked us or the tears she had in her eyes when we had finished painting the whole outside of the house, staining the deck, and cleaning the yard. Ken had health problems, so she thanked us on behalf of the both of them, constantly saying how thankful she was to have us there.

One day, it started pouring while we were working, so all 16 of us huddled inside their small living room. Ken and Debbie opened their home and their hearts to us, sharing all sorts of stories about how they met, how he proposed, and eventually talking about some of the struggles they had faced. Despite everything they had gone through, they both had extremely strong faiths. While all of us were huddled in the living room, Debbie left and came back with some sheet music. All of us fell quiet as she sang to us, verse by verse praising a God that she knew to be with her no matter what. Unfortunately, I don’t remember everything that she said, but one line really stood out. Over and over Debbie sang “Oh how I’ve been blessed; God is so good to me; oh how I’ve been blessed”.

Let us pray:

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the opportunities you place in our lives to grow and be inspired by the other people that we encounter. Thank you for blessing us with everything and every opportunity we have and for being with us throughout the hard times as well as the good ones. “Oh how I’ve been blessed. God is so good to me, oh how I’ve been blessed”.

Amen

Mary, seat of wisdom, pray for us.

Encourage the Storm!

Morning Prayer: Encourage the Storm
August 2013
Patrick ’14

This summer I spent a week at a camp at the University of Notre Dame called ND Vision.  The week was focused on answering God’s call in our lives.  One of the first nights of camp, there was a speaker who was talking about truly opening your heart to God.  As he spoke, he used a phrase that has stuck with me long after I left.  He compared God’s love to a hurricane and said the key was to “encourage the storm”.  He went on to explain that this means allowing God to tear up everything that we think we can control in our lives.  Now being a Marist student, giving up control seems like the scariest of prospects.  It is so much more comfortable to keep God in those neat little boxes where I can reach him when I need to, but my life can go on without change.  What I have realized is that although living seems so much simpler, it is really a barrier standing between us and God.  God’s love is not organization; it is beautiful chaos.  “Embracing the storm” is about letting go and allowing God to rip away everything separating us no matter how scary it may seem.  It means ignoring the screaming voices worrying inside your head and allowing that whisper in your heart to be the guide.

Let us pray-

Dear Lord,

Help us to embrace the storm in our lives today.  Help us let go of our fears, desires, and burdens and be swept away by your love.  Grant us the trust to give up control and instead rely on faith.

Mary, seat of wisdom, Pray for us.