Tag Archives: serve

Dorothy Day: One who Served Well

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, April 9, 2017

SERVE do something for those who can't repay

Dorothy Day: One who Served Well

A good many people know of Dorothy Day, of her love for the poor and her lifelong work in social settings that were gritty, ugly, even heartbreaking. She began as a journalist, converted to Catholicism, and started publishing a small newspaper called “The Catholic Worker” which shook large parts of the American society. (Especially the managers and owners of different companies and corporate leaders.)

However, some people do not know about how increasingly important Christianity had become to Ms. Day. “Her Christianity was deeply formed by prayer and study of the Gospels.” [1] Plus, she always strives to live exactly the way that our Lord Jesus lived, showing compassion, care and mercy to all she could, in such desperate and hopeless situations.  It takes someone with a strong stomach and constitution to read the words Ms. Day writes in her memoir.

“Yes, we have lived with the poor, with the workers, and we know them not just from the streets, or in mass meetings, but from years of living in the slums, in tenements, in our hospices…We have lived with the unemployed, the sick, the unemployables. The contrast between the worker who is organized and has his union, the fellowship of his own trade to give him strength, and those who have no organization and come in to us on a breadline is pitiable.” [2]

Ms. Day could not turn away from these horrible situations, duplicated time and time and time again. Instead, she suggests that people of all levels of society show strength and fortitude, through the most desperate places, happenings, and lack of resources. Why not give downtrodden, down-and-out Americans, a real opportunity? And, enough food, shelter and dignity to hold mind and body together?

Dear Lord, help me to sit with this example of Dorothy Day for a while, and then to act. To do, to listen, to walk with, to accomplish needed and valued gifts and activities. And at last, my Judge will be the King from Matthew 25. I know what my marching orders are. Lord, give me the strength, the willingness, and the love and mercy necessary. Amen.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 211.

[2] Ibid, 212.

Meister Eckhart: Be of Service

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, April 7, 2017

serve one another, Mark 10


Meister Eckhart: Be of Service

We come to another medieval spiritual writer, Meister Eckhart. Yes, and much more than that. He entered the Dominican order, studied in Paris and Cologne, became Dominican prior at Erfurt, and soon started serving as Professor of Theology at Strasbourg. All the while, he also preached and served as spiritual director. Although he was brought up on charges by inquisitors in Cologne, some time later these charges were found to be largely fabricated and politically motivated—but, too late. Meister Eckhart had died while traveling to clear his name. [1]

This excerpt from one of Eckhart’s sermons features Martha and Mary. He lifts up Martha as mature and a person of depth. Interesting that she was more of the servant of the two sisters. “Now Martha says, ‘Lord, tell her to help me.’ Martha did not say this out of anger. She spoke rather out of a loving kindness because she was hard pressed. We must indeed call it a loving kindness or a lovable form of teasing.” [2]

Now, let’s look at Mary, sitting at our Lord’s feet. Eckhart’s words: “she yearned without knowing what it was she yearned after, and she desired without knowing what she desired!” [3] Ah, to be Mary, and to think “that she can already do what she wishes so long as she is only seated beneath your consolation.” [4]

Indeed, as our Lord Jesus says to Martha, only one thing is necessary: “I and you, embraced one by the eternal light—that is one thing.” [5] Yes, Jesus calls us to serve. And, yes, Jesus calls us to study, sit, and drink in the presence of the Lord. Both/and, not either/ or. As I reflect upon this interpretation of Martha and Mary, I tend to agree with Richard Foster. Yes, I appreciate Eckhart’s central point. Yes, “spirituality and service are inseparable twins.” [6]

Dear Lord, as I read this narrative again, I am also reminded of my tendency to swing to extremes on the pendulum. Help me—help all of us—to find a healthy balance. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Spiritual Classics, edited by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin. (San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000), 205.

[2] Ibid, 206.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 207.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid. 209.

In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

baked-goods-photoMatterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 14, 2016


In Which We Serve at a Soup Kitchen

I found myself in the basement of a church this afternoon with a dozen other people, getting ready to serve at a soup kitchen. Marvelous operation. Worked like clockwork.

The tables, chairs, tablecloths and vases with flowers were already on the tables when we got there. We volunteers got out some serving utensils and set up serving stations for soup, bread, and beverages. We unloaded the back of a car piled high with breads, cookies, and various other baked goods and set them out on several banquet-size tables. Cheryl, the manager of the soup kitchen, made sure that all the volunteers were assigned to cover all of the various stations.

And then, the guests started to come in. The food kept coming out of the kitchen. The guests went down the line, and out to the tables. I kept busy, getting the guests drinks. Asking if they needed anything. Going back and forth, trying to be as friendly and helpful as I could.

We all did have an opportunity to sit for a bit and have a bite of dinner. (Which was superb!) I sat at a table with several guests, and enjoyed having some conversation with them.

I noticed some people did not meet my eyes, but instead kept their eyes lowered. I noticed some guests moved slowly, and a few even needed assistance walking. Or carrying their plates. Or both. I noticed after sitting at the tables for a time, and getting comfortable, some people really became engaged and animated.

How good to be of service, again. (I have not served at a soup kitchen for several years.) I so appreciate the First United Methodist Church of Des Plaines for hosting Bessie’s Table. Thanks to my fellow members of the Des Plaines Ministerial Alliance, who volunteered tonight. Thanks to all of the regular workers for giving of their time and talent. And, thanks to Cheryl, the manager of Bessie’s Table.

Dear God, I pray for all those in that church basement tonight. Encourage hearts, not only of the guests who were at Bessie’s Table tonight, but also of the volunteers and workers. For some, it might have been the very first time they had the opportunity to work at such a place. Please, God, help it not be the last. I pray for the guests, their loved ones, and for each situation each one finds themselves in. God, come alongside and comfort. You are our Refuge and Strength, always present in time of trouble, and when we have need. Thanks, God.


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er


Given, Broken, for Others

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, April 17, 2014

God thanks for everything

Given, Broken, for Others

I read the Lenten meditation for Maundy Thursday this morning with great interest. I had never thought of bread and the Body of Christ in this specific way before!

The meditation booklet I am following is a selected group of snippets from Fr. Henri Nouwen’s books and other works. Today, being Maundy Thursday, Fr. Henri riffed on the bread that was broken. The Bread of Life is equated with the bread that Jesus multiplied by the Sea of Galilee. Further, Fr. Henri compared this bread to the bread used by Jesus on that Maundy Thursday night. The Bread that is the Body of Christ, broken for us.

Finally, Fr. Henri asked the penetrating question: how are we—the Body of Christ—broken today? So that Jesus can distribute us, give us to others—how can we then serve? What kinds of opportunities open up for us?

I know I look for opportunities for service each day. I pray for intentional acts of being kind, each day. But I still am amazed by God sending me such specific answers to prayer! I know I can find ways, sure. However—here was a special answer staring me in the face, in black and white.

Sure, I was kind to a whole bunch of people today, including one very good friend. I used my well-honed skill of listening. I heard my friend tell me about concerns and difficulties. I couldn’t offer any answers, but I feel my friend was relieved to get whatever it was out. Not eating away at the insides, but out in the light of day.

Let’s pray. God, thanks for allowing me to serve You in such a way. Forgive me—forgive us for our selfishness and self-centeredness. It’s so great to know that I am doing things and praying prayers that are pleasing to You. Thanks, God!


(also published at www.matterofprayer.net Shortlink:

Internal Life? Or External Walk?

matterofprayer blog post for Monday, December 30, 2013

winter road

For the past few years, I’ve been concerning myself with—myself. I have been striving to maintain some kind of spiritual balance, working on my internal, spiritual component. I pray regularly (or at least, try to). I visit my therapist and spiritual director regularly, work out on a weekly basis at the local YMCA gym, and I even practiced relaxation and meditation in an intensive way for several months. In all of this, I have been working on the inner “me.”

I have also been intentional with my prayer life. Not only have I been praying on an increasingly regular basis, but I’ve also started a prayer chain and prayer blog, so we all can be encouraged in our personal prayer lives. This helps my inner relationship with God prosper, too.

But, what about my relationship with others? How about my family? Friends? What about those at church, or at the gym? What about my co-workers, or strangers I meet on the street? Have I been as studious and diligent at developing my relationship with them?

Yes, I am called by God to be in relationship with God—the vertical relationship.  But I am also called to be in community, as well—the horizontal relationship, one with another. One of my spiritual gifts is helping people. And by nature, I am kind and compassionate in my relations with others. It’s my relationship with others and with my local community (as well as their relationship with me) that I want to work on in 2014.

That’s why 2014 is my year to be kind. To help. To be of service. Intentionally.

(I will explore my thoughts and experiences of my year of service throughout 2014. I’ll do this at a new blog— www.ayearofbeingkind.net, starting on January 1, 2014. I’m excited! Visit me there, too.)

Let’s pray. Dear God, as the old year ends and the new year begins, I see new hopes ahead. New opportunities. New experiences. God, be with me as I begin a year of intentional service. I pray that this service be God-honoring. I ask You to lead me into places and experiences that You intend. Even challenging and difficult things. Protect me, guard me, guide me. I know You will be there, holding my hand. Thank You for my friends and prayer partners, who will be right by my side (in prayer!). God, in Your mercy, hear our prayers.