Tag Archives: service

Karl Rahner, and the Daily Routine

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Karl Rahner

Karl Rahner, and the Daily Routine

Karl Rahner—a major Christian theologian of the 20th century, professor of Dogmatics and Theology at several prestigious universities, and one of the men who had a part in crafting the language of Vatican II. He was also a man of intense spirituality and service to his fellows.

“Look at this routine, O God of Mildness….Isn’t [my soul] just like a noisy bazaar, where I and the rest of mankind display our cheap trinkets to the restless, milling crowds?” [1] This is what Fr. Rahner wrote in Encounters with Silence. This is what he considered his life to be: a life of diligent service to God.

Rahner wished that he might experience God’s mercy. This was one of his most fervent wishes—between the times that the daily, everyday routine cluttered up his life, that is.

“How can I redeem this wretched humdrum? How can I turn myself toward the one thing necessary, toward You? How can I escape from the prison of this routine?” [2] And then, Fr. Rahner answers this very question: “Aren’t You my Creator? Haven’t You made me a human being? And what is man but a being that is not sufficient to itself, a being who sees his own insufficiency, so that he longs naturally and necessarily for Your Infinity?” [3]

Oh, how perceptive is Karl Rahner. How petty is humanity in its unrepentant, even unwashed state! Fr. Rahner echoes Psalm 8 in his musings, finally announcing that the long-lasting stars will remain, long after you and I and our friends are all gone. (For that matter, after our enemies are gone, too.)  Yes, even the disillusioned heart/person can take heart in God, for God is truly all that we really need.

Dear Lord, thank You for being with us, day or night. Thank You for coming to us unexpectedly, visiting us with your care, concern, and encouragement. For, it is as Fr. Rahner said: “only through You can I continue to be myself with You, when I go out of myself to be with the things of the world.” [4] Lord, in Your mercy, hear all 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), 217.

[2] Ibid, 219.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 221.

Hadewijch, Serving God through Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, April 6, 2017

serve, joy of

Hadewijch, Serving God through Prayer

There were several Hadewijches during the medieval period in northern Europe. The editors of this “Spiritual Classics” collection believe that this particular Hadewijch was the leader of her community in Antwerp. Not an avowed person, not a religious, she nevertheless was a completely devout person who never took any sort of vows. However, she did abide by the life of poverty and contemplation, and was one of the group of women called “Beguines.” She and her community lived by a definitive Rule, followed the Hours, and essentially were nuns in all but name.

Hadewijch was so service-oriented, she had an incredibly high standard of what she expected of herself. Moreover, she was a spiritual director for the young women under her care She certainly considered all to live up to the same stringent standards.

I was not expecting Hadewijch’s description of God as Love, or Beloved. “Rejoice continually in the hope of winning love; for if you desire perfect love for God, you must not desire in return any repose whatever except Love.” [1]

I hadn’t been expecting it, but it seemed only natural that Hadewijch gave the young women under her care particular advice and direction on how they ought to walk in the Christian life. Except—she called it “Love.” “You are still young, and you must grow a good deal, and it is much better for you, if you wish to walk the way of Love, that you seek difficulty and that you suffer for the honor of Love, rather than wish to feel love.” [2]

Hadewijch does go on, and describe some of what she means exactly.  I would like to revisit her discussions at some future time (when I have more time), when I have the opportunity to delve deep. Since I have the spiritual gifts of mercy and helps in abundance, I am very interested to hear what Hagenwijch has to say about these things. (Just because she was writing her thoughts down a bunch of centuries ago, doesn’t make her any more or less serious of a planner and teacher.

I’ll let Hadewijch have the last word: “Serve nobly, wish for nothing else, and fear nothing else: and let Love freely take care of itself.” [3]  (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), 200.

[2] Ibid, 201.

[3] Ibid.


Being Of Service—and in Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 19, 2016


don't wait for people to be kind - show them

Being Of Service—and in Prayer

I took the opportunity to be of service today. In several ways.

Yes, I was a chauffeur for an acquaintance of mine. Driving around to several different places. Yes, it was needed. And yes, appreciated, too.

Then, several more ways of service. Too complex to go into now, but, yes. I did go out of my way to do a number of things, today.

I look upon this as being of service, or being helpful, or doing what I can with what I have. I don’t begrudge it! Certainly not.

Yet, I know several others who would begrudge it. The couple people I have in mind would never even think of doing such a thing. (Or, do them with a total quid pro quo attitude. You know, “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” sort of thing.)

How sad. They never can know the joy of helping someone simply for joy’s sake. Or, for grace’s sake. Or, for mercy’s sake. Not expecting to be paid back in some way, or for some sort of mental bidding or reciprocity contest.

Oh, and those several situations I dealt with, today? I prayed for them. The people involved, and God taking care of these situations. God be with them. All of them. (And, God be with those sad people who are not in a mental space to take the opportunity to help others.)


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

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

A Day of Fundraisers—for Goodness’ Sake

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, June 25, 2016

happiness is helping others

A Day of Fundraisers—for Goodness’ Sake

Ever have a day where you are running from place to place? When you have been invited to several events, back to back? That was me, today. Two fundraisers, this afternoon And a third event—a church dinner—this evening.

First, the Waraich family bowling fundraiser, raising money for the Syrian Community Network. I think this was a marvelous idea—bowling, plus a hands-on opportunity for action. And, my friend Dilnaz and her husband turned everything over to their teenaged sons, Mohsin and Sawleh, for them to run with the idea. Such a great idea for a fundraiser, and such a worthy cause. (This is the seventh year, and the seventh different cause or not-for-profit program.) Kudos for Mohsin and Sawleh! A great opportunity for service.

The second fundraiser was for FOCUSED Ministries, a not-for-profit organization specializing in assisting young women at risk who are between 13 and 18. We heard from the girls who are involved in the ministry so far. This was the first fundraiser for this young ministry, involving a Christian comic, Stephon, and a Christian recording artist and motivational speaker, Jahshana Brooks. This fundraiser was the more traditional kind. Plus, FOCUSED Ministries is looking for mentors and has other volunteer opportunities to work with the girls. Because—as the fundraiser was called today—it’s “For Our Girls.”

Both fundraisers were for worthy causes. I was privileged to be asked to attend both. Different? Yes. Needed? Yes. So much to be concerned about. So much to pray for.

If we all lend a hand, even a little bit, we will be amazed to see what we all can do. God willing, we can accomplish more than we even thought possible.

(The link to the Waraich family bowling fundraiser’s GoFundMe page can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/SCNfundraiserMW – the link for FOCUSED Ministries, Inc. is http://www.focused-ministries.org/ )


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

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza  And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

To Share, or Not To Share?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, November 25, 2015

one day at a time, but several days attack

To Share, or Not To Share?

When people are in the midst of their addiction or compulsion, so often they are self-focused and self-centered.

Sure, the self-centered attitude of addiction is narrow and focused. Or rather, not focused outward at all—only inward, and only wanting more, more, more, more. This attitude can be unhappy, pain-filled and even desperate.. The end result? Loneliness that sometimes seems as if it will never, ever end. Desperate, indeed.

I love this reading from today, from Keep It Simple. The reading suggests one way to combat unhappy, pain-filled loneliness. The answer? Sharing with others. Being intentionally other-focused. Serving and giving.

“Remember the first time you walked into a meeting? You were met by people who shared. Maybe they shared a smile, their story, or just a cup of coffee with you. The sharing that goes on in a Twelve Step program is great. We learn that the more we give, the more we get.” [1]

Yes, sharing can be a life-saver. (Literally.) Sharing, giving, serving. Intentionally directing our focus and energy and direction outward.

Thank You Thanks so much, memories of all.


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

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

(also published at http://www.matterofprayer.net

[1] Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve-Step Beginnings and Renewal. (Hazelden Meditation Series) (San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1989), November 25 reading.

Soul-Keeping? Let Conscience Guide!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SOUL gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul Prov 16-23

Soul-Keeping? Let Conscience Guide!

How to keep my soul? Why not how to nourish my soul? Stephen Covey thinks our consciences can guide us into fuller, deeper nurture of our souls. He makes a strong case for service.

In today’s chapter of the Handbook for the Soul, Covey describes several dimensions of a person’s life. Physical, mental, spiritual. He speaks more to each dimension. But foundational to this discussion is the duty/joy/privilege of service.

Our service is, indeed, how we can open our souls, as Covey says. “When other people suffer from soul sickness, we can seek to build relationships by understanding their world and their feelings, so that they feel deeply understood.” [1]

But that’s just one aspect of service. Covey does touch on several aspects. He mentions altruism. Yes, that is a fine reason to do mercy and love justice. But that is not all. (At least, that isn’t what Covey mentions as the end-all-and-be-all.

No, Covey and his family are focused on God—among other things. This spiritual element is so important to many people. Yes, we could consider the generosity of Mother Teresa, or the humility of Nelson Mandela. (Two real-life examples from Covey’s chapter.)

Yet, we also see the example of little things. Weak people striving to do the best they can. Like me. God willing, we all can strive to be better than we presently are.doing. Please, God, help us do an excellent job as we all strive to do service. (As Jesus said, too, in Matthew 25:34-40.)


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

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 149.

First Sunday in Lent – Reflection on Fr. Nouwen and Prayer

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 21, 2015


First Sunday in Lent – Reflection on Fr. Nouwen and Prayer

As my title says, today is the first Sunday in Lent. As such, I had a day of rest from the 40acts of generosity. (However, I did preach on generosity! See my tweet: Generous With Our Purpose – sermon for 1st Sunday of Lent http://wp.me/p5Nfg4-7  #40acts @StLukesChurch2 )

Instead of meditating and praying on the daily generosity challenge from 40acts, I had the opportunity to pray with one of my several helpful prayer guides. The one I am going to be using during the Sundays in Lent is A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants. (an Upper Room publication)

Accordingly, I read through the prayer, psalm and several scripture readings for the day. Plus, I read the first Reading for Reflection. Wouldn’t you know that it was by Fr. Henri Nouwen. On prayer. Well, much more than prayer, but focusing on prayer as a centerpiece of our service to God.

Fr. Nouwen’s words are always thought-provoking. I can never read anything by him and come away unmoved. I always have some thing or some thought from his writing that just will not go away. Just so with this brief, two paragraph reading, too. (from The Living Reminder) The crux of what he said: “We have fallen into the temptation of separating ministry from spirituality, service from prayer.”

How often do I find that to be the case, in many people’s minds? Service for God is not meant to be totally separated from prayer, and vice versa. Service . . . ministry . . . prayer . . . spirituality. All interconnected, and all part of each other. God probably planned them to be seamless parts of a whole. Sadly, I do not (cannot?) make all these pieces of my spiritual life fit together so well as Fr. Nouwen suggests.

I am afraid I will never be an “isolated hermit,” but that is all for the good. I would be hard-pressed to be such, as a contemplative. I don’t think God intended that life for me. However, I can rest in God, have devotions with God, even go on the occasional retreat with God.

Yes, I don’t think I belong up on that mountaintop with God, all the time. I need to be down in the trenches, walking with the members in my congregation, praying with the bible studies and in worship services. And meditating. And in contemplation. That reminds me of one of my favorite phrases: both/and! Both service/and prayer. Both ministry/and meditation. What a wonderful reminder to me that I am absolutely doing something right—engaging in multi-faceted ministry for God.

Thanks for the affirmation, Fr. Nouwen!

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

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

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza

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:

Prayer? Service? How About Both, Combined!

matterofprayer blog post for Friday, February 28, 2014

BK have to show love

Prayer? Service? How About Both, Combined!

Did you know that I have another blog? It’s called A Year of Being Kind (also found on wordpress.com). I have been industrious, as far as the other blog is concerned. I’ve been writing posts on it every day since the beginning of January. I mentioned the other blog at the end of December in this space, when I planned to kick off the blog on New Year’s Day 2014. Two months have gone by already. Really, where does the time go?

Does anyone relate to having struggles with prayer? I have been rigorously honest about mine, speaking regularly about struggles in my practice of prayer. Up and down, sometimes more regular, sometimes less. I’ve tried praying with a number of different prayer books, and several different kinds of spiritual discipline practices. But somehow, I just wanted something else, something besides the usual schema of prayer books. To recap what I said at the end of December, I determined to begin a daily practice of acts of intentional service, kindness and love—as in, each and every day. Thus, A Year of Being Kind: 365 Days of Service.

This is a departure from my usual acts of prayer. Almost like I’m stretching a little-used muscle, repeatedly. It’s not that I don’t do acts of service, because I do! Yes, I have the spiritual gifts of helps, encouragement and mercy, in abundance. But this intentionality is what is new. Different.

I am now two months into this Year of Being Kind. Not surprisingly, I am finding a rhythm in my days. I don’t necessarily go searching for an intentional act of service to do each day. Instead, I find God bringing them to me. Sure, I’ve been open to them, asking, praying for God to show me fresh opportunities to be kind—each and every day. (or night, as the case may be) They have been showing up on my doorstep, by my gym locker, on my phone line, at the grocery store.

Does anyone reading this blog need some spiritual “oomph” in their lives? A helpful boost? Perhaps my Lenten Calendar of Service might help. It’s called 40 Days & Ways to Be Kind. You can sign up for it here, at your right. Or, check out Facebook. I have two pages called Matter of Prayer and A Year of Being Kind. You can sign up for the Lenten Calendar of Service there, too. I would love to hear from you!

If you choose to accept this challenge of service, I would like to hear from you! You can expect something blessed and amazing to happen during this Lenten season. As you go through this calendar of service, God can and WILL show up. Bet on it. I’d like to know about it, and I will certainly share those God-incidences on my blog. And if—as I hope—I have too many to write about on my blog, I’ll post them to my Facebook page, too. Remember, God may be calling you to 40 Days & Ways of Service.

Let’s pray. God, thank You for this idea of A Year of Being Kind, for these 365 days of intentional service for You. I pray for all those who are considering 40 Days & Ways to Be Kind. I realize You call individuals to separate practices. If they—we choose to celebrate and practice other disciplines, bless us all. Prosper our times of prayer and meditation. Whatever our prayer and spiritual practices, as we prepare for Easter, may Your richest blessings be ours. For us and our loved ones. Amen.


I Got Rhythm—in Prayer?

matterofprayer blog post for Sunday, February 23, 2014

pray more worry less

I Got Rhythm—in Prayer?

I keep banging up against that scary word “discipline.” It’s related to the daunting and also-scary word “self-control.” Yeah. Those are two things I do not have in abundance.

I’ve talked about my struggles with prayer here before. How I can’t seem to get truly consistent in prayer (that is, daily, as in every day). However, I am pleased to say that I followed the Advent prayer calendar in December with only two or three days missed. Still, I haven’t successfully done the daily prayer-thing, ever.

Boy, I felt guilt. (Again, I might add. Not as much as years ago, when I was involved with a bunch of legalistic Christians, but still.) Even though I knew that God wasn’t mad at me, I couldn’t help but suspect God was the tiniest bit disappointed. Maybe more than the tiniest bit, sometimes.

And then—I came across a page in a book on prayer that I’m regularly using for my prayer and meditation time. Last week was when it happened. The book is by the Rev. Martin Smith, a skilled spiritual director and now a retired Episcopal priest. (His book The Word Is Very Near You is subtitled A Guide to Praying with Scripture.) On page 70, Fr. Martin mentions the word “rhythm” in association with the prayer and meditative life.

The sentences I was particularly struck with run as follows: “For some people the word ‘discipline’ has overtones of unyielding regulation and stern subjection of spontaneity, but rhythm belongs in all organic life. . . . Unless we take responsibility for the patterning of our lives others will dictate to us how to live.” I appreciate the idea of there being a rhythm to prayer and meditation. This rhythm reminded me somewhat of Ecclesiastes 3, and the rhythm inherent to life. Rhythm is similar to time, and time is a focus of Ecclesiastes chapter 3.

Rhythm is also an integral part of music. Since I am musical and can read music notation quite well, I relate to such an analogy. If I consider my life punctuated with prayer, in a sort of a rhythm, that makes good sense to me. I understand that, and I don’t end up feeling guilty! (Well, at least not as guilty.) And just as rhythm is a foundational part of the patterning of music, so rhythm can aid in the patterning of my life with prayer and meditation.

Now, some may think this is an easy way out of daily prayer and meditation. For some, yes. But I felt loaded down with guilt and depression. True, the guilt was only here occasionally. But sometimes, it got really bad! Here, Fr. Martin told me about rhythm! Rhythm, that regular yet pulsing, periodic downbeat of music. This was something I could understand! What an assist for my prayer time! Thanks to everyone who took the time for me, so I could find the time to pray.

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for granting us all access to You. Thank You for the invitation to come and see you each day. Each of us has pains, hurts, and worse. But You are faithful. You are merciful. Please help me to continue with the rhythm of prayer. In Your name, Amen.