By Barb Arland-Fye
My husband Steve and I were concluding Morning Prayer and it was my turn to choose between the prayer and the alternate prayer for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. I chose the alternate prayer, which spoke to my innermost being.
Each line seemed to be a reminder from God of how I am to conduct my life and, truly, how each of us should conduct our life to transform our world and ourselves. These lines especially require contemplation:
“May the changing mood of the human heart and the limits which our failings impose on hope never blind us to you, source of every good.”
“Faith gives us the promise of peace and makes known the demands of love.”
“Remove the selfishness that blurs the vision of faith.”
How often has the changing mood of my human heart blinded me to God, the source of every good? How often have my failings imposed limits on hope and blinded me to God’s presence in my life? As a person who is sensitive, I sometimes allow the small hurts and slights by others to build up resentment rather than mercy.
At the same time, I tend to overlook the slights and hurts that my actions or inactions cause others to experience. God is present, certainly, but I am ignoring God through the “selfishness that blurs the vision of faith.”
Prayer holds me accountable and allows me to see faith with 20/20 vision. Many times when Steve and I pray the Liturgy of the Hours one of the psalms, canticles, Scripture readings or intercessions resonates with me in a new way, as if I am praying that prayer for the first time.
Sometimes the prayers provide encouragement, other times they serve as reminders of how to live my faith and to hold myself accountable for my actions that fall short of the call of the Gospel.
Psalm 84 (Longing for God’s Temple), which Steve and I prayed Monday morning, provides me with a sense of comfort and of hope in the midst of a world seemingly consumed with anger and revenge. “The sparrow herself finds a home and the swallow a nest for her brood … they are happy who dwell in your house, for ever singing your praise. They are happy, whose strength is in you, in whose hearts are the roads to Zion. As they go through the Bitter Valley they make it a place of springs, the autumn rain covers it with blessings.”
Reciprocating this gift of God’s love translates into becoming the hands, feet and heart of Christ in the world in which I live. So, I need to help the sparrow find a home and the swallow a nest for her brood — in whatever way those images manifest themselves in southeast Iowa in 2023. Advocating for more housing for people struggling to find or keep a roof over their head, volunteering at or helping to stock a food pantry, spending time with someone who is lonely … are some of the ways that I can bring comfort and hope to others.
For me, praying the Liturgy of the Hours — in addition to participating in Mass and being of service to others — is akin to going to the well to replenish hope for myself and for the world.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)