This is my body, this is my blood...

"On the night he was betrayed, he took bread and gave you thanks and praise. He broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:
Take this all of you, and eat it:
This is my body which will be given up for you.

When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it:
This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me."

For me, those are the sweetest words at the vigil Mass today, and at every Mass. But not as sweet as having the Body of Christ dissolving in the Blood of Christ in my mouth as I knelt and closed my eyes. Then, I let the wine slowly trickle down my throat. I feel it slowly going through my veins in my upper body and aided by gravity down to my legs and feet. Christ is in me! I surrender my body. I gently open my eyes, seeing all the people around me... it's Christ all around me. O how sweet it is!

Let us pray with our body, heart. and soul:

Standing, lean forward and 
stretch your arms forward, and say: 
Christ before me.
Stand straight, bring hands toward the back: 
Christ behind me.
Flex your knees, and reach down toward earth
Christ under my feet.
Stand straight and raise your arms overhead: 
Christ above me.
Bring you arms down and 
gently swing left and right: 
Christ around me.
Come back to the center, 
and bring your hands flat onto your heart: 
Christ within me.

Then come to a comfortable sitting position, 
and with thankfulness, sit with the Divine Presence.
Close with Amen, Amen, Amen.


Loving, Loved, and Lovable

I just finished teaching a yoga class tonight to benefit Hopelink. I had three beautiful  ladies in class. There was Shelly, a long-time acquaintance, who needed an energetic practice. Her friend Lacey accompanied her. Her neck and shoulders were tight. Her chest filled with tension due to 'overwhelming' personal issues. Lacey needed grounding, to get herself together because she was feeling so out of sorts, so emotional right now. And there was Kate. Also needing a more relaxing practice, and a good lower body stretch due to a long run yesterday.

According to their needs, I asked them to focus on inhale for energy, and to focus on exhale for grounding and relaxation. Together, we flowed from one pose to another gently and slowly. I guided them and reminded them to slow down, to feel the movement, to stay in their body. We focused on poses that open the heart. These poses both brings energy to Shelly, and opens and softens Lacey's constricted chest cavity. As we did the poses, I said words like, 'Here I am' as we spread our arms.

For relaxation, we arranged bolsters and blankets for restorative poses. Basically, they lie down on a bolster along the spine. This opens the heart, and creates space for the lungs to expand. They had bolsters under their knees, and eyebags to relax the eyes. Then I put a blanket on them. I guided them to relax specific body parts while focusing on the exhale. For visualization, I 'took' them to the mountaintop, and helped them imagine the moon entering the heart and radiating its soft light throughout the body bringing relaxation and healing where needed. 

Then we formed a tight circle for sitting meditation, and imagined ribbons of light coming from our hearts connecting with all hearts on the planet. And we sent love, peace, and joy to all beings.

After the sound of the bowl, and 'Namaste' (the Divine in me bows to the Divine in you), we shared. Everyone's needs were met. They all had that after-yoga glow, that peaceful smile, that child-like softness on their faces. 

For an hour and a half, Shelly, Lacey, and Kate, were in their body, with their breath, observing and noticing their interior goings-on without judging, without blaming, without analysis. And for an hour and a half, they were who they were meant to be: loving, loved, and lovable.

This is what prayer can bring us. When the intention for all we do is to be with God, all that we do is prayer. Our intention shapes our course, our journey. No matter the duration or type of journey it is, be it buying a latte or becoming a saint, our intention, with God's grace, will determine the quality and the result of that journey.

At one time, I told the three beautiful souls in my class, Peace is possible, but it has to be chosen. Peace has to be the intention if it's peace we want.

May all our thoughts, speech, and actions,
Praise the Lord.


Rilly, Rilly Bad

Last weekend, I took my 1985 Honda to Goodyear for an oil change. It was to take an hour, so I walked to a nearby cafe, and read, and watched people. Then I get a call from Goodyear informing me the car is almost done, but the mechanic saw the terminals of my battery needed cleaning and application of an anti-corrosive spray. I gave my approval.

I walked back to the shop. The front desk person gave me the job order form to sign. This is when I saw the mechanic's note in his handwriting: "needs noko rilly rilly bad." Noko is for non-corrosive. 

What caught my eyes is the "rilly rilly bad" portion. I smiled. Not in a condescending way, but in amusement. Because communication, I found out, is more effective when it comes from the heart. And his "rilly rilly" came from the heart. He believed it. He put his reputation on the line. To start the embodiment of that belief, he wrote down what his heart is saying. I talked to him afterward, and he seemed proud of what he did.

If the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, the heart is its altar. From the heart, instructions are sent to every cell in my body to spread the Good News to the world. 

"If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." -Psalm 95

Let's listen, listen to 
the 'still small voice within'
With the ears of our hearts.



For dinner, Annie and I went to Bamboo House, a local Vietnamese restaurant. The owner's 4-year old daughter wearing her mom's high-heeled, pointy shoes, and holding a large orange, greeted us. I ask, whose shoes are those? She pointed toward mom at the counter and said, 'Mom.' Then I pointed at her orange, what's that? She answered, 'booberry.' I laughed hard. That was so good.

Now. What's booberries got to do with praying, which is what this blog is about. I asked myself about that too. And this might be a stretch. So here goes.

Most of us still have the same image of God we were given when we were as young as our cute greeter. Maybe a God who is an old white male, with a long white beard, and always looks angry. That's a major 'booberry.' We were also taught that to pray, we need to memorize the Lord's Prayer, and other common prayers, while kneeling, hands clasped with eyes closed, and heads bowed down. That's the 'booberry' I want to discuss here. (The image of God is another topic. Get the book 'The Good Goats' by Dennis Linn. It addresses this topic so clearly and in a fun way. It presents God as loving, kind, and merciful... always!)

Most of us never outgrew this way of rote prayer. After a while, we were just moving our lips with the words. The prayer no longer connected us to the object of our prayer. Then, we got bored with prayer and let go of praying altogether. So for some of us, our prayer life never reached college, and perhaps never even finished high school. 

It's time to revisit praying from a different angle. I didn't say 'new' but different than what we are used to. I would guess (I stand corrected... always!) that praying with the body, heart, and soul predates the formation of all organized religions. Praying this way is intuitive. It springs from the guts, from the heart, from the spirit within. Just go back to the last time you were scared, or surprised, when you let go of an automatic "OMYGOD!" The image that comes to me is of Thomas falling to his knees and bowing his head as he said "My Lord and my God" when he realized it was the Risen Lord talking to him. That's praying with the body, heart, and soul! The whole being is directed toward the Divine, fulfilling God's commandment to love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength.

Well. Guess what. The prayer sessions in this book helps you to pray holistically, with your whole being. As Father Thomas Ryan in his foreword said: This book contains the 4 basic ways of praying: oral, mental, affective, and contemplative. It will help you break away from childish modes of prayer. It could bring new energy, a new life to our relationship with the God that the psalmist of old has a close and personal relationship with.

And even if the 40 prayer sessions in the book don't bring you to sainthood right away, your circulation and breathing will be stimulated. In the process, awakening the whole being to the Divine Presence. Then maybe we'll see that what we're holding is not a booberry, but an orange.

Oremus. Let us pray.