St. Francis and the Blessing of the Animals

Today is the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. In St. Francis’ “Canticle of the Sun,” he named all of creation as his siblings. We’re celebrating St. Francis today at The Upper Room with a Blessing of the Animals. We’ve invited our friends, families, and neighbors to bring their pet(s) or picture of their pet(s) for a blessing. Those of you close by, we hope you will join us any time between 4 and 6 p.m.

Jack has had a bath and a haircut and will be present at the event. If you would like a blessing (or a head hug) from Jack, he will gladly oblige.

Praise to you, Lord, with all your creatures; and above all to Brother Sun, who makes the day that lightens us. He is fair and shines with a great splendor. Most High, he bears your mark.

Praise to you, Lord, for Sister Moon and for the Stars. In the heavens you have framed them, clear and precious and fair.

Praise to you, Lord, for Brother Wind, for the air and the cloud, for calm and all weather by which you give sustenance to your creatures.

Praise to you, Lord, for Sister Water. Very useful is she and humble and precious and chaste.

Praise to you, Lord, for Brother Fire by whom the night is lightened. He is lovely and limber and lusty and strong.

Praise to you, Lord, for our sister, Mother Earth, who upholds and cares for us, who brings forth the many kinds of fruit, the painted flowers, and the grass. …

Praise and bless the Lord, and give God thanks, and serve God with great humility.

Francis of Assisi
“Song of the Creatures”
Writings of Francis and Clare

Easter

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Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
– John 20:18 (NRSV)


Scripture Readings for Easter Sunday (April 15)

Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson. Dogwood bloom outside The Upper Room.

Holy Saturday

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They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. … And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
– John 19:40, 42 (NRSV)


Scripture Readings for Holy Saturday (April 14)

Photo Credit: Photo © Beth A. Richardson. The Pietà by Michelangelo housed in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.

Premier of “Requiem of Remembrance”

Some of you remember the prayer I wrote called “Some Days Are Very Hard.” I wrote it after a Facebook friend posted a response to one of Jack’s funny posts. She said that she appreciated Jack’s humor because “some days are very hard.” That phrase worked on me until it became the prayer that I wrote and which was included in my book.

I shared that prayer with a choir from Los Altos United Methodist Church in Los Altos, California. At the end of the retreat, T. Paul Rosas, the senior organist for the church, asked if he could use the words in a requiem that he was writing to commemorate the lives of family and friends.

He has completed the first segment of the requiem and it will premier tonight at the church’s Maundy Thursday service at 7:30 PDT.

[Update: 9:20 a.m.] [Update #2 — corrected times: 1:45 p.m.] The service will be live streamed from the church’s website. Tune in at 10:30 pm ET, 9:30 CT, and 8:30 MT 7:30 pm Pacific time. But even if you cannot watch, think and pray about the events of this day and of the premier of this beautiful musical piece “”#4 Dies Irae (Some Days Are Very Hard) by T. Paul Rosas. Thank you, Paul and Los Altos United Methodist Church. I’m deeply honored.

Here’s a video of the prayer that I recorded at Iona last year.

Good Friday

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Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
– Isaiah 53:4-5 (NRSV)


Scripture Readings for Good Friday (April 13)

Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson. On the wall near the cemetery in Vernazza, Italy.

Maundy Thursday

soulfeastcommunion600Eat and drink … and remember.

When Jesus had given thanks, he broke [the bread] and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
– 1 Corinthians 11:24-26 (NRSV)


Scripture Readings for Maundy Thursday (April 13)

Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson.

Wednesday of Holy Week

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
– Hebrews 12:1-3 (NRSV)


Scriptures for Wednesday of Holy Week (April 12)

Photo Credit: © Beth A. Richardson.