Prayers Before the Blessed Sacrament

It is always the right time to stop in amazement before the love that stayed beyond rejection and death. Jesus, who had found his birthplace on the earth, bound himself to us in a relationship that was invincible. Leaving us was unthinkable at this level of love. He would remain forever on the table of the world.

In his encyclical of 22 February 2007, Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI calls us to find relief for our hunger in ‘the food of truth’. The Pope, in continuity with his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est and revisiting the thoughts of his predecessor John Paul II’s Ecclesia de Eucharistia, invites us into the sacrificial meal, from where we draw our very life. Pope Benedict asks all people to draw near to God’s love because it holds the deepest desire of the human heart.

In this book, the author ponders some of the images and metaphors from Sacramentum Caritatis in particular, and offers her reflections and prayers as a resource for personal and communal meditation and contemplation.

Part One: Prayers At Table leads us on a journey through the Mass. The prayers focus on the various liturgical moments of the sacred rite and help to heighten our awareness of the communion of all creation in the Sacred Mystery. These `Prayers At Table’ offer a valuable resource for catechesis on the Mass, prayers of intercession, times of – prayer with Eucharistic theme, and private prayer.

Part Two: Stories At Table helps us to explore some key texts from Scripture which direct us to the table of communion. These reflections, inspired by Pope Benedict XVI, together with ‘Homily Thoughts’, provide significant material for assistance in a variety of situations, including praying with Scripture, Eucharistic prayer, times of reflection in Mass, prayer groups and Eucharistic adoration.

When faith stumbles we find our reason at the table where he handed over his life.

When hope wavers we find our anchor at the table where he is always present.

When love fails we find our restoration at the table where he offers us the Bread of Life.


 

WE GATHER

God is here, keeping pace with us, welcoming us. We gather in friendship.
Every knee shall bow,, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

God is here, in every heartbeat, in every anxiety, in every breath. We gather in faith.
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

God is here, in every man, woman and child, in every personality, in every struggle. We gather in reverence.
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

God is here, in every misunderstanding, in every stress, in every regret, in every broken effort. We gather in reconciliation.
Every knee shall bow,, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

God is here, in the Eucharist, in the Bread of Life, in the flesh of Jesus. God is truly here. We gather in thanksgiving.
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

God is here, in every prayer, in every sigh, in every song, in every silence. We gather in worship.
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

WE LISTEN

O God, I am listening. I desire a sacred dialogue with you that I may hear the call of deep relationship.
Let me hear your voice, O God.

O God, I am listening. I hear the story that connects human history, from Egypt to Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. May I be a bond of connection in this story.
Let me hear your voice, O God.

O God, I am listening. I acclaim the saving action of God through the Word, Jesus Christ. May I be a herald of this news across the fields of my journey.
Let me hear your voice, O God.

O God, I am listening. I feel my heart burning within me at the sound of your voice. May I come to recognise the distinguishable quality of your voice wherever and whenever it speaks to me.
Let me hear your voice, O God.

O God, I am listening. I am deeply affected by the words of mercy that come from rom your mouth. May my listening give me the ability to distinguish voices and to know the caller.
Let me hear your voice, O God.

O God, I am listening. I am open to the influence of the Word who has power to provide bread for the whole world. May I be transformed by this Word and become a giver of bread.
Let me hear your voice, O God.

O God, I am listening. I receive on my table the Bread of your Word. With Mary, I understand how this Word is the hope of our time, the river in the desert and I ask Mary to help me also to be a Christ-bearer.
Let me hear your voice, O God.

WE GIVE THANKS

At the dawning of each day we give you thanks O God, for the victory of light, for new beginnings.
I thank you forever, my Lord and my God.

At the morning hour we give you thanks, O God, for parents and grandparents, teachers and guardians who directed our first steps and our first words to your love and protection.
I thank you forever, my Lord and my God.

At the evening of our lives in the setting of the sun we give you thanks O God, for the miles we walked together.
I thank you forever, my Lord and my God.

At the moment of opportunity in the vision of the dream we give you thanks O God, for the colours, shapes, sounds and smells that awaken our senses to life.
I thank you forever, my Lord and my God.

At the ninth hour when fear and sickness bring down the night, we give you thanks O God, for carrying us through the darkness.
I thank you forever, my Lord and my God.

At the season of joy and celebration we give you thanks O God, for health and happiness and laughter and song.
I thank you forever, my Lord and my God.

At the times of achievement and victory we give you thanks O God, for good health, creative skill and perseverance.
I thank you forever, my Lord and my God.

At the hour of death and departure we give you thanks O God, for the journey accomplished, for the promise of going on.
I thank you forever, my Lord and my God.

At every step of life’s journey we give you thanks, O God, for family, friends, neighbours and workmates, who light our way with friendship and hope.
I thank you forever, my Lord and my God.

WE OFFER GIFTS
We offer the gift of our food, given to us for eating and for sharing. May it be a sign of our unity with all people who hunger for the Bread of Life.
Receive our gifts O God, for the glory of your name.

We offer the gift of our speech, given to us to tell of the wonders of God. May it become part of the great voice of the assembly, gathered at the table to worship and to serve.
Receive our gifts O God, for the glory of your name.

We offer the gift of our material goods, given to us for responsible stewardship, to serve the cause of human dignity and peace on earth. May these gifts of shared resources, be a sign of our communion in the Body of Christ, who gathers all people at the Table of the World.
Receive our gifts O God, for the glory of your name.

We offer the gift of our faith, given to us from the heart of God, that we might build our lives in Christ and come to know the height and depth of God’s love. May our faith be a signpost on the road.
Receive our gifts O God, for the glory of your name.

We offer the gift of our hope, given to us that we might survive the darkest hour and keep the lamp burning. May our hope keep us trusting in the wisdom of God for answers, and in the dream of God for fulfilment.
Receive our gifts O God, for the glory of your name.

We offer the gift of our love, given to us that we might be fully alive with the passion of Christ, for giving and forgiving, for breaking the bread and sharing the cup. May our love be part of the great and ultimate love of God, born in time, offered on the altar, available in the meal.
Receive our gifts O God, for the glory of your name.

WE SPEAK PEACE

Peace to all people of good will, who pour dew drops on frozen soil and cause the sun to come out.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall see God.

Peace to all people of good will, who go to meet the enemy and open the bridge of hope.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall see God.

Peace to all people of good will, who close the chapter on suspicion and separation and extend the hand of friendship.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall see God.

Peace to all people of good will, who acknowledge their own blindness and break ranks to stop the cycle of violence.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall see God.

Peace to all people of good will, who offer their lives in the service of others, as peaceshapers and peacemakers, as peaceseekers and peacekeepers.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall see God.

Peace to all people of good will, who think with understanding and send out a blessing.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall see God.

Peace to all people of good will, who share their material and spiritual resources on the altar of the world.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall see God.

Peace to all people of good will, who replace the harsh word with the kind word, who respond to criticism with understanding, whose spirits are enlarged by love.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall see God.

Peace to all people of good will, who make contact, and dig tunnels and keep the candle lighting and offer the cup of tea. Peace to them for where they reside, God lives.
Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall see God

WE BLESS

PRIEST: I bless you with the love of Christ. May his love carry you safely all your days.
ALL: Christ be within me, Christ be below me, Christ be above me, never to part.

PRIEST: I bless you with the peace of Christ. May his peace relieve the pain and anxiety that is in your hearts.
ALL: Christ be within me, Christ be below me, Christ be above me, never to part.
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PRIEST: I bless you with the presence of Christ. May his presence be beside you, within you, before you, always.
ALL: Christ be within me, Christ be below me, Christ be above me, never to part.

PRIEST: I bless you with the healing of Christ. May his healing fill you and restore you.
ALL: Christ be within me, Christ be below me, Christ be above me, never to part.

PRIEST: I bless you with the forgiveness of Christ. May his forgiveness magnify your vision and inspire your decisions.
ALL: Christ be within me, Christ be below me, Christ be above me, never to part.
PRIEST: I bless you with the faithfulness of Christ. May his faithfulness deepen your friendships and strengthen your relationships.
ALL: Christ be within me, Christ be below me, Christ be above me, never to part.

PRIEST: I bless you with the Body of Christ. May the Eucharist be the source and summit of your journey back to God.
ALL: Christ be within me, Christ be below me, Christ be above me, never to part.

WE GO FORTH

Christ of the journey lead us out of this place for we are nourished for the road ahead, confident and unafraid.
May we go forth with Christ.

Christ of the server, guide us as we seek out the forgotten people, for we are nourished for the mission field, our eyes opened with compassion.
May we go forth with Christ.

Christ of the traveller, stay with us as we leave Jerusalem, fitted with the memory, carrying the towel and basin, our feet ready for the extra mile.
May we go forth with Christ.

Christ of the healer, walk with us into the places of sorrow, for we are nourished for the night watch, our hands anointed with reconciliation.
May we go forth with Christ.

Christ of the speaker, give us the words of eternal life, for we are nourished for the proclamation, our voices alive with the Good News that Jesus Christ has saved us.
May we go forth with Christ.

Christ of the captive, direct our search for prison doors, for we are nourished with the freedom call, our hearts telling of the amnesty, that we may open the snares and let the people go free.
May we go forth with Christ.

WE ADORE

Blessed be God
Blessed be the holy name of God
Blessed be the sacred universe that God created
Blessed be the life systems that reflect the glory of God
Blessed be Jesus the divine son, true God and true man
Blessed be the name of Jesus
Blessed be the heart of Jesus, burning for us
Blessed be the face of God in Jesus
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, who pleads our cause
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, who guides us in holiness
Blessed be the Holy spirit, fire and energy of God
Blessed be Mary, Mother of God
Blessed be Mary, Queen of heaven and earth
Blessed be Joseph, spouse of Mary
blessed be Joseph, just and humble man
Blessed be all the angels and saints of God, on earth and in heaven
Blessed be all who speak of God’s love
Blessed be all who long to see God
Blessed the holy communion of people who praise.


LET US PRAY
Blessed be God.
Blessed be the holy name of God.
Blessed be the companionship of God on the road.
Blessed be the conversation of God in the silence.
Blessed be the wisdom of God in the confusion.
Blessed be the Word of God in the story.
Blessed be the cave of God in the struggle.
Blessed be the light of God in the darkness.
Blessed be the faithfulness of God in the ending.
Blessed be the continuity of God in the death.
Blessed be the village of God in the evening.
Blessed be the table of God in the gathering.
Blessed be the bread of God in the mealtime.
Blessed be the family of God in the communion.

Visit 1 – Jesus looked

God pervades our entire being, body and soul, and our entire being, body and soul, responds to God. Prayer is indeed the raising up of mind and heart to God, but we pray, too, with our bodies – with our feet when we walk to Mass or to Holy Communion or on pilgrimage; with our hands when we hold them out to receive the Body of Christ or to make the Sign of the Cross; with our ears when we listen attentively to the Word of God or to uplifting music or to the lovely sounds of God’s creation – winds blowing, rain falling, waves breaking, birds singing. We pray, too, with our eyes – when we gaze at the crucifix, or a holy picture, or at the symbols and actions of the Mass.

A man in his middle years only discovered real prayer (as he put it) when the priest in Confession gave him as penance to sit in the church for five minutes and simply look at the tabernacle. “After a first few bewildered and unnerving minutes, I let go of my uneasiness and inclination to flee, and found myself face to face…”

St John Vianney, the Curé d’Ars, noticed a man who spent lengthy periods in the parish church, totally still. The Curé ventured to ask him how he spent the time. The man replied simply: “I look at Him and He looks at me.”

Both of these examples recall the Bible’s description of prayer as ‘seeking the face of God.’ ‘It is your face, O Lord, that I seek,’ says Psalm 27. All methods and practices of prayer are intended to lead to this face-to-face awareness. When it happens, we gently lay aside whatever exercises we have been using: they have done their work.

The Gospels frequently tell of Jesus coming face to face with people and looking at them intently. We do well to notice these occasions and to dwell on the intensity and far-reaching consequences of his gaze.

He looked up at the terrified adulterous woman and asked, “Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she replied. “Well, neither do I,” he said. “Off you go now. And don’t sin anymore.”

He looked at Nathaniel under the fig tree and saw him to be a person without guile.

He looked at Peter on their first meeting and said, “You will be called Cephas… the Rock.”

During his trial he looked again at Peter who had just denied him three times. Peter’s heart broke, under this gaze of pure love, and ‘going out he wept bitterly.’

Prayer
Lord Jesus, here I am in your presence,
Looking at you, and looking for you,
longing for you to look at me
with your compassionate, understanding eyes.
Do not let me shy away from your gaze.
“I am not here to condemn you,” you say to me.
“I died for you. I have given you my body and blood.
Accept my gift and let me see your face, so dear to me.
Yes, I see into your deepest soul,
and know you through and through,
more forgivingly than you know yourself.
As I said to St Angela, ‘it was a joy to suffer for you.
And if I had to, I would do it again.”‘
Lord Jesus Christ,
have mercy on me, a sinner!


Visit 2 – Stillness

All the troubles in the world, said the French philosopher Pascal in the 17th century, come from the fact that we can’t sit still in a room, alone. Nothing in all creation, said Eckhart, the great Dominican theologian in the 14th century, is so like God as stillness.

Earlier yet, God himself said in Psalm 46, ‘Be still and you will know that I am God.’

When you become still, beginning with an alert but comfortable physical posture, things begin to happen.

At first there is usually a delicious letting-go – of tension, of uptightness, of having to hold yourself together.

Then, since we’re not used to relinquishing control, you may become restless, or agitated, or even a little bit afraid. Smile yourself through this stage. What is there to be afraid of?

Settled again, you’ll notice your senses begin to grow sensitive, especially your hearing. Sounds that are there all the time, but that you normally don’t notice, begin to become quite distinct – traffic, a distant voice, the little coughs and shuffles of people around you. A world of sounds, and there are you in the centre of it, breathing calmly, beginning to delight in it all.

Your mind may be still jumpy and scattered. Give it something to focus on, a phrase of prayer that repeats itself over and over within you: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Or, “Lord, here I am.” Or, “Come, Lord, come Lord Jesus.” (Or any prayer that is in tune with your soul and your need).

The stillness deepens and gradually suffuses your being, within and without.

Is this stillness like God, as Eckhart said? It’s all around you (like God), it’s within you (like God), it’s ungraspable (like God), it’s mysterious (like God), it’s healing (like God), it’s peace-giving (like God). We could go on.

And will God keep his promise, ‘Be still and you will know…’? God always does, in God’s good time.

Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, you say to me:
“See, I stand at the door and knock.”
So courteous are you, so respectful of my freedom,
so wishful to be in my company.
There are times when I cannot stand myself,
and yet you want to be with me.
How forgiving and how accepting is your love.
It was your custom, the Gospels tell us,
to go off to lonely places to pray,
to be in utter stillness with your Father.
Draw me into that stillness now.
Here in the Blessed Sacrament you are silent and welcoming,
radiating peace and love.
Let your peace wrap me round,
and fill every corner of my being,
stilling my racing thoughts and unquiet feelings.
Help me to become still and come to know – that you are here.
In the stillness may I come to delight in your presence.
You are my Lord and my God forever.


Visit 3 – Here I am – Hineni

Throughout the scriptures, whenever God calls someone for a particular task, God usually calls twice, indicating urgency: Abraham! Abraham! Moses! Moses! Samuel! Samuel! And the response of the chosen one is invariably, “Here I am” — Hineni in Hebrew.

Much is packed into that simple answer. It signifies total readiness and willingness to be at the Lord’s disposal, to do his will at any cost.

This word and attitude is most complete in the response of Mary at the Annunciation: “Look at me! Here I am, the handmaid of the Lord.” Scripture also puts the word on the lips of Jesus when it attributes to him the line from Psalm 40, ‘Here I am! I come to do your will.’

“My food,” Jesus says, “what nourishes my soul, is to do the will of the One who sent me.” Down the centuries, countless souls have discovered the same. In doing — or trying to do — the will of God, our humanity reaches its greatest heights.

We grow only gradually into the attitude and truth of “Here I am.” It is easy to say, but not easy to mean. We find this if we use it as a word of prayer: “Lord, here I am.”

When I begin to say it I am not here at all: I am all over the place, my thoughts and feelings everywhere except here. But I smile at myself and go on quietly repeating, “Lord, here I am,” allowing the phrase to gather me into itself and gradually make me present to the Lord.

The first “Here I am” is not very true, but as I repeat it, it becomes more and more true, and I find myself more and more here, more and more attentive to the Lord.

The Lord, on his part, is totally here for me. “Here I am,” he says to me. “This is my Body given for you. This is my Blood shed for you.”

Prayer
My Lord and my God, you know what I am made of.
You know the limitations of my mind and heart.
You know how hard it is for me to collect my scattered
thoughts and give you my full and steady attention.
My mind is like a balloon constantly floating up to the clouds
and having to be brought back again and again from its wanderings.
And yet, with all my scatteredness – Here I am!
My wish is to be more and more here as the time of my visit unfolds.
Let the realisation of your presence dawn on me ever more vividly.
Let the mystery of your everlasting love embrace me.
Let the tenderness of your mercy reassure me.
Let the smile of your delight in me brighten the darkness of my soul.
I will say over and over the word you have given me to answer your call:
Lord, here I am! Lord, here I am!
Forgive whatever is sinful in me.
Heal whatever is unhealthy in me.
Calm whatever is agitated in me.
Soften whatever is hard in me
And fill me with your peace.
Lord, here I am.