Offering God The “pure, tainted, & questionable”

(This is another reflection from my week at The Academy For Spiritual Formation, and is drawn from our afternoon sessions on Liturgy and Spirituality.)

Unto you, O God, we offer up
the works of our hands, the ideas of our minds,
the feelings of our bodies, the dreams and visions of our hearts.
We offer them pure, tainted, questionable.

The above is part of a Vespers (“evening”) prayer used at Assumption Abbey, a Trappist Monastery in North Dakota. It was written or edited by Fr. Paul Jones and shared with our afternoon sessions leader Dr. Marcia McFee. (I share the whole prayer below.)

Vespers is the evening service of prayer in the daily office, an offering of thanksgiving that complements Lauds (“praise”) mass that occurs in the morning (not to be confused with the morning prayer that happens in the middle of the night!). Lauds celebrates beginnings, opportunity; Vespers gives thanks for what has been.

I was, naturally if you’ve read some of these posts, struck by the offering of all, including “the dreams and vision of our hearts,” with the descriptions of “pure, tainted, questionable.” All is offered up to God – though there is a request to God to transform them that follows – not just the good bits. Not just the times in the day I did well, or had happy and pure thoughts.

I like this idea; the offering up of all to the Lord. The invitation for God to take what I have done, what I have thought, what I have felt, and to transform them. And, hopefully, as a result to transform me, as well.

The complete prayer, attributed to Fr. Paul Jones, from “A Liberationist Daily Office”

O God, come to our assistance.
O Liberator, make haste to help me.

O God help us to believe the impossible,
for with you all things are possible.
May we Christians come to embrace all as sisters and brothers…
especially those of our “inquisitions.”
May we live for the Holy City,
where on the 12 gates of Hiroshima is the prayer “Never Again”
and the ghettos shine like precious stones,
and the reservations bloom as after a spring rain
and the victims of battering begin and end their days without fear.
Lord we believe, help thou our unbelief.

Unto you, O God, we offer up
the works of our hands, the ideas of our minds,
the feelings of our bodies, the dreams and vision of our hearts.
We offer them pure, tainted, questionable.
As the Refining Fire, make beauty of them.
As the Incarnate One, accept them unto yourself.
And as the Driving Spirit, carry on, that in trusting you,
we may at this close of the day know the refreshment
of having been co-creators with you in your vision.

May the souls of the faithful and unfaithful departed
through the mercy of God rest in peace.
Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Christ,
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they find themselves at home at last with you. Amen.


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