Candlelight & Blessings: Symbols and Rituals for Death and Grieving

Death is inevitable, mysterious, and often confusing.

At the deathbed, patients and those gathered seek meaning, and many long for a sense of the Spiritual. Yet chaplains and spiritual caregivers have minimal information by which to determine how to provide support, limited time to develop rapport, and varying expectations from those they serve.

Regardless of the religious background of the patient and the loved ones gathered at the deathbed, there are elements of symbol and ritual that take on a pronounced role and a greater importance as one is facing the end of life.

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The Determination Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr’s brother, H. Richard, argued for faithfulness to the example of Jesus’s nonviolence, while Reinhold believed this was naive and unrealistic in an imperfect world. H. Richard was the purist to the Christian faith, believing that following the Golden Rule, no matter the consequences, is what Jesus and God called us to do — the success of the mission being in God’s hands rather than our own. Reinhold, however, looked at the more practical side of things, substituting his or the world’s idea of what was possible and changing his ethics accordingly. H. Richard thus trusted more in the providential moral arc of history as M.L. King, Jr. , would call it rather than a realist’s version of what humans believe is attainable given their corrupt nature. In essence, H. Richard focused on the power of God’s grace to transform our spirits and the world for the better, while Reinhold accepted a more cynical view of our ability to be radically changed as a specie.

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St. Patrick’s Day Blessings: The Inner Landscape: John O’Donohue

n this St. Patrick’s Day it is fitting to receive a blessing from a grand Irishman whose writing reaches into my soul. Followers of this blog know that John O’Donohue is one of my favourite sages.

I am indebted to a follower of the blog for sending me this podcast of Krista Tripett’s interview of John O’Donohue recorded shortly before his death in 2008. O’Donohue’s words continue to open my soul.

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Shamanic Voice by Istvan Sky – Divine Overtone

When you live in nature, in the scent of flowers, in the blessed light of the day and the sweet dew of the morning, you don’t have questions, you simply live and joy together with them. Your heart opens, you cry, cry, and your eyes are wet with dew. This is how this song was born, when your body, mind, and soul opens, God steps next to you in an unguarded moment, and pours her treasures into you.

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Worship Materials – Winter: The Pregnant Barrenness

From the Seasoned Celebration Collection

1. Winter is the season of the revelation of basic structure. If I was to strip away all the paraphernalia of my life what form would it have?

How many of the things which I do are related to the roots
of my spirit.

2. Winter is the season for hibernation. What rhythm do I have for reflection as well as action?
What frequency and length of time do I need in solitude in order to facilitate the growth and quality of my spirituality?

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Blessing Litany

One: A Blessing on you who are poor
Many Yours is the household of God
One A blessing on you who mourn
Many: you shall be comforted

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Serenity

Enter my hearing, Oh, silence
Soften my sight with love
Rid my thoughts of harshness
Open my search for good

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A Blessing for the New Year (John O’Donohue)

The art of blessing is often neglected. The birth of a New Year calls forth the desire in us to bestow a blessing upon those we love. Several years ago, John O”Donohue, one of my favorite Irish poet’s created a New Year’s blessing for his mother entitled Beannacht-for Josie. It is a blessing of superior quality. And so, on this New Year’s Eve, may you all receive this beannacht with my added blessing for a peace-filled New Year in which the God in whom all of creation is held, might find full expression in your miraculous life!

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Worship Materials: Beginnings and Endings of the Day and Blessings

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

ON RISING
May awareness be my companion,
love my friend
and amazement my expectation.

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Menu of Blessings

Whatever our beliefs may be or holiday meals that we celebrate, I hope that these “transfaith” blessings may help to nurture focus and gratitude.

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For Serenity

Faith in goodness leads to serenity, where peace with quiet flows. With faith I can cease being a hostage in the jail of fear and grief, and escape the prison of what went wrong.

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Shalom Shalom

From the Boundless Life collection

Shalom, Shalom, Shalom, Shalom.

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Give Me Warmth (Benediction)

From the Boundless Life collection

Give me warmth in my loving,
Strength through forgiving,
Peace in my being,
Today and all my life.

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We give thanks for the plants

From the Boundless Life collection

We give thanks for the plants,
Give thanks for the creatures
Whose flesh supplies this meal.

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We Eat and Drink

From the Boundless Life collection

We eat and drink these fruits of earth that love may grow

between us all, between us all.

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May the Food that We Eat

From the Boundless Life collection

May the food that we eat
And the friends that we share
Give us strength for spreading
True justice and peace.

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The Earth Is Yours

With optional responses

Oh, nurturing God we thank you for the seeds
The source is yours and all in it

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The Blessing of Silence

from I Wonder...

For the mystery that enfolds us and blesses us,
For the beauty that surrounds us and nourishes us,
For the life that flows within us and among us,
For the bounty before us,
We bow.

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