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The Long View

Amidst the many astonishingly trivial deliverances of the Facebook news feed, the odd gem comes through now and then as well. Like this prayer I came across this morning. It has been attributed by many to Oscar Romero, the famously martyred archbishop of El Salvador, although evidently it is far from clear that Romero ever wrote or spoke these words. Bishop Ken Untener is believed to be the prayer’s actual author, composing it in 1979, and apparently it was Cardinal John Dearden who delivered it as part of a homily for departed priests (like Romero). Confused yet? Me too.

At any rate, regardless of who wrote (or spoke) this prayer, the words are good, true, and worth remembering.

A Future Not Our Own

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

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