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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Skip Guinness Learns How to Pray

A Story for the Spiritually Unmotivated


Skip Guinness

Copyright 2010 by  Skip Guinness




Running the Rosary


Index of Prayers

Skip’s Favorite Charity


Of course my name isn’t Skippy Guinness, but I love peanut butter and beer. They represent everything that is easy, enjoyable, and at the same time unhealthy.  This little booklet is about another paradox: things that are difficult, unenjoyable, yet healthy.  This is a story about exercise and prayer.


For the past 15 years I have been commuting from my home in New Jersey to my job in Manhattan. Every working day I walk among people sleeping on sidewalks, holding signs, shaking cups, asking for money. After all of this time I still do not know the correct response.

Sr. Mary Alice Hannon does. She is the Executive Director of Part of the Solution, or POTS, in The Bronx. POTS  runs a community dining room that is as unique as its name. Volunteers serve 400 people a day, but this is no soup line or cafeteria. The quiet dining room holds only 22 guests. They sit at small tables with attractive centerpieces and they are served healthy meals by a friendly wait staff. More than serving meals, POTS restores dignity.

 This project is a prayer, my way of becoming part of the solution even though I cannot find time to volunteer. You too can become part of the solution by spreading the word and donating at the end of story. Sr. Mary Alice gets everything: the copyright, royalties, movie & stage rights, even my fake name.

Running the Rosary

The modern athletic track is made for running. The rubberized surface reduces the risk of injury and the track markings guide runners through a variety of workouts. A standard track has six to eight lanes, each about 42 inches wide and separated by white lines.  Distances are easy to count: one lap is 400 meters, 2 ½ laps are one kilometer, 4 laps are just about one mile. The best thing about the track is that no matter how far you run you are never more than two hundred meters from where you started. The worst thing about the track is that it is mind-numbing boring.

The ancient Rosary is made for prayer. The Mysteries tell the most important stories in the lives of Jesus and his mother while the beads mark the way through the mysteries. Traditionally, the Rosary is made up of three groups of five mysteries: the Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious. In modern times Pope John Paul II advocated a fourth set of five Luminous, or Mysteries of Light. The best thing about the Rosary is that no matter how far your mind wanders the beads can put you back on track. The worst thing about the Rosary is that, like the track, it is mind-numbing boring.

The key to Running the Rosary is to twist exercise and prayer into one effort, like a beer pretzel, so that they support each other. Concentration helps overcome the pain and fatigue of running and the Mysteries provide topics for concentration.  I run one lap for one Mystery and use the beads and track markings to guide my progress.
God didn’t make me a strong runner. He gave me wide feet, sensitive metatarsals and webbed toes. I shuffle around the track carrying a belly that changes shape with the seasons. Still, the system works well enough. My gut is closer to volleyball than basketball and with the grace of God maybe my sins and errors are similarly proportioned.

In top form I run a five-mile Rosary of all 20 mysteries. Unfortunately, injury, apathy and industry make ‘top’ a rare form. I invite you to keep reading. Join me as I try to run that five-mile Rosary.


1. The Annunciation

Then the angel said to her “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive a son and you shall name him Jesus” (Lk -31)

The first homeless person I spoke to was Robert at the World Trade Center. Robert held the door during the evening rush. He was a tall middle-aged African American man and he asked for money politely. There were two choices: either open another door, or go through Robert’s door. Most went through Robert’s door although few acknowledged him. He held the door for me many months before I asked his name and tipped him for the effort. That’s all I know about Robert, but it is enough, he is my brother and I can pray for him.

There is a reason they are called Mysteries. For years I asked “Why?” and listened to the silence. Somewhere along the way I changed the question to fit the answer. Now when I start my run with the astonishing story of the Annunciation I ask “Why not?” The silence is reassuring.

Most outdoor tracks surround athletic fields adorned with lights, a scoreboard, flagpole and bleachers. A brisk eight-minute-mile completes a lap in two minutes. A more leisurely twelve-minute pace takes three minutes. Either way this is not enough time to contemplate the significance of the Annunciation.

The Rosary should start with the Apostles’ Creed, but I start at the flagpole with an Our Father. Then I offer an intention while repeating Hail Mary’s. Ten of these bring me around to the painted hurdle markers. The remaining space is filled with Fatima Prayers for the souls in purgatory, whatever that is. It seems to be something like: ‘Pencils down, life’s over, now tally up your score. If you are short just sit there. Prayers from the living can make up your deficit, everyone else come on in’. Approaching the flagpole again I say a Glory Be and move on to the next mystery.

Four Hundred Meters.

2. The Visitation

“And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy” (Lk

Aidan sat on Forty Third Street Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues and held a sign that read “homәless - please help.”  Aidan was friendly and talkative. He looked like he was in his sixties with his white hair and cheery blue eyes. Aidan said he needed a new pacemaker and that he had a brother on the west coast. He admitted that the ‘ә’ on his sign was deliberate. I looked forward to my morning visits with Aidan but one day he was gone.

Half of my brain is used to repeat the prayers of the Rosary. The other half is an undisciplined place. Mary’s soul magnifies the Lord. My right foot magnifies pain. I go back in time to witness the mystery. The child in Elizabeth’s womb jumps with laughter at my approach. The Song of Mary is interrupted as the puzzled kinswomen pause to watch me shuffle by.

They walked everywhere back then. Their feet always hurt. More work went into visiting making it a greater joy, and at times a greater chore. We know what that is like. Sometimes the reluctant visits work out. An elderly neighbor asked me to help change a light bulb. I didn’t want to but I made the best of it. A chance question about a framed newspaper article made the trip worthwhile because I love stories. This gentleman’s father fought in World War I in a rifle company that was supposed to try to shoot down the Red Baron, from the ground.
Back in college there was a sad old professor who held office hours although nobody ever visited. I didn’t want to visit either but I did. He told me  stories that he heard from his grandfather about fighting in the Union Army during the Civil War.

Eight Hundred Meters.

3. The Nativity

“There were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone upon them” (Lk 2:8-9).

Olivia stands at Forty Fifth and Fifth every morning and asks for money. She says she has cancer and that she stays at a local shelter or motels in New Jersey where she gets a senior citizen discount. Olivia is very kind. She smiles and greets all who pass whether they give or not. Sometimes I have pocket change for her.

Rosaries make good Christmas presents. The best ones for running are short strands of wooden beads on string. Unfinished wood evaporates well whereas sweat tends to accumulate on smoother surfaces like glass, crystal or polished stone. String is more flexible than chains which often kink up and knot. Shorter is better than longer because the slack whips around in the air. Heavy metal crosses are just dangerous.

 I’m on the hill with the shepherds, and still feeling okay. It is only 400 meters to the manger, let’s check it out. Men will never understand what kind of joy goes with childbirth. I was happy to be the least person in the room. They let me be my wife’s “breathing coach,” as if during the miracle of bringing forth another life from the inside of her body she might forget to breathe.

Twelve Hundred Meters.

4. The Presentation

“And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:34-35).

Jackie sits on a standpipe on Forty Fourth between Sixth and Seventh. Sometimes she asks for money in a quiet voice, and then smiles. It is almost like she knows she shouldn’t be doing it and just wants some attention. On most days she just sits, smiles, and watches the world go by.  Jackie says that she stays at a church around the corner.

Running is difficult for the unmotivated. Prayer is difficult for the easily distracted. God gave me an immense capacity for distraction. Life gives me plenty of it.  I am married with five children aged from young adult to teens. I work at a bank in New York City where I try not to get fired. I have a house, two cars and lots of bills. I have brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, parents, friends, coworkers, and lots of bosses. I enjoy food, drink, laughter and music. I love peanut butter and beer. I don’t love exercise and prayer. At times I am sure that I don’t even like them.

I run 400 meters to the Temple. I hear Simeon's spooky warning. However, I know that parents love sharing the joy of their newborns. Mary hands me her baby as I round the 200 mark. I run carefully and hand him back at the flagpole.

One Thousand Six Hundred Meters. One Mile.

5. Finding Jesus in the Temple

“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.’”  

Grace has the best location. She sits on the Seventh Avenue sidewalk at either Thirty Fourth or Thirty Fifth with a cute little dog. As the crowds pour out of Penn Station they have to part ways to get around her. I rarely see people talk to the homeless, but often see people converse with Grace, usually about her dog.  Years went by before I said hello. One day the dog was gone. Worried, I struck up a conversation. The dog was with “Daddy”, her husband, who “works” the sidewalk around the corner. They each try to raise $20 per day.

I have run one mile, said four Our Fathers, forty Hail Mary’s and a few dozen Fatima Prayers. Things are beginning to hurt. There is really no need to continue, except for my beer belly and all of the things that can go wrong today.

One day we lost our son in a department store. He disappeared among the clothing racks. I covered the exit while my wife searched the maze of merchandise. Finding Jesus is one of the Joyful Mysteries, but I only remember panic followed by relief. Maybe the finding place was the source of joy. Jesus was found preaching in the Temple. Our boy was found in a discount rack under a sign that read “CLEARANCE EVERYTHING MUST GO!”

 That was long ago. Now my kids are grown and must to choose between right and wrong on their own. When they get lost I hope to find them in the Temple.

Two Thousand Meters.


6. Baptism of Jesus

“People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to and were being baptized in the Jordan River” (Mk 1:5).

During the commute home Austin hangs out in a wheel chair on along Seventh Avenue. He has no legs. Judging by his age and appearance I expected a story about Vietnam. The problem was diabetes, a disease which is insidious in the general population and devastating in poverty.  Nerve endings in the feet are the first thing to go.  Without pain small sores go unnoticed, become infected and then gangrenous. Doctors advise patients to watch their blood sugar and exercise.  To avoid foot problems one should check them daily, keep them clean, trim the  toenails and wear properly fitting shoes. I wonder how these rank among  the daily priorities of  homeless diabetics.

My legs hurt after two thousand meters, but I am thankful to have them. I slow down. Pushing too hard leads to injury. Expecting too much leads to disappointment.

A few years ago our town was embroiled in a land use controversy. Big issues hung on the outcome of the next election, issues like traffic patterns. On the day after the election I saw a friend on the train. He was disappointed because he worked on the campaign and his candidate lost. He told me that he hadn’t been to church in years but went at lunchtime, yesterday, to pray for the outcome of the election.

Now I don’t want to suggest that God can’t fix an election. I am sure that he can, although it seems to contradict a long tradition of revelation and free-will response. Maybe if you really want God to intervene in an election, and if you don't want to be disappointed, the thing to do is to just try to start praying before the polls open, or at least before on Election Day.

The track is hot and I am thirsty. There is a line of people at the river’s edge being dunked one by one. Do I really have to stand in line?  It’s so hot, can’t I just run ahead and flop in. Do I want to be baptized and embrace the faith or to simply cool off and go back to the way I was living?  My wife says running won’t make a difference if I don’t change my diet. I guess she’s right, I’ll stand in line.

Two Thousand Four Hundred Meters.

7. The Miracle at the Wedding

“Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding” (Jn 2:2).

Angela now sleeps in Aidan’s spot with a sign and a cup for change. She can go to her mom’s at the Jersey seashore but she doesn’t get along with her brother who was recently divorced and is living there. Except for the strange sores on her legs she looks healthy.

Good technique prevents injury. I check my pace and posture. Pulling my baseball cap down to my nose forces me to keep my head up. Now I see only the white lines of the track. Stay between the lines and keep moving forward. If only life was that simple.

I give thanks for my marriage; it is the best thing in my life. I pray that I don’t do anything stupid. Taking that job in Connecticut was stupid. Other people were moving up. It was my turn. Armed with confidence, a little bit of arrogance and a whole lot of prayer I ignored gigantic warning signs, like the 90-mile commute, and took that job in Connecticut.

We are stuck with our decisions. That one resulted in fifteen months of stress, anxiety and disharmony in the household. Many things went wrong including my technique in prayer. I should have been asking God to help me make a good decision. Instead I was asking God to help make my decision good. By rearranging the universe if necessary, because I had already made up my mind and it was a bad decision.

Two Thousand Eight Hundred Meters.

8. The Transfiguration

“And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light” (Mt 17:2).

Jay sits on the north side of Forty Eighth between Madison and Sixth with a sign and a cup for loose change. He has bright blue eyes and speaks with a heavy Eastern European accent. I see Jay on days when I get a $5.65 sushi roll for lunch. He gets the change.

I can’t run the Transfiguration without remembering that cold, moonless autumn night. The white track and field marks dimly reflected the starlight. A line on the football field wobbled as I began the Mysteries of Light. Distracted and fatigued, I slowed down and peered into that area on my next approach. Another line moved, this time closer to the track. Alarmed, I cleared my head to focus on this area in the next lap. The third time around, during the Transfiguration I finally understood.  It was a skunk, it was following me, and worse; I was wearing a black track suit with a big white racing stripe.

The distraction was complete, rendering any further prayer impossible. The only thing I could do was ask myself:  Does it think I’m another skunk?  Am I another skunk? Do I act like one? Do I offend, or put on airs? Am I intolerant? Do I use body language to keep people at a distance?  Do I always have to be the center of attention?  Transfigure me Lord, help me mend my skunky ways.

Three Thousand Two Hundred Meters. Two Miles.

9. The Proclamation

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them” (Mt: 5,1-2).

Peter used to sit in Jay’s spot. He was heavy, with long hair and a beard. There were usually a couple of kittens crawling around him. Peter said he took a bus from Atlantic City in order to get to this spot and then went home again at night.

The Proclamation covers all of Jesus’ teachings, like the parables and the beatitudes. He had some excellent one-liners. What’s the most important of these, or the most important mystery of the Rosary? I don’t know. That’s like asking, “What’s the most important part of a wagon?”  They are all important.

Years ago I bought and assembled a wagon. Then I put two of my small children in it for a short walk to Grandmom’s house. It was a pleasant day and the neighbors smiled as we set out. We didn’t make it one block. The wagon came apart at the first bump in the sidewalk. I was left with the handle and front axle. Behind me were the children, tumbled onto the sidewalk. Behind them were the carriage and rear axle. There were tears, bumps, scratches, and neighbors rushing down from porches. It was a spectacular wagon accident.

So after cleaning up the kids I reassembled the wagon, this time carefully following the instructions.  In my opinion, the most important part of a wagon is the steel pin that connects the handle, front axle and undercarriage.

Three thousand six hundred meters, it’s been a long run and I am not even halfway finished. There will be many more bumps on the sidewalk of life. The Proclamation is like that pin. I hope it holds.

Three Thousand Six Hundred Meters.

10. The Eucharist

"This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me"
(Lk 22:9).

Maggie sat outside of Our Lady of Victory church on Pine only one block from Wall Street. It was difficult to leave Mass and then ignore somebody asking for help. She said she has been away from her family most of her life.

This next one blows my mind. I go to church and hold God in my hands. Why would he let that happen?  I could drop him.  He is not going to interfere with my free will, but at the same time, as I hold him in my hands I know that I am not alone. There has been enough revelation over the years to navigate whatever life throws in my running lane.

St. Paul said that life was like running a race. Well he was Greek, and that sounds like a classical Greek point of view. A Yank would handicap it. Sure, life is like a race, at a July 4th picnic. Single people race in potato sacks and married people race with their shoes tied to each other. We cheer for those who make it look graceful and easy. We encourage those who struggle to get by. What do we do for those who fall all over the field, completely unable to overcome their handicaps?

We need the Eucharist at this picnic.

Four Thousand Meters.


11. The Agony in the Garden

“Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mk ).

I had a bad experience in Midtown. It was bitter cold. The temperature was in the teens and the wind howled between the skyscrapers. A man with trash bags duct taped all over his body huddled next to a wall. I asked if I could help and offered some pocket change. He flipped out. He stood up screaming, cursing and waving his arms. I was offering about forty five cents in a life and death situation while there was a coat drive at Penn Station. What a jerk I am. He ended up more exposed to the cold by chasing me away.

On that day I developed rules of engagement.  I would only talk to people if they asked for help and I would be polite and ask them their name and treat them nicely. Maybe I can’t help much but I can give them the dignity of hearing their own name.

Four thousand meters and now I am feeling it. All of this effort and I’ve prayed only a hundred Hail Mary’s. I witnessed more murders than that on 9/11. A woman in church the next day brought along two children who held drawings for their dad who didn’t get out. If pushing myself around this track again can bring her five minutes of peace I’ll do it gladly. I tried saying one Hail Mary for every victim of that day and the wars that followed. There are too many. I know that we are supposed to, but I have a hard time praying for dead terrorists. When this trips me up I give them one prayer, a cup of water in Hell. They can share it.  bastards.

Four Thousand Four Hundred Meters.

12. Scourging at the Pillar

“I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him, nor did Herod, for he sent him back to me. So no capital crime has been committed. Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him”
(Lk -17).

Molly is late middle aged, maybe in her upper fifties, she begs on Seventh Avenue. Her large heavy frame hunches over a walker. She is frightening in appearance, fleshy and pale with unkempt hair and thick glasses. When her legs and feet are not bandaged open sores are exposed to the dust and grime. She smiles and blesses me profusely whenever I say ‘hi’ and give spare change.

The Romans didn’t invent terror but as an instrument of public policy they perfected it. Pilate admitted there was no legal case against Jesus. The scourging was issued as casually as a parking ticket. I once again take stock of my posture and straighten up my back, which fortunately is not being shredded by a Roman soldier.

What good is one prayer, one cup of water in Hell?  We need the Niagara Falls. The flow rate of the Niagara Falls is roughly 4 million cubic feet per minute. That’s about 30 million gallons, or 480 million cups of water per minute. Maybe it’s not hopeless. There are 7 billion people on earth. If everybody offers just one prayer maybe we could divert the Niagara Falls into Hell for 15 minutes.
On rare occasions I pray the Memorare. The Memorare is the Bat Phone of prayers. It is worded to put Mary on the spot. Therefore it should be reserved for only the most desperate situations, especially since most of our problems are our own fault.

More things are beginning to hurt but I think that I can make it. It is only 400 meters. What is this pain I feel compared to being burned alive at work, or shot dead in a desert war, frozen to death on a city street, having your legs amputated for diabetes, or having open sores on naked feet in the biggest city of the wealthiest nation on Earth?  

Four Thousand Eight Hundred Meters. Three Miles.

13. Crowning with Thorns

“They clothed him in purple, and weaving a crown of thorns, placed it on him. They began to salute him with ‘Hail King of the Jews’ and kept striking him on the head with a reed and spitting on him” (Mk -19).

Isabelle works the crowd around Bryant Park during the evening rush. Unlike Grace with her cute dog, and Peter with his kittens, Isabelle is accompanied by two girls, Nellie and Cupcake. She makes a point of asking for money to feed them. It worked once, but when I asked if it was appropriate to have the girls with her she had a quick response: “Only God knows the Heart.”  Yeah, I guess, but I still think it is wrong.

On one brutally hot day I brought along water bottles and ice. During a break I filled my baseball cap with ice cubes, pressed it on my head and ran back out into the sun. That was a bad idea. I gave myself a blinding brain freeze and quickly dumped all but one of the ice cubes. Even that one delivered a stab of pain along with its little droplets of relief.  I compare this with Jesus’ crown of thorns which delivered incomprehensibly more pain along with the droplets of our salvation.

I am so appalled by the Romans’ behavior that I forget my own pain. They fashioned that crown of thorns, pressed it into his scalp, blindfolded, hit and tormented him. They probably enjoyed it.  I’ll collapse in my tracks before I quit during this mystery. I think of Jesus’ crown of thorns and remember my crown of ice cubes. Sweat drips down my face, but it’s not blood. I can do this. I take in enough calories. I hydrate adequately and it will all be over soon enough.

Five Thousand Two Hundred Meters.

14. Jesus Carries His Cross

“As they were going out they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross” (Mt 27-32).

A man in Midtown struggles behind two large rolling laundry carts, driving them before him like a yoke of oxen. The carts are filled with clothes, chairs, televisions, every sort of disregarded item. Sometimes he is at Bryant Park, sometimes he is at Times Square. He looks like a ghost who is bound to the Earth and condemned to push those carts around Manhattan for all eternity.

Jimmy was the oldest. There were eight of us when Dad died, plus Mom. In some ways the trauma froze us where we were. At eight and a half years old I was eager and optimistic. I still am, when not running. At thirteen Jimmy was awkward and insecure. He needed his Dad.

Alcoholism is not just about vodka anymore.  The modern addict is no match for the variety of chemicals available on our streets, like booze, pot, hashish, opium, cocaine, meth, and acid; or from the pens of physicians like, Xanax, Paxil, and Valium; or from the back doors of pharmacies like, phentobarbital and OxyContin.

We make decisions and can’t take them back. I last spoke to Jimmy on Christmas Day, 2001. He was cooking dinner for the family and asked me to stay. Afraid he’d fall off the wagon again, I made up a phony excuse and declined. If I could have one decision back that would be the one. He died on New Year’s Day. The autopsy was inconclusive. A little bit of everything, not enough of anything, he died in is sleep. Mom says the Blessed Mother brought him home on her feast day. I believe it. Why not?

I always run this one with Jimmy. He floats next to me, no longer burdened by his body. He knew that the addiction was too powerful. Some addicts turn to crime but as the disease took its toll Jimmy turned to faith. He became more prayerful and devoted as he grew sicker. He even made pilgrimages to the Holy Land and Medjugorje.

You carried your cross well Jim.

I join my prayers and to his and look for him in the eyes of these struggling New Yorkers.

Five Thousand Six Hundred Meters.

15. Jesus Dies on the Cross

“Aware that everything was now finished in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I thirst.’ So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine he said ‘It is finished.’ And bowing his head he handed over the spirit” ( Jn -30).

Every morning the breezeway by Penn Station between Thirty Fourth and Thirty Fifth  is filled with homeless. They don’t hold signs or ask for money. Some are still sleeping when I walk by at There are bags of clothes, leftover meals and trash. It is all cleaned up when I return twelve hours later.

Five thousand six hundred meters, and a broken heart. Now everything hurts. Except for my right hand, nobody is driving a nail through it. It is the same for my left hand and both feet. I can look up to catch a breeze without pressing thorns into the back of my scalp. Looking down, there’s only the track, and not my mother watching me die.  On either side there are only friendly neighbors sharing the track. It’s only 400 meters. Maybe I can make it.

I might be wrong about this but I only give pocket change because I don’t want them buying drugs. They are homeless and hungry with no families. Many are physically and mentally ill. These streets bake to 100 degrees in the summer and drop to single digits in the winter. Heaven forbid they get high. That would be a terrible injustice. Only comfortable people are allowed to do that. Like me. I can have a cold beer, or three, every blessed day.  Unfortunately, for too many people drugs are the end of the road.

Women bring people into the world and men carry them out. I have seen the end of the road and it was a few dozen meters too short. Grief is a luxury when you are in slippery black dress shoes while carrying a casket across those last dozen meters of snow and ice.

I might be wrong but I don’t think that cash handouts are the answer. There are many other ways to help.

Six Thousand Meters.


16. The Resurrection

“The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first.” (Jn 20:4)

            Type “HOMELESS” into an internet search engine followed by any one of our nation’s forty three thousand zip codes and you will be directed to organizations dedicated to helping the people living on our streets. They are public and private, faith based and secular. You can give time, treasure or talent…even marginal talent. There is no excuse for inaction.

I finally put my feet where my heart is supposed to be and signed up at the community dining room. Prayers don’t cook the carrots. They had to be washed, cut and cooked by volunteers along with two hundred pounds of potatoes and four hundred veal patties.

I am moving slow now but the worst is over. We are saved. Let’s see if I can catch up with Peter, or the other disciple. It can’t be more than a quarter mile to the tomb. I’ve got better footwear.

Of course we would never believe that Jesus died for our sins. He had to come back from the dead to prove it. We still don’t believe. He empowered the apostles to work miracles, gave us the Eucharist and the saints down through the ages. The Blessed Mother visited Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorje. We are surrounded by every miracle of creation. We still don’t believe. It is no wonder that we live in a world full of murder, war, poverty, exploitation, even crimes in the Church.

The only thing that I want to do is finish this run and get through the day without making matters worse.

Six Thousand Four Hundred Meters. Four Miles.

17. The Ascension

“’You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witness in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight”  (Acts 1:8-9).

Known as “Sally” to intimates, bell ringers to the rest of us, The Salvation Army is more than a brass quartet and red kettle. It is a way of life. In addition to providing food, clothing, and shelter to the poor, Sally administers excellent drug and alcohol recovery programs. This organization is worthy of your spare change at Christmas. You can even send them a check.

This run is becoming impossible. My legs barely obey my brain and I can no longer concentrate.  Jesus is in heaven with so many people that I know. I fill up this lap by remembering every person I ever knew who has died, starting with my Dad. Then I invite grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and friends to join me. If I am moving slow I have time to include people I didn’t know so well like friends of friends, parents and grandparents of friends. On really bad days I include random dead historical figures like presidents, writers, and rock stars.  Sooner or later I reach that flagpole.

Six Thousand Eight Hundred Meters.

18. The Descent of the Holy Spirit

“Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them” (Acts 2:3).

If you can’t give money then give effort. Habitat for Humanity converts sweat equity to charity. Active worldwide, this group organizes volunteers into construction corps building and repairing the dwelling places for impoverished people everywhere. In the process of helping others you will improve your own handymanship.

Running out of steam… brain malfunctioning… mustn’t forget the Holy Spirit…can’t remember the seven gifts… Lord grant us Wisdom (check), Knowledge (check), Good Judgment (check),  Thrifty, Helpful, Cheerful, (check check check). Wait, no checks, that’s the Scout Law, damn, check them anyway, it won’t hurt…Understanding (check) Courage, Brave, Loyal (check check check) Piety, Reverent, Trustworthy (check check check), Fear of the Lord (check), and Clean (check).   There, I’m all mixed up.   Oh well, just help us be good Christians, Lord, or scouts. 

Seven Thousand Two Hundred Meters.

19. Mary is Assumed into Heaven
20. Mary is crowned the Queen of Heaven

“Our Lady’s 800”

“He said to his Mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to his disciple, ‘Behold your Mother.’”

            Catholic Charities is a blanket organization that includes the thousands of charities associated with the Catholic Church. Put aside the cathedrals, the twisted history, and the artistic legacy. These are not the faith. Put aside the Pope. He’s not the faith either. I know some good priests who try and teach the faith. Bad priests undo their work. They are not the faith.   I can’t tell you what ‘the faith’ is but I think it has something to do with prayer and sacrifice, with the Rosary and charity. POTS is the faith. So is Dwelling Place NYC, a women’s shelter on Fortieth Street and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity working with homeless drug addicts up on One Hundred and Forty Fifth Street. Someday I hope to volunteer more of my time, until then I can pray and give money.

Eight hundred long meters to go. The temptation to quit becomes acute as I near the finish. I am spent:  physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. An old lady with headphones just powerwalked ahead of me. There is nothing left. Four and a half miles is far enough for any unmotivated runner. After all of this prayer and reflection I am pretty sure that the Blessed Mother will not mind if I quit. 

But I won’t. I’ll do it for her. We put so many problems at her feet while our behavior on Earth is still generally atrocious. Somehow I’ll get around this track two more times. I’ll catch up with that powerwalker. Maybe Mary will smile at me and ask Jesus to grant some of my intentions. We know that with his mother Jesus is always  
Kind and Obedient.
(check check)
Eight Thousand Meters. Five Miles. Amen.


Except for Sr. Mary Alice and Jimmy all of the names are made up. The real names are not my business to share. If you are interested just ask them.  I don’t share my own name because I am superstitious. Affixing my name to this will at best diminish the prayer value, and at worst bring me bad luck. You will need Sr. Mary Alice’s name to support her. As for Jimmy, I know him well enough. I don’t think he minds that I am sharing his name and part of his story.

This prayer is finished. I hope it helps you become part of the solution.

Index of Prayers

The Apostles Creed: I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth; I believe in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary, He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead, on the third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

The Our Father: Our Father, who ‘art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen.

The Hail Mary:  Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary mother of God pray for us sinners now, and at the our of our death. Amen.

The Glory Be:  Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as it is now and ever shall be without end.  Amen.

The Song of Mary: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;  for he who is mighty has done great things for me,  and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,  he has put down the mighty from their thrones,  and exalted those of low degree;  he has filled the hungry with good things,  and the rich he has sent empty away.
 He has helped his servant Israel,  in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,  to Abraham and to his posterity for ever." 

The Fatima Prayer:  O my Jesus, forgive us and save us from the fires of hell, especially those most in need of your friendship.

The Beatitudes
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Excellent One Liners
“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s”
“Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone”

The Most Important Commandment
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Mt 22:36-39)

The Most Important Part of a Wagon:  The Cotter Pin

The Memorare:  Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that any one who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided.  Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful; O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me.

Life is like a race: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  (2 Timothy 4:7)

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Good Judgment,  Courage,  Knowledge,  Piety, Fear of the Lord

The Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Hail Holy Queen
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness, and our hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve,
to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping
in this valley, of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus;
O clement, O loving, O sweet virgin Mary.
Pray for us, O holy Mother of God
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Skip’s Favorite Charity

If you are ready to put your coin where your conscience is then please click on  the link below and give.

Tell them Skippy Guinness sent you!

Part of the Solution: