Featured

Mercy Surrounds Us

dark mercy

We exist in the infinite embrace of God’s mercy.  In mercy, we all were created.  In mercy, we all live.  In mercy, we all have the hope of eternal life.

The lavish mercy of God pours over us in every sunrise and sunset, in every noon and midnight.  With every breath, we draw on mercy.  With every thought, we capture its spirit and turn it to our hope.  The gift of such divine power in us calls us to lavish mercy with our own lives, to be agents of mercy in all things.

This journal is offered as an act of thanksgiving and celebration for that lavish mercy.  It is a gathering of reflections and prayers which sift through our ordinary experience to seek the breath-giving grace of God awaiting us there.

My name is Renee Yann. I am a Sister of Mercy.  I love to chase God through the bright blessing of words. I love to discover words in the dark blessing of silence. It is a joy to share with you the humble fruit of those mutual blessings.

Our entire theological tradition is expressed in terms of Mercy,
which I define as the willingness to enter into the chaos of others.
James F. Keenan, S.J.

post

… my whole soul is in this

January 21, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, reflecting on these words of President Biden, there is just 

  • one prayer
  • one benediction
  • one poem
  • one call
  • one hymn filling my spirit on this deeply desired new morning!

Perhaps you would like to pray with these blessings too.


Prayer:
Be with us, Holy Mystery of Love, as we dream together.
Help us under our new President to reconcile the people of our land,
restore our dream,
and invest it with peace and justice
and the joy that is the overflow of love.
To the glory of your name forever. Amen.

Father Leo O’Donovan – Inauguration Prayer

Benediction:
This is our benediction, that from these hallowed grounds,
where slaves labored to build this shrine to liberty and democracy,
let us all acknowledge from the indigenous Native Americans
to those who recently received their citizenship,
from the African-American,
to those whose parents came from Europe and every corner of the globe,
from the wealthy to those struggling to make it,
from every human being regardless of their choices,
that this is our country as such, teach us, oh God.
Teach us to live in it, loving it, be healed in it,
and reconciled to one another in it,
lest we miss Kingdom’s goal.
Dear Glory, Majesty, Dominion and Power forever.
Hallelujah. Glory, Hallelujah.
And the strong name of our collective faith, Amen.

Reverend Silvester Beaman – Inauguration Benediction

Poem: The Hill We Climb – Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman

And together we shall write an American story of hope, not fear.
Of unity, not division. Of light, not darkness.
A story of decency and dignity, love and healing,
greatness and goodness.

May this be the story that guides us,
the story that inspires us,
and the story that tells ages yet to come
that we answered the call of history,
we met the moment.
Democracy and hope, truth and justice,
did not die on our watch, but thrived,
that America secured liberty at home
and stood once again as a beacon to the world.
That is what we owe our forebears,
one another, and generations to follow.

So, with purpose and resolve,
we turn to those tasks of our time,
sustained by faith,
driven by conviction,
and devoted to one another
and the country we love with all our hearts.
May God bless America
and may God protect our troops.

(Inaugural Address – President Joseph Biden)


Song: The Star Spangled Banner – Lady Gaga

Psalm 110:

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

January 20, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 110, familiar from last week. Its use again today reminds us that our readings, early in the liturgical year, are focused on the emerging ministry of Jesus and what his “priesthood” or ministry teaches us about God.

Psalm 110 is a David psalm affirming God’s choice and support of David as God’s shepherd and king of the Israelites. David’s leadership is through a “priesthood” beyond that of lesser religions and deities. David has inherited the same blessing as Abram, delivered by the arcane figure of Melchizedek.

The LORD has sworn, and will not repent:
    “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalm 110: 1

Abram Meets Melchizedek – Peter Paul Rubens

Psalm 110 is the only other reference in the Hebrew Scriptures to Melchizedek, first described in Genesis 14. In Genesis, Melchizedek comes out of nowhere to bestow a blessing on Abram.

As our first reading from Hebrews describes him:

Melchizedek’s name first means righteous king,
and he was also “king of Salem,” that is, king of peace.
Without father, mother, or ancestry,
without beginning of days or end of life,
thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Hebrews 7: 1-3

Jesus is the new Melchizedek, the human expression of God’s Blessing. As our Gospel reveals, his “priesthood” – his ministry – will supersede the Law with love. His “righteousness” will be defined by mercy not statute.


Through our Baptism, we share in the ministry of Jesus. We are graced to live a new righteousness of love and mercy. We are called to bring a blessing to the world in the name of Christ.

Let us rejoice then and give thanks
that we have become not only Christians,
but Christ himself.

Augustine of Hippo: Tractates on the Gospel of John

The blessing of Melchizedek was a confirmation to Abram that he was uniquely loved and chosen by God. Our ministry to others should confirm them in the same blessing, calling both them and us to full life in Christ, our High Priest.

Yours is sacred power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
    before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.

Psalm 110: 3

Poem: Melchizedek – John Henry Newman
(This poem tapped into the loneliness Newman felt as he was away from home for an extended period of time.
THRICE bless’d are they, who feel their loneliness;
To whom nor voice of friends nor pleasant scene
Brings aught on which the sadden’d heart can lean; 


All that was left for the ageless Melchizedek was to seek “His presence, who alone can bless.” Newman, who had been at sea for almost a month, was keenly aware of the pains of absence. He saw in his longing for home an analog of the deeper longing for the presence of God at the heart of his being. Newman, like Melchizedek, was lost in foreign lands for what seemed like several lifetimes.
( – Rev. Michael T. Wimsatt, in his dissertation Ecclesial Themes in the Mediterranean Writings of John Henry Newman (December 1832-July 1833))


Thrice bless’d are they, who feel their loneliness; 
To whom nor voice of friends nor pleasant scene 
Brings that on which the sadden’d heart can lean; 
Yea, the rich earth, garb’d in her daintiest dress 
Of light and joy, doth but the more oppress, 
Claiming responsive smiles and rapture high; 
Till, sick at heart, beyond the veil they fly, 
Seeking His Presence, who alone can bless. 
Such, in strange days, the weapons of Heaven’s grace; 
When, passing o’er the high-born Hebrew line, 
He forms the vessel of His vast design; 
Fatherless, homeless, reft of age and place, 
Sever’d from earth, and careless of its wreck, 
Born through long woe His rare Melchizedek.


Music: The Spirit of the Lord Is Upon Me – Marty Goetz

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
For the Lord has anointed me, yes the Lord has anointed me
He sent me to preach good news to the poor
And to bind up the broken in heart
To proclaim His freedom to all who are bound, all who are bound

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me
For the Lord has anointed me, yes the Lord has anointed me
He sent me to preach the year of His grace 
And that vengeance belongs to our God
And to comfort all those who mourn and who grieve, all those who grieve

To give them beauty for ashes, for mourning the oil of joy
And for the spirit of sorrow the garment of praise
And they will be called the trees of righteousness
Planted by God’s own hand that He may be glorified.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (And I will greatly rejoice in the Lord)
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (And my soul shall exult in my God)
For the Lord has anointed me, yes the Lord has anointed me
He sent me to preach good news to the poor and to bind up the broken in heart
To proclaim His freedom to all who are bound, all who are bound.

And I will greatly rejoice in the Lord and my soul shall exult in my God
For He’s clothed me with garments of His salvation 
And wrapped me with robes of His righteousness
Yes upon me is the Spirit of the Lord, Upon me is the Spirit of the Lord
He’s anointed me with the Spirit of the Lord

Psalm 111: Keeping the Promise

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

January 19, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111, a song of reassurance and hope.

God, renowned for grace and mercy,
Who gives to those living in awe,
will forever be mindful
of the covenant once promised.

Psalm 111: 4-5

It is a wonderful thing when we can trust someone to remember a promise made to us. Psalm 111 tells us we can trust God like that.

Maybe some of you share this experience. When I was a little girl, my Dad often did the food shopping. Sometimes, he went to the new “big store” (supermarkets were the new thing in the early ‘50s). When he did, I always asked him to remember to bring me a surprise, and he never forgot. 

Usually the surprise would be a little bag of M&Ms or Hershey kisses. But once it was a carrot- remarkably like the carrots he bought for the week’s cooking!

Had Dad forgotten his promise,
or was he just in to a healthier form of surprise?😂😉


Sometimes it feels like that with God’s Promise. Its fulfillment doesn’t always come to us in the ways we expect or pray for. Instead of special, surprising sweetness, God’s signs feel like carrots … ordinary carrots that we see every day, that we mix into the soup of our daily unsurprising lives.

Our Alleluia Verse today is a good prayer when our life seems full of “carrots”:

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.

Ephesians 1: 17-18

May our eyes be enlightened to see God’s Promise fulfilled in the amazing blessings of our lives:

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
    in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
  exquisite in all their delights.

Psalm 111: 1-2

My Dad loved me with all his heart and would have given me anything good that was in his power to give.

We can be assured, as in Psalm 111, that all- powerful God is like that too. It’s just that sometimes those good things look like ordinary carrots and we need enlightened eyes to recognize their exquisiteness.


Poetry: Mindful – Mary Oliver

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Music: Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Chorus:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Psalm 110: A Chasuble of Justice

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

January 18, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 110 where we are re-introduced to Melchizedek, the first priest mentioned in Genesis 14.



Yours is princely power in the day of your birth, in holy splendor;
    before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten you.”
The LORD has sworn, and will not repent:
    “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”

Psalm 110: 3-4

And our two readings today show us Jesus, the one High Priest, through whom we are fully redeemed.

In the days when he was in the Flesh,
Jesus offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Hebrews 5: 7-9

It is so appropriate to consider the meaning of priesthood as we commemorate the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. In the image of Christ, Dr. King wore a chasuble of justice for our time.

A priest is one :

  • who is set apart
  • who mediates the Divine
  • who bears witness
  • who ministers
  • who offers sacrifice
  • who transforms through prophetic hope

As a Catholic priest vests with the chasuble for Mass, this prayer is said:

Domine, qui dixisti:
Jugum meum suave est et onus meum leve:
fac, ut istud portare sic valeam,
quod consequar tuam gratiam.

Lord, you have said:
My yoke is sweet and my burden is light.
Grant that I may carry your yoke well
so as to obtain your grace.

Indeed, Martin Luther King “carried the yoke well”
to obtain the grace of justice for all of us.


Poetry: two poems in which the poet, Margaret Walker, uses the persona of Amos the Prophet to describe Martin Luther King. One poem is written before, and one after, Dr. King’s assassination.

Amos, 1963 – Margaret Walker – 1914-1997

Amos is a Shepherd of suffering sheep;
A pastor preaching in the depths of Alabama
Preaching social justice to the Southland
Preaching to the poor a new gospel of love
With the words of a god and the dreams of a man
Amos is our loving Shepherd of the sheep
Crying out to the stricken land
“You have sold the righteous for silver
And the poor for a pair of shoes.
My God is a mighty avenger
And He shall come with His rod in His hand.”
Preaching to the persecuted and the disinherited millions
Preaching love and justice to the solid southern land
Amos is a Prophet with a vision of brotherly love
With a vision and a dream of the red hills of Georgia
“When Justice shall roll down like water
And righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Amos is our Shepherd standing in the Shadow of our God
Tending his flocks all over the hills of Albany
And the seething streets of Selma and of bitter Birmingham.

Amos (Postscript, 1968)

From Montgomery to Memphis he marches
He stands on the threshold of tomorrow
He breaks the bars of iron and they remove the signs
He opens the gates of our prisons.
He speaks to the captive hearts of America
He bares raw their conscience
He is a man of peace for the people
Amos is a Prophet of the Lord
Amos speaks through Eternity
The glorious Word of the Lord!

Music: American Dream – Bobby Womack

Psalm 40: God’s Whisper

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 17, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 40, the prayer of one at home with God:

I delight to do your will, my God;
your law is in my inner being!

Psalm 40:9

We are reminded that we find this kind of peace by believing and listening to our experience:

Throughout our readings today, God leans over heaven’s edge to whisper into human experience.


Samuel’s Call by Joshua Reynolds

In our first reading, that whisper comes in a sacred call to a listening Samuel:

When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

1 Samuel 3: 9-10

In our second reading, Paul reminds us that the
Whispering Spirit is already resident within us:


Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, 
and that you are not your own?

1 Corinthians 6: 19

In our Gospel, Jesus – the Word, the Divine Whisper – invites us to come to him, to see his power with us in our ordinary lives.

The two disciples said to Jesus,
“Rabbi, where do you live?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”

John 1: 39

Praying with Psalm 40 can turn our hearts
to listening for God’s voice
under and within our experiences. 

  • It can wake us up, as Samuel was awakened.
  • It can attune us to the melody deep within our hearts.
  • It can reiterate God’s invitation to live our lives so fully in the Beloved’s Presence that, even without a sound, we know each other’s thoughts.

Poetry: from Whispers of the Beloved by Rumi

Do you know what the music is saying?
“Come follow me and you will find the way.
Your mistakes can also lead you to the Truth.
When you ask, the answer will be given.”

Music: All Praise to Him – Sovereign Grace Music

Psalm 19: What Is Truth?

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, January 16, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, a hymn to the beauty of God’s Law.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
    refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
   giving wisdom to the simple.

Psalm 19: 8

Placed as it is in today’s liturgy, the psalm brings added emphasis to our exquisite first reading from Hebrews:

The Word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Hebrews 4: 12

LAW…WORD…TRUST…TRUTH…WISDOM…SPIRIT

These themes shout out to us from today’s readings. And they need to shout in order to be heard above the clamor of a culture that has so enfeebled “truth” that it can barely speak.

At the electoral confirmation hearings, after the Capitol insurrection, Mitt Romney bravely said, “The best way we could show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth”.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a novel idea in our fallacious political culture.

Praying Psalm 19 challenges me to recognize my role in reclaiming a mutually truthful, respectful, and reverently attentive society. It also summons me to demand the same from my political and religious leaders.


Poetry: two poems today

truth - Gwendolyn Brooks
And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?
Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?
Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Propitious haze?
Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.
The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.

And this one from a Franciscan friend and revered mentor in social justice – Marie Lucey, OSF

A Justice- Seeker’s Journey
In high school art class—and in life--
I stayed within the lines.
“Timid soul,” the teacher branded me.
In English class I stood—green girl
in more ways than uniform--
to argue with the wiser nun
that men were more intelligent than women.
(Forgive me, God, and sisters!)

How did I get from there—a lifetime ago--
to here?
Over time layers of knowing peeled away,
core truths revealed.
Cries of people suffering—oppression,
injustice, human cruelty,
and my own dark nights,
insisted that I stand up, speak up, act up,
kneel down, reach out, reach in,
march, be cuffed and fined,
and even jailed just once.
Neither brave nor timid
I try to follow Jesus
who walked outside the lines.

Music: The Trouble with Truth – Joan Baez

Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s always the same old thing
So hard to forget, so impossible for me to change
Every time I try to fight it
I know I’ll be left to blame.

Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s always the same old thing
And the trouble with the truth
Is it’s just what I need to hear
Ringing so right, deep down inside my ear.


And it’s everything I want
And it’s everything I fear
Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s just what I need to hear

It had ruined the taste of the sweetest lies
Burned through my best alibis
Every sin that I deny
Keeps hanging round my door
Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it always begs for more

That’s the trouble, trouble with the truth
That’s the trouble, trouble with the truth
And the trouble with the truth
Is it just won’t let me rest
I run and hide, but there’s always another test
And I know that it won’t let me be
‘Till I’ve given it my best
The trouble with the truth
Is it just won’t let me rest

Psalm 78: Don’t Forget

Friday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

January 15, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 78, a call to learn from experience and to teach its lessons to our posterity.

What we have heard and know,
and what our parents have declared to us,
we will declare to the generation to come
The glorious deeds of the LORD and his strength.

Psalm 78: 3-4

And the teaching is this:

That they too may rise and declare to their progeny
that they should put their hope in God,
And not forget the deeds of God
but keep God’s commands.

Psalm 78: 6-7

Though stern, the message seems obvious and simple, right?

But the last verses of our psalm today reveal a more complex historical reality:

And not be like their fathers,
a generation wayward and rebellious,
A generation that kept not its heart steadfast
nor its spirit faithful toward God.

Psalm 78: 8

In later verses of Psalm 78, Israel’s rebellion finally becomes the last straw. God rejects Israel (the northern kingdom) and chooses the southern kingdom to carry on the Promise. It was BIG!

But they tested and rebelled against God Most High,
whose decrees they did not observe.
They turned disloyal, faithless like their ancestors;
they proved false like a slack bow.
They enraged God with their high places,
and with their idols provoking God to jealous anger.
God heard and grew angry;
rejecting Israel completely.

Psalm 78: 56-59

Praying with the psalm today, my soul still swirling in our country’s current events, I ask myself a few questions:

  • how is God speaking in our political reality
  • what “forgetfulness” are we called to recognize
  • what role does acknowledgement and repentance have in redeeming our integrity
  • what has our experience taught us that we must safeguard for the future
  • how can we unite as a faith community to respond to grace

This commentary by Tom Roberts, former editor of the National Catholic Reporter, enlightened my prayer. I found it disturbing, compelling, and necessary to think on these things. I pray for the courage and discipline to act on them.


Poem: excerpt from “ON THE PULSE OF MORNING” by Maya Angelou
Presidential Inauguration Ceremony, January 20, 1993.
(It is a long, powerful poem. I will post it in a second posting for those who would like to read it in full.)

A Rock, A River, A Tree
 Hosts to species long since departed,   
 Marked the mastodon,
 The dinosaur, who left dried tokens   
 Of their sojourn here
 On our planet floor,
 Any broad alarm of their hastening doom   
 Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
 

 But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,   
 Come, you may stand upon my
 Back and face your distant destiny,
 But seek no haven in my shadow,
 I will give you no hiding place down here.
 

 You, created only a little lower than
 The angels, have crouched too long in   
 The bruising darkness
 Have lain too long
 Facedown in ignorance,
 Your mouths spilling words
 Armed for slaughter.
 

 The Rock cries out to us today,   
 You may stand upon me,   
 But do not hide your face.
 

Music: Learn Your Lessons Well from Godspell

On the Pulse of Morning – Maya Angelou


 

 A Rock, A River, A Tree
 Hosts to species long since departed,
 Marked the mastodon.
 
 The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
 Of their sojourn here
 On our planet floor,
 Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
 Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
 
 But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
 Come, you may stand upon my
 Back and face your distant destiny,
 But seek no haven in my shadow.
 
 I will give you no hiding place down here.
 

 You, created only a little lower than
 The angels, have crouched too long in
 The bruising darkness,
 Have lain too long
 Face down in ignorance.
 
 Your mouths spilling words
 Armed for slaughter.
 
 The Rock cries out to us today, you may stand on me,
 But do not hide your face.
 
 Across the wall of the world,
 A River sings a beautiful song,
 It says come rest here by my side.
 
 Each of you a bordered country,
 Delicate and strangely made proud,
 Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
 
 Your armed struggles for profit
 Have left collars of waste upon
 My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
 
 Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
 If you will study war no more. Come,
 
 Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
 The Creator gave to me when I and the
 Tree and the rock were one.
 
 Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
 Brow and when you yet knew you still
 Knew nothing.
 
 The River sang and sings on.
 
 There is a true yearning to respond to
 The singing River and the wise Rock.
 

 So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
 The African, the Native American, the Sioux,
 The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
 The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
 The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
 The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
 They all hear
 The speaking of the Tree.
 
 They hear the the first and last of every Tree
 Speak to humankind today. Come to me, here beside the River.
 
 Plant yourself beside the River.
 
 Each of you, descendant of some passed
 On traveller, has been paid for.
 
 You, who gave me my first name, you
 Pawnee, Apache, Seneca, you
 Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
 Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
 Other seekers--desperate for gain,
 Starving for gold.
 
 You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Eskimo, the Scot ...
 You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
 Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
 Praying for a dream.
 
 Here, root yourselves beside me.
 
 I am that Tree planted by the River,
 Which will not be moved.
 

 I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
 I am yours--your Passages have been paid.
 
 Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
 For this bright morning dawning for you.
 
 History, despite its wrenching pain,
 Cannot be unlived, but if faced
 With courage, need not be lived again.
 
 Lift up your eyes upon
 This day breaking for you.
 
 Give birth again
 To the dream.
 
 Women, children, men,
 Take it into the palms of your hands.
 
 Mold it into the shape of your most
 Private need. Sculpt it into
 The image of your most public self.
 Lift up your hearts
 Each new hour holds new chances
 For new beginnings.
 
 Do not be wedded forever
 To fear, yoked eternally
 To brutishness.
 
 The horizon leans forward,
 Offering you space to place new steps of change.
 Here, on the pulse of this fine day
 You may have the courage
 To look up and out and upon me, the
 Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
 
 No less to Midas than the mendicant.
 
 No less to you now than the mastodon then.
 
 Here on the pulse of this new day
 You may have the grace to look up and out
 And into your sister's eyes, and into
 Your brother's face, your country
 And say simply
 Very simply
 With hope
 Good morning.
 

Psalm 95: Tender Your Heart

Thursday of the First Week of Ordinary Time

January 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 95. It’s a very popular psalm and we have prayed with it several times.

Today, Paul quotes it in his letter to the Hebrews, following up with this warning:

Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.

Hebrews 3:12

Our psalm suggests that God was pretty fed up with the hard-heartedness of the folks following Moses through the desert.

Forty years I was wearied of that generation;
    I said: “This people’s heart goes astray,
    they do not know my ways.”
Therefore I swore in my anger:
    “They shall never enter my rest.”

Psalm 95: 10-11

Praying with these thoughts, we might ask ourselves where our own hard-heartedness lies. Though some of my readers may be perfect 😉, I’m not – and there may be a few of you like me. I have been, and still am sometimes, a chilly heart, an indifferent heart, an arrogant heart, even a vengeful heart.

We are even, at times, resistant to God as God is revealed in our life challenges.

Our psalm invites us, as both Paul and the psalmist invited their people, to humbly trust God’s ability to soften our hearts – even through what we may perceive as a desert.

We are asked to yield to God and let God’s mysterious grace blossom in us.

Come, let us bow down in worship;
    let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For this is our God,
    and we are the people God shepherds and guides.

Psalm 95: 6-7

Poetry: Listen – Paul J. Willis

A lake lies all alone in its own shape. 
It’s not going anywhere. 
A lake can wait a long time 
for a hiker to come 
and camp on its shore. 
It will reflect the moonlight, 
give him a drink of pale silver. 
Toward dawn, the wind might ruffle 
it a little, and the water 
will have words with the granite. 
Once the hiker goes away 
through October meadows, 
the lake will sparkle by itself. 
You’ll never see it. There is
so much you will never see.

Music: Tender Hearted – Jeanne Cotter

Psalm 105: Wondrous Deeds

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

January 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105 celebrating God’s covenanted faithfulness to us.

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke God’s name;
    make known among the nations God’s deeds.
Sing, sing God’s praise,
    proclaim all God’s wondrous deeds.
(because…) The Lord remembers the covenant for ever.

Psalm 105: 1-2, 8

We certainly can spend some time in prayer today remembering God’s faithfulness to us personally. A grateful review of our life journey can always offer new insights into God’s love and generosity.

But more specifically, our psalm calls us to plumb the two readings which it connects.

  • Hebrews reminds us that God’s love is so extreme that God took Flesh in Jesus to teach us, in terms we could understand, the degree of God’s love.
  • In Mark, we see the early expression of that love, as Jesus reveals his healing power to the wretchedly suffering crowds.

In these readings, we learn that God’s promise endures to each generation:

God remembers the covenant forever
    which was made binding for a thousand generations– 
Which was entered into with Abraham
    and by God’s oath to Isaac.

Psalm 105: 8

In Chronos Time, this enduring covenant was enfleshed in Jesus. It continues in Kairos Time through each person’s Baptism into Christ through the Holy Spirit.

In other words,
we are the agents of God’s covenant with the world. Our lives must enflesh God’s Mercy for our times.

In his letter to Titus, Paul puts this clearly:

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, we were saved not because of righteous things we had done, but because of God’s mercy. God saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by God’s grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.  

Titus 3: 4-7

May the message of these readings free us,
inspire us, and impel us
to a grace-filled response.


Poetry: Grace by Jill Peláez Baumgartner

Is it the transparency
and lift of air?
Is it release
as when the pebble
flings out of the slingshot
or the tethered dog
suddenly is without lead?

Or is it more like standing
on a dark beach
at midnight,
the surf loud
with its own revolution,
the horizon invisible,
the entire world the threat
of rushing water?

No one who swims 
at night in the ocean
feels weightless
embracing armfuls of water
against the ballast
of the waves’ fight.

Swimming:
toward the shore lights
or out into the vast bed
of the sea's white fires?

Music: Confitemini Domino – Psalm 105 – Orlando di Lasso (first published in 1562)

Confitemini Domino et invocate nomen ejus,

annuntiate inter gentes opera ejus,

cantate ei et psallite ei.

Narrate omnia mirabilia ejus,

laudamini in nomine sancto ejus,

laetetur cor quaerentium Dominum.

Give glory to the Lord, and call upon his name,

declare his deeds among the Gentiles,

sing to him, yea sing praises to him.

Relate all his wondrous works,

Glory ye in his holy name,

let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.