God Willing!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052318.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we read from the epistle of James. There are multiple, unresolvable theories about who this “James” was, as three are mentioned in the Gospel. All I can say is that when I read this particular passage, I think that my Irish Great-Grandmother was the reincarnation of this writer, whichever one he was!

Each night, when we would innocently say, “Goodnight, Nana, see you in the morning”, Nana would ominously respond, “God willing.” I would creep up to bed convinced in my 3-year-old mind that God might be waiting to snatch me in my sleep. Upon awakening the next morning, I was glad God was “willing” to let me have another day.

Nana didn’t know the turmoil she created in me, but James’s warning is intended to disturb. Through his entire letter, he weaves the themes of humility over pride, grace over concupiscence, a holy integrity in face of evil. There is an urgency for holiness in James which can inspire us all. As our hymn says:

Our life as a dream, our time as a stream

Glide swiftly away,

And the fugitive moment refuses to stay.

Now is the time to “do the right thing.” (James 4: 17)

Music: Come, Let Us Anew ~ written by Charles Wesley in the 1700s. Sung here by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir ( The slide show appears to have been prepared by a Christian Jew)

Clash

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052218.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we officially re-enter the Church’s Ordinary Time, those large time frames in the liturgical year which fall outside the major seasons. We have just left the glorious cycle of Lent, Passion and Eastertide. And now we get to show how all those special graces will impact our ordinary lives. It’s rather like coming back from free-floating outer space and landing in the gravity-laden ocean where we have to be rescued.

In our readings today, James and Mark are our rescuers. And they’re tough on us! Both point out that the clash of good and evil in our lives is rooted in our pride and unruly passions. In other words, we tend to focus on protecting and promoting our own interests in this life, sometimes to the point of stepping on others.

Our readings challenge us to place our well-being in the hands of God; to humbly turn our attention outward; to find our wealth and security in service to God’s most needy ones – because that is where God dwells.

It may be called Ordinary Time, but it is by no means ordinary. It is the glorious and dangerous daily journey into the heart of God. Travel in grace, my friends!

Music: Strength for the Journey ~ Michael John Poirier

Mary, Mother of the Church

Monday, May 21, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. It is a day to honor Mary for giving life to Jesus for the sake of all humanity. It is day to beg her intercession for a world so desperately in need of Christ’s continued revelation.

Mary is the door through which Heaven visited earth to heal it from sinful fragmentation. May she continue to carry her beautiful grace to broken hearts and even to the twisted souls who broke them. Through her, may we all find healing.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, intercede for all Creation that we may embrace the love your Son taught us.

( Friends, I began my annual retreat on Pentecost evening. All of you, dear followers, will be very much in my prayers. Please pray for me too. ❤️)

Music: Ave Maria ~ Michael Hoppè

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SLoaDz1af0M

Come, Holy Spirit!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052018-mass-during-day.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit comes to us to remain with us forever. May we open our hearts and souls to this infinite power of God within us!

Pentecost

The Pentecost Sequence is so beautiful.  You might like to find the phrase within the Sequence that most touches your heart and soul at this particular time in your life. Let that phrase bless you with the Holy Spirit’s Love.

May this be our prayer for today and the days to come:
Come, O Holy Spirit, come!
From Your bright and blissful Home
Rays of healing light impart. 

Come, Father of the poor,
Source of gifts that will endure
Light of ev’ry human heart. 

You of all consolers best,
Of the soul most kindly Guest,
Quick’ning courage do bestow. 

In hard labor You are rest,
In the heat You refresh best,
And solace give in our woe. 

O most blessed Light divine,
Let Your radiance in us shine,
And our inmost being fill. 

Nothing good by man is thought,
Nothing right by him is wrought,
When he spurns Your gracious Will. 

Cleanse our souls from sinful stain,
Lave our dryness with Your rain,
Heal our wounds and mend our way. 

Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray. 

On the faithful who in You,
Trust with childlike piety,
Deign Your sevenfold gift to send. 

Give them virtue’s rich increase,
Saving grace to die in peace,
Give them joys that never end. 

Amen. Alleluia.

Music: The Pentecost Sequence in beautiful Gregorian Chant

What About the Other Guy?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051918.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we walk with the Risen Jesus and his dearest disciples along the seashore.  Jesus has just cooked breakfast for the fellas.  He then tells Peter that he is to take Jesus’ place as “shepherd of the lambs and sheep”. Jesus tells Peter that he is to follow in the way of Jesus.  That’s a pretty profound command! Peter knows full well what happened to Jesus.

And dear, earthy, impulsive Peter, turns aside distractedly and notices John.  Peter says, “What about him?” You can almost see Jesus take hold of Peter’s face, turn his eyes directly into Jesus’ own eyes and say, ”Pay attention.  I’m talking to YOU – not him.”

We can love Peter because we’ve all been like him numerous times in our lives.  God is calling, or giving us a message and we distract ourselves from its power by worrying about things that are unimportant or none of our business. We start asking a million questions when there is only one answer: respond with trust.

Jesus’ final words to Peter are ones we might ponder: ”You follow me.”  The implication is that, if we do, then God will take care of the other guy – and everything else.

John 21_21

Music: Follow Me  by Casting Crowns

In this song, you will hear echoes of Jesus’ call to many people throughout the Gospel: the first disciples, the woman taken in adultery, the good thief and, perhaps, even to us.

Do You Love Me?

Friday, May 18, 2018

Readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051818.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus extracts a pledge from Peter with the question, “Do you love me?” This is a brave question on Jesus’ part. What if Peter’s answer is half-hearted?  But the full-spirited Peter does not disappoint. “Of course, I love You,” he avows. But then, Jesus ups the ante with some “prove it” clauses: “Feed my lambs and my sheep.”

This passage always reminds me of a wonderful scene from Fiddler on the Roof.

 

What about us? Do we really love Jesus? Pope Gregory the Great says this:

The proof of love is in the works.
Where love exists, it works great things.
But when it ceases to act, it ceases to exist.

Music: If You Love Me ~ Cyprian Consiglio, OSB

We Are God’s Gifts

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051718.cfm

Today, in Mercy, in John 17, we are folded into the prayer of Jesus as He talks to the Father about us. We are the humble, silent listeners to a Divine Conversation. Jesus prays that we may be part of His unity with the Father. He calls us His gifts and asks to keep us with Him in eternal life. He asks to live within us through the gift of the Father’s love. These are awesome prayers that may be too much for us to comprehend.

But picture this: a loving parent embracing a frightened or injured child. The parent looks up to heaven, asking God to keep this child safe; to never let them be lost; to fill them with love, joy and life. The praying parent promises to always protect and guide their cherished child like a precious gift and to hold them securely in times of trouble.

This is the way Jesus prays for us. Awesome, indeed!

John17_24

Music: He Will Hold Me Fast ~ Keith and Kristyn Getty

I Greet the Holy within You

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051618.cfm

Today, in Mercy, in our reading from Acts, Paul continues his prayer for those who will safeguard and carry the faith into the future. In the Gospel, Jesus does the same thing. Both Jesus and Paul talk about the “consecration“ of those they are praying for.

Consecration is the act of making something sacred – setting it apart in God. Each one of us, by our Baptism, has been so consecrated. Jesus tells us that “the world” (read: the influences of greed, power, and self-absorption) will challenge what is sacred in us. These influences will fight against the Truth that we, and every other creature, are holy because Christ died for us.

On occasion, at very special liturgies, the celebrant will venerate the altar and the congregation with incense from a thurible. At funeral liturgies, the body of our loved one is so venerated. These acts recognize the holiness within us. In Hindu culture, the greeting, “Namaste” captures this understanding because it literally means, “I greet the Holy in you.” I was deeply moved to learn this word, many years ago, from one of our missionary Sisters returning from India.

Today’s readings encourage us to reflect on this question: Is my life an act of veneration to the sacred within me and everyone I meet?

Acts 20_32

Song: Holy Now by Peter Mayer

The Empty Chair

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051518.cfm

Today, in Mercy, both Paul and Jesus give a farewell discourse.  They are both saying goodbye to their friends and disciples as their ministry draws to a close. 

Such conversations are charged with emotion – love, hope, gratitude, sadness and loss interplay with one another in a poignant turmoil.  

We may have known such times when moving on from a job or neighborhood;  leaving school or work to begin something new. We may have held the hand of a loved one as they prepared for death, assuring each other of our love and thanks. Whatever the cause, there will be empty chairs in our lives where once there were beloved friends and family.  Even happy times such as weddings and distant job opportunities can hold the nugget of loss for us and those we love

We can learn from Jesus and Paul in today’s readings how to say goodbye.  A faithful, committed presence to our lives, our responsibilities, and our loved ones will sustain us when time or circumstance calls for change – even the ultimate change of dying.

Acts20_25

Music: How to Say Goodbye – Michael W. Smith

Second String

Monday, May 14, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051418.cfm

Today, in Mercy, on this feast of St. Matthias, we read about his election into the company of the Apostles.  Matthias was a bench player, a second stringer.   He had been with the disciples from the very beginning.  But, it was Judas Iscariot who was originally chosen for the A-team! Ultimately, through his faithful and enduring commitment, Matthias emerged as the one to take up the slack when Judas failed so miserably. His humble fidelity was recognized.

If we have ever felt like a second string, we can find consolation in Matthias.  And we might consider how important a second string is in music. Not only can the phrase indicate a back-up string should one break, it also is the name for the D string on musical instruments. Imagine how the great music of the world would be changed if second strings did not exist!

Act 1_26 Matthias

Music: Mstislav Rostropovich playing Cello Adagio in D minor by Alessandro Marcello