Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 6, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, a song which dances with jubilation. It filled my prayer with images and music. No worded reflection … no Vatican documents. Just let the exuberant scriptures uplift you today.

That’s what I share with you today, beloveds❤️


Sing to the Lord! Toss away any old dirge trying to weigh your spirit down!


And sing anew because Jesus has given us this infinite gift.


Poetry: I Call You Beloved – Rabindranath Tagore

When You command me to sing, 
it seems that my heart would break with pride, 
and I look to your face, and tears come to my eyes.
All that is harsh and dissonant in my life 
melts into one sweet harmony—
and my adoration spreads wings 
like a glad bird on its flight across the sea.
I know You take pleasure in my singing. 
I know that only as a singer 
I come before your presence.
I touch, by the edge of the far-spreading wing of my song, 
Your feet, which I could never aspire to reach.
Drunk with the joy of singing, 
I forget myself and call you Beloved, who are my Lord.


Music: Two songs, one classical, one a little devilment, but I couldn’t help singing it.🤗

  1. For beauty: A New Song by James MacMillan

  1. For fun: Joy to the World – Three Dog Night

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 5, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 122 which celebrates the beauty and stability of Jerusalem as a symbol of God’s enduring faithfulness to us.

I rejoiced because they said to me,
    “We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
    within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Psalm 122:1-2

Think of the peace this psalm brought to its reciters – the kind of peace we seek in a confusing world.

The disciples in our passage from Acts sought the same kind of peace. As the early Church – the “New Jerusalem” – developed, and diverse converts joined the community, everyone had an opinion about that development. We all know what that’s like! 😉


Many of us have been in discussions about how to use church/community resources, respond to new initiatives, or celebrate liturgy. While it’s great to have expanded energy in the discussion, it can be exhausting, particularly if some opinions are uninformed by prayer, justice, or humility.


The real issue for the early Christians wasn’t simply circumcision. The core challenge was how to remain true to the Gospel as it met the first of many generations of interpretation. To do so, they returned to the “compact unity of Jerusalem”. They held fast to the roots of Jesus’s teaching.

Jerusalem, built as a city
    with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the LORD.

Psalm 122: 3-4

The topic of circumcision has long since been resolved by gathering the community in prayerful discernment and humble obedience. But as the ages pass, the Christian community will forever be called to return/remain in the “Jerusalem” of Christ’s teaching.

We do so by continually returning to the roots of the Gospel. That’s what it means to live in radical faith.

Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.

John 15: 4-5

May we constantly grow
in our love, understanding,
and obedience to the Gospel
so that we more fully contribute
to our community of faith.

Poetry: Palm Sunday by Malcolm Guite

Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,
And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune. I know what lies behind
The surface flourish that so quickly fades;
Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,
The hardness of the heart, its barricades,
And at the core, the dreadful emptiness
Of a perverted temple. Jesus, come
Break my resistance and make me your home

Music: Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem – Herbert Howells

Lyrics:

O pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
They shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within they walls
And plenteousness within thy palaces.
Psalm 122 vv. 6, 7

Tuesday of Fifth Week of Easter

May 4, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 145 which reveals a wonderful secret – how to be a Friend of God:

Pope Francis describes friendship with God in a recent Angelus address:

God is not a distant and anonymous being: God is our refuge, the wellspring of our peace and tranquility. God is the rock of our salvation, to which we can cling with the certainty of not falling; one who clings to God never falls! God is our defence against the evil which is ever lurking. God is a great friend, ally, parent to us, but we do not always realize it. We do not realize that we have a friend, an ally, a parent who loves us, and we prefer to rely on immediate goods that we can touch, on contingent goods, forgetting and at times rejecting the supreme good, which is the  love of God. Feeling that God is our Parent, in this epoch of orphanhood, is so important! In this orphaned world…


The early Christians persevered in unfolding this secret as told in Acts today:

After they had proclaimed the good news to that city
and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Acts 14: 21-22

In our Gospel, Jesus speaks to his disciples before his Ascension. He gives them the secret of hope, peace and encouragement. In that gift, they will stay true friends to him as he is to them:

And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.
I will no longer speak much with you,
for the ruler of the world is coming.
He has no power over me,
but the world must know that I love the Father
and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.

John 14: 29-31

May we live joyfully as Friends of God, confident of and making known God’s merciful Name by our faith, love, mercy, generosity, and hope.

May my mouth speak the praise of the LORD,
    and may all flesh bless God’s holy name forever and ever.

Psalm 145: 21

Poetry: I Am – Rainer Maria Rilke

I am, you anxious one. Do you not hear me
rush to claim you with each eager sense?
Now my feelings have found wings, and, circling,
whitely fly about your countenance.

Here my spirit in its dress of stillness
stands before you, — oh, do you not see?
In your glance does not my Maytime prayer
grow to ripeness as upon a tree?

Dreamer, it is I who am your dream.
But would you awake, I am your will,
and master of all splendor, and I grow
to a sphere, like stars poised high and still,
with time’s singular city stretched below.


Music: Friend of God written by Israel Houghton and sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
I am a friend of God
He calls me friend

Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call
Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How You love me
It's amazing

Who am I, Lord
Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call (is it true O Lord?)

Is it true that You are thinking of me?
How You love me (it's amazing Jesus)
It's amazing (I am a friend of God)
I am a friend of God ....(repeated)

What a priviledge it is, yeah
Who am I that You are mindful of me?
That You hear me when I call (is it true, is it true?)
Is it true that You are thinking of me? 

(Oh Lord sometimes I don't understand)
How You love me (how You love me Lord?)
It's amazing (oh it's so amazing)
It's amazing (Lord it's so amazing)
It's amazing
I am a friend of God

(These phrases are repeated with lots of praise in between.
I hope you feel it too!❤️😇)

Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

May 3, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19 in which the psalmist draws on nature’s beauty to praise God.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day;
    and night to night imparts knowledge.

Psalm 19: 2-3

Psalm 19 is used today to highlight the apostolic work of Philip and James who chose to declare the Gospel by their lives.

We note that these men are no longer called simply “disciples” or learners of the Word. They are now “apostles”, charged with spreading the Word for the benefit of all.

In our Christian vocations, we each are called to live both these aspects of our call. We are continual learners of the faith through our prayer, reading, and listening.  At the same time, we have an apostolic charge to spread the Gospel by the way we live.


This double call was clearly proclaimed through Vatican II in the magnificent document Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

I remember with great joy how this document, with its companions, released a surge of enthusiastic faith in the People of God when published in the 1960s. Many of us read and re-read our paperback copies of the Documents until they have long since fallen apart.

There is a Kindle edition available, but now when I want to be refreshed by their power, I access them for free on my iPad at the Vatican site:


Here is a favorite passage I used today to inform my prayer on this feast of two apostles

Lumen Gentium
(The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church)
promulgated by Pope Paul VI

The laity are gathered together in the People of God and make up the Body of Christ under one head. Whoever they are they are called upon, as living members, to expend all their energy for the growth of the Church and its continuous sanctification, since this very energy is a gift of the Creator and a blessing of the Redeemer.

The lay apostolate, however, is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord. Moreover, by the sacraments, especially Holy Eucharist, that charity toward God and our brothers and sisters which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished. Now the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth. Thus every lay person, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon them, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself “according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal”.

Besides this apostolate which certainly pertains to all Christians, the laity can also be called in various ways to a more direct form of cooperation in the apostolate of the Hierarchy. This was the way certain men and women assisted Paul the Apostle in the Gospel, laboring much in the Lord. Further, they have the capacity to assume from the Hierarchy certain ecclesiastical functions, which are to be performed for a spiritual purpose.

Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all persons of each epoch and in every land. Consequently, may every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church.


This morning’s question:
how am I hearing
and responding
to my apostolic call?

Poetry: An Apostle’s Prayer – Edward Henry Bickersteth, Bishop of Exeter (1825-1906)

My God, my Father, let me rest
In the calm sun-glow of Thy face,
Until Thy love in me express’d
Draws others to Thy throne of grace.

O Jesu, Master, let me hold
Such secret fellowship with Thee,
That others, careless once and cold,
Won to my Lord and theirs may be.

Eternal Spirit, heavenly Dove,
The light of life to me impart,
Till fire descending from above
Burns on and on from heart to heart.

O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Still, still may love to love respond;
And teach me, when I love Thee most,
Depths all unfathom’d lie beyond.

Music: The Call – from Five Mystical Songs – Vaughan Williams

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath;
such a truth as ends all strife;
such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast;
such a feast as mends in length;
such a strength as makes a guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move:
such a love as none can part;
such a heart as joys in love.

Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 2, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 22 which captures the message of all our readings this Sunday: how we receive, cherish, grow and share our faith.

When I read these passages this morning, an image came to my mind.

Sister Bernard Mary was a special, and rather unique Sister of Mercy. Born in 1917, and a true representative of “The Greatest Generation”, she served as a Navy nurse in WWII. Afterward she joined the Sisters of Mercy and lived a long life of expert care in our hospitals and other institutions. Among her many clinical talents, she was the supreme phlebotomist. She could stick even a difficult vein with you never ever noticing the pinch.


When Bernard died at the age of 91, a lone sailor stood in our community cemetery to bugle “Taps” over her flag-draped coffin. The melody captured all the singular simplicity of her dedicated and faithful ministry, sending it to heavens that welcomed her.

Bernard was one of those iconic sisters whose life was fully focused on her faith and ministry. She worked every day, all day and, as far as I could tell, had few other interests than a love of her family. 


But she had an orchid plant. And it was a doozy. Given the plant as a small gift, she had nurtured that flower like the practiced healer that she was. She understood it, spoke to it, listened to it, responded to it, providing it deeper roots as it grew to an impressive size.  Like any plant, it went through cycles. Bernard patiently accompanied and nourished it through every one.

As a result, the orchid was huge and astoundingly beautiful – to the point that each year, it would be entered in the Philadelphia Flower Show. At least on one occasion, it won first prize!

(The Philadelphia Flower Show is an annual event produced by The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Said to be the “largest indoor flower show in the world”, it attracts more than a quarter million people annually.)


The image? That magnificent plant was a symbol – the visible expression of Bernard’s quiet but powerful faith.

Let’s consider our own faith. It’s a gift. It deserves our complete and loving attention. It must remain deeply rooted within us.  And it should be displayed for the benefit of others through our loving and merciful ministry to those in need.

Psalm 22 says so:

I will offer praise in the great assembly;
my vows I will fulfill before those who reverence the Lord.

The needy will eat their fill;
those who seek the LORD will offer praise.
May your hearts enjoy life forever!

Psalm 22: 26-27

The Acts of the Apostles says so:

The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace.
It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord,
and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.

Acts 9:31

John’s letter says so:

And God’s commandment is this:
we should believe in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ,
and love one another just as commanded us.
Those who keep these commandments remain in himGod, and God in them,
and the way we know that God remains in us
is from the Spirit he gave us.


And our Gospel today says so:

Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without me you can do nothing.

John 15: 4-5

Dear Bernard, simple, faithful sister – you taught me so many things without your ever realizing it… thank you!


Poetry: Re-planting – Renee Yann,RSM

That afternoon,
winter framed sunlight
in the cold windows.

I watched you spread small greens
across a wooden table,
fingering their thready roots
like harp strings.

A song fell from that,
like quiet, nurturing rain.
Unable to sing,
I let the song seep quietly into me,
bathing my uprooted soul
in the warm silence between us.

There, in that comfort,
the small cutting at my core
sought earth,
sought healing.

Finally, I spoke
and laid the whole parched root
upon the table of your mercy. And
you, ever-tender gardener, lifted it
and blew the dust away, and
spitting gently in your hand,
massaged the feeble life it hid
before you stood it carefully in soil.

You said, “Life is like this sometimes.
Be gentle with it.  It will bloom again.” 

Music: With An Orchid – Yanni