All Saints Day -2022

November 1, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate all those canonized and uncanonized sisters and brothers who lived their lives in Christ with gusto and fidelity.


The feast of All Saints, on its current date, is traced to the foundation by Pope Gregory III by (731–741) of an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”. (Wikipedia)

I’ve personally known many of these saints, whether I fully recognized their sanctity or not. They have lived in my family, school, neighborhood, parish, ministries, and workplaces. Some were clothed as nuns and some as beggars. Some taught me by words and some by silence. I knew some by name, others by grace. Now they have all joined the eternal family watching over us and cheering for us.

There they have formed communion with my more recognized and favorite holy friends like Mary, Joseph, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, Kateri Tekawitha, Anna the Prophet, John XXIII, and of course Catherine McAuley.

What a wonderful day to know that these beloveds of God are our sisters and brothers, who pray with and for us that we may one day rejoice with them in eternal light.

Who are the saints that speak especially to your heart? Take time to have a nice conversation with them on this glorious feastday!

If you are interested in learning more about the saints, this is a wonderful book by Father James Martin, SJ.

Poetry: All Saints Day – Ada Cambridge, (1844 – 1926), later known as Ada Cross, was an English-born Australian writer. She wrote more than 25 works of fiction, three volumes of poetry and two autobiographical works. Many of her novels were serialized in Australian newspapers but never published in book form.

“But they are at peace.”

Never to weary more, nor suffer sorrow,— 
   Their strife all over, and their work all done: 
At peace—and only waiting for the morrow; 
   Heaven’s rest and rapture even now begun. 

So tired once! long fetter’d, sorely burden’d, 
   Ye struggled hard and well for your release; 
Ye fought in faith and love—and ye are guerdon’d, 
   O happy souls! for now ye are at peace. 

No more of pain, no more of bitter weeping! 
   For us a darkness and an empty place, 
Somewhere a little dust—in angels’ keeping— 
   A blessèd memory of a vanish’d face. 

For us the lonely path, the daily toiling, 
   The din and strife of battle, never still’d; 
For us the wounds, the hunger, and the soiling,— 
   The utter, speechless longing, unfulfill’d. 

For us the army camp’d upon the mountains, 
   Unseen, yet fighting with our Syrian foes,— 
The heaven-sent manna and the wayside fountains, 
   The hope and promise, sweetening our woes. 

For them the joyous spirit, freely ranging 
   Green hills and fields where never mortal trod; 
For them the light unfading and unchanging, 
   The perfect quietness—the peace of God. 

For both, a dim, mysterious, distant greeting; 
   For both, at Jesus’ cross, a drawing near; 
At Eucharistic gate a blessed meeting, 
   When angels and archangels worship here. 

For both, God grant, an everlasting union, 
   When sin shall pass away and tears shall cease; 
For both the deep and full and true communion, 
   For both the happy life that is “at peace.”

Music:  All Saints Day – featuring “Lifesong” by Casting Crowns (lyrics below)

Empty hands held high
Such small sacrifice
Now joined with my life
I sing in vain tonight

May the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to you

Let my lifesong sing to you
Let my lifesong sing to you
I want to sign your name
To the end of this day

Lord led my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to you
Lord I give my life
A living sacrifice
To reach a world in need
To be your hands and feet

So may the words I say
And the things I do
Make my lifesong sing
Bring a smile to you

Let my lifesong sing to you
Let my lifesong sing to you
I want to sign your name
To the end of this day

Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to you
Hallelujah, Hallelujah let my lifesong sing to you
Hallelujah, Hallelujah let my lifesong sing to you

Let my lifesong sing to you
Let my lifesong sing to you
I want to sign your name
To the end of this day

Knowing that my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to you
Let my lifesong sing to you
Let my lifesong sing to you
I want to sign your name
To the end of this day
Lord led my heart was true
Let my lifesong sing to you

Released from Hate

Monday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
October 31, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, what a beautiful prayer Paul spreads over his listeners. It is a prayer that calls all believers to live in love, peace, and reverence for one another:

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.

Philippians 2:1-2

Reading this passage, I was immediately struck by the awareness of how much opposite messaging we receive in today’s world.

In the arenas of entertainment, politics, civic life, and – sad to say – even religion, we often hear a message contradictory to Paul’s. We hear civic and supposedly “religious” leaders tell their followers to attack, shun, fight, and even “hang” the other. Night after night on our TVs, we watch fictional characters act out the hate and crime that has become normalized in our culture. Our video games, music and movies are drowning in blood, hate and anger.

Sometimes, I am just astounded that we entertain ourselves with murder, war, rape and other outrages against human beings!

With the vicious attack on Paul Pelosi this week, as in so many other horrendous incidents of unbridled hate, we see a perpetrator sickened and abetted by the violent rhetoric our society has allowed. And perhaps even worse than the crime itself, we see political leaders not only minimizing the atrocity, but mocking the victim!

If St. Paul were here, what would he say?

  • where is the encouragement in Christ?
  • where is the solace in love?
  • where is the participation in the Spirit?
  • where is the compassion and mercy?

As a matter of fact, if St. Paul were here, I think he would wail in sadness!

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us what a society should look like when it respects God and God’s Creation. It should be impelled by the deepest respect and tenderness toward the self and the other:

When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

Luke 14:12-14

Bottom line is this: a lot of people just don’t buy Paul’s or Jesus’s message. A lot of people would rather live for themselves to the expense of others.

But we’re not just “a lot of people”. We are Christ’s, and we must examine our speech, attitudes, choices and behaviors for anything that contradicts his message of love, mercy, inclusion, and mutual reverence.

The contradictions are subtle. Discovering and uprooting them takes honest and humble prayer. It requires a good look at how we entertain ourselves, how we confront those we disagree with, who we criticize and how we do it.

Several years ago, I was shocked when someone close to me announced, “I hate Obama!” I asked her why and she said, “I just do. I don’t need a reason!”

Where does all the hate in our culture come from? And, oh, how much more does it tell us about the haters than the ones hated! And of course, the essential question, “What can we do about it?”

Jesus made it simple. He told us to look around the “table” of our attitudes, behaviors and choices.

Who is welcome? Who is shunned? Who is embraced as a human being? Who is objectified and dispensed with as unimportant.

As in all solutions, we can begin with ourselves. Ridding ourselves of these contradictions requires that we listen to ourselves to see if, how, and why we ever use the word “hate”. Only then might we cleanse our hearts of its subtle poisons.

Prose: Two thoughts today

The enemy is fear.
We think it is hate,
but it is really fear.

Mahatma Gandhi

Who would I be,
and what power would be expressed in my life,
if I were not dominated by fear?

Paula D’Arcy

Music: At My Table – JJ Heller – a kinda fun video to watch!

Called by Name

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 30, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we have three wonderful readings to enrich our prayer.

In our passage from Wisdom, we can picture the pray-er sitting down with God to express admiration, thanks and love.

Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance
 or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth.
 But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things;
 and you overlook people’s sins that they may repent.
 For you love all things that are
 and loathe nothing that you have made;
 for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul prays a beautiful blessing over the community – a blessing which, by grace, transcends through time to us:

We always pray for you,
that our God may make you worthy of his calling
and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose
and every effort of faith,
that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,
and you in him,
in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ. 

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus meets a height-challenged scribe who is intensely interested in seeing the rumored Messiah:

Zaccheus ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
“Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house.” 

Notice that Jesus doesn’t just wave or look at Zacchaeus with a wry smile at his perch. Jesus incorporates Zacchaeus into the embrace of salvation.As Wisdom says, Jesus “loves all things that are..” And as Paul says, “powerfully brings to fulfillment every good purpose
and every effort of faith…”

I think there are times in every life when we need to stretch to find God. We may need to climb faith’s tree and dangle over the confusions of life in the hope of grasping grace. Friends, all of us, no matter how tall we might be, have been Zaccheaus! Am I right? When we are, let”s listen for the One Who calls our name!

Poetry: Zacchaeus – George Macdonald (10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905) was a Scottish author, poet and Christian minister. He was a pioneering figure in the field of modern fantasy literature and the mentor of fellow writer Lewis Carroll. 

To whom the heavy burden clings,
It yet may serve him like a staff;
One day the cross will break in wings,
The sinner laugh a holy laugh.

The dwarfed Zacchaeus climbed a tree,
His humble stature set him high;
The Lord the little man did see
Who sought the great man passing by.

Up to the tree he came, and stopped:
“To-day,” he said, “with thee I bide.”
spirit-shaken fruit he dropped,
Ripe for the Master, at his side.

Sure never host with gladder look
A welcome guest home with him bore!
Then rose the Satan of rebuke
And loudly spake beside the door:

“This is no place for holy feet;
Sinners should house and eat alone!
This man sits in the stranger‘s seat
And grinds the faces of his own!”

Outspoke the man, in Truth‘s own might:
“Lord, half my goods I give the poor;
If one I’ve taken more than right
With four I make atonement sure!”

Salvation here is entered in;
This man indeed is Abraham’s son!”
Said he who came the lost to win-
And saved the lost whom he had won.

Music: He Called Me by My Name – Fr. Christopher Cuelho, OFM

Holy Longing

Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
October 29, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 42, oh and what a lovely gift it is!

As the deer longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.Psalm 42:2

Dear friends, hasn’t every one of us known this longing – just to understand, to see, to be at one with the ways of God in our lives, our world….

Paul, in today’s passage to the Philippians, is feeling tremendous pressures of persecution and fatigue. He seems to share that deep longing for certainty and peace:

I long to depart this life and be with Christ, …. 
Yet this I know with confidence,
that I shall remain and continue 
in the service of all of you 
for your progress and joy in the faith…Philippians 3:23-24

As we pray with Psalm 42 today, we might ask God to come into our deepest longing, to open our hearts to the Divine Presence in those desires, to help us to find the Face of God in our daily experience, to love that Face, and to rest in the peace in its Presence:

Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?

Poems: Poems I wrote on two past retreats:

This wood on this morning;
these birds singing;
these plaintive calls
from boats along the Mississippi,
through this crystal Sunday air;
This moment among all others,
which You have known eternally,
when I would pause,
and You,
like a deer in stillness,
shedding camouflage,
would step out
to gaze at me.

Love Gaze
Caught in the ferocious wind
of my own inadequacies,
I cling by finest web
to the energy You are,
fixing my soul on yours
in that precarious holding.
You are the magnet, gathering
all my emptiness beyond itself.
As if my fears were only stones
to tread upon, You come into the marshes
of my life as stillness, paused
and vibrating like a deer
among the reeds in half-light.
I cannot word what it is
to swim in the deep pool of your Eyes.
All the universe, and all my understanding
turn aside in reverent silence.

Music: As the Deer – David Nevue

Brilliant in the Shadows

Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude
October 28. 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the feast of the Apostles Simon and Jude.

Not much is really known about either of these men. One tradition suggests that after the Ascension, they went together to carry the Gospel to Persia where they were eventually martyred.

Since we have so few facts, many legends and interpretations have grown up around these two men. Probably the strongest and most familiar of these is of St. Jude as the patron of hopeless cases.

There are probably very few of us who haven’t asked at least one favor from St. Jude in our lifetimes. This probability begs the question of why and how do we pray with the saints.

Our tradition holds that we exist in the Communion of Saints with all of God’s creatures, and that we inspire and support one another by the sharing of our lives. This sharing is not limited by time, nor is it constricted by death.

When we pray with the saints, we draw on their faithful witness to inspire, motivate and sustain us in our lives.

Today, we might pray within the spirit of these two great Christians whose witness, though historically muted, transcends time. May they inspire in us the passion and joy to speak Christ in our lives.

Poetry: All Saints – Malcolm Guite

Though Satan breaks our dark glass into shards
Each shard still shines with Christ’s reflected light,
It glances from the eyes, kindles the words
Of all his unknown saints. The dark is bright
With quiet lives and steady lights undimmed,
The witness of the ones we shunned and shamed.
Plain in our sight and far beyond our seeing
He weaves them with us in the web of being
They stand beside us even as we grieve,
The lone and left behind whom no one claimed,
Unnumbered multitudes, he lifts above
The shadow of the gibbet and the grave,
To triumph where all saints are known and named;
The gathered glories of His wounded love.

Music: Apostles’ Creed – sung here by Rebecca Gorzynska, a beautiful and talented artist (Latin and English text below.)

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, 
Creatorem caeli et terrae,
et in Iesum Christum, 
Filium Eius unicum, Dominum nostrum,
qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, 
natus ex Maria Virgine,
passus sub Pontio Pilato, 
crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus,
descendit ad ínferos, 
tertia die resurrexit a mortuis,
ascendit ad caelos, 
sedet ad dexteram Patris omnipotentis,
inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos.
Credo in Spiritum Sanctum,
sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam, 
sanctorum communionem,
remissionem peccatorum,
carnis resurrectionem,
vitam aeternam.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, 
Creator of heaven and earth. 
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord: 
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
born of the Virgin Mary, 
suffered under Pontius Pilate, 
was crucified, died, and was buried; 
he descended into hell; 
the third day he rose again from the dead; 
he ascended into heaven; 
sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; 
from thence he shall come 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 life everlasting. 
(Apostles’ Creed – Roman Ritual)

War is Evil… It’s That Simple!

Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
October 27, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 144, a royal psalm of David in which he celebrates victory and its ensuing peace.

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.Psalm 144:1

While, at first blush, the psalm seems to extol war as a means to achieve power, its message is really quite the opposite. 

It is only through reliance on God and faithfulness to God’s law that we find right-balance and peace – in our world, our community, and ourselves 

My mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I trust …Psalm 144:2

Historically, our world religions have had a vexing relationship with war, often espousing it to advance questionable agendas. Only in recent years has the Catholic Church re-evaluated what is referred to as the “Just War Theory”.

For a good explanation of this theory, click on the link below

However, in Fratelli Titti, Pope Francis declares:

War can easily be chosen by invoking all sorts of allegedly humanitarian, defensive or precautionary excuses, and even resorting to the manipulation of information. In recent decades, every single war has been ostensibly “justified”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the possibility of legitimate defence by means of military force, which involves demonstrating that certain “rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy” have been met. Yet it is easy to fall into an overly broad interpretation of this potential right. In this way, some would also wrongly justify even “preventive” attacks or acts of war that can hardly avoid entailing “evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated”. At issue is whether the development of nuclear, chemical and have granted war an uncontrollable destructive power over great numbers of innocent civilians. The truth is that “never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely”. We can no longer think of war as a solution, because its risks will probably always be greater than its supposed benefits. In view of this, it is very difficult nowadays to invoke the rational criteria elaborated in earlier centuries to speak of the possibility of a “just war”. Never again war!

As we pray with this psalm today, we might echo its last verse and pray a prayer like this for all people, for our fratelli tutti…:

May there be no breach in the walls,
no exile, no outcry in our streets.
Blessed the people so fortunate;
blessed the people whose God is the LORD.

Psalm 144:14-15

PoemMisnomer by Denise Levertov

They speak of the art of war,
but the arts 
draw their light from the soul’s well, 
and warfare 
dries up the soul and draws its power 
from a dark and burning wasteland. 
When Leonardo 
set his genius to devising 
machines of destruction he was not 
acting in the service of art, 
he was suspending 
the life of art 
over an abyss, 
as if one were to hold 
a living child out of an airplane window 
at thirty thousand feet.

Music: Where Have All the Flowers Gone

The Only Road

Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
October 26, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus sets out a stringent formula for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.

Jesus goes on to say that some will get to the threshold of the kingdom and be denied entrance because they are not recognized. These petitioners will be shocked, saying, “But we ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.

The passage teaches us that there is more to faith than religion, more to prayer than words, more to relationship than ritual. We may be the most observant Catholic, Lutheran, or Jew. We may stay praying in church longer than anyone else. We may know the catechism by heart. But if our deep heart hasn’t touched God’s, we will not be recognized at the narrow gate.

Where will we find God’s heart? The Gospel seems to suggest that we would do best to look among those who are considered “last” – those who are poor, humble, suffering, marginalized. At “the gate”, they will be “first” – so they must have the secret to that stringent formula.

There is little or nothing between these blessed ones and the touch of God – no power, pride or wealth. Their strength lies in their utter dependence on God – God knows them in that dependence.

It is hard for us to reach that place of trust and unity with God. Our possessions and accomplishments get in the way. Our independence and self-reliance get in the way. Our pride and penchant for control get in the way. It is a very narrow gate through these things that lets us find God – our God Who is not far … Who waits in the spaces between our self-importance.

Poetry: The Narrow Way – Anne Bradstreet

Believe not those who say
     The upward path is smooth,
Lest thou shouldst stumble in the way,
     And faint before the truth.
It is the only road
     Unto the realms of joy;
But he who seeks that blest abode
     Must all his powers employ.
Bright hopes and pure delights
     Upon his course may beam,
And there, amid the sternest heights
     The sweetest flowerets gleam.
On all her breezes borne,
     Earth yields no scents like those;
But he that dares not grasp the thorn
     Should never crave the rose.
Arm—arm thee for the fight!
     Cast useless loads away;
Watch through the darkest hours of night,
     Toil through the hottest day.
Crush pride into the dust,
     Or thou must needs be slack;
And trample down rebellious lust,
     Or it will hold thee back.
Seek not thy honor here;
     Waive pleasure and renown;
The world’s dread scoff undaunted bear,
     And face its deadliest frown.
To labor and to love,
     To pardon and endure,
To lift thy heart to God above,
     And keep thy conscience pure;
Be this thy constant aim,
     Thy hope, thy chief delight;
What matter who should whisper blame,
     Or who should scorn or slight?
What matter, if thy God approve,
     And if, within thy breast,
Thou feel the comfort of His love,
     The earnest of His rest?

Music: Enter the Narrow Gate! – John Michael Talbot

Enter the narrow gate
The gate that leads to life
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Pray for your enemies Those who abuse you
Love them and do not hate And love will follow you.
Enter the narrow gate
The gate that leads to life
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Forgive those who offend And seek their forgiveness And when you bring your gift You will be forgiven.
Enter the narrow gate
The gate that leads to life
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Heaven in My Window

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
October 25, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Edited in Prisma app with Trophy

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus begins a lesson to the disciples by asking a question many of us ask ourselves:

What is the Kingdom of God like?

As he so often does, Jesus uses nature to help his listeners understand the otherwise incomprehensible Love he has come to reveal.

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like?
To what can I compare it?
It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.
When it was fully grown, it became a large bush
and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”

In the northern hemisphere, nature slowly rolls toward winter. The gentle downward path through autumn is lined with glory bursting from the trees and splashed against October’s brilliant blue skies. I think if Jesus were preaching in my front yard today, he might say something like this:

Look at that maple tree! Look at that chestnut! Just as their colors explode in beauty, so God’s love washes over you every moment of your lives. That love is the Kingdom of Heaven — and it is right here within you waiting to be recognized. Let the trees teach you! Let the skies teach you!

Each one of you, dear readers, may be experiencing your own season – either in nature or in your spirit. in Australia, it is spring! Jacarandas and wildflowers blossom across the land as koala and kangaroo joeys begin to venture out of their mothers’ pouches for the first time. In Peru, October spring is a “shoulder season”, slowly moving from its beautiful dry days toward the wet winter.

At the same time, no matter where we live, our hearts may experience their own seasons as our inner world rotates through our life experiences. Still, no matter the season, each displays something of the abiding mystery of God’s love and presence.

Jesus recognized these inner seasons too. Sometimes, like the baker in his lesson, we have to work a little to find the hints of grace around us. She had to take the latent yeast and mix it with the unleavened flour. She had to reach for the graces available to her.

To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took
and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch of dough was leavened.

Through our prayer and silent hopeful presence to God, we ready ourselves for the “yeast” of sacred grace. We open our unleavened lives to the wonder of the Kingdom of Heaven already living within us

Perhaps today, we might take a little walk outside — or a stroll through our heart — to appreciate the season we are in, to let it open our spirits to the power of God’s life around and within us. As Mary Oliver describes her contemplative experience:

FOOLISHNESS? NO, IT’S NOT – from A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver (2021, Penguin)

Sometimes I spend all day trying to count leaves on a single tree. To do this I have to climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book. So I suppose, from their point of view it’s reasonable that my friends say: what foolishness! She’s got her head in the clouds again!

But it’s not. Of course I have to give up, but by then I am half crazy with the wonder of it – the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort. And I am in that delicious and important place, roaring with laughter, full of earth-praise.

Poetry: Autumn Fires – Robert Louis Stevenson

In the other gardens
   And all up in the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
   See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over, 
   And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
   The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
   Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
   Fires in the fall! 

Music: Flowers in October – Tim Janis

To Look in Christ’s Eyes

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
October 24, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus touches the bent-over woman, uncurling her infirmity into unimagined glory. This passage, like a time-lapse photo, shows her long-burdened spirit awaken, stretch into grace, and blossom at the fingertips of God!

O Sacred Spring for her long-wintered soul!

We pray with her today to our gracious Jesus, Who bypasses laws of Sabbath and humans, to spring loose the Spirit from any hibernation.

What joy or hope lies dormant in us – or in our beloveds – from years of doubt, fear or unbelieving? Is there a needed grace or healing we have grown almost tired of desiring?

Let us bring it to God in trust today, walking beside this bent-over woman. Though she could not yet look into His eyes, she knew He saw her, loved her, and would heal her.

We might pray with a poem by Mary Oliver which captures some of the same emotions as the powerful Gospel passage:

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again
and fasten themselves to the high branches—
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands
of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails
for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it
the thorn
that is heavier than lead—
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—
there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted—
each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,
whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not you have ever
dared to pray.

Music: Healer of My Soul – John Michael Talbot

An Honest, Humble Spirit

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 23, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, in our readings:

  • Sirach assures us that the prayer of the humble reaches the ear of God
  • Paul readies himself for death
  • Jesus gives us one of his most memorable parables. 

The thread running through all of these? Humility- that beautiful virtue which allows us to be who we truly are before God and humanity.

Jesus addressed this parable
to those who were convinced of their own righteousness
and despised everyone else. 
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray;
one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 
The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself,
‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector. 

Oh my goodness friends, how many times – at meetings or dinners — have we been with “the Pharisees”, such as Jesus describes? They are so unsure and unaware of their true value in God, that they begin to create an illusion of their greatness to protect their fear.

We know the statements (or attitudes) by heart. Sometimes, they’re harmless, and our listeners see through them right away.


But there are other statements, such as the Pharisee’s, that are not harmless. By falsely aggrandizing the self, these statements and attitudes degrade and dehumanize the other. But perhaps most importantly, they delude the speaker himself so that his ability to see his true worth in God is blocked by his false pride.

Paul, sensing the death’s approach, has a much more honest and humble self-evaluation:

I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

It’s really sad to miss the whole point of one’s true greatness: that we are beloved and redeemed by God – just like every Creature! That we are called, in that belovedness , to serve God in our sisters and brothers. Knowing this inalienable truth is the source of all humility, courage, joy, and perseverance in faith. It is the whole reason we were created. What a tragedy to, like the Pharisee, never realize how divinely great we really are!

Let us pray with Paul and the humble tax collector today. “O God, be merciful to me a sinner – a redeemed, grateful, and joyful sinner.”

Let us use for our poetry today’s beautiful Psalm 34.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
whose praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.

The LORD confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them from the earth.
When the just cry out, the LORD hears them,
and from all their distress they are rescued.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;
and those who are crushed in spirit God saves.
The LORD redeems the lives of these servants;
no one incurs guilt who takes refuge in our God.

Music: Miserere Mei – Gregorio Allegri 

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