Christmas Eve – 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with unbounded hope:

O Radiant Dawn,
it is Christmas Eve.
We see the hint of your dawning
along the dark horizon
of our limitations.

How we long for You
to fracture time,
our fragile eggshell,
Eternal Love flowing
across our weary hearts.

O Dayspring,
let us see beyond the darkness,
beyond fear,
and self-absorbed calculations,
beyond doubt, despair, hatred,
even death…

…to know that, in You,
everything is Light
for those who trust
Your Rising.

We await your
Christmas Morning
in our world.
Maranatha!  Come, Lord, Jesus!


Music: O Oriens – Gloriae Dei Cantores

O Come, King of All Nations

December 22, 2021
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

As we pray today’s antiphon – O Rex Gentium, O King of All Nations, let’s open our minds and hearts to all the world’s people. May we pray especially with and for all refugees, migrants and homeless sisters and brothers. May we become the change we desire for them, just as Christ became flesh for us.

O King of All Nations,
Cornerstone
holding us as One,
Come, save us.

Now, so close to
your Revelation,
we ask ourselves
if it is really darkest
just before the Dawn?

Our shadow seems
to have gotten
so badly in the way
of your Generous Light.

Despite your Breath
that bids us soar
in shared and
sacred tenderness,
we stubbornly return
to selfish clay.

Rekindle us, selfless King,
on this eve of eves.

As You prepare
to hide your Godhead
in our flesh,
in total love,
change us to Love.

May your Mercy
incarnate in our hearts
an Everlasting Christmas.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!


Poetry: O Rex Gentium – Malcolm Guite

O King of our desire whom we despise,
King of the nations never on the throne,
Unfound foundation, cast-off cornerstone,
Rejected joiner, making many one,
You have no form or beauty for our eyes,
A King who comes to give away his crown,
A King within our rags of flesh and bone.
We pierce the flesh that pierces our disguise,
For we ourselves are found in you alone.
Come to us now and find in us your throne,
O King within the child within the clay,
O hidden King who shapes us in the play
Of all creation. Shape us for the day
Your coming Kingdom comes into its own.

Come, O Emmanuel!

December 21, 2021
Tuesday of the Fourth week of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray:

O Emmanuel,
Who loved us so
that You took our flesh,
come,
open our eyes
to see You here
ever near,
ever within us.

As Earth turns –
in so many ways –
to greatest darkness,
light the candle of
Your Indwelling
deep within our
longing hearts.

As Mary knew your
Closeness,
let us know You.

As Joseph held You
in mutuality of trust,
let us hold You and
be held by You.

Be born again
in the love that
we return to You
by loving one another
well and tenderly.

Cleave us to
Your Brilliant Light
though hidden in
life’s puzzling shadows,
God with Us,
God ever with Us!

O Emmanuel, come
be with us
on our longest nights.
Let us lean
soft into You
on our hardest days.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Music: Winter Cold Night – John Foley, SJ
(Lyrics below)

Winter Cold Night – John Foley, SJ

Dark, dark, the winter cold night, lu-lee-ley
Hope is hard to come by, lu-lee-ley
Hard, hard, the journey tonight, lu-lee-ley.
Star, guide, hope, hide
our poor, winter cold night.

And on earth peace, good will to men.

Lean, lean, the living’ tonight, lu-lee-lay.
Star seems darker sometimes, lu-lee-lay.

Unto you is born this day a Savior.

Pain, yes, in the bornin’ tonight, lu-lee-lay.
Star, guide, hope, hide
our poor, winter cold night.

Come, O Key of David!

December 20, 2021
Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

For the following prayer with our O Antiphon, let’s begin by placing before us anything that is locked, closed off, chained, frozen within us and in our world. Let us place all these things before God’s mercy, grace and omnipotence as we pray:

O Key of David,
O Blessed Freedom,
Who unlocks
the secret of eternal life
within our hearts!

Come absolve
the sad incarcerations
shackling us!

We hold ourselves
and one another captive
by our fears, our greed,
our terrible need
to control
Your power within us.

We are afraid of Love,
because once released in us,
Love asks for everything…
… for everything to be
unbound, unbarred
and given to Your
Unrestricted Grace,
in flesh named “Jesus”.

Love asks us to
become like You,
but we are locked
in smaller dreams.

O Key of David,
come free our dreams
with Yours.

Maranatha!
Come, Lord Jesus!

Poetry: Dropping Keys – Hafiz

The small woman
Builds cages for everyone
She knows,
While the Sage,
Who has to duck her head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long
For the
Beautiful
Rowdy
Prisoners.


Music: O Key of David – Michael Hegeman

Mary, Chamber of Light

December 19, 2021
Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer a harmonious exultation of Mary, beloved Mother of Jesus.

The prophet Micah foretells the time “when she who is to give birth has borne.”

Even the ancient voices spoke of Mary, long before time knew her name. Their hope depended on her cosmic “Yes”, long before she spoke her first childlike word.


Hebrews speaks of the Body of Christ, that physical place where the grandeur of God took flesh, that tabernacle woven of Mary’s own body and blood, that temple made possible by her “Fiat”.

When Christ came into the world, he said:
    “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
        but a body you prepared for me;
    in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
    Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
    behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“

Hebrews 10: 5-7

by Brother Mickey McGrath

The Gospel gives us two loving women, Elizabeth and Mary, rejoicing in God’s power manifested in their lives. They need no proclamations, executive orders, bills, or injunctions. Just a soft greeting, a leap within, a confirmed trust carried in each other’s eyes.

This poem by Mark Strand captures their moment for me. These two women had waited with all Creation for the redeeming Messiah. Now it was about to happen within their lives:

The Coming of Light
Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.


Music: Agni Parthene (Greek: Ἁγνὴ Παρθένε), rendered “O Virgin Pure”, is a Greek Marian Hymn composed by St. Nectarios in the late 19th century. The dulcet melody is sung here in both Greek and English. Lyrics are below.

O Virgin Pure by St. Nectarios

Refrain: O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

O Virgin pure, immaculate/ O Lady Theotokos
O Virgin Mother, Queen of all/ and fleece which is all dewy
More radiant than the rays of sun/ and higher than the heavens
Delight of virgin choruses/ superior to Angels.
Much brighten than the firmament/ and pure than the sun’s light
More holy than the multitude/ of all the heav’nly armies.
O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

O Ever Virgin Mary/ of all the world, the Lady
O bride all pure, immaculate/ O Lady Panagia
O Mary bride and queen of all/ our cause of jubilation
Majestic maiden, Queen of all/ O our most holy Mother
More hon’rable than Cherubim/ beyond compare more glorious
than immaterial Seraphim/ and greater than angelic thrones.

O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

Come, O Adonai!

December 18, 2021
Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray:

O, Adonai,
we reach for your outstretched arm.

How we need to lean on You,
to be upheld by You,
to be embraced by You,

Compassionate Lord, who
leads us through a life
that can be
unbearable alone.

We pray, with longing hearts,
that You uplift all the fallen –
whether those in pain,
or loss,confusion,
or the sad distress
we inflict upon ourselves
and one another.

Adonai, Beautiful One,
set a fire before us,
as You did for Moses.

Lead the way for us
with Flame of Love
and Light of Faith
into your outstretched Mercy.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!


Music: Great Advent – O Adonai – Gloriae Dei Cantores

Come, O Wisdom

December 17, 2021
Friday of the Third week of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray:

O, Wisdom,
how we need You!

Around us,
and at times within us,
there is a foolishness
that has forgotten You.

There is a shallowness
that skims this
sacred well of life
on the thinest surface of
our pretenses,
our distractions, 
our frightened preoccupations.

Take us to the depth
where Your Wisdom
dwells within us.

There let us find:

peace
undisturbed by circumstance;


justice
fed by lavish mercy;


Love
beyond boundaries,
beyond definition,
beyond imagination,
beyond time.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!


Music: Who Has Known – John Foley, SJ

O the depth of the riches of God;
and the breadth of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
For who has known the mind of God?
To Him be glory forever.

A virgin will carry a child and give birth,
and His name shall be called Emanuel.

For who has known the mind of God?
To Him be glory forever.

The people in darkness have seen a great light;
for a child has been born, His dominion is wide.
For who has known the mind of God?
To Him be glory forever.

Rain Down, Lord!

December 15, 2021
Wednesday of the Third Week in Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Isaiah and Luke who both offer us passages in which God self-describes in displays of omnipotence and tenderness.

In Isaiah, we meet the powerful Creator Who dispenses both justice and mercy.

In Luke, we meet the merciful Savior Who tenderly uses that power to heal.

With our psalm response from Isaiah, we voice our longing to be healed by God’s infinite power – a power which finds the world’s brokenness, seeps into it like rain, transforms it with love.


Poetry: I Rain by Hafiz

The poem came to mind when I prayed the verse:
Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.

I rain
Because your meadows call
For God.

I weave light into words so that
When your mind holds them

Your eyes will relinquish their sadness,
Turn bright, a little brighter, giving to us
The way a candle does
To the dark.

I have wrapped my laughter like a gift
And left it beside your bed.

I have planted my heart’s wisdom
Next to every signpost in the sky.

A wealthy one, seeing all this,
May become eccentric,

A divinely wild soul
transformed to infinite generosity

Tying gold sacks of gratuity
To the dangling feet of moons, planets, ecstatic
Midair dances, and singing birds.

I speak
Because every cell in your body
Is thirsty
For God.

Music: Waiting for the Rain – Kathryn Kaye

Find Your Star

December 13, 2021
Monday of the Third Week of Advent
Memorial of St. Lucy

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the beautiful, humble Psalm 25. Pastor Christine Robinson interprets the prayer in this way:

I put my trust in you, O God, as best as I am able. 
   May I be strong. May I not be afraid
May all who open their hearts
  hear your voice and know your love.
Lead me, teach me, help me to trust.

You are gracious to us, O God
You guide us, you forgive our clumsy ways
You help us prosper.

When I am sad and anxious
  I school my heart to trust
I act with integrity and uprightness
  And hope to feel your touch in my heart.
May it be so for all the peoples of the earth
  Who call you by many names.

Psalms for the New World – Christine Robinson

The psalm anchors our other readings today to suggest a theme of searching for Light in the darkness. Certainly, this was the quest of St. Lucy whose memorial we also mark today.

Lucy is the patroness of the blind. She was a brave young woman, martyred during the persecutions. Her name meaning “Light”, she has been venerated for millennia as one who can bring clarity and insight to places of darkness.


In our first reading, we hear the first messianic prophecy of the Bible. It is offered by a source perhaps unfamiliar to us — a teller of the future, Balaam.


Balaam is a diviner in the Torah (Pentateuch) whose story begins in Chapter 22 of the Book of Numbers. Every ancient reference to Balaam considers him a non-Israelite, a prophet, and the son of Beor.King Balak of Moab offered him money to curse Israel (Numbers 22–24), but Balaam blessed the Israelites instead as dictated by God. Nevertheless, he is reviled as a "wicked man" in both the Torah and the New Testament. (Wikipedia)

That story is the one we read today, and it contains a beautiful prophecy to be fulfilled fifteen hundred years after its utterance:

The utterance of Balaam, son of Beor,
        the utterance of the man whose eye is true,
    The utterance of one who hears what God says,
        and knows what the Most High knows,
    Of one who sees what the Almighty sees,
        enraptured, and with eyes unveiled.
    I see him, though not now;
        I behold him, though not near:
    A star shall advance from Jacob,
        and a staff shall rise from Israel.

Sometimes we just need to be pointed toward that star, don’t we? We kind of “see God – but not now; behold God — but not near”. It’s not always easy to believe, to trust.

We all have painful situations, unanswered hopes, lingering fears.   Let us bring them out of the shadows today with the help of St. Lucy and our Brilliant God who made the stars to give us hope.

As the year moves closer to its time of deepest darkness, may we know God’s brightness in our hearts. May we sense God lighting, once again, the dark places in our lives and in our world — leading us to a “Christmas Resurrection”.


Prose: from The Seaboard Parish by George Macdonald

The world ... is full of resurrections...
Every night that folds us up in darkness
is a death; and those of you that have
been out early, and have seen the
first of dawn, will know it -
the day rises out of the night like
a being that has burst its tomb
and escaped into life.

Music: Creator of the Stars of Night

A Joyful Hint

December 12, 2021
Gaudete Sunday

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, Advent’s joyful midway pause.

Advent was originally, like Lent, a time of fasting. Midway in the fast, the Church took a break from its rigors and rejoiced prematurely for the coming Christmas. 


I remember going, as a grade schooler, with my mother to buy two candy bars on the Saturday before Gaudete (because most stores were closed on Sunday back then!) After Sunday Mass, we would hold a sort of “sweetness ceremony”, delighting in our choices. Mom’s was always a Milky Way. My choice ran with the fads, sticking for a few years on Rollos – remember them?


The Church has its own “sweet ceremony” on Gaudate Sunday. Pink vestments worn for the liturgy indicate joy, as do the uplifting readings.

In our first reading, Zephania tells us that “the Lord will rejoice over us with gladness!”

 Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
        Sing joyfully, O Israel!
    Be glad and exult with all your heart,
        O daughter Jerusalem!

Zephania 3:14

In a reassuring blessing, Paul tells us, “Don’t worry. Be happy!”

Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again:  rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, 
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding 
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 4-7

Even serious John the Baptist seems to tingle with expectation of the coming Savior. He’s just a little more taciturn in his proclamations.

John answered them all, saying, 
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3: 16-17

In our terribly commercialized holiday world, let’s stop and remember the true cause of our hope and celebration.

What gives your heart real joy as we approach the holy celebration of Christmas?

What is the sacred delight you long for in your heart and soul?

Let’s make a deeper effort this week, which will require so much bustle of us, to settle our hearts on God – remembering that God’s sweet presence with us is what this whole season is about. 


Poetry: The Flower by George Herbert

How fresh, oh Lord, how sweet and clean 
Are thy returns! even as the flowers in spring; 
         To which, besides their own demean, 
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring. 
                      Grief melts away 
                      Like snow in May, 
         As if there were no such cold thing. 

         Who would have thought my shriveled heart 
Could have recovered greenness? It was gone 
         Quite underground; as flowers depart 
To see their mother-root, when they have blown, 
                      Where they together 
                      All the hard weather, 
         Dead to the world, keep house unknown. 

         These are thy wonders, Lord of power, 
Killing and quickening, bringing down to hell 
         And up to heaven in an hour; 
Making a chiming of a passing-bell. 
                      We say amiss 
                      This or that is: 
         Thy word is all, if we could spell. 

         Oh that I once past changing were, 
Fast in thy Paradise, where no flower can wither! 
         Many a spring I shoot up fair, 
Offering at heaven, growing and groaning thither; 
                      Nor doth my flower 
                      Want a spring shower, 
         My sins and I joining together. 

         But while I grow in a straight line, 
Still upwards bent, as if heaven were mine own, 
         Thy anger comes, and I decline: 
What frost to that? what pole is not the zone 
                      Where all things burn, 
                      When thou dost turn, 
         And the least frown of thine is shown? 

         And now in age I bud again, 
After so many deaths I live and write; 
         I once more smell the dew and rain, 
And relish versing. Oh, my only light, 
                      It cannot be 
                      That I am he 
         On whom thy tempests fell all night. 

         These are thy wonders, Lord of love, 
To make us see we are but flowers that glide; 
         Which when we once can find and prove, 
Thou hast a garden for us where to bide; 
                      Who would be more, 
                      Swelling through store, 
         Forfeit their Paradise by their pride.


Music: Gaudete in Domino sung by the Schola of St. Meinrad Abbey (Latin and English lyrics below)

Gaudete in Domino semper
iterum dico gaudete.
Modestia vestra nota sit omnibus hominibus.
Dominus prope est.
Nihil solliciti sitis
sed in omni oratione et obsecratione
cum gratiarum actione petitiones vestrae innotescant apud Deum.
Et pax Dei quae exsuperat omnem sensum custodiat corda vestra et intellegentias vestras in Christo Iesu [Domino nostro].

Rejoice in the Lord always:
and again I say, rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men.
The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing;
but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus [our Lord].