Mary, Beautiful Beloved

Wednesday, December 8, 2021
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate one of the many feasts honoring Mary, Mother of Jesus.

Anna and Joachim

Today’s feast can be confusing to people. It is sometimes mixed up with the Virgin Birth – the moment when Jesus was born. What we celebrate today, however, is the moment Mary was conceived by her parents, Anna and Joachim.

Over the centuries, devotional practice has tended to make Mary more than human – to separate her from the rest us because of her great holiness. However, many theologians today encourage us to find in Mary the same human struggles and triumphs we all meet in life. In this way, we can learn from her and be supported on our own path to holiness.

Today, as we pray with our many images, devotions and understandings of Mary, may we open our hearts to be inspired by her singular witness to God’s desire to be among us.


Poetry: On a separate entry today, I have copied a few passages from the beautiful classic, ” A Woman Wrapped in Silence”. I absolutely love this book and it has been my treasured companion through at least fifty Advents (and Lents). I highly recommend it to you. Read it in small doses that you can break open in your prayer.


Music: The Magnificat – Mary’s radical prayer for justice and mercy, sung here in Latin by the Daughters of Mary (English below)

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their seat s
and has exalted the humble and meek.
He has filled the hungry with good things.
And the rich he has sent empty away.
Remembering his mercy, he has helped his servant Israel
as he promised to our forefathers Abraham, and his posterity forever. 

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Monday, July 26, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 106 which, like its companion piece Psalm 105, is about the praise that comes from remembering.

The difference between the two psalms is this:

In Psalm 105, Israel has remembered God’s goodness, thus a celebratory tone

In Psalm 106, the psalmist recounts Israel’s forgetfulness of God’s goodness, thus a repentant tone.

In Psalm 106, a companion piece to Psalm 105, the same inventory is recited, but this time the focus is on the recurring recalcitrance of infidelity on the part of Israel. That is, it is a confession of sin, and it ends in petition: 

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the nations that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. (v.47)

Walter Brueggemann

The message for us? Here is what I take from this psalm:

1 – Never forget or overlook God’s presence and action in my life. 

But they soon forgot all God had done;
they had no patience for God’s plan.

Psalm 106:13

We have to give ourselves the time to search our circumstances for God’s presence and invitation to Grace. 

This practice has always helped me – pausing occasionally during the day, before or after my many tasks and encounters, simply to raise this question: Where is God in this moment?


2 – Structure my life in such a way that it calls me back to grateful remembering.

For their sake God remembered stayed fast to the covenant
and relented in abundant mercy,
Winning for them compassion
from all that held them captive.

Psalm 106: 45-46

Our lives are complex. We have a lot of responsibilities, needs, desires, obstacles, hopes, and frustrations. In trying to deal with life’s complexities, we might begin to think that it all depends on us. We might get tangled in our own machinations. We might forget that it is God who breathed us into life and holds us in it through all our experiences. 

Brief morning and evening prayers of gratitude, hope, reflection, repentance, and thanksgiving – these can keep us aware and focused. Slowly we may build to an hourly remembering of God’s companionship and action in our lives. Ultimately, with patience and practice, the awareness becomes constant and sustaining.


There are two wonderful books that have helped me with the prayer of awareness for those who might be interested.

  1. Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day by Macrina Wiederkehr
  1. Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day by Brother David Steindl-Rast

Poetry: I live my life in widening circles – Rainer Maria Rilke

I live my life in widening circles
that reach out across the world.
I may not complete this last one
but I give myself to it.
I circle around God, around the primordial tower.
I’ve been circling for thousands of years
and I still don’t know: am I a falcon,
a storm, or a great song?

Thought and Music: The Great Song – Brother David