Thursday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 19, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Acts allows us to sit in on an early Church “convention”. The dynamics are fascinating, as well as amazingly familiar.

The community is a-bustle with concerns. Paul and Barnabas have been out gathering Gentile converts to the faith. The Jewish Christian community back in Jerusalem feels that these new converts should be required to submit to circumcision as a sign of their conversion. Peter offers an intense, lucid, yet gentle argument to convince the Jerusalem community that this is not necessary.

God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.
He made no distinction between us and them,
for by faith he purified their hearts.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of the disciples
a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?

Acts 15:8-10

James, who appears to have influence in the Jerusalem Church, backs Peter up by referring to the prophet Amos who promised the rebuilding of the faith community:

After this I shall return
                        and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
            from its ruins I shall rebuild it
                        and raise it up again,
            so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
                        even all the Gentiles on whom my name is invoked.
            Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
                        known from of old.

What a perfect reference to help convince the Jewish community that to be a Christian one did not have to also be a Jew nor follow the Old Law.

This passage helps us to be aware of our openness to new inspiration from the Holy Spirit not only in the Church but in our personal lives. God is the great “heart-reader” and knows when we are ready for growth and deepening. “Protecting” our faith with rituals and exercises that have lost meaning can be a way to avoid opening ourselves to conversion and spiritual transformation. The Holy Spirit invites us beyond such false securities:

And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit
just as he did us.

Acts 15:8

In our Gospel, Jesus reminds us of all that we need to make our faith — and our joy — complete:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”

Poetry: Quench Your Heart’s Thirst – Hafiz

I know the way you can get
When you have not had a drink of Love:

Your face hardens,
Your sweet muscles cramp.
Children become concerned
About a strange look that appears in your eyes
Which even begins to worry your own mirror
And nose.

Squirrels and birds sense your sadness
And call an important conference in a tall tree.
They decide which secret code to chant
To help your mind and soul.

Even angels fear that brand of madness
That arrays itself against the world
And throws sharp stones and spears into
The innocent
And into one’s self.

O I know the way you can get
If you have not been drinking Love:

You might rip apart
Every sentence your friends and teachers say,
Looking for hidden clauses.

You might weigh every word on a scale
Like a dead fish.

You might pull out a ruler to measure
From every angle in your darkness
The beautiful dimensions of a heart you once
Trusted.

I know the way you can get
If you have not had a drink from Love’s
Hands.

That is why all the Great Ones speak of
The vital need
To keep remembering God,
So you will come to know and see Him
As being so Playful
And Wanting,
Just Wanting to help.

That is why Hafiz says:
Bring your cup near me.
For all I care about
Is quenching your thirst for freedom!

All a Sane man can ever care about
Is giving Love!”


Music: CHANGE MY HEART, O GOD

Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 16, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Acts recounts some of the challenges Paul and Barnabas met as they continued spreading the Gospel. With such a reading, we see the beginnings of theological arguments in the unfolding teaching of the Church.

The Apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments
when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting,
“Men, why are you doing this?
We are of the same nature as you, human beings.
We proclaim to you good news
that you should turn from these idols to the living God,
who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them.

Acts 14:14-15

One might wonder what turned yesterday’s Jewish and Gentile listeners into a stone-throwing mob. One wonders it today regarding some of the acrimonious factions within the Church.

It is one thing to receive the Gospel with one’s heart and spirit. It is another thing to receive it with one’s mind. As human beings, we resist mystery; we long for logic. We are more comfortable with a problem we can solve than with a Truth beyond our comprehension. Rather than Infinite Surprise, I think most of us prefer predictability and control.


Jn14_26 Everything

The Gospel can be fearsome. It asks that we let go of our limited human “geometry”; that we entrust everything to the Inclusive Love who is Jesus Christ. It asks us to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit who, ultimately, will “teach us EVERYTHING”.


question

In our recent readings, we’ve seen Thomas, Philip, and today, Jude the Apostle trying to reach this level of spiritual trust. It’s hard because such trust is more than human. It is a trust bred of the Holy Spirit within us. It is a trust born of living fully in Peace with that Presence.

Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him,
“Master, then what happened that you will reveal yourself to us
and not to the world?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.

John 14:22-23


It is a trust described like this in tomorrow’s Gospel reading:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

Let us pray for trust and peace
in ourselves, our Church, and our world.

Poetry: The Peace of Wild Things – Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Music:  Wonderful Peace – an old Gospel song by Warren Cornell and William Cooper (1899), sung here by Don Moen 

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.

Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!

Ah, soul! are you here without comfort and rest,
Marching down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your Friend ere the shadows grow dark;
O accept of this peace so sublime!

What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul,
So secure that no power can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll!

I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control;
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul!

And I think when I rise to that city of peace,
Where the Anchor of peace I shall see,
That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing
In that heavenly kingdom will be:

Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 11, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings have a global, even universal, feel to them. By the power of God, the Apostles begin to go out and preach to the whole world.

Acts tells us that:

… the Holy Spirit said,
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul
for the work to which I have called them.”
Then, completing their fasting and prayer,
they laid hands on them and sent them off.

Acts 13:2-3

Our Responsorial Psalm gives us this universal prayer:

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.

Psalm 67:2-3

And Jesus assures us in the Gospel:

I came into the world as light,
so that everyone who believes in me
might not remain in darkness.

John 12:45

Jn12_46 LightJPG

For our prayer, we might want to place before God’s Radiance all those places in the world, and within ourselves, which long for Light. The whole world shares at least one dark shadow in the global pandemic. That shadow has emphasized some of the tenebrous corners in our own hearts where fear, loneliness, loss, and doubt cower and now want to creep out in our required isolation.

And, spread across our world, there are so many other darknesses famished for Light! War, gun violence, gender violence, economic oppression, a global sacrilegious inhumanity to other human beings.

Together, let us give all of these shadows to God’s power as we pray. May that power release us and all our sisters and brothers into its glorious resplendence. Like the Apostles, may a brilliant, steady energy go out from our hearts, convinced of and empowered by the Light of the Gospel.


Music: Two lovely pieces of music suggested themselves today.  I hope you enjoy them.

  1. Eric Whitaker  – Lux Aurumque (“Light and Gold”) is a choral composition in one movement. It is a Christmas piece based on a Latin poem of the same name.

Lux,
Calida gravisque pura velut aurum
Et canunt angeli molliter
modo natum.

Light,
warm and heavy as pure gold
and angels sing softly
to the new-born babe.
Edward Esch, b.1970
(Translated to Latin by Charles Anthony Silvestri)


2. Spirit Seeking Light and Beauty – Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ

Spirit seeking Light and Beauty,
Hearts that longeth for Thy rest,
Soul that asketh understanding, only thus can you be blest.
Through the vastness of creation though your restless heart may roam,

God is all that you may long for,
God is all His creatures’ home.
Taste and see it, feel and hear it,
Hope and grasp His unseen Hand.

Though the darkness seems to hide Him,
Faith and love can understand
God Who loveth all His creatures,
All our hearts are known to Thee.
Lead us through the Land of Shadows
To Your vast eternity

Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

May 3, 2022


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, I am offering a slightly edited edition of last year’s reflection for the Feast. Re-reading it, I thought it had some points worth repeating.

We pray today 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:

https://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/index.htm


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.

Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena

April 29, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we meet Gamaliel, the revered rabbinical teacher and early mentor of St. Paul.

Rembrandt_-_Old_Rabbi_-_WGA19186
The Old Rabbi by Rembrandt

With his patient wisdom, Gamaliel famously intervened  to save Peter and John from the Sanhedrin’s wrath.

“Fellow children of Israel,
be careful what you are about to do to these men….
…I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.
But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them;
you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

Acts 5: 35-38

Biblical scholars have interpreted Gamaliel’s intervention in various and even contradictory ways. Some see in him a hesitancy which will believe only that which is proven and successful. Others suggest that Gamaliel was already a believer who maintained his Sanhedrin position in order to assist the early Christians. In the Catholic canon, Gamaliel is venerated as a saint whose feastday is August 30.


Thinking about Gamaliel may lead us to the question, “What do I need in order to believe?” 

  • Do I, like the Sanhedrin, need to see proven success?
  • Do I, like some of the crowd fed in today’s Gospel, need miracles?
  • Do I, like the rich young man, need answers to all of my questions?
  • Do I, like Thomas, need to see and touch the Resurrected Christ?

In other words, am I looking for a faith that is a fail-proof blueprint, or is my faith a living journey with Christ, as was Peter’s and John’s?

John4_4 bread word

The Apostles’ faith and trust were so complete that they saw even persecution as evidence of God’s plan and power:

So the Apostles left the presence of the Sanhedrin,
rejoicing that they had been found worthy
to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes,
they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Christ, Jesus.

Acts 5: 41-42

When we are completely given to God in faith, all our life experiences bring us closer to God. All circumstances reveal God to the deeply believing heart.

May we grow every day in that kind of faith.


Today, as we celebrate the feast of the great Saint Catherine of Siena, a reflection in place of our usual poetry.

We can learn Catherine’s spiritual wisdom. Without formal education, she grew by grace into a Doctor of the Church.

Siena

She was born Catherine Benincasa on March 25, 1347, in Siena, Italy, and was a twin, the 24th child of 25. She only lived to the age of 33, dying of a stroke in Rome in 1380. Catherine of Siena, often referred to as “great Kate,” is well known for her expressive life of prayer shared in three major sources of writings: over 400 letters, 26 prayers, and The Dialogue of Divine Providence, which she referred to as “the book,” written in the format of a conversation between herself and God. She was noted for her style of learning, not acquired from formal education and degrees, but gained from an interior wisdom that came from lived experiences and a mystical life of prayer. ( https://www.hprweb.com/2020/02/the-trinitarian-theology-of-the-eucharist-according-to-st-catherine-of-siena/)


Here are two selections from Catherine’s extensive writings which reveal her ever-deepening relationship with God through the gift of the Bread of Life.


Eternal God, Eternal Trinity, You have made the Blood of Christ so precious through His sharing in your Divine Nature. You are a mystery as deep as the sea; the more I search, the more I find, and the more I find the more I search for You. But I can never be satisfied; what I receive will ever leave me desiring more. When You fill my soul I have an ever-greater hunger, and I grow more famished for Your Light. I desire above all to see You, the true Light, as you really are.


St. Catherine of Siena, Prayer 12, V 124–157

And by the light of most holy faith
I shall contemplate myself in you.
And I shall clothe myself in your eternal will,
And by this light I shall come to know
That you, eternal Trinity,
Are table
And food
And waiter for us.

You, eternal Father,
Are the table
That offers us as food
The Lamb, your only-begotten Son.

He is the most exquisite of foods for us,
Both in his teaching,
Which nourishes us in your will,
And in the sacrament
That we receive in Holy Communion,
Which feeds and strengthens us
While we are pilgrim travelers in this life.

And the Holy Spirit
Is indeed a waiter for us,
For he serves us this teaching
By enlightening our mind’s eye with it
And inspiring us to follow it.
And he serves us charity for our neighbors
And hunger to have as food
Souls
And the salvation of the whole world
For the Father’s honor

So we see that souls enlightened in you,
True light,
Never let a moment pass
Without eating this exquisite food
For your honor.


Music:  Ave Verum Corpus – words attributed to 14th century Pope Innocent VI, melody to Mozart

Hear God Speak Your Name

February 22, 2022
Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings invite to consider God’s naming us – calling us.

We celebrate wonderful Saint Peter – so fully human, so fully holy, so fully in love with God! As we pray the Gospel of Peter’s naming, may we deepen in understanding our own naming by God.

Once, Jesus asked Peter what he believed. Peter answered, simply and magnificently:
“YOU ARE THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.”
Peter was an ordinary man who responded to Jesus with a clear and extraordinary faith.


One June morning, nearly fifty years ago, I sat in a sun-drenched field in the Golan Heights of Israel at a spot called Caesarea Philippi. Thirty other pilgrims composed the group as we heard today’s Gospel being read. Listening, I watched the rising sun grow brilliant on the majestic rock face in the near distance.

I thought how Peter might have watched his day’s sun playing against the same powerful cliffs as Jesus spoke his name:

Jesus said to him,
You are Peter (which means “Rock”),
and upon this Rock
I will build my Church.


A few years later, I stood at the center of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Looking up, I saw these words emblazoned around the awesome rotunda dome:

Tu es Petrus,
et super hanc petram
aedificabo ecclesiam.

On that sunlit afternoon two-thousand years ago,
Peter could never have imagined
what God already saw for him.
Yet, Peter responded – with his whole life.
This is what makes a Saint.

Jesus calls us to be saints too. He lovingly speaks our name into a sacred future we cannot even imagine. But if, like Peter, we trust and believe, God does the rest.


Poetry: Peter by John Poch.
The poem captures the transformation of Peter’s humanness into God’s hope for him – the “changing” of his name.


There are three things which are too wonderful for me,
Yes, four which I do not understand.
The way of an eagle in the air,
The way of a serpent on a rock,
The way of a ship in the heart of the sea,
And the way of a man with a maid

–Prov. 30:18, 19

I
Contagious as a yawn, denial poured
over me like a soft fall fog, a girl
on a carnation strewn parade float, waving
at everyone and no one, boring and bored.
There actually was a robed commotion parading.
I turned and turned away and turned. A swirl
of wind pulled back my hood, a fire of coal
brightened my face, and those around me whispered:
You’re one of them, aren’t you? You smell like fish.
And wine, someone else joked. That’s brutal. That’s cold,
I said, and then they knew me by my speech.
They let me stay and we told jokes like fisher-
men and houseboys. We gossiped till the cock crowed,
his head a small volcano raised to mock stone.

II
Who could believe a woman’s word, perfumed
in death? I did. I ran and was outrun
before I reached the empty tomb. I stepped
inside an empty shining shell of a room,
sans pearl. I walked back home alone and wept
again. At dinner. His face shone like the sun.
I went out into the night. I was a sailor
and my father’s nets were calling. It was high tide,
I brought the others. Nothing, the emptiness
of business, the hypnotic waves of failure.
But a voice from shore, a familiar fire, and the nets
were full. I wouldn’t be outswum, denied
this time. The coal-fire before me, the netted fish
behind. I’m carried where I will not wish.


Music: Peter’s Song – Face to Face – Michael O’Brien

I recall
something in the way
you called my name,
an ordinary fisherman you called me friend and took me in.
How everything had changed
because then I knew I’d never be the same.

Love came and rescued me.
I gave up my everything to follow.
Now I know.
All that I was before
won’t matter anymore
for I am a new man
because I have seen my Savior
face-to-face.

I recall
standing in the courtyard by the fire,
words still ringing in my head,
three times before the break of dawn
you would be denied.
And yet I saw no judgment in your eyes.

Love came and died for me.
I gave up my everything,
gave up my everything to follow.
Now I know
all that I was before
is dead and it lives no more
for I am a new man
because I have seen
my savior face-to-face.

The dark night, the new day –
The stone was rolled away –
my Savior, You are the Light
You are alive! Ascended to heaven.
I know that you will come again.

That moment I will arise
to worship before your throne,
to bow down for you alone are worthy,
so worthy
and there with saints of old,
I’ll sing a brand new song in heaven
forever
where I will see my Savior face-to-face.

Table of Comfort

December 1, 2021
Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings take us to the Lord’s banquet. It is a rich image that threads through scripture and helps us understand what characterizes the perfect reign of God.

The readings, coming just on the heels of Thanksgiving, present familiar images to us. Last week, you may have been part of the preparation of the feast for your family and friends. Maybe you’re the master carver, or brought sides of old family recipes. Or you might be the table decorator or, most important, the clean-up guru!

Or maybe you were the one who steered the conversation so that all felt welcomed and included in the gathering. Maybe you were the one who took someone aside if they needed an extra portion of care. Maybe you were the one who invited someone with no other place to go.


That Thanksgiving meal, and every meal, can be a symbol of the heavenly banquet.

Isaiah’s banquet is all elegance and fullness. He describes an end-time when, despite a path through suffering, all is brought to perfection in God:

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.


Jesus’s feast is more “now”, and more rustic. He takes the ordinary stuff of present life and transforms it to satisfy the immediate needs of those gathered. With sparse and simple ingredients, Jesus creates the “miracle meal” for the poor and hungry.

He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied. 



Christ’s presence with us in the Eucharist is both kinds of meal.

  • It points us to the perfection of heaven, where the “web” will be lifted from our eyes and we will see ourselves as one in Christ.
  • It calls us to be Christ for one another in this world – creating miracles of love and mercy so that all are adequately fed, in body and soul, for the journey we share.

Poetry: Love Bade Me Welcome – George Herbert, (1593 – 1633) – a Welsh-born poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England. His poetry is associated with the writings of the metaphysical poets, and he is recognized as “one of the foremost British devotional lyricists.


Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back 
                              Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack 
                             From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                             If I lacked any thing.
A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
                             Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
                             I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
                             Who made the eyes but I?
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
                             Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
                             My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
                           So I did sit and eat.

Music:  Banquet- Graham Kendrick (Lyrics below)

There’s no banquet so rich
As the bread and the wine
No table more holy
No welcome so kind
There’s no mercy so wide
As the arms of the cross
Come and taste, come and see
Come find and be found

There’s no banquet so rich
For what feast could compare
With the body of Jesus
Blessed, broken and shared?
Here is grace to forgive
Here is blood that atoned
Come and taste, come and see
Come know and be known

Take the bread, drink the wine
And remember His sacrifice
There’s no banquet so rich
As the feast we will share
When God gathers the nations
And dines with us here
When death’s shadow is gone
Every tear wiped away
Come and eat, come and drink
Come welcome that day

There’s no banquet so rich
For our Saviour we find
Present here in the mystery
Of these humble signs
Cleansed, renewed, reconciled
Let us go out as one
Live in love, and proclaim
His death till he comes

We Are the Church

November 9, 2021
Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate a rare type of feast day – one that marks the dedication of a church building.  For many, that seems a little odd. We are accustomed to celebrating Mary, Joseph and other saints and feasts of Our Lord.

Here’s the thing: we are not actually celebrating a building.  We are celebrating what the building represents – the Body of Christ, the Church, made of living stones – us.

St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome

But sometimes it helps to have visible symbols of the things we venerate and celebrate. That’s why we have medals, rosary beads and candles – so that we can SEE something as we try to conceptualize a spiritual reality.


St. John Lateran is the Pope’s parish church.
Since he is the Bishop of the whole People of God,
his physical church has come to symbolize
the universal Body of Christ, the world Church.


Pope Benedict XVI in his Angelus Address, on November 9, 2008 said this:

Dear friends, today’s feast celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: God’s desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth
(cf. John 4:23-24).
But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God.
Every community therefore has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony. For this we call upon the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she help us to become, like her, the “house of God,” living temple of his love.


As we pray today, we might want to consider the gift of faith on which our own lives are built – a faith whose cornerstone is Jesus Christ. In our second reading, Paul says this:

Brothers and sisters:
You are God’s building…..
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 3:16

And in our Gospel, Jesus speaks of his own body as a temple which, though apparently destroyed by his enemies, will be raised up in three days.

By our Baptism, that same spiritual temple lives in us and in all the community of faith. That same power of Resurrection is alive in us! So in a very real sense, what we celebrate today is ourselves – the Living Church – raised up and visible as a sign of God’s Life in the world.

Happy Feast Day, Church!


Poetry: A Perfect Church – the Roseville Bulletin. A light-hearted but honest look at ourselves as Church 🙂

I think that I will never see
A church that’s all it ought to be 
A church that has no empty pews
A church where people never get the blues
A church whose music is always great
A church where people are never late

Such perfect churches there may be 
But none of them are known to me 
If you could find the perfect church
Without one fault or smear
For goodness sake, don’t join that church
You’ll spoil the atmosphere

If you should find the perfect church
Then don’t you even dare
To tread upon such holy ground
You wouldn’t fit in there
But since no perfect church exists
Where people never sin
Then let’s stop looking for that church
And love the one we’re in

Amen


Music: Cornerstone – Hillsong

Memorial of Saint Clare

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 66 – a psalm which, according to scripture scholar Roland Murphy, mixes two genres:

  1. A thanksgiving song of the community:

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;
    sing praise to the glory of God’s name;
    proclaim God’s glorious praise.
Say to God: “How tremendous are your deeds!”

Psalm 66: 1-3
  1. A thanksgiving song of an individual:

Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare 
    what God has done for me.
When I appealed to God  in words,
    praise was on the tip of my tongue.

Psalm 66: 16-17

Psalm 66 reminds us that we come to know,
love and serve God
both as individuals
and within the community of faith.
Our union with God is deepened at both fountains.

Today, we celebrate the feast of Clare of Assisi who praised God through a life of service shaped by a radical understanding of holy poverty.

We become what we love 
and who we love shapes what we become. 
If we love things, we become a thing. 
If we love nothing, we become nothing. 
Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, 
rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, 
an image disclosed through transformation. 
This means we are to become vessels of God’s 
compassionate love for others.

Clare of Assisi

Poetry/Prayer: As we pray to live lives of love and compassion, may St. Clare’s blessing encourage us.

Go forth in peace, 
for you have followed the good road. 
Go forth without fear, 
for the One who created you 
has made you holy, 
has always protected you, 
and loves you as a mother. 
Blessed be you, my God, for having created me.


Music: Let the Love that Dwells in Your Heart – Poor Clare’s of Arundel

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 67 which calls on God to bless all people.

O God, be merciful to us and bless us,
show us the light of your countenance and come to us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
   among all nations, your salvation.

Psalm 67: 1-2

This psalm is notable for its inclusiveness of nations outside of Israel. Most psalms focus inwardly on Israel’s needs, hopes and memories. But Psalm 67 calls on God to gather and bless universally:

May the nations be glad and exult
    because you rule the peoples in equity;
    the nations on the earth you guide.


For this reason, Psalm 67 has been called “the missionary psalm”, and is such a fitting prayer on this feast of St. Ignatius who founded a community which has carried the faith throughout the world.


As we pray our psalm today, we might examine how our own faith reaches out, includes and blesses others.  

Our final verses today point back to our first reading from Leviticus. While the math and calendar counting could get me pretty mixed up, the message is clear. It is a Jubilee message:

  • Stop. 
  • Take a good look at your life and the harvest of your years. 
  • Be grateful.
  • Be just.
  • Share. 
  • Bring others into your bounty because it all belongs to God, not you.

When we do these things, Psalm 67 becomes our prayer:

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, 
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.
The earth has brought forth its increase; 
may you, O God our God, bless us.
May you bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of you.


Poetry: This Is My Song by Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine;
this is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine:
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
but other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
and skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, thou God of all the nations,
a song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.

Music: Finlandia, Opus 26

The above poem is sung to the tune of the final hymn in this work by Jean Sibelius. I think you will enjoy this beautiful video, especially the young ducks about midway through. Be sure to click the little arrowhead under the right side of the video to read the great history of this musical composition.