Happy Easter

The Gift and Practice of Family

Easter

A blessed and happy Easter and passover to all of you!

Easter and Passover, because they are feasts of life, are family celebrations. It is a time to reconnect and gather with those who share our life story, with the tribe we were born into.

Each Pasch, we join our family with a renewed heart, setting aside any small or large fractures of the intervening year.

Easter Rosemarie
Dear Friends at a Long-Ago Easter

This freshness of spirit may be symbolized in a brand new Easter outfit or the spring cleaning of the house.

When I was young, Easter bonnets we’re still the thing, and maybe a new pair of Mary Janes. My little brother wore his first bow tie at Easter, although he wasn’t too happy about it as I recall. 🤗

Though we may have missed their deeper meaning, the house abounded in symbols of the Resurrection: jubilantly-dyed eggs, little chocolate bunnies, rainbowed jelly beans in a sea of papery grass, and elegant lilies.

 

Most importantly, the family shared a meal, often built of contributed elements from each participant. We waited expectantly for Aunt Peg’s pineapple filling and Mom’s chocolate pie. On occasion, Uncle Joe contributed a wondrous ham that had “fallen off the truck” as he made his rounds in North Philly. ( I learned only later in life that a few of our delicious meals were centered on heisted ham.)

This Easter and Passover offer us an invitation to reconnect with our families which we have been given either by nature or by grace. Not all families are bound by blood. They are are tied through the heart by mutual love, hope, vision, surmounted suffering, shared experience, and a host of other fragments that we shape into life’s mosaic.

Our families are the people we have laughed and cried with, the people we turn to when we’re afraid. They’re the ones who pray for us, look out for us, and yell (softly) at us when we are really stupid. They’re the ones who, no matter how long since we have spoken, we pick up a conversation right in the middle. They’re the ones who bring us flowers, ricotta pie, and a rotisserie chicken when we feel punk.  They are beyond blood and genes.

May we reach out in renewed love and appreciation to those who have been “family” to us. May we be grateful and generous with those who look to us for life. May the gift and practice of family rise up in us this Easter morning!

Music: Couldn’t Resist

Will You Anoint Him?

Monday, April 15, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, as we set out with Jesus on the path to Calvary, we might consider his companions who accompanied him.

John12_3 Mary

Closest to Christ’s heart on this journey is his Father. Today’s first reading gives us some insight into that profound divine sharing:

Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spreads out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

In other words, “Have courage, Son, I am with you.”

His disciples, women and men committed to the Gospel, also share the dramatic events of these days. Our Gospel today gives us Mary of Bethany, a leader and gatherer of the early Christian community. Her heart is broken at the now obvious prospect of Jesus’s death. In the name of their primal church, Mary offers Jesus the first sacrament of anointing.

In other words, “Have courage, Beloved Leader, we are with you.”

On this Monday morning of Holy Week, where are we in the community gathered around Jesus? How are we speaking to him, comforting him, loving him?

Jesus’s Passion is enfleshed in our time in the suffering of the poor, the refugee, the sick, the disenfranchised, those called “vermin” by the powerful. How am I with Jesus in his anguish today?

Music:  Two offerings today, one classical, one modern.

Timor et Tremor – from Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitence (Four Penitential Motets) by Francis Poulenc

 

Pour My Love on You –  Phillips, Craig & Dean

To See As God Sees

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings describe God’s lavish mercy and the expectation for our reciprocity.

love one another

The passage from the Book of Daniel, written in lilting prose, quotes the prayer of Azariah. It gives us several phrases to savor in our own prayer, depending on the particular disposition of our heart on any given day:

To whom you promised …. like the stars of heaven, or the sand on the shore of the sea.
What has God promised you to give you hope in your life? Can you call on those promises today in your prayer?

For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation…
Are you feeling sad, disconnected, humiliated or depressed? Can you give these feelings to God and open your heart to healing?

We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader,
no burnt offering, sacrifice, oblation, or incense,
no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you.
Do you ever feel abandoned by the institutions we all once depended on, whether Church, government, law etc.? Can we pray for the courage to depend only on God in all things?

Now we follow you with our whole heart…
Have our life circumstances brought us to the point of placing ourselves totally in God’s care? Can we pray with that peaceful and holy abandonment?

Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord.Can our prayer be one of giving glory to God for all the blessings in our lives?

God has been so good to us! Our Gospel enjoins us to be reciprocally good to others.

Music: Give Me Your Eyes – An interesting song by rock singer Brian Heath. As his plane is landing one night, he receives a grace to pray for new eyes — eyes that see and love  all humanity as God does.

A Warning Sign

Thursday, March 21, 2019

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generous impulse

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel gives us the disturbing parable of the rich man, sometimes called Dives, and Lazarus, a very poor man.

The story is disturbing because 

  • Lazarus suffers so desperately 
  • Dives is impervious to that suffering 
  • God won’t give Dives a break after his death
  • We fear being in either of these guys’ situations 

Probably, like most people, we’d rather be rich than poor. But would we rather be generous with that wealth or selfish? Do we ever find ourselves thinking thoughts like this, deciding we’re not responsible for the gap between rich and poor:

“I worked hard for what I have. Let everybody else do the same!”

That wealth gap cannot be mended simply by giving a dollar to a corner beggar nor by donating our wornout clothes to Goodwill. This kind of re-balancing requires a conversion of heart which touches our economic, political and moral understanding.

I was struck this morning by this headline from The Economist, a British weekly magazine.

economist

How can today’s Gospel inspire and encourage us in a global culture that infcreasingly marginalizes persons who are poor, resourceless, and politically oppressed?

May the story of Lazarus and Dives influence us to use the powers we have to make just and generous decisions.

  • We can vote for just, generous and moral leaders. 
  • We can advocate for universally just policies. 
  • We can donate to compassionate causes. 
  • We can confront hateful speech and stereotyping. 
  • We can speak and act for justice, peace, inclusivity and mercy.

We just have to be courageous before, like Dives, it is too late for us.

Music:  Act Justly

Can You Drink the Cup?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

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Mt20_22 cup

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel tells the story of Mrs. Zebedee, who sought a prejudiced advantage for her two disciple sons.

Jesus said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”

Sounds a little like something ripped from today’s headlines, doesn’t it.

headline

There is a natural inclination to advantage those we love. But when we do so to the unjust disadvantage of others, that’s a problem.

We know from experience that people use various points of leverage to gain advantage in life. We see people use money, power, political connections, and other influences to get a job, choose a school, land an important invitation, get a traffic ticket written off, etc., etc. Maybe, on occasion, we are one of those people.

Today’s Gospel teaches us a lesson. In gaining such advantage, we may, as Jesus says, “not know what we are asking for”. Can we actually DO the job, succeed in the school, … become a better person by what we have maniputively gained?

The Gospel also brings before us the “other people” who lost the right to what we unjustly claimed. How do they begin to see us? What do we lose in respect and mutuality within our community? How do we begin to see ourselves in relationship to justice, honesty, sincerity and truth?

Jesus hopes that we will love every person to the extent that we want her/his just advantage as much as we want our own? That is the “cup” He drinks through his Passion and Death.

Let us ponder Jesus’s question to us: Can you drink the cup that I will drink?

Music:  The More I Seek You ~ Gateway Worship

Great and Glorious St. Patrick

Sunday, March 17, 2019

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St. PAddyToday, in Mercy, our readings are about types of citizenship.

  • In Deuteronomy , Abraham is given a land for himself and his descendants.
  • In Philippians, Paul tells us the “our citizenship is in heaven”.
  • In Luke, the transfigured Jesus shows us that heavenly reality.

These readings confirm that, in God, we are not a people bound by borders, ethnicities, religious cult, or any other human categorization.

Every human being belongs to God and is called to live in the fullness of that Creation.  This is our Divine citizenship.

Think about that in contrast to talk of border walls, ethnic and religious bans, white supremacy, anti-semitism, islamophobia and all the other multiple ways we try to isolate people from this Divine citizenship which makes us brothers and sisters in God.

Friends, on this blessed St. Patrick’s Day, when so many of us rejoice in our Hibernian heritage, let us pray for a world where every human being is respected and celebrated for the particular gifts she/he brings to Creation.

Music: Two Irish hymns today. What can I say? We Irish are noted for our loquaciousness. 😀☘️💚🇨🇮 (Keep scrolling. 2nd hymn way down.)

Hymn to Our Lady of Knock sung by Frank Patterson, “Ireland’s Golden Tenor”
(Lyrics below)

There were people of all ages gathered ’round the gable wall
poor and humble men and women, little children that you called
we are gathered here before you, and our hearts are just the same
filled with joy at such a vision, as we praise Your Name
Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland, all my cares and troubles cease
as we kneel with love before you, Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace

Though your message was unspoken, still the truth in silence lies
as we gaze upon your vision, and the truth I try to find
here I stand with John the teacher, and with Joseph at your side
and I see the Lamb of God, on the Altar glorified
Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland, all my cares and troubles cease
as we kneel with love before you, Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace

And the Lamb will conquer and the woman clothed in the sun
will shine Her light on everyone
and the lamb will conquer and the woman clothed in the sun,
will shine Her light on everyone

Hymn: Be Thou My Vision – Gaelic version by Maire Brennan

(English below)

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true Child
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art
High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

Take It Up a Notch

Friday, March 15, 2019

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Mt5_24 brother
Today, in Mercy, Jesus tells us to take it up a notch. It’s not good enough, he says, not to kill people.

You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you …

When we first read this, we might think we’re pretty safe. After all, how many of us actually kill people?!?! 

But let’s check that, Jesus says:

  • Don’t remain angry with your sister/brother
  • Don’t call them  “empty head” (raqa)
  • Don’t call them fools 

Jesus seems to be telling us that there are many ways to kill!

  • We can kill the possibility of relationship by our unresolved angers, grudges, sustained hatred of people.
  • We can kill hope in someone by labeling them stupid or foolish.
  • We can easily kill someone’s reputation by a false or injudicious word.
  • We can kill joy by our indifference.
  • We can kill love with ingratitude.
  • We can kill innocence with any of the seven deadly sins

It takes vigorous spiritual attention to live at the level Jesus is asking of us. Let’s give our souls that particular attention, especially during our Lenten journey.

Music: The Servant Song – Maranatha

God’s Beloved Least Ones

Monday, March 11, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, the voice of the Lord, in both Leviticus and Matthew, makes one thing abundantly clear: God lives in the “least ones”, and this is where we must love and serve God.

Mt25_45 least

In our first reading, God tells the people to be holy – not by offering God sacrifice and praise, but like this:

  • Don’t steal.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Don’t make an empty vow.
  • Don’t cheat.
  • Don’t hurt those already hurting.
  • Don’t make false judgments.
  • Don’t be prejudiced.
  • Don’t do nasty gossip.
  • Don’t ignore your neighbor’s need.
  • Don’t hate, take revenge on, or begrudge others.

In other words, 

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.

We are so accustomed to this passage that we may miss how startling it is! God asks nothing of us for himself! God asks only that we love God through our neighbor.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus reiterates this command in the form of positive actions, adding how we will be judged by it. Jesus says:

  • Feed the hungry.
  • Hydrate the thirsty.
  • Welcome the stranger.
  • Clothe the naked.
  • Care for the sick.
  • Visit the imprisoned.

We are called to these works of mercy on many levels. Certainly the call is first to the physically suffering – the homeless, the refugee, the uncared for, the abused.

But we also know from our own experience that there are all kinds of hungers and thirsts in the human heart. There is a loneliness that persists even in a crowd. There is naked fear, depression and isolation even among those otherwise warmly dressed. There are sicknesses that come from selfishness and others that come from abandonment. There are prisons without bars.

We do not have to look far to find the “least ones” whom God wishes us to love and serve.

We do not have to look far to find God. We just have to look deep.

Music: The Circle of Mercy – Jeannette Goglia, RSM

Let the Children Come to Me

Saturday, March 2, 2019

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Mk10_14

Today, in Mercy, let this picture carry home the message of today’s Gospel for our time. Let us consider our moral and civic responsibilities to this child and the thousands like him throughout the world.  Let us pray in the spirit of Jesus to understand what Mercy requires of us.

Enough said.

If you would like to help our Sister Anne Connolly working directly at our southern border with refugee families:

Gifts may be sent to:
Sisters of Mercy
(Please mark “Border Aid”)
c/o Sisters of Mercy-Border Aid
Development Office
515 Montgomery Avenue
Merion, PA.  19066

If you would like to connect directly with  Sister Anne:
(215) 539 7393
annecbba@yahoo.com

Music: Take All the Lost Home 

 

The Blessing of Friends

Friday, March 1, 2019

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Sirach6_15 friend

Today, in Mercy, our beautiful reading from Sirach reminds us how blessed we are in our friends.

To have a true friend, loving, honest and concerned for us is a gift beyond description. In modern parlance, such friends are often referred to as BFFs – “Best Friends Forever”. 

Pray in thanksgiving for your BFFs today. 

Some you may not have seen in many years. Still they are nestled in a place of eternal thanksgiving within you.

Some you may not speak to every day. You still carry and can depend on their strength and love.

Some may have been present to only a small part of your life. Still their impression lives in you.

Some may have grown old and gone home to God. Their eternal life rises in you.

Let us all give thanks today for the precious gift of friendship. Let us pray to be good and faithful friends ourselves.

(A second posting today with a few of my poems on friendship. Thank you to all of you, my friends, for the gift of your friendship.)

Music: More Than You’ll Ever Know – Watermark