Your Life Spells It Out!

Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
October 2, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100222.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy,  our readings combine to offer us a powerful message: we are the translators of God’s Word for our time. Our choices and actions for justice and mercy make the vision “readable” – visible for our sisters and brothers.

Hab2_2 vision

Habakkuk starts our challenge. He is in a bit of a struggle with God, asking repeatedly how long God is going to allow the people to suffer. ( I have had similar conversations with God, especially during these charged political times).

In so many words, God tells Habakkuk to look to his faith – his vision through God’s eyes. God sees that “the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” God tells him to “write the vision down”, to make it apparent in his own choices and actions for justice and mercy. In other words, Habakkuk, I’ve done what I am going to do. The rest is up to you, Buddy!


In a similar way, Paul reminds Timothy to “stir up the flame” – the gift of God given at his profession of faith. Paul reminds Timothy that, by grace, he knows what is right and just. He must not be chicken about living and speaking that Truth – to write the vision down by his choices and actions for justice and mercy.


In our Gospel, the disciples seem to want their faith increased because the commitment to witness is scary. They think they might feel a little better about it all if their faith consoled them more. But “writing the vision with our lives” takes guts, and the disciples seem a little lacking in today’s reading.

Jesus tells them to buck up. They are blessed to serve the Word of God by the witness of their lives. It won’t always feel good, safe or successful. Still they, and we, must unfailingly write the vision down by our choices and actions for justice and mercy, because even …

When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.

Jesus calls it like it is today. We are blessed to be God’s translators. We have an undeniable call to live God’s just and merciful vision. No excuses. Get it together. Keep the pencil sharp. No asking God when He’s going to make things better. The legible (just and merciful) translation depends on us!

Poetry: Abou Ben Adhem – Leigh Hunt

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!) 
And saw, within the moonlight in his room, 
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom, 
An angel writing in a book of gold:— 
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold, 
And to the presence in the room he said, 
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head, 
And with a look made of all sweet accord, 
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.” 
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,” 
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low, 
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then, 
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.” 

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night 
It came again with a great wakening light, 
And showed the names whom love of God had blest, 
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

Music: The Vision – Patrick Love

Latter Days

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Saturday, October 1, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100122.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we read how Job’s elder years were blessed with peace and prosperity — beautiful gifts!

We want this serenity and peace for all of our dear elders. They have traveled the road ahead of us, often showing us the way.

Job42_12

All of our beloved elders need and deserve appreciative love and respect from us. Tell your parents, grandparents and older friends what a blessing they are to you. Let them know they have shone a light on your path.


The writer imagines Job sitting with his children in the midst of his latter riches, having found a deep friendship with God through all the challenges of his life. His household has been blessed with the same friendship by learning from Job’s ardent faith.


Many times our elders need us to listen to their journey story. I remember a much older friend sadly telling me that no one was alive who shared her memories. Her words struck me as I realized the deep loneliness which accompanied them.

Our elders may need us to help them remember the worth and beauty of their long years. Even in advanced age, some may still be carrying regrets that we might help them forgive in themselves. Certainly all still bear losses that they may need to remember with us, and blessings that they need to re-celebrate in stories.

May we never take for granted what we have been given by the ones who go before us, on whose shoulders we stand. The simple act of listening may be the most perfect way to say “Thank You”.


Poetry: When You Are Old – William Butler Yeats
in this tender poem, Yeats writes to a young beloved about what her old age should be like – remembering both her own youth and his preceding death.

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Music: To God Be the Glory – André Crouch

Shun Indifference!

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
September 25, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings will challenge us in ways we might rather not hear.

In our first reading, feisty Amos lambastes the Israelites for their sumptuous lifestyle which is indifferent to the plight of those who are poor. He calls them “complacent”, “at ease” in their prosperous, privileged existence, a condition that has numbed them to the harrowing inequities from which others suffer.


Woe to the complacent in Zion!
 Lying upon beds of ivory,
 stretched comfortably on their couches,
 they eat lambs taken from the flock,
 and calves from the stall!

Amos 6:4-5

In our second reading, Paul gives a final, impassioned charge to his dear protégé Timothy. He tells him not just to avoid, but to flee such complacency and the greedy materialism which feeds it. He outlines the elements of a Christian life, enjoining Timothy to “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness”.


Paul gives Timothy the key to true Christian life:

Keep the commandment without stain or reproach …

…. “the commandment” being to love God above all, and love neighbor as self.


Dives
Dives and Lazarus by Bonifazio di Pitati The National Gallery – London

Our Gospel is, perhaps painfully, familiar to all of us – the story of Lazarus and Dives. It is a parable which puts the economic divide under the crystalline light of the Gospel, challenging us as to where we fit in it.

Most of us like comfort. We would rather be “haves” than “have nots”. But we struggle within our comfortable lives to discern our responsibility for others. We’re certainly not intentionally hard-hearted, “lying on ivory couches” and “drinking wine from bowls” while modern day Lazarus languishes right beside us.

We do try, in many ways, to respond to the call for charity and service. But don’t we still measure ourselves after hearing this Gospel? Don’t we still worry about any “Lazarus” unnoticed at our door?


Amos, Paul, and Jesus are charging us – just as they charged their immediate listeners – to live a life based in Biblical and Gospel justice. Justice seeks fullness of life for all the community. Jesus teaches us that “the community” is all Creation, and that how we treat the community is how we treat him.

Every day we might remind ourselves that, however hard we try, Christian love does not allow us to say, “It is enough”. We must keep on peeling away any indifference or blindness we have to the injustices of our culture and times, our economic and political systems. And we too must flee them, running toward justice, righteousness, and mercy.

We must ask ourselves this hard question:

Does my “wealth” 
– however large or small, 
material or immaterial- 
nourish the community or only consume it?


Poetry: Regret – Robert William Service

It's not for laws I've broken
That bitter tears I've wept,
But solemn vows I've spoken
And promises unkept;
It's not for sins committed
My heart is full of rue,
but gentle acts omitted,
Kind deeds I did not do.

I have outlived the blindness,
The selfishness of youth;
The canker of unkindness,
The cruelty of truth;
The searing hurt of rudeness .
By mercies great and small,
I've come to reckon goodness
The greatest gift of all.

Let us be helpful ever
to those who are in need,
And each new day endeavor
To do some gentle deed;
For faults beyond our grieving,
What kindliness atone;
On earth by love achieving
A Heaven of our own.

Music: Five Variants of Dives & Lazarus – Ralph Vaughn Williams’s beautiful interpretation of the folk song “Dives and Lazarus”.

The Name of Mercy

Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of Our Lady of Mercy
September 24, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092422.cfm

Today, as the Mercy Family throughout the world celebrates Mercy Day, we praise and thank God for the call given to Venerable Catherine McAuley to respond to God’s grace by founding the Sisters of Mercy.

mercy2018

On September 24, 1827, Catherine used an unexpected inheritance to open a house for poor and homeless women in Dublin. It began with two, Catherine and Mary Ann Doyle – and that small, vibrant fire has lit the hearts of millions ever since.

Many of you, dear readers, carry that fire and will know Catherine’s story well. But some still unfamiliar with her life might want to explore this website:

For those of us who treasure a share in Catherine’s call, today’s readings may suggest several points for reflection. Ecclesiastes directs us to remember our “young call” that first turned us toward Mercy. It was full of fire and love which changed our lives. Today we pray in thanksgiving for that call and reiterate our desire to be transformed in Mercy

https://www.mercyworld.org/catherine/introducing-catherine/

To gain courage and energy for that transformation, let us reach through time for Catherine’s hand, telling her how we share her dream for God’s Mercy for all Creation. Let us ask her to enliven us each morning with the same passion for justice, the same compassionate tenderness, the same welcoming heart by which she showed others the Lavish Mercy of God.

Are there not moments when we are overwhelmed by that Mercy welling up within us and around us, flowing from good hearts over the world’s needs? We see and bless this grace in each other, dear Family, as we thank God this day to be called “Mercy”.

May each of your lives be richly blessed and marked by that name!


Today, I thought you might enjoy this powerful poem by Denise Levertov.
The music link is beneath it.
 Happy and blessed Mercy Day to all.



To Live in the Mercy of God

To lie back under the tallest
oldest trees. How far the stems
rise, rise
before ribs of shelter
open!

To live in the mercy of God. The complete
sentence too adequate, has no give.
Awe, not comfort. Stone, elbows of
stony wood beneath lenient
moss bed.

And awe suddenly
passing beyond itself. Becomes
a form of comfort.
Becomes the steady
air you glide on, arms
stretched like the wings of flying foxes.

To hear the multiple silence
of trees, the rainy
forest depths of their listening.

To float, upheld,
as salt water
would hold you,
once you dared.

To live in the mercy of God.
To feel vibrate the enraptured
waterfall flinging itself
unabating down and down
to clenched fists of rock.

Swiftness of plunge,
hour after year after century,
O or Ah
uninterrupted, voice
many-stranded.

To breathe
spray. The smoke of it.
Arcs
of steelwhite foam, glissades
of fugitive jade barely perceptible. Such passion—
rage or joy?

Thus, not mild, not temperate,
God’s love for the world. Vast
flood of mercy
flung on resistance.
———-

Music: Mercy ~ Matt Redman

Heartfelt Mercy

Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091322.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul reminds us and calls us to live as Christ’s Body.

As a body is one though it has many parts,
and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,
so also Christ.
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body,
whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.
Now the body is not a single part, but many.
Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

Our prayer might lead us to ask ourselves, “How exactly have I been part of Christ’s Body in my life today?”.


The Gospel story of the widow of Nain could help us answer. Reading it, I remember standing by a large walkway window at the Louisville Airport on a sweltering July day in 2005.

Down on the heat-softened tarmac, a small bevy of soldiers stood at attention. Slowly, a flag-draped casket was lowered into their waiting arms. Just to the side, a huddled family, waited as well. Two children clung to either side of their young mother. An older couple stood behind her, hands gentled on her shoulders.

At the window, several other travelers gathered in silence. A few teenage boys removed their inverted baseball caps when they noticed a distinguished older gentleman stand tall and hold a salute.

No one who witnessed that brief ceremony will ever forget it. The grief, reverence and astonishment at life’s fragility emblazoned the moment on every witnessing heart.



When Jesus passed the gates of Nain on that ancient morning, he had a like experience. He saw this “only son of a widowed mother”. Once again, shaken to his roots with compassion –splancha, he pulled heaven down to heal heart-breaking loss.

As Jesus drew near to the gate of the city
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his widowed mother.

How I wished Jesus were flying out of Louisville that day in 2005! But then I realized He was there. The miracle was hidden, but still real. The Divine Compassion flowed through me, through the reverent gathering beside me, through the soldiers’ honoring arms, through the long prayerful memory we would all forever share.

That young man from Nain was raised from the dead… for a while. He, like all of us, eventually died. The miracle was not about him and his life. The miracle was the visible sign of God’s Lavish Mercy for us – God’s “feeling-with-us” in all our experiences. That compassion, whether miraculously visible or not, is always with us. It just took a different form that day in Louisville.

The baptismal commission to be Christ’s Body in the world calls each of us to the same type of compassion, of “being with” those who suffer, of honoring the God-given life of every person, and of believing in its ultimate resurrection.

Poetry: FIRSTBORN SONS AND THE WIDOW OF NAIN (LUKE 7:11–15)
by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

Jesus halted on the road outside Nain
where a woman’s wailing drenched the air.
Out of the gates poured a somber procession
of dark-shawled women, hushed children,
young men bearing a litter that held
a body swathed in burial clothes,
and the woman, walking alone.

A widow then—another bundle
of begging rags at the city gates.
A bruised reed!

Her loud grief labored and churned in him till
“Halt!” he shouted.
The crowd, the woman, the dead man stopped.
Dust, raised by sandaled feet,
settled down again on the sandy road.
Insects waited in shocked silence.
He walked to the litter, grasped a dead hand.
“Young man,” he called
in a voice that shook the walls of Sheol,
“I command you, rise!” The linens stirred.
Two firstborn sons from Nazareth and Nain
met, eye to eye. He placed the pulsing hand into hers.
“Woman, behold your son,” he smiled.

Music:  The Body of Christ – Sarah Hart

A Gallery of Sinners!

Tuesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
September 6, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/090622.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Corinthians might leave us thinking, “Wow, maybe I’m a sinner but I’m sure not as bad as those guys!”

Their Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent 🙂

Paul generates quite a list of reprobates, doesn’t he!

Do not be deceived;
neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers
nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves
nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers
will inherit the Kingdom of God.

The list is so compelling that we might be blinded by it and miss the message that the reading has for us. And I think the message is this – what do Paul’s miscreants have in common?

They have violated and scorned
the sanctity of
RELATIONSHIP
which demands commitment, trust,
reverence and integrity.


When, in our prayer, we examine our conscience and honestly place before God the best we have done with our day, how does it look in terms of right-relationship?

How committed, honest, respectful and caring
have we been toward those God has given us
in the circle of our lives?

Paul’s catalogue of sinners use others for their own selfish purposes. There is no mutuality, responsibility or investment in one another’s good. And while our wrongdoings may not make Paul’s Most Wanted List, they will be characterized by the same failings.


The question Paul offers us is this: how reverent, honest, respectful, merciful and loving am I in each of my relationships – with God, myself, Creation, my immediate and larger world?
Or whom might I instead “write off” as fodder for my contempt, gossip, judgements, disregard, indifference or exclusion?

NAMASTE

Maybe we don’t mean to do these things, but I think we might be surprised if we really took a good look at ourselves — myself included.

In calling the  Corinthians to get it together, Paul is also calling me.


Poetry: When I Am Among the Trees – Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.
Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It's simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Music: We Are All One – 

Alleluia: Everyone’s Invited

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 28, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082822.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings share the common theme of humility, instructing us that the virtue is essential to our salvation.

Lk14_11 humbled

Alleluia, alleluia.
Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord,
and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

Humility, of course, gets a bad rap in our dominating, “me” culture. We tend to think of humiliation, servitude, inelegance rather than the actual root of the word: humus -“of the earth”.

I was fascinated a few years ago by a small fracas arising from the unconsidered remarks of one of our Phillies baseball players. The team had been running hot and cold – with a little bit too much cold for some fans. The famous Philly “boos” had been flying. Frustrated with these, then outfielder Sean Rodriguez referred to the disgruntled fans as “entitled”. 

angry

Uh oh! They didn’t like that. We prefer to think of ourselves as “deserving “, right?

Humility is that virtue which helps us realize that we are not “entitled” or “deserving” of anything over and above other human beings. It roots us in the respect for each other that refuses to rank the worth of other human beings. 

The social leverage that comes from wealth, power, and influence can beguile us. We become lost in a maze of stereotypes, rankings and prejudices which are the foundation of social injustice.



Do we ever hear among ourselves justifying phrases for our entitlement like these. Maybe the thoughts go unexpressed, but the attitude is unmistakably there:

  • well, I earned what I have
  • at least I paid for what I have
  • they” need to work if they want to have …(food, healthcare, housing…)
  • it’s their own fault for … (dropping out of school, taking drugs, ….)
  • that’s just the way it is in “those” countries. The people are …(lazy, stupid, violent …)
  • they” don’t need what I need. “They” are used to being … (poor, disabled, sick …)

And probably the most dangerous of all the phrases:

  • it’s not my problem
  • I’m not the one exiling, bombing, blocking, trafficking, enslaving “them”

Today’s readings enjoin us: it is my problem. My attitude, choices, vote, conversation, and lifestyle matter at the banquet of life we are all meant to share.

My intention to humbly join and rejoice with all Creation, to take a seat beside and never above my sister and brother – this is my only “entitlement” to the one banquet that matters.

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.


Prose – from Mary Oliver in Upstream (Penguin Press, 2016)

Understand from the first this certainty. Butterflies don’t write books, neither do lilies, or violets. Which doesn’t mean they don’t know, in their own way, what they are. That they don’t know they are alive – that they don’t feel, that action upon which all consciousness sits, lightly or heavily.

Humility is the prize of the leaf-world.
Vainglory is the bane of us, the humans.  

Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream. May I look down upon the windflower and the bull thistle and the coreopsis with the greatest respect. 


Music:  A Place at the Table – Lori True and Shirley Elena Murray

Alleluia: Who’s Coming to the Party?

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 21, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082122.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way, the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father, except through me.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we glimpse what the great gathering in heaven might be like.

The Kingdom of Heaven by Frank Bramley

Have you ever gotten an e-vite in your email? Perhaps an invitation to a gala event or a birthday party? All you need do to respond is to click a “Yes” or “ No” button. And then you can look to see who else has been invited and what response each has clicked. You can get a pretty clear picture of what the party will be like – chummy, snobby, noisy, elegant, boring, mind-blowing ….


Isaiah records a guest list for us of all who will be invited to God’s party. That “party” described in Isaiah 66 imagines a restored Jerusalem and a rebuilt Temple. It is an image of what Creation will look like when enveloped in God at the end times. It’s pretty cool!

They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations
as an offering to the LORD,
on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries,
to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD…

Isaiah’s community really needed to hear that encouraging vision because the Temple-less Jerusalem they were living in had been devastated by the Babylonian invasions. For the Israelites, the Temple and the Holy City modeled the Kingdom to come. They had a long way to go before their environment was restored to Isaiah’s predicted dimensions. Isaiah helps them journey through present reality for the sake of future hope.


In our second reading, Paul gives a similar kind of encouragement to Hebrew converts who were finding difficulties in the pursuit of their new Christian faith. They too had to learn to suffer through in order to realize their hope.

At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.
So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. 
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.


When questioned about heaven, Jesus says it’s not a piece of cake to get in. You have to “know somebody”, and that somebody is the God of your heart.

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

Jesus echoes Isaiah in describing the glorious mix of guests at the heavenly party:

And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. 
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.

Christ Surrounded by Singing and Music – Hans Hemling

I know I want to be at that party. And we all want to see one another there, right?!

So let’s help each other:

  • get on our “horses, chariots, carts, mules, dromedaries” or any other assistance for our journey
  • strengthen our drooping hands to reach for righteousness
  • find the narrow gate and pass through it
  • finally recline at the table

Poetry: God – Khalil Gibran

In the ancient days, when the first quiver of speech came to my lips, I ascended the holy mountain and spoke unto God, saying, “Master, I am thy slave. Thy hidden will is my law and I shall obey thee for ever more.”

But God made no answer, and like a mighty tempest passed away.

And after a thousand years I ascended the holy mountain and again spoke unto God, saying, “Creator, I am thy creation. Out of clay hast thou fashioned me and to thee I owe mine all.”

And God made no answer, but like a thousand swift wings passed away.

And after a thousand years I climbed the holy mountain and spoke unto God again, saying, “Father, I am thy son. In pity and love thou hast given me birth, and through love and worship I shall inherit thy kingdom.”

And God made no answer, and like the mist that veils the distant hills he passed away.

And after a thousand years I climbed the sacred mountain and again spoke unto God, saying, “My God, my aim and my fulfilment; I am thy yesterday and thou are my tomorrow. I am thy root in the earth and thou art my flower in the sky, and together we grow before the face of the sun.”

Then God leaned over me, and in my ears whispered words of sweetness, and even as the sea that enfoldeth a brook that runneth down to her, he enfolded me.

And when I descended to the valleys and the plains God was there also.


Music: Paradise by Mehdi – a beautiful composition to put a little kick in your step on the way up the Mountain! 🙂

Alleluia: At Home in God

Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Saturday, August 20, 2022


Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082022.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
You have but one Father in heaven;
you have but one master, the Christ.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we come to our final reading from Ezekiel for this liturgical year. I think he is a challenging prophet to read with visions, images, and language that sometimes shock and astound.

But when we consider his circumstances of exile and captivity, we see more clearly how his own angst and suffering – as well as his people’s – spawned his compelling prophecies.


Ezekiel takes the Israelites through a curriculum common to many of the biblical prophets.

  1. You people have been sinful so you’re in trouble.
  2. Your persecutors and conquerors are also rotten sinners.
  3. God is going to fix all of you one way or another.
  4. Repent and your hope for restoration will be realized.

These themes are common to our lives too especially when we’re in spiritual discomfort like Ezekiel was.

  1. We examine ourselves for what’s out of kilter.
  2. We fixate on all the people and circumstances around us that are troubling us.
  3. We finally acknowledge our responsibility for our situation and accept what we can and cannot change.
  4. We reimagine a possible future and reclaim our hope

As with Ezekiel and his community, all this self-renewal happens only when we perceive, acknowledge and engage God’s loving will for us. Without that, we continue to live in spiritual exile from our true home in God.

Our Alleluia Verse and Gospel invite us to be fully at home in the Trinity just as they are at home in One Another.

Alleluia, alleluia.
You have but one Father in heaven;
you have but one master, the Christ.


Prayer of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Make my soul…
Your cherished dwelling place, 
Your home of rest.  
Let me never leave You there alone, 
but keep me there 
absorbed in You, 
in living faith, 
adoring You.

Music: Jesu Dulcis Memoria – written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux whose feast we celebrate today.

Jesu, dulcis memoria, dans vera cordis gaudia, sed super mel et omnia, eius dulcis praesentia.JESU, the very thought of Thee, with sweetness fills my breast, but sweeter far Thy face to see, and in Thy presence rest.
Nil canitur suavius, nil auditur iucundius, nil cogitatur dulcius, quam Iesus Dei Filius.Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame, nor can the memory find a sweeter sound than Thy blest Name, o Savior of mankind!.
Iesu, spes paenitentibus, quam pius es petentibus! quam bonus te quaerentibus! sed quid invenientibus?O hope of every contrite heart o joy of all the meek, to those who fall, how kind Thou art! how good to those who seek!
Nec lingua valet dicere, nec littera exprimere: expertus potest credere, quid sit Iesum diligere.But what to those who find? Ah this nor tongue nor pen can show: the love of Jesus, what it is none but His loved ones know.
Sis, Iesu, nostrum gaudium, qui es futurus praemium: sit nostra in te gloria, per cuncta semper saecula. Amen.Jesu, our only joy be Thou, As Thou our prize wilt be: Jesu, be Thou our glory now, And through eternity. Amen.

Alleluia: Lost and Found

Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
August 19, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/081922.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Teach me your paths, my God,
guide me in your truth.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our Alleluia Verse and Psalm 107, grateful chants to God’s Mercy from the lost who have been found.

There are all kinds of “lost”. 

There are small “losts” like when I misinterpret my GPS and keep hearing “Recalculating route…”. 

Then there are huge “losts” like when a beloved dies and our life’s anchor breaks.

This morning’s psalm and reading are speaking of a particular kind of “lost”, one that comes from wandering away from Love, for whatever reason that happens to us.


As I pray these readings, the face of a good high school friend comes to mind. Judy was a super basketball player. Everything about her was vigor, coordination, and that all-American beauty that needed no makeup to impress anybody.

After graduation, I went into the silence of the pre-Vatican II convent and Judy disappeared into her future. When our five-year class reunion rolled around, I looked forward to reconnecting with her.

When I saw her, my heart broke. She was a shadow of herself, emaciated, listless, and lightless. She silently shouted a refrain like today’s verse from Ezekiel:

Our bones are dried up,
our hope is lost, and we are cut off.

We were both twenty-three years old. I was just beginning to grow into my hopes. Judy was already divorced, alone, and the mother of a father-starved child.

That kind of “lost” feels almost irredeemable. 


But Psalm 107 assures us that, in faith, no loss, no alienation is irredeemable.

They cried to the LORD in their distress;
from their straits God rescued them.
And led them by a direct way
to the healing of community.


Judy and I stayed in touch for a few years. Despite her troubles, she kept faith. That was the key.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Teach me your paths, my God,
guide me in your truth.

She did the hard work to find herself again with the help of family, friends, counselors, and a supportive faith community. Eventually, she remarried and was happy the last time I saw her before she moved to the west coast.


This morning, I see such apparent parallels between Israel’s and Judy’s story. That helps me look back over my own life for the same, perhaps not so dramatic, parallels and to be grateful for the many times God found me.

Let them give thanks for God’s Mercy
and wondrous deeds to us,
Because God has satisfied the longing soul
and filled the hungry heart with good things.


Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

Poetry: Lost – Carl Sandburg

Desolate and lone 
All night long on the lake 
Where fog trails and mist creeps, 
The whistle of a boat 
Calls and cries unendingly, 
Like some lost child 
In tears and trouble 
Hunting the harbor’s breast 
And the harbor’s eyes. 


Music: Amazing Grace – Sean Clive