Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 15, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 47 which keeps us on point as we move toward Pentecost:

All you peoples, clap your hands;
    shout to God with cries of gladness.
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
    is the great king over all the earth.

Psalm 47: 2-3

We can be confident. Christ’s work is accomplished. We await the Spirit which will accompany us now in living the Gospel fully.

For king of all the earth is God;
    sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
    God sits upon his holy throne. 

Psalm 47: 8-9

Our Gospel today confirms us in our call, like the newly-gathered Twelve, to radical discipleship:

On that day you will ask in my name,
and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you.
For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me
and have come to believe that I came from God.


These days before Pentecost
offer a good time to talk with God
about my call and my response.

And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to him, for only he knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Music: A New Commandment

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

May 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 47, one of seven enthronement psalms which celebrate a “coronation” of God.

All you peoples, clap your hands,
    shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
    is the great king over all the earth.

Psalm 47: 1

Used for the feast of the Ascension, the point of the psalm is much more than an exercise of pageantry. It is an act of faith and reverence to God, the Loving Omnipotence who chose to redeem us by assuming our humanity.

It is a confirmation that we believers do see the Supreme Being in the human Jesus we have come to love. This is what Paul prays for the Ephesians in our second reading:

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might,
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1:18-21

The Great Commission, found in today’s Gospel, is the true gift of the Ascension.

Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:15

Jesus tells us that his time on earth is complete. The lesson of Love has been taught. We now are given the power to continue the message for all time. 

Jesus promises that our faith will:


overcome evil
-create new possibilities to preach the Gospel
-show courage against antagonism
-resist suppression
-heal and strengthen others to believe

These signs will accompany those who believe:

-in my name they will drive out demons,
-they will speak new languages.
-They will pick up serpents with their hands,
-drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.


If we believe and open our hearts to this message, indeed, it is a day for trumpet blasts! Here are a few from one of my favorite triumphal pieces! If the Apostles had only had trumpets, they might have played something like this for the Lord as He ascended 🙂

Poetry: Ascension Sonnet – Malcolm Guite

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.

We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,

Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,

His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed.

Music: Psalm 47 – Rory Cooney

Friday of the Second Week of Easter

April 16, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27, the prayer of one confident in God’s loving protection, no matter any surrounding threat. The psalmist exudes the equanimity of one who has given everything over to Love, who seeks only one fulfillment:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.

Psalm 27:4

I remember praying this psalm so intently as a young novice! I so wanted to understand and deepen in the spiritual life. I so wanted to be completely in love with God.


Gamaliel, from our first reading, has grown into such a love. It has freed him to respond to the Spirit even when the Spirit astounds, contradicts, and demands change.

Gamaliel said to the Sanhedrin…“So now I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity 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: 38-39

It seems that Gamaliel is speaking from experience. He likely had his big or little tussles with the Spirit along the now long road of his life. He has one even today as Jesus’s pesky disciples challenge Gamaliel’s long-held religious practice.


But it is likely that a prayer like Psalm 27 rose up in the heart of this longtime friend of God:

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

For I am protected in the Lord’s shelter
when troubles threaten,
wrapped in the folds of the Lord’s tent,
set high upon the rock’s safety.

Psalm 27: 1,5

As we pray beautiful Psalm 27 today, may we remember our early, enthusiastic love. May we give thanks for the accumulated blessings of the years that have enriched and matured us in wisdom and faith. May we seek the courage to journey ever deeper into God’s heart.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
    be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27: 13-14

Poetry: Old Age by Edmund Waller

The seas are quiet when the winds give o’er; 
So calm are we when passions are no more. 
For then we know how vain it was to boast 
Of fleeting things, so certain to be lost. 
Clouds of affection from our younger eyes 
Conceal that emptiness which age descries. 
The soul’s dark cottage, batter’d and decay’d, 
Lets in new light through chinks that Time hath made: 
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become 
As they draw near to their eternal home. 
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view 
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

Music: Depths – Hillsong

Easter Wednesday

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

April 7, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105 as the psalmist rejoices in seeking and being found by God.

Our scripture passages today invite us to walk:

  • beside one long crippled and amazed at unexpected healing
  • beside the psalmist and all who seek the Lord
  • beside the Emmaus disciples as they shed their confusion into the already present Light

The readings call us to deeper, more faith-filled journeys that

  • challenge our passively accepted inhibitions
  • appreciate the journey as part of the destination
  • open our eyes to Grace otherwise invisible to our unhopeful hearts

Poetry: excerpt from The Wasteland by T.S.Eliot

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?

Music: Turn Around, Look at Me – The Vogues

Psalm 69: The Plea

Wednesday of Holy Week

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 69. The verses offered for today’s liturgy describe someone who is abused and abandoned by the community he depended on:

Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
    I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
    for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
    and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Psalm 69: 21-22

The psalmist goes on, into today’s passage and throughout the whole psalm, to proclaim his innocence and call on God for justice – one might say even vengeance.

Heap punishment upon their punishment;
let them gain from you no vindication.
May they be blotted from the book of life;
not registered among the just!

Psalm 69: 28-29

Several Gospel writers include parts of Psalm 69 to describe Jesus’s situation throughout his Passion and Death. However, we find Jesus not invoking divine vengeance but forgiving those who persecute him.

Does Christ’s forgiveness mean that he didn’t feel heart-broken, angry, perhaps even wishing, as the psalmist does, that the tables would be turned onto his harassers? 

We don’t really know what he felt. We can only imagine. What we do know is what Jesus chose. Jesus chose forgiveness.

As we pray with Psalm 69 today, let us remember that we cannot help our feelings. They come unbidden. What we can control are our choices. In the sufferings of our lives, may we have the strength to choose as Jesus did.


Poetry: John Greenleaf Whittier, ‘Forgiveness’

My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!


Music: Antonio Vivaldi – Domine ad adjuvandum me festina (Psalm 69)

Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto,
sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper
et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Alleluia

O Lord, make speed to save me:
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end, Amen. Alleluia.

Monday of Holy Week

Monday of Holy Week


March 29, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27 which is a cry for help from one who is confident of God’s care.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
    whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
    of whom should I be afraid?

Psalm 27:1

Despite these verses, the psalmist obviously is afraid, otherwise why pray? As we begin Holy Week, we might imagine Jesus voicing such a prayer. Confident of the Father’s participation in his life, Jesus nevertheless must face daunting realities with courage – but not without fear.

We can learn so much from Jesus in this.

It is a very unusual, and perhaps non-existent, person who has no fears. We all fear something… maybe many things. It is human to fear that which we cannot see, control, or withstand. Even the one touting his great fearlessness is likely afraid of being seen as weak.

What Jesus teaches us is not to let our faith, love and hope be dominated by fear; rather, to engage our lives courageously with these three virtues despite our normal human fears. In so doing, we become the person God hopes for us to be, just as Jesus did.


Who would I be,
and what power would be expressed in my life,
if I were not dominated by fear?

Paula D’Arcy

The triumph is in resisting that domination, not in being fearless. Nelson Mandela has written, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.


I think Jesus was afraid during these final days of his life, but he pushed through to the truth of God’s Will for his life. We can ask Jesus to help us in our fears by praying as he might have with Psalm 27:

You are my light and my salvation
   Whom then shall I fear?

You are the strength of my life
  of what shall I be afraid?

Trials, enemies, changes, difficulties—
  they rise up and they resolve

Therefore–
   I will trust you
   I will wait for you
   I will seek you.

transliteration of Psalm 27 by Christine Robinson

Poetry: from T.S. Eliot, Four Quartet, East Coker

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing facade are all being rolled away--
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing--
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

Music: Be Still My Soul – Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel, born 1697

A Psalm from Jeremiah

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

March 27, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray a responsorial from the Book of Jeremiah:

The Lord will guard us, as a shepherd guards the flock.

The psalm today, with the first reading, brings assurance that God remains with us through suffering and will heal and make us whole again.

That reassurance is needed as we hear the Gospel’s tone darken. After the raising of Lazarus, the whole nation waits to see what will happen to Jesus as Passover nears.


I think, in some ways, impending doom is almost worse than doom itself. Picture the part in a movie where the attacker waits in the dark while the victim tiptoes into lurking danger.

That frightening music they always play! Sometimes the tension heightens to the point that I have to hit the mute or close my eyes!


Entry of Christ into Jerusalem, a 1617 oil painting by Flemish Baroque painter Anthony van Dyck

This is what all surrounding Jerusalem felt like in today’s Gospel. The dark edge of evil hangs in inevitable threat.

But for Jesus, who walked in the hidden light of the Father, the moment brought more than threatening shadows. It was time to fulfill an ancient promise. It was time to offer the greatest act of Love.

Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
    proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
    he guards them as a shepherd his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
    he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.

Jeremiah 31: 10-12

As Jesus went off alone to Ephraim to prepare his heart and soul for this ultimate fulfillment, perhaps a prayer from Jeremiah strengthened him, a remembered promise from Ezekiel focused him.

Let us pray with Jesus today as he asks the Father to “shepherd” him. With Jesus, may we find our own strengths and understandings in these ancient prophets.


Poetry: Redemption by George Herbert (1593-1633)who was 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 recognised as “one of the foremost British devotional lyricists.”

Having been tenant long to a rich lord, 
    Not thriving, I resolvèd to be bold, 
    And make a suit unto him, to afford 
A new small-rented lease, and cancel th’ old. 

In heaven at his manor I him sought; 
    They told me there that he was lately gone 
    About some land, which he had dearly bought 
Long since on earth, to take possessiòn. 

I straight returned, and knowing his great birth, 
    Sought him accordingly in great resorts; 
    In cities, theaters, gardens, parks, and courts; 

At length I heard a ragged noise and mirth 
    Of thieves and murderers; there I him espied, 
    Who straight, Your suit is granted, said, and died.

Music: Like a Shepherd – St. Louis Jesuits

Psalm 23: Darkness to Light

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Monday, March 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our revered Psalm 23. This powerful prayer of confidence and hope fits well with today’s readings.

In the passage from Daniel, the innocent Susanna never wavers in her trust:

O eternal God, you know what is hidden
and are aware of all things before they come to be:
you know that they have testified falsely against me. 
Here I am about to die,
though I have done none of the things
with which these wicked men have charged me.”
The Lord heard her prayer.

Daniel 13: 42-44

In our Gospel, the woman – though not innocent – stills finds refuge in Jesus’s mercy.

So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

John 8: 9-11

Like these two women, we may find ourselves in a dark valley at times. Whether we are innocent or guilty in arriving there, God abides with us in mercy. 

The key is to acknowledge our situation and to reach out to that Mercy. In that way, even though we encounter difficulty, as said in Psalm 23, we live in Light and not in shadow:

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

Psalm 23: 5-6

Poetry: Light by Rabindranath Tagore

Light, my light, the world-filling light, 
the eye-kissing light, heart-sweetening light!

Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the center of my life; 
the light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; 
the sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth.

The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light. 
Lilies and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light.

The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, 
and it scatters gems in profusion.

Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling, 
and gladness without measure.
 The heaven’s river has drowned its banks 
and the flood of joy is abroad.


Laetare Sunday — Remember Joy!


In preparing for today’s reflection, I decided to look back a year ago to Laetare Sunday 2020. We were just beginning a very troubling and painful journey. We had no idea the depths to which it would take us. I hadn’t even learned to call our enemy “Covid”, as you will see. 

Yet as I read the past reflection in the light of where we are today, I was filled with awe, gratitude, sadness and remembrance.

I thought it might be good to offer the selection as a re-read for today as we stand on the brink of hope, Daylight Savings Time and a Spring that, for twelve terrible months, we couldn’t count on seeing.

As we begin to help one another heal, hope, and fully live again, let’s continue to pray for another. Thank you all for being part of the Lavish Mercy community whose prayer helped carry us all through these times.

May God bless you all  — and good health, good heart, good Spirit to every one of you.


Laetare! Rejoice! Lent has run half its distance to Easter.

I know it may be a bit difficult to rejoice in this Corona time, but think of this:
Spring has stepped over the horizon!  The long winter watch is over. But before we shake off its black velvet wraps for good, it might be well to think about what winter has taught us. It may strengthen us for this unusually challenging spring!

The stretch of time between November and April is all about waiting. Bulbs wait under the frozen earth.  Bears hibernate in the cold mountains.  Birds migrate, their old nests empty until the spring. All creation seems to enter a time of patience and unrealized expectation.  But it is not a time of desolation.  It is a time of hope for things yet unseen. Perhaps we can make our Corona time that kind of hopeful time.

We human beings also experience “winter” – not simply the seasonal one – but “winters of the spirit”.  We all go through times when our nests have been emptied; times when all the beautiful flowering aspects of our lives seem dormant; times when our vigor and strength seem to hide in the cave of depression or sadness.  These “winters” take many forms.  We may find ourselves sick of a job we had always loved. We may find a long, committed relationship wavering.  We may find the burdens of age or economics overwhelming us.  We may be the unwilling bearers of responsibilities we had not bargained for.

But if we listen, under the deep silence of waning winter, the wind rustles.  It carries the hint of a new season.  It carries the hope of the renewing cycle of our lives.  In that silence, we may be able to hear our own heartbeat more clearly.  We may come to a clearer understanding of what is most important in our lives.  In the stillness, we may be forced to know and understand ourselves in a deeper way.

In this time of global angst and uncertainty, I think of a powerful image from the works of St. Teresa of Avila.  St. Teresa imagines God as a warm healer leaning over our frozen world, setting free the beauty of our spirits. This is what she says:

And God is always there, if you feel wounded.
He kneels over this earth like a divine medic,
and His love thaws the holy in us.

Teresa of Avila

Every time you touch another person’s life,  — in these times, from at least six feet away — you have the chance to change winter into spring.  You have a chance to be like God.

Call someone who may feel very alone.  Be “Laetare” for them! Pray for someone suffering illness or loss. Send healing hopes to those you may not even know in distant places of our shared earth. Light, Easter rising and renewed life will come. Let us trust God and hold one another up as we wait.


Music: Laetare Jerusalem – Discantus

Laetáre Jerúsalem:
et convéntum fácite
ómnes qui dilígitis éam:
gaudéte cum laetítia,
qui in tristítia fuístis:
ut exsultétis, et satiémini
abubéribus consolatiónis véstrae.

Ps.: Laetátus sum in his quae dícta sunt míhi:
in dómum Dómini íbimus. 

Glória Pátri, et Fílio,
et Spirítui Sáncto.
Sicut erat in princípio,
et nunc, et semper,
et in saécula saeculórum. Amen. 

Laetáre Jerúsalem:
et convéntum fácite
ómnes qui dilígitis éam:
gaudéte cum laetítia,
qui in tristítia fuístis:
ut exsultétis, et satiémini
abubéribus consolatiónis véstrae.

Rejoice, O Jerusalem: 
and come together all you that love her: 
rejoice with joy you that have been in sorrow: 
that you may exult, 
and be filled from the breasts of your consolation

Ps.: I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: 
we shall go into the house of the Lord. 

Glory be to the Father, 
and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, 
is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Psalm 81: Through the Storm

Friday of the Third Week of Lent

March 12, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 81, another call to listen to God’s Word in order to find the fullness of life:

If only my people would hear me,
    and Israel walk in my ways,
I would feed them with the best of wheat,
    and with honey from the rock I would fill them.


But honestly, isn’t it hard to listen sometimes. Even the psalm suggests that there are such loud, distracting events in our lives that we sometimes can’t hear that Word:

In distress you called, and I rescued you.
 Unseen, I answered you in thunder;
    I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Hear, my people, and I will admonish you;
    O Israel, will you not hear me?


The psalm shows us that God’s deepest Word
comes to us in thunder, in storm.
It is a truth Jesus embraced on Calvary.
It is a truth our lives will sometimes require of us.


This morning my prayer is filled with thoughts of my friend whose young daughter died last week. When even I, who never met Emily, can feel the overwhelming sadness of her untimely death, what unbearable storm must surround her parents! How can they hear the word of faith in the tumult?


Many years ago, I attended an evening event on the other side of my state. During the ceremony, a tornado touched down very nearby. After several frightening hours, I was able to travel back to my hotel, about five miles away.

But the roads were blocked with debris. The streets lights and signs had been blown down. And I was completely unfamiliar with the vicinity. I did eventually make it “home” to the hotel, but it wasn’t the same as I had left it. Part of the roof lay across the street. The window in my room had been fractured and boarded up.

For me, the memory is a parable about suffering. When the storm comes, we may pass through it, but we are not unchanged. Our world is not unchanged.

Jesus was not unchanged by Good Friday and Easter Sunday. By hearing God’s Word in the storm, Jesus was transformed. This is the legacy of faith Christ has given us in the Paschal Mystery. May it strengthen, heal, and transform us this Lent. May it comfort all those who so dearly love Emily.


Poetry: The Man Watching  by Rainer Maria Rilke, Translated by Robert Bly

I can tell by the way the trees beat, after
so many dull days, on my worried windowpanes
that a storm is coming,
and I hear the far-off fields say things
I can’t bear without a friend,
I can’t love without a sister.

The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on 
across the woods and across time,
and the world looks as if it had no age:
the landscape, like a line in the psalm book, 
is seriousness and weight and eternity.

What we choose to fight is so tiny! 
What fights with us is so great. 
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things do by some immense storm, 
we would become strong too, and not need names.

When we win it’s with small things, 
and the triumph itself makes us small. 
What is extraordinary and eternal
does not want to be bent by us. 
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers’ sinews 
grew long like metal strings, 
he felt them under his fingers 
like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel 
(who often simply declined the fight) 
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand, 
that kneaded him as if to change his shape. 
Winning does not tempt that man. 
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, 
by constantly greater beings.


Music: Moonlight Sonata in a Thunderstorm