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.

Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 84 – one of the loveliest.

My soul yearns and pines 
    for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh
    cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
    and the swallow a nest
    in which she puts her young–
Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
    my king and my God!

Psalm 84: 3-6

The image of God’s dwelling places raises so many possibilities for prayer:

  • Mary, the dwelling of Jesus as he completed incarnation 
  • Eucharist, Christ’s continuing dwelling with us
  • Ourselves and all creatures as dwelling places of God’s spirit

Thinking of a dwelling place, many characteristics come to mind. Foremost for me is hospitality. We must be welcomed into a place in order to dwell there. We must be comfortable, cared about, and appreciated. We must feel at home.

We’ve all been in homes that make us feel this way, and hopefully our own home offers such hospitality to us and others. I think this morning of three old friends now at home with God. They were the sisters of a beloved pastor with whom I worked. We got to know them well at the time of his death and continued our friendship until they too died.

We often visited their old but perfectly appointed little home. And their hospitality took very evident forms: a prepared pitcher of Manhattans in the fridge, little snacks that we might have mentioned we liked, lively conversation, and the sharing of life-making stories – with a few secrets sprinkled in between.

I think that’s the same kind of hospitable home Mary, Martha, and Lazarus offered Jesus – a tasty meal, some good wine, and the sharing of life, laughter, and tears.


When we open our hearts to be dwelling places for God, we too can share the bread of life, the wine of experience, and the certainty of love with our infinitely hospitable Creator.

What immeasurable gifts! Having received them from God, may we offer them to others especially those who find them nowhere else.


Poetry: Dwelling Place – Henry Vaughan (1621-1695) who was a Welsh metaphysical poet, illustrator, translator, and physician

John 1:38-39 

What happy secret fountain, 
Fair shade or mountain, 
Whose undiscovered virgin glory 
Boasts it this day, though not in story, 
Was then thy dwelling? Did some cloud, 
Fixed to a tent, descend a shroud 
My distressed Lord? Or did a star, 
Beckoned by Thee, though high and far, 
In sparkling smiles haste gladly down 
To lodge light and increase her own? 
My dear, dear God! I do not know 
What lodged Thee then, nor where, nor how; 
But I am sure Thou dost now come 
Oft to a narrow, homely room, 
Where Thou too hast but the least part: 
My God, I mean my sinful heart.

Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley, SJ

(If the video says “Unavailable”, click on “Watch on YouTube” to get it.

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, June 18, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 23, the familiar hymn of confidence, gratitude, and hope.

You, Lord, are my shepherd; 
I shall not be in want.
You make me lie down in green pastures 
and lead me beside still waters.
You revive my soul 
and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You spread a table before me
in the presence of those who trouble me;
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me 
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Praying this psalm, we are enfolded into the arms of a loving God.

This beautiful image, which is beloved to us even in our highly urbanized society, certainly held even greater meaning to the early Christians. They understood, from experience, the utter self-donation of a shepherd to his flock. The shepherd needs the sheep in order to live, just as they need the shepherd. Their lives were critically interdependent.

In a sense, the shepherd became one with the sheep. From sunrise to sunset, and even through the night, he led them to food, water, and rest. He protected them as they slept, by laying his own body across the sheep gate.


In our own time, a more familiar image might be that of a horse-whisperer, someone who through natural sensitivity and studious training, is able to understand and communicate with animals. Rather than “breaking” a horse, as seen in old westerns, the horse-whisperer leads them to trust by listening and responding to them through body-language.


As we pray with the image of the Good Shepherd today, we might imagine Jesus as our “Soul-Whisperer”. Jesus stands beside us in the vast, open loneliness of life, which sometimes tries to “break” us. But we are never alone. He is listening. As he opens our life before us, let us trust and follow him. He has made our welfare his own by becoming one of us.


Poetry: I Am the Door of the Sheepfold – Malcolm Guite

Not one that’s gently hinged or deftly hung,
Not like the ones you planed at Joseph’s place,
Not like the well-oiled openings that swung
So easily for Pilate’s practiced pace,

Not like the ones that closed in Mary’s face
From house to house in brimming Bethlehem,
Not like the one that no man may assail,
The dreadful curtain, The forbidding veil
That waits your breaking in Jerusalem.

Not one you made but one you have become:
Load-bearing, balancing, a weighted beam
To bridge the gap, to bring us within reach
Of your high pasture. Calling us by name,
You lay your body down across the breach,
Yourself the door that opens into home.

Music: The Lonely Shepherd – Leo Rojas

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Monday, June 21, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 33 in which the human family remembers and gives thanks for God’s creative omnipotence.

Following upon our reading from Genesis, our psalm moves past Eden to the practical world of the psalmist. It is a world where centuries have passed and human beings have progressively made a mark on Creation – for good or for ill.

God has watched the progression, blessing or redeeming it in Mercy:

The One who fashioned together their hearts
is the One who knows all their works.

Psalm 33:15

The psalmist reminds us that all Creation generates within God’s power. To cooperate with that infinite grace, we must wait, listen, trust, and deepen in holy understanding:

Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and shield.
For in God our hearts rejoice;
in God’s holy name we trust.
May your mercy, LORD, be upon us;
as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33:20-22

We are not the actors. We are simply the instruments of God’s gracious unfolding in the symmetry of Creation – both in the cosmos and in the delicate blossom of our own hearts.

How is God growing in the world today within my life?


Poetry:The light shouts in your tree-top, and the face – Rilke

The light shouts in your tree-top, and the face
of all things becomes radiant and vain;
only at dusk do they find you again.
The twilight hour, the tenderness of space,
lays on a thousand heads a thousand hands,
and strangeness grows devout where they have lain.
With this gentlest of gestures you would hold
the world, thus only and not otherwise.
You lean from out its skies to capture earth,
and feel it underneath your mantle’s folds.
You have so mild a way of being.
……………………………………………They
who name you loudly when they come to pray
forget your nearness. From your hands that tower
above us, mountainously, lo, there soars,
to give the law whereby our senses live,
dark-browed, your wordless power.

Our gifted Mercy artist, Sister Judy Ward, has created greeting cards using some of my designs. This “Sunrise Tree” is one of them. If you would like to purchase any of Sister Judy’s beautiful work, you can connect with her here. She’s nice to talk with on the phone.


Music: Awaking Moment – Joe Bongiorno

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111 which enumerates and celebrates the joys of relationship with God. The psalm is offered within the “faithful assembly”, that covenanted community who long to be faithful to their ever-faithful God.

One way to strengthen that commitment in ourselves is to reflect on God’s splendor, generously flowing into our lives:

  • in the amazing mystery of our own lives
  • in the blessing of those we love and who love us
  • in the unbounded beauty of nature 
  • in the wonderful gifts of human creativity that convince us of God’s Presence within us
  • the gift of sharing faith in community, however small or large, which fortifies our spirits in life’s challenging tides

Poetry: Christine Robinson – Psalm 111

Hallelujah!
I will give thanks to God with my whole heart--
in silence and in company.
God’s deeds are great—
   I will study them.
God is compassionate and gracious
   I will remember
God speaks in the heart—
   I will listen
God’s hands work faithfulness and justice
   I will follow
Awe of God is the beginning of wisdo
   I will praise God forever.

Music: Mozart – Vesperae de Dominica – Confitebor Tibi Domini (Psalm 111)

Confitebor tibi Domine,
In toto corde meo;
In consilio justorum,
Et congregatione.
Magna opera Domini,
Exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.
Confessio et magnificentia opus ejus;
Et justitia ejus manetIn saeculum saeculi.
Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum,
Misericors et miserator Dominus.
Escam dedit timentibus se.
Memor erit in saeculum
Testamenti sui.
Virtutem operum suorum
Annuntiabit populo suo.
Ut det illis
Hereditatem gentium;
Opera manuum ejus
Veritas et judicium.
Fidelia omnia mandata ejus,
Confirmata in saeculum saeculi,
Facta in veritate et aequitate.
Redemptionem misit Dominus
Populo suo;
Mandavit in aeternum testamentum suum.
Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus:
Initium sapientiae timor Domini;
Intellectus bonus omnibus
Facientibus eum.
Laudatio ejus manet
In saeculum saeculi.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper.
Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen

I acknowledge you, o Lord,
With my whole heart;
In the council of the just
And in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
Chosen by all His desires.
I acknowledge as well the magnificence of His deeds;
And His justice endures
From generation to generation.
He has made memorials of His miracles,
A merciful and compassionate Lord.
He gives food to those that fear Him.
He will remember forever
His covenant.
The power of His works
Will be announced to His people.
So that He may give them
The inheritance of the nations;
The works of His hands
Are truth and justice.
All His commandments are faithful,
Confirmed from generation to generation,
Made in truth and fairness.
The Lord has sent salvation
To His people;
He has given His convenant for eternity.
Holy and awesone is His name;
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All who practice it Have a good understanding.
His praise endures
From generation to generation.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, 
as it was in the beginning, is now, and forever, 
and for generations of generations. Amen

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 146, a lilting song of praise, remembrance, hope, trust, gratitude, and joy.

Praying with this inclusive translation, I let my life story unfold in the Presence of the Beloved, turning each petal over and over in the Light of God’s incomprehensible grace and mercy. No words … just the grateful turning. And I listened…listened to the silence.

Psalm 146

Alleluia
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I live.

Happy are they who look to God for their help! 
For their hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps promises for ever;

who gives justice when we are oppressed,
food when we hunger
freedom when we are entrapped.

The Lord breaks through our blindness
The Lord lifts us up wthe we have been bowed.
and loves our desire for good.

I remember how the Lord cares for us
when we are brokenhearted,
but frustrates the way of the faithless. 
I know the Lord shall reign for ever.
Alleluia!

Poetry: “I Happened To Be Standing” by Mary Oliver

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance.  A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep.  Maybe not.
While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why.  And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t pursuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t.  That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

Music: Praise You – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Lord I come to you today,
With a simple prayer to pray.
In everything I do,
Let my life O Lord praise you.

Praise you, praise you, praise you
Let my life, praise you
Praise you, praise you, praise you
Let my life, O lord praise you

Lord you formed me out of clay,
And for your glory I was made.
Use this vessel as you choose.
Let my life O Lord praise you

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

May 30, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, one of the most profound mysteries of our faith. 

The first reading shows us that human beings have been trying to understand this Mystery ever since the time of Moses! 

The readings from both Romans and Matthew describe the power of God’s triune love in those who believe. But none of the readings really explain the Holy Trinity.

And that’s the whole point. “Mystery” cannot be explained. We fumble around with human words in an attempt to capture a reality beyond words, beyond analysis – but not beyond faith. Mystery can only be encountered in humble and undemanding faith.


Today, as Christians, we profess our belief in a God Who is incomprehensible Infinite Love creating, redeeming and sanctifying all Creation. 

This Infinite Love is so pure and complete that, within its Unity, it both embraces and frees the three Persons of the Trinity.


Pope Francis has said, “The Christian community, though with all its human limitations, can become a reflection of the communion of the Trinity, of its goodness and beauty.”  

Our prayer today is to grow in our capacity to love in imitation of the Trinity. May we, as individuals and as a Church, increase in that merciful inclusivity and wholeness which reflect the triune love of God, at once embracing and freeing all that we love.


Poetry: TO LIVE WITH THE SPIRIT – Jessica Powers


To live with the Spirit of God is to be a listener.
It is to keep the vigil of mystery,
earthless and still.
One leans to catch the stirring of the Spirit,
strange as the wind’s will.

The soul that walks where the wind of the Spirit blows
turns like a wandering weather-vane toward love.
It may lament like Job or Jeremiah,
echo the wounded hart, the mateless dove.
It may rejoice in spaciousness of meadow
that emulates the freedom of the sky.

Always it walks in waylessness, unknowing;
it has cast down forever from its hand
the compass of the whither and the why.

To live with the Spirit of God is to be a lover.
It is becoming love, and like to Him
toward Whom we strain with metaphors of creatures:
fire-sweep and water-rush and the wind’s whim.
The soul is all activity, all silence;
and though it surges Godward to its goal,
it holds, as moving earth holds sleeping noonday,
the peace that is the listening of the soul.

Music: Always – Aeoliah

Always by Aeoliah 

Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday May 29, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, full of beautiful words for us to pluck and relish. 

The sublime British writer and theologian C.S. Lewis says this about Psalm 19 and how the ancient Israelite may have appreciated it:

“Law” … must have shone with an extraordinary radiance. Sweeter than honey; or if that metaphor does not suit us who have not such a sweet tooth as all ancient peoples (partly because we have plenty of sugar), let us say like mountain water, like fresh air after a dungeon, like sanity after a nightmare. But, once again, the best image is in a Psalm, the 19th. I take this to be the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world. Most readers will remember its structure; six verses about Nature, five about the Law, and four of personal prayer.

C.S. Lewis, Reflection on the Psalms

As we pray today with the verses about God’s Law, we may consider each word as a facet of the Holy Spirit’s gifts given at Pentecost and at our Confirmation:

The precepts of the Lord are:

perfect
refreshing
trustworthy
wise
right
joy giving
clear
enlightening
pure
enduring 
true
just
precious
sweet


Meditating on the virtues, wouldn’t we like to fill our days with their peace, beauty, and wisdom?

The writer of Sirach surely wanted to, whose simple and profound prayer is the perfect complement to our psalm.

I thank the LORD and I praise him;
    I bless the name of the LORD.
When I was young and innocent,
    I sought wisdom openly in my prayer
I prayed for her before the temple,
    and I will seek her until the end,
    and she flourished as a grape soon ripe.
My heart delighted in her,
My feet kept to the level path
    because from earliest youth I was familiar with her.

Sirach 51: 12-15

Praying with these readings
may lead us to be awed
by the Spirit’s power in our lives
and open us to
its transformative presence.

Poetry: Psalm 19: XXIX Caeli enarrant – Malcolm Guite

In that still place where earth and heaven meet
Under mysterious starlight, raise your head
and gaze up at their glory: ‘the complete

Consort dancing’ as one poet said
Of his own words. But these are all God’s words

A shining poem, waiting to be read

Afresh in every heart. Now look towards
The bright’ning east, and see the splendid sun
Rise and rejoice, the icon of his Lord’s

True Light. Be joyful with him, watch him run
His course, receive the treasure of his light
Pouring like honeyed gold till day is done.

As sweet and strong as all God’s laws, as right
As all his judgements and as clean and pure,
All given for your growth, and your delight!


Music: Psalm 19 – The Law is Perfect

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

May 21, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103 which, set between our two readings, reminds us that the Ascension has occurred and that:

The Lord has established a throne in heaven.

Therefore, we are in a New Creation and thus invoke one of the most beautiful Creation psalms. 


Psalm 103 invites us to stand at the edge of First Creation as it breathes in the spirit of God. With the angels and all the intricate works of the Lord, we inhale Divinity. We quicken with the “ruach” of God, (Hebrew for “breath”.)

What we read in our translations of the Bible as “spirit”, “wind” or “breath” are translated from one Hebrew word, ruach. Walter Brueggemann says; “The Bible struggles to find adequate vocabulary to speak about and name this unutterable, irresistible, undomesticated force that surges into history to liberate, heal, remake, and transform. We are left with this code term, ruach, to speak about what we know but cannot say.” Ruach is the wind that parted the waters and created dry land, it is the very breath that God breathed into humans in our creation, it was this spirit that parted the seas and allowed the people to escape from slavery in Egypt, it is the same spirit that Jesus claims and empowers the early church in Acts. This ruach is active throughout our sacred stories.

from Caroline Furnace Retreat Center

As we approach the feast of the great Inspiration of the Spirit, let us bless and praise our God for outpouring every form of infinite life upon us. May our humble prayer make room in us for ever deeper grace.

With all Creation, let us prepare our hearts to welcome the illuminating fire of the Spirit’s gifts and fruits to be renewed in us this Pentecost:

Bless the Lord, you angels,
you mighty ones who do the bidding of God,
and hearken to the voice of the word of the Lord.
 
Bless the Lord, all you hosts,
you ministers who do the will of God.

Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord, 
in all places of the dominion of the Lord;
bless the Lord, O my soul.

Psalm 103: 20-22

Poetry: Breathe on me, Breath of God – Edwin Hatch (1835-1889)

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Blend all my soul with Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Music: Breath of God – Caroline Cobb

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 148, one of the “Laudate Psalms”.


The Laudate Psalms are the psalms numbered 148, 149, and 150, traditionally sung all together as one psalm in the canonical hours, most particularly the hour of Lauds, also called “Morning Prayer”, which derives its name from these psalms.

from Wikipedia

I’ve always loved the morning with its radiant possibility spilling over the horizon. Morning comes like a rainbow pantone, speaking not only to the weather outside but within our own spirits.

Praise the name of the LORD,
    for this name alone is exalted;
The Lord’s majesty is above earth and heaven.

Psalm 148: 13

Waking each morning, I wait for the day to speak to me. It finds itself in the sun or clouds, the warmth or cold. And then it finds me in whatever weather my heart might rest.

Prayer begins after that discovery, inviting the transforming and comforting power of God into whatever the day offers. Essentially, it is always a prayer of thanksgiving that I am alive and given another day to, by the power of God’s grace, know and be Love in the world:

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
    praise God in the heights.
Praise God, all you angels;
    praise God, all you hosts.

Psalm 138: 1-2

As we wait for the Holy Spirit on the great feast of Pentecost, let us trust Jesus’s Gospel words in today’s Gospel. Let us find each morning, and each day, full of promise!

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when the Spirit comes, the Spirit of truth,
you will be guided to all truth.

John 16:12-13

Poetry: Morning Poem – Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches–
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead–
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging–

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted–

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

Music- Morning Has Broken – Cat Stevens