Alleluia: Be Love!

June 9, 2022
Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse holds the complete essence of Jesus’s life. If there ever was glorious “nutshell”, this is it:

Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you. (Jn. 13:34)

Our motherhouse chapel is breathtakingly beautiful. Thinking of it as a “chapel”, people who first walk through its doors are astounded at itscathedral-like dimensions. I know I certainly was as a wonder-struck eighteen-year-old on my first visit.

Our Chapel in the 1950s

For the next almost three years, I often sat in my little pew pondering the chapel’s central mural — and especially the words framing it.

The words are an invitation and a command. The painting beneath is the whole instruction on Love… “…love as I have loved you.”

After those initial years, I chose those precious words for the motto to be engraved on my ring. I have prayed ever since that it might someday be engraved on my heart. In a culture that can so misunderstand the nature of love, I always appreciate the chance to visit that altar or to look at that ring.

May we have the courage to be
“Alleluia Lovers”
in this love-hungry world!

Poetry: from one of the greatest poets, Paul in his letter to the Corinthians

If I speak in the tongues in human or angelic tongue 
but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.
If I give away all I have,
and if I deliver up my body to be burned,
but have not love,
I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; 
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends. 
As for prophecies, they will pass away;
as for tongues, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I grew up, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; 
but the greatest of these is love.

Music: Love Never Ends – by The Corner Room

Good Friday 2022

April 15, 2022

Today, in in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray within the incomprehensible Love Who is Jesus Christ.

Love given

A most beautiful hymn from the Good Friday liturgy is the Popule Meus.

Popule Meus, also known as the ‘Improperia‘ or the ‘Reproaches,‘ is the hymn sung after the Adoration of the Cross on Good Friday. Christ reproaches the People, contrasting the innumerable favors God has bestowed upon them with the injuries He has received from their hands. Where God led them to the Chosen Land, the Peole led Him to the Cross. Where God gave a royal scepter, the People returned a crown of thorns.

This prayer focuses us on our own relationship with God. We too are Children of the Promise. How have we responded? How do we find ourselves as we kneel before the Cross?

The Trisagion prayer is an ancient chant repeated within the Popule Meus. It is a verse we can repeat as a mantra whenever we meditate on the Cross.

Ágios o Theos.
Ágios íschyros.
Ágios athánatos, eléison imas.

Holy God,
Holy Mighty One,
Holy Immortal One,
have mercy on us.

Poetry: Good Friday – Christina Rossetti

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

Holy Week: Wednesday – Darker and Deeper

April 13, 2022
Wednesday of Holy Week

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, the betrayal of Jesus continues, as does his mounting courage to endure its consequences.

In our first reading, the experience of the prophet Isaiah foreshadows that of Jesus. We can hear Jesus praying in Isaiah’s words:

The Lord GOD is my help,
            therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
            knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
            if anyone wishes to oppose me,
            let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
            Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
            who will prove me wrong?

Isaiah 50:7-8

We hear Christ’s transcendent openness to the Father’s accompaniment:

Morning after morning
God opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.


We hear Christ’s courage to face what life unfolds before him:

I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.


We hear Christ’s utter commitment, despite suffering, to the Father’s Presence:

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.


As we pray with Jesus today, may we:

  • hear God’s purpose in our lives.
  • see grace unfold in all our circumstances
  • set our hearts, like flint, upon faith and trust in God

passover

As our Jewish sisters and brothers will begin the Passover celebration this Friday, their rich faith heritage inspires us always to find God in the journey, no matter where it leads us.

In the Gospel’s Passover moment, Jesus walks toward the painful experience of Gethsemane. He invites us to come and receive the reassuring blessing of his Father even as the night shadows fall.


Poetry: The Garden of Gethsemane – by Boris Pasternak who won the Nobel Prize for Literature after writing Dr. Zhivago

Indifferently, the glimmer of stars
Lit up the turning in the road.
The road went round the Mount of Olives,
Below it the Kedron flowed.

The meadow suddenly stopped half-way.
The Milky Way went on from there.
The grey and silver olive trees
Were trying to march into thin air.

There was a garden at the meadow’s end.
And leaving the disciples by the wall,
He said: ‘My soul is sorrowful unto death,
Tarry ye here, and watch with Me awhile.’

Without a struggle He renounced
Omnipotence and miracles
As if they had been borrowed things,
And now He was a mortal among mortals.

The night’s far reaches seemed a region
Of nothing and annihilation. All
The universe was uninhabited.
There was no life outside the garden wall.

And looking at those dark abysses,
Empty and endless, bottomless deeps,
He prayed the Father, in a bloody sweat,
To let this cup pass from His lips.

Assuaging mortal agony with prayer,
He left the garden. By the road he found
Disciples, overcome by drowsiness,
Asleep spreadeagled on the ground.

He wakened them: ‘The Lord has deemed you worthy
To live in My time. Is it worthiness
To sleep in the hour when the Son of Man
Must give Himself into the hands of sinners?’

And hardly had He spoken, when a mob
Of slaves, a ragged multitude, appeared
With torches, sowards, and Judas at their head
Shaping a traitor’s kiss behind his beard.

Peter with his sword resisted them
And severed one man’s ear. But then he heard
These words: ‘The sword is no solution.
Put up your blade, man, in its scabbard.

Could not My Father instantly send down
Legions of angels in one thunderous gust?
Before a hair of my head was touched,
My enemies would scatter like the dust.

But now the book of life has reached a page
Most precious and most holy. What the pen
Foretold in Scripture here must be fulfilled.
Let prophecy come to pass. Amen.

The course of centuries is like a parable
And, passing, can catch fire. Now, in the name
Of its dread majesty, I am content
To suffer and descend into the tomb.

I shall descend and on the third day rise,
And as the river rafts float into sight,
Towards My Judgement like a string of barges
The centuries will float out of the night.’


Music: I Come to the Garden Alone – Sean Clive 

I come to the garden alone
while the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

He speaks, and the sound of his voice is so sweet
The birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He give to me
Within my heart is to ringing.

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known

I stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me is falling.
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

And He walk with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Holy Week: The Sacred Invitation

April 10, 2022
Palm Sunday

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we begin a familiar journey.

palm sunday

In a warring, dystopian world, the rites of Holy Week offer us a reassuring pattern for our prayer. As we begin these rituals, we already know where we will joyfully finish. It is a feeling so opposite from our current global concerns which leave us questioning how peace and joy can be restored to the human family.


Through the solemnities of Holy Week, we are reminded that there is nothing we experience not already patterned in the Paschal Mystery. There is nothing we suffer or hope for not already etched on the heart of Jesus Christ.

These liturgies are an invitation to enter into that Sacred Heart, to place our experiences beside those of Jesus. No matter where we find ourselves on the journey, Jesus is with us:

  • In the confusion of Palm Sunday, tossed between loyalty and betrayal 
  • In the suggestive silence of Holy Monday and Tuesday, when plotters whisper and friends weaken
  • In the discomfort of Spy Wednesday, when we realize suffering is inevitable 
  • In the profound communion of Holy Thursday
  • In the loneliness of a decisive Garden and the angst of a resisted outcome
  • In the inexorable solitude of dying and death
  • In the other-worldly contemplation of a silent Saturday 
  • In the sunrise of a promise, longed for and believed in

These are profound sacred mysteries which invite us to sink into their depths and be renewed. Let’s be intentional about the time and practices we will give to this invitation.

We are invited into the Life and Passion of Jesus Who, in turn, wants to be with us in our experience of this journey. Each day, let us listen – let us become “obedient” (which means “listening”) – for the very personal whisper of grace in our souls. And even though we may pray alone, let us pray for the whole world suffering and rising with our beloved Savior.

phil cantic

I think today’s reading from Philippians is the most beautiful and pregnant passage in all of scripture. May it guide our prayer during this Holy Week when we all so hunger for God’s presence and healing.


Music: Philippians Hymn – John Michael Talbot
(Lyrics below)

And if there be therefore any consolation
And if there be therefore any comfort in his love
And if there be therefore any fellowship in spirit
If any tender mercies and compassion

We will fulfill His joy
And we will be like-minded
We will fulfill His joy
We can dwell in one accord
And nothing will be done
Through striving or vainglory
We will esteem all others better than ourselves

This is the mind of Jesus
This is the mind of Our Lord
And if we follow Him
Then we must be like-minded
In all humility
We will offer up our love

Though in the form of God
He required no reputation
Though in the form of God
He required nothing but to serve
And in the form of God
He required only to be human
And worthy to receive
Required only to give

This is the mind of Jesus
This is the mind of Our Lord
And if we follow Him
Then we must be like-minded
In all humility
We will offer up our love
In all humility
We will offer up our love

Lent: Closer to the Cross

April 9, 2022
Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, worlds are splitting apart, but the Word of God comes to heal them.

In our first reading, we share in the experience of the prophet Ezekiel.

Ezekiel and his wife lived during the Babylonian Captivity on banks of the Chenab River which is in modern day Iraq. He lived during the siege of Jerusalem in 589 BC. In Ezekiel’s day the northern kingdom had been conquered and destroyed 150 years earlier.

In other words, Ezekiel, like his contemporary Jeremiah, had his heart torn apart along with the homeland they cherished as God’s promise to them. 

dry bones
The Valley of the Dry Bones – artist unknown

In today’s reading, which comes immediately after his vision of the Dry Bones, Ezekiel prophesies a message of hope and restoration to a fragmented and devastated nation.


In our Gospel, Jesus is the new Ezekiel. He stands in the midst of the bigger “nation” of all God’s Creation which has been fragmented by the failure to love. Like Ezekiel, Jesus offers a message of hope and restoration to sinners.

In this Gospel, Jesus himself is the “Temple” about to destroyed. The prophecy of its destruction is unwittingly delivered by the high priest Caiaphas:

Caiaphas,
who was high priest that year, 
said to the Pharisees and Sanhedrin,
“You know nothing,
nor do you consider that it is better for you
that one man should die instead of the people,
so that the whole nation may not perish.”
He did not say this on his own,
but since he was high priest for that year,
he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,
and not only for the nation,
but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.

John 11: 49-52

Within Christ’s new law of love, these “children of God” go far beyond the Jewish nation. They are you and me, and every other creature with whom we share this time and universe. The fragmentations which separate and alienate us are dissolved in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.


holy week

Holy Week will begin tomorrow when all believers will intensify their desire to join Christ in his final journey to Resurrection, to understand our own lives anew in the power of Paschal Grace.

Let’s pray for one another, dear friends, for the grace we need to be deepened in the life of Jesus, and for that deepening to bless and heal our suffering world.


Poetry: The New Ezekiel – Emma Lazarus

What, can these dead bones live, whose sap is dried 
        By twenty scorching centuries of wrong? 
    Is this the House of Israel, whose pride 
        Is as a tale that’s told, an ancient song? 
    Are these ignoble relics all that live 
        Of psalmist, priest, and prophet? Can the breath 
    Of very heaven bid these bones revive, 
        Open the graves and clothe the ribs of death? 

    Yea, Prophesy, the Lord hath said. Again 
      Say to the wind, Come forth and breathe afresh, 
  Even that they may live upon these slain, 
      And bone to bone shall leap, and flesh to flesh. 
  The Spirit is not dead, proclaim the word, 
      Where lay dead bones, a host of armed men stand! 
  I ope your graves, my people, saith the Lord, 
      And I shall place you living in your land.


Music:  Make Us One – featuring James Loynes. Written by Sally DeFord
(Lyrics below)

Lyrics

How shall we stand amid uncertainty?
Where is our comfort in travail?
How shall we walk amid infirmity,
When feeble limbs are worn and frail?
And as we pass through mortal sorrow,
How shall our hearts abide the day?
Where is the strength the soul may borrow?
Teach us thy way.

Chorus:
Make us one, that our burdens may be light
Make us one as we seek eternal life
Unite our hands to serve thy children well
Unite us in obedience to thy will.
Make us one! teach us, Lord, to be
Of one faith, of one heart
One in thee.
Then shall our souls be filled with charity,
Then shall all hate and anger cease
And though we strive amid adversity,
Yet shall we find thy perfect peace
So shall we stand despite our weakness,
So shall our strength be strength enough
We bring our hearts to thee in meekness;
Lord, wilt thou bind them in thy love?

(Repeat chorus)

Take from me this heart of stone,
And make it flesh even as thine own
Take from me unfeeling pride;
Teach me compassion; cast my fear aside.
Give us one heart, give us one mind
Lord, make us thine
Oh, make us thine!
(Repeat chorus)

Lent: Redemptive Suffering

April 8, 2022
Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we inch closer to Holy Week, we meet both a very troubled Jeremiah and Jesus.

V0034343 The prophet Jeremiah wailing alone on a hill. Engraving.
The Prophet Jeremiah Weeping Alone on a Hill (from the Wellcome Trust)

Jeremiah, the Old Testament mirror of Jesus’s sufferings, bewails the treachery even of his friends:

I hear the whisperings of many:
“Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!”
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.

Jeremiah 20:10

That’s really raw, because you can get through almost anything in the company of true friends.


Jesus weeps
Jesus Weeping Over Jerusalem by Ary Scheffer (1795-1858)

Jesus came as a Friend and hoped to find Friends of God by his ministry. And he did find many. But not all.

It takes some work to be a true friend of Jesus. Some didn’t have the courage, or generosity, or passion, or hopeful imagination to reach past their self-protective boundaries – to step into eternal life even as they walked the time-bound earth.


In today’s Gospel this band of resisters project their fears and doubts to the crowds around them. The evil sparks inflame the ready tinder of human selfishness. The mob turns on Jesus, spiritual misers scoffing at the generous challenge to believe.

Jesus pleads with them to realize what they are doing:

If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me;
but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me,
believe the works, so that you may realize and understand
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

John 10:37-38

But Jesus and Jeremiah, though troubled, are grounded in God. Our Responsorial Psalm captures what might have been their silent prayer:

Psalm18 distress

Poetry: The following transliteration of Psalm 18, composed by Christine Robinson, might help us to be with Jesus in his moment, and in our own moments of fear, anxiety, or doubt.

I open my heart to you, O God
for you are my strength, my fortress,
the rock on whom I build my life.

I have been lost in my fears and my angers
caught up in falseness, fearful, and furious
I cried to you in my anguish.
You have brought me to an open space.
You saved me because you took delight in me.
I try to be good, to be just, to be generous
to walk in your ways.
I fail, but you are my lamp.
You make my darkness bright
With your help, I continue to scale the walls
and break down the barriers that fragment me.
I would be whole, and happy, and wise
and know your love
Always.


Music: Overcome – Psalm 18 by James Block

Lent: Will We Be Able to See?

April 5, 2022
Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, there are some common threads running through our readings.

Jn8_28 sign

In the passage from Numbers, we have a restless crowd, confused and hungry, feeling directionless in a vast wilderness. They demand an answer from Moses:

Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!”

To make things worse, God, annoyed at their complaints, sends a bunch of snakes to hassle them.


In John’s Gospel, a disgruntled gathering of Pharisees pesters Jesus for a resolution to their questions. Even after all Jesus’ signs and preaching, they ask Him, “Who are you?”

  • In both instances, it is impossible for the questioners to receive the answer they seek because they lack faith.
  • In both instances, they are told that a sign will be lifted up before them and that then they will understand.

We’re on a life’s journey, at times confused and disgruntled, just like those ancient Hebrews.

We may be locked in faithless expectations of God, just like those debating Pharisees.

In our difficulties and challenges,
will we be able to see
the sign that God offers us?
Not the one we design or demand –
but the unexpected one rising up
out of the depths of our faith?

Poetry: The Crosse – George Herbert

What is this strange and uncouth thing?

To make me sigh, and seek, and faint, and die,

Untill I had some place, where I might sing,

          And serve thee; and not onely I,

But all my wealth and familie might combine

To set thy honour up, as our designe.

          And then when after much delay,

Much wrastling, many a combate, this deare end,

So much desir’d, is giv’n, to take away

          My power to serve thee; to unbend

All my abilities, my designes confound,

And lay my threatnings bleeding on the ground.

          One ague dwelleth in my bones,

Another in my soul (the memorie

What I would do for thee, if once my grones

          Could be allow’d for harmonie):

I am in all a weak disabled thing,

Save in the sight thereof, where strength doth sting.

          Besides, things sort not to my will,

Ev’n when my will doth studie thy renown:

Thou turnest th’ edge of all things on me still,

          Taking me up to throw me down:

So that, ev’n when my hopes seem to be sped,

I am to grief alive, to them as dead.

          To have my aim, and yet to be

Further from it then when I bent my bow;

To make my hopes my torture, and the fee

          Of all my woes another wo,

Is in the midst of delicates to need,

And ev’n in Paradise to be a weed.

          Ah my deare Father, ease my smart!

These contrarieties crush me: these crosse actions

Doe winde a rope about, and cut my heart:

          And yet since these thy contradictions

Are properly a crosse felt by the Sonne,

With but foure words, my words, Thy will be done.
 

( George Herbert (3 April 1593 – 1 March 1633) was a Welsh poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England. His poetry is associated with the writings of the metaphysical poets, and he is recognized as “one of the foremost British devotional lyricists.” He was born into an artistic and wealthy family and largely raised in England. He received a good education that led to his admission to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1609. He went there with the intention of becoming a priest, but he became the University’s Public Orator and attracted the attention of King James I. He served in the Parliament of England in 1624 and briefly in 1625.

After the death of King James, Herbert renewed his interest in ordination. He gave up his secular ambitions in his mid-thirties and took holy orders in the Church of England, spending the rest of his life as the rector of the rural parish of Fugglestone St Peter, just outside Salisbury. He was noted for unfailing care for his parishioners, bringing the sacraments to them when they were ill and providing food and clothing for those in need. Henry Vaughan called him “a most glorious saint and seer”.[4] He was never a healthy man and died of consumption at age 39. ~ from Wikipedia)


Music: By Grace Alone – David Ward

Lent: God Remembers

March 30, 2022
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer us the deeply comforting image of God as a mother, vigilant and caring for us even in our unawareness.

In our reading from Isaiah, the Israelites recently have been freed from their long sojourn in Babylon and have returned to Jerusalem. It is a time of great joy, but also of reorientation and reflection. God, Who may have seemed to abandon them to captivity, is assuring them that is not so:

Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you;
and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
To restore the land
and allot the desolate heritages,
Saying to the prisoners: Come out!

Isaiah 49: 8-9

We too may have times when we think God isn’t paying attention to us, or to the world that seems to be falling apart around us. We may be tempted to think that Divine attention is turned to us only when we demand it by intense prayer of supplication.

In Isaiah 49, God – through a outlay of abundant promises, – tells us otherwise:

But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Isaiah 49:14-15

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us the same things in a little bit of a different way.

My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.

John 5: 17

When he says this, Jesus is in the midst of the recalcitrant, vengeful Pharisees who have placed their faith only in their own arrogance – who have come to depend only on their own wealth and power rather than on the mercy and love of God.

Jesus offers his own outlay of Divine promises, showing how he and God the Creator are One in their constant desire for each of us to share fully in the Divine Life, even to the point of taking flesh to redeem us:

For just as the Father has life in himself,
so also he gave to the Son the possession of life in himself.
And he gave him power to exercise judgment,
because he is the Son of Man.
Do not be amazed at this,
because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs
will hear his voice and will come out,
those who have done good deeds
to the resurrection of life …

John 5: 26-29

We might ask in our prayer today to be deepened in our awareness of God’s constant, loving Presence in our lives. There is no moment or circumstance that doesn’t offer us an invitation to greater grace and holiness. But, unlike the Pharisees, we must open our hearts to trust God’s Presence in all things and to find that path to God’s heart.


In these final weeks of Lent, and in this particular passage from John, we see Jesus doing exactly what we must do. As Calvary began to loom unrelentingly on the horizon, Jesus could not have found it easy to accept the path unfolding before him. But he trusted. He knew the Father was with him. He believed that he walked toward Resurrection even though all he could see was a dark lonely hill.

May our Lenten prayer let us learn from Jesus.


Poetry: Forgetting by Joy Ladin

Zion says, “The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her baby, or disown the child of her womb? Though she might forget, I never could forget you.
—Isaiah 49:14–15

You never remember anything, do you?
How I formed you in your mother’s womb;
nursed you; bathed you; taught you to talk;

led you to springs of water?
I sang your name before you were born.
I’m singing your name now.

You’re clueless as an infant.
When I tell you to shout for joy,
you hear a bicycle, or a cat.

Sometimes, memories of me come back
like children you forgot you had:
a garden; a bride; an image of  your mother,

your best friend, your brother, or a cop, or snow, or afternoon.
The heavens shout; mountain becomes road;
gardenias burst into song.

Whose are these? you wonder.
Then you forget, and feel forgotten,
like an infant who falls asleep

at a mother’s breast
and wakes up hungry again.
Your mother might forget you, child,

but I never forget.
I’ve engraved your name
on the palms of my hands.

I show you trees, I lay you down in the grass,
I shower you with examples of my love—
sex and birds, librarians and life skills, emotions, sunlight, compassion.

Nothing connects.
Every dawn, every generation,
I have to teach you again:

this is water; this is darkness;
this is a body
fitting your description;

that’s a crush;
these are bodily functions;
this is an allergic reaction.

This is your anger.
This is mine.
This is me

reminding you to eat.
Turn off the stove.
Take your medication.

This is the realization
that I am yours and you are mine. This is you
forgetting.

Music: Will Never Forget You – Carey Landry

Lent: A Man of Sorrows

March 18, 2022
Friday of the Second Week of Lent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, there is a great sadness in our readings.

The poignant opening line from Genesis immediately strikes us:

Israel loved Joseph best of all his sons,
for he was the child of his old age.
Genesis 37:3

Joseph

We picture young Joseph in his beautiful rainbow coat and, under an olive tree’s shade, old Jacob(Israel) proudly, tenderly, watching him play.

As the story ensues to reveal the later betrayal of Joseph’s jealous brothers, we are left astounded. Such treachery, especially among brothers, sickens the heart.


Our Gospel picks up the sad theme because Joseph and his brothers are archetypes of Christ’s story with humankind.

800px-The_Wicked_Husbandman_(The_Parables_of_Our_Lord_and_Saviour_Jesus_Christ)_MET_DP835802
The Wicked Husbandman by John Everett Millais shows the owner’s murdered son

Jesus tells a parable in which he is actually the unnamed main character. He is the Son sent by a loving Father. He is the one rejected, beaten and killed by the treacherous tenants of his Father’s garden.


We know from our familiarity with Scripture that both these stories ultimately come to glorious conclusions. But today’s readings do not take us there. They leave us standing, mouths dropped open, at the dense meanness of the human heart, at the soul’s imperviousness to grace, at the profound sadness Jesus felt at this point in his ministry.


In our prayer today, let’s just be with Jesus, sharing his sadness for the meanness still poisoning our world. We might pray today for Jesus suffering in the Ukrainian people and throughout the many war-infested parts of our world.

May our prayers comfort Jesus with our desire to be open to God’s Grace and Mercy. May they lead us to actions of peace and justice on behalf of our suffering sisters and brother.


Poetry: Despised and Rejected – Christina Rossetti

My sun has set, I dwell
In darkness as a dead man out of sight;
And none remains, not one, that I should tell
To him mine evil plight
This bitter night.
I will make fast my door
That hollow friends may trouble me no more.

“Friend, open to Me.”–Who is this that calls?
Nay, I am deaf as are my walls:
Cease crying, for I will not hear
Thy cry of hope or fear.
Others were dear,
Others forsook me: what art thou indeed
That I should heed
Thy lamentable need?
Hungry should feed,
Or stranger lodge thee here?

“Friend, My Feet bleed.
Open thy door to Me and comfort Me.”
I will not open, trouble me no more.
Go on thy way footsore,
I will not rise and open unto thee.

“Then is it nothing to thee? Open, see
Who stands to plead with thee.
Open, lest I should pass thee by, and thou
One day entreat My Face
And howl for grace,
And I be deaf as thou art now.
Open to Me.”

Then I cried out upon him: Cease,
Leave me in peace:
Fear not that I should crave
Aught thou mayst have.
Leave me in peace, yea trouble me no more,
Lest I arise and chase thee from my door.
What, shall I not be let
Alone, that thou dost vex me yet?

But all night long that voice spake urgently:
“Open to Me.”
Still harping in mine ears:
“Rise, let Me in.”
Pleading with tears:
“Open to Me that I may come to thee.”
While the dew dropped, while the dark hours were cold:
“My Feet bleed, see My Face,
See My Hands bleed that bring thee grace,
My Heart doth bleed for thee,
Open to Me.”

So till the break of day:
Then died away
That voice, in silence as of sorrow;
Then footsteps echoing like a sigh
Passed me by,
Lingering footsteps slow to pass.
On the morrow
I saw upon the grass
Each footprint marked in blood, and on my door
The mark of blood forevermore.

Music:  Handel: Messiah – He was despised and rejected – sung by Jakub Józef Orliński

“He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.
(Isaiah 53, v.3)
“He gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: he hid not his face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50, v.6)

Lent: The Choice

March 3, 2022
Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings confirm that a life patterned on Christ contradicts worldly definitions.

Deuteronomy gives us stark, either-or, advice:

I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live,
by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice,
and holding fast to him.

Deuteronomy 30: 15-16

It’s definitive advice, but we could probably do these things, right?

  • Choose life
  • Love God
  • Heed God’s voice
  • Hold fast to God

Sounds OK, doesn’t it?


It’s when Jesus comes along that it begins to sound difficult.
Jesus tells us, “Here’s how you choose life:

“Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”


Jesus tells us, “Here’s the God you must love, one who:

“suffers greatly, is rejected, and is killed.”


Jesus tells us, “Here’s what my voice says to you :

“What profit is there for you to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit yourself?”


Jesus tells us, “Here’s how you hold fast to me:

‘Take up your cross daily and follow me.”

The deep love of the Holy Cross was the sacred gift of Catherine McAuley to her Mercy Family.
Let us listen to her counsel.

Some have huge crosses to carry in their lives – war, famine, enslavement, untended illness, homelessness, persecution, poverty. Those who carry such crosses are singularly loved by God who dwells with them.

But if we don’t have big, obvious crosses in our lives – if we are among those the world deems fortunate – how do we follow the crucified Jesus to find our way to eternal life?

How do we really CHOOSE LIFE?

We need to get close to the ones God singularly loves. We need to walk beside them and lift some of their heavy crosses. We need to help their voices be heard, their needs be met, their rights be honored.

Not all of us can do this by direct service. But we can do it by our advocacy, our material contributions, and our articulated support for justice.

We need to make these choices for LIFE all the time. But Lent is a great time to examine the vigor and commitment of our choices, a time to take a closer walk with our suffering Christ and ask him to inspire our courage.


Poetry: Simon the Cyrenian Speaks – Countée Cullen, an American poet, novelist, children’s writer, and playwright, particularly well known during the Harlem Renaissance. I picked his poem today because Simon of Cyrene is someone who chose to carry the cross just as we are asked to do.

He never spoke a word to me,
And yet He called my name;
He never gave a sign to me,
And yet I knew and came.

At first I said, “I will not bear
His cross upon my back;
He only seeks to place it there
Because my skin is black.”

But He was dying for a dream,
And He was very meek,
And in His eyes there shone a gleam
Men journey far to seek.

It was Himself my pity bought;
I did for Christ alone
What all of Rome could not have wrought
With bruise of lash or stone.


Music: Just a Closer Walk with Thee – Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson