Mater Dolorosa

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
September 15, 2022

Today’s Readings for Our Mother of Sorrows

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/0915-memorial-our-lady-sorrows.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Our Mother of Sorrows.

sorrows

Poetry: Pieta – R.S. Thomas

Always the same hills
Crown the horizon,
Remote witnesses
Of the still scene
And in the foreground
The tall Cross,
Sombre, untenanted,
Aches for the Body
That is back in the cradle
of a maid's arms.

Mary’s greatest sorrows came, not from circumstances she bore personally, but from her anguish at the sufferings of Jesus. Like so many mothers, fathers, spouses, children and friends, Mary suffered because she loved.

It is so hard to watch someone we love endure pain. We feel helpless, lost and perhaps angry. We may be tempted to turn away from our beloved’s pain because it empties us as well as them.

This is the beauty and power of Mary’s love: it did not turn. Mary’s devotion accompanied Jesus – even through crucifixion and death – for the sake of our salvation.

Today’s liturgy offers us the powerful sequence “Stabat Mater”.

Stabat Mater Dolorosa is considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time. It is based upon the prophecy of Simeon that a sword was to pierce the heart of His mother, Mary (Lk 2:35). The hymn originated in the 13th century during the peak of Franciscan devotion to the crucified Jesus and has been attributed to Pope Innocent III (d. 1216), St. Bonaventure, or more commonly, Jacopone da Todi (1230-1306), who is considered by most to be the real author.

The hymn is often associated with the Stations of the Cross. In 1727 it was prescribed as a Sequence for the Mass of the Seven Sorrows of Mary (September 15) where it is still used today. (preces-latinae.org)

Music: Stabat Mater Dolorosa – Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)
This is a glorious rendition. If you have time, you might listen to it on a rainy afternoon or evening as you pray.

STABAT Mater dolorosa
iuxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius. 
At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last. 
Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius. 
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed. 
O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti! 
O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One. 
Quae maerebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati poenas inclyti. 
Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son. 
Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio? 
Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold? 
Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio? 
Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold? 
Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum. 
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender Child
All with bloody scourges rent: 
Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum. 
For the sins of His own nation,
saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent. 
Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam. 
O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord: 
Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam. 
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord. 
Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide. 
Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified: 
Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide. 
Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died. 
Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero. 
Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live: 
Iuxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero. 
By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give. 
Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere. 
Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine; 
Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere. 
Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine. 
Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii. 
Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away; 
Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii. 
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day. 
Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriae. 
Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory; 
Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen. 
While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
safe in paradise with Thee. Amen.
From the Liturgia Horarum. Translation by Fr. Edward Caswall (1814-1878)

The Sign of the Cross

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/091422.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, our readings include the sublime Philippians Canticle.

To me, this is the most beautiful passage in the Bible – so beautiful that nothing else needs to be said about it.

As we read this canticle lovingly and prayerfully today, may we take all the suffering of the world to Christ’s outstretched arms – even our own small or large heartaches and longings.


Poetry: Jessica Powers – The Sign of the Cross

The lovers of Christ lift out their hands 
to the great gift of suffering. 
For how could they seek to be warmed and clothed 
and delicately fed, 
to wallow in praise and to drink deep draughts 
of an undeserved affection,
have castle for home and a silken couch for bed, 
when He the worthy went forth, wounded and hated, 
and grudged of even a place to lay His head?
This is the badge of the friends of the Man of Sorrows: 
the mark of the cross, faint replica of His, 
become ubiquitous now; it spreads like a wild blossom 
on the mountains of time and in each of the crevices. 
Oh, seek that land where it grows in a rich abundance 
with its thorny stem and its scent like bitter wine, 
for wherever Christ walks He casts its seed
and He scatters its purple petals. 

It is the flower of His marked elect, 
and the fruit it bears is divine. 
Choose it, my heart. It is a beautiful sign.

Music: Philippians Canticle ~ John Michael Talbot

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

Between a Rock and …

Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
September 5, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/090522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Gospel finds the Pharisees once again confronting Jesus with a dilemma.  It is the Sabbath, a day when any kind of “work” is prohibited. Yet, a man with a withered hand approaches Jesus needing to be cured. Should Jesus do this work?

Lk6_9 law or mercy

It is the classic, Pharisaical confrontation: appearing to weigh two equal responses which in reality are incomparable – like apples and oranges. They are similar only on the surface. Their essences are quite distinct.

Jesus’ continuing debate with the Pharisees always swirls around the balance between law and spirit. The Pharisees have idolized the Law, allowing it to swallow the Spirit. Under their intransigent interpretation, the poor crippled man in today’s Gospel would have lost the chance for healing.


We call quandaries like this being “between a rock and a hard place”. The ancient Greeks called  it “between Scylla and Charybdis” – an adjacent huge rock and whirlpool which threatened to swallow their ships passing through. The image powerfully captures the angst accompanying  these dilemmas.

We navigate such hazards throughout our lives, facing choices which are often unclear and confusing. Our alternatives sail the wide range between “law” and “spirit”, between what seems advantageous and what seems right, between what is comfortable and what is spiritually challenging, between what is “legal” and what is just and merciful.


How do we choose according to the pattern of Christ? How do we choose forgiveness, mercy, inclusive love, peace and charity in a world that screams “Choose selfishly. You deserve it!”

Through prayer, scriptural reflection, and merciful service, our spirits absorb that Sacred Pattern of Christ. It is in the shape of the Cross. It will guide us between our Scylla and Charybdis.


Poetry: Scylla and Charybdis – from The Aeneid by Virgil

                    BUT when near the coasts
Of Sicily, Pelorus’ narrow straits
Open to view, then take the land to the left,
And the left sea, with a wide circuit round,
And shun the shore and sea upon the right.         5

Those lands, ’t is said, by vast convulsions once
Were torn asunder (such the changes wrought
By time), when both united stood as one.
Between them rushed the sea, and with its waves
Cut off the Italian side from Sicily,         10

And now between their fields and cities flows
With narrow tide. There Scylla guards the right,
Charybdis the implacable the left;
And thrice its whirlpool sucks the vast waves down
Into the lowest depths of its abyss,         15

And spouts them forth into the air again,
Lashing the stars with waves. But Scylla lurks
Within the blind recesses of a cave,
Stretching her open jaws, and dragging down
The ships upon the rocks. Foremost, a face,         20

Human, with comely virgin’s breast, she seems,
E’en to the middle; but her lower parts
A hideous monster of the sea, the tails
Of dolphins mingling with the womb of wolves.
Better to voyage, though delaying long,         25

Around Pachyna’s cape, with circuit wide,
Than once the shapeless Scylla to behold
Under her caverns vast, and hear those rocks
Resounding with her dark blue ocean hounds.

Today’s song is simple, almost childlike – but that simplicity is often just what we need in the face of a dilemma.
Music: I Choose You – Libby Allen Songs

Alleluia: Wise or Foolish?

Friday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
August 26, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/082622.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Be vigilant at all times and pray,
that you may have the strength 
to stand before your God.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are full of dichotomies and contrasts to help us understand the Truth.

Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
For since in the wisdom of God
the world did not come to know God through wisdom,
it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation
to save those who have faith.

1 Corinthians 1: 20-21

The core of Paul’s eloquent lesson is this:
Worldly wisdom = foolishness 
Heavenly foolishness = true wisdom

Reading this passage, we might feel like we’re back in our Logic 101 class in college. But remember, Paul is preaching to a Greek audience, inheritors of Socratic and Aristotelian language. They would be fascinated and moved by Paul’s presentation style.


Us? Maybe not so much. We might prefer the storytelling technique Jesus used to get the same point across.

The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 

Matthew 25:3-4

Jesus’s lesson:
Foolish virgins = no oil = can’t find Lord
Wise virgins = refreshed oil = find Lord easily

Our Alleluia Verse captures the essence of all our readings for us:

Pay attention to your spiritual life.

  • Keep the Light lit.
  • Don’t be fooled by the world’s false logic.
  • In Christ, we live by the true logic and light of the Cross and Resurrection 

Prose: Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel – The Logic of Faith: A Buddhist Approach to Finding Certainty Beyond Belief and Doubt

But if you are not careful, 
spirituality can quite easily allow you 
to bypass the human dilemma, 
because spirituality can be 
anything you want it to be, 
whereas faith will challenge you. 
It’s not so comfortable. 
It carries with it the undeniable tension 
between your search for security 
and the limits of your ability to know. 
Faith keeps your spiritual quest relevant 
and connected to the heart 
of the human predicament.


Music: Fool’s Wisdom – Malcolm and Alayna

Got myself some wisdom

From a leather-back book

Got myself a Savior

When I took a second look

Opened up the pages

And what did I find

A black and white portrait

Of a King Who’s a friend of mine

Funny how when you think you’re right

Everybody else must be wrong

Till someone with fool’s wisdom

Somehow comes along

His voice is strange and the words He said

I didn’t quite understand

Yet I knew that He was speaking right

By the leather-back book in His hand

Hey, hey

What a day

Fool’s wisdom

Hey, hey

What a day

Fool’s wisdom

Got myself some wisdom

From a leather-back book

Got myself a Savior

When I took a second look

Alleluia: Friends of God

Wednesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 27, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/072722.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
I call you my friends, says the Lord,
for I have made known to you
all that the Father has told me.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings begin with Jeremiah’s heartfelt lament.

Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth!
a man of strife and contention to all the land!

Jeremiah 15:10

The cry reminds us of Isaiah’s words heard during Lent to describe Jesus’s Passion, words which inspired a magnificent aria in Handel’s Messiah::

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with sorrow. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Isaiah 53:3

It is not always easy to be a  “friend of God”. These scriptures paint a clear picture of the prophet’s painful path – whether Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jesus, or today’s prophets like Pope Francis. There will always be enemies who, for the sake of their twisted self-interest, attack good with evil.


But there is also always hope. God is with us, a stronghold of Mercy, as our Responsorial Psalm tells us:

But I will sing of your strength
and revel at dawn in your mercy;
You have been my stronghold,
my refuge in the day of distress.

O my strength! your praise will I sing;
for you, O God, are my stronghold,
my merciful God!

Psalm 59: 10-11; 17,18

Our Gospel assures us that, though at times costly, there is no treasure greater than God’s friendship.

The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells everything to buy that field.

Notice that the person patiently plans to buy the whole field, not just the one discovered gem. Friendship with God never exhausts its hidden surprises. There are always more treasures in the field as we grow deeper in God’s love.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Poem: The Bright Field – R.S. Thomas

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

Music: The Field – Kristene DiMarco (Lyrics below)

What do I have but Jesus
I have found no one Like Him
All the World has 
loses its Appeal
When He Stands beside me

[Chorus]
The World can keep its Praises
All its Riches and its Treasures
‘Cause there’s nothing
Like His Presence to me
And man may give their Favor
All their Fleeting awe and Honor
But there’s nothing
Like His Presence to me

[Verse 2]
What do I have but Jesus
Nothing I’ve gained Compares
His Friendship is all
The Strength I need
To never grow weary

[Chorus]
The World can keep its Praises
All its Riches and its Treasures
‘Cause there’s nothing
Like His Presence to me
And man may give their Favor
All their Fleeting awe and Honor
But there’s nothing
Like His Presence to me

[Outro]
I bought the Field
And I keep digging up
More Treasure
It turns out it’s here in the ground
I could never Measure
Is there even a Cost if I end up
Holding Heaven
Oh, the Beauty of Living
In Your Presence

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)