Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 63, a prayer of both longing and fulfillment.

O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.

Psalm 63: 2-4

And isn’t our spiritual life exactly like that?
We feel our lives caressed by God,
and yet we long for greater oneness
with Infinite Love.

Mary Magdalen is the embodiment of that longing and embrace. And so the Church applies to her the powerful intimacy of our first reading:

The Bride says:
On my bed at night I sought him
whom my heart loves–
I sought him but I did not find him.
I will rise then and go about the city;
in the streets and crossings I will seek
Him whom my heart loves.
I sought him but I did not find him.
The watchmen came upon me,
as they made their rounds of the city:
Have you seen him whom my heart loves?
I had hardly left them
when I found him whom my heart loves.

Song of Songs 3:1-4

Within each one of us is a sacred mystic who longs for and seeks God’s embrace. Perhaps that mystic hibernates like a little bear hidden under all the distractions of our lives. But if we give ourselves to silence and holy waiting, the sleeping hermit will awake! 😴 

We might pray with beautiful Mary Magdalen today to let that seeker in us reach for God Who is also waiting.


Poem: Song of the Soul That Is Glad to Know God by Faith – St. John of the Cross

English version by Antonio T. de Nicolas
Original Language Spanish

Well I know the fountain that runs and flows,
though it is night!


This eternal fountain is hidden deep.
Well I know where it has its spring,
Though it is night!

In this life’s dark night,
Faith has taught where this cold fountain lies,
Though it is night!

Its origin I cannot know, it has none,
And I know all origins come from it,
Though it is night!

And I know there can be nothing more fair,
The heavens and earth drink there,
Though it is night!

And I know it has no bed,
And I know no one can cross its depths,
Though it is night!

Its clarity is never clouded,
And I know all light shines from it,
Though it is night!

I know her streams swell so abundantly,
They water people, heaven and even hell,
Though it is night!

The current born of this fountain
I know to be wide and mighty,
Though it is night!

And from these two another stream flows,
And I know neither comes before,
Though it is night!

I know Three in only one water live,
And each the other feeds,
Though it is night!

This eternal fountain is hiding from sight
Within this living bread to give us life,
Though it is night!

He calls all creatures to this light,
And of this water they drink, though in the dark,
Though it is night!

This living fountain I desire,
I see it here within this living bread,
Though it is night!


Music: I Found My Beloved – John Michael Talbot

So I found my beloved in the mountains
On the lonely and far distant isles
O’er resounding waters
I heard the whispering of love’s breezes
To heal my broken heart
Oh tranquil evening, silent music
And the sounding solitude of the rising dawn
It is there that I hear You
There that I taste of You
In love’s banquet to fill my heart
Chorus:
And I found Your footprints
In the sands by the sea
And like Your maiden
I ran along the way to a secret chamber
And there you gave to me
There you taught me, O so well
And I drank of your sweet spiced wine
The wine of God
And there I gave to You
Keeping nothing for myself
And I promised You forever
To be your bride
(Repeat Chorus)
So I have abandoned
All I ever sought to be
And in dying
My spirit has been released

Memorial of Saint Bonaventure

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105 which depicts a “Remembering God” who calls us to respond as a “Remembering People”.

“Forever” is a word whose true meaning can be found only in an Eternal God. In Exodus, and in our Psalm 105, we see God inviting us to that fullness.

Our first reading recounts the Abrahamic covenant renewed with Moses. God, flaming out of a bush, tells Moses that God sticks by agreements.

God spoke further to Moses,
“Thus shall you say to the children of Israel:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.
    “This is my name forever;
        this my title for all generations.

Exodus 3:15

(I don’t know about you, but I’ve flashbacking all week to to Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 classic, The Ten Commandments.)


Our psalm reinforces the Exodus commitment:

God remembers forever the covenant 
    made binding for a thousand generations
    entered into with Abraham
    and by the oath to Isaac.

Psalm 105: 8-9

Our brief but beautiful Gospel shows us what God’s promise looks like in the tender person of Jesus:

Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Matthew 11: 28-30

Throughout the ages,
God’s reiterated fidelity
calls us to obedience – that “heart-listening”
which hears the invitation to Love.

Poetry: Everything That Was Broken – Mary Oliver

Everything that was broken has
forgotten its brokenness. I live
now in a sky-house, through every
window the sun. Also your presence.
Our touching, our stories. Earthy
and holy both. How can this be, but
it is. Every day has something in
it whose name is Forever.

Music; Forever – Edelis

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 17, a prayer which captures our deep desire to live in the Light of God’s Face.

 

We, like the psalmist and like Jacob in our first reading, want to know, to understand, to name the Holy in our experience. 

From you let my judgment come;
    your eyes behold what is right.
Though you test my heart, searching it in the night,
    though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.

Psalm 17:6-7

When Jacob struggles with the heavenly visitor, he wants a blessing and the visitor’s name. Jacob wants to define what has happened to him in the night.

The man then said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”

Genesis 32:27-28

The Spirit does bless Jacob, but remains nameless, beyond the confines of Jacob’s definition. It is only after the visitor has departed that Jacob realizes whom he has encountered:

With that, the visitor bade him farewell.
Jacob named the place Peniel,
“Because I have seen God face to face,” he said,
“yet my life has been spared.”

Genesis 32:30-31

In our own lives, Heaven visits us constantly though we may be unaware. Discovering God’s Face depends so much on where we look and how we have learned to see.

Psalm 17 tells us that, if we stand in the light of justice and mercy, God’s face is revealed to us.

This was the light in which Jesus lived – to the point that, as we read in today’s Gospel, he could discover God’s face even under the guise of a poor demoniac.


Poetry: God BY KAHLIL GIBRAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then God leaned over me,
and in my ears whispered words of sweetness,
and even as the sea that enfoldeth a brook
that runneth down to her, he enfolded me.
And when I descended to the valleys and the plains
God was there also.


Music:

We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of Jesus. 
We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of the Son.

[Verse1]
And oh, how his beauty transforms us, the wonder of presence abiding. 
Transparent hearts give reflection of Tabor’s light within, of Tabor’s light within.

(Repeat Chorus)

[Verse 2]
Jesus, Lord of Glory, Jesus, Beloved Son, oh, how good to be with you; 
ow good to share your light; how good to share your light.

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 117. We do so in the spirit of Thomas, who now offers his unquestioning faith to our patient and forgiving Jesus.

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
    glorify him, all you peoples!
For steadfast is his kindness for us,
    and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever

Psalm 117: 1-2

Faith is not a commodity or an achievement.
Faith is relationship and a journey.

It is a gift and an exercise of grace.
Never stretched, it withers like a brittle ligament.

It ebbs and flows with our personal and communal dramas.
It deepens with prayer, silent reaching, and a listening obedience to our lives.
It shallows with our demands, like Thomas’s, only to see and to touch.

It is fed by the Lavish Mercy of God Who never cuts its flow to our souls
if we but take down the seawall around our heart.

On this day when we celebrate the power of tested and proven faith,
may we bring our needs into the circle gathered in that Upper Room.

Standing beside Thomas today in our prayer,
may we place our trust in the glorified wounds of Christ.


A video today for our prayer: Blessed Are They That Have Not Seen


Music: Healing Touch – Deuter

As we reach out in faith with Thomas to touch Christ’s wounds, let us open our hearts to receive the returning touch of God’s Lavish Mercy.

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

June 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98, a prayer filled with hints of joyful thanksgiving and exuberant music.

At first reading, the psalm is a surprising companion to our other readings.

In the passage to the Corinthians, Paul doesn’t sound like he’s singing. He cites the struggles a committed disciple will face in order to spread the Gospel:

We cause no one to stumble in anything,
in order that no fault may be found with our ministry;
on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves
as ministers of God, through much endurance –

2 Corinthians 6:3-4

He then offers quite a catalog of endured tests.


Jesus isn’t singing either in our reading from Mark. Instead, he enumerates the list of trials to be endured, if necessary, to live a radical commitment to the Gospel – even including lost eyes and teeth, multiple slaps, indentured clothing and service, and self-effacing generosity.

Feel like singing yet?


But here’s the thing. Praying with these passages allows us to break through their surface to understand their heart, as our Alleluia Verse explains:

A lamp to my feet is your word,
a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

Jesus and Paul remind us that all our experiences, good and bad, are transformed in the light of the Word. That transformation calls us to respond to our lives from a well of radical faith which contradicts the deceits and interpretations of the world.

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

Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Deep faith allows us to see things, such as the listed trials, from a “new” perspective.

It is when we get to that place of freedom in our spiritual lives that we can truly “sing a new song unto the Lord”!


Poetry: Unconditional by Jennifer Paine Welwood

Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.
Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game;
To play it is purest delight -
To honor its form, true devotion.

Music: I Want to Sing a New Song – BJ Putnam and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

June 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, a repeated favorite on the blog – you might like to re-visit any of the 13 entries:


Today, let’s pray with 119 in the light of Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, … 
was not “yes” and “no,” but always “YES”.
God’s promises … find their “Yes” in him.

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

Here’s what those slightly cryptic but profoundly meaningful phrases mean to me.

No doubt, sometime in your life you have heard someone powerful say “No” to you. Or perhaps life itself has said it with some insurmountable limitations.

It is in those moments that we truly understand what “Yes” means because it has eluded us!

That meaning takes various forms depending on our circumstances. “Yes” can mean freedom, love, mercy, forgiveness, renewal, possibility, hope, fulfillment.

And “Yes” is always a beginning … a mystery that longs to be unfurled, unpeeled – like this beautiful red onion ( that I bought yesterday for a salad that turned into a reflection!)


Psalm 119 “unpeels” the layers of our relationship with God. Here’s how I hear it in my prayer:

O Lovely God,
You are wonderful.
You are my Light.
You amaze me
by the “Yes” of your Love.
You fire my spirit
to love You in return.

Lavish Mercy, turn to me
because I love You.
Steady me in my shadows.
Draw my “yes” 
into the Light 
of your beautiful Face.

based on Psalm 119:129-135

Poem: love is a place – e.e.cummings 

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

Music: The Beauty We Love

Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, Priest

May 26, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 79, one of the “Sad Songs of Zion”. While many of the Psalms are celebratory in nature, offering praise and thanksgiving, about a third of the Psalter is lament.

These mournful songs remind us that life is indeed full of both joys and sorrows. Faith calls us to live through these modulations within the presence of God.

The psalmist of 79 cries out from imprisonment and deathly fear, but is not without hope for a better future:

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
    with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
    will give thanks to you forever;
    through all generations we will declare your praise.

Psalm 79: 11-13

This is the kind of resilient prayer we can learn from the Psalms. At times, we find ourselves “imprisoned” – locked away from what we most want in our lives – love, peace, security, health, freedom. To deny such suffering only buries us deeper in it. 


As we see in our Gospel today, Jesus calls us to face our truth and to seek God’s Presence within it. Doing so will allow us, as it did the disciples, to move beyond self-centered expectation to God-centered courageous hope.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
came to Jesus and said to him,
‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, ‘What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him,
“Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, ‘We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The chalice that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”


As we look at our world, and perhaps our own lives, we see much suffering. How can God come to us from the midst of such pain? Psalm 79 tells us to keep inviting God and to be vigilant and attentive for God’s appearance. Just as in our Gospel, it will not look as we had expected it to look.

Remember us
Show us
Help us
Deliver us
Free us
Then we will give thanks and praise your Name

The Basic Prayer of Psalm 79

Poetry: A Blessing by Elizabeth Eiland Figueroa 

May the God of Surprises delight you, 
inviting you to accept gifts not yet imagined.
May the God of Transformation call you, 
opening you to continual renewal.
May the God of Justice confront you, 
daring you to see the world through God’s eyes.
May the God of Abundance affirm you, 
nudging you towards deeper trust.
May the God of Embrace hold you, 
encircling you in the hearth of God’s home.
May the God of Hopefulness bless you, 
encouraging you with the fruits of faith.
May the God of Welcoming invite you, 
drawing you nearer to the fullness of God’s expression in you.
May God Who is Present be with you, 
awakening you to God in all things, all people, and all moments.
May God be with you.
Amen.

Music: The Joys and Sorrows of Life – Johannes Bornlöff

Pentecost Sunday

 May 23, 20

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 104 – a fitting prayer for this glorious Feast of Pentecost.

Lord, send out your Spirit,
and renew the face of the earth.

It is a bold prayer, an extravagant request. It asks for everything – a Fire of Love so complete that the whole earth is remade in its Divine Power.

It is a prayer based in mutual invitation as, in the Sequence, we invite the Holy Spirit to renew us:

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Pentecost Sequence

And, as in any true relationship, the Spirit invites us too – to open our hearts to the infinite grace of this feast. The Book of Revelation describes this reciprocity in this profound passage:

“ I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Revelation 22: 16-17

Today, on the Birthday of the Church, we pray not only for our own soul’s kindling, but for the whole People of God. May the Grace of Pentecost ignite a new fire of charity over all the earth. May that fire clear the way for the Spirit’s gifts to flower, for Her fruits to blossom, for Her power to surprise us as it bursts forth in our hearts!


Poetry: The Golden Sequence

Veni Sancte Spiritus, sometimes called the Golden Sequence, is a sequence prescribed in the Roman Liturgy for the Masses of Pentecost and its octave. It is usually attributed to either the thirteenth-century Pope Innocent III or to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Stephen Langton, although it has been attributed to others as well.

“Veni Sancte Spiritus” is one of only four medieval Sequences which were preserved in the Roman Missal published in 1570 following the Council of Trent (1545–63).

The other three occasions when we hear these beautiful ancient hymns are Easter Sunday (“Victimae Paschali Laudes”), Corpus Christi (“Lauda Sion Salvatorem”) and Our Lady of Sorrows (“Stabat Mater Dolorosa”). On Easter Sunday and Pentecost, the sequence must be sung, whereas on Corpus Christi and Our Lady of Sorrows, the sequence is optional.

Wikipedia

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
    Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
    Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
    Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
    Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
    And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
    Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
    Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
    Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
    In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
    Give them joys that never end. Amen.
    Alleluia.

Music: Veni Santé Spiritus – Chant of the Mystics

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 15, 2021

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

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

Psalm 47: 2-3

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

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

Psalm 47: 8-9

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

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


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

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

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Music: A New Commandment

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

May 14, 2021

St. Matthias by Simone Martini (c.1718). Martini (c. 1284 – 1344) was an Italian painter born in Siena. He was a major figure in the development of early Italian painting and greatly influenced the development of the International Gothicstyle.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 113, a prayer whose tone echoes the sentiments of Matthias’s choice as one of the Final Twelve: thanksgiving, joy, hope, and enthusiasm.

Praise, you servants of the LORD,
    praise the name of the LORD.
Blessed be the name of the LORD
    both now and forever.

Psalm 113: 1-2

Picture the Eleven gathered. The shadow of Judas had been erased in the light of the Resurrection. But no mistake had been made in Judas. There were lessons in his shadow that could not have otherwise been learned – by the early Church and by us.

Christ taking leave of the Eleven from the Maestà by Duccio, c. 1310

But we’ll leave those lessons for another time. Today’s feast is about the back-up guy who was God’s first choice all along.

I think about how Matthias stayed in the running for that seat. He was faithful all along. Even when the plot twisted around Judas, still day and night, Matthias trusted God’s plan.

From the rising to the setting of the sun
    is the name of the LORD to be praised.
High above all nations is the LORD;
    above the heavens is his glory.

Psalm 113: 3-4

As we honor St. Matthias today, let’s ask for the gifts of faithful courage and trusting humility even when life’s script seems to falter. God doesn’t make mistakes, and God is with us until the shadow disappears in Light.


The Lord takes up the weak out of the dust
and lifts up the poor from the ashes. 
The Lord sets them with the wise ones,
with the leaders of the people.

Psalm 113: 7-8

Poetry: St. Matthias Day – John Keble, (1792-1866) was an English churchman and poet, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement. Keble College, Oxford, was named after him.


Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto the same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection.
Acts i. 21, 22.

Who is God's chosen priest?
He, who on Christ stands waiting day and night,
Who traceth His holy steps, nor ever ceased,
From Jordan banks to Bethphage height:

Who hath learned lowliness
From his Lord's cradle, patience from His Cross;
Whom poor men's eyes and hearts consent to bless;
To whom, for Christ, the world is loss;

Who both in agony
Hath seen Him and in glory; and in both
Owned Him divine, and yielded, nothing loth,
Body and soul, to live and die,

In witness of his Lord,
In humble following of his Saviour dear:
This is the man to wield th' unearthly sword,
Warring unharmed with sin and fear.

But who can o'er suffice-
What mortal-for this more than angels' task,
Winning or losing souls, Thy life-blood's price?
The gift were too divine to ask.

But Thou hast made it sure
By Thy dear promise to thy Church and Bride,
That Thou, on earth, wouldst aye with her endure,
Till earth to Heaven be purified.

Thou art her only spouse,
Whose arm supports her, on Whose faithful breast
Her persecuted head she meekly bows,
Sure pledge of her eternal rest.

Thou, her unerring guide,
Stayest her fainting steps along the wild;
Thy merit is on the bowers of lust and pride,
That she may pass them undefiled.

Who then, uncalled by Thee,
Dare touch Thy spouse, Thy very self below?
Or who dare count him summoned worthily,
Except Thine hand and seal he show?

Where can Thy seal be found,
But on thou chosen seed, from age to age
By thine anointed heralds duly crowned,
As kings and priests Thy war to wage?

Then fearless walk we forth,
Yet full of trembling, Messengers of God:
Our warrant sure, but doubting of our worth,
By our own shame alike and glory awed.

Dread Searcher of the hearts,
Thou who didst seal by Thy descending Dove
Thy servant's choice, O help us in our parts,
Else helpless found, to learn and teach Thy love.

Music: Laudate Pueri Dominum – Felix Mendelssohn