Friday of the Third Week of Easter

April 23, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 117. Consisting of only two verses, it is the shortest psalm and also the shortest chapter in the whole Bible. But it is packed with spiritual meaning.

Our Responsorial Psalm, anchored on Mark 16:15, sums up the whole mission of Jesus with which we have been gifted and entrusted.

  1. There is Good News – the “goodest” possible news – In Jesus Christ, God has fulfilled the Promise to redeem us.

Steadfast is God’s kindness toward us,
    and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.


  1. We should totally rejoice in this Good News

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
    glorify him, all you peoples!


  1. We are charged to preach this Good News to the whole world.

Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.


I think it is worth noting that as an alternative to this final verse, the liturgical directions indicate that we may respond simply with the word, “Alleluia”.

When we live in vibrant faith, our life is its own preaching – our life is an “Alleluia!” Our whole life proclaims the Good News”.


Prose Picture: taken from St. Augustine of Hippo


Music: Laudate Dominum – Taizé

Third Sunday of Easter

April 18, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 4 which describes the spiritual contentment of one who tries to respond faithfully to an ever-faithful God:

The psalmist’s faithful response is driven by a deep repentance – a conversion, a turning toward the Light.

Let your heart be awestruck by God’s steadfast love.
Sin no more;
Turn to God in the depth of your spirit.
Examine your heart in silence 
as you offer your evening prayer.

Psalm 4: 4-5

I think that, even in the most brilliant souls, there are still corners yearning for Light. Until we are transfigured by death, such is the human condition. This is the case with the people Peter addresses in our first reading, John in our second. Even the faithful disciples are called to greater Light in today’s Gospel.

Jesus said to them:
Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.

Luke 24:46-48

Today, as we pray, might there be a shadowed corner we would like to turn toward Grace? What places in our sometimes darkened world shall we plead before the Merciful Light?

Poetry: Light – Today’s poem by George Macdonald is long, but oh so worth the time and focus. I encourage you to revisit often, taking small excerpts to cherish.

George Macdonald (10 December 1824 – 18 September 1905) was a Scottish author, poet and Christian minister. He was a pioneering figure in the field of fantasy literature and the mentor of fellow writer Lewis Carroll. In addition to his fairy tales, MacDonald wrote several works on Christian apologetics.

His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including W. H. Auden, J. M. Barrie, Lord Dunsany, Hope Mirrlees, Robert E. Howard, L. Frank Baum, T.H. White, Lloyd Alexander, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Walter de la Mare, E. Nesbit, Peter S. Beagle, Neil Gaiman and Madeleine L’Engle. 

C. S. Lewis wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his “master”: “Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later”, said Lewis, “I knew that I had crossed a great frontier.” G. K. Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had “made a difference to my whole existence”.


Light 

First-born of the creating Voice!
Minister of God’s Spirit, who wast sent
Waiting upon him first, what time he went
Moving about mid the tumultuous noise
Of each unpiloted element
Upon the face of the void formless deep!
Thou who didst come unbodied and alone
Ere yet the sun was set his rule to keep,
Or ever the moon shone,
Or e’er the wandering star-flocks forth were driven!
Thou garment of the Invisible, whose skirt
Sweeps, glory-giving, over earth and heaven!
Thou comforter, be with me as thou wert
When first I longed for words, to be
A radiant garment for my thought, like thee!

We lay us down in sorrow,
Wrapt in the old mantle of our mother Night;
In vexing dreams we strive until the morrow;
Grief lifts our eyelids up-and Lo, the light!
The sunlight on the wall! And visions rise
Of shining leaves that make sweet melodies;
Of wind-borne waves with thee upon their crests;
Of rippled sands on which thou rainest down;
Of quiet lakes that smooth for thee their breasts;
Of clouds that show thy glory as their own;
O joy! O joy! the visions are gone by!
Light, gladness, motion, are reality!

Thou art the god of earth. The skylark springs
Far up to catch thy glory on his wings;
And thou dost bless him first that highest soars.
The bee comes forth to see thee; and the flowers
Worship thee all day long, and through the skies
Follow thy journey with their earnest eyes.
River of life, thou pourest on the woods,
And on thy waves float out the wakening buds;
The trees lean toward thee, and, in loving pain,
Keep turning still to see thee yet again;
South sides of pines, haunted all day by thee,
Bear violins that tremble humanly.
And nothing in thine eyes is mean or low:
Where’er thou art, on every side,
All things are glorified;
And where thou canst not come, there thou dost throw
Beautiful shadows, made out of the dark,
That else were shapeless; now it bears thy mark.

And men have worshipped thee.
The Persian, on his mountain-top,
Waits kneeling till thy sun go up,
God-like in his serenity.
All-giving, and none-gifted, he draws near,
And the wide earth waits till his face appear-
Longs patient. And the herald glory leaps
Along the ridges of the outlying clouds,
Climbing the heights of all their towering steeps.
Sudden, still multitudinous laughter crowds
The universal face: Lo, silently,
Up cometh he, the never-closing eye!
Symbol of Deity, men could not be
Farthest from truth when they were
kneeling unto thee!

Thou plaything of the child,
When from the water’s surface thou dost spring,
Thyself upon his chamber ceiling fling,
And there, in mazy dance and motion wild,
Disport thyself-etherial, undefiled.
Capricious, like the thinkings of the child!
I am a child again, to think of thee
In thy consummate glee.
How I would play with thee, athirst to climb
On sloping ladders of thy moted beams,
When through the gray dust darting in long streams!
How marvel at the dusky glimmering red,
With which my closed fingers thou hadst made
Like rainy clouds that curtain the sun’s bed!
And how I loved thee always in the moon!
But most about the harvest-time,
When corn and moonlight made a mellow tune,
And thou wast grave and tender as a cooing dove!
And then the stars that flashed cold, deathless love!
And the ghost-stars that shimmered in the tide!
And more mysterious earthly stars,
That shone from windows of the hill and glen-
Thee prisoned in with lattice-bars,
Mingling with household love and rest of weary men!
And still I am a child, thank God!-to spy
Thee starry stream from bit of broken glass
Upon the brown earth undescried,
Is a found thing to me, a gladness high,
A spark that lights joy’s altar-fire within,
A thought of hope to prophecy akin,
That from my spirit fruitless will not pass.

Thou art the joy of age:
Thy sun is dear when long the shadow falls.
Forth to its friendliness the old man crawls,
And, like the bird hung out in his poor cage
To gather song from radiance, in his chair
Sits by the door; and sitteth there
His soul within him, like a child that lies
Half dreaming, with half-open eyes,
At close of a long afternoon in summer-
High ruins round him, ancient ruins, where
The raven is almost the only comer-
Half dreams, half broods, in wonderment
At thy celestial ascent
Through rifted loop to light upon the gold
That waves its bloom in some high airy rent:
So dreams the old man’s soul, that is not old,
But sleepy mid the ruins that infold.

What soul-like changes, evanescent moods,
Upon the face of the still passive earth,
Its hills, and fields, and woods,
Thou with thy seasons and thy hours art ever calling forth!
Even like a lord of music bent
Over his instrument,
Giving to carol, now to tempest birth!
When, clear as holiness, the morning ray
Casts the rock’s dewy darkness at its feet,
Mottling with shadows all the mountain gray;
When, at the hour of sovereign noon,
Infinite silent cataracts sheet
Shadowless through the air of thunder-breeding June;
When now a yellower glory slanting passes
‘Twixt longer shadows o’er the meadow grasses;
And now the moon lifts up her shining shield,
High on the peak of a cloud-hill revealed;
Now crescent, low, wandering sun-dazed away,
Unconscious of her own star-mingled ray,
Her still face seeming more to think than see,
Makes the pale world lie dreaming dreams of thee!
No mood, eternal or ephemeral,
But wakes obedient at thy silent call!

Of operative single power,
And simple unity the one emblem,
Yet all the colours that our passionate eyes devour,
In rainbow, moonbow, or in opal gem,
Are the melodious descant of divided thee.
Lo thee in yellow sands! Lo thee
In the blue air and sea!
In the green corn, with scarlet poppies lit,
Thy half-souls parted, patient thou dost sit.
Lo thee in dying triumphs of the west!
Lo thee in dew-drop’s tiny breast!
Thee on the vast white cloud that floats away,
Bearing upon its skirt a brown moon-ray!
Gold-regent, thou dost spendthrift throw
Thy hoardless wealth of gleam and glow!
The thousand hues and shades upon the flowers
Are all the pastime of thy leisure hours;
The jewelled ores in mines that hidden be,
Are dead till touched by thee.

Everywhere,
Thou art lancing through the air!
Every atom from another
Takes thee, gives thee to his brother;
Continually,
Thou art wetting the wet sea,
Bathing its sluggish woods below,
Making the salt flowers bud and blow;
Silently,
Workest thou, and ardently,
Waking from the night of nought
Into being and to thought;

Influences
Every beam of thine dispenses,
Potent, subtle, reaching far,
Shooting different from each star.
Not an iron rod can lie
In circle of thy beamy eye,
But its look doth change it so
That it cannot choose but show
Thou, the worker, hast been there;
Yea, sometimes, on substance rare,
Thou dost leave thy ghostly mark
Even in what men call the dark.
Ever doing, ever showing,
Thou dost set our hearts a glowing-
Universal something sent
To shadow forth the Excellent!

When the firstborn affections-
Those winged seekers of the world within,
That search about in all directions,
Some bright thing for themselves to win-
Through pathless woods, through home-bred fogs,
Through stony plains, through treacherous bogs,
Long, long, have followed faces fair,
Fair soul-less faces, vanished into air,
And darkness is around them and above,
Desolate of aught to love,
And through the gloom on every side,
Strange dismal forms are dim descried,
And the air is as the breath
From the lips of void-eyed Death,
And the knees are bowed in prayer
To the Stronger than despair-
Then the ever-lifted cry,
Give us light, or we shall die,
Cometh to the Father’s ears,
And he hearkens, and he hears:-

As some slow sun would glimmer forth
From sunless winter of the north,
We, hardly trusting hopeful eyes,
Discern and doubt the opening skies.
From a misty gray that lies on
Our dim future’s far horizon,
It grows a fresh aurora, sent
Up the spirit’s firmament,
Telling, through the vapours dun,
Of the coming, coming sun!
Tis Truth awaking in the soul!
His Righteousness to make us whole!
And what shall we, this Truth receiving,
Though with but a faint believing,
Call it but eternal Light?
‘Tis the morning, ’twas the night!

All things most excellent
Are likened unto thee, excellent thing!
Yea, he who from the Father forth was sent,
Came like a lamp, to bring,
Across the winds and wastes of night,
The everlasting light.
Hail, Word of God, the telling of his thought!
Hail, Light of God, the making-visible!
Hail, far-transcending glory brought
In human form with man to dwell-
Thy dazzling gone; thy power not less
To show, irradiate, and bless;
The gathering of the primal rays divine
Informing chaos, to a pure sunshine!

Dull horrid pools no motion making!
No bubble on the surface breaking!
The dead air lies, without a sound,
Heavy and moveless on the marshy ground.

Rushing winds and snow-like drift,
Forceful, formless, fierce, and swift!
Hair-like vapours madly riven!
Waters smitten into dust!
Lightning through the turmoil driven,
Aimless, useless, yet it must!

Gentle winds through forests calling!
Bright birds through the thick leaves glancing!
Solemn waves on sea-shores falling!
White sails on blue waters dancing!
Mountain streams glad music giving!
Children in the clear pool laving!
Yellow corn and green grass waving!
Long-haired, bright-eyed maidens living!
Light, O radiant, it is thou!
Light!-we know our Father now!

Forming ever without form;
Showing, but thyself unseen;
Pouring stillness on the storm;
Breathing life where death had been!
If thy light thou didst draw in,
Death and Chaos soon were out,
Weltering o’er the slimy sea,
Riding on the whirlwind’s rout,
In wild unmaking energy!
God, be round us and within,
Fighting darkness, slaying sin.

Father of Lights, high-lost, unspeakable,
On whom no changing shadow ever fell!
Thy light we know not, are content to see;
Thee we know not, and are content to be!-
Nay, nay! until we know thee, not content are we!
But, when thy wisdom cannot be expressed,
Shall we imagine darkness in thy breast?
Our hearts awake and witness loud for thee!
The very shadows on our souls that lie,
Good witness to the light supernal bear;
The something ‘twixt us and the sky
Could cast no shadow if light were not there!
If children tremble in the night,
It is because their God is light!
The shining of the common day
Is mystery still, howe’er it ebb and flow-
Behind the seeing orb, the secret lies:
Thy living light’s eternal play,
Its motions, whence or whither, who shall know?-
Behind the life itself, its fountains rise!
In thee, the Light, the darkness hath no place;
And we have seen thee in the Saviour’s face.

Enlighten me, O Light!-why art thou such?
Why art thou awful to our eyes, and sweet?
Cherished as love, and slaying with a touch?
Why in thee do the known and unknown meet?
Why swift and tender, strong and delicate?
Simple as truth, yet manifold in might?
Why does one love thee, and another hate?
Why cleave my words to the portals of my speech
When I a goodly matter would indite?
Why mounts my thought of thee beyond my reach?
-In vain to follow thee, I thee beseech,
For God is light.

Music: Heaven’s Window – Peter Kater

Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter

April 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34, an exultation in our God who protects and delivers us from harm:

The angel of the LORD encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
    blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

Psalm 34:8-9

Why is it that the Sadducees and Pharisees, as told in our first reading, so strongly resisted the gift of spiritual freedom and life?

We get used to our ways, don’t we? We get stuck in our compensations. We can even reach a point of comfort with things that sap and lessen us – that keep us from being our best selves – as long as we can maintain even a false sense of security and control.

This is what happened to the Pharisees and Sadducees. If they now accepted Jesus, their whole pretend world of domination and abusive power, a world in which they were very comfortable, would be turned upside down!

So they chose not to believe in Love. 

They tried to lock up the call to mercy and justice. They tried to chain Grace in a dungeon. They tried to stifle the cry of the poor so that the Lord wouldn’t hear! 


But, despite their blind efforts, the truth of Psalm 34 endures:

Come, children,listen to me;
I will teach you fear of the LORD.
Who is the man who delights in life,
who loves to see the good days?
Keep your tongue from evil,
your lips from speaking lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the LORD are directed toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.

Psalm 34: 12-16

In our Gospel, Jesus gently but firmly teaches Nicodemus that our choice to believe matters:

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.

John 3:16-20

Prose Poetry: from an interview with Ilia Dileo Ilia Delio, a Franciscan Sister of Washington, DC. She holds the Josephine C Connelly Endowed Chair in Theology at Villanova University, and is he author of seventeen books, several of which have won awards.

You know, love is always a little tipsy.
If you’re really ecstatically in love, 
you are always a little bit falling over yourself 
and God is that.
God is the absolute being in love 
and always a little tipsy, 
falling over God’s self to share that love with an other. 
That dynamic engagement of God 
in the personal beingness of life, 
in the person of Jesus Christ -
if we bring in Jesus as that fullest manifestation of God’s love
in our own lives.
This is right from Pseudo-Dionysius, the 5th century writer 
who spoke of God as being superly drunk, drunk with love. 
That’s the kind of God we are dealing with here. 
Not some kind of the philosopher God, 
not the mechanical God, not a self-thinking, thought God…
This is a God who is drunk with love. 
Spilling over in love for us. 
And that’s what we are called to be. 
As image of God we are to be drunk with love, 
spilling over in our lives to be love in relation to another.
Every thing that exists, 
every person, every being, every creature 
every star, every lepton, every little cell
is a little word of the word of God...
God speaking that divine word of love 
throughout the rich variety of creation.

Music: God So Loved the World

God so loved the world

So loved the world

So loved the world

That He gave His only son

That He gave His only son

God so loved the world

That everyone who would believe

Who believed in His only son

Shall have everlasting life

For God sent not his son into the world

To condemn the world

But God so loved the world

That through His son the world might be saved

The world might be saved (the world might be saved)

The world might be saved

God so loved the world (so loved)

So loved the world (so loved)

So loved the world (that He)

That He gave His only son (only son)

That He gave His only son (only son)

That everyone who would believe (believe)

Believe in Him

Who would believe in Him

Would have everlasting life

Would have everlasting

Life (everlasting life)

Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday of Divine Mercy

April 11, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 118 which ties together our other readings in a celebration of confirmed faith:

  • Christ IS risen
  • He has been SEEN even by one with severest doubts
  • the community IS RESPONDING wholeheartedly to the Easter mission

The stone which the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
    it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
    let us be glad and rejoice in it.

Psalm 118

For the early Church, which comes alive in today’s readings, faith and experience have been “married”. These are early “honeymoon days” for a young faith community where Jesus might still pop up any minute by a charcoal fire or in a locked Upper Room.

These are days of heady enthusiasm where everything seems possible in the healing tenderness of five transfigured wounds.

The Incredulity of St. Thomas – Caravaggio

Last week, I offered a staff presentation during which we discussed the blocks to effective communication – poor planning, noise, cultural differences, assumptions, etc. But I think of one block in particular this morning.

Time and Distance

The farther we are from the original message the more likely we might lose its full power and truth.

Think of that childhood game, “Whisper Down the Lane”. As the original message traveled along the long line of squirming children, it repeatedly morphed into its multiple distortions.


Our readings today enjoin us to take care that such distortion never weakens our Easter Truth: Jesus Christ is risen and lives in us, the faith community.

… whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

As Jesus describes us in today’s Gospel, we are the ones “who have not SEEN”. Still, we long for the blessing that comes from our unseeing fidelity:

You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me.
Blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe!

Let us pray for one another, the whole faith community. As the Easter Word passes down through the ages and out over the earth, may it stay fully alive in our faithful love and active mercy:

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.


Poem:

St. Thomas Didymus by Denise Levertov

In the hot street at noon I saw him
a small man
gray but vivid, standing forth
beyond the crowd’s buzzing
holding in desperate grip his shaking
teethgnashing son,

and thought him my brother.

I heard him cry out, weeping and speak
those words,
Lord, I believe, help thou
mine unbelief,

and knew him
my twin:

a man whose entire being
had knotted itself
into the one tightdrawn question,
Why,
why has this child lost his childhood in suffering,
why is this child who will soon be a man
tormented, torn, twisted?
Why is he cruelly punished
who has done nothing except be born?

The twin of my birth
was not so close
as that man I heard
say what my heart
sighed with each beat, my breath silently
cried in and out,
in and out.

After the healing,
he, with his wondering
newly peaceful boy, receded;
no one
dwells on the gratitude, the astonished joy,
the swift
acceptance and forgetting.
I did not follow
to see their changed lives.
What I retained
was the flash of kinship.
Despite
all that I witnessed,
his question remained
my question, throbbed like a stealthy cancer,
known
only to doctor and patient. To others
I seemed well enough.

So it was
that after Golgotha
my spirit in secret
lurched in the same convulsed writhings
that tore that child
before he was healed.
And after the empty tomb
when they told me that He lived, had spoken to Magdalen,
told me
that though He had passed through the door like a ghost
He had breathed on them
the breath of a living man —
even then
when hope tried with a flutter of wings
to lift me —
still, alone with myself,
my heavy cry was the same: Lord
I believe,
help thou mine unbelief.

I needed
blood to tell me the truth,
the touch
of blood. Even
my sight of the dark crust of it
round the nailholes
didn’t thrust its meaning all the way through
to that manifold knot in me
that willed to possess all knowledge,
refusing to loosen
unless that insistence won
the battle I fought with life

But when my hand
led by His hand’s firm clasp
entered the unhealed wound,
my fingers encountering
rib-bone and pulsing heat,
what I felt was not
scalding pain, shame for my
obstinate need,
but light, light streaming
into me, over me, filling the room
as I had lived till then
in a cold cave, and now
coming forth for the first time,
the knot that bound me unravelling,
I witnessed
all things quicken to color, to form,
my question
not answered but given
its part
in a vast unfolding design lit
by a risen sun.

Music: Thomas Song

Thomas’ Song – Hallal Music

Jesu you were all to me,
Why did you die on Calvary?
O Lamb of God, I fail to see
How this could be part of the plan.
They say that you’re alive again
But I saw death and every sin
Reach out to claim their darkest whim
How could this part if the plan?
If I could only
Hold your hand
And touch the scars
Where nail were driven,
I would need
To feel your side
Where holy flesh
A spear was riven,
Then I’d believe,
Only then I’d believe
Your cruel death
Was part of a heavenly plan.
Holy presence, holy face
A vision filling time and space
Your newness makes my spirit race
Could this be part of the plan?
I see the wounds that caused the cry
From heaven, ocean, earth, and sky
When people watched their savior die
Could this be part of the plan?
Reaching out
To hold your hand
And touch the scars
Where nails were driven
Coming near
I feel your side
Where holy flesh
A spear was riven
Now I believe
Jesus now I believe
Your cruel death
Was part of a heavenly plan
I proudly say
With blazen cry
You are my Lord and my God

Easter Friday: Cornerstone

April 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 118:

The stone which the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
    it is wonderful in our eyes.

Psalm 118:22

That “Stone”, rejected by the builders, is the Crucified Christ, the sight of whom was an abomination to those who expected a battle-victorious messiah.

But Jesus is among us to stand in contradiction to everything that limits the power of God. In Jesus’s Name

  • the poor are rich
  • the lost are found
  • the foolish are wise
  • the persecuted are blessed
  • the dead are raised to life

As Peter says in Acts, worldly rejection holds no sway over the power of this Name:

There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved

Acts 4:12
The Miraculous Catch – James Tissot

This is the mysterious lesson of the Cross, a lesson accessed only through faith, a faith the disciples exercise in today’s beautiful Gospel story.

This morning, we might wish to join Jesus for his “Breakfast on the Beach”, feeding our spirits in his resurrected Light. The truth he gives us goes beyond any purely human understanding. Let us listen with our deep hearts; see with grace-filled eyes.


Poetry: True Cornerstone by Robert Morris,  a prominent American poet of the mid-19th century

What is the Mason's cornerstone? 
Does the mysterious temple rest 
On earthly ground — from east to west — 
From north to south — and this alone? 

What is the Mason's cornerstone? 
Is it to toil for fame and pelf, 
To magnify our petty self, 
And love our friends — and this alone? 

No, no; the Mason's cornerstone — 
A deeper, stronger, nobler base, 
Which time and foe cannot displace — 
IS FAITH IN God — and this alone! 

'Tis this which makes the mystic tie 
Loving and true, divinely good, 
A grand, united brotherhood, 
Cemented 'neath the All-seeing Eye. 

'Tis this which gives the sweetest tone 
To Mason's melodies; the gleam 
To loving eyes; the brightest gem 
That sparkles in the Mason's crown. 

'Tis this which makes the Mason's grip 
A chain indissolubly strong; 
It banishes all fraud, and wrong, 
And coldness from our fellowship. 

Oh, cornerstone, divine, divine! 
Oh, FAITH IN God ! it buoys us up, 
And gives to darkest hours a hope, 

And makes the heart a holy shrine. 
Brothers, be this your cornerstone; 
Build every wish and hope on this; 
Of present joy, of future bliss, 
On earth, in Heaven — and this alone!

Music: Loed, When You Came – Kitty Cleveland

Lord, when you came to the seashore 
you weren’t seeking the wise or the wealthy, 
but only asking that I might follow.

O Lord, in my eyes you were gazing, 
Kindly smiling,My name you were saying; 
All I treasured,I have left on the sand there; 
Close to you, I will find other seas.

Señor me has mirado a los ojos,
Sonriendo has dicho mi nombre,
En la rena he dejado mi barca, 
junto a ti buscaré otro mar.

Lord, you knew what my boat carried:
Neither money nor weapons for fighting, 
but nets for fishing my daily labor. 

Lord, have you need of my labor, hands for service,
A heart made for loving, my arms for lifting the poor and broken? 

Lord, send me where you would have me, to a village,
Or heart of the city; I will remember that you are with me.

Easter Wednesday

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

April 7, 2021

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

Our scripture passages today invite us to walk:

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

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

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

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

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

Music: Turn Around, Look at Me – The Vogues

Psalm 71: A Long Trust

Tuesday of Holy Week

March 30, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 71, a prayer of yielding and confident faith.

Often thought to be the prayer of an aging David, Psalm 71 recalls a long and steady relationship with God. Even as his youthful vigor wanes, the psalmist declares that his true strength rests in God’s faithfulness.

For you are my hope, O LORD;
    my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
    from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
    day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
    and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 71: 15-17
King David as an Old Man – Rembrandt

David witnesses to a powerful faith, one that we all might cherish in our human diminishments. It is hard to lose things in our life – youth, health, relationships, reputation, enthusiasm, hope, direction, security. But all of us face at least some of these challenges at some time in our lives.


Judas Iscariot (right), retiring from the Last Supper,
painting by Carl Bloch, late 19th century

In our Gospel today, Jesus acknowledges the loss of trust in a close disciple:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.

John 13:21-22

That betrayal is a sign to Jesus that the great dream of his earthly ministry is coming to an ignominious close when even those dearest to him slip into betrayal and denial.


What is it that holds Jesus together, heart and soul riveted on the Father’s Will, as he moves through these heart-wrenching days.

Jesus is the living sacrament of complete obedience and union with God. Every choice of his life has brought him to a readiness for this final and supreme act of trusting love. Like the psalmist today, Jesus’s whole life proclaims:

I will always hope in you
and add to all your praise.
My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds,
day after day your acts of deliverance,
though I cannot number them all.i
I will speak of the mighty works of the Lord;
O GOD, I will tell of your singular justice.
God, you have taught me from my youth;
to this day I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 71: 14-17

As we accompany Jesus today, let us pray this psalm with him, asking for an ever-deepening faith, hope, and love.


Poetry: Jesus Weeps – Malcolm Guite

Jesus comes near and he beholds the city
And looks on us with tears in his eyes,
And wells of mercy, streams of love and pity
Flow from the fountain whence all things arise.
He loved us into life and longs to gather
And meet with his beloved face to face
How often has he called, a careful mother,
And wept for our refusals of his grace,
Wept for a world that, weary with its weeping,
Benumbed and stumbling, turns the other way,
Fatigued compassion is already sleeping
Whilst her worst nightmares stalk the light of day.
But we might waken yet, and face those fears,
If we could see ourselves through Jesus’ tears.

Music: Long Ago – Michael Hoppé, Tom Wheater, Michael Tillman

Monday of Holy Week

Monday of Holy Week


March 29, 2021

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

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

Psalm 27:1

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

We can learn so much from Jesus in this.

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

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


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

Paula D’Arcy

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


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

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

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

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

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

transliteration of Psalm 27 by Christine Robinson

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

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

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

A Psalm from Jeremiah

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent

March 27, 2021


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Jeremiah 31: 10-12

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

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


Poetry: Redemption by George Herbert (1593-1633)who was a Welsh-born poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England. His poetry is associated with the writings of the metaphysical poets, and he is recognised as “one of the foremost British devotional lyricists.”

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

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

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

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

Music: Like a Shepherd – St. Louis Jesuits

Psalm 40: The Will to Love

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

March 25, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this feast of the Annunciation, we pray with Psalm 40. We hear Mary proclaiming its refrain which echoes down through the ages:

Psalm 40:8-9

We are all here to do God’s Will. That’s why God made us. But sometimes, we struggle so hard either to learn God’s Will or to avoid it.

Praying with Mary this morning, I thought this about “God’s Will” – It is not a plan we must discover, or that unfolds in surprises throughout our lives. It’s not a set of circumstances meant to test our faith. If we think of it this linearly, we cripple and diffuse its power.

Because God is Love, God’s Will is simply this: 

Love. 
Always love. 
Love always as God would love. 
Choose always what Love would choose.
Love.

That’s what Mary did.


Annunciation – Henry Ossawa Tanner

Poetry:  Aubade: The Annunciation – Thomas Merton
(An aubade is a poem or piece of music appropriate to the dawn or early morning.)


When the dim light, at Lauds, comes strike her window,
Bellsong falls out of Heaven with a sound of glass.
Prayers fly in the mind like larks,
Thoughts hide in the height like hawks:
And while the country churches tell their blessings to the
distance,
Her slow words move
(Like summer winds the wheat) her innocent love:
Desires glitter in her mind
Like morning stars:
Until her name is suddenly spoken
Like a meteor falling.
She can no longer hear shrill day
Sing in the east,
Nor see the lovely woods begin to toss their manes.
The rivers have begun to sing.
The little clouds shine in the sky like girls:
She has no eyes to see their faces.
Speech of an angel shines in the waters of her thought
like diamonds,
Rides like a sunburst on the hillsides of her heart.
And is brought home like harvests,
Hid in her house, and stored
Like the sweet summer's riches in our peaceful barns.
But in the world of March outside her dwelling,
The farmers and the planters
Fear to begin their sowing, and its lengthy labor,
Where, on the brown, bare furrows,
The winter wind still croons as dumb as pain.

Music: Ave Maria – performed by Daniela de Santos