Tiptoes of Faith

Tuesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

November 19, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings are about living in the big picture of God’s vision for us.

Lk19_3 forest_trees

Once again, we meet Zaccheus who, due to his short stature, was unable to get a glimpse of Jesus walking nearby. He wasn’t getting the whole picture but he wanted to!

Lots of times we miss Christ in our midst, don’t we? It may be because we’re “short” on time, patience, faith, attention, courage, peace, desire … you name it.

Zaccheus may have been physically short, but he was tall in will and intention to see Jesus. The trees became his tools not his obstacles.


In our first reading, Eleazar was a giant in the virtues necessary to “see beyond the trees” of his current circumstances. A more spiritually short-sighted person might have succumbed to the temptation to save himself at the cost of his faith and witness.

But Eleazar’s faith was long, both in years and in depth. He kept the eyes of his heart focused on that faith and was delivered beyond any short-sighted choices.

It’s hard sometimes to see the forest beyond the trees – to direct our choices, attitudes and actions by a vision we glimpse only on the tippy toes of faith and prayer.

Perhaps these two God-seekers can inspire us today by their courage, steadfastness and faith to always live within God’s long eternal vision for us.

Music:  Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus – Hillsong

A Grateful Spirit

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 13, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, two significant themes in our readings are gift-giving and gratitude.

In our first reading Naaman, a pretty hot-shot Syrian commander, is a leper. He takes the advice of a captured Israel slave girl who encourages Naaman to seek a cure from Elisa the prophet.

As Naaman approaches, Elisha sends word  to rinse in the Jordan. Naaman, who is obviously accustomed to personalized subservience, is not happy with Elisha’s absentee advice. Angry, Naaman sets out for home. But his servants encourage him to cool down and to act on Elisha’s instructions. 

Naaman receives the cure and he promises, half-heartedly, to from henceforth worship Yahweh. He then asks what he can pay for the gift of the cure. Elisha responds that there is no payment .

Notice: Naaman never says “Thank you”. Instead, he wants to pay, to owe nothing for the immense gift he has received. He doesn’t want to be beholden, even to God.

Elisha, in so many words, tells Naaman: What I was blessed to convey to you comes from God. The power is God’s. I am the instrument. You can’t buy or own it. I can’t sell it. It’s God’s – freely given.

2Tim2_9JPG

Paul repeats the theme to Timothy: the Word of God is not chained. God’s power, grace, and healing are given freely. We cannot earn them buy, them, control them, or ever thank God enough for them. But we should try.

In our Gospel, only one cured leper – a Samaritan – has the sense and humility to try to thank Jesus. Born of his faith, that gratitude saves him.

God is Infinite Gift. God’s love pours over us spontaneously and continually to bring us to wholeness. God can’t help loving us and hoping for our completeness in grace.

May we be delivered from any speck of entitlement, indifference, arrogance, or ingratitude in the face of such Goodness!

Music:  Thank You, Lord – Don Moen

Dare to Follow the Way

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we celebrate St. Thérèse, popularly venerated as The Little Flower. She propagated a spirituality that has become known as “The Little Way”. 


Rev. John F. Russell, O.Carm. describes the Little Way like this:
The Little Way is an image that tries to capture St. Thérèse’s understanding of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, of seeking holiness of life in the ordinary and the everyday.
Saint Therese based her “little way” on two fundamental convictions: 

  • God shows love by mercy and forgiveness
  • She could not be perfect in following the Lord. 

Both our readings today also talk about a “way”.
Zechariah has a vision of all nations following the way to a New Jerusalem. 

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
In those days ten men of every nationality,
speaking different tongues, shall take hold,

yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say,
“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Dare

In our Gospel, Jesus begins his way on his final journey. He knows now that the way will be through suffering and death yet, He dared…

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem…

Grace makes a way in our lives too. As with Thérèse, the ancient Jews, and Jesus, our particular way will unfold before us through prayer and a listening heart. It is the way of love that leads away from selfishness to God and God-in-Others.

Rumi’s poem captures it:

The way of love is not
a subtle argument. 

The door there
is devastation. 

Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn it?

They fall, and falling,
they’re given wings.

(In a later post today, I will share a poem by Amy Lowell which I feel could describe “the journey “ — Christ’s, mine, yours… and perhaps offer further food for prayer.)

Today, we pray for the courage and freedom to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Music: from the musical Godspell – By My Side

The song conveys the desire of Jesus’s disciples, all but Judas, to accompany him on his Way. They were not perfect – but they dared. As we consider our lives, have we dared? What “pebbles” have we willingly “put in our shoes” to follow Jesus?

 

 

Exultet!

Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 23, 2019

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Ex15_1chariots

Today, in Mercy, we read that triumphant Exodus passage in which the Israelites pass through the walled-up waters of the Red Sea. The images and exultations abound!

Here are the obvious ones:

  • Sea (the agent of delivery/salvation)
  • Wind (the grace of change)
  • Chariots (the inevitable challenges/obstacles)
  • Night (the mystery in which faith operates)
  • Fiery Cloud/The Lord’s Glance (God’s intervention)
  • Song (humble acknowledgement and thanksgiving)

Just as the newborn is carried through the birth canal on the waters of life, so too God’s neonate people finally begin the fullness of life promised to Abraham. God accomplishes this great “delivery” by a masterful intertwining of omnipotence, human choices, and natural phenomena. The result is breathtaking!

Just as it is in our lives!

Like any great Bible story, this one invites us to find ourselves somewhere within it. At the least, we are all making a sometimes treacherous passage through life. And at particular times, maybe even now, the threats may be intense.


At times, we stand at the edge of intimidating seas, wondering how we will make it to the other side. But if we reflect on our history, we must acknowledge that – with prayer and patience – the parting wind does come. Those “chariots” at our heels become mired in our resilience, hope and trust in God. Even through the dark night of faith, the Bright Mystery speaks to us. In moments of astounding though quiet grace, we catch the glance of God. And we sing in thanksgiving.


The glory of this magnificent reading is captured in the Exultet, sung at the Easter Vigil. You may wish to pray with it today. (sung Latin version in interesting article below)

English text

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,

exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,

let the trumpet of salvation

sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,

ablaze with light from her eternal King,

let all corners of the earth be glad,

knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,

arrayed with the lightning of his glory,

let this holy building shake with joy,

filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

(Therefore, dearest friends,

standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,

invoke with me, I ask you,

the mercy of God almighty,

that he, who has been pleased to number me,

though unworthy, among the Levites,

may pour into me his light unshadowed,

that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises).

(Deacon: The Lord be with you.

People: And with your spirit.)

Deacon: Lift up your hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Deacon: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

People: It is right and just. 

It is truly right and just,

with ardent love of mind and heart

and with devoted service of our voice,

to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,

and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,

and, pouring out his own dear Blood,

wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,

in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,

whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,

when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children,

from slavery in Egypt

and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night

that with a pillar of fire

banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night

that even now throughout the world,

sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices

and from the gloom of sin,

leading them to grace

and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night

when Christ broke the prison-bars of death

and rose victorious from the underworld.

Our birth would have been no gain,

had we not been redeemed.

O wonder of your humble care for us!

O love, O charity beyond all telling,

to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!

O truly necessary sin of Adam,

destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!

O Happy Fault

that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night,

worthy alone to know the time and hour

when Christ rose from the underworld!

This is the night

of which it is written:

The night shall be as bright as day,

dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.

The sanctifying power of this night

dispels wickedness, washes faults away,

restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,

drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,

accept this candle, a solemn offering,

the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,

an evening sacrifice of praise,

this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,

which glowing fire ignites for God’s honour,

a fire into many flames divided,

yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,

for it is fed by melting wax,

drawn out by mother bees

to build a torch so precious.

O truly blessed night,

when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,

and divine to the human.

Therefore, O Lord,

we pray you that this candle,

hallowed to the honour of your name,

may persevere undimmed,

to overcome the darkness of this night.

Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,

and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.

May this flame be found still burning

by the Morning Star:

the one Morning Star who never sets,

Christ your Son,

who, coming back from death’s domain,

has shed his peaceful light on humanity,

and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

Click here for Latin version and article

Pentecost Sunday

June 9, 2019

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Dear Friends,

For this beautiful Feast, let us simply savor the words of the Pentecostal Sequence.
Let us not be hesitant to pray with the Holy Spirit Who lives in our hearts! Alleluia!

Pentecost


Sequence: Veni, Sancte Spiritus

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.


May the Holy Spirit fill your hearts with hope, courage and joy!

Music: Veni Creator Spiritus — so beautiful!

Yes, I’m Talkin’ to YOU!

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter 

June 8, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our Gospel reveals a lot about the relationships and personalities among Jesus and his disciples.

John is described as “the one whom Jesus loved”, indicating that there was a unique affection shared between them. What was that like? John was younger than most of the other men. Perhaps he needed more overt direction and care from Jesus. We know from John’s later extensive contributions to scripture that he was a poet and a visionary, someone with heightened sensitivities. Perhaps John expressed his love for Jesus more openly, triggering a similar response in Jesus.

Peter, once again, appears as the questioner. Throughout the Gospels, he is always asking Jesus to explain, to define, to assure. In today’s reading, Jesus has given Peter the prime call to follow him. But Peter wants more. Looking at John, Peter wants to know, “What about him… will he follow?”

Maybe Peter is a lot like some of us, a little unsure of where we are in God’s love. Maybe he wants to know how he compares to John, the obvious “Beloved Disciple”.

Jesus doesn’t coddle Peter. He wants Peter to “man up”. Peter has immense leadership responsibilities ahead of him. He needs to rely totally on Jesus’s promise to him.

John21_22

So Jesus tells him not to worry about how others are loved and called by God. He tells Peter, “ You follow me!” – that’s all you have to be concerned about.

Everybody’s call to follow is personal and different. It comes dressed in our particular life circumstances, gifts and awarenesses. God wants Peter and God wants John. He doesn’t want clones of either.

And God wants and calls each one of us in our uniqueness. By entering deeply into our own spirit, we will find our answer to God’s call.

Teresa of Avila said this:

It is foolish to think that we will enter heaven
without entering into ourselves.

May dear, questioning Peter inspire us today to be brave, confident and complete in our own response to God’s call.

Music:  Follow Me – Ray Repp

More? A Resounding “Yes” for These Five!

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter 

June 7, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Jesus asks the quintessential question of Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”

Jn21_15_19

The setting is by the morning-dappled sea. Jesus has just cooked his disciples breakfast. Ordinary enough, right?

What is extraordinary is that Jesus has already died, risen from the dead, and is sitting with his buddies once again by their old fishing boats!

In other words, these disciples now know clearly what the love of God means. They have seen, firsthand, what that kind of love does to a life! Mercy, Passion, Death and Resurrection lived out in everyday human experiences.

So Jesus’s question to Peter might really be asking:

After all you’ve seen,
after all is said and done,
do you have the “more”
that it will take to follow me?

Our spiritual life is all about growing to the “more” that will let us live and love in God.

This Saturday, in our Merion chapel, four young women make their perpetual profession of vows as Sisters of Mercy. On July 13th, a fifth woman will make her final profession in the Mid-West Community.

2019 profession

We rejoice that these women have chosen to find their “more” as Sisters of Mercy. Will you join us in prayers of thanksgiving and benediction for them as they take this sacred step?

Let us too have the courage, as we pray today, to listen to Jesus ask us about our love. Let us answer sincerely, and ask for all we need to give the “more” in whatever way God asks of us.

Music: Love Like Jesus – Pawn Shop Kings (This one will wake you up!😀)

Praying with Jesus

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter 

June 6, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Jesus continues to pray. What a blessing it is to be able to place ourselves next to Jesus and listen to his prayer!

The flow of this prayer shows clearly that it is part of an ongoing and continual conversation. Jesus is always in a relationship of presence with the Father. He just allows us to listen in John 17.

John17_11 One

By our listening, we may grow in the depth of our own prayer. Jesus prays:

  • for God to be glorified
  • for all to be one in God
  • for the wholeness and perfection of all Creation
  • for eternal, Trinitarian life for his followers
  • for God’s love to live in our hearts

These requests are the same things the Father wants. These are the reasons the Father sent Jesus into the world. So, in his prayer, Jesus is praying for God’s Will of love and wholeness in the world. He is praying for oneness with the Father.

We can grow in this kind of prayer by opening our minds and spirits to God’s heartbeat in our lives. St. Teresa of Avila said it like this:

“Through a truth glimpsed fleetingly in a state of prayer he calls to us.
No matter how halfhearted such insights may be, God rejoices
whenever we learn what he is trying to teach us.”
– The Interior Castle

and

“Let the truth be in your hearts, as it will be if you practice meditation,
and you will see clearly what love we are bound to have for our neighbors.”
– The Way of Perfection

Through intention and practice, and responsive to grace, there comes a point in our spiritual life when we are never unaware of the Presence of God. The intensity of this awareness will vary, like the volume in a beautiful piece of music, but the Divine music is still always there, even in its necessary rests.

( Rests are intervals of silence in pieces of music, marked by symbols indicating the length of the pause. Each rest symbol and name corresponds with a particular note value, indicating how long the silence should last.)

Whether we are in a “rest” or a full, resounding note, let us become aware of God’s Presence in us and our presence in God.

Music:   My TOP favorite piece of music. ( P.S. Whoever is in charge, please play this at my funeral.)

Messe solennelle en l’honneur de sainte Cécile: Sanctus – Jessye Norman

Consecrated in Truth

Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter 

June 5, 2019

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Today in Mercy, we experience both Paul and Jesus praying for their followers. They each use similar words.

Paul:
And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up
and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.

Jn17_17

Jesus:
Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.

Do you pray for others? To protect those you love? To change those who are bound in Spirit? To alleviate those who suffer? To awaken those that are caught in the vortex of selfishness or self-destruction? To increase the blessings of the generous?

Perhaps the greatest prayer we can offer for another is one  like that of Paul and Jesus – a plea for the other to stand Blessed in the Truth of who they are in God — CONSECRATED by their Creaturehood, their Baptism, their faith, and their infinite power for Life in the Holy Spirit.

Today, we might pray like this for our Beloveds, and for those we might like to love better; for those who are unloved, and those unaware of how much they are loved.

The Prayer – Celine Dion and Josh Groban

Farewell

Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter 

June 4, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we have two farewell readings.

Jn17_2

It’s an appropriate theme at this time of weddings, graduations, retirements, house-hunting, and other temporary or final leave-takings.

Farewells are tough, aren’t they? They are an uneven mix of sadness and joy, one party often more heavily burdened than the other.

I think of the day I left home to enter the convent. I was bursting with joy, enthusiasm, curiosity and wonder. But I was woefully unaware of my parent’s profound sense of loss. It was a stunningly uneven farewell that I only came to understand in my growing maturity.

In our readings today, Paul and Jesus are poignantly aware of their farewells. 

Paul says:

But now I know that none of you
to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels
will ever see my face again.

And Jesus says:

And now I will no longer be in the world,
but (my followers) are in the world,
while I am coming to the Father.

Both Paul and Jesus use their farewells to pray for their disciples, to confirm their strength, and to proclaim that their followers are ready to carry on the mission. You can almost envision these two great mentors releasing their disciples into the fullness of their own call.

Over our lifetimes, we will love and mentor many people: children, friends, students, protégés. There will come times when we must release them into new dimensions of their lives.

Sometimes we are the ones breaking forth to a new horizon, strengthened by the generous direction of those we leave behind.

In each situation, may we treasure the love that is generous enough to give new life. May we bless one another with a magnanimity like that of Jesus when He made his farewell:

I pray for you and …
I will ask the Father
and he will give you his Spirit
to be with you always.

As I look back on that day long ago, standing with my parents at the front door of the Motherhouse, it was that kind of farewell that they unselfishly gave to me.

Music: Spirit of Life by Carolyn McDade