With Open Arms

Friday, January 7, 2022
Friday after Epiphany

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, John and Jesus continue to teach us.

In our first reading, we hear John preaching to a community that has become confused. Some have begun to doubt and to teach a watered-down version of Christ and the Gospel.

John convinces his community, and us, that we are invited into God’s own life through Baptism, the Paschal-Eucharistic Mystery, and through the Holy Spirit. This is the truth of Jesus Christ which we embrace by a faithful life.

This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood. 
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth. 
So there are three who testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the Blood, 
and the three are of one accord. 

1 John 5:6

In our Gospel, Jesus shows us how to live that faithful life – through loving, generous service such as he models.

Jesus cleans the leper, Mosaic detail, 12thC,
Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily

A pitiable leper interrupts Jesus on his journey to ask for help. People like this man were scorned, feared, and isolated. Their leprosy impoverished them, making them annoying beggars. Their cries usually met with indifference at best and banishment at worst.

But when this leper poses his proposal to Jesus – “If you want to, you can heal me.” — Jesus gives the spontaneous answer of a true, merciful heart: “Of course I want to!” He responds with open arms and open heart.

Greek rendering of phrase “Of course I do!”

There is no annoyance, no suggestion that other concerns are more important. There is just the confirmation that – Yes- this is the purpose of my life: to heal, love, show mercy toward whatever suffering is in my power to touch. There is just the clear message that “You, too, poor broken leper, are Beloved of God.”

What an example and call Jesus gives us today! We are commissioned to continue this merciful touch of Christ along the path of our own lives. When circumstances offer us the opportunity to be Mercy for another, may we too respond with enthusiasm, “Of course I want to!” May we have the eyes to see through any “leprosy” to find the Beloved of God.


Prose: Mother Teresa – from In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Seeking the face of God
in everything, everyone, all the time,
and his hand in every happening;
This is what it means to be contemplative
in the heart of the world.
Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus,
especially in the lowly appearance of bread,
and in the distressing disguise of the poor.

Music: Compassion Hymn – Kristyn and Keith Getty

Lovers or Liars

January 6, 2022
Thursday after Epiphany

I know: the title sounds like a new TV series, doesn’t it?
But it’s not. It’s a story as old as time!


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, John talks about liars. He made me really think.

Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!

When I was a kid going to weekly Saturday night confession (yes, remember a lot of us did that!) I really had to scrape to get a decent pile of sins. I mean, honestly, how much evil can one eight-year-old generate in a week?

  • But lying was always a good fallback to report on. You know the deal:
  • I told my teacher that I forgot my homework when I really hadn’t done it.
  • I told Petey Nicolo I could beat him up when I knew I couldn’t.
  • I told Chickie Schmidt I could ride a big bike like hers when I had actually just fallen on my face off a smaller one.
  • I told Sister I wasn’t smoking in the girls’ room when my very own cousin Joanie threw me under the bus!

As you can see, I was your normal childhood compulsive liar – pretending to be and do lots of things I only wished I could be or do. But that’s just part of growing up. Like most people, I got over it when I began to realize the power and necessity of growing confidently into one’s true self.


People depend on us to be who we really are, to be the real deal. The value of our work and contributions to the world hinges on this. The depth and endurance of our relationships rest on such transparency and authenticity. Even our ability to love ourselves is rooted in honest self-awareness.


So how do we deepen in that kind of truthfulness, especially in a modern culture that so often abuses it? John tells us that love is the way:

Beloved, we love God because
God first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates their brother or sister , they are liars;
for whoever does not love the one they can see
cannot love God whom they have not seen.
This is the commandment we have from God:
Whoever loves God must also love their sister and brother.

1 John 4:19-21

Friends, we live in a culture drowning in lies. Some have come to believe that unless one lies, one cannot compete. Businesses lie to sell untested or worthless commodities. Manufacturers veil the danger of their drugs, tobacco and vaping products. Politicians lie to condemn their opponents and excuse themselves. Leaders lie to justify war. And criminals lie to hide their crimes.

These liars may never even consider that their tangled lives are related to the scriptures. But every one of these deceptions is fueled by a failure in reverence and love for our sisters and brothers, by a failure in courage to be responsible for and love one another.

We lie because we think our truth is not enough.
John tells us differently.
Our awesome Truth is that we all are God’s children!
And that is not only enough–it is EVERYTHING!


Our reading closes today with these words, so critical to the rebuilding of a truthful world:

In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey the commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep the commandments.
These are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

1 John 5:2-4

Let’s pray for one another’s courage, dear Friends,
to be and demand the Truth that Love requires.

Prose: from “Man’s Universe” by Rabindranath Tagore

On the surface of our being 
we have the ever-changing phases of the individual self,
but in the depth there dwells
the Eternal Spirit of human unity beyond our direct knowledge.
It very often contradicts the trivialities of our daily life
and upsets the arrangements made for securing our personal exclusiveness
behind the walls of individual habits and superficial conventions.
It inspires in us works that are the expressions of a Universal Spirit;
it invokes unexpectedly in the midst of a self-centered life a supreme sacrifice.
At its call, we hasten to dedicate our lives to the cause of truth and beauty,
to unrewarded service of others.

Music: True Heart – Oak Ridge Boys

Often, I use a popular song for prayer, allowing its words to speak to God for me.
You might like to try it with this song. No doubt intended as a human love song, it can be a divine love song too – and it’s sure a good wake up prayer 🙂

Making money they can hide away.
They never know what they’re working for.
All they think about is making more.
And every time the world spins round
There’s a few more hearts that can’t be found
‘Cause they never had nothing to hold on to
The way that I’m holding you.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
Some people spend day and night
Trying to love everybody in sight
They never know what love is for
All they think about is keeping the score.
And every time the world spins round
There’s a few more hearts that can’t be found
‘Cause they never had nothing to hold on to
The way that I’m holding you.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
Your true heart.
No they never had nothing to hold on to
The way that I’m holding you.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.

The Epiphany Star

January 2, 2022
The Epiphany of the Lord 

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we discover a star!

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem!  Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.

Isaiah 60:1-2

The journey to the Epiphany is repeated in each our lives – many times over. As we – like young Jesus – grow in age and grace, God continually calls us to new Lights, ever deeper into Love’s Divine Universe.

And we, like the determined Wise Ones, move closer – by whatever means we can – to the Promised Revelation. We have our own trusted “camels” which carry us toward Truth: meditation, spiritual reading, sacred song, prayerful journaling, holy silence, merciful service, Gospel love.

Faithful commitment to our soul’s journey leads us to God’s beautiful promise. It is a difficult and sometimes challenging journey, as our poem will attest. But it is not a hopeless, pointless, or endless one:

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.

Isaiah 60

In our second reading, Paul describes that “wealth” in these words:

“that we are heirs and partners 
in God’s promise in Christ 
through the Gospel.”

Ephesians 3:6

Poetry: Nativity Poem – Joseph Brodsky

Imagine striking a match that night in the cave:
Imagine crockery, try to make use of its glaze
To feel cold cracks in the floor, the blankness of hunger.
Imagine the desert – but the desert is everywhere.

Imagine striking a match in that midnight cave,
The fire, the farm beasts in outline, the farm tools and stuff;
And imagine, as you towel your face in the enveloping folds,
Mary, Joseph, and the Infant in swaddling clothes.

Imagine the kings, the caravans’ stilted procession
As they make for the cave, or, rather, three beams closing in
And in on the star, the creaking of loads, the clink of a cowbell;
(No thronging of Heaven as yet, no peal of the bell

That will ring in the end for the infant once he has earned it).
Imagine the Lord, for the first time, from darkness, and stranded
Immensely in distance, recognizing Himself in the Son
Of Man: His homelessness plain to him now in a homeless one.


Music: Magi Veniunt – Sistine Choir

Magi veniunt ab oriente Ierosolimam
quaerentes et dicentes:
Ubi est qui natus est [Rex Judaeorum]
cujus stellam vídimus?
Vidimus stellam eius in oriente,
et venimus [cum muneribus] adorare Dominum.
Interrogabit magos Herodes quod signum vidissent
super natum regem? Stellam magnam fulgentem
cuius splendor illuminat mundum et nos cognovimus.
Vidimus et venimus adorare Dominum

The wise men came from the East to Jerusalem
asking questions and saying:
Where is he that is born [King of the Jews],
whose star we have seen?
We have seen that star in the East,
and we have come [with gifts] to worship the Lord.
Herod questioned the magi what sign they had seen
above the new-born king? We recognized that brightly shining star
whose lustre lights the world and us.
We have seen, and have come to worship the Lord

The Last Hour…

December 31, 2021
Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this New Year’s Eve, our spirits are occupied with the passage of time – the endings and beginnings that compose a life.

In the public domain, this night is often characterized as one of wild celebrations, almost as if we need to prove our endurance within time.

But in the privacy of our hearts, there are the moments of quiet nostalgia, bittersweet memory, and inexpressible gratitude for all that has been in this past year and the years preceding.


On this Sacred Eve, as people of faith, we will hold time’s hourglass up to the Light of eternity, knowing that – in God – there is no time.

In God, there is only love – the only human capacity which endures beyond time. In heaven, we will not need faith because we will see. We will not need hope, because all will be fulfilled.

But we will always need love.

In the end, there are three things that last –
faith, hope, and love.
And the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13


Photo by Digital Buggu on Pexels.com

So before the tolls welcome midnight, let us raise up to God our Eucharist of 2021:

  • those whose lives have been completed; those who have just begun
  • the efforts we made which succeeded; those which failed
  • the dreams secured; the dreams abandoned
  • the opportunities for grace that we seized; those lost which we hope to reclaim
  • the prayers answered as we had desired; the prayers answered in ways we hadn’t expected
  • all that we have loved; all that we hope to love more worthily

As John says in our first reading,
“Children, it is the last hour …” 
May we let it go
with gratitude, wisdom and joy.

But as John also says in our Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God …
…. and from his fullness we have all received,
grace flowing upon grace …

May we welcome the grace
of eternal life and hope
given to us
in another New Year.

New Year’s Chimes by Francis Thompson, the English poet and Catholic mystic whose most famous poem is “The Hound of Heaven”. The poem is so worth your time if you can spare it. I take it in small doses to squeeze out the amazing imagery in every stanza.


What is the song the stars sing?
(And a million songs are as song of one)
This is the song the stars sing:
(Sweeter song’s none).

One to set, and many to sing.
(And a million songs are as song of one)
One to stand, and many to cling,
The many things and the one Thing,
The one that runs not, the many that run.

The ever new weaveth the ever old,
(And a million songs are as song of one)
Ever telling the never told;
The silver saith, and the said is gold,
And done ever the never done.

The Chase that’s chased is the Lord o’ the chase,
(And a million songs are as song of one)
And the Pursued cries on in the race;
And the hounds in leash are the hounds that run.

Hidden stars by the shown stars’ sheen;
(And a million suns are but as one)
Colours unseen by the colours seen,
And sounds unheard heard sounds between.
And a night is in the light of the sun.

An ambuscade of light in night,
(And a million secrets are but as one)
And a night is dark in the sun’s light,
And a world in the world man looks upon.

The world above in the world below,
(And a million worlds are but as one)
And the One in all; as the sun’s strength so
Strives in all strength, glows in all glow
Of the earth that wits not, and man thereon.

Braced in its own fourfold embrace
(and a million worlds are but as one)
And round it all God’s arms of grace,
The world, so as the Vision says,
Doth with its great lightning tramples on.

And the thunder bruiteth into thunder,
(And a million sounds are as sound of one)
From stellate peak to peak is tossed a voice of wonder
And the height stoops down to the depths thereunder,
And sun leans forth to his brother sun.

And the more ample years unfold
(With a million songs as song of one)
A little new of the ever old,
A little told of the never told,
Added act of the never done.

Loud the descant, and low the theme,
(A million songs are as song of one)
And the dream of the world is dream in dream,
But the one Is is, or nought could seem;
And the song runs round to the song begun.

This is the song the stars sing,
(Tunèd all in time)
Tintinnabulous, tuned to ring
A multitudinous-single thing
(Rung all in rhyme).

Blessed 2022, dear friends.


Music: Two songs — for “old times sake”?

Amazing Grace ~ Salt Lake City Vocal Artists

Auld Lang Syne – sung by Helmut Lotti

Into the Light

December 29, 2021
The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our first reading offers us John’s perfect honesty and simplicity:

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments
is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
But whoever keeps his word,
the love of God is truly perfected in him.
This is the way we may know that we are in union with him:
whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.

1 John 2:5-6

Yes, it’s that simple and that hard!


Then, in our Gospel, we meet Simeon who speaks with the holy confidence of a long and well-lived life. His lifelong dream was that he might not die before seeing the Messiah. That dream now fulfilled, Simeon intones one of the most beautiful prayers in Scripture:

Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

Luke 2: 29-32

If we live in the Light,
we too will see the Messiah
within our life’s experiences.
We too will come to our final days
confident and blessed
by that enduring recognition.

For as John also assures us:

Whoever says they are in the light,
yet hates their brother or sister is still in the darkness.
But whoever loves their brother and sister remains in the light …

1 John 2: 9-10

Let’s pray today for those who are dying, that they may know this kind of peace.

Let us pray for ourselves, that when our time comes, we too may experience this confidence.


Poetry: Nunc Dimittis – Joseph Brodsky
(from Joseph Brodsky, A Part of Speech by George L. Kline (NY: Noonday, 1996)
The poem is long but exceptionally beautiful I hope you can take the time to enjoy it.


‘Nunc Dimittis’

When Mary first came to present the Christ Child
to God in His temple, she found—of those few
who fasted and prayed there, departing not from it—
devout Simeon and the prophetess Anna.

The holy man took the Babe up in his arms.
The three of them, lost in the grayness of dawn,
now stood like a small shifting frame that surrounded
the Child in the palpable dark of the temple.

The temple enclosed them in forests of stone.
Its lofty vaults stooped as though trying to cloak
the prophetess Anna, and Simeon, and Mary—
to hide them from men and to hide them from Heaven.

And only a chance ray of light struck the hair
of that sleeping Infant, who stirred but as yet
was conscious of nothing and blew drowsy bubbles;
old Simeon's arms held him like a stout cradle.

It had been revealed to this upright old man
that he would not die until his eyes had seen
the Son of the Lord. And it thus came to pass. And
he said: ‘Now, O Lord, lettest thou thy poor servant,

according to thy holy word, leave in peace,
for mine eyes have witnessed thine offspring: he is
thy continuation and also the source of
thy Light for idolatrous tribes, and the glory

of Israel as well.' The old Simeon paused.
The silence, regaining the temple's clear space
oozed from all its corners and almost engulfed them,
and only his echoing words grazed the rafters,

to spin for a moment, with faint rustling sounds,
high over their heads in the tall temple's vaults,
akin to a bird that can soar, yet that cannot
return to the earth, even if it should want to.

A strangeness engulfed them. The silence now seemed
as strange as the words of old Simeon's speech.
And Mary, confused and bewildered, said nothing—
so strange had his words been. He added, while turning

directly to Mary: ‘Behold, in this Child,
now close to thy breast, is concealed the great fall
of many, the great elevation of others,
a subject of strife and a source of dissension,

and that very steel which will torture his flesh
shall pierce through thine own soul as well. And that wound
will show to thee, Mary, as in a new vision
what lies hidden, deep in the hearts of all people.’

He ended and moved toward the temple's great door.
Old Anna, bent down with the weight of her years,
and Mary, now stooping gazed after him, silent.
He moved and grew smaller, in size and in meaning,

to these two frail women who stood in the gloom.
As though driven on by the force of their looks,
he strode through the cold empty space of the temple
and moved toward the whitening blur of the doorway.

The stride of his old legs was steady and firm.
When Anna's voice sounded behind him, he slowed
his step for a moment. But she was not calling
to him; she had started to bless God and praise Him.

The door came still closer. The wind stirred his robe
and fanned at his forehead; the roar of the street,
exploding in life by the door of the temple,
beat stubbornly into old Simeon's hearing.

He went forth to die. It was not the loud din
of streets that he faced when he flung the door wide,
but rather the deaf-and-dumb fields of death's kingdom.
He strode through a space that was no longer solid.

The rustle of time ebbed away in his ears.
And Simeon's soul held the form of the Child—
its feathery crown now enveloped in glory—
aloft, like a torch, pressing back the black shadows,

to light up the path that leads into death's realm,
where never before until this present hour
had any man managed to lighten his pathway.
The old man's torch glowed and the pathway grew wider.

Music:  Nyne Otpushchayeshi ~Sergei Rachmaninoff (translated Nunc Dimittis, Now Let Your Servant Go). This was sung at Rachmaninoff’s funeral, at his prior request. (For musicians among you, point of interest: Nunc dimittis (Nyne otpushchayeshi), has gained notoriety for its ending in which the low basses must negotiate a descending scale that ends with a low B-flat (the third B-flat below middle C).

The Eternal Song

December 2, 2021
Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah promises the people that they will sing a song in the land of Judah.  It will be a song that celebrates confidence in God, justice, enduring faith, peace and trust.


Do you ever sing to God when your heart is filled like that? I don’t mean Church-singing or words somebody else wrote. 

I mean that sweet, indecipherable whisper a mother breathes over her child, or the mix of a hundred half-remembered melodies we hum when we are lost in the fullness of our lives.

And I don’t just mean the happy songs.

I mean the songs of loss and longing, awe and wonderment at life’s astounding turns. I mean even the sounds of silence when the refrain within us cannot be spoken.

When your heart is really stuck, unable to find the words to express the depth of your joy, longing or sorrow, try singing to God like that. So many times, I have done this while out on a solitary walk, or sitting by the water’s edge, or even driving on an open road. Sometimes, God even sings back!


Isaiah’s people were able to sing their song because they held on to faith and acted in justice. In our Gospel, Jesus tells us that this must be the way of our prayer too. He says that simply saying, “Lord, Lord” won’t cut it!

Real prayer is not just words. It is a life given to hearing God’s Word and acting on it. Real prayer is about always singing our lives in rhythm with the infinite, merciful melody of God.


Poetry: Every Riven Thing ~ Christian Wiman

God goes, belonging to every riven thing he’s made
sing his being simply by being
the thing it is:
stone and tree and sky,
man who sees and sings and wonders why

God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing he’s made,
means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
trying to will himself into a stillness where

God goes belonging. To every riven thing he’s made
there is given one shade
shaped exactly to the thing itself:
under the tree a darker tree;
under the man the only man to see

God goes belonging to every riven thing. He’s made
the things that bring him near,
made the mind that makes him go.
A part of what man knows,
apart from what man knows,

God goes belonging to every riven thing he’s made.


Music: Bless the Lord, My Soul – Matt Redman

The Last Day

November 27, 2021
Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we come – FINALLY – to the last day in Ordinary Time. And, believe me, the readings are as daunting as their predecessors suggested they would be.

They are so daunting that I will leave you to them if you wish, but I choose to close the Liturgical Year with another story I wrote years ago.

May the story inspire you as we stand on beautiful Advent’s doorstep. Within it, may you find love, hope, tenderness, mercy and gratitude to carry with you into the new Church Year.

The Earring

Young Emma, skewered by indecision, had stared into her mother’s jewelry box. She had always loved those bejeweled earrings, a gift to her mother from her grandmother—an heirloom now, a treasure beyond price. She wanted so to wear them on this special date, but they were “hands off” and she knew it. Still, her mother at work and unaware of her desire, Emma had succumbed to temptation.


The dance had been wonderful, a whirlwind of such delight that Emma had not noticed when her left earring had brushed against her partner’s shoulder, tumbling hopelessly under the dancers’ trampling feet. Only at evening’s end, approaching her front door exhausted and dreamy, had she reached up to unclip the precious gems.


Her mother sat waiting for her in the soft lamplight, having already noticed the earrings missing from her dresser. Awaiting retribution, Emma knelt beside her mother and confessed the further sacrilege of loss. But her mother simply cupped Emma’s tearful face in her hands, whispering, “You are my jewel. Of course I forgive you.”  Though accustomed to her mother’s kindness, this act of compassion astonished Emma, filling her with an indescribable, transformative gratitude.


Like Emma, we may be astonished at the graciousness that has been given to us. We may respond by pouring out our thanks to God in a silent act of prayer.

May we also have the courage to become like our merciful God, anticipating the other’s need for our forgiveness and compassion. May we seek the strength not to harbor injury, but too release it to make room for further grace in our hearts.


Advent 2021

I am so excited about Advent – my favorite time of the Church Year! The readings are magnificent — especially lyrical, prophetic Isaiah!

Advent offers us the wonderful call “to relish expectation” – to believe in, to hope for, and to love what we cannot yet see. It is a time of blind but unshakeable trust which teaches us to live within our deep, invisible spirit.

Looking forward to being with all of you tomorrow as we begin the journey through this season of profound hope.


Poetry: I Hear the Oriole’s Always-Grieving Voice – Anna Akhmatova

I chose this poem because it captures a spirit of hope – yet unrealized, but nevertheless convinced.

I hear the oriole’s always-grieving voice,
And the rich summer’s welcome loss I hear
In the sickle’s serpentine hiss
Cutting the corn’s ear tightly pressed to ear.
And the short skirts of the slim reapers
Fly in the wind like holiday pennants,
The clash of joyful cymbals, and creeping
From under dusty lashes, the long glance.

I don’t expect love’s tender flatteries,
In premonition of some dark event,
But come, come and see this paradise
Where together we were blessed and innocent.


Music: Gracias a la Vida – Mercedes Sosa and Joan Baez ( English lyrics below.) Thanks to my friend Beth who shared this lovely song on Facebook today.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me two beams of light, that when opened,
Can perfectly distinguish black from white
And in the sky above, her starry backdrop,
And from within the multitude The one that I love.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me an ear that, in all of its width
Records— night and day—crickets and canaries,
Hammers and turbines and bricks and storms,
And the tender voice of my beloved.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me sound and the alphabet.
With them the words that I think and declare:
“Mother,” “Friend,” “Brother” and the light shining.
The route of the soul from which comes love.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me the ability to walk with my tired feet.
With them I have traversed cities and puddles
Valleys and deserts, mountains and plains.
And your house, your street and your patio.

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me a heart, that causes my frame to shudder,
When I see the fruit of the human mind,
When I see good so far from bad,
When I see within the clarity of your eyes…

Thanks to life, which has given me so much.
It gave me laughter and it gave me longing.
With them I distinguish happiness and pain—
The two materials from which my songs are formed,
And your song, as well, which is the same song.
And everyone’s song, which is my very song.
Thanks to life

Thanks to life
Thanks to life
Thanks to life

Wake Up!

November 22, 2021
Memorial of St. Cecilia

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with a passage from Daniel for our Responsorial Psalm:

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our forebearers,
    praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
    praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages

Daniel 3:52

This week we continue with a series of readings from the Book of Daniel. It is the only time throughout the Liturgical Year that we get a good dose of Daniel. And it is well placed, coming in this final week before Advent.

The Prophet Daniel by Michelangelo (Sistine Chapel)

Daniel is apocalyptic literature, a genre which conveys the author’s perception of the end times through dreams, visions and prophecies. Like many of our readings of the past weeks, Daniel focuses us on God’s Final Coming into time by interpreting current circumstances in a spiritual light.


Today’s Gospel does the same thing, but in a little different way. 

Jesus tells the story of the poor widow who gave everything she had for the sake of the poor. This widow, in a sense, already lives in the “end times”, a time when our only “possessions” will be the good we have done in our lives.

Both these readings set us up to reflect on our lives and times as we approach Advent. This sacred season is the annual reenactment of Christ’s First Coming in order to prepare us for:

  • Christ’s daily revelation in our lives
  • Christ’s Final Coming at the end of time

All of Daniel’s complex visions and prophecies can feel a little confusing, but we can focus on this:

  • God is continually revealing Godself in the ordinary circumstances of time.
  • We can open ourselves to this revelation by our humble prayer and good works.
  • Staying awake like this in our hearts and souls will allow us to pass seamlessly into God’s Presence when the end times come.

Poetry: Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows (from Jerusalem) – William Blake

Awake! awake O sleeper of the land of shadows, wake! expand!
I am in you and you in me, mutual in love divine:
Fibres of love from man to man thro Albions pleasant land.
In all the dark Atlantic vale down from the hills of Surrey
A black water accumulates, return Albion! return!
Thy brethren call thee, and thy fathers, and thy sons,
Thy nurses and thy mothers, thy sisters and thy daughters
Weep at thy souls disease, and the Divine Vision is darkend:
Thy Emanation that was wont to play before thy face,
Beaming forth with her daughters into the Divine bosom
Where hast thou hidden thy Emanation lovely Jerusalem
From the vision and fruition of the Holy-one?
I am not a God afar off, I am a brother and friend;
Within your bosoms I reside, and you reside in me:
Lo! we are One; forgiving all Evil; Not seeking recompense!
Ye are my members O ye sleepers of Beulah, land of shades!

Music: Sleepers Awake from the beautiful album by Chris Wyton, “Music for Deep Meditation “

A Heart Beholding

November 20, 2021
Feast of Christ the King

For some, the lofty, politically-tinged title might obscure the rich devotion offered by this feast. The title “king” carries with it suggestions of exaggerated power, wealth and dominance not compatible with our Gospel perception of Jesus.

We may be more comfortable with images of Christ as infant, brother, shepherd, lamb, vine, gate, way, truth, life…

But what all these images point out is that our ability to comprehend the fullness of Christ is severely limited by our humanity. We usually choose a specific image based on our circumstances and spiritual needs.

Pope Pius XI promoted the concept of Christ the King in his 1925 encyclical Quas Primas, in response to growing international secularism and nationalism. His intent was not to compare Christ to the challenged world leaders of the time. It was to raise the perceptions of all people to the lessons of Divine Leadership: mercy, justice, inclusivity, and peace.

Oh, how we could benefit from the same understanding today! 

In this age with its culture of continual war, the human pain it causes, refugee crises, climate devastation, wealth distortion and indifference to the poor, how our hearts long for just, wise and loving leadership!

In his encyclical, Pius XI wrote:

Christ the King reigns “in the human hearts,” both by reason of the keenness of his intellect and the extent of his knowledge, and also because he is very truth, and it is from him that truth must be obediently received by all humanity. He reigns, too, in our wills, for in him the human will was perfectly and entirely obedient to the Holy Will of God, and further by his grace and inspiration he so subjects our free-will as to incite us to the most noble endeavors. He is King of hearts, too, by reason of his “charity which exceedeth all knowledge.”

— Quas primas, §7[4]

Let’s pray for these virtues for all who are charged with any form of power or leadership:

  • keen spiritual intellect
  • deep heart’s knowledge
  • uncompromising truth
  • obedience to grace
  • holy inspiration 
  • noble character
  • and surpassing charity for all Creation

May Christ the King truly live and reign among us. May we behold the “sweet light in His eyes”!


Poetry: A King Inside Who Listens - Rumi

There are many people with their eyes open
whose hearts are shut. What do they see?
Matter.

But someone whose love is alert,
even if the eyes go to sleep,
he or she will be waking up thousands of others.

If you are not one of those light-filled lovers,
restrain your desire-body's intensity.
Put limits on how much you eat
and how long you lie down.

But if you are awake here in the chest,
sleep long and soundly.

Your spirit will be out roaming and working,
even on the seventh level.

The Prophet says, I close my eyes and rest in sleep,
but my love never needs rest.

The guard at the gate drowses.
The king stays awake.

You have a king inside who listens
for what delights the soul.

That king's wakefulness
cannot be described in a poem.

Music: We Shall Behold Him – offered in American Sign Language by Kayla Seymour; sung by Sandi Patty

Thoughts of Heaven

November 20, 2021
Saturday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 9 and its beautiful verse which is echoed in several other Psalms:

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart;
    I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
    I will sing praise to your name, Most High.

Psalm 9: 2-3

Like so many of our readings lately, today’s point us toward a consideration of the “afterlife” or the “end times”. I know you may have had enough of such considerations, but the Church isn’t giving up quite yet!


Antiochus IV, wikipedia

Maccabees gives us a colorful account of the defeat, dismay and ultimate death of Antiochus IV, persecutor of the Jews. The account, like most of the Books of Maccabees, is primarily historical, not spiritual or theological. But threaded through the books, of course, is the underlying biblical orientation that God-Yahweh is present and active in all life’s circumstances.

Today’s passage has even pagan Antiochus considering how God/Fate has brought him to judgement- to “payback” time:

But I now recall the evils I did in Jerusalem,
when I carried away all the vessels of gold and silver
that were in it, and for no cause
gave orders that the inhabitants of Judah be destroyed.
I know that this is why these evils have overtaken me;
and now I am dying, in bitter grief, in a foreign land.

1 Maccabees 6:11-13

In our Gospel account, some Sadducees question Jesus about marriage laws and the afterlife. Their questioning reminds me of modern songwriter Eric Clapton’s musings in his song:

Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton

Jesus doesn’t sing to the Sadducees, as far as I know. Rather, he answers them this way:

Those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.

Luke 20:35-36

So for us today, the questions and concerns of both Antiochus and the Sadducees might lead us to consider how we feel about the “afterlife”.

Do you ever wonder what heaven will be like? Will we see our beloveds once again? Will we see our “unbeloveds” too and what will that be like!! Do you calculate whether or not you’ll even make the cut through the Pearly Gates?

When I think about heaven these two promises of Jesus sustain, comfort and animate me. Maybe you’ll consider their power too as you pray today.

I have come that you may have life,
and have it to the full.

John 10:10

Eternal life is this, that they know you,
the only true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

John 17:3

Poetry: Heaven-Haven (1864) – Gerard Manley Hopkins

A nun takes the veil

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail,
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

Music: Here’s a beautiful piece of music to accompany you in your “considerations”.

Nocturne No.20 in C-Sharp Minor – Frédéric Chopin, played by Joshua Bell