Out of Gloom, LIGHT!

Friday of the First Week of Advent
December 2, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120222.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah once again promises light despite the darkness, understanding despite the emptiness, life despite the devastating hold of poverty.

Thus says the Lord GOD:
But a very little while,
and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard,
and the orchard be regarded as a forest!
On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book;
And out of gloom and darkness,
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD,
and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 29:18-19

Isaiah’s promises shone a beacon of hope to the oppressed people of his time. As I pray with his words today, I am deeply aware of the oppressions of our own time and the people who suffer under them.

Over the course of these days, I am praying with a delegation of people currently in Central America to remember, bless, learn from, and bear witness to the lives of four martyrs.


http://www.share-elsalvador.org/el-salvador-and-honduras-roses-delegation.html


The Roses in December delegation marks the 42nd anniversary of the martyrdom of four U.S. women religious. On December 2, 1980, members of the U.S.-trained-Salvadoran National Guard raped and killed lay worker Jean Donovan, Maryknoll Sisters Ita Ford, MM, and Maura Clarke, MM, and Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, OSU. The women had been accompanying the Salvadoran people displaced by war and poverty. Their witness cost them their lives. Their deaths shook the world and were emblematic of the violence suffered by the Salvadoran people and the power of accompaniment.

These women lived with the kind of hope and faith Isaiah describes. It is an active faith necessary in all times because, sadly, in all times there will be brutal and inhuman oppression of the vulnerable by the powerful. These woman chose to stand for the Gospel instead.


During an earlier anniversary of the Roses in December event, social justice activist Jean Stolkan asked the question, “What do these women call us to today?” Jean served in El Salvador herself and has continued to advocate for human rights and social justice. Jean is currently Social Justice Coordinator for the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. She offered these insights in answer to her question:

The challenges we face today are different from the challenges we faced when the four church women died. They call for new perspectives and new structures, new vision and new social movements to adequately respond to the need for justice for present and future generations.

Today our hearts go out to the peoples of El Salvador and Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, as they struggle with basic issues of survival and rebuilding of their lives after so many disasters: hurricanes and earthquakes, but also violence and poverty. We pray for an outpouring of compassion and solidarity, that we may continue to address in systemic ways the underlying human failings – structural poverty, racism, violation of human rights, destruction of the environment – that these and other natural and human disasters unmask with such brutal clarity.

Please join your own prayer today
for a new flowering of social justice,
respect for human rights,
and a mutual reverence for our common home
as we remember these valiant Gospel women.

Poetry: El Salvador – Javier Zamora

( Poet Javier Zamora was born in the small El Salvadoran coastal fishing town of La Herradura and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine, joining his parents in California. He earned a BA at the University of California-Berkeley and an MFA at New York University and was a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.)

Salvador, if I return on a summer day, so humid my thumb
will clean your beard of  salt, and if  I touch your volcanic face,

kiss your pumice breath, please don’t let cops say: he’s gangster.
Don’t let gangsters say: he’s wrong barrio. Your barrios

stain you with pollen, red liquid pollen. Every day cops
and gangsters pick at you with their metallic beaks,

and presidents, guilty. Dad swears he’ll never return,
Mom wants to see her mom, and in the news:

every day black bags, more and more of us leave. Parents say:
don’t go; you have tattoos. It’s the law; you don’t know

what law means there. ¿But what do they know? We don’t
have greencards. Grandparents say: nothing happens here.

Cousin says: here, it’s worse. Don’t come, you could be    ...    
Stupid Salvador, you see our black bags,

our empty homes, our fear to say: the war has never stopped,
and still you lie and say: I’m fine, I’m fine,

but if  I don’t brush Abuelita’s hair, wash her pots and pans,
I cry. Like tonight, when I wish you made it

easier to love you, Salvador. Make it easier
to never have to risk our lives.

Music: El Salvador – Peter, Paul and Mary

“El Salvador” is a 1982 protest song about United States involvement in the Salvadoran Civil War, written by Noel Paul Stookey and performed by Peter, Paul and Mary. The song originally appeared on the 1986 album No Easy Walk To Freedom.

There’s a sunny little country south of Mexico
Where the winds are gentle and the waters flow
But breezes aren’t the only things that blow in El Salvador

If you took the little lady for a moonlight drive
Odds are still good you’d come back alive
But everyone is innocent until they arrive in El Salvador

If the rebels take a bus on the grand highway
The government destroys a village miles away
The man on the radio says: “now, we’ll play South of the Border”

And in the morning the natives say
“We’re happy you have lived another day
Last night a thousand more passed away in El Salvador”
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh

There’s a television crew here from ABC
Filming Rio Lempe and the refugees
Calling murdered children: “The Tragedy of El Salvador”

Before the government camera twenty feet away
Another man is asking for continued aid
Food and medicine and hand grenades for El Salvador

There’s a thump, a rumble, and the buildings sway
A soldier fires the acid spray
The public address system starts to play: “South of the Border”

You run for cover and hide your eyes
You hear the screams from paradise
They’ve fallen further than you realize in El Salvador
La la la, la la la la
La la la, la la la la la
Ooh, ooh ooh ooh ooh

Just like Poland is protected by her Russian friends
The junta is assisted by Americans
And if sixty million dollars seems too much to spend in El Salvador

They say for half a billion they could do it right
Bomb all day and burn all night
Until there’s not a living thing upright in El Salvador

And they’ll continue training troops in the USA
And watch the nuns that got away
And teach the military bands to play: “South of the Border”

Killed the people to set them free
Who put this price on their liberty
Don’t you think it’s time to leave El Salvador?
Oh, oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh

Another New Day

Thursday of the First Week of Advent
December 1, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/120122.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah tells us that – “on that Day“, God’s People will sing a new song:

On that day they will sing this song in the land of Judah:
 “A strong city have we;
        God sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
    Open up the gates
        to let in a nation that is just,
        one that keeps faith.

Isaiah 26:1-2

It is the song of a People who have recognized God’s abiding, protective Presence in their lives. That realization impels them to respond in faith and to open their lives ever more radically to God’s constant graces.


And so it is with us.
As we deepen in our trust
that God is with us in every circumstance,
and as we choose to live out of that trust,
our hearts too open
to ever deeper relationship with the Holy.


In our Gospel, Jesus says that this kind of faith is more than words. It is action, choice, presence, witness — all of which declare, “I choose to anchor my life in God and to invite God’s Mercy to live through me.”

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise person who built their house on rock. 
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.”

Matthew 7: 21;24-25

Just what are “these words” of Jesus
to which we must listen and respond?

Today’s Gospel passage comes from the first of the Five Discourses in Matthew’s Gospel by which Jesus teaches the New Law of Love. This first discourse holds treasures like the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule.

These are the “words” Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel passage — words we must hear and act on in order that God will recognize us “on that Day“. Maybe, if you have a little time, you might like to read through Matthew, chapters 5-7, to savor this First Discourse.


Poetry: Let’s use today’s Responsorial Psalm as our poem-prayer. In it, God’s People celebrate God’s Mercy which has brought them to the “gate” of a new relationship of gratitude and trust with the Holy One.

Give thanks to the LORD, Who is good, 
    Whose mercy endures forever.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
    than to trust in human appearances.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
    than to trust in human power. 

Open to me the gates of justice and mercy;
    I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This gate is the LORD’s;
    the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
    and have been my savior.

O LORD, grant salvation!
    O LORD, grant prosperity!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD;
    we bless you from the house of the LORD.
    The LORD is God, and has given us Light.

Psalm 118:1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a

Music: The Breath at Dawn – Gary Schmidt – some lovely music to start your “new day”.

That Day Is Today!

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
November 29, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112922.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah greets us once again with the inspiring phrase, “On that day …”

That day … the one whose dawning we are all awaiting, when all shall be complete and well in God:

There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.

Isaiah 11:9

How will we know when that day has come? Will it be dramatically different from today or yesterday? Will time have paused and the world be turned upside down? 

Or will it simply be that in my heart – right here and now – a “new day” has dawned?


Isaiah indicates that the “new day” is potentially present in the day we have, that when we see experience through God’s eyes, the stagnated stump of our lives blossoms in sacred possibility. 

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

Isaiah 11: 1

What a glorious description Isaiah offers us of the world transformed by the longed-for Messiah, that shoot which shall sprout from the stump of Jesse:


The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A Spirit of counsel and of strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Isaiah 11:2-5

As we pray these magnificent words this morning, we should let them thrill us with the truth that the “new day” has come! Indeed, since Christ has transformed us through his Incarnation, that “new day” dawns through us when we choose to live our lives impelled by its graces.


In our Gospel, Jesus says we can live in that divine possibility simply by trusting God the way a child trusts.

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike. 
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. 
All things have been handed over to me by my Father. 
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Luke 10:21-22

Let’s know and believe that Jesus turns to us as well as we pray today’s Gospel:

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Luke 10:23-24

Poetry: Advent Good Wishes – David Grieve

I found this poem in a book by one of my favorite poets, Malcolm Guite. It’s a great book for Advent if you are interested.

Give you joy, wolf, 
when Messiah makes you meek 
and turns your roar into a cry that 
justice has been done for the poor. 
Give you joy, lamb, 
when Messiah saves you from jeopardy  
and all fear is overwhelmed 
by his converting grace. 
Give you joy, wolf and lamb together, 
as Messiah brings worldwide peace 
and, side by side, you shelter  
under Jesse’s spreading shoot.

Music: Memory – Trevor Nunn / Thomas Stearns Eliot / Andrew Lloyd-webber / Otto Eckelmann

In this beautiful song from Cats, the writers tap some of the same feelings Isaiah calls up – acknowledgement of the night, hope for the morning, and trust that “that new day” can begin.

Face to Face

Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
November 26, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112622.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we come to the end of our readings from Revelation.  ( I can hear a few of you muttering, “Thank goodness!”) They have been challenging, to say the least.

The passage from Luke’s Gospel today is just as confronting.  God is serious about wanting our complete love!


Our prayer over these past few days has led us to deeper understanding of a challenging truth: life as we know it will be transformed and we will be judged at the transformation.

But hopefully our reflections have also assured us that the Master and Judge of Life is the same merciful God who forgave and healed the sinful and suffering.

By our faithfulness to this merciful God, we will be redeemed. Revelation puts it this way:

The servants of God
will look upon God’s face,
and God’s name
will be on their foreheads.


When a person is filled with goodness (or evil), we often say it is “written all over her face”.  So it is with those who love and long for God and for God’s peaceable kingdom.

God will recognize us at the judgment because our hope and desire for God are written all over our face. And God’s love for us will be written all over that Divine Countenance as we see it clearly for the first time! And once more, as Catherine McAuley might say, “Oh what a joy, even to think of it!”


Poetry: In Memoriam A.H.H. – Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) was the Poet Laureate of England during much of Queen Victoria’s reign. A number of phrases from Tennyson’s work have become commonplace in the English language, including “Nature, red in tooth and claw” (“In Memoriam A.H.H.”), “‘Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all”, “Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die”, “My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure”, “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”, “Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers”, and “The old order changeth, yielding place to new”. He is the ninth most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

Below is the first section of the poem. It is a requiem for the poet’s beloved Cambridge friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly, aged 22. It contains some of Tennyson’s most accomplished lyrical work, and is an unusually sustained exercise in lyric verse. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest poems of the 19th century. (Wikipedia)

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
   Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
   By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
   Thou madest Life in man and brute;
   Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Thou seemest human and divine,
   The highest, holiest manhood, thou.
   Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

Our little systems have their day;
   They have their day and cease to be:
   They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
   For knowledge is of things we see
   And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
   But more of reverence in us dwell;
   That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
   We mock thee when we do not fear:
   But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem'd my sin in me;
   What seem'd my worth since I began;
   For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
   Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
   I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
   Confusions of a wasted youth;
   Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

If you would like to read the entire poem, follow this link:

https://poets.org/poem/memoriam-h-h


Music: The Face of God – Karen Drucker

Faithful Forever

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
November 23, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112322.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy,  our Responsorial Verse captures the essence of all the readings:

Rev 2_10JPG

It’s one of those scripture passages that makes one want to say, “Oh, really? Is that all?” 

Because, you know, it’s a pretty tall order to remain faithful until death. Sometimes it’s a real pinch to remain faithful for a week! 


Remember that exercise bike you bought in January 2020? Yeah, that one with your yoga pants, umbrella, and assorted tote bags hanging on it.

Or what about that South Beach diet book you’re using to prop open the closet door? How did all that faithfulness work out?

So, given our very human condition, what is the “faithfulness” these readings enjoin?

I believe it is not a faithfulness that never fails.

Rather, it tries. When it does fail, it believes in and seeks forgiveness. It trusts, even in its weakness. It is grateful, abiding, and loving. It is not afraid to begin again and again, because our faithfulness depends on God’s mercy not our strength.


When we were young nuns making our final vows, this phrase was part of our commitment: 

“… and to persevere, until death …” 

One of our wise leaders, Mother Bernard, told us, “Don’t pray for final perseverance. Pray to be worthy of it.”


I think we become worthy of perseverance by that trusting faithfulness which turns again and again into Mercy’s waiting, understanding arms. It is a faithfulness that fully believes these words from the Book of Lamentations:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
so great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3: 22-23

Poetry: What God Hath Promised – Annie Johnson Flint (1866-1932) was born in Vineland, NJ. Incapacitated by severe arthritis, she started composing religious poetry, and became “a renowned writer across the Christian world.” Her popular poems include He Giveth More Grace and Christmas Carols, which were published in Christian Endeavour World and Sunday School Times. (Wikipedia)

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,

Unfailing sympathy, undying love.


Music: Great Is Thy Faithfulness – Westminster Abbey

This is probably not the most perfect rendition of this beautiful hymn, but I just love seeing all these various people singing their praise. Imagine all of the stories and histories of faith woven through this worshipping congregation — and each one of them grateful for God’s faithfulness. As Catherine McAuley would say, “Oh what a joy even to think of it!”

The Winepress

Memorial of Saint Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr
November 22, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112222.cfm

Rev 14_19 furyJPG

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we are struck, once again, with Revelation’s images of the end time!

  • a crowned Christ wielding a sharp sickle
  • angels commanding the final harvest of the earth

and perhaps the most powerful

  • the earth’s vintage thrown into the great winepress of God’s fury!

This author could write! We can almost imagine the scene, filmed with all the pyro-technics of today’s computer age.

But besides the amazing imagery,
what does the passage say to our hearts?

In Biblical symbolism, the winepress almost always stands for judgment. The passage reminds us that we all will be judged.  The divine winepress will compress the sinful gaps that plague our human existence.  In the end time, there will be no “other” — no judgmental spaces separating us from one another.  We will all be one, like wine mingled.

We will be judged on how we lived that oneness in this life, on where we have stood in the worldly gap between the:

  • rich and poor
  • well and sick
  • citizen and refugee
  • abled and disabled
  • powerful and vulnerable

The questions for us as we pray today amy be these:

  • Do we live in ignorance or indifference to those who suffer on the other side of the human scale?
  • Have we been impervious to the imbalances of justice and charity in this world?
  • And how do we respond?

The passage suggests that we do some weeding of our spiritual gardens before the harvest of our souls. The intention of this fiery writer is to tell us that we still have a little time to do so.

Photo by Yan Krukov on Pexels.com

Poetry: Barnfloor and Winepress – Gerard Manley Hopkins

And he said, If the Lord do not help thee, whence shall I help thee?
out of the barnfloor, or out of the winepress? 
2 Kings VI: 27

Thou that on sin's wages starvest, 
Behold we have the joy in harvest: 
For us was gather'd the first fruits, 
For us was lifted from the roots, 
Sheaved in cruel bands, bruised sore, 
Scourged upon the threshing-floor; 
Where the upper mill-stone roof'd His head, 
At morn we found the heavenly Bread, 
And, on a thousand altars laid, 
Christ our Sacrifice is made! 
Thou whose dry plot for moisture gapes, 
We shout with them that tread the grapes: 
For us the Vine was fenced with thorn, 
Five ways the precious branches torn; 
Terrible fruit was on the tree
In the acre of Gethsemane; 
For us by Calvary's distress
The wine was racked from the press; 
Now in our altar-vessels stored
Is the sweet Vintage of our Lord.
In Joseph's garden they threw by 
The riv'n Vine, leafless, lifeless, dry: 
On Easter morn the Tree was forth, 
In forty days reach'd heaven from earth; 
Soon the whole world is overspread; 
Ye weary, come into the shade.
The field where He has planted us
Shall shake her fruit as Libanus, 
When He has sheaved us in His sheaf, 
When He has made us bear his leaf. - 
We scarcely call that banquet food, 
But even our Saviour's and our blood, 
We are so grafted on His wood. 

Music:  The Day Is Surely Drawing Near – written by the prolific 16th century Lutheran hymnist Bartholomaüs Ringwaldt. This piece is a majestic instrumental rendering, but if you would like to see the words, they are below. 

1 The day is surely drawing near
When Jesus, God’s anointed,
In all His power shall appear
As judge whom God appointed.
Then fright shall banish idle mirth,
And flames on flames shall ravage earth
As Scripture long has warned us.

2 The final trumpet then shall sound
And all the earth be shaken,
And all who rest beneath the ground
Shall from their sleep awaken.
But all who live will in that hour,
By God’s almighty, boundless pow’r,
Be changed at His commanding.

3 The books are opened then to all,
A record truly telling
What each has done, both great and small,
When he on earth was dwelling,
And ev’ry heart be clearly seen,
And all be known as they have been
In thoughts and words and actions.

4 Then woe to those who scorned the Lord
And sought but carnal pleasures,
Who here despised His precious Word
And loved their earthly treasures!
With shame and trembling they will stand
And at the judge’s stern command
To Satan be delivered.

5 My Savior paid the debt I owe
And for my sin was smitten;
Within the Book of Life I know
My name has now been written.
I will not doubt, for I am free,
And Satan cannot threaten me;
There is no condemnation!

6 May Christ our intercessor be
And through His blood and merit
Read from His book that we are free
With all who life inherit.
Then we shall see Him face to face,
With all His saints in that blest place
Which He has purchased for us. 

7 O Jesus Christ, do not delay,
But hasten our salvation;
We often tremble on our way
In fear and tribulation.
O hear and grant our fervent plea;
Come, mighty judge, and make us free
From death and ev’ry evil.

The Times of Our Lives

Saturday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
November 19, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111922.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings are challenging. 

Revelation, a very complex book of the Bible, uses symbols, prophecies and allegorical references to make its point. There are huge bodies of scholarship written in the attempt to interpret these passages.

Our Gospel has Jesus describing what it will be like in heaven – when our human perceptions will be erased and we will finally be absorbed into God’s understanding.

These are BIG thoughts and my mind, at least, needs some more manageable inspirations for my morning prayer.  So here’s how I prayed with these readings today.

Lit yr flowerJPG

What both passages share are continual references to time – past, present and future. They reference then-time, now-time, and to-be-time. These passages, and others in Scripture like them, talk about time like this:

  • “in the days before” (then time)
  • “in the days after” (to -be time)
  • “in the day of” (now time)

So what is this day, November 19th, for me?
How is God revealing Love to me in this, my time? 

Today is among “the days after” the last memorable thing that happened in my life – maybe a good thing, maybe not so much. In “the days after”, we spend time with a completed event – learning, savoring, or perhaps regretting and recovering. The “days after” are a time to pray for grace and blessing over what cannot be changed.

Today is also among “the days before” the next big events of my life. So my prayer includes a petition for new and continued courage, hope and enthusiasm for life.

And, most importantly, today is “a day of”. I ask God to help me see and receive the graces of this present moment – not to miss them because I am looking only back or forward. Let me look God square in the eye on this day, which is the only place that I can really find the God Who is always Now.


The entire liturgical year is built on this understanding of time. 

  • Advent and Lent are “the days before”, the days of preparation, anticipation, imagining, creating, hoping.
  • The feasts like Christmas, Easter and Pentecost are “the days of”, days of celebrating, loving, being with.
  • The various Octaves are “the days after”, days of remembering, thanking, appreciating, understanding, mourning, forgiving and savoring
lit yr

Where are you today in the times of your life? It may be in a very different place from what is printed on the calendar. The events of our lives create their own personal liturgies.

No matter where that happens to be, let us meet God there with full and open hearts.


Poetry: from Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.
Other echoes
Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?


Music: God of All My Days – Casting Crowns

Promises, Promises!

Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
November 18, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111822.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our longest Psalm 119. 

This morning, we take one little morsel from its extended string of reflections :


The word “promise” can evoke a range of responses from us. Indeed, they are sweet as the psalmist says. But they can also be elusive, ephemeral, and easily broken. I know I’ve have made a few promises in my lifetime that have fizzled away unfulfilled. Haven’t you?

On the other hand, there are some promises, kept, that have rooted and defined my life. These, made in the bud, have blossomed in a long, tendered fidelity. They have dug the deep roots of trust for the essential relationships of my life with God, beloved neighbor, and all Creation.


Such vital promises can be made and kept when we act in the image of God, the loving and faithful Promise Keeper described in Psalm 119:

Your word, LORD, stands forever;
it is firm as the heavens.
Through all generations your truth endures;
fixed to stand firm like the earth.Psalm 119: 89 – 90


Like the psalmist, we pray:

  • to be imitators of God who is always faithful.
  • to be promise-keepers in response to the trust God has placed in us by the gift of our creation.
  • to meditate on, and understand in our hearts, the divine order of God’s immutable Law of Love

Poetry: Psalm 119 – Christine Robinson

Dear God, The seed of your love is deep within
every molecule of the universe, and it abides through time.
The laws of the cosmos serve your purpose to the end.
If I remember this, I can abide all manner of trouble.
If I delight in this, it gives me life.
I belong to you to my very core.
Holding firm to that knowledge, I can live my life in love.
All things will come to and end.
And in the end all will be One
My mind is filled with your Way
Making me wise like a teacher or an elder.
Mastering my life in your way gives me purpose.
Many times I use it to guide my steps.
My mouth waters and my heart softens to consider your Way.

Music: God Hath Not Promised – Annie Johnson Flint

This charming 19th century hymn captures the faithful spirit of it composer whose life, though beset by suffering, radiated faith and joy. 

Read more about her life here

A Dance of Praise

Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
November 17, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111722.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 149 which calls the community to sing and dance because God has delivered them.

This happy, celebratory summons is set, contrastingly, between two readings that mention weeping.

Then I saw a mighty angel who proclaimed in a loud voice,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth
was able to open the scroll or to examine it.
I shed many tears because no one was found worthy
to open the scroll or to examine it.

Revelation 5: 2-4

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem,
he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
“If this day you only knew what makes for peace–
but now it is hidden from your eyes.

Luke 19: 41-42

The readings leave us with a sense that there is a secret to eternal life –
a secret to which only grace can open our eyes and hearts.


John writes that “the Lion of Judah” has the key:

One of the elders said to me, “Do not weep.
The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed,
enabling him to open the scroll with its seven seals.”

Revelation 5: 5-6

Jesus, Uncreated Grace, is the Lion of Judah. He has incarnated the sacred key in his Life, Death, and Resurrection. For those who receive him and share his life, the door is opened, the scroll unrolled.

So what is the path to such union with Jesus? 


Our psalm contains a brief line tucked at its center which foreshadows the entire message of the Gospel. 

Let them praise God’s name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves us,
and adorns the lowly with victory.

We will find a dancing, singing joy when we give ourselves to these truths:

  • God loves us irrevocably
  • We can fully receive this great love to the degree that we become like Christ whose image we find among the poor, lowly, and suffering.

Poetry: Dance from Rumi

Come to me, and I shall dance with you
In the temples, on the beaches, through the crowded streets
Be you man or woman, plant or animal, slave or free
I shall show you the brilliant crystal fires, shining within
I shall show you the beauty deep within your soul
I shall show the path beyond Heaven.
Only dance, and your illusions will blow in the wind
Dance, and make joyous the love around you
Dance, and your veils which hide the Light
Shall swirl in a heap at your feet.

Music:  Psalm 149 – Antonín Dvořák

Our Splendid God

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
November 16, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/111622.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we move deeper into the final weeks of Ordinary Time. Our readings continue to offer us images about what it will be like at the end of time.  

In our passage from Revelation, we are given an ornate and exuberant description of how the author envisions God’s “headquarters”, so to speak. With all its gems and thrones and crowns and flaming torches, the passage can be a little overwhelming. But what is the core message? I think it is this:

God is the Splendid Creator. Despite time’s destruction, Creation will be ultimately perfected by our Perfect God. Believing this, we are called to awe-filled worship and gratitude, as spoken in these two verses from the passage:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty,
who was, and who is, and who is to come.”

Revelation 4:8

“Worthy are you, Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things;
because of your will they came to be and were created.”

Revelation 4:11

Today’s Gospel about the talents reminds us that we each have been given particular gifts with which to build up God’s Creation. Like the watchful Master, God expects – and needs – us to use these gifts, and to increase their value by sharing them with our sisters and brothers.

Sometimes we think we have no real gifts to give. But the witness of a simple, faithful, generous life is beyond price.

We may want to spend some prayer time reflecting on the many gifts we have been given – by God and by those who love us, and how we might offer these in worship to our Splendid Generous God.


Poetry: Advice to a ProphetRichard Wilbur (1921 – 2017) was an American poet and literary translator. One of the foremost poets of his generation, Wilbur’s work, composed primarily in traditional forms, was marked by its wit, charm, and gentlemanly elegance. He was appointed the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1987 and received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry twice, in 1957 and 1989.

In Wilbur’s poem, we get a different vision of what the end of times might be like, and how we might respond to the prophet who describes such times.

When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,
Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,
Not proclaiming our fall but begging us
In God's name to have self-pity,

Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,
The long numbers that rocket the mind;
Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,
Unable to fear what is too strange.

Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.
How should we dream of this place without us?—
The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us,
A stone look on the stone's face?

Speak of the world's own change. Though we cannot conceive
Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost
How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost,
How the view alters.  We could believe,

If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip
Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,
The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,
The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip

On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn
As Xanthus once, its gliding trout
Stunned in a twinkling.  What should we be without
The dolphin's arc, the dove's return, 

These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?
Ask us, prophet, how we shall call
Our natures forth when that live tongue is all
Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken

In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean
Horse of our courage, in which beheld
The singing locust of the soul unshelled,
And all we mean or wish to mean.

Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose
Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding
Whether there shall be lofty or long standing
When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.

Music: We Have Gifts to Share – Susan Kay Wyatts – This is a childlike song, but the point is profound. For those with young children and Grands, you might like to share this song with them.