Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the final prayer of Tobit for our Responsorial Psalm.

The Church has  followed Tobit’s story for a little over a week. We have seen a man who, even through his dramatic ups and downs, remains a steadfast believer. 

For Tobit, the exigencies of his life do not dictate the intensity of his faith. Rather, that intense faith fuels his response to life.

The Lord scourges and then has mercy;
    casts down to the depths of the nether world,
    and brings up from the great abyss.
No one can escape the Lord’s hand.
So now consider what the Lord has done for you,
    and give praise with full voice.
Bless the Lord of righteousness,
    and exalt the King of ages.

Tobit 13: 2,6

Tobit realized that his faith stood as a sign to others. He preached by his attitude in life, not so much by his words:

In the land of my exile I praise him
    and show his power and majesty to a sinful nation.

Tobit 13:7

Written from a place of exile, the Book of Tobit gives us good advice to sustain faith in our own small “exiles”. Always bless and praise God. Find the points of light and joy. Cling to and celebrate them.

Bless the Lord, all you his chosen ones,
    and may all of you praise his majesty.
Celebrate days of gladness, and give the Lord praise.

Tobit 13:8

Tobit is a make-believe person. But our Gospel shows us a real woman who embodies the simple, steadfast faith which the Book of Tobit preaches. She also preached with her actions rather than her words.

Although she had little, she lived out of her abundance not her scarcity. That abundance was fired by the God she believed in and trusted, as was the faith of apocryphal Tobit.

As we pray with Tobit and the widow, we might share with them our own faith, both its strengths and it weaknesses, asking to draw inspiration and courage from their stories.


Poetry: This Place of Abundance – Catherine of Siena
~ from Love Poems from God – Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
by Daniel Ladinsky

We know nothing until we know everything.
    I have no object to defend
    for all is of equal value
    to me.

I cannot lose anything in this
place of abundance
I found.

    If something my heart cherishes
    is taken away,
    I just say, “Lord, what
    happened?”

And a hundred more
appear.

Music: Live Like You’re Loved – Hawk Nelson

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

June 3, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 128 which is a recounting of how blessed we are when we live in God’s Presence.

Our Gospel reveals the clear and essential key to attaining that Presence – love of God and neighbor.

The scribe in today’s Gospel is well on his way to living in God’s embrace.

We might choose to go with him to Jesus today to ask what is most important for us as we continually try to open our lives to God’s grace.

How can we increase
our understanding, strength, and charity
in our everyday choices?
….
How can we love more like God loves?


Poetry: Love as if … by Vinita Hampton Wright

Love as if loving is the first thing on your to-do list.
Love as if you have no other plan but to love.
Love as if you are confident that love makes good things happen.
Love as if this is your first opportunity to love.
Love as if this is your last opportunity to love.
Love as if loving can heal all wounds.
Love as if loving is your first purpose on earth.
Love as if loving is your favorite choice.
Love as if you have that kind of power.
Love as if it will keep the earth spinning in vast, beautiful space.

Music: You Shall Love the Lord with All Your Heart

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

May 31, 2021


A “Women’s Feast”?

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation, when a newly-pregnant Mary travels to be with her shockingly pregnant older cousin, Elizabeth. Although a universal feast, it is certainly a feast for women to treasure.

The Carmignano Visitation, a unique masterpiece by one of sixteenth-century Italy’s greatest painters, Jacopo da Pontormo (1494-1557)

The Gospel is replete with the quiet but powerful understandings women share with one another:

  • the haste to support one another
  • the blessing and bolstering of each other’s faith
  • the shared joy to cause a baby’s leap in the womb
  • the desire for mercy and justice for the suffering
  • the “staying with” until need’s end

Of course, men too experience many of these holy sensibilities, but today most certainly invites women to celebrate the gifts of God within their bodies, minds and spirits.

Perhaps we might pray on these things while watching this movie clip of the imagined scene:


Poetry: Two poems to honor the two blessed women of this scene

The Visitation by Joyce Kilmer
(For Louise Imogen Guiney)

There is a wall of flesh before the eyes
Of John, who yet perceives and hails his King.
It is Our Lady’s painful bliss to bring
Before mankind the Glory of the skies.
Her cousin feels her womb’s sweet burden rise
And leap with joy, and she comes forth to sing,
With trembling mouth, her words of welcoming.
She knows her hidden God, and prophesies.
Saint John, pray for us, weary souls that tarry
Where life is withered by sin’s deadly breath.
Pray for us, whom the dogs of Satan harry,
Saint John, Saint Anne, and Saint Elizabeth.
And, Mother Mary, give us Christ to carry
Within our hearts, that we may conquer death.


Visitation Villanelle by Sarah O’Brien

She came to me, the mother of my Lord,
and grinned with amazement at the sight.
All creation with me seemed to roar.

Grey haired, belly swollen like a gourd,
I stood to kiss her in the morning light.
She came to me, the mother of my Lord.

Her voice, as she crossed the threshold of my door,
rang through my womb –  from a great height,
all creation with me seemed to roar.

The baby leapt – tethered only by the cord.
The joy coursing through us! I shouted outright.
She came to me, the mother of my Lord.

Already she faced her share of the sword
She who believed all God said would be, might –
All creation with me seemed to roar.

Blessed one! With your yes you moved us toward
the home we long for, and all things made right.
She came to me, the mother of my Lord.
All creation with me seemed to roar.


Music: Also two selections for this wonderful Feastday:

Ave Maria (Schubert) sung in German, as Schubert wrote it, by the incomparable Marian Anderson


Magnificat (Bach)
Imagine composing this powerful first movement based on only a single word: “Magnificat

Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

May 27, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 33. It is a song of extravagant praise to the Creator of a universe which extends infinitely both within and without us.


Our readings call us to be aware – to see – this infinite power and generosity of God, and to order our life upon the abundance of that vision.

Our lyrical passage from Sirach includes this:

How beautiful are all God’s works!
    even to the spark and fleeting vision!
The universe lives and abides forever;
    to meet each need, each creature is preserved.
All of them differ, one from another,
    yet none of them has God made in vain,
For each in turn, as it comes, is good;
    can one ever see enough of their splendor?

Sirach 15:22-25

In Mark’s Gospel, a blind man – one who longs to see – cries out for Jesus:

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called the blind man, saying to him,
“Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus.
Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?”
The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.
Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Mark 10:49-52

God is calling us too, as we pray Psalm 33, to be grateful, to trust, to SEE the wonders around and within us:

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.
Sing to God a new song;
skillfully play with joyful chant.
For the LORD’s word is upright,
and works are trustworthy.
God loves justice and right.
The earth is full of the mercy of the LORD.

Psalm 33:2-5

This kind of seeing is more than just looking.
It is letting go of prefabricated expectation.
It is waiting in trust for the Invisible
to capture our hearts.

Prose: from de Chardin

Seeing. One could say that the whole of life lies in seeing — if not ultimately, at least essentially. To be more is to be more united — and this sums up and is the very conclusion of the work to follow. But unity grows, and we will affirm this again, only if it is supported by an increase of consciousness, of vision. That is probably why the history of the living world can be reduced to the elaboration of ever more perfect eyes at the heart of a cosmos where it is always possible to discern more. Are not the perfection of an animal and the supremacy of the thinking being measured by the penetration and power of synthesis of their glance? To try to see more and to see better is not, therefore, just a fantasy, curiosity, or a luxury. See or perish. This is the situation imposed on every element of the universe by the mysterious gift of existence. And thus, to a higher degree, this is the human condition.”
(Pierre Teilhard de Chardin: The Human Phenomenon, trans. Sarah Appleton-Weber, p. 3)

Music: Vision of Change by Back to Earth

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 15, 2021

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

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

Psalm 47: 2-3

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

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

Psalm 47: 8-9

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

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


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

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

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Music: A New Commandment

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

May 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 47, one of seven enthronement psalms which celebrate a “coronation” of God.

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

Psalm 47: 1

Used for the feast of the Ascension, the point of the psalm is much more than an exercise of pageantry. It is an act of faith and reverence to God, the Loving Omnipotence who chose to redeem us by assuming our humanity.

It is a confirmation that we believers do see the Supreme Being in the human Jesus we have come to love. This is what Paul prays for the Ephesians in our second reading:

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might,
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1:18-21

The Great Commission, found in today’s Gospel, is the true gift of the Ascension.

Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:15

Jesus tells us that his time on earth is complete. The lesson of Love has been taught. We now are given the power to continue the message for all time. 

Jesus promises that our faith will:


overcome evil
-create new possibilities to preach the Gospel
-show courage against antagonism
-resist suppression
-heal and strengthen others to believe

These signs will accompany those who believe:

-in my name they will drive out demons,
-they will speak new languages.
-They will pick up serpents with their hands,
-drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.


If we believe and open our hearts to this message, indeed, it is a day for trumpet blasts! Here are a few from one of my favorite triumphal pieces! If the Apostles had only had trumpets, they might have played something like this for the Lord as He ascended 🙂

Poetry: Ascension Sonnet – Malcolm Guite

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.

We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,

Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,

His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed.

Music: Psalm 47 – Rory Cooney

Sixth Sunday of Easter

May 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98, an exuberant celebration of God’s predilection and fidelity toward Israel. But at the same time, it is a call to recognize God’s love for ALL Creation:

The LORD has made his victory known;
has revealed his triumph in the sight of the nations

Psalm 98;2

If we read the whole psalm, we might imagine all Creation assembled like a magnificent choir and orchestra – something like a supersized Mormon Tabernacle Choir. As the psalm progresses, the choirmaster-psalmist incorporates successive components into an awakened awareness until there is one universal melody of praise.


First, in a theme we met recently, the call to a NEW song:

Sing a new song to the LORD,
who has done marvelous deeds…
..remembering mercy and faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

Psalm 98: 1-3

Next, the vocals and the instruments 

Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth;
break into song; sing praise.
Sing praise to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
shout with joy to the King, the LORD.

Psalm 98: 4-6

Then nature’s  “orchestra”

Let the sea and what fills it resound, the world and all who dwell in it!

And even the suggestion of tambourine dancers along the river’s edge

Let the rivers clap their hands
the mountains shout with them for joy,
before the LORD who comes,
who comes to govern the earth,
To govern the world with justice
and the peoples with fairness.

Psalm 98: 8-9

This inclusive psalm serves our other readings so well. The early Church in Acts has folded the Gentiles into the chorus.

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said,
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.”

Acts 10: 34-35

And Jesus gives us the underlying truth that, in his Love, we are ALL part of this cosmic symphony:

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.

This is my commandment:
love one another as I love you.

Poetry: Shoulders – Naomi Shihab Nye

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.
No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.
This man carries the world's most sensitive cargo
but he's not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.
His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy's dream
deep inside him.
We're not going to be able
to live in this world
if we're not willing to do what he's doing
with one another.
The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

Music: OK – it’s not the Mormon Tabernacle 😀 but it captures the spirit for me! I hope it puts you in the rhythm too, beloveds!

Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

May 3, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19 in which the psalmist draws on nature’s beauty to praise God.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day;
    and night to night imparts knowledge.

Psalm 19: 2-3

Psalm 19 is used today to highlight the apostolic work of Philip and James who chose to declare the Gospel by their lives.

We note that these men are no longer called simply “disciples” or learners of the Word. They are now “apostles”, charged with spreading the Word for the benefit of all.

In our Christian vocations, we each are called to live both these aspects of our call. We are continual learners of the faith through our prayer, reading, and listening.  At the same time, we have an apostolic charge to spread the Gospel by the way we live.


This double call was clearly proclaimed through Vatican II in the magnificent document Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

I remember with great joy how this document, with its companions, released a surge of enthusiastic faith in the People of God when published in the 1960s. Many of us read and re-read our paperback copies of the Documents until they have long since fallen apart.

There is a Kindle edition available, but now when I want to be refreshed by their power, I access them for free on my iPad at the Vatican site:


Here is a favorite passage I used today to inform my prayer on this feast of two apostles

Lumen Gentium
(The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church)
promulgated by Pope Paul VI

The laity are gathered together in the People of God and make up the Body of Christ under one head. Whoever they are they are called upon, as living members, to expend all their energy for the growth of the Church and its continuous sanctification, since this very energy is a gift of the Creator and a blessing of the Redeemer.

The lay apostolate, however, is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord. Moreover, by the sacraments, especially Holy Eucharist, that charity toward God and our brothers and sisters which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished. Now the laity are called in a special way to make the Church present and operative in those places and circumstances where only through them can it become the salt of the earth. Thus every lay person, in virtue of the very gifts bestowed upon them, is at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself “according to the measure of Christ’s bestowal”.

Besides this apostolate which certainly pertains to all Christians, the laity can also be called in various ways to a more direct form of cooperation in the apostolate of the Hierarchy. This was the way certain men and women assisted Paul the Apostle in the Gospel, laboring much in the Lord. Further, they have the capacity to assume from the Hierarchy certain ecclesiastical functions, which are to be performed for a spiritual purpose.

Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all persons of each epoch and in every land. Consequently, may every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church.


This morning’s question:
how am I hearing
and responding
to my apostolic call?

Poetry: An Apostle’s Prayer – Edward Henry Bickersteth, Bishop of Exeter (1825-1906)

My God, my Father, let me rest
In the calm sun-glow of Thy face,
Until Thy love in me express’d
Draws others to Thy throne of grace.

O Jesu, Master, let me hold
Such secret fellowship with Thee,
That others, careless once and cold,
Won to my Lord and theirs may be.

Eternal Spirit, heavenly Dove,
The light of life to me impart,
Till fire descending from above
Burns on and on from heart to heart.

O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Still, still may love to love respond;
And teach me, when I love Thee most,
Depths all unfathom’d lie beyond.

Music: The Call – from Five Mystical Songs – Vaughan Williams

Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath;
such a truth as ends all strife;
such a life as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast;
such a feast as mends in length;
such a strength as makes a guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move:
such a love as none can part;
such a heart as joys in love.

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 1, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98, an invitation to believe and rejoice in God’s Presence in our lives.

O Lord, You have made known the victory,
You have openly showed your righteousness
in the sight of the nations

Psalm 98: 2-3

In our first reading, as many Jews reject the invitation to Christian faith, the Apostles turn to the Gentiles with their evangelization:

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this
and glorified the word of the Lord. 
All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.

Acts 13: 48-49

But our Gospel passage reminds us that the exercise of faith demands an openness to God’s presence. Poor Philip seems to be missing the fact that Jesus – God – is right there with him!

Philip’s statement, “Show us the Father and it will be enough for us” translates like this for me: prove everything and then we can believe. I smile at Philip’s simplicity but then realize I am not that different from him. I often ask for proof of God’s Presence in my circumstances completely forgetting the fact that God is already and always there!


When thinking about faith, these two complementary passages both challenge and sustain me. I pray with them often:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

But hope that is seen is not hope.
Who hopes for what they already have?
But if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently.

Romans 8:24-25

This kind of Resurrection faith and hope allow us to receive and rejoice in the Good News the Apostles preach in Acts today, and to proclaim it as encouraged in our Psalm:

Sing a new song to the Lord, who has done marvellous things,
whose mighty hand and holy arm have won the victory.
O Lord, You remember your mercy and faithfulness toward us,
and all the ends of the earth have seen your victory, O God.
Shout with joy to the Lord, all you lands;
lift up your voice, rejoice and sing.

Psalm 98: 1-4

Poetry: Flickering Mind – Denise Levertov 

Lord, not you
it is I who am absent.
At first
belief was a joy I kept in secret,
stealing alone
into sacred places:
a quick glance, and away -- and back,
circling.

I have long since uttered your name
but now
I elude your presence.
I stop
to think about you, and my mind
at once
like a minnow darts away,
darts
into the shadows, into gleams that fret
unceasing over
the river's purling and passing.

Not for one second
will my self hold still, but wanders
anywhere,
everywhere it can turn.  Not you,
it is I am absent.

You are the stream, the fish, the light,
the pulsing shadow.
You the unchanging presence, in whom all
moves and changes.

How can I focus my flickering, perceive
at the fountain's heart
the sapphire I know is there?

Music: Prayer- From Moses in Egypt, an oratorio by Giaocchino Rossini

In the opera, Moses in Egypt, Moses leads the community in a prayer of hope before the crossing of the Red Sea.

I couldn’t find a suitable English translation, but the original Italian is below. As with many gorgeous operatic arias, I am just as happy not to translate. The music itself speaks and often the actual words pale in comparison. Hear what “speaks” particularly to you in this lovely music.

Dal tuo stellato soglio,
Signor, ti volgi a noi!
Pietà de’ figli tuoi!
Del popol tuo pietà!
Pietà de’ figli tuoi!
Del popol tuo pietà!
Se pronti al tuo potere
Sono elementi, e sfere,
Tu amico scampo addita
Al dubbio, errante piè!
Pietoso Dio! ne aìta’:
Noi non viviam, che in Te!
In questo cor dolente
deh, scendi, o Dio clemente,
e farmaco soave
tu sia di pace almen!
Il nostro cor che pena
deh! tu confronta almen!

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

April 30, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 2 which, at the beginning of the Psalter, highlights the centrality of King David to Israel’s faith.

For Christians, the archetype of King David serves as point of insight to explore who Jesus Christ is for us. Of course we know that Christ is God, but we have no direct experience of God. So we try to understand God through symbols which, although inadequate, give us a context to form our relationship with God.

Psalm 2 gives us two such archetypal symbols: king and son. For us, that combination signals not only Christ’s power but the fact that it is directly derived from God. Christ’s power is divine, just as the Creator’s power is divine.

Because of that divine intimacy, the “King-Son” may ask and will receive whatever is requested.


Ask of me and I will give you
    the nations for an inheritance
    and the ends of the earth for your possession.

Psalm 2; 8-9

Christ’s whole life – Passion, Death, and Resurrection – was that Messianic “Ask” foretold in David. Through Jesus, we too become daughters and sons of God. This is the Good News the disciples preach in today’s first reading. 

We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you
that what God promised our fathers
God has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus,
as it is written in the second psalm,
    “You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”

Acts 13:33

This is the Way, the Truth and the Life that Jesus offers in today’s Gospel.

“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?” 
Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. 
No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14: 5-6

The gender-heavy symbols of king and son don’t speak strongly to me, but the image of Christ as my “Requestor” does. I think this morning of another Gospel assurance that I love:

I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing,
and they will do even greater things than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 14: 12-14

Dear Jesus, may we learn what it is
to live fully in your Name.



Music: What a Beautiful Name – Hillsong