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!

Psalm 23: Darkness to Light

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Monday, March 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our revered Psalm 23. This powerful prayer of confidence and hope fits well with today’s readings.

In the passage from Daniel, the innocent Susanna never wavers in her trust:

O eternal God, you know what is hidden
and are aware of all things before they come to be:
you know that they have testified falsely against me. 
Here I am about to die,
though I have done none of the things
with which these wicked men have charged me.”
The Lord heard her prayer.

Daniel 13: 42-44

In our Gospel, the woman – though not innocent – stills finds refuge in Jesus’s mercy.

So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

John 8: 9-11

Like these two women, we may find ourselves in a dark valley at times. Whether we are innocent or guilty in arriving there, God abides with us in mercy. 

The key is to acknowledge our situation and to reach out to that Mercy. In that way, even though we encounter difficulty, as said in Psalm 23, we live in Light and not in shadow:

Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

Psalm 23: 5-6

Poetry: Light by Rabindranath Tagore

Light, my light, the world-filling light, 
the eye-kissing light, heart-sweetening light!

Ah, the light dances, my darling, at the center of my life; 
the light strikes, my darling, the chords of my love; 
the sky opens, the wind runs wild, laughter passes over the earth.

The butterflies spread their sails on the sea of light. 
Lilies and jasmines surge up on the crest of the waves of light.

The light is shattered into gold on every cloud, my darling, 
and it scatters gems in profusion.

Mirth spreads from leaf to leaf, my darling, 
and gladness without measure.
 The heaven’s river has drowned its banks 
and the flood of joy is abroad.


Laetare Sunday — Remember Joy!


In preparing for today’s reflection, I decided to look back a year ago to Laetare Sunday 2020. We were just beginning a very troubling and painful journey. We had no idea the depths to which it would take us. I hadn’t even learned to call our enemy “Covid”, as you will see. 

Yet as I read the past reflection in the light of where we are today, I was filled with awe, gratitude, sadness and remembrance.

I thought it might be good to offer the selection as a re-read for today as we stand on the brink of hope, Daylight Savings Time and a Spring that, for twelve terrible months, we couldn’t count on seeing.

As we begin to help one another heal, hope, and fully live again, let’s continue to pray for another. Thank you all for being part of the Lavish Mercy community whose prayer helped carry us all through these times.

May God bless you all  — and good health, good heart, good Spirit to every one of you.


Laetare! Rejoice! Lent has run half its distance to Easter.

I know it may be a bit difficult to rejoice in this Corona time, but think of this:
Spring has stepped over the horizon!  The long winter watch is over. But before we shake off its black velvet wraps for good, it might be well to think about what winter has taught us. It may strengthen us for this unusually challenging spring!

The stretch of time between November and April is all about waiting. Bulbs wait under the frozen earth.  Bears hibernate in the cold mountains.  Birds migrate, their old nests empty until the spring. All creation seems to enter a time of patience and unrealized expectation.  But it is not a time of desolation.  It is a time of hope for things yet unseen. Perhaps we can make our Corona time that kind of hopeful time.

We human beings also experience “winter” – not simply the seasonal one – but “winters of the spirit”.  We all go through times when our nests have been emptied; times when all the beautiful flowering aspects of our lives seem dormant; times when our vigor and strength seem to hide in the cave of depression or sadness.  These “winters” take many forms.  We may find ourselves sick of a job we had always loved. We may find a long, committed relationship wavering.  We may find the burdens of age or economics overwhelming us.  We may be the unwilling bearers of responsibilities we had not bargained for.

But if we listen, under the deep silence of waning winter, the wind rustles.  It carries the hint of a new season.  It carries the hope of the renewing cycle of our lives.  In that silence, we may be able to hear our own heartbeat more clearly.  We may come to a clearer understanding of what is most important in our lives.  In the stillness, we may be forced to know and understand ourselves in a deeper way.

In this time of global angst and uncertainty, I think of a powerful image from the works of St. Teresa of Avila.  St. Teresa imagines God as a warm healer leaning over our frozen world, setting free the beauty of our spirits. This is what she says:

And God is always there, if you feel wounded.
He kneels over this earth like a divine medic,
and His love thaws the holy in us.

Teresa of Avila

Every time you touch another person’s life,  — in these times, from at least six feet away — you have the chance to change winter into spring.  You have a chance to be like God.

Call someone who may feel very alone.  Be “Laetare” for them! Pray for someone suffering illness or loss. Send healing hopes to those you may not even know in distant places of our shared earth. Light, Easter rising and renewed life will come. Let us trust God and hold one another up as we wait.


Music: Laetare Jerusalem – Discantus

Laetáre Jerúsalem:
et convéntum fácite
ómnes qui dilígitis éam:
gaudéte cum laetítia,
qui in tristítia fuístis:
ut exsultétis, et satiémini
abubéribus consolatiónis véstrae.

Ps.: Laetátus sum in his quae dícta sunt míhi:
in dómum Dómini íbimus. 

Glória Pátri, et Fílio,
et Spirítui Sáncto.
Sicut erat in princípio,
et nunc, et semper,
et in saécula saeculórum. Amen. 

Laetáre Jerúsalem:
et convéntum fácite
ómnes qui dilígitis éam:
gaudéte cum laetítia,
qui in tristítia fuístis:
ut exsultétis, et satiémini
abubéribus consolatiónis véstrae.

Rejoice, O Jerusalem: 
and come together all you that love her: 
rejoice with joy you that have been in sorrow: 
that you may exult, 
and be filled from the breasts of your consolation

Ps.: I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: 
we shall go into the house of the Lord. 

Glory be to the Father, 
and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, 
is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Psalm 147: Count Your Blessings

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent

March 10, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 147, a poem filled with reasons to love and praise God. Today’s selected verses mention just a few of those reasons.

The blessings of security and family:

Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion,
who has strengthened the bars of your gates, 
who has blessed your children within you.

Psalm 147: 12-13

The blessings of diverse Creation:

The Lord sends out a command to the earth, 
and this word runs very swiftly.
The Lord gives snow like wool 
and scatters hoarfrost like ashes

Psalm 147: 15-16

The blessings of faith and religious heritage:

The Lord declares the word to Jacob, 
statutes and judgements to Israel.
The Lord has not done so to any other nation; 
to them these judgements have not been revealed.

Psalm 147: 19-20

Sometimes we spend a lot of energy praying over the things we think we need rather than recognizing all that we have.

This morning as I prayed, a personal thanksgiving psalm unfolded in my heart:

  • Hundreds of snow geese followed their yearly flight path right over my home, honking a symphony of hope.
  • The sun rose warm, tugging a clear promise of spring up over the horizon.
  • The Psalms lay open in my lap, a rich gift of the ages to my sometimes thin prayer.
  • My beloved communities slowly awakened and blossomed around me – my Mercy sisters, the toddlers in the daycare below me, the daily hum of the Motherhouse across the path outside my window, the buses carrying children to our Mercy schools
  • My family texting from their faraway homes.
  • I imagined myself as a small part of the magnificent communities described by beloved Pope Francis in Laudato Sí and Fratelli Tutti.
  • I felt those communities slowly beginning to recover from this past year’s devastation.
  • I prayed my sense of blessing into those still so deeply broken by global suffering, begging for their healing.

Gratitude for my blessings overwhelmed me, as it did our psalmist in #147:

Hallelujah!
How good to sing praise to our God;
how pleasant to give fitting praise.

Psalm 147:1

Poem: God Moves in a Mysterious Way – William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way,
    His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
    And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill;
He treasures up his bright designs,
    And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints fresh courage take,
    The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
    In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
    He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding ev'ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow'r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
    And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
    And he will make it plain.

Music: The Snow Goose – John Ritchie

Speaking of geese this morning, one of my all time favorite stories is “The Snow Goose” by Paul Gallico. I hope many of you have read it. It’s beautiful. I found a website that talks all about it, even with a Richard Harris movie included! For those who might be interested in a literary excursion 😀:

Psalm 105: Tell the Story

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

March 5, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105. Together with our other readings, the psalm allows us to participate in Israel’s great family storytelling.

Give thanks to the LORD, invoke God’s name;
make known among the peoples God’s deeds!
Sing praise to the Lord, play music;
proclaim all the Lord’s wondrous deeds!

Psalm 105: 1-2

Psalm 105 is one of two historical psalms. (The other is Psalm 78.) Its verses summarize an amazing catalogue of God’s faithfulness to Israel and invites the listeners to grateful praise and unfettered hope.


Today’s particular passage is chosen because it recounts the same incidents as our first reading – the story of Joseph. And Joseph’s story prefigures Jesus’s own story which he offers in parable form in today’s Gospel.

When the LORD called down a famine on the land
    and ruined the crop that sustained them,
He sent a man before them,
    Joseph, sold as a slave.

Psalm 105: 16-17

For us, the telling and re-telling
of relationship stories
is an important human rubric,
practiced at
crowded Thanksgiving tables,
at relaxed summer reunions,
and at our inevitable bereavements.


Eventually, with enough retellings, a story becomes part of our family or friendship canon. Thence forward, it gains new dimension. Just like the canon of the Mass, whose formula becomes beautifully rote to us, the story now may be endlessly repeated without being exhausted. In its retelling, it always reveals something new and confirms something old.

Seek out the LORD and the Lord’s might;
constantly seek God’s face.
Recall the wondrous deeds God has done
for you and your beloved ones

Psalm 105: 4-5

In fact, such a story becomes a kind of sacrament, carrying within it the mysterious and unwordable blessings of what it means to live, love, die, and believe. 

Each human story is, in some form, a re-enactment of Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection. The faith, courage, humor, pathos, genius and serendipity of our lives carry the graces to make us holy, to make us Love as Jesus was Love.

When we gratefully retell the history of those graces – as Psalm 105 does today – we practice a powerful ritual of faith. By such liturgy, we are invited to the same grateful praise and unfettered hope as we meet in Psalm 105.

The LORD, is our God
whose judgments reach through all the earth.
Who remembers forever the covenant,
the word commanded for a thousand generations.

Psalm 105: 8-9

Poetry: The Storyteller – Mike Jones

I’m a teller of tales, a spinner of yarns,
A weaver of dreams and a liar.
I’ll teach you some stories to tell to your friends,
While sitting at home by the fire.
You may not believe everything that I say
But there’s one thing I’ll tell you that’s true
For my stories were given as presents to me
And now they are my gifts to you.

My stories are as old as the mountains and rivers
That flow through the land they were born in
They were told in the homes of peasants in rags
And kings with fine clothes adorning.
There’s no need for silver or gold in great store
For a tale becomes richer with telling
And as long as each listener has a pair of good ears
It matters not where they are dwelling.

A story well told can lift up your hearts
And help you forget all your sorrows
It can give you the strength and the courage to stand
And face all your troubles tomorrow.
For there’s wisdom and wit, beauty and charm
There’s laughter and sometimes there’s tears
But when the story is over and the spell it is broken
You’ll find that there’s nothing to fear

My stories were learned in my grandparent’s home
Where their grandparents also had heard them
They were given as payment by travelling folk
For a warm place to lay down their burdens
My stories are ageless, they never grow old
With each telling they are born anew
And when my story is ended, I’ll still be alive
In the tales that I’ve given to you.

Music: The Story I’ll Tell – Morgan Harper Nichols 

Psalm 130: The Depths

Friday of the First Week of Lent

February 26, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 130, the De Profundis. This is a transformative prayer whose power we may not fully realize.

Have you ever been disappointed with God? Have you ever let God know it in your prayer? 

Psalm 130 is the psalmist’s complaint to God that things are as bad as they can get and God doesn’t appear to care. It is a plea – even a demand- for God to pay attention and do something. (See my poem, sent a little later, called “These Things”.)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
    LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to my voice in supplication.


But Psalm 130 is not just a private complaint. As well as being a penitential psalm, 130 is marked as a “Psalm of Ascent”. This means that it was sung by the community as they went to the Temple to worship.

Psalm 130 carries the tone of a national or global lament. It has the feeling of a deeply bruised people bearing a desperate hope mixed with some bewilderment. It is a feeling we all recognize.

Remembrance of Lives Lost to Covid 19

Yesterday in my neighborhood, we had our first hint of spring weather. On a short walk, I met a few people whose winter-weary eyes, above their masks, held a spark of resurrection hope.

With distribution of COVID vaccines, hope for deliverance from the pandemic surfaces like a tentative bud. We are starting the slow ascent from the depths we have all shared. We are on our way to the temple of thanksgiving and praise.


But Psalm 130 reminds that, on that ascent, fully voicing our lament is imperative for true healing. In reference to the pandemic, and to any other devastation we face in life, we must be honest with God about our fear, confusion, sadness, hopelessness, and shaken faith … about our disappointment in God, our splintered expectations which need healing.

If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
    LORD, who can stand?

It is only by asking God how these things – whatever they might be – could be allowed to happen to us, or to any of God’s beloved, that we will open ourselves to the Divine answer – a mystery too deep for words.

I trust you, LORD;
    my soul trusts in your word.
My soul waits for you
    more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
    Let me wait for the LORD.

Such prayer heals, leading us to a deeper, truer relationship with God.

For with the LORD is kindness
    and plenteous redemption;
And the Lord will redeem Israel
    from all their suffering and sin.

Poetry: Spring – Mary Oliver

Somewhere
a black bear
has just risen from sleep
and is staring

down the mountain.
All night
in the brisk and shallow restlessness
of early spring

I think of her,
her four black fists
flicking the gravel,
her tongue

like a red fire
touching the grass,
the cold water.
There is only one question:

how to love this world.
I think of her 
rising
like a black and leafy ledge

to sharpen her claws against 
the silence
of the trees.
Whatever else

my life is
with its poems
and its music
and its cities,

it is also this dazzling darkness
coming 
down the mountain,
breathing and tasting;

all day I think of her –
her white teeth,
her wordlessness, 
her perfect love.

Music: Pié Jesu – Michael Hoppé

Psalm 32: Forgiveness

Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

February 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 32, a classic penitential psalm.

It is an uncomplicated description of repentance and forgiveness which, nevertheless, discloses profound insights into the human spirit.

Blessed is the one whose fault is taken away,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed the one to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
    in whose spirit there is no guile. 

Psalm 32:1-2

This relational sequence of confession and forgiveness is probed in depth in Psalm 32 (where) the speaker describes his silence and his consequent bodily disability (vv. 3–4). One can observe in the psalm an inchoate theory of repression that became definitive for Sigmund Freud. Repression immobilizes, says the psalmist! The abrupt move in verse 5 concerns the process of making his sin known, saying it aloud, confessing it.

It is confession that makes forgiveness possible. It is denial that precludes assurance and that immobilizes the perpetrator.

Walter Brueggemann, From Whom No Secrets Are Hid

Praying with Psalm 32 this morning reminded me of a story I wrote a few years ago.

The Earring

Young Emma, skewered by indecision, had stared into her mother’s jewelry box. She had always loved those silver 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.

As we pray Psalm 32, there may be a great forgiveness we are thankful for, or just the small kindnesses that allow us to rise each morning with joy and hope. Perhaps there is a memory of compassion, like Emma’s, that we treasure—one that in turn has made us kinder and more honest.

But maybe, on the other hand, there is a “lost earring”, never acknowledged. With time, that unacknowledgement burrows deeper into the spirit restricting our capacity to love.

Psalm 32 reminds us that God is our Mother waiting in the lamplight to cup our face with love, to receive our joyful thanks for divine mercies. 

For this shall every faithful soul pray to you 
    in time of stress.
Though deep waters overflow,
    they shall not reach us. 

Psalm 32:6

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. May we seek the strength not to harbor injury, but too release it to make room for further grace in our hearts.


Poetry: FIRST FORGIVENESS - Irene Zimmerman
The usually mild evening breeze
became a wailing wind
when the gates clanged shut behind them. 
They shivered despite their leathery clothes
as they searched for the fragrant blossoms
they’d grown accustomed to sleep on,
but found only serpentine coils
that bit and drew blood from their hands. It was Eve who discovered the cave.
When she emerged, she saw Adam
standing uncertainly at the entrance. A river of fire flooded her face
as she remembered his blaming words—
“The woman you gave me,
she gave me fruit from the tree,
and I ate.”

“Spend the night wherever you choose,”
she told him bitterly.
“You needn’t stay with me.” Long afterwards, when even the moon’s
cold light had left the entrance
and she’d made up a word
for the hot rain running from her eyes,
she sensed Adam near her in the dark. His breath shivered on her face.
“Eve,” he moaned,
“I’m sorry. Forgive me.” In the darkness between them
the unfamiliar words
waited, quivering.
She understood their meaning
when she touched his tears.

Music: Father, I Have Sinned – Eugene O’Reilly

Our story above was about a “prodigal daughter”. Our music is about a “prodigal son”.

Psalm 24: The Gates Are Lifted

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

February 2, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray once more with Psalm 24, still knocking on God’s door. As it is the Feast of the Presentation, we might picture Anna and Simeon murmuring this psalm as they await the appearance of their Savior.

Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
    reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!

Psalm 24: 7

Anna and Simeon longed for the promised Redemption. They hoped and believed that Creation would be restored by the Messiah. They waited faithfully in the dark for the Light to come. And on that wondrous morning, sparks flew through the Temple door wrapped in a baby blanket!


In pre-Vatican II days, we nuns had sparse communication with our families. Throughout my over 1000 days of initial formation, I spoke with my mother fewer than 30 times. I stood it well because I was all wrapped up in my new life. But Mom languished. She pined for me and for our little daily chats.

So when the post-Vatican II era hit, Mom got on that phone. She called me every night just about seven o’clock – a brief, but treasured, check-in. Mom likened our phone calls to Stevie Wonder’s popular song at that time. Every now and again, even though it has been over thirty years, I still long for that ring.

For Mom and me, the gates had been unlocked, the lintels lifted up. The ancient portals had opened at the touch of John XXIII and his like-minded buddies. A mother-child light flowed back into us. We were both renewed by the reconnection.


On the Feast of the Presentation, we pray with Anna and Simeon, two so deeply practiced in prayer. As the child Jesus was carried into the Temple that morning, the plea of Psalm 24 was answered before their eyes. In our prayer today, let us joyfully welcome God into our hearts. Let us talk and walk with God as easily as we might with a beloved parent or a dearest friend on any given evening.

Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
    reach up, you ancient portals,
    that the God of glory may come in!

Poem: You, neighbor God, if sometimes in the night — Rainer Maria Rilke

You, neighbor God, if sometimes in the night
I rouse you with loud knocking, I do so
only because I seldom hear you breathe
and know: you are alone.
And should you need a drink, no one is there
to reach it to you, groping in the dark.

Always I hearken. Give but a small sign.
I am quite near.
Between us there is but a narrow wall,
and by sheer chance; for it would take
merely a call from your lips or from mine
to break it down,
and that without a sound.

The wall is builded of your images.
They stand before you hiding you like names.
And when the light within me blazes high
that in my inmost soul I know you by,
the radiance is squandered on their frames.

And then my senses, which too soon grow lame,
exiled from you, must go their homeless ways.

Music: He Walks with Me – Anne Murray

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The son of God discloses

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks and the sound of his voice
Is so sweet, the birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

Psalm 31: An Inextinguishable Light

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

February 1, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 31 which assures us that we can rest in God’s love if we will just hope.

Let your hearts take comfort,
all who hope in the Lord.

Psalm 31: 25

Hope can be a complex virtue to understand.
The Catholic Catechism describes Hope in this way:
Hope is the theological virtue
by which we desire the kingdom of heaven
and eternal life as our happiness,
placing our trust in Christ’s promises
and relying not on our own strength,
but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.
(CCC 1817)


This definition offers an important key. The kind of hope we are praying about in our psalm is a “virtue”, not a feeling. And in particular, hope is one of the three theological virtues which, according to the brilliant Thomas Aquinas means this:

… these virtues are called theological virtues
“because they have God for their object,
both in so far as by them we are properly directed to Him,
and because they are infused into our souls by God alone,
as also, finally, because we come to know of them
only by Divine revelation in the Sacred Scriptures”.



Now, you know, Thomas wasn’t probably that fun to talk with, given all that theological Latin. But, wow, he nailed this one.

What I think he meant, in other words, is that we are not talking about the feeling of hope, as when we put a soufflé in the oven and hope it doesn’t collapse. Or when we study like crazy and hope the right questions are on the exam. Or even when, more importantly, we make a life choice like marriage or religious life and hope it will bring us a fulfilling, lasting joy.

These kinds of “hopes” might be better defined as optimistic expectations. If they fail to be fulfilled, we might give up on them, perhaps even stop trying to achieve the kind of joy they promised. (That’s a whole other reflection! 🙂 )

Instead, the Hope we are praying about today is not a feeling. It is a gift, given by God and nurtured by our faithful practice of scriptural prayer.

Just like “Life” which is breathed into us by God without any cooperation of our own, the virtue of Hope – along with Faith and Love – is infused into our souls in God’s loving act of creation.

And just like the principle of life,
Faith, Hope, and Love
reside in us forever.


These theological realities can be hard to grasp. To make it easier, I turn them into images for my prayer. I picture Faith, Hope and Love as three small but inextinguishable candle flames deep in my spirit. God is the One who fires their light and warmth.

The circumstances of my life, chosen or imposed, can affect my ability to see and feel the power of these gifts. But circumstances cannot extinguish them because they belong to God not to me.

Once I said in my anguish,
    “I am cut off from your sight”;
Yet you heard the sound of my pleading
    when I cried out to you.

Psalm 31: 23

By prayer, and the faithful effort to be open to God’s Presence in my life, these virtues deepen in me. I can rest assured in their divine constancy. Their power and energy fuel my life both in the favorable and unfavorable “winds” of my circumstances.

Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones!
    The LORD keeps those who are constant,
    but more than requites those who act proudly.

Psalm 31: 24

I found this tender transliteration of Psalm 31 by Christine Robison helpful for my prayer:

I have come to you, O God, please, take me in.
Hear my prayers, be my rock, my stronghold, my castle.
Help me untangle myself from the web of confusions 
and self-deceptions that I’m stuck in.

I put my trust in you—I give you my life.
I have turned
from the temptation to trust the ten thousand things.
I have turned
from the temptation to despair of your love and help.

I have learned
to see you in my sorrows and afflictions
A lot of my life went by before I managed this,
which makes me sad.

Now, I practice trust and open-hearted acceptance
of my life as it is.
Now I practice trust and open-hearted acceptance
of You as You are.

Poetry: Hope – Lisel Mueller

It hovers in dark corners
before the lights are turned on,
it shakes sleep from its eyes
and drops from mushroom gills,
it explodes in the starry heads
of dandelions turned sages,
it sticks to the wings of green angels
that sail from the tops of maples.

It sprouts in each occluded eye
of the many-eyed potato,
it lives in each earthworm segment
surviving cruelty,
it is the motion that runs
from the eyes to the tail of a dog,
it is the mouth that inflates the lungs
of the child that has just been born.

It is the singular gift
we cannot destroy in ourselves,
the argument that refutes death,
the genius that invents the future,
all we know of God.
It is the serum which makes us swear
not to betray one another;
it is in this poem, trying to speak.

Music: Lavender Shadows – Michael Hoppé

Psalm 111: Keeping the Promise

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

January 19, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111, a song of reassurance and hope.

God, renowned for grace and mercy,
Who gives to those living in awe,
will forever be mindful
of the covenant once promised.

Psalm 111: 4-5

It is a wonderful thing when we can trust someone to remember a promise made to us. Psalm 111 tells us we can trust God like that.

Maybe some of you share this experience. When I was a little girl, my Dad often did the food shopping. Sometimes, he went to the new “big store” (supermarkets were the new thing in the early ‘50s). When he did, I always asked him to remember to bring me a surprise, and he never forgot. 

Usually the surprise would be a little bag of M&Ms or Hershey kisses. But once it was a carrot- remarkably like the carrots he bought for the week’s cooking!

Had Dad forgotten his promise,
or was he just in to a healthier form of surprise?😂😉


Sometimes it feels like that with God’s Promise. Its fulfillment doesn’t always come to us in the ways we expect or pray for. Instead of special, surprising sweetness, God’s signs feel like carrots … ordinary carrots that we see every day, that we mix into the soup of our daily unsurprising lives.

Our Alleluia Verse today is a good prayer when our life seems full of “carrots”:

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.

Ephesians 1: 17-18

May our eyes be enlightened to see God’s Promise fulfilled in the amazing blessings of our lives:

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
    in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
  exquisite in all their delights.

Psalm 111: 1-2

My Dad loved me with all his heart and would have given me anything good that was in his power to give.

We can be assured, as in Psalm 111, that all- powerful God is like that too. It’s just that sometimes those good things look like ordinary carrots and we need enlightened eyes to recognize their exquisiteness.


Poetry: Mindful – Mary Oliver

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Music: Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Chorus:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.