Friday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
June 9, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, you might be reminded of your younger days when you read our passage from Tobit.

Tobiah’s mom is worried about his long absence. He was sent off on an erand to retrieve his Dad’s money, but he’s been busy getting married and catching magic fish. So he probably hasn’t taken the time to “call home”.

Meanwhile, Anna has sat watching the road by which her son was to return. When she saw him coming, she called to his father, “Look, your son is coming, and the man who traveled with him!”

Tobit 11:5-6
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Tobias in the House of His Father and Mother

Did your parents ever keep a vigil like this for you? Maybe after a date that went too long? Or an assigned journey to which you added a few stops of your own? Wouldn’t Mom and Dad have been glad to see you coming home, like Tobiah, with a guardian angel by your side – instead of, maybe, the school principal or a police officer! 😉

We keep vigil in the restless expectation of good things.
Even though vigils occur in the darkness before the dawn,
they are fired by hope and trust in God.

Many years ago, my then young brother spent several months in Thailand for his job. My mother and I missed him so much! When we received word that he was coming home for Christmas, the long vigil for his arrival began. It included cleaning, cooking, and planning the holiday calendar that would celebrate his return. (You would have thought Julius Caesar was returning from the conquest of Gaul!)


But Jimmy didn’t arrive on the day he was expected. What did arrive was a big nor’easter snow storm that clogged the roads he would be traveling!

Mom and I took turns peeking out the front window at ten minute intervals, but no matter how often we peeked, Jim still didn’t appear. Finally, bleary-eyed past midnight, we both surrendered to a strained sleep.

Awakening before dawn the next morning, I prayed to see my brother sleeping on the couch. But my hope was not met. Nervous now, I opened the front door to retrieve the nearly frozen milk containers resting in the snow outside.

And there he was – asleep behind the wheel of a rental car parked under the amber street light. He hadn’t wanted to wake us since the snow had delayed his arrival until long after midnight.

Our entire life is a vigil for the expected coming of God Who arrives in every moment. Imagine God, like my kind and freezing brother, wanting us to wake up gently on our own to the Divine Presence right outside the door of our consciousness. Imagine ourselves opening that door in surprised delight and welcoming God into our warm relief.

Poetry: The Heart Cave – Geoffrey Brown
(My long time readers will recognize this beautiful poem as one of my often repeated favorites.)

I must remember to go down to the heart cave
And sweep it clean, make it warm, with fire on the hearth
And candles in their niches
The pictures on the walls glowing with quiet lights.

I must remember to go down to the heart cave
And make the bed with the quilt from home
Strew rushes on the floor
And hang lavender and sage from the corners.

I must remember to go down to the heart cave
And be there when you come.

Music: Homecoming – Hagood Hardy

Fidelity in Exile

Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr
June 5, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we begin a series of readings from the Book of Tobit. This fascinating scripture is actually a biblical novel written by an unknown author about 200 years before Jesus was born. It tells the story of a character who lived 800 years before that. It is not an autobiography or history. It is a combination of fiction, poetry, allegory and wisdom. Probably a “best seller” in its own time, it is actually really fun to read – and it gives us a good dose of spiritual wisdom!

In a nutshell, the book of Tobit relates how two suicidal characters, one blind
(Tobit) and one haunted by a husband-killing demon (Sarah) are healed with
medicinal fish organs by Tobit’s son Tobiah with the guidance of the angel
Raphael. Tobiah marries Sarah and acquires wealth and property into the
bargain. In addition to being entertaining, the book of Tobit
maintains that one can withstand temporary misfortune
and ultimately enjoy a happy life if one performs righteous deeds.

Delicious Prose: Reading the Tale of Tobit with Food and Drink, by Naomi S.S. Jacobs

In today’s passage, Tobit introduces himself as a good man who wants to share his blessings with someone less fortunate. He sends his son Tobiah on the noble errand to find such a person. On his way, Tobiah discovers a murdered kinsman left unburied where he died. Upon hearing of it, Tobit “springs” into action, doing the right thing for this unfortunate victim. As a result of his righteous response, Tobit incurs the wrath not only of the Assyrian overlords, but also of his wimpy Israelite neighbors who are too afraid (or lazy) to keep the Mosaic Law while in exile.

Tobit Burying the Dead – Andrea DiLeone

Big lessons from this reading? Remember, the author of Tobit was writing for a community that had been ripped from their spiritual and material home. They knew the waning hope of one in exile. They needed to be reminded of and supported by stories of covenantal fidelity – both God’s and humanity’s.

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.(Ps.137)

But even if our lives are not quite so dramatic as theirs, the reading holds quite a few lessons for us as well.

  • Circumstances may cause one to feel “exiled” from the comfort of their faith, but it is essential to retain a stabilizing religious devotion and practice.
  • It is important to invite and include others, especially the young, in the faithful practice of charity and justice.
  • It is normal and healthy to grieve the spiritual losses or emptiness we may experience. Such recognition is a first step to healing, and can give us the release to move on to what we need to do:

Returning to my own quarters, I washed myself
and ate my food in sorrow.
I was reminded of the oracle
pronounced by the prophet Amos against Bethel:
All your festivals shall be turned into mourning,
and all your songs into lamentation.

And I wept.
Then at sunset I went out, dug a grave, and buried him.

Tobit 2:5-7

Prose: How to Be Hopeful by Barbara Kingsolver, from her commencement address at Duke University, May 11, 2008

Look, you might as well know, this thing
is going to take endless repair: rubber bands, crazy glue, tapioca, the square of the hypotenuse. Nineteenth century novels. Heartstrings, sunrise: all of these are useful. Also, feathers.

To keep it humming, sometimes you have to stand on an incline, where everything looks possible;
on the line you drew yourself. Or in
the grocery line, making faces at a toddler secretly, over his mother's shoulder.

You might have to pop the clutch and run
past all the evidence. Past everyone who is laughing or praying for you. Definitely you don't want to go directly to jail, but still, here you go, passing time, passing strange. Don't pass this up.

In the worst of times, you will have to pass it off.
Park it and fly by the seat of your pants. With nothing in the bank, you'll still want to take the express.
Tiptoe past the dogs of the apocalypse that are sleeping in the shade of your future. Pay at the window.
Pass your hope like a bad check.
You might still have just enough time. To make a deposit. 

Music: Take Courage – Kristine DiMarco

Learning to Say Goodbye

Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
May 24, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus and Paul continue to teach us how to say goodbye.

I think most big goodbyes are pretty hard. Even if we’re not completely in love with our situation, we might still be comfortable in it. We don’t want to make the effort to change or to disconnect from the dailyness to which we are accustomed.

And when we are in love with our situation – with the people and activities that give us life – then goodbyes can be brutal. These kinds of goodbyes are often unchosen, unwelcome, and disorienting.

We can all recall scores of goodbyes we have either chosen or been forced to say. Most of them, I think, are a mix of the two descriptions above – a little bit of sugar and a little bit of vinegar.

One of the many goodbyes I remember came after I had lived in and taught at a lovely parish for over a decade. Our convent was blessed with a wonderful community of sisters. We loved our generous pastors, our welcoming parishioners, and the engaging neighborhood around us. I loved my students and the work I did with them. I loved the sisters I lived with. We recognized our blessings and often quipped to one another that we were living in our “Golden Years”.

But after eleven years, I knew it was time for something different in my life, A call to a new ministry emerged in my heart and that was exciting. But the leave-taking still cut like a razor.

That story has repeated itself several times in my life with different settings and different casts of characters. And I know the same thing is true in each of your lives. When we pause to reflect on all those goodbyes, we may realize that each led to an unimagined hello – hellos that offered us new graces to deepen our lives.

In our readings today, Jesus and Paul stand on that fragile beam which leads from goodbye to hello. Their disciples stand there with them, so both Jesus and Paul make every effort to help them balance themselves to step into the future.

Paul does it like this:

Be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day,
I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.
And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up
and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.

Acts 20:31-32

Jesus does it with a prayer:

Holy Father, keep them in your name
that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.

John 17:11-13

Today, we may want to spend a little time with Jesus and Paul looking back over the long beam of our lives, thanking God for the graces that poured from our many goodbyes and hellos.

Poetry: In My Dreams – Stevie Smith

In my dreams I am always saying goodbye and riding away,
Whither and why I know not nor do I care.
And the parting is sweet and the parting over is sweeter,
And sweetest of all is the night and the rushing air.

In my dreams they are always waving their hands and saying goodbye,
And they give me the stirrup cup and I smile as I drink,
I am glad the journey is set, I am glad I am going,
I am glad, I am glad, that my friends don’t know what I think.

Music: Every Goodbye Is Hello – Andrew Lippi from the musical “John and Jen”

There’s a wonderful place
Just waiting for you
There are wonderful things
You’ll get to do
Out there, somewhere, the world
And all its wonders
One small step is all it takes to know
Every goodbye is hello
There’s a magical phrase

I’ll tell it to you
Always honor the old
But live for the new
Out there, somewhere

About to be discovered
Trust yourself and
each new day will show
How every goodbye is hello
I will always be near

To hear of all the things you’ll be
Everyone needs a home to return to
And you can turn to me
There’s a time in our

lives when we will know
(There’s a time in our
lives when we will know)
There’s a time to stay home
And a time to grow
Out there, somewhere, your life
And all its promise
Sometimes part of love is letting go
But every goodbye is

Welcome to the world
(Welcome to the world)

The Last Day of April

April 30, 2023

On this last day of the month, let me start with a caveat:  I love April.  It is the month of my birth and the birth of several people I love.  April often gives us our first glimpse of spring and our first sounds of Alleluia. 

But April is also full of contradictions: teasing sun and drenching rain; “shorts” weather one day, mufflers the next; a large measure of Easters, but a heavy dose of Good Fridays.

In other words, April – like its cousin October – is most perfectly reflective of our rollercoaster lives. And that reflection mirrors, not exactly a sadness, but a certain purple wistfulness inherent in all of life. Catherine McAuley described it this way: 

This mingling is something we balance within ourselves every day of our lives, but maybe especially in April, as the great poet T.S. Eliot notes:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

So what do we do with April’s “cruelty” which might be defined as that tinge of melancholy lurking even in the greatest joy? 

Rather than push it down or turn away from it (which I think most of us try to), there is a gift in prayerfully breaking open that languor, like an egg shell holding life’s fragile and surprising transformation. 

For example, we might place before God in prayer these “cruelties” which carry both joys and sorrows:

  • Change which, in any form, requires a shifting from the comforts that have secured us
  • Loss that comes in the shape of missed opportunities, lapsed friendships, harbored unforgiveness, wrong choices and a hundred other “wish I could do over”s
  • Aging which, though a blessing when considering the alternative, brings a slow reckoning with our vulnerabilities
  • Bereavement, that terrible forest of loving memories and winding sadness where we feel lost as we long for healing

The poet Phillis Levin captures the power of such reflection in her beautiful poem. It’s a sad poem, but articulating it gave the poet an emotional release that carried healing :

Under a cherry tree
I found a robin’s egg,
broken, but not shattered.
I had been thinking of you,
and was kneeling in the grass
among fallen blossoms
when I saw it: a blue scrap,
a delicate toy, as light
as confetti
It didn’t seem real,
but nature will do such things
from time to time.
I looked inside:
it was glistening, hollow,
a perfect shell
except for the missing crown,
which made it possible
to look inside.
What had been there
is gone now
and lives in my heart
where, periodically,
it opens up its wings,
tearing me apart.

As we move into the bright light of May then summer, it’s important not to neglect that shadowed strain running through and binding all human experience. When we, like Catherine McAuley, find it rising to the surface of our lives, we too must reflectively pray it into God’s heart so that we can find its healing power and peace.

Music: The Last Day of April – Ann Sweeten

The Other Side of Light

April 1, 2023

Dear Friends,

It feels appropriate that, before we resume gathering together in Lavish Mercy tomorrow, I comment a bit on my time away from the blog.

First, I sincerely thank you all for your prayers and encouragement. In a shadowy time, you gave me the generous lights of comfort and joy. I am deeply grateful.

Now, as I continue to heal from a time of unexpected vulnerability, I have the advantage of being able to reflect in peace on what has happened to me. 

Part of that peace and healing has been a move to our Motherhouse, a loving community where I have the support and care I need right now. I am blessed beyond words by this gift.

This photo was taken in the early 1900s for the Merion Historical Society

My new room is on the very western end of the building (See blue arrow above.) However, I look out my ample windows not to a sunset horizon – but instead to the imposing wall of our magnificent chapel. Some were concerned that the “wall view” might not be optimal. They didn’t realize that the wall housed an unexpected gift – a bird’s eye view of the glorious rose window that, for over a century, has blessed our chapel with dawn Light.

And I am now on the other side of that Light as it flows over my beloved community – a place that feels ever closer to God with each sunrise.

Sometimes, especially in the evening, I will catch a lovely glow within chapel on one of the several stained glass windows. I consider these my own special sunsets given only to me for my unique reflection. These windows are icons for me as I pray and learn from my own little “passover experience” this winter. 

Evening Window from the Outside!

During times of suffering, loss, or unchosen change in our lives, it is hard to turn to the Light. As we begin our Holy Week walk, consider that Jesus faced this struggle in the shadows of Gethsemane. There, he taught us what it takes not only to turn toward Light, but to become It.

Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 

When he arrived at the place he said to them, “Pray that you may not undergo the test.”

After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.

Matthew 22: 40-43

As it was with Jesus, a “Gethsemane moment” in any of our lives is an invitation to abandon ourselves in trust to God’s inscrutable Love — a falling helplessly, but hopefully, into a Love that changes everything.

For Jesus, his embrace of God’s Will in that tenebrous garden opened his heart to the glory of the Resurrection and led him to the other side of Light. How might such self-giving open and lead us?

Love Changes Everything – Andrew Lloyd Webber, Don Black, and Charles Hart

Springing Across the Mountains

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
December 21, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as the anticipation of Christmas builds to a crescendo, we have the tender and sublime images of the Song of Songs.

Hark! my lover–here he comes
springing across the mountains,
leaping across the hills.
My lover is like a gazelle
or a young stag.
Here he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattices.

Song of Songs 2:8-9

This book of the Bible is unique in that “it shows no interest in Law or Covenant or the God of Israel, nor does it teach or explore wisdom like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes. Jewish tradition reads it as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel; Christianity, as an allegory of Christ and his bride, the Church.” (Wikipedia)

Like all enduring poetry, the Song of Songs invites us to match its images with our own understanding of God. Of course, God is more than any image we can humanly create, but our relationship with God has the characteristics of a human relationship because WE are human.

As we read this passage, we might pray with thoughts like these:

  • God loves me – and all Creation – passionately.
  • God wants and waits for me to notice the loving Divine Presence in my life
  • God’s love is energetic and attentive. God is at the center and edge of all my existence.

Added to all that, God wants us to live in the world as people who already see the Spring of Eternal Life. Living with that kind of faith and hope allows us not only to find God, but to reflect God’s Presence to all around us.

For see, the winter is past,
the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth,
the time of pruning the vines has come,
and the song of the dove is heard in our land.
The fig tree puts forth its figs,
and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.
Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one,
and come!

Songs of Songs 8: 11-13

On this day of Winter Solstice, when – depending on our hemisphere – we are ultimately close or far from our Sunstar, this particular passage is so comforting. In our everyday life we will still experience a rollercoaster of seasons – sadness and joy and everything in between. But beyond all the seasons, the Verdant Eastertide has already redeemed our lives. With deep faith and hope, we can always live with the Spring’s abundance.

The Visitation by Raphael

In our Gospel, we are given a beautiful picture of Mary and Elizabeth, with in-vitro Jesus and John – dancing in the graces of this holy Springtime. Join them as we sing of O Antiphon for today:

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Poetry: May is Mary’s Month – Gerard Manley Hopkins

May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
    Her feasts follow reason,
    Dated due to season—
Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
    Why fasten that upon her,
    With a feasting in her honour?
Is it only its being brighter	
Than the most are must delight her?
    Is it opportunest
    And flowers finds soonest?	

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
    Question: What is Spring?—
    Growth in every thing—
Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
    Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
    Throstle above her nested
Cluster of bugle* blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
    And bird and blossom swell
    In sod or sheath or shell.
All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathising
    With that world of good,
    Nature’s motherhood.
Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
    How she did in her stored
    Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
    Much, had much to say
    To offering Mary May.
When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
    And thicket and thorp† are merry
    With silver-surfèd cherry
And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes‡ wash wet like lakes
    And magic cuckoocall
    Caps, clears, and clinches all—
This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
    To remember and exultation
    In God who was her salvation.

Music: Spring – Antonio Vivaldi

Journey into Wisdom

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent
December 17, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we begin the recitation of the O Antiphons.

No doubt many of you, like me, love these beautiful verses for any number of reasons:

  • First off, they alert us that we are very close to the astounding miracle of Christmas!
  • They capture, in a very simple way, the riches of the Hebrew Scriptures which foretold and longed for the Messiah.
  • The dramatic “O” introducing each one conveys the depth of our own longing and “O”penness to God’s grace.

The O Antiphons are Magnificat antiphonies used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent. They are also used as the Alleluia Verse during the daily Mass.

Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:

  • 17 December: O Sapientia (Wisdom)
  • 18 December: O Adonai (Lord)
  • 19 December: O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse)
  • 20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • 21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • 22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
  • 23 December: O Emmanuel (With Us is God)

(information above from Wikipedia)

We begin today with a heartfelt plea to God to fill our world with a Wisdom that orders all things and teaches us prudence.

O, how our world needs this prayer to be answered.  How we need to return to a Wisdom rooted in truth, justice and mutual love!

Let us pray this prayer together today, dear friends, by opening our hearts like the wide space of an “O”. Let our hearts be ready to receive, on behalf of the world, the transforming gift of Jesus – given on Christmas, and on every day of our lives.

O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Poetry: Journey into Wisdom – Renee Yann, RSM

Music: Michael G. Hegeman, 1997 Performed by: The Lauda! Chamber Singers

A Perfect Heart

Friday of the Third Week in Advent
December 16, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we stand at the edge of the final deep dive into Christmas.

Tomorrow, we will begin the magnificent O Antiphons with their rich and repeated invitation for God, not only to enter, but to take up residence our lives. We hear the hint of those invitations in today’s Responsorial Psalm:

Alleluia, alleluia.
Come, Lord, bring us your peace
that we may rejoice before you
with a perfect heart.

It’s a perfect prayer for these last few days before Christmas, because so many of us get caught up in a contradictory kind of frenzy of shopping, gifts, parties, decorating, cooking, wrapping, buying…. and on, and on, and on.

The hyperactivity doesn’t leave a lot of space for peace and the perfection of our hearts to welcome the Savior.

This lovely poem by Geoffrey Brown has always helped focus me on the peace-making of my heart so that I could welcome Grace as it comes to me.

The Heart Cave

I must remember
To go down to the heart cave
& sweep it clean; make it warm
with a fire on the hearth,
& candles in their niches,
the pictures on the walls
       glowing with a quiet light.
       I must remember
To go down to the heart cave
       & make the bed
with the quilt from home,
the rushes on the floor
lavender and sage
         from the corners.
         I must go down
        To the heart cave & be there
         when You come.

Isaiah, with a powerful “how-to”, reminds us that we are all called to this spiritual readying:

Thus says the LORD:
Observe what is right, do what is just,
for my salvation is about to come,
my justice, about to be revealed.
Happy is the one who does this,
whoever holds fast to it:
Keeping the sabbath without profaning it,
keeping one’s hand from doing any evil

As a last reminder before our journey through the O Antiphons, Isaiah coaches us in inclusivity – assuring us that all people are welcome in the arms of the One Who is to come:

Let not the foreigners say,
when they would join themselves to the LORD,
“The LORD will surely exclude me from the people.”
The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
ministering to and
Loving the name of the LORD,
and becoming God’s servants–
All who keep the sabbath free from profanation
and hold to my covenant,
Them I will bring to my holy mountain
and make joyful in my house of prayer …

Music: Rorate Caeli – sung by Harpa Dei

“Rorate caeli” (Drop down, ye heavens) are the opening words of Isaiah 45:8. The text is frequently sung to plainsong at Mass and in the Divine Office during Advent where it gives expression to the longings of Patriarchs and Prophets, and symbolically of the Church, for the coming of the Messiah.

Gaudete, Rejoice!

Third Sunday of Advent
December 11, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah gives us the best news anyone could ever want to hear:

Here is your God…
Who comes to save you!

The news inspires great joy in the waiting heart. Our first reading is full of exultant words pulling us from the shadows of waiting into the hope-filled Light.

What Isaiah proclaims for all generations is that we never need remain in darkness and confusion; that the Lord of Light wills a sunrise for us; that something wondrous and holy is not only possible but inevitable if we but have faith.

This is a powerful revelation and call. If we receive and accept it with open hearts, we are bound to live in joy.

In our second reading, James tells us the secret to living with this kind of joy – PATIENCE.

Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, 
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5: 7-8

We too must welcome into our lives both “the early and the late rain”. We must not only believe; we must ponder our faith within the circumstances of our life and the world around us. This pondering deepens us and allows the power of God to visit the world through our lives.

In our Gospel, Jesus explains what the world looks like when we let the Mercy of God shine through us:

“Go and tell John what you hear and see: 
the blind regain their sight, 
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed, 
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Matthew 11: 4-6

On this beautiful Gaudete Sunday,
as we come closer to the Gift of Christmas,
let us choose to be agents of God’s joy,
love and mercy in our world.

Poetry: Gaudete – Brad Reynolds, SJ

Because Christmas is almost here
Because dancing fits so well with music
Because inside baby clothes are miracles.
Because some people love you
Because of chocolate
Because pain does not last forever
Because Santa Claus is coming.
Because of laughter
Because there really are angels
Because your fingers fit your hands
Because forgiveness is yours for the asking
Because of children
Because of parents.
Because the blind see.
And the lame walk.
Because lepers are clean
And the deaf hear.
Because the dead will live again
And there is good news for the poor.
Because of Christmas
Because of Jesus
You rejoice.

Music: The Medieval Carol “Gaudete” sung by the Choir of Clare College with the London Cello Orchestra (lyrics and translation below)

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice. 
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete. 

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice. 
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete. 

It is time to thank you for what we have hoped for. 
Tempus ad est gratiae hoc quod optabamus, 

We devoutly sing songs of joy. 
Carmina laetitiae devote redamus. 

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice. 
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete. 

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice.
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.

God became man, being nature, 
Deus homo factus est naturam erante, 

The world has been renewed by the reigning Christ. 
Mundus renovatus est a Christo regnante. 

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice. 
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete. 

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice. 
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete. 

Ezekiel’s gate was closed by the passerby 
Ezecheelis porta clausa per transitor 

Whence the light arose, the finder of pebbles. 
Unde lux est orta sallus invenitor. 

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice.
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice. 
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete. 

Therefore, our congregation sings already in the twilight, 
Ergo nostra contio psallat jam in lustro, 

Bless the lord of the saddles for our king. 
Benedicat domino sallas regi nostro. 

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice. 
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete. 

Rejoice, rejoice Christ is born 
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus 

From the virgin Mary, rejoice.
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.

Undimmable Light

Friday of the Second Week of Advent
December 9, 2022

Today’s Readings:

(Today, I am re-publishing an earlier blog. I used it for my own prayer this morning and I thought it really deserved another read. I hope you agree.)

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 1 and its confident responsorial verse.

Last night we watched a public television Christmas special, “Rick Steves’s European Christmas“. From its many beautiful scenes, one in particular remained with me: a little group of friends tobogganing down a snow covered hill at night. Their only lights came from the small lanterns they held and the full moon’s generous luster against the white snow.

My first reaction to the scene was to wonder, “What if their light goes out?”. Then I realized that there was a light beyond them which would guide their way.

There are times in our lives when the light, if it doesn’t go out, at least flickers. I wrote about that awareness in this story a few years ago: 

She had arranged to visit with an old college friend. They had been separated too long by the distancing choices that life often demands. She wanted to reconnect to that rare experience of shared transparency found just once or twice in a lifetime – the gift of a real friend.

They sat on a porch overlooking a gentle pond. The day was bright, the coffee hot, the chairs comfortable. But the magic was gone.  Only half her friend had arrived for the cherished conversation. The other half – joy, adventure and the excess of youthful hope – had been lost. Somewhere in the intervening years, the light had gone out. Her friend had suffered a wound she did not share. This one afternoon would be too short a time to give that wound a name.

During our Advent journey, God is waiting in the seeming darkness to guide us. God already knows the wounds we carry. God sees where our heart’s light has dimmed. Holding our half-heartedness next to the Divine Heart, God yearns to rekindle us.

Today’s psalm reminds us that there is a always Light waiting beyond us to guide our way.

Blessed the one follows not
the counsel of darkness
nor walks in it ways,
nor remains in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on its Light day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

Poetry: from Mary Oliver

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.
I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Music: Christ, Be Our Light – Bernadette Farrell