Memorial of Saint Bonaventure

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105 which depicts a “Remembering God” who calls us to respond as a “Remembering People”.

“Forever” is a word whose true meaning can be found only in an Eternal God. In Exodus, and in our Psalm 105, we see God inviting us to that fullness.

Our first reading recounts the Abrahamic covenant renewed with Moses. God, flaming out of a bush, tells Moses that God sticks by agreements.

God spoke further to Moses,
“Thus shall you say to the children of Israel:
The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.
    “This is my name forever;
        this my title for all generations.

Exodus 3:15

(I don’t know about you, but I’ve flashbacking all week to to Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 classic, The Ten Commandments.)


Our psalm reinforces the Exodus commitment:

God remembers forever the covenant 
    made binding for a thousand generations
    entered into with Abraham
    and by the oath to Isaac.

Psalm 105: 8-9

Our brief but beautiful Gospel shows us what God’s promise looks like in the tender person of Jesus:

Jesus said:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Matthew 11: 28-30

Throughout the ages,
God’s reiterated fidelity
calls us to obedience – that “heart-listening”
which hears the invitation to Love.

Poetry: Everything That Was Broken – Mary Oliver

Everything that was broken has
forgotten its brokenness. I live
now in a sky-house, through every
window the sun. Also your presence.
Our touching, our stories. Earthy
and holy both. How can this be, but
it is. Every day has something in
it whose name is Forever.

Music; Forever – Edelis

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 17, a prayer which captures our deep desire to live in the Light of God’s Face.

 

We, like the psalmist and like Jacob in our first reading, want to know, to understand, to name the Holy in our experience. 

From you let my judgment come;
    your eyes behold what is right.
Though you test my heart, searching it in the night,
    though you try me with fire, you shall find no malice in me.

Psalm 17:6-7

When Jacob struggles with the heavenly visitor, he wants a blessing and the visitor’s name. Jacob wants to define what has happened to him in the night.

The man then said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”

Genesis 32:27-28

The Spirit does bless Jacob, but remains nameless, beyond the confines of Jacob’s definition. It is only after the visitor has departed that Jacob realizes whom he has encountered:

With that, the visitor bade him farewell.
Jacob named the place Peniel,
“Because I have seen God face to face,” he said,
“yet my life has been spared.”

Genesis 32:30-31

In our own lives, Heaven visits us constantly though we may be unaware. Discovering God’s Face depends so much on where we look and how we have learned to see.

Psalm 17 tells us that, if we stand in the light of justice and mercy, God’s face is revealed to us.

This was the light in which Jesus lived – to the point that, as we read in today’s Gospel, he could discover God’s face even under the guise of a poor demoniac.


Poetry: God BY KAHLIL GIBRAN

In the ancient days,
when the first quiver of speech came to my lips,
I ascended the holy mountain
and spoke unto God, saying,
“Master, I am thy slave.
Thy hidden will is my law
and I shall obey thee
for ever more.”

But God made no answer,
and like a mighty tempest passed away.

And after a thousand years
I ascended the holy mountain
and again spoke unto God, saying,
“Creator, I am thy creation.
Out of clay hast thou fashioned me
and to thee I owe mine all.”

And God made no answer,
but like a thousand swift wings passed away.

And after a thousand years
I climbed the holy mountain
and spoke unto God again, saying,
“Father, I am thy child.
In pity and love
thou hast given me birth, and through love and worship
I shall inherit thy kingdom.”

And God made no answer,
and like the mist that veils the distant hills he passed away.

And after a thousand years
I climbed the sacred mountain
and again spoke unto God, saying,
“My God, my aim and my fulfillment;
I am thy yesterday and thou are my tomorrow.
I am thy root in the earth
and thou art my flower in the sky,
and together we grow
before the face of the sun.”

Then God leaned over me,
and in my ears whispered words of sweetness,
and even as the sea that enfoldeth a brook
that runneth down to her, he enfolded me.
And when I descended to the valleys and the plains
God was there also.


Music:

We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of Jesus. 
We behold the splendor of God shining on the face of the Son.

[Verse1]
And oh, how his beauty transforms us, the wonder of presence abiding. 
Transparent hearts give reflection of Tabor’s light within, of Tabor’s light within.

(Repeat Chorus)

[Verse 2]
Jesus, Lord of Glory, Jesus, Beloved Son, oh, how good to be with you; 
ow good to share your light; how good to share your light.

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 117. We do so in the spirit of Thomas, who now offers his unquestioning faith to our patient and forgiving Jesus.

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
    glorify him, all you peoples!
For steadfast is his kindness for us,
    and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever

Psalm 117: 1-2

Faith is not a commodity or an achievement.
Faith is relationship and a journey.

It is a gift and an exercise of grace.
Never stretched, it withers like a brittle ligament.

It ebbs and flows with our personal and communal dramas.
It deepens with prayer, silent reaching, and a listening obedience to our lives.
It shallows with our demands, like Thomas’s, only to see and to touch.

It is fed by the Lavish Mercy of God Who never cuts its flow to our souls
if we but take down the seawall around our heart.

On this day when we celebrate the power of tested and proven faith,
may we bring our needs into the circle gathered in that Upper Room.

Standing beside Thomas today in our prayer,
may we place our trust in the glorified wounds of Christ.


A video today for our prayer: Blessed Are They That Have Not Seen


Music: Healing Touch – Deuter

As we reach out in faith with Thomas to touch Christ’s wounds, let us open our hearts to receive the returning touch of God’s Lavish Mercy.

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 107, a poem filled with images that hold secrets for our spiritual journey:

They who sailed the sea in ships,
    trading on the deep waters,
These saw the works of the LORD
    and God’s wonders in the abyss.

Psalm 107:23-24

Those who have the opportunity to see the ocean in its many moods will quickly understand the analogy. 

Life is an ocean, but we are not sailing it alone.

That’s what the Lord suggests to Job in our first reading, and what Jesus points out to the nervous disciples in our Gospel.

Psalm 107 tells us that when life distresses us we should do just what the disciples did:

They cried to the LORD in their distress;
    from their straits he rescued them,
God hushed the storm to a gentle breeze
    and the billows of the sea were stilled

Psalm 107: 28-29

It also suggests us that we can hope for this result:

They rejoiced that they were calmed,
    and  brought to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks fo the Lord’s kindness
    and  wondrous deeds to us all.

Psalm 107:30-31

The message of today’s readings for me is trust and hope
— in both calm and storm. Let’s pray for it.


Poetry: blessing of the boats – Lucille Clifton

                                    (at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back     may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that.


Music: Secret Ocean – Peter Kater

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 34 once again. With its two accompanying readings, the psalm hits me right between the eyes with this awareness:

Those of us trying to live in God’s presence, the world isn’t going to help us. We will be in contradiction to many, if not most, popular values. Our choices may be questioned, if not ridiculed. Our values may be explained away. Our integrity may be challenged. 

What’s it like to live a faith-based life in today’s culture? The image that comes to my mind is that of trying to play soccer with a square ball! 

Paul felt the dissonance:

But the Lord said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”
So I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ …


Jesus put the contradiction in a nutshell for us:

No one can serve two masters.
You will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.


So we need to figure out our “mammon” and vanquish it. We need to make the choice that Paul, the psalmist, and Jesus made. Let’s pray on it today.


Poetry: Contraband – Denise Levertov

The tree of knowledge was the tree of reason.
That’s why the taste of it
drove us from Eden. That fruit
was meant to be dried and milled to a fine powder
for use a pinch at a time, a condiment.
God had probably planned to tell us later
about this new pleasure.
                                   We stuffed our mouths full of it,
gorged on but and if and how and again
but, knowing no better.
It’s toxic in large quantities; fumes
swirled in our heads and around us
to form a dense cloud that hardened to steel,
a wall between us and God, Who was Paradise.
Not that God is unreasonable – but reason
in such excess was tyranny
and locked us into its own limits, a polished cell
reflecting our own faces. God lives
on the other side of that mirror,
but through the slit where the barrier doesn’t
quite touch ground, manages still
to squeeze in – as filtered light,
splinters of fire, a strain of music heard
then lost, then heard again.


Music: I Choose You Now – Rend Collective

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

June 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98, a prayer filled with hints of joyful thanksgiving and exuberant music.

At first reading, the psalm is a surprising companion to our other readings.

In the passage to the Corinthians, Paul doesn’t sound like he’s singing. He cites the struggles a committed disciple will face in order to spread the Gospel:

We cause no one to stumble in anything,
in order that no fault may be found with our ministry;
on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves
as ministers of God, through much endurance –

2 Corinthians 6:3-4

He then offers quite a catalog of endured tests.


Jesus isn’t singing either in our reading from Mark. Instead, he enumerates the list of trials to be endured, if necessary, to live a radical commitment to the Gospel – even including lost eyes and teeth, multiple slaps, indentured clothing and service, and self-effacing generosity.

Feel like singing yet?


But here’s the thing. Praying with these passages allows us to break through their surface to understand their heart, as our Alleluia Verse explains:

A lamp to my feet is your word,
a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

Jesus and Paul remind us that all our experiences, good and bad, are transformed in the light of the Word. That transformation calls us to respond to our lives from a well of radical faith which contradicts the deceits and interpretations of the world.

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.

Deitrich Bonhoeffer

Deep faith allows us to see things, such as the listed trials, from a “new” perspective.

It is when we get to that place of freedom in our spiritual lives that we can truly “sing a new song unto the Lord”!


Poetry: Unconditional by Jennifer Paine Welwood

Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.
Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game;
To play it is purest delight -
To honor its form, true devotion.

Music: I Want to Sing a New Song – BJ Putnam and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103, a well-known and loved hymn of praise. It is a fitting psalm for today’s feast which unites us with Mary as we pray.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all the benefits of the Lord.

Psalm 103:1

Mary lived much of her life in the actual presence of God, in the person of Jesus her Son. And no doubt, she received this holy proximity as a surpassing gift.

But even more importantly, Mary lived her whole life in total awareness of God – before and after Jesus was present with her.


There is a practice many of us learned as children called “Blessing the Hour”. The prayer goes like this:

Let us remember the holy presence of God
Let us adore God’s Divine Majesty.

Sometimes a classmate was assigned to watch the clock and ring a little bell to trigger our prayer. We needed a reminder, every hour, that our whole life is held in the Breath of God.


But Mary always remembered. She lived so completely within God’s promise of mercy that she became the vessel of its accomplishment.

My soul proclaims your greatness, O God, 
and my spirit rejoices in you, my Savior. 
For you have looked with favor upon your lowly servant, 
and from this day forward all generations will call me blessed.
For you, the Almighty, have done great things for me, 
and holy is your Name.
 
Your mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear you.
You have shown strength with your arm; 
you have scattered the proud in their conceit; 
you have deposed the mighty from their thrones 
and raised the lowly to high places.
You have filled the hungry with good things, 
while you have sent the rich away empty.
 
You have come to the aid of Israel your servant, 
mindful of your mercy
—the promise you made to our ancestors―
to Sarah and Abraham and their decendants forever.

So today, like Mary, let us remember the holy Presence of God in our every moment –

  • the Lord who is kind and merciful.
  • and pardons all our iniquities,
  • and heals all our ills
  • and redeems our life from destruction,
  • and crowns us with kindness and compassion

Psalm 103:2-3,8


Poetry: John O’Donohue, ‘The Annunciation’, in Conamara Blues

Cast from afar before the stones were born
And rain had rinsed the darkness for colour,
The words have waited for the hunger in her
To become the silence where they could form.
The day’s last light frames her by the window,
A young woman with distance in her gaze,
She could never imagine the surprise
That is hovering over her life now.
The sentence awakens like a raven,
Fluttering and dark, opening her heart
To nest the voice that first whispered the earth
From dream into wind, stone, sky and ocean.
She offers to mother the shadow’s child;
Her untouched life becoming wild inside.

Music: In His Presence – Sandi Patty

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Friday, June 11, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Isaiah for our Responsorial Psalm:

God indeed is my savior;
    I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
    who has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
    at the fountain of salvation.

Isaiah 12:2-3

This fountain of salvation is the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


I woke up before dawn today. Not really wanting to formally begin my day, I lingered on the pillows for my early morning prayer. Having always loved this feast, I began placing all my suffering loved ones into Jesus’s heart – one by one, asking for their strength and healing.

The list was long, because there are all kinds of suffering, and I love a lot of people – even ones I don’t know personally! Finally I said to Jesus, “You know, life is HARD!” 

And in my spirit, I heard this answer,
“I know. I lived it for the love of every one of you.”

To me, this is the meaning
of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
– that merciful companionship
which Infinity assumed for us
in the person of Jesus Christ.

That fountain of love and mercy continues to nourish our lives in the Eucharistic community of faith practicing the works of mercy. We are the threads which bind one other to God’s heart.


Paul knew this. That’s why he prayed this beautiful prayer for his beloved Ephesian community. Our second reading offers an example of Paul’s magnificent benedictions and doxologies. As he prays for the Ephesians, so he prays for us. These prayers are exalted, yet simple. They thrill the soul who prays them. They place us, in awe and thanksgiving, fully in the divinely generous, Sweet Heart of Christ.

Let’s pray for our beloveds today and for the world:

For this reason I kneel before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory
to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self,
and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,
so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.


Music: Two songs today:

Threads – by David Leonard

We beseech the Sacred Heart today that all who suffer any kind of fragmentation may find tenderness, wholeness, and comfort in him.
(To hear the song, click on “Watch on YouTube” in the black clock below.)

This one is old school, but it still works for me:

Sacred Heart of Jesus – James Kilbane

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

June 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, a repeated favorite on the blog – you might like to re-visit any of the 13 entries:


Today, let’s pray with 119 in the light of Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, … 
was not “yes” and “no,” but always “YES”.
God’s promises … find their “Yes” in him.

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

Here’s what those slightly cryptic but profoundly meaningful phrases mean to me.

No doubt, sometime in your life you have heard someone powerful say “No” to you. Or perhaps life itself has said it with some insurmountable limitations.

It is in those moments that we truly understand what “Yes” means because it has eluded us!

That meaning takes various forms depending on our circumstances. “Yes” can mean freedom, love, mercy, forgiveness, renewal, possibility, hope, fulfillment.

And “Yes” is always a beginning … a mystery that longs to be unfurled, unpeeled – like this beautiful red onion ( that I bought yesterday for a salad that turned into a reflection!)


Psalm 119 “unpeels” the layers of our relationship with God. Here’s how I hear it in my prayer:

O Lovely God,
You are wonderful.
You are my Light.
You amaze me
by the “Yes” of your Love.
You fire my spirit
to love You in return.

Lavish Mercy, turn to me
because I love You.
Steady me in my shadows.
Draw my “yes” 
into the Light 
of your beautiful Face.

based on Psalm 119:129-135

Poem: love is a place – e.e.cummings 

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

Music: The Beauty We Love

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Sunday, June 6, 202

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. 

We just called it “Corpus Christi” when I was young. Many of us, of a “certain age”, will remember the extravagant processions through our childhood neighborhoods, the garmented priest carrying the elevated monstrance.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades leads the procession as it leaves St. Thomas church in Elkhart Indiana Sunday June 18, 2017. Today’s Catholic Photo/Joe Raymond)

Little children and adults accompanied the journeying Christ who blessed our neighbors, families, businesses and playgrounds.

Although, for some, such devotional practices have changed since that time, I was still deeply moved when, during the depth of the current pandemic, Pope Francis stood alone to raise the monstrance in blessing over a starkly empty St. Peter’s Square.

Certainly, all our neighborhoods today could use such a blessing. And, it is we – the People of God and living Body of Christ – who must carry Christ’s Presence to our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools and commonplaces.


Our Responsorial Psalm today offers us this question:

How shall I make a return to the LORD
    for all the good God has done for me?

Psalm 116:12

Maybe this is one way to hear that question on this Feast:

How will I carry Christ into my world today?

Poetry: Love’s Choice by Malcolm Guite

This bread is light, dissolving, almost air,
A little visitation on my tongue,
A wafer-thin sensation, hardly there.

This taste of wine is brief in flavour, flung
A moment to the palate’s roof and fled,
Even its aftertaste a memory.

Yet this is how He comes. 
Through wine and bread
Love chooses to be emptied into me.

He does not come in unimagined light
Too bright to be denied, too absolute
For consciousness, too strong for sight,

Leaving the seer blind, the poet mute;
Chooses instead to seep into each sense,
To dye himself into experience.

Music: Pange Lingua written by St. Thomas Aquinas