Pray for the Church

Monday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
January 16, 2023

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/011623.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our reading from Hebrews describes Jesus as the perfect high priest.  Through the Father’s call, Jesus took on our imperfect nature and transformed it by his Life, Death and Resurrection. In the Eucharist, Jesus left us a living memorial of this transformation so that we might participate in its saving mystery.

heb5_10 priest

Paul’s “perfected priest” is patient because his own weakness humbles him. He does not take honor upon himself, but receives it humbly from God.

Jesus, the model of this priesthood, 

… in the days when he was in the Flesh,
… offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.


The perfection of Christ’s priesthood was accomplished through suffering and obedience. This is how Jesus teaches us to live in reverence and humble service.

As I read and pray with this scriptural understanding of priesthood, I pray for our Church. The catastrophic scandals involving our priests and leaders have deeply shaken the faith of many Catholics over the past several years.

Many are frustrated by the continued refusal of some in our Church to open themselves to new models of priestly service which are grounded in mutuality, inclusivity and simplicity.

The accretions of institutionalization, hierarchical camouflage, and sexist rationale have mitigated the Church’s credibility to touch the lives of ordinary people, especially our emerging adults.


In our Gospel, Jesus talks about an old cloak that needs a patch to make it whole again. He talks about new wine that must be captured and preserved in new wine skins. For me, he is talking about our Church which must be continually renewed and grounded in the truth of the Gospel.

Let us pray that the Church may continue to be transformed by humble obedience to God’s call – just as the high priest of our first reading was perfected.

Let us pray today for our good Pope Francs, bishops, theologians and spiritual leaders – and for the whole People of God – that we may hear and respond.


Prayer: In place of a poem today, this beautiful prayer written in 2019 by Rita Thiron, from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions

Prayer for the Church

Heavenly Father,
In every age, you have been our refuge. 
Yet again and still, we stand before you 
asking for your protection on your holy Church.

For the victims of abuse and their families, 
pour out your healing and your peace.
For the Bishops of this country, 
inspire their decisions, 
and guide them with your Spirit.

For the thousands of good and faithful priests, 
who have followed your call 
to serve you and your people in holiness,
sustain them by your grace.

For the faithful who are angry, confused, 
and searching for answers, 
embrace them with your love,
restore their trust,
console them with your clear Gospel message, 
and renew them with your sacraments.

We place our Church in your hands, 
for without you we can do nothing.

May Jesus, our High Priest and true compass, 
continue to lead her in every thought and action
 – to be an instrument of justice,
a source of consolation,
a sacrament of unity,
and a manifestation of your faithful covenant.

Grant this through that same Jesus Christ, our Lord, 
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

Music: Even Death on a Cross ~ Jason Silver

I Come to Do Your Will

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 15, 2023

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/011523.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we see Jesus fully enrobed in the power of his mission and ready to embark on its accomplishment.


When I prayed with today’s readings, I pictured Jesus standing proudly before the Father saying, “I’m fully ready now to answer the call and become all that I am meant to be for the world.”

The image reminded me of a day long ago when I finally received the last little piece of the outfit I would wear as Mercy postulant. It was late August 1963, just a month before entrance, and very hot. Nevertheless, in a bit of girlish giddiness, I decided to don the entire regalia for the first time and see what my future would look like. After struggling into a few of the unfamiliar pieces, I ran down the stairs to my mother waiting in our living room.

I’ll never forget her face. It was an immense mix of pride, loss, hope, love and astonishment. Neither one of us said, nor had to say, a word. Everything that had been only a dream in my heart went forward – for real – from that moment. Mom knew I meant to do this thing. And, maybe for the first time, I knew it too.

I can picture God the Father looking on Jesus in somewhat the same way as Jesus now stands at the edge of a future he cannot yet imagine.


In our first reading, we see Jesus clothed in the fulfillment of Isaiah’s ancient prophecy:

The LORD said to me: You are my servant,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!

Isaiah 49:3,5

In our Responsorial Psalm, we can hear Jesus exuding Messianic commitment:

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.


In John’s Gospel, John the Baptist stands as a witness to Christ’s messianic authority to execute the Redemptive Act promised in Isaiah:

It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Isaiah 9:6

John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”

John 1:32-34

With today’s readings, Jesus begins the great journey to redeem us. We begin with him, praying that throughout this liturgical year, we may be ever more deepened in the grace of that Redemption.


Poetry: The Lamb – William Blake

Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee
Gave thee life & bid thee feed.
By the stream & o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing wooly bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice!
Little Lamb who made thee
Dost thou know who made thee

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee!

He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb:
He is meek & he is mild,
He became a little child:
I a child & thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb God bless thee.
Little Lamb God bless thee.

Music: Here I Am, Lord – written by Dan Schutte, sung here by John Michael Talbot (lyrics below)

I, the Lord of sea and sky
I have heard my people cry
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go, Lord, if you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart

I, who made the stars of night
I will make their darkness bright
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

I, the Lord of snow and rain
I have borne my people’s pain
I have wept for love of them
They turn away

I will break their hearts of stone
Give them hearts for love alone
I will speak my words to them
Whom shall I send?

Alive in the Word!

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
January 14, 2023

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/011423.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our first reading describes the penetrating, all-seeing, all-discerning Word of God.  

heb4_2 word

Reading this, some of us may find it startling to think how well God knows us! The truth is God knows us fully, much better than we know ourselves.  And God loves us fully, again even better than we love ourselves.

The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Hebrews 4:12-14

God already knows and understands the secrets we are slow to share, the hurts we have buried, the angers we try to shackle. God knows the fears we will not face, the regrets we cannot abandon, the sadness we cannot forget, the hopes we hesitate to speak.

God knows and loves it all.

Being present to the Word of God can help us learn to love and accept ourselves as God does.  

This Word can come to us in reading and listening.  It can come in images, nature  and silence. God’s Word is not bound by print or sound.  It speaks to us in every circumstance of our lives.

Today, we pray to have a deep love of God’s Word given to us in Scripture, spiritual reading, music, poetry, the beauty of Creation, and the wonder of life.  The Holy Word sees and loves us completely.  In that complete Love, may we come to know ourselves and to be fully ourselves in God’s Presence.


Poetry: The Word of God – George MacDonald
In this rather cryptic poem, I believe MacDonald’s point is this: where the Word of God has not inspired the heart, there is no real life and vigor – either in action (bud) or written word(letter).

Where the bud has never blown
Who for scent is debtor?
Where the spirit rests unknown
Fatal is the letter.
In thee, Jesus, Godhead-stored,
All things we inherit,
For thou art the very Word
And the very Spirit!

Music: Two Elegiac Melodies ~ Edvard Grieg 

Solitude Prayer

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
January 11, 2023

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/011123.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Mark’s Gospel allows us to spend a day with Jesus during his early ministry.

After “church”, so to speak, Jesus and his buddies go to Simon’s house for a meal. Where Simon’s wife was we’re not told, but his mother-in-law seems to have been chief cook and bottle washer. Unfortunately, on that day, she’s not feeling well. However, with but a touch from Jesus, she’s restored and begins waiting on the guys.

The Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law by Rembrandt

On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

Mark 1:29-31

It seems like Jesus and his friends hung out through the heat of the day. As evening cool descends, neighbors begin arriving with their sicknesses and troubled spirits. Jesus cures many of those gathered. Can you just imagine the scene!


The next morning, even before dawn, Jesus goes off to a quiet place to pray. No doubt he wants to discern, with his Father and the Holy Spirit, the things that are happening in his life. Again can you imagine that conversation!

We know that, when asked, Jesus gave us the human words of the “Our Father” to teach us to pray. But how did Jesus himself pray in the solitude of his heart?

Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity
focused in relationship to one another
and yielding a Love
too immense for description!


In our own humble prayer today, may we lean against the heart of Jesus as he immersed himself in the Presence of the Creator and Spirit. May we pray in Christ’s pregnant silence.


Poetry: Solitude – Thomas Merton

When no one listens
To the quiet trees
When no one notices
The sun in the pool.

Where no one feels
The first drop of rain
Or sees the last star

Or hails the first morning
Of a giant world
Where peace begins
And rages end:

One bird sits still
Watching the work of God:
One turning leaf,
Two falling blossoms,
Ten circles upon the pond.

One cloud upon the hillside,
Two shadows in the valley
And the light strikes home.
Now dawn commands the capture
Of the tallest fortune,
The surrender
Of no less marvelous prize!

Closer and clearer
Than any wordy master,
Thou inward Stranger
Whom I have never seen,

Deeper and cleaner
Than the clamorous ocean,
Seize up my silence
Hold me in Thy Hand!

Now act is waste
And suffering undone
Laws become prodigals
Limits are torn down
For envy has no property
And passion is none.

Look, the vast Light stands still
Our cleanest Light is One!

Music: Intermezzo in B minor – Maureen McCarthy Draper

You’re Invited to a Baptism!

The Baptism of the Lord
January 9, 2023

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/010923.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus makes a remarkable debut! 

Picture the scene. It is a beautiful morning in the Judean Valley where the Jordan Riven runs fresh and sparkling. Most scholars place the Baptism of Jesus sometime in January, which means the weather would have been relatively cool. But perhaps, like our own weather, an unusually warm day may have snuck in.

Rustic, fiery preacher John is baptizing in the Jordan River. Crowds have come to hear what he has to say. Some are convinced and dive into the cool water under his hand.

Others rim the hillside, not so sure John isn’t one of the many who have glorious visions but few facts.

Then, out from the pines on the far side of the river, comes Jesus, flanked by some of the Twelve. While his companions chat away to Jesus, his eyes are focused on John. In an instant, Jesus realizes that this is the moment for his revelation. In that same instant, all Creation realizes the same thing.

As Jesus walks slowly toward John, the birds and little animals speak to him, “My Lord and my God…”.  Wind whistling through the trees becomes an Oratorio praising him. All the surrounding colors deepen, breaking forth in unimaginable light.

John is stunned by the cosmic change he senses but cannot describe. Heart trembling, he looks into Jesus’s eyes and catches a glimpse of heaven. “I need to be baptized by you”, John says,”and yet you are coming to me?

Jesus smiles at his cousin, replying, 

“Let it be so now; 
it is proper for us to do this 
to fulfill all righteousness.”

Then John consented.

Perhaps those in the crowd, schooled in the ancient scriptures, heard Isaiah’s voice in the charged atmosphere:

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.


Matthew tells us:

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.

the-baptism-of-jesus-jeff-haynie
The Baptism Of Jesus is a painting by Jeff Haynie For purchase, see:https://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-baptism-of-jesus-jeff-haynie.html

Can you see him light-heartedly splashing John as he shakes his dark curls free of the chilly water? Can you see his transfigured face as he hears his Father speak Love over him?

At that moment heaven was opened, 
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
And a voice from heaven said, 

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

What a beautiful moment in time! Don’t we wish we might have been there in the blessed and awe-struck crowd? We can. Let your prayer of imagination take you there. What happens in your heart when the newly baptized Jesus catches your eyes?

Music: The Baptism of Jesus

Becoming Wine

Christmas Weekday
January 7, 2023

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/010723.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we have the belovedly familiar story of the Miracle at Cana.

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there.
Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran short,
the mother of Jesus said to him,
“They have no wine.”

John 2: 1-3

Like all good stories, this one is engaging on so many levels:

  • We see Mary and Jesus enjoying a social event in the same way we would.
  • We see Mary extending her solicitude and influence for the sake of the hosting family.
  • We see Jesus needing a swift nudge from his mother to do the right thing!
  • We see the Apostolic tipsters slowly waking up to the fact that Jesus is not just the guy next door!

We can pray with this Gospel passage by entering it from any one of these, or other, perspectives. We can easily sit right down at one of the wedding tables and watch the slow, human revelation of God in the world. But I think our first reading makes a strong case for us to pray the Cana story as a perfect example of how we should make our prayers of petition.


If you’re like me, you ask God for a lot of things every single day. Some of them are big deal things like “Please move hearts to stop the war on Ukraine.” And some of them are little deals like, “Please don’t let it rain on my picnic!”

In our first reading, John tells us how to pray our needs to God – with the utter confidence that, within God’s Will, we are heard.

Beloved:
We have this confidence in God,
that if we ask anything according to God’s will, we are heard.
And if we know that God hears us in regard to whatever we ask,
we know that what we have asked for is ours.

1 John 5: 14-15

This is the way Mary offers her petition in our Gospel story. She knows that Jesus will hear her and do the right thing. She doesn’t niggle him to death to get it done. She knows that by her “prayer”, she is now present to God’s infinite awareness of our needs.

His mother said to the servers,
“Do whatever he tells you.”

John 2:5

In this case, that “right thing” was to turn huge vats of water into delicious wine. A very satisfying outcome! But what about when our prayer doesn’t result in a deluge of wine? What about when it seems like God paid no attention to our request? Can we still have the unyielding confidence which John encourages and Mary exemplifies?

Our faith calls us to believe that God is present with us in all things. Our prayer opens us to seek that Presence and to respond in faith to our circumstances knowing that even when the vessels seem empty, God abides. Ours is a life in God not limited to one petition, or one prayer. It is an incremental immersion into an Eternal Truth which transcends any particular circumstance. God is always with us and that alone is the source of our confident prayer.

We also know that the Son of God has come
and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.
And we are in the one who is true, in God’s Son Jesus Christ.
He is the true God and eternal life.

1 John 5:20

Poetry: Cana Wine – Irene Zimmerman, OSF

“The weather’s so hot
and no more wine’s to be bought
in all of Cana!
It’s just what I feared—
just why I begged my husband
to keep the wedding small.”

“Does he know?” Mary asked.

“Not yet. Oh, the shame!
Look at my son and his beautiful bride!
They’ll never be able
to raise their heads again,
not in this small town.” 
“Then don’t tell him yet.”
Mary greeted the guests
as she made her way
through crowded reception rooms.
“I must talk to you, Son,”
she said unobtrusively. 

Moments later he moved
toward the back serving rooms.
They hadn’t seen each other
since the morning he’d left her—
before the baptism
and the desert time. 

There was so much to tell her,
so much to ask.
But this was not the time!
They could talk tomorrow
on the way to Capernaum.
She spoke urgently, her words
both request and command to him:
“They have no wine.”
But he hadn’t been called yet!
He hadn’t felt it yet.
Would she send him so soon
to the hounds and jackals?
For wine? 

Was wine so important then? 

“Woman, what concern is that
to you and me?
My hour has not yet come.”

Her unflinching eyes reflected to him
his twelve-year-old self
telling her with no contrition:
“Why were you searching for me?
Did you not know I must be
in my Father’s house?” 

She left him standing there—
vine from her stock,
ready for fruit bearing—
and went to the servants.
“Do whatever he tells you,” she said. 

From across the room
she watched them fill water jars,
watched the chief steward
drink from the dripping cup,
saw his eyes open in wide surprise. 

She watched her grown son
toast the young couple,
watched the groom’s parents
and the guests raise their cups.

She saw it all clearly:
saw the Best Wine
pouring out for them all.

Music: od Hears Our Prayers – Mandy Lining

A Fierce Devotion

Feast of The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
December 30, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/123022.cfm

Holy-Family

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our prayer is turned to the Holy Family, that unique configuration of love which nurtured the developing life of Jesus. Can you imagine how tenderly the Creator shaped this Triad, this nesting place of love for God’s own Word? Our passage from Sirach gives us an idea of the honor given to the concept of “family” down through the ages leading to Christ:

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

Sirach 3: 2-6

The Flight into Egypt – Rembrandt


Matthew’s Gospel today describes a fierce devotion in Joseph and Mary to protect the precious life of Jesus. It is a natural instinct, fed by God, and made holy by its selflessness. We do not have to look far to see such devotion today … we see it wherever refugees struggle to foster their own and their beloveds’ lives. Today’s feast calls us to consider our efforts, by prayer or activism, to create a world where all may be reverenced and may live in safety.


We also look to the Holy Family so that we might be strengthened in the virtues that will help us build our own families: sacrificial love, reverence, courage, unfailing support, committed presence, shared faith, gentle honesty, unconditional acceptance.

“Family” is the primordial place where we learn who we are. The lessons it teaches us about ourselves – for better or worse — remain with us forever. 

Not everyone is blessed by their family. Family can ground us in confidence or undermine us with self-doubt. It can free us from fear or cripple us with reservation. It can release either possibility or perpetual hesitation within us.

Some families are so dysfunctional that we spend the rest of our lives trying to recover from them. But some, like the Holy Family, allow God’s dream to be nurtured in us and to spread to new families, both of blood and spirit.

The challenge today is to thank God for whatever type of family bore us. Lessons can be learned from both lights and shadows. Let us spend time this morning looking  at our own families with love, gratitude, forgiveness, understanding. Where there are wounds to be healed, let us face them. Where there are belated thanks to be offered, let us give them. Where there are negligence and oversights to confess, let us use them as bridges to a new devotion.

For some, it may seem too late to heal or bless our family. Time may have swallowed some of our possibilities. But it is never too late to deepen relationships through prayer, both for and to our ancestors.

May this feast strengthen us for the families who need us today.


Music: God Bless My Family ~ Anne Hampton Calloway (Lyrics below)

GOD BLESS MY FAMILY
Words and music – By Ann Hampton Callaway

It’s Christmas time
Outside the snow is falling
Like a million stars
Like a million dreams
All dressed up in white
I’m writing Christmas cards
A joy that’s tinged with sadness
As I think of friends
Some are here and some are gone
But our love goes on and on
Like the snow tonight

CHORUS
And oh, what a familyMy life has given me
From the corners of the earth
To the reaches of the sky
We touch eternally
And though my heart aches ev’ry day
This Christmas I will find a way
To let each face I’ve ever loved
Shine out in me
God bless my family

As years go by
The carols we sang as children
Gather memories
What was just a song
Now feels like a pray’r
Welcoming us home
To fathers, mothers
Sisters, brothers ev’rywhere
Some we’ve lost and some we’ve found
As love circles us around
In the songs we share

CHORUS

So fly, angels of my heart
We’ll never be apart
Tonight I say a pray’r
For loved ones ev’rywhere

CHORUS/CODA

You’re a part of my family
That life has given me
From the corners of the earth
To the reaches of the sky
We touch eternally
And though my heart aches ev’ryday
This Christmas I will find a way
To let each face I’ve ever loved
Shine out in me
God bless my family
You’ll always live in me
God bless my family

Christmas Day – 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/122522-dawn.cfm

Something a little different for this special day:


The Light of the World is Loving You

It was Christmas Eve, 1947.  I was almost three years old – the perfect age for waiting for Santa.  There had been a bitter cold and, like all winters when we were young :-), the snow was deeper than it ever seems now!

I had been told I must be asleep before Santa would come to our house.  I shut my eyes so tight that the lids nearly curled.  I surely didn’t want him to pass us by.  Around nine o’clock, while I was somewhere between pretense and dreamland, my mother came into my room and said, “He just left. If we go to the window, you may see him leaving in his sleigh!”

In my mind’s eye, I can still see that white window frame, filled with the navy velvet of a deep December night.  I tiptoed up to it and stretched my little chin to the sill. There was an almost  full moon that night, and somewhere out of my imagination, the silhouette of Santa appeared across that brilliant moon.  It was a magic moment born of my childlike belief, my mother’s love and the culture of hope we all want to give our children.

I never saw that Santa again.  I became too wise and sophisticated to retain that wondrous vision.  But the faith, love and hope of that night have remained – eternal gifts just waiting for me to walk to the window of grace to see them.


These are the real gifts of this Holy Season.  After all the shopping, all the wrapping, all the hassle and all the bustle – walk to the window of your spirit.  The Light of the World is looking in at you – loving you, believing in the power of your life, hoping for your wholeness and peace.

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all of you, dear readers!

Dark, dark, the winter cold night. Lu-lee-lay.
Hope is hard to come by. Lu-lee-lay.
Hard, hard, the journey tonight. Lu—lee-lay.
Star, guide, hope, hide our poor, winter cold night.

And on earth, peace, good will among men.
Lean, lean, the livin′ tonight. Lu-lee-lay.
Star seems darker sometimes. Lu-lee-lay.

Unto you is born this day a Savior.

Pain, yes, in the bornin’ tonight. Lu lee—lay.
Star, guide, hope, hide our poor, winter cold night.

A King in Servant’s Clothing

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent
December 22, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our O Antiphon beseeches God, Who is King of All Nations, Who unites Gentile and Jew, to deliver us. 

But from what? 

The answer lies in the closing phrase of the antiphon: “we whom you formed from the dust of the earth”. 

Deliver us from the artificial barriers we have created to separate from and dominate over one another – by nationality, ethnicity, color, gender, social or economic class. We each began as dust and will end that way.  May we be humble, mutual and compassionate in the time between.


Consider the holy humility of Hannah in our first reading today, and of Mary in our Gospel.  They are power figures in Salvation History.  But their power comes from their utter dependence on and honor to God, their only true King.

I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request. 
Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD;
as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.”

1 Samuel 1: 27-28

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
        my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
        for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
    From this day all generations will call me blessed:
        the Almighty has done great things for me,
        and holy is his Name.

Luke 1: 46-49

There was no fragmentation in the commitment of their entire lives to God. They understood all Creation to belong to the Divine.

King of Kings, deliver us from any such fragmentation. Make us all whole in You.

O King of all nations
and keystone of the Church:
come and save us,
whom you formed from the dust!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.


Poetry: A King Dressed as a Servant – Rumi

You may interpret Rumi, of course, as you wish. He is deeply mystical and his thoughts don’t always correspond to a logical path. But that’s the real beauty of his poetry. We can put ourselves in his poem and shape it to fit our experience of God. In this poem, Rumi says that we must wait, and be ready, for God’s Love to come to us. And when it does, it will be far beyond anything we expected.

A sweet voice calls out,
"The caravan from Egypt is here!"
A hundred camels with what amazing treasure!

Midnight, a candle and someone quietly
waking me, "Your friend has come."

I spring out of my body, put a ladder
to the roof, and climb up to see if
it's true.

Suddenly, there is a world within this world!
An ocean inside the water jar!
A king sitting with me wearing
the uniform of a servant!
A garden in the chest of the gardener!

I see how love has "thoughts,"
and that these thoughts are circulating
in conversation with majesty.
Let me keep opening this moment
like a dead body reviving.

My teacher saw the Placeless One
and from That, made a place.

Music: O Rex Gentium – Gregorian Chant ( this is a Latin rendering of the italicized prayer above.)

Springing Across the Mountains

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
December 21, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://wordpress.com/post/lavishmercy.com/21853

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