Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 148, one of the “Laudate Psalms”.


The Laudate Psalms are the psalms numbered 148, 149, and 150, traditionally sung all together as one psalm in the canonical hours, most particularly the hour of Lauds, also called “Morning Prayer”, which derives its name from these psalms.

from Wikipedia

I’ve always loved the morning with its radiant possibility spilling over the horizon. Morning comes like a rainbow pantone, speaking not only to the weather outside but within our own spirits.

Praise the name of the LORD,
    for this name alone is exalted;
The Lord’s majesty is above earth and heaven.

Psalm 148: 13

Waking each morning, I wait for the day to speak to me. It finds itself in the sun or clouds, the warmth or cold. And then it finds me in whatever weather my heart might rest.

Prayer begins after that discovery, inviting the transforming and comforting power of God into whatever the day offers. Essentially, it is always a prayer of thanksgiving that I am alive and given another day to, by the power of God’s grace, know and be Love in the world:

Praise the LORD from the heavens;
    praise God in the heights.
Praise God, all you angels;
    praise God, all you hosts.

Psalm 138: 1-2

As we wait for the Holy Spirit on the great feast of Pentecost, let us trust Jesus’s Gospel words in today’s Gospel. Let us find each morning, and each day, full of promise!

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when the Spirit comes, the Spirit of truth,
you will be guided to all truth.

John 16:12-13

Poetry: Morning Poem – Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches–
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead–
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging–

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted–

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

Music- Morning Has Broken – Cat Stevens

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

April 19, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Law.

Yes, your decrees are my delight;
    they are my counselors.
I declared my ways, and you answered me;
    teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
    and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 119: 24-27

“Law”, as it is used in this psalm, speaks of that perfect Divine Order which creates and holds all things in Love. Praying this psalm, we ask to become ever more aligned to that Love.

Remove from me all guile,
    and favor me with your law.
The way of truth I have chosen;
    I have set your ordinances before me.

Psalm 119: 29-30

Such might have been the prayer of Stephen, as we read of his angelic face in Acts today. Such might have been the desire of those who followed Jesus across the sea in today’s Gospel asking, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”.

And it could be our prayer too.


Poetry: God Wishes Me a Happy Birthday

As I pray Psalm 119 today on my birthday, I hear God responding once again in a poem I wrote a few years ago. Perhaps you would like to keep it for your own birthday, dear friends.

On the day I made you,
I made thousands of other creatures.
Human beings,
each reflecting some facet of my infinite image.
Beautiful birds, riotous monkeys, infinitesimal ants.
My lava broke through earth's crusts to form new islands.
I folded hidden mountains into yet undiscovered gorges,
bent rivers into surprise journeys,
washed entire beaches onto new shores. 
I was busy the day I made you.
War raged and I welcomed its many victims into heaven.
More creatures died on your birthday than were born.
More came home to me than went out to begin their journey. 
But you were one who went out.
When I opened my hand and breathed your journey into you,
I smiled.
I saw the wonders that could bless the world because of you.
I saw a rainbow of love, generosity, mutuality,
happiness, encouragement, and faith
gathered like an unhatched egg in your heart.
I saw the storms and winds
that would release that prism in your soul.
I saw it spread across a wide sky
because of all the years
and experiences that I would give you.
I saw the hint of sunrise in you.
Its name was mercy.
It was a gift fired by the energy of My own heart.
I looked beyond you to the cold and shadowed world
that you could comfort with its light and warmth.
I was happy on the day I made you.
I was filled with hope for the blessing you would be.
I am still filled with joy, hope and love for you
on this your long-after birthday.
You have tried to live my sacred dream for you.
As the sun rises glorious in the eastern sky,
I promise you a future full of love. 
Notice that the western sky reflects the brilliance of the sunrise,
just as all the years now past assure you
of my presence at the core of your life. 
You have been and are infinitely loved.
Become Love in return. 
Your days are replete with mercy. 
Become Mercy in return. 

Be born again this day, beloved!

Friday of the Second Week of Easter

April 16, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27, the prayer of one confident in God’s loving protection, no matter any surrounding threat. The psalmist exudes the equanimity of one who has given everything over to Love, who seeks only one fulfillment:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.

Psalm 27:4

I remember praying this psalm so intently as a young novice! I so wanted to understand and deepen in the spiritual life. I so wanted to be completely in love with God.


Gamaliel, from our first reading, has grown into such a love. It has freed him to respond to the Spirit even when the Spirit astounds, contradicts, and demands change.

Gamaliel said to the Sanhedrin…“So now I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.

But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

Acts 5: 38-39

It seems that Gamaliel is speaking from experience. He likely had his big or little tussles with the Spirit along the now long road of his life. He has one even today as Jesus’s pesky disciples challenge Gamaliel’s long-held religious practice.


But it is likely that a prayer like Psalm 27 rose up in the heart of this longtime friend of God:

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

For I am protected in the Lord’s shelter
when troubles threaten,
wrapped in the folds of the Lord’s tent,
set high upon the rock’s safety.

Psalm 27: 1,5

As we pray beautiful Psalm 27 today, may we remember our early, enthusiastic love. May we give thanks for the accumulated blessings of the years that have enriched and matured us in wisdom and faith. May we seek the courage to journey ever deeper into God’s heart.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
    be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27: 13-14

Poetry: Old Age by Edmund Waller

The seas are quiet when the winds give o’er; 
So calm are we when passions are no more. 
For then we know how vain it was to boast 
Of fleeting things, so certain to be lost. 
Clouds of affection from our younger eyes 
Conceal that emptiness which age descries. 
The soul’s dark cottage, batter’d and decay’d, 
Lets in new light through chinks that Time hath made: 
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become 
As they draw near to their eternal home. 
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view 
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

Music: Depths – Hillsong

Psalm 40: The Will to Love

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

March 25, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this feast of the Annunciation, we pray with Psalm 40. We hear Mary proclaiming its refrain which echoes down through the ages:

Psalm 40:8-9

We are all here to do God’s Will. That’s why God made us. But sometimes, we struggle so hard either to learn God’s Will or to avoid it.

Praying with Mary this morning, I thought this about “God’s Will” – It is not a plan we must discover, or that unfolds in surprises throughout our lives. It’s not a set of circumstances meant to test our faith. If we think of it this linearly, we cripple and diffuse its power.

Because God is Love, God’s Will is simply this: 

Love. 
Always love. 
Love always as God would love. 
Choose always what Love would choose.
Love.

That’s what Mary did.


Annunciation – Henry Ossawa Tanner

Poetry:  Aubade: The Annunciation – Thomas Merton
(An aubade is a poem or piece of music appropriate to the dawn or early morning.)


When the dim light, at Lauds, comes strike her window,
Bellsong falls out of Heaven with a sound of glass.
Prayers fly in the mind like larks,
Thoughts hide in the height like hawks:
And while the country churches tell their blessings to the
distance,
Her slow words move
(Like summer winds the wheat) her innocent love:
Desires glitter in her mind
Like morning stars:
Until her name is suddenly spoken
Like a meteor falling.
She can no longer hear shrill day
Sing in the east,
Nor see the lovely woods begin to toss their manes.
The rivers have begun to sing.
The little clouds shine in the sky like girls:
She has no eyes to see their faces.
Speech of an angel shines in the waters of her thought
like diamonds,
Rides like a sunburst on the hillsides of her heart.
And is brought home like harvests,
Hid in her house, and stored
Like the sweet summer's riches in our peaceful barns.
But in the world of March outside her dwelling,
The farmers and the planters
Fear to begin their sowing, and its lengthy labor,
Where, on the brown, bare furrows,
The winter wind still croons as dumb as pain.

Music: Ave Maria – performed by Daniela de Santos

Psalm 51: I Desire Mercy

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

March 13, 2021


Hosea’s Warning

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 51 which, together with our other readings, tests the depths and sincerity of our prayer.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit.

Psalm 51:12

Our readings today put this consideration before us:

What is prayer really,
and what is the quality of my prayer?


Hosea tells us

For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,
    and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.


Luke tells us

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.


And our psalm tells us

For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
    should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
    a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.


To sum up our readings, here’s what prayer is NOT:

  • It is not a roll call of our sacrifices and righteousness.
  • It is not fasting, or paying tithes, or even keeping the commandments.

Then what is it?


Prayer is an intimate exchange with God
with whom we are humble, honest,
open, generous and grateful
– with Whom we are safe, confident and in love.

Prayer is our response to God
who desires our merciful hearts.
… so
Let us Pray.

Poetry: A Prayer from Teresa of Avila 

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, 
and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, 
and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

Music: Peaceful Moments – Regi Stone

Psalm 105: Tell the Story

Friday of the Second Week of Lent

March 5, 2021


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

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

Psalm 105: 1-2

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


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

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

Psalm 105: 16-17

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


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

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

Psalm 105: 4-5

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

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

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

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

Psalm 105: 8-9

Poetry: The Storyteller – Mike Jones

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 1: Don’t Sit There!

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent

March 4, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 1. We’ve prayed with it several times, but today a particular word and verse struck me.

“Insolent” — I’ll bet it’s a word you seldom, if ever, said out loud. The last time I think I heard it  was when my sixth grade teacher caught me smoking in the girls’ lav. I didn’t know what the word meant, but I knew it wasn’t good.

Even etymologists are uncertain of the origin of the word, but it has come to define one who is contemptuous of rightful authority.


Despite its current infrequent use, the Bible likes the word and uses it at least 23 times to instruct our spiritual life.

Psalm 1 declares that even hobnobbing with the insolent is a bad idea. Insolence rubs off on us if we’re not careful. You know, “birds of a feather” and all that.


And isn’t it true? Haven’t you run into one or two cliques of contemptuous, snidely belligerent people in your lifetime who feed on one another’s insolence?

Those are the kind of folks Psalm 1 is talking about. We meet them everywhere – school, church, work, socially. They are the ones gossiping, passing judgment, stereotyping, slandering … Perhaps we’ve even joined them at times 🥲

In their worst form, they are the ones in the white hoods, carrying the burning torches, pushing kids into cages. We should pray for them because, as our psalmist suggests, they have been emptied of their souls:


… they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

Psalm 1:4


It’s been a long time since sixth grade and, even if I still don’t know the etymology of the word, I’ve come to understand what severe insolence does to a soul.

I don’t want to harbor even an ounce of it. Reflecting on Psalm 1 today, that is my heartfelt prayer.


Poetry: Know Yourself –   Meister Eckert

A human being has so many skins inside, 
covering the depths of the heart. 
We know so many things, 
but we don’t know ourselves! 
Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, 
as thick and hard as an ox’s or bear’s, 
cover the soul. 
Go into your own ground 
and learn to know yourself there.

Music: Grace Is – Paul Avgerinos 

Psalm 32: You’re Lovable

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 32 in which the psalmist expresses joy at being delivered from great suffering.

On this Valentines Day, our culture incentivizes us to think about “love”.

But our psalm might ask us to ponder that the greatest suffering is to believe, quite falsely, that we are unloved – or worse, unloveable. Still, Psalm 32 assures us that we are never unloveable to our God:

Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the LORD,”
    and you took away the guilt of my sin.

Psalm 32

One of the reasons we are drawn to love
is that the Beloved delivers us from “trouble”,
brings us light, peace, comfort, hope, courage.
The true Beloved allows us
to see ourselves as beloved too.
And we respond in love!

On this Valentines Day, you may have many dear human hearts to whom you wish to tell your love. But most important, in your prayer, tell the One Who is Love within you. And listen to Love telling you the same.

Poem: Bridges – Marion Strober


Music: Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel

Psalm 32: Forgiveness

Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

February 12, 2021

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

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

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

Psalm 32:1-2

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

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

Walter Brueggemann, From Whom No Secrets Are Hid

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

The Earring

Young Emma, skewered by indecision, had stared into her mother’s jewelry box. She had always loved those silver earrings, a gift to her mother from her grandmother—an heirloom now, a treasure beyond price. She wanted so to wear them on this special date, but they were “hands off” and she knew it. Still, her mother at work and unaware of her desire, Emma had succumbed to temptation.

The dance had been wonderful, a whirlwind of such delight that Emma had not noticed when her left earring had brushed against her partner’s shoulder, tumbling hopelessly under the dancers’ trampling feet. Only at evening’s end, approaching her front door exhausted and dreamy, had she reached up to unclip the precious gems.

Her mother sat waiting for her in the soft lamplight, having already noticed the earrings missing from her dresser. Awaiting retribution, Emma knelt beside her mother and confessed the further sacrilege of loss. But her mother simply cupped Emma’s tearful face in her hands, whispering, “You are my jewel. Of course I forgive you.”  Though accustomed to her mother’s kindness, this act of compassion astonished Emma, filling her with an indescribable, transformative gratitude.

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

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

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

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

Psalm 32:6

Like Emma, we may be astonished at the graciousness that has been given to us. We may respond by pouring out our thanks to God in a silent act of prayer.

May we also have the courage to become like our merciful God, anticipating the other’s need for our forgiveness. May we seek the strength not to harbor injury, but too release it to make room for further grace in our hearts.


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

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

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

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

Psalm 27: Unchained Psalmody

Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

February 5, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27, a song of intimate relationship with God. The psalmist is suffused with God’s Presence in the way morning light permeates the shadows.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
    whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
    of whom should I be afraid? 

Psalm 27:1

Because of this deeply abiding Love,  the psalmist fears nothing – not armies, nor any other threat to peace and grace-filled confidence.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
    even then will I trust.

Psalm 27:3

We have little, or maybe big, wars at times, don’t we? Armies of pain, or sadness, struggle or confusion standing at the border of our hearts? In such times, Psalm 27 invites to remember and trust:

For God will hide me in the holy abode
    in the day of trouble;
will conceal me in the shelter of God’s tent,
    will set me high upon a rock.

With the psalmist, we pray with longing – we implore God to show us this comforting, protective love.

Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
    do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.


Poetry: from The Spiritual Canticle – John of the Cross

Oh, then, soul, 
most beautiful among all creatures, 
so anxious to know 
the dwelling place of your Beloved 
so you may go in search of him 
and be united with him, 
now we are telling you that 
you yourself are his dwelling 
and his secret inner room and hiding place. 
There is reason for you to be elated 
and joyful in seeing that all your good and hope 
is so close as to be within you, 
or better, that you cannot be without him. 
Behold, exclaims the Bridegroom, 
the kingdom of God is within you.

Music: Unchained Melody – sung by Susan Boyle

Psalm 27 reminds me of this modern classic which, no doubt, was written about a different kind of love. But listening to the song as a prayer, a holy longing can be unchained in our spirits.