Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 50 which enjoins us – from sunrise to sunset – to offer God a sacrifice of praise.


A sacrifice of praise!
It’s a phrase and concept
that pops up in scripture several times.
And it intrigues me.
What might that repeated phrase mean
for my life with God?

In our first reading, the Israelites took detailed steps to offer sacrifice to the Lord. Their efforts are summarized in this verse: 

We will do everything that the LORD has told us. 

But what is the difference between a “sacrifice of praise” and the ritualized blood sacrifice described in Exodus? 


I think of a “sacrifice of praise” as that moment in our spiritual lives when our focus shifts 

  • from “what we do to honor God” to “how God lives in us”
  • from practiced ritual to the awe of Sacred Presence
  • from my efforts to God’s fidelity
  • in other words…..
  • from me to God

At that moment, the “sacrifice” is of our natural self-absorption and self-involvement in order to free God’s presence and action through us.

It is a moment of recognition like that of John the Baptist who, busy as he had been establishing his ministry, on seeing Jesus said, “He must increase and I must decrease.


Our psalm tells us that God is faithfully responsive to such total awareness and commitment:

Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
     and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
    I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.


Our psalm moves me to this prayer:

My intention, hope, and prayer, dear God, is

  • to praise You with my life
  • to act for You in all things
  • to be Mercy in the world as You would be

May these become a sacrifice of praise to You.


Poetry: St. John’s Eve –  Malcolm Guite

Midsummer night, and bonfires on the hill
Burn for the man who makes way for the Light:
‘He must increase and I diminish still,
Until his sun illuminates my night.’
So John the Baptist pioneers our path,
Unfolds the essence of the life of prayer,
Unlatches the last doorway into faith,And makes one inner space an everywhere.
Least of the new and greatest of the old,
Orpheus on the threshold with his lyre,
He sets himself aside, and cries “Behold
The One who stands amongst you comes with fire!”
So keep his fires burning through this night,
Beacons and gateways for the child of light.

Music: Praise You – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Lord I come to you today,

With a simple prayer to pray.

In everything I do,

Let my life O Lord praise you.

Praise you, praise you, praise you

Let my life, praise you

Praise you, praise you, praise you

Let my life, O lord praise you

Lord you formed me out of clay,

And for your glory I was made.

Use this vessel as you choose.

Let my life O Lord praise you

Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 63, a prayer of both longing and fulfillment.

O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.

Psalm 63: 2-4

And isn’t our spiritual life exactly like that?
We feel our lives caressed by God,
and yet we long for greater oneness
with Infinite Love.

Mary Magdalen is the embodiment of that longing and embrace. And so the Church applies to her the powerful intimacy of our first reading:

The Bride says:
On my bed at night I sought him
whom my heart loves–
I sought him but I did not find him.
I will rise then and go about the city;
in the streets and crossings I will seek
Him whom my heart loves.
I sought him but I did not find him.
The watchmen came upon me,
as they made their rounds of the city:
Have you seen him whom my heart loves?
I had hardly left them
when I found him whom my heart loves.

Song of Songs 3:1-4

Within each one of us is a sacred mystic who longs for and seeks God’s embrace. Perhaps that mystic hibernates like a little bear hidden under all the distractions of our lives. But if we give ourselves to silence and holy waiting, the sleeping hermit will awake! 😴 

We might pray with beautiful Mary Magdalen today to let that seeker in us reach for God Who is also waiting.


Poem: Song of the Soul That Is Glad to Know God by Faith – St. John of the Cross

English version by Antonio T. de Nicolas
Original Language Spanish

Well I know the fountain that runs and flows,
though it is night!


This eternal fountain is hidden deep.
Well I know where it has its spring,
Though it is night!

In this life’s dark night,
Faith has taught where this cold fountain lies,
Though it is night!

Its origin I cannot know, it has none,
And I know all origins come from it,
Though it is night!

And I know there can be nothing more fair,
The heavens and earth drink there,
Though it is night!

And I know it has no bed,
And I know no one can cross its depths,
Though it is night!

Its clarity is never clouded,
And I know all light shines from it,
Though it is night!

I know her streams swell so abundantly,
They water people, heaven and even hell,
Though it is night!

The current born of this fountain
I know to be wide and mighty,
Though it is night!

And from these two another stream flows,
And I know neither comes before,
Though it is night!

I know Three in only one water live,
And each the other feeds,
Though it is night!

This eternal fountain is hiding from sight
Within this living bread to give us life,
Though it is night!

He calls all creatures to this light,
And of this water they drink, though in the dark,
Though it is night!

This living fountain I desire,
I see it here within this living bread,
Though it is night!


Music: I Found My Beloved – John Michael Talbot

So I found my beloved in the mountains
On the lonely and far distant isles
O’er resounding waters
I heard the whispering of love’s breezes
To heal my broken heart
Oh tranquil evening, silent music
And the sounding solitude of the rising dawn
It is there that I hear You
There that I taste of You
In love’s banquet to fill my heart
Chorus:
And I found Your footprints
In the sands by the sea
And like Your maiden
I ran along the way to a secret chamber
And there you gave to me
There you taught me, O so well
And I drank of your sweet spiced wine
The wine of God
And there I gave to You
Keeping nothing for myself
And I promised You forever
To be your bride
(Repeat Chorus)
So I have abandoned
All I ever sought to be
And in dying
My spirit has been released

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 5, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the beautiful Psalm 91, so full of images to help us experience the steadfast tenderness of God.

Our Gospel shows us this tender mercy in the story of Jesus and two complementary healings – the woman who suffered for twelve years, and the young girl who has lived only twelve years.

In both cases Jesus, by a touch received or given, gathers a broken soul under Mercy’s wing. In the mystery of that grace-filled shade, the soul is restored to the fullness of Light.

As we pray Psalm 91 today let us, like the Gospel’s woman and young girl, reach for any healing and wholeness we long for. 

Is there something in us
that has died too soon
and longs to be reborn?

Is there something
crippled in us
that longs to leap once more
and run free?

May we find new life under God’s infinitely caring wing which ever hovers over us in love.


Poetry: A video mix of Rumi and Hafiz, a dynamite combo!


Music: Shadow of Your Wings – Jeff Nelson

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

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

June 3, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 128 which is a recounting of how blessed we are when we live in God’s Presence.

Our Gospel reveals the clear and essential key to attaining that Presence – love of God and neighbor.

The scribe in today’s Gospel is well on his way to living in God’s embrace.

We might choose to go with him to Jesus today to ask what is most important for us as we continually try to open our lives to God’s grace.

How can we increase
our understanding, strength, and charity
in our everyday choices?
….
How can we love more like God loves?


Poetry: Love as if … by Vinita Hampton Wright

Love as if loving is the first thing on your to-do list.
Love as if you have no other plan but to love.
Love as if you are confident that love makes good things happen.
Love as if this is your first opportunity to love.
Love as if this is your last opportunity to love.
Love as if loving can heal all wounds.
Love as if loving is your first purpose on earth.
Love as if loving is your favorite choice.
Love as if you have that kind of power.
Love as if it will keep the earth spinning in vast, beautiful space.

Music: You Shall Love the Lord with All Your Heart

Pentecost Sunday

 May 23, 20

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 104 – a fitting prayer for this glorious Feast of Pentecost.

Lord, send out your Spirit,
and renew the face of the earth.

It is a bold prayer, an extravagant request. It asks for everything – a Fire of Love so complete that the whole earth is remade in its Divine Power.

It is a prayer based in mutual invitation as, in the Sequence, we invite the Holy Spirit to renew us:

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

Pentecost Sequence

And, as in any true relationship, the Spirit invites us too – to open our hearts to the infinite grace of this feast. The Book of Revelation describes this reciprocity in this profound passage:

“ I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.

Revelation 22: 16-17

Today, on the Birthday of the Church, we pray not only for our own soul’s kindling, but for the whole People of God. May the Grace of Pentecost ignite a new fire of charity over all the earth. May that fire clear the way for the Spirit’s gifts to flower, for Her fruits to blossom, for Her power to surprise us as it bursts forth in our hearts!


Poetry: The Golden Sequence

Veni Sancte Spiritus, sometimes called the Golden Sequence, is a sequence prescribed in the Roman Liturgy for the Masses of Pentecost and its octave. It is usually attributed to either the thirteenth-century Pope Innocent III or to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Stephen Langton, although it has been attributed to others as well.

“Veni Sancte Spiritus” is one of only four medieval Sequences which were preserved in the Roman Missal published in 1570 following the Council of Trent (1545–63).

The other three occasions when we hear these beautiful ancient hymns are Easter Sunday (“Victimae Paschali Laudes”), Corpus Christi (“Lauda Sion Salvatorem”) and Our Lady of Sorrows (“Stabat Mater Dolorosa”). On Easter Sunday and Pentecost, the sequence must be sung, whereas on Corpus Christi and Our Lady of Sorrows, the sequence is optional.

Wikipedia

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
    Shed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
    Come, within our bosoms shine.

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
    Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
    Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
    And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
    Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
    Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
    Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
    In your sevenfold gift descend;

Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
    Give them joys that never end. Amen.
    Alleluia.

Music: Veni Santé Spiritus – Chant of the Mystics

Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter

May 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 11, inviting us to enter the eye of God:

The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.

Psalm 11:7


To rest in someone’s loving gaze is the greatest of blessings. Such a look carries understanding, acceptance, hope, encouragement, and a rainbow of other gifts.

We easily look at newborns and young children with such unconditional regard. As people age though, it may become more complex always to see them in such positive light. Life’s big and little dramas block our sight, right?

But, as Psalm 11 assures us, God will never look at us without that kind of love. Wow!

God’s eyes behold us;
    God’s searching glance wraps us round with love.

Psalm 11: 4-5

For our prayer today, we may just want to let God look at us. And we might want to look back with that mutual glance that sings, “Beloved”.


Poetry: Beloved – by Rumi

All through eternity
Beauty unveils His exquisite form
in the solitude of nothingness;
He holds a mirror to His Face
and beholds His own beauty.
he is the knower and the known,
the seer and the seen;
No eye but His own
has ever looked upon this Universe.

His every quality finds a Word:
Eternity becomes the verdant field of Time and Space;
Love, the life-giving garden of this world.
Every branch and leaf and fruit
Reveals an aspect of His perfection-
The cypress give hint of His majesty,
The rose gives tidings of His beauty.

Whenever Beauty looks,
Love is also there;
Whenever beauty shows a rosy cheek
Love lights Her fire from that flame.
When beauty dwells in the dark folds of night
Love comes and finds a heart
entangled in tresses.

Beauty and Love are as body and soul.
Beauty is the mine; Love is the diamond.
They have been together
since the beginning of time-
Side by side, step by step.

I swear, since seeing Your face,
the whole world is fantasy.
The garden is bewildered as to what is leaf
or blossom. The distracted birds
can’t distinguish the birdseed from the snare.
A house of love with no limits,
a presence more beautiful than Venus or the moon,
a beauty whose image fills the mirror of the heart.

Music: Be Thou My Vision

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!