Mater Dolorosa

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
September 15, 2022

Today’s Readings for Our Mother of Sorrows

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/0915-memorial-our-lady-sorrows.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Our Mother of Sorrows.

sorrows

Poetry: Pieta – R.S. Thomas

Always the same hills
Crown the horizon,
Remote witnesses
Of the still scene
And in the foreground
The tall Cross,
Sombre, untenanted,
Aches for the Body
That is back in the cradle
of a maid's arms.

Mary’s greatest sorrows came, not from circumstances she bore personally, but from her anguish at the sufferings of Jesus. Like so many mothers, fathers, spouses, children and friends, Mary suffered because she loved.

It is so hard to watch someone we love endure pain. We feel helpless, lost and perhaps angry. We may be tempted to turn away from our beloved’s pain because it empties us as well as them.

This is the beauty and power of Mary’s love: it did not turn. Mary’s devotion accompanied Jesus – even through crucifixion and death – for the sake of our salvation.

Today’s liturgy offers us the powerful sequence “Stabat Mater”.

Stabat Mater Dolorosa is considered one of the seven greatest Latin hymns of all time. It is based upon the prophecy of Simeon that a sword was to pierce the heart of His mother, Mary (Lk 2:35). The hymn originated in the 13th century during the peak of Franciscan devotion to the crucified Jesus and has been attributed to Pope Innocent III (d. 1216), St. Bonaventure, or more commonly, Jacopone da Todi (1230-1306), who is considered by most to be the real author.

The hymn is often associated with the Stations of the Cross. In 1727 it was prescribed as a Sequence for the Mass of the Seven Sorrows of Mary (September 15) where it is still used today. (preces-latinae.org)

Music: Stabat Mater Dolorosa – Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736)
This is a glorious rendition. If you have time, you might listen to it on a rainy afternoon or evening as you pray.

STABAT Mater dolorosa
iuxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius. 
At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last. 
Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius. 
Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed. 
O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti! 
O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One. 
Quae maerebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati poenas inclyti. 
Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son. 
Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio? 
Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold? 
Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio? 
Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother’s pain untold? 
Pro peccatis suae gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum. 
Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
she beheld her tender Child
All with bloody scourges rent: 
Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum. 
For the sins of His own nation,
saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent. 
Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam. 
O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord: 
Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam. 
Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord. 
Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide. 
Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified: 
Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
poenas mecum divide. 
Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died. 
Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero. 
Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live: 
Iuxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero. 
By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give. 
Virgo virginum praeclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere. 
Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine; 
Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere. 
Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine. 
Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii. 
Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away; 
Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii. 
Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day. 
Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriae. 
Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory; 
Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen. 
While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
safe in paradise with Thee. Amen.
From the Liturgia Horarum. Translation by Fr. Edward Caswall (1814-1878)

Alleluia: How Beautiful!

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 5, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings offer me an invitation to write a more personal reflection than usual.

Recently, our community has experienced the deaths of two dearly loved sisters. Readers might remember that I mentioned Margery’s funeral a few days ago. And just yesterday, Clare Miriam died. Each of them was an amazing minister of the Gospel and lover of God’s poor.

See, upon the mountains there advances
the bearer of good news, 
announcing peace!
Celebrate your feasts, O beloved,
fulfill your vows!

Nahum 2:1

Because most of us live in communities – familial, social, and religious – we all move through ever-turning circles of hellos and good-byes. In those turnings, we touch one another’s lives in a thousand obvious and subtle ways, hopefully causing our own lives to spin ever closer to God.

Funerals – even though we don’t look forward to them – are times when the circling pauses. We see a beloved person’s complex and amazing existence like a still life masterpiece. We see the graceful details we may have overlooked or taken for granted. We appreciate the lights and shadows of their struggles and triumphs. We see God standing behind the easel of their story inviting us to deepen our own graces as we pray.

In a large and long-loved community like the Sisters of Mercy, we accompany one another through many funerals and many home-goings. It can feel a little heavy sometimes because of the love we bear another. But, oddly, it can also give an unexpected buoyancy to our hope and faith to honor these precious lives – one after another – so lovingly given, so faithfully lived, so beautifully completed.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay each according to his conduct.

Matthew 16:25-27

After Margery’s funeral Mass, my friend turned to me and said, “What a tribute to a truly beautiful soul …. and we live in a community full of them!” Indeed, and now another, dear Clare has lifted her life up to God as the rest of us sing, “Brava! Alleluia! Amen!”

Whenever I attend one of our sister’s funerals, of course, I consider my own. Sometimes, while the soulful music plays, I design the Mass booklet in my mind and the cover says this: 

My dear Sisters of Mercy,
thank you 
for the privilege and gift 
of living among you!


Poetry: The Neophyte- Alice Meynell

Who knows what days I answer for to-day?
   Giving the bud I give the flower. I bow
   This yet unfaded and a faded brow;
Bending these knees and feeble knees, I pray.
 Thoughts yet unripe in me I bend one way,
   Give one repose to pain I know not now,
   One check to joy that comes, I guess not how.
I dedicate my fields when Spring is grey.
 O rash! (I smile) to pledge my hidden wheat.
   I fold to-day at altars far apart
Hands trembling with what toils? In their retreat
   I seal my love to-be, my folded art.
I light the tapers at my head and feet,
   And lay the crucifix on this silent heart.

Music: The Circle of Mercy – Jeanette Goglia, RSM

Alleluia: An Ageless Love

Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
August 3, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080322.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited the people.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings carry the themes of Hope and Restoration.

Jeremiah tells the people that, even after all they’ve been through, God has an age-old love for them and therefore will not abandon them.

Jeremiah continues with a description of the future coming of the Savior, promising that Israel will be restored:

Yes, a day will come when the watchmen
will call out on Mount Ephraim:
“Rise up, let us go to Zion,
to the LORD, our God.”
For thus says the LORD:
Shout with joy for Jacob,
exult at the head of the nations;
proclaim your praise and say:
The LORD has delivered the people,
the remnant of Israel.

Our Alleluia Verse announces that this expected Savior has arrived in Jesus Christ, the Divine Shepherd, Lord, Guardian and Redeemer whom Jeremiah describes in our Responsorial Psalm.

Alleluia, alleluia.
A great prophet has arisen in our midst
and God has visited the people.


Matthew’s Gospel today, which can seem a little contentious in tone, actually demonstrates the surprising truth that Jesus came not only for the sake of Israel, but for all people — for us.

We are all beneficiaries of God’s age-old love for us.

Poetry: You are the future, the great sunrise red – Rainer Maria Rilke

You are the future, the great sunrise red
above the broad plains of eternity.
You are the cock-crow when time’s night has fled,
You are the dew, the matins, and the maid,
the stranger and the mother, you are death.

You are the changeful shape that out of Fate
rears up in everlasting solitude,
the unlamented and the unacclaimed,
beyond describing as some savage wood.

You are the deep epitome of things
that keeps its being’s secret with locked lip,
and shows itself to others otherwise:
to the ship, a haven — to the land, a ship.


Music: I Have Loved You – Michael Joncas 

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Seek the face of the Lord and long for him: He will bring you his light and his peace.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Seek the face of the Lord and long for him: He will bring you his joy and his hope.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Seek the face of the Lord and long for him: He will bring you his care and his love.

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine;

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have called you and you are mine.

Alleluia: God’s Heart for Us

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
June 24, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062422.cfm

Alleluia, alleluia.
Take my yoke upon you, says the Lord,
and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we offer our loving adoration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Who teaches us the boundless humility of God.

Although not today’s reading, this passage from Philippians captures for me the perfect description of God’s humility in Jesus:

Though Jesus was in the form of God,
he did not count equality with God
a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form
he humbled himself
and became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Creator.

Philippians 2: 6-11

In order to meet our invisible God in prayer, we must imagine God in the ways that most speak to our spirits. For St. Margaret Mary Alacoque that image came in the form of the Sacred Heart, an image which combines both the sacred infinity and the full human heart of Jesus.

Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647 – 1690) was a French Roman Catholic Visitation nun and mystic, who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in its modern form.

We must never be discouraged or give way to anxiety. . . but ever have recourse to the adorable Heart of Jesus.

Margaret Mary Alacoque

As we pray on this holy feast, may we lean closer and more confidently into the loving heart of Jesus. God loves us enough to do for us what is described in our passage from Philippians. May we fully trust that love and give our own hearts to it.


Poetry: from Rumi in The Masnavi, an extensive poem written in Persian. The Masnavi is one of the most influential works of Sufism, commonly called “the Quran in Persian”. It has been viewed by many commentators as the greatest mystical poem in world literature. The Masnavi is a series of six books of poetry that together amount to around 25,000 verses or 50,000 lines. It is a spiritual text that teaches Sufis how to reach their goal of being truly in love with God.

Open the Window

There’s a street where the Beautiful One
is known to take a stroll.

When a certain radiance is noticed
through the latticed windows
of that neighborhood,

people whisper, The Beloved
must be near.

Listen: open a window to God
and breathe. Delight yourself
with what comes through that opening.

The work of love is to create
a window in the heart,

for the breast is illumined
by the beauty of the Beloved.

Gaze incessantly on that Face!
Listen, this is in your power, my friend!

Find a way to your innermost secret.
Let no other perception distract you.

You, yourself, possess the elixir,
so rub it into your skin,

and by this alchemy
your inner enemies will become friends.

And as you are made beautiful,
the Beautiful One will become your own,
the intimate of your once lonely spirit.


Music: This Ancient Love – Carolyn McDade

Alleluia: Living Bread

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
June 19, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061922.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we celebrate the most intimate and sacred feast of “Corpus Christi”, as we called it in our Latinized “old days”. In those days, we tried very hard to celebrate the feast in the best way we knew how — processions, hymns, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Yet nothing did, nor ever will, come close to capturing the mystery we honor on this holy day.

Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven,
says the Lord;
whoever eats this bread will live forever.


The items of faith contained in this short verse are earth-shattering. We are asked to believe that Jesus

  • came down from heaven
  • is the visible Presence of the infinite Love of God
  • lives on with in the Eucharist and in the community of the Church
  • grants us a share in eternal life
  • and is present to us beyond time, space, and appearances

The mystery of the Body of Christ/Living Bread is infinite and profound. Great minds such as Pierre Teilhard deChardin spent entire lives plumbing its depths.

When one understands how physical and immediate is the omni-influence of Christ, the vigor assumed by every detail of the Christian life is quite astonishing; it gains an emphasis never dreamt of by those who are frightened of the realistic view of the mystery of the Incarnation.

Take charity, for example, that complete change of attitude so insistently taught by Christ. It has nothing in common with our colorless philanthropy, but represents the essential affinity which brings human beings closer together, not in the superficial sphere of sensible affections or earthly interests, but in building up the pleroma (the fullness of God in Creation.).

The possibility, and even the obligation of doing everything for God are no longer based solely on the virtue of obedience, or solely on the moral value of intention; they can be explained, in short, only by the marvelous grace, instilled into every human effort, no matter how material, of effectively cooperating, through its physical result, in the fulfillment of the body of Christ.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in Christianity and Evolution

As I pray this rather heady passage from de Chardin, I reflect on these thoughts:

  • All Creation generates from God and returns to God in the fullness of Love.
  • Jesus Christ is the visible gift of that Love born into our human story.
  • By our faith in Jesus, and our choice to participate in his life, we become part of the ongoing perfection of Creation.
  • The Body of Christ, once present in the flesh in time, now sanctifies Creation through our lives, united in the Bread of Life.


No poetry today. Slowly read and re-read the passage from de Chardin. Find it’s message for you … perhaps just a word or a phrase:

  • the omni-influence of Christ
  • charity, …. that complete change of attitude so insistently taught by Christ
  • nothing in common with our colorless philanthropy
  • building up the fullness of God in Creation
  • the marvelous grace… of effectively cooperating … in the fulfillment of the Body of Christ

Music: Benedictus – Karl Jenkins

Alleluia: Love’s Silent Unity

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
June 15, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/061522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we listen to Jesus’s instruction and promise about how to live at one with God.

Alleluia, alleluia.
If you love me and will keep my word,
and my Father will love you
and we will come to you.

What wonderful assurance! We don’t have to labor to find God, or worry about searching for God. 

God will come to us – will blossom in our hearts like a sacred flower, – if we love Jesus and keep his Word.


In the opening sentence of her book “Too Deep for Words”, Thelma Hall, r.c. says this:

There is an inner dynamic in the evolution of all true love that leads to a communication too deep for words.  There the lover becomes inarticulate, falls silent, and the beloved receives the silence as eloquence.

Our verse today carries
that same, exquisite mystery,
the silent and complete unity
that comes from mutual love. 

Our Gospel elaborates on the invitation. 

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

Matthew 6:6

Let us savor these promises in our prayer today.


Poetry: in the silence – Rumi

In the silence 
between your heartbeat 
bides a summons
from Love.
Do you hear it? 
Name it if you must, 
or leave it forever nameless, 
but why pretend it is not there?

Music: The God of Silence – Bukas Palau

Alleluia: Be Love!

June 9, 2022
Thursday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse holds the complete essence of Jesus’s life. If there ever was glorious “nutshell”, this is it:

Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you. (Jn. 13:34)

Our motherhouse chapel is breathtakingly beautiful. Thinking of it as a “chapel”, people who first walk through its doors are astounded at itscathedral-like dimensions. I know I certainly was as a wonder-struck eighteen-year-old on my first visit.

Our Chapel in the 1950s

For the next almost three years, I often sat in my little pew pondering the chapel’s central mural — and especially the words framing it.

The words are an invitation and a command. The painting beneath is the whole instruction on Love… “…love as I have loved you.”

After those initial years, I chose those precious words for the motto to be engraved on my ring. I have prayed ever since that it might someday be engraved on my heart. In a culture that can so misunderstand the nature of love, I always appreciate the chance to visit that altar or to look at that ring.

May we have the courage to be
“Alleluia Lovers”
in this love-hungry world!

Poetry: from one of the greatest poets, Paul in his letter to the Corinthians

If I speak in the tongues in human or angelic tongue 
but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.
If I give away all I have,
and if I deliver up my body to be burned,
but have not love,
I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; 
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends. 
As for prophecies, they will pass away;
as for tongues, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I grew up, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,
even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; 
but the greatest of these is love.

Music: Love Never Ends – by The Corner Room

Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

June 3, 2022

festus
Window in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne – Paul Pleads His Case (Festus in yellow)

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul’s case goes before Festus and King Herod Agrippa. Just in case you are confused, like I was, about just who this particular Herod is, this family tree from Wikipedia helped:

chart

This King Agrippa was Marcus Julius Agrippa II (A.D. 27-100), son of Agrippa I (Acts 12:1-25) and great-grandson of Herod the Great (Mt 2:1-23). 

I offer these facts for no real spiritual reason, but they remind me that these biblical characters were real people, like us, engaging (or not) a real life of faith. (Also, I thought it was fun to see how uncreative they were in naming their babies )


In our Gospel, Jesus once again prepares Peter for his tremendous responsibility in the building of that faith. Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love Me?”. By the third interrogation, Peter’s answer sounds a little intense:

“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Hearing this response, Jesus lays the full burden of Peter’s life upon his shoulders. Not only must Peter “feed” the faith of Jesus’s followers, he must do so by giving over all control to God:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”

hand

Like Peter,
we too are given the gift and responsibility
of living a faithful life.
Like Peter, we all learn through the years,
that life comes to us in unexpected ways.
In reality, life often chooses us
rather than the other way around.


As we pray with these passages, we might want to look back over our lives for those points where life challenged or unbalanced us. What unexpected blessings came from those surprises/shocks? When God’s plan contradicted our own, how were we eventually blessed with courage, hope, gratitude, and insight?

We are the person we are today because of how we responded to God’s mysterious plan for our lives. Did we reach out our hand and let God lead us? Do we still need to do some letting go in order to enjoy that kind of freedom?


Rather than a poem today, I will be offering second post. It is a reflection I wrote many years ago for healthcare ministers and other chaplains. I think you might enjoy it. Watch for it later today – “Holding Hands with God”


Music:  Precious Lord, Take My Hand – written by Thomas A. Dorsey, sung here by the Great Mahalia Jackson

When my way groweth drear

Precious Lord, linger near-ear

When my li-ight is almost gone

Hear my cry, hear my call

Hold my ha-and lest I fa-all

Take my hand, precious Lor-ord

Lead me on

Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me sta-and

I am tired, I’m weak, I am worn

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the li-ight

Take my ha-and, precious Lor-ord

Lead me home

When my work is all done

And my race here is are you-un

Let me see-ee by the light

Thou hast shown

That fair city so bright

Where the lantern is the li-ight

Take my ha-and, precious Lor-ord

Lead me on

Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me sta-and

I am tired, I’m weak, I am worn

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the li-ight

Take my ha-and, precious Lor-ord

Lead me home

Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 27, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus acknowledges the difficulty of living a Christian life in a hostile world, especially without his physical presence to lead the disciples.

John16_22 separation

He knows that his friends are anguished at the thought of being separated from him. He compares their heartbreak to the pain of a mother in labor. The comparison is a perfect one because labor pains yield a gift that washes away the memory of suffering:

… when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.

John 16:21

Jesus tries to comfort his followers with this analogy, but he doesn’t deny the sorrow they are experiencing. Jesus knows that separation from what we dearly love can be a crushing experience. He knows that change often carries unwanted loss.

joys and sorrows

Our lives are braided into this cycle of labor, birth, love, loss, sorrow and joy. Jesus assures us that if we live this cycle in faith and hope, all things return to him in glory:

But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.

John 16:22

Poetry: Braid Your Hair With His – Mark Heathcote

God - has many names, 
but ‘Love' is the one that counts 
most aptly ‘Love' … ‘Love' 

‘Just Love' only, one word 
one name like ‘God' isn't it? 

God - has so many names 
each acts as a veil 
but ‘Love' is, ‘Love' only. 
So braid your hair with His 
embrace, lock fingers with His. 

His is a tree twining roots 
His is the first branch you perch on 
His is trees-bough at your centre 
your hearts bead is a locket of amber 
the tree's name is Love. 

At those times in our lives when we more feel the absence of God than the presence, remembering the endurance and bravery of others may help us. Although it’s not a religious song, this melody kept playing itself in my heart as I read today’s Gospel. It opened my spirit to a very comforting prayer time.

Music: We’ll Meet Again – Dame Vera Lynn

Dame Vera Margaret Lynn Welch, CH,DBD, OStJ, was a British singer of traditional popular music, songwriter and actress, whose musical recordings and performances were enormously popular during World War II. She died in 2020 at the age of 103.

She is widely known as “the Forces Sweetheart” and gave outdoor concerts for the troops in Egypt, India and Burma during the warThe songs most associated with her are “We’ll Meet Again”, “The White Cliffs of Dover”, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square”, and “There’ll Always Be an England”. 

Fifth Sunday of Easter 2022

May 15, 2022

Today, in in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings celebrate the New Creation given us in Jesus Christ.

Rev_ new

Acts describes the continuing whirlwind journey of Paul and Barnabas. They buzz all over the Mediterranean basin, carrying the Good News to Jews and Gentiles. Their work and enthusiasm teach us what the word “apostolic” truly signifies- reaching out to all people with the message of Jesus. Paul and Barnabas return home jubilant, 

… reporting what God had done with them
and how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

Acts 14:27

In our second reading, John, the visionary and poet, has another kind of door opened for him. His vision is of a New Creation, joined with God in a covenant of love. God renews the promise once made to Abraham, this time embodied in the gift of Jesus Christ to all humanity:

Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.

Revelation 21:3

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us once again how it is that we become part of this New Creation:

I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

John 13:34

All of these glorious images may help us see our life in God through new eyes. Perhaps there are a few half-closed doors in our lives that need to be oiled with the grace of renewal. Simply recognizing these in prayer, in God’s presence, is a step toward a New Creation of our hearts and spirits. We are so beloved of God! Let us open our hearts to that renewing love.


Poetry: The Limits of Your Long – Ranier Marie Rilke, Book of Hours

Listen.

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.


Music: Heaven on Earth by Stars GO Dim ( Lyrics below.)

I’ve been asleep
Head in the sand
Watching the time just ticking
Clock runs around
Days in and out
Can’t really call it living
Somewhere I let light go dark
But here’s where my new story starts
Take my life and let it be
Set on fire for all to see
Break me down, build me up again
Don’t leave me the way I’ve been
Take my heart into Your hands
Come and finish what You began
‘Til I seek Your kingdom first
‘Til I shine, shine
Like Heaven on earth
Like Heaven on earth
I wanna wake, I wanna see
All of the ways You’re moving
Show me the need
‘Cause I wanna be a part of what You’re doing
In my heart, let Kingdom come
Not my will but Yours be done
Take my life and let it be
Set on fire for all to see
Break me down, build me up again
Don’t leave me the way I’ve been
Take my heart into Your hands
Come and finish what You began
‘Til I seek Your kingdom first
‘Til I shine, shine
Like Heaven on earth
Like Heaven on earth
Help me move when I should move
Help me rest when I should rest
Help me give what I should give
All of me, nothing less
Help me speak with grace and truth
Help me fight for those who can’t
Help me love the way You love
Never holding nothing back (yeah like Heaven on earth)
Take my life and let it be
Set on fire for all to see
Break me down, build me up again
Don’t leave me the way I’ve been
Take my heart into Your hands
Come and finish what You began
‘Til I seek Your kingdom first
‘Til I shine, shine
Like Heaven on earth
Like Heaven on earth
Like Heaven on earth
Like Heaven on earth