A Blessed Mercy Day

Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
September 24, 2021

The link below will take you to Mercy International Center’s website. About mid-page, you can click to see Catherine McAuley’s story, “In God Alone”. It is a wonderful short film. Please take time to enjoy it and to thank God with the Sisters of Mercy for our blessed founder, dear Catherine. Blessings and love to all our Mercy family throughout the world!

Music: In God Alone by Bernadette Farrell

Return Rejoicing!

Memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-gŏn, Priest, and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang, and Companions, Martyrs
September 20, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 126

This six-verse psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and other Protestant liturgies. It is well known in Judaism as the preliminary psalm recited before the Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals) on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and as such is sung to a wide variety of melodies.

Wikipedia
Shir hama'alot (Psalm 126) - cantor Yossele Rosenblatt

Psalm 126 can be described as:

 “joy remembered and joy anticipated”

James Luther Mays

The psalm is divided into two parts. 

Joys remembered: The first three verses gratefully reflect on the joy and freedom felt upon return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile.

Joys anticipated: The second three verses attest to the difficulties subsequent to that return. They voice a plea for restoration of joy.


This is a prayer most of us can relate to. Can you remember a time when you were so delighted to obtain a certain item, or status, or goal that you felt it was “almost like a dream” situation? 

When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
    we were like those dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with rejoicing.

Psalm 126:1

But perhaps, once that reality was obtained, it wasn’t so easy to manage, or complete, or enjoy! Perhaps there were “dry spells” like the torrent-less desert of 126:

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
    like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
    shall reap rejoicing.

Psalm 126: 4-5

For example, I’ve heard a few young couples express delight upon buying their first home – a “fixer upper”. But often, the “fixing up” requires a lot more resources than expected!

Such was the situation for the Israelites who joyfully returned to Jerusalem — only to find a city in ruins, bereft of their beloved Temple, with devastated fields and vineyards.


Still, Psalm 126 is a testament to hope and resilience. It is an affirmation that we can go forward by faith, hope, trust, patience, and by drawing on the power of remembered mercies.

Although they go forth weeping,
    carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
    carrying their sheaves.

Psalm 126:6

Poem: Blessing to Summon Rejoicing – Jan Richardson

When your weeping
has watered
the earth.
When the storm
has been long
and the night
and the season
of your sorrowing.
When you have seemed
an exile
from your life,
lost in the far country,
a long way from where
your comfort lies.
When the sound
of splintering
and fracture
haunts you.
When despair
attends you.
When lack.
When trouble.
When fear.
When pain.
When empty.
When lonely.
When too much
of what depletes you
and not enough
of what restores
and rests you.
Then let there be
rejoicing.
Then let there be
dreaming.
Let there be
laughter in your mouth
and on your tongue
shouts of joy.
Let the seeds
soaked by tears
turn to grain,
to bread,
to feasting.
Let there be
coming home.

— from Circle of Grace

Music: In the Place of Dreams – Tim Janis

Jubilate Deo!

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

September 18, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 100, called the “Jubilate Deo” because of its opening pronouncement:

Shout joyfully to the LORD, all you peoples;
serve the Lord with gladness;
come before the Lord with joyful song.

Psalm 100: 1-2

This is such a perfect prayer today for our Mercy community as we will gather to celebrate the Jubilee of many of our sisters this afternoon. It will be a huge celebration in which the Jubilarians of both 2020 and 2021 will be honored, due to last year’s Covid restrictions.

For many of us, the most moving parts of the celebration are the procession and recession. These celebratory passages are a testament to God’s faithfulness over many lifetimes, and to the women who have received and responded to God’s gifts.

Some sisters, who have been given the gift of long years, will process with a cane or walker to assist them. Some will move with an achieved maturity, and some still with the vigor of youth.

But our Mercy family, gathered in the pews, walks in Spirit with each of the Jubilarians, carrying her within a bond of mutual love. As we see each sister whom we have lived with, worked with, loved and learned from, our hearts indeed sing with them, “Jubilate!”


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 leaven to joy that comes, I guess not how.
I dedicate my fields when Spring is grey.
Oh, 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.
Some of 2021’s Sapphire/Diamond Jubilarians when they were true Neophytes

Please join us in your grateful prayers for these Sisters of Mercy:

Jubilarians 2020
80 years
Sister Rita Powell

70 years
Sister Mary Georgina Hasson 
Sister Mary Hentz
Sister Kathleen Kelly
Sister Marie Lynch
Sister Antoinette Medori 
Sister Clare Miriam Schrant 
Sister Marianna Walsh

60 Years
Sister Rosellen Bracken
Sister Mary Elizabeth Burke 
Sister Emily Therese Connor 
Sister Marie Michele Donnelly 
Sister Patricia Anne Flynn
Sister Kathleen Marie Fox
Sister Mary Ann Giordano
Sister Patricia Anne Kennedy 
Sister Barbara Ann MacWilliams 
Sister Kathleen McAlpin
Sister Mercedes Joan McCann 
Sister Kathleen McGovern 
Sister Josephine McGrory
Sister Mary Sarah McNally 
Sister Mary Anne Nolan
Sister Stella Mary O’Brien
Sister Frances Paglione
Sister Rose Carmel Scalone 
Sister Barbara Smiley
Sister Patricia Talone
Sister Angela Welsh

50 years
Sister Mary Beth Geraghty 
Sister Mary Jane Morrison 
Sister Katherine Bednarcik

Jubilarians 2021
75 years
Sister Mary Ann Basile 
Sister Marie Helene Bradley 
Sister Mary Janet Doughty 
Sister Kathleen Mary Long 
Sister Marita Lyons
Sister Catherine Rawley 
Sister Ethel Sweeney

70 years
Sister Therese Marie Kenny 
Sister Alice Mary Meehan 
Sister Rose Morris
Sister Kathleen Waugh 
Sister Anne Marie Berenato 
Sister Mary Anton Frick

60 years
Sister Francis Haddow 
Sister Anna Marie Lesutis 
Sister Margery Lowry
Sister Mary Mester
Sister Sheila Murphy
Sister Anne Marie Weisglass 
Sister Joanne Whitaker 
Sister Beverly Wilde

50 years
Sister Maureen Conklin 
Sister Susan Myslinski

25 Years
Sister Guia Jimenez


Music: Utrecht Jubilate – Handel

Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103 whose verses this morning remind us of God’s munificence.

Munificent – it’s a wonderful word whose Latin roots literally mean gift-making, abundant generosity.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
    slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

Psalm 103:8

Praying this morning, I realize that I can’t even begin to number the gifts God has given me.


But like Moses in today’s first reading, I want to visit God in the sacred tent of prayer – learning, thanking and awakening to the Mercy in my life.

… and, like Moses, to invite God into every moment, to ask God to keep company with me on my journey:

Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O LORD,
do come along in our company.


Poetry: Bearing the Light – Denise Levertov

Rain-diamonds, this winter morning, embellish the tangle
of unpruned pear-tree twigs;
each solitaire, placed, it appears,
with considered judgement,
bears the light beneath the rifted clouds —
the indivisible shared out in endless abundance.


Music: In the Garden – written by C. Austin Miles in 1912. Miles wrote nearly 400 hymns, this one the most famous.

And who doesn’t love Anne Murray’s mellow voice!

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 103, always a source of sweet reflection on God’s mercy.

From today’s verses, this line rings out:

All my being, bless God’s holy name.

Psalm 103:1

It’s a call to make our lives a total prayer – every moment lived in and with the Presence of God.

The truth is that this is already our reality. God is present to our every moment because it is God’s Life which breathes within us. 

The psalm’s call is really to our awareness – the mandate fully to realize that God is living God’s life through us.


The psalm tells us to remember that, in order to so live in us, God is continually merciful. And so God:

  • pardons all our iniquities
  • heals all your ills
  • redeems our life from destruction
  • and ultimately crowns us with kindness and compassion.

In other words, when we are open to Grace, God makes the best even of our mistakes – always allowing us repent, change, and deepen in love and mercy.

God redeems our life from every darkness
and crowns us with mercy and compassion,
God fills our days with light,
renews our young enthusiasm with the eagle’s strength.

Psalm 103:3-5

Poetry: The Presence of Love – Samuel Taylor Coleridge 

And in Life's noisiest hour,
There whispers still the ceaseless Love of Thee,
The heart's Self-solace and soliloquy.
You mould my Hopes, you fashion me within;
And to the leading Love-throb in the Heart
Thro' all my Being, thro' my pulse's beat;
You lie in all my many Thoughts, like Light,
Like the fair light of Dawn, or summer Eve
On rippling Stream, or cloud-reflecting Lake.
And looking to the Heaven, that bends above you,
How oft! I bless the Lot that made me love you.

Music: With Me Now – Hillary Stagg

Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 33 in which the psalmist is clearly awestruck by both the power and the mercy of God. It is a prayer of radical awareness that God is Creator and we are creature.

According to Walter Brueggemann,
Psalm 33 describes Yahweh
as the settled sovereign, securely in control,
who need only speak
to have the command fulfilled.

The psalm has two divisions. In part one, the community is called to praise God because God deserves it.

Rejoice, you righteous, in the LORD;
praise from the upright is fitting.

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
on the ten-stringed lyre offer praise.

Sing to God a new song;
skillfully play with joyful chant.

For the LORD’s word is upright;
and works are trustworthy.

Psalm 33: 1-4

In part two, that praise is articulated by recounting God’s caring intervention in the community’s experience.

From heaven the LORD looks down
and observes the children of Adam,

From that dwelling place surveying
all who dwell on earth.

The One who fashioned together their hearts
and who knows all their works.

Psalm 33: 13-15

Psalm 33 can be summarized in this way:

Because Yahweh rules with righteousness, justice, and unfailing love,
we must worship Yahweh with songs and praise
and by rejecting all false sources of salvation.

Lynn Jost, Professor of Biblical and Religious Studies – Tabor College, Kansas

Praying Psalm 33 reminds me that one can never demand mercy. We cannot require the other to hold us in continual compassion. We can only hope and be grateful.

Mercy is the gift of a heart moved beyond itself by love and tenderness. Such outpouring is the very nature of God in whose image we are created.

Thus for God, and for us, to be unmerciful is to be unnatural. In Psalm 33, we pray not only to receive mercy, but to become mercy.


Psalm 33 closes with a plea for our hearts to be deepened in their affinity to God, to mirror God by our patience, joy, hope, and mercy.

Our soul waits for the LORD,
Who is our help and shield.

For in God our hearts rejoice;
in God’s holy name we trust.

May your mercy, LORD, be upon us;
as we put our hope in you.

Psalm 33: 20-22

Poetry: To Live in the Mercy of God BY DENISE LEVERTOV

To lie back under the tallest
oldest trees. How far the stems
rise, rise
               before ribs of shelter
                                           open!
To live in the mercy of God. The complete
sentence too adequate, has no give.
Awe, not comfort. Stone, elbows of
stony wood beneath lenient
moss bed.
And awe suddenly
passing beyond itself. Becomes
a form of comfort.
                      Becomes the steady
air you glide on, arms
stretched like the wings of flying foxes.
To hear the multiple silence
of trees, the rainy
forest depths of their listening.
To float, upheld,
                as salt water
                would hold you,
                                        once you dared.
                  .
To live in the mercy of God.
To feel vibrate the enraptured
waterfall flinging itself
unabating down and down
                              to clenched fists of rock.
Swiftness of plunge,
hour after year after century,
                                                   O or Ah
uninterrupted, voice
many-stranded.
                              To breathe
spray. The smoke of it.
                              Arcs
of steelwhite foam, glissades
of fugitive jade barely perceptible. Such passion—
rage or joy?
                              Thus, not mild, not temperate,
God’s love for the world. Vast
flood of mercy
                      flung on resistance.

Music: As you listen to David Arkenstone’s instrumental, you may want to remember Shakespeare’s famous description of mercy. See below the music.

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

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

 

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

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

Psalm 17:6-7

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

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

Genesis 32:27-28

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

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

Genesis 32:30-31

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

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

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


Poetry: God BY KAHLIL GIBRAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Music:

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

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

(Repeat Chorus)

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

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

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 123. 

… eyes fixed on the Lord, pleading for mercy.

Psalm 123:2

This starkly passionate response, repeated throughout the psalm, struck an image in my imagination – an ardent tango with the Beloved, eyes fixed in hope.


Often in my prayer I just dance or sing with God – sometimes with sound and movement, sometimes in still silence. The dances are varied depending  on the prayer and the day’s circumstances.  

Today’s readings, filled with Israel’s resistance, Paul’s thorn, and Nazarene recalcitrance drew an energetic tango in my mind.

It is a dance between Mercy and Resistance. In my prayer, I searched for where that dance resides in me.


Music: Tango to Evora – Loreena McKennitt

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

Saturday, July 3, 2021

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

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

Psalm 117: 1-2

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Music: Healing Touch – Deuter

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