Easter Saturday

April 10, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray again with Psalm 118, today’s verses a song of utter confidence in, and thanks for, God’s faithfulness.

Give thanks to the LORD who is is good,
    whose mercy endures forever.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
    who has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
    in the tents of the just.

Psalm 118: 1, 14-15

That profound trust and gratitude are captured in the enduring word:

“Forever” is a word we tend to toss about carelessly, as in:

It took my pizza forever to get here!

I promise I’ll love you forever.

Really? Could “forever” possibly apply in both these cases????


I think, in fact, we cannot begin to conceptualize “forever”, just as we cannot possibly conceptualize God.

What we can do is 

  • to pick up the fabric of our life as it flows through time, 
  • to place it with trust in God’s enduring love, 
  • to slowly, continually become knit into God’s faithfulness, 
  • to finally become still as, in each moment, that Love carries us to “forever”.

Poetry: two selections today

Forever – is composed of Nows by Emily Dickinson

Forever – is composed of Nows –
‘Tis not a different time –
Except for Infiniteness –
And Latitude of Home –
From this – experienced Here –
Remove the Dates – to These –
Let Months dissolve in further Months –
And Years – exhale in Years –
Without Debate – or Pause –
Or Celebrated Days –
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Dominies 

From Miracles by C.S. Lewis

It is probable that Nature is not really in Time 
and almost certain that God is not. 
Time is probably (like perspective) the mode of our perception. 
There is therefore in reality no question of God's 
at one point in time (the moment of creation) 
adapting the material history of this universe 
in advance to free acts 
which you or I are to perform 
at a later point in Time.

To God
all the physical events and all the human acts 
are present in an eternal Now. 
The liberation of finite wills 
and the creation of the whole material history of the universe 
(related to the acts of those wills in all the necessary complexity) 
is to God a single operation. 
In this sense God did not create the universe long ago 
but creates it at this minute—at every minute.

Music: Swept Across Forever – Tim Janis

Easter Friday: Cornerstone

April 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 118:

The stone which the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
    it is wonderful in our eyes.

Psalm 118:22

That “Stone”, rejected by the builders, is the Crucified Christ, the sight of whom was an abomination to those who expected a battle-victorious messiah.

But Jesus is among us to stand in contradiction to everything that limits the power of God. In Jesus’s Name

  • the poor are rich
  • the lost are found
  • the foolish are wise
  • the persecuted are blessed
  • the dead are raised to life

As Peter says in Acts, worldly rejection holds no sway over the power of this Name:

There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved

Acts 4:12
The Miraculous Catch – James Tissot

This is the mysterious lesson of the Cross, a lesson accessed only through faith, a faith the disciples exercise in today’s beautiful Gospel story.

This morning, we might wish to join Jesus for his “Breakfast on the Beach”, feeding our spirits in his resurrected Light. The truth he gives us goes beyond any purely human understanding. Let us listen with our deep hearts; see with grace-filled eyes.


Poetry: True Cornerstone by Robert Morris,  a prominent American poet of the mid-19th century

What is the Mason's cornerstone? 
Does the mysterious temple rest 
On earthly ground — from east to west — 
From north to south — and this alone? 

What is the Mason's cornerstone? 
Is it to toil for fame and pelf, 
To magnify our petty self, 
And love our friends — and this alone? 

No, no; the Mason's cornerstone — 
A deeper, stronger, nobler base, 
Which time and foe cannot displace — 
IS FAITH IN God — and this alone! 

'Tis this which makes the mystic tie 
Loving and true, divinely good, 
A grand, united brotherhood, 
Cemented 'neath the All-seeing Eye. 

'Tis this which gives the sweetest tone 
To Mason's melodies; the gleam 
To loving eyes; the brightest gem 
That sparkles in the Mason's crown. 

'Tis this which makes the Mason's grip 
A chain indissolubly strong; 
It banishes all fraud, and wrong, 
And coldness from our fellowship. 

Oh, cornerstone, divine, divine! 
Oh, FAITH IN God ! it buoys us up, 
And gives to darkest hours a hope, 

And makes the heart a holy shrine. 
Brothers, be this your cornerstone; 
Build every wish and hope on this; 
Of present joy, of future bliss, 
On earth, in Heaven — and this alone!

Music: Loed, When You Came – Kitty Cleveland

Lord, when you came to the seashore 
you weren’t seeking the wise or the wealthy, 
but only asking that I might follow.

O Lord, in my eyes you were gazing, 
Kindly smiling,My name you were saying; 
All I treasured,I have left on the sand there; 
Close to you, I will find other seas.

Señor me has mirado a los ojos,
Sonriendo has dicho mi nombre,
En la rena he dejado mi barca, 
junto a ti buscaré otro mar.

Lord, you knew what my boat carried:
Neither money nor weapons for fighting, 
but nets for fishing my daily labor. 

Lord, have you need of my labor, hands for service,
A heart made for loving, my arms for lifting the poor and broken? 

Lord, send me where you would have me, to a village,
Or heart of the city; I will remember that you are with me.

Easter Thursday: Psalm 8

April 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 8 – “a unique hymn of praise of God as Creator”, according to scripture scholar Roland Murphy, O.Carm.

Murphy goes on to explain:

Normally a hymn calls upon people to praise God, but not here. A communal refrain forms an inclusio (vv.2,10) for an individual hymn of admiration (vv.3-9)

(“Inclusio” is biblical theology jargon. It means a literary device based on a concentric principle, also known as bracketing or an envelope structure, which consists of creating a frame by placing similar material at the beginning and end of a section)

We might like to use the idea of an “inclusio” in our own prayer – 

  • just taking that one phrase from the psalm which strikes our heart
  • beginning our prayer time with its rhythm
  • repeating it gently and continuously
  • letting it speak to us without further words
  • letting its images blossom in our prayer
  • letting it take us deeper into God’s heartbeat
  • closing our prayer time and entering our day with its cadence informing our spirit.

Prose: from William Butler Yeats

The purpose of rhythm …
is to prolong the moment of contemplation
– the moment when we are both asleep and awake,
which is the one moment of creation
— by hushing us with an alluring monotony,
while it holds us waking by variety…


Music: Heartbeat – Shankar Esaan Loy

Easter Wednesday

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

April 7, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105 as the psalmist rejoices in seeking and being found by God.

Our scripture passages today invite us to walk:

  • beside one long crippled and amazed at unexpected healing
  • beside the psalmist and all who seek the Lord
  • beside the Emmaus disciples as they shed their confusion into the already present Light

The readings call us to deeper, more faith-filled journeys that

  • challenge our passively accepted inhibitions
  • appreciate the journey as part of the destination
  • open our eyes to Grace otherwise invisible to our unhopeful hearts

Poetry: excerpt from The Wasteland by T.S.Eliot

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?

Music: Turn Around, Look at Me – The Vogues

Easter Tuesday: He Knows My Name

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter

April 6, 2021

Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni” 

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 33 which connects two powerful readings from Acts and John’s Gospel.

Acts describes for us a gathered crowd which, upon Peter’s inspired preaching, become a repentant, converting community. Peter speaks a word that changes them. They are struck through to their core by the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice for them.

Now when they heard (Peter’s preaching),
they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other Apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”

Acts 2:37

In our Gospel, a bereaved Mary Magdalene’s heart is cut as well – with sorrow, confusion, and grief. But in that moment when Jesus simply speaks her name, she is awakened, healed, and energized.


What Word is it that our heart longs for today as we pray? What healing, light, and conversion do these readings hold for us as we open our hearts to Easter grace? 

We, too, like Peter’s congregation, have come to hear a Word that transforms us. We, too, like Mary have been waiting in Hope outside the tomb. As we pray today’s scriptures, let’s listen for our name.


Our soul waits for the LORD,
    who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
    who have put our hope in you.

Psalm 33:20,22

Poetry: Say My Name – Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi

It is a good day to think about how important one’s name is to them, especially as it expresses our spiritual, familial and cultural rootedness. Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi is a proud Black/Indigenous, Pasifika and West Asian writer. She is from Murray (Mer) Island, from the Zagareb and Dauareb tribes.

My name was my name before
                            I walked among the living
               before I could breathe
               before I had lungs to fill
before my great grandmother passed
               and everyone was left to grieve

My name was birthed from a dream
               A whisper from gods to a king
               A shout into the stars that produced
                             another that shone as bright
They held me without being burnt, humming lullabies in pidgin

My name was passed down from my
               ancestors
They acknowledged my roots grew in two
               places
So, they ripped my name from the ocean
               and mixed it into the bloodlines of my totems

My name has survived the destruction of worlds
and the genocidal rebirthing of so-called ones
It’s escaped the overwhelmed jaw of the death bringer
               Many a time
It has survived the conflicts that resulted in my gods,
               from both lands, knowing me as kin,
but noticing that I am painfully unrecognisable and lost
They are incapable of understanding
               the foreign tongue that was forced on me

My name has escaped cyclones and their daughters
It has been blessed by the dead
As they mixed dirt, salt and liquid red,
               into my flesh
My name is the definition of resilience
It is a warrior that manifested because of warriors

So, excuse me as I roll my eyes or sigh as you
mispronounce my name
               over and over again
Or when you give me another
               that dishonours my mother and father
That doesn’t acknowledge my lineage to my island home
or the scents of rainforest and ocean foam
You will not stand here on stolen land
               and whitewash my name
For it is two words intertwined
               holding as much power as a hurricane
Say it right or don’t say it at all
For I am Meleika
               I will answer when you call


Music: You Know My Name – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

(You may come upon an ad in the middle of today’s music — because it is rather long. Just clip the “Skip Ads” after a few seconds and you’ll get back to the choir)

Psalm 69: The Plea

Wednesday of Holy Week

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 69. The verses offered for today’s liturgy describe someone who is abused and abandoned by the community he depended on:

Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
    I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
    for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
    and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

Psalm 69: 21-22

The psalmist goes on, into today’s passage and throughout the whole psalm, to proclaim his innocence and call on God for justice – one might say even vengeance.

Heap punishment upon their punishment;
let them gain from you no vindication.
May they be blotted from the book of life;
not registered among the just!

Psalm 69: 28-29

Several Gospel writers include parts of Psalm 69 to describe Jesus’s situation throughout his Passion and Death. However, we find Jesus not invoking divine vengeance but forgiving those who persecute him.

Does Christ’s forgiveness mean that he didn’t feel heart-broken, angry, perhaps even wishing, as the psalmist does, that the tables would be turned onto his harassers? 

We don’t really know what he felt. We can only imagine. What we do know is what Jesus chose. Jesus chose forgiveness.

As we pray with Psalm 69 today, let us remember that we cannot help our feelings. They come unbidden. What we can control are our choices. In the sufferings of our lives, may we have the strength to choose as Jesus did.


Poetry: John Greenleaf Whittier, ‘Forgiveness’

My heart was heavy, for its trust had been
Abused, its kindness answered with foul wrong;
So, turning gloomily from my fellow-men,
One summer Sabbath day I strolled among
The green mounds of the village burial-place;
Where, pondering how all human love and hate
Find one sad level; and how, soon or late,
Wronged and wrongdoer, each with meekened face,
And cold hands folded over a still heart,
Pass the green threshold of our common grave,
Whither all footsteps tend, whence none depart,
Awed for myself, and pitying my race,
Our common sorrow, like a mighty wave,
Swept all my pride away, and trembling I forgave!


Music: Antonio Vivaldi – Domine ad adjuvandum me festina (Psalm 69)

Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto,
sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper
et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Alleluia

O Lord, make speed to save me:
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end, Amen. Alleluia.

Psalm 71: A Long Trust

Tuesday of Holy Week

March 30, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 71, a prayer of yielding and confident faith.

Often thought to be the prayer of an aging David, Psalm 71 recalls a long and steady relationship with God. Even as his youthful vigor wanes, the psalmist declares that his true strength rests in God’s faithfulness.

For you are my hope, O LORD;
    my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
    from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
My mouth shall declare your justice,
    day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
    and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 71: 15-17
King David as an Old Man – Rembrandt

David witnesses to a powerful faith, one that we all might cherish in our human diminishments. It is hard to lose things in our life – youth, health, relationships, reputation, enthusiasm, hope, direction, security. But all of us face at least some of these challenges at some time in our lives.


Judas Iscariot (right), retiring from the Last Supper,
painting by Carl Bloch, late 19th century

In our Gospel today, Jesus acknowledges the loss of trust in a close disciple:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.

John 13:21-22

That betrayal is a sign to Jesus that the great dream of his earthly ministry is coming to an ignominious close when even those dearest to him slip into betrayal and denial.


What is it that holds Jesus together, heart and soul riveted on the Father’s Will, as he moves through these heart-wrenching days.

Jesus is the living sacrament of complete obedience and union with God. Every choice of his life has brought him to a readiness for this final and supreme act of trusting love. Like the psalmist today, Jesus’s whole life proclaims:

I will always hope in you
and add to all your praise.
My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds,
day after day your acts of deliverance,
though I cannot number them all.i
I will speak of the mighty works of the Lord;
O GOD, I will tell of your singular justice.
God, you have taught me from my youth;
to this day I proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 71: 14-17

As we accompany Jesus today, let us pray this psalm with him, asking for an ever-deepening faith, hope, and love.


Poetry: Jesus Weeps – Malcolm Guite

Jesus comes near and he beholds the city
And looks on us with tears in his eyes,
And wells of mercy, streams of love and pity
Flow from the fountain whence all things arise.
He loved us into life and longs to gather
And meet with his beloved face to face
How often has he called, a careful mother,
And wept for our refusals of his grace,
Wept for a world that, weary with its weeping,
Benumbed and stumbling, turns the other way,
Fatigued compassion is already sleeping
Whilst her worst nightmares stalk the light of day.
But we might waken yet, and face those fears,
If we could see ourselves through Jesus’ tears.

Music: Long Ago – Michael Hoppé, Tom Wheater, Michael Tillman

Psalm 18: God’s Right Here

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

March 26, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 18. It is a royal psalm, full of triumph, praise and rejoicing. But the psalmist, presumably David, never forgets the depths from which he has been delivered. He remembers the “storm” from which he called out to God.

 

The psalmist imagines God, in the distant temple, hearing his cry and responding. The image brought to my mind the memory of an early morning prayer time when I was a very young nun. 

An hour or so before dawn, I looked out my window to the morning star, imagining God out there in the heavens. Like David, I presumed God was distant and needed to be called into my experience. But, on that morning, I realized that God was not distant – that God was within me, my life, and the very storm I was praying about.

I still love to look out to the stars while I pray. But since that morning, I imagine God sitting beside me, enjoying the same beauty – sorting through my life with me from within my own heart. Verse 29 makes me think that David came to a similar realization:


Poetry: Go Not to the Temple – Ravindranath Tagore

Go not to the temple to put flowers upon the feet of God,
First fill your ownhouse with the Fragrance of love and kindness. 

Go not to the temple to light candles before the altar of God,
First remove the darkness of sin , pride and ego, 
from your heart…

Go not to the temple to bow down your head in prayer,
First learn to bow in humility before your fellowmen.
And apologize to those you have wronged. 

Go not to the temple to pray on bended knees,
First bend down to lift someone who is down-trodden.
And strengthen the young ones. 
Not crush them.

Go not to the temple to ask for forgiveness for your sins,
First forgive from your heart those who have hurt you!


Music: Christ Be Beside Me – St. Patrick’s Breastplate adapted by Michael Foscher

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

Our Psalm: If…

Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

March 23, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the Book of Daniel both for our Responsorial Psalm and for our first reading. 


As I read through today’s scripture passages, I immediately thought of my wonderful college Logic professor, Florence Fay. She was free-spirited, colorful, brilliant and clear. I loved her classes. It was Dr. Fay who implanted a love for syllogisms (if-then statements) in my young mind.

Today, multiple syllogisms popped out to me from our first reading and Gospel.

from Daniel:

If our God, whom we serve,
can save us from the white-hot furnace
and from your hands, O king, then may he save us!


from John:

But even if he will not, (then) know, O king,
that we will not serve your god
or worship the golden statue that you set up.

If you remain in my word, then you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

If you were Abraham’s children,
(then) you would be doing the works of Abraham. 
If God were your Father, (then) you would love me,
for I came from God and am here;
I did not come on my own, but he sent me.


I’ve prayed some pretty frantic “if-then” prayers at desperate times in my life. They sound like this:
“Dear God, if You just get me out of this mess I made, then I promise to turn into a Saint!”

But, obviously, with such prayers, I didn’t get the sacred “logic” right.
I think a lot of people don’t get it right, sometimes disastrously, as in:
“If God had answered my prayer, then I would still go to church. But he didn’t, so I don’t.”


Daniel’s “Psalm” serves as a perfect instruction for how we must respond to God, no matter the outcome of our “if-then” moments. If we close ourselves to God’s presence even in our disappointments, we will never grow into God’s ever-new imagination for our lives.

Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
    praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
    praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.


Poetry: If— by Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936

If you can keep your head when all about you
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
   And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
   And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
   And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
   To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
   Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
   If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
   Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


Music: Even If – MercyMe