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

Monday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Monday, July 12, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 124 which is a raw remembering of how bad things could have been without God’s help.

The psalm opens with these lines:

Had not the LORD been with us,
let Israel say,
Had not the LORD been with us,
when all rose against us,
Then we would have been swallowed alive,
for fury blazed against us.

Psalm 124: 1-3

Have you been there? What flares up to swallow your life, your hope, can wear many disguises: 

 

or the many forms of hunger and dying.


The psalm calls us to remember these things for two reasons:

  1. so that we don’t get caught again
  2. and that if – sadly – we do, we remember who freed us

We were rescued like a bird 
    from the fowlers’ snare;
Broken was the snare, 
    and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
    who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 124: 7-8

The release from such snares
does not return us to the way things were.
There will be
wounds and wisdom
to change us.
It depends on us which we choose to cherish.

“Re-membering” ourselves, pulling our new selves together in God, releases us to fuller, deeper life.

Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the maker of heaven and earth.

… so surely that Omnipotent God can heal and remake us.

Remember, this and a few other of my images have been set beautifully into cards by Sister Judy Ward, RSM.
You can contact her at

Poetry: The Fowler by Wilfrid Wilson Gibson (1868-1962)

A wild bird filled the morning air 
With dewy-hearted song; 
I took it in a golden snare 
Of meshes close and strong. 
But where is now the song I heard? 
For all my cunning art, 
I who would house a singing bird 
Have caged a broken heart.

Music: Peter Kater – Wings

Saturday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105, using some of its earlier verses than yesterday’s.

Verses 1-15 tell the same story as 1 Chronicles 16:8–22:
“a ‘canonical’ inventory of YHWH’s faithful, transformative actions.”
(Brueggemann, From Whom No Secrets Are Hidden)


As the faith community recounts this inventory, again and again down through the ages, we are deepened and strengthened in our grateful love for God Who abides.

Today’s readings once again invite us to count our blessings, and to repeat the practice daily.

Doing so allows us to hear the music of God’s omnipotent love, swirling grace through every chord of our lives.

We are summoned
to glory in that Loving Presence;
our spirits dancing
in thanksgiving.


Give thanks to the LORD, invoke God’s name;
    make known among the nations God’s deeds.
Sing to God, sing praise,
    proclaim all God’s wondrous deeds.
Glory in God’s holy name;
    rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD’s strength;
    seek to serve God constantly.

Pslam 105:1-4

Poetry: Forever Dance from D. Ladinsky, I Heard God Laughing – Renderings of Hafiz

I am happy even before I have a reason.
I am full of Light even before the sky
Can greet the sun or the moon.
Dear companions,
We have been in love with God
For so very, very long.
What can Hafiz now do but Forever Dance.


Music: Dance of Innocents – Nawang Khechog and Peter Kater

Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Friday, July 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 37 which is widely interpreted as:

“a response to the problem of evil,
which the Old Testament often expresses as a question:
why do the wicked prosper and the good suffer?”

Wikipedia

It’s a question all of us struggle with, isn’t it?
And wouldn’t we manage things a lot differently
if we were in charge of the world?


Psalm 37 opens with this advice to help us deal with our consternation:

Do not be provoked by evildoers;
do not envy those who do wrong.

Like grass they wither quickly;
like green plants they wilt away.

Psalm 37: 1-2

The psalmist continues to demonstrate that even though evil doers seem to prosper, their prosperity is short-lived. Only goodness endures and ultimately thrives.

Psalm 37 sounds very much like a parent teaching a child not to be distressed by the apparent success of the selfish and scheming. God is not fooled by evildoers so neither should we be.

The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;

But my Lord laughs at them,
seeing that their day is coming.

Psalm 37: 12-13

The advice is easily spoken but perhaps not so easily practiced. So the psalmist offers some tips on how to live a spiritually fruitful life:

  • Trust in the LORD and do good.
  • Find your delight in the LORD.
  • Commit your way to the Lord.
  • Be still before the LORD.
  • Refrain from anger; abandon wrath;
  • Do not be provoked; it brings only harm.
  • Wait a little, and the wicked will be no more.
  • Turn from evil and do good,
    that you may be settled forever.
  • Wait eagerly for the LORD,
    and keep the Lord’s way;

The psalm indicates the result of such goodness, conditions that sound very much like the Beatitudes:

  • You will be raised up to inherit the earth.
  • Yes, the poor will inherit the earth,
    will delight in great prosperity.
  • Better the meagerness of the righteous one
    than the plenty of the wicked.
  • The LORD will sustain the righteous.
  • The LORD knows the days of the blameless;
    their heritage lasts forever.
  • They will not be ashamed when times are bad;
    in days of famine they will be satisfied.
  • For those blessed by the Lord will inherit the earth,
    but those accursed will be cut off.

It’s hard to live a life like the one this psalm invites us to. (At least, I think it is!) It’s hard to have that much faith, especially when evil is smacking us right in the face. The psalmist acknowledges this difficulty but does so with a beautiful assurance:

The valiant one whose steps are guided by the LORD,
who will delight in God’s way,
may stumble, but will never fall,
for the Lord holds their hand.


Poetry: Give Me Your Hand – Rainer Maria Rilke

God speaks to each of us as we are made, 
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 horror. 
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: Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand – Alfred Street Baptist Church

Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105, one of the psalms which Walter Brueggemann characterizes as “lively remembering”.

These are psalms which gratefully inventory God’s generosity and faithfulness to Israel. The long list evokes holy surprise, gratitude, trust, and commitment in the believer’s heart.


Today’s verses pertain particularly to the wonderful story of Joseph cited in our first reading. But the entire psalm remembers a Divine Generosity covering generations.

Recall the wondrous deeds God has done,
wonders and words of judgment,

You descendants of Abraham God’s servant,
offspring of Jacob the chosen one!

Psalm 105: 5-6

Reading Psalm 105 always makes me remember a little blond kid from my long ago teaching days. 

We regularly gathered our school community for a “Children’s Mass”, either on Sunday or some special occasion. Bobby, a very good reader for a third grader, had volunteered to deliver the Responsorial Psalm. 

And he delivered, loud and clear:

Remember the “marbles”
the Lord has done.

Four times, the school body of 500+ children obediently responded in kind, apparently visualizing the same “marbles” as Bobby did.


Did God care? No, I think God enjoyed it as much as we teachers did. 

And as I remember the moment this morning, I can’t help considering how innocently garbled my own prayer must seem to God. Because honestly, how can we even imagine God, let alone find the words to speak the mysteries of our soul!

Glory in his holy name;
let hearts that seek the LORD rejoice!

Seek out the LORD’s might;
constantly seek God’s face.

Psalm 105: 3-4

So, praying our psalm today, we might want to hold up silently before God, who created the vastness of universe, all the tiny “marbles” in our hearts – those brilliant but impenetrable mysteries of love, hope, suffering, and joy which roll around in the deep universe of our lives.

Like the psalmist, we can unroll an inventory of God’s faithfulness to us which allows us to imagine a future full of hope – for ourselves and the generations to follow us.


Poetry: Ode to Marbles BY MAX MENDELSOHN

I love the sound of marbles   
scattered on the worn wooden floor,   
like children running away 
in a game of hide-and-seek.   
I love the sight of white marbles,   
blue marbles,   
green marbles, black,   
new marbles, old marbles,   
iridescent marbles,   
with glass-ribboned swirls,   
dancing round and round.   
I love the feel of marbles,   
cool, smooth,   
rolling freely in my palm,   
like smooth-sided stars   
that light up the worn world.

Music: Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers
– synchronized with MARBLES!
By DoodleChaos

Allow this video to open up your amazement. Invite into that amazement your gratitude for God’s astounding goodness to you. Perhaps like prayerfully walking a labyrinth, you can roll with the marbles through your faith journey.

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.

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

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Friday, July 2, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 106 which is a prayerful inventory of Israel’s long story with God. In today’s liturgy, the psalm follows a similar Genesis recounting of the story of the Abraham-Sarah family.


These two readings remind me of my own family as we have gathered, in our many configurations, over the seven decades of my life. For many early years, I was the listener to the old tales and legends. Gradually, as new generations were born, I became a guardian and teller of our history.


Psalmist 106 is a teller of Israel’s many ups and downs to the place where they now find themselves. By remembering both the darkness and light, the calms and the storms, our psalm testifies to God’s faithful and enduring mercy.

Blessed are they who observe what is right,
    who do always what is just.
Remember us, O LORD, as you favor your people. 

That testimony encourages the listeners that this faithful God can be trusted now and in the future – to abide, forgive, renew, and call believers. 

It holds out for us a heritage of fidelity promising to bless the generations with whom we share it.


If you sat down with your life at the table of holy memory, what would your stories be? What storms and rainbows mark your journey? How would your psalm of memory and gratitude read? How is your faith life transmitting this heritage to the next generations?

Visit me with your saving help,
That I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
    rejoice in the joy of your people,
    and glory with your inheritance.


Poetry: Naked Truth – A Jewish tale retold as a poem by Heather Forest

Naked Truth walked down the street one day.
People turned their eyes away.
Parable arrived, draped in decoration.
People greeted Parable with celebration.

Naked Truth sat alone, sad and unattired,
“Why are you so miserable?” Parable inquired.
Naked Truth replied, “I’m not welcome anymore.
No one wants to see me. They chase me from the door.”

“It is hard to look at Naked Truth,”Parable explained.
“Let me dress you up a bit. Your welcome will be gained.”
Parable dressed Naked Truth in story’s fine attire, 
with metaphor, poignant prose, and plots to inspire.

With laughter and tears and adventure to unveil,
Together they went forth to spin a tale.
People opened their doors and served them their best.
Naked Truth dressed in story was a welcome guest. 

Music: Heritage of Faith – Babbie Mason (lyrics below)

The patriarchs of old
The saints that now are gone
To their great reward
Held fast to the struggle
Persistent through the years
Forging through their fears
They fought to change their world
For the sake of the gospel

May their love for Jesus
Never go unnoticed
May they spur us on to all
That lies before us
This heritage of faith
This legacy of love
We must pass to our daughters
Hand down to our sons
We must raise the standard high
And proclaim the name of Christ
That others may know the way
And this heritage of faith

In my heart I hear the call
That echoes from the cross
Where the sacrifice for man
Was freely rendered
It's the call to stand for right
Keep the faith and fight the fight

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 1, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 115, bringing a welcome comfort after the always disturbing story of Isaac’s aborted sacrifice.

This story fascinated Rembrandt. Notice the differences between the 1635 and 1655 interpretations. The old man in the 1655 image has darkened eyes, covers his son’s eyes – not his mouth, and embraces the boy in his lap not laid out on an altar. Old age has gentled what Rembrandt found in the story.


But here’s what I think. It was never about a human sacrifice. God was never going to let that happen.

It was about whether Abraham’s trust would allow him to really see God – God who is never a God of death, but always of life.

As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”


We live in a world full of choices that run the gamut from death-dealing to life-giving. They may be small, personal choices like what we eat, or how we drive. Or they may be more consequential choices such as the political views we foster or the global ideologies we embrace.

Psalm 115 helps us to solve any confusion we might have about our choices. Always make the choices that lead ourselves and others to the land of the living.

Abraham must have been thrown into the dark by what he believed was God’s expectation of him. But it was really Abraham’s own expectation that had to be broken through. He did this by staying with his pain while trusting that God was bigger than it.

Christine Robinson’s interpretation of Psalm 115 fits well here:

O Great Mystery
   We must love and praise you without understanding.
You are not a little tin god
   with eyes that do not see and ears that do not hear
   and a mouth that does not speak.
You can not be described or boxed up or tamed
   You are beyond our understanding.
Still, we yearn to hear you, know you,
   feel your love, and in mystery, we do.
We know awe at the intricate majesty of the heavens,
We cherish the work of caring for each other 
and the Earth.
We praise you, Great Mystery
   all the days of our lives.

Poetry: Silence – Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

Abraham failed the test.
For Sodom and Gomorrah he argued
but when it came to his son
no protest crossed his lips.
God was mute with horror.
Abraham, smasher of idols
and digger of wells
was meant to talk back.
Sarah would have been wiser
but Abraham avoided her tent,
didn’t lay his head in her lap
to unburden his secret heart.
In stricken silence God watched
as Abraham saddled his ass
and took Isaac on their final hike
to the place God would show him.
The angel had to call him twice.
Abraham’s eyes were red, his voice hoarse
he wept like a man pardoned
but God never spoke to him again.

(It is true that, in Genesis, this is the last recorded exchange between God and Abraham!)


Music: Story of Isaac – Leonard Cohen

(If there’s no picture below, just click on the underlined phrase “Watch on Youtube

The door, it opened slowly
My father, he came in
I was nine years old
And he stood so tall above me
Blue eyes, they were shining
And his voice was very cold
Said, "I've had a vision
And you know I'm strong and holy
I must do what I've been told"
So we started up the mountain
I was running, he was walking
And his axe was made of gold

Well, the trees, they got much smaller
The lake, a lady's mirror
When we stopped to drink some wine
Then he threw the bottle over
Broke a minute later
And he put his hand on mine
Thought I saw an eagle
But it might have been a vulture
I never could decide
Then my father built an altar
He looked once behind his shoulder
He knew I would not hide

You who build these altars now
To sacrifice these children
You must not do it anymore
A scheme is not a vision
And you never have been tempted
By a demon or a god
You, who stand above them now
Your hatchets blunt and bloody
You were not there before
When I lay upon a mountain
And my father's hand was trembling
With the beauty of the word

And if you call me brother now
Forgive me if I inquire
Just according to whose plan?
When it all comes down to dust
I will kill you if I must
I will help you if I can
When it all comes down to dust
I will help you if I must
I will kill you if I can
And mercy on our uniform
Man of peace or man of war
The peacock spreads his fan