God Delights in Us!

Memorial of Padre Pio 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 149, a call to praise God in festive celebration because God will enjoy that!

Praying with that thought today, I ask myself:

Is my God a happy God?

Our psalm says “Yes!” – a Lover of song, joy, praise, dance, timbrel and harp!

Hallelujah!
Sing to the Lord a new song; 
sing the praises of God in the company of the faithful. 
Let Israel rejoice in their maker;
let the children of Zion be joyful in their sovereign. 
Let them praise the name of the Lord in the dance;
let them sing praise to God with timbrel and harp. 
For the Lord takes pleasure in this people.

Psalm 149:1-4

Only a happy God could have imagined the beautiful gift of Creation we have been given. Stop today to listen, watch, and feel that happiness in sun, rain, wood scent, birdsong, cat purr, baby breath, child play, elder eyes, or the thousand other ways God will try to touch your soul today.


( Praying for the safety of all our friends in Australia with the earthquakes and for people of the Canary Islands.❤️🙏)


Poetry: The Creation of Birds – Renee Yann, RSM

O, the wonderful mood that seized You,
God, as you created birds;
you dancing there, twirling in light,
flinging your crystal arms to infinite music,
flicking your hands like magic fountains,
feathers and colors splashing out from your fingertips,
chattering, rainbowed profusions
of your Boundless Life.

Your inexhaustible, joy-filled soul laughing out
the soaring beings into the still universe,
peals of you infusing them each
to their measure with notes of your inner song.
O, I see your Holy Eyes flash color to them
as they fly, strobing their feathers
with shards of your prismed white light.

This morning, seeing only one, 
free and jubilant in a thin sycamore,
I consume it as part of your Delightful Essence,
this day’s communion with you, 
grey and orange wafer filling me 
with mysteries of the primal dance 
from which we both were born.

Music: You Delight in Me – Life Center Worship

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

Memorial Of St. John Chrysostom

Monday, September 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 28, a prayer of nine succinct verses in which the psalmist rides a seesaw emotion.

My prayer is like that sometimes. I try to pray the way Jesus would pray — the “Our Father” type of goodness and all.

But to be honest, “Thy Will be done” and “as we forgive those who trespass” are not always easy sentiments for me. How about you?


Our psalmist seems to have some trouble too … but with points of light and redemption in the end:

O Lord, I call to you;
my rock, do not be deaf to my cry;
lest, if you do not hear me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
FEAR
Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, 
when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies.
PLEADING
Do not snatch me away with the wicked or with the evildoers,
who speak peaceably with their neighbours,
while strife is in their hearts.
JUDGEMENT
Repay them according to their deeds,
and according to the wickedness of their actions.
According to the work of their hands repay them,
and give them their just deserts.
VENGEANCE
They have no understanding of your doings,
nor of the works of your hands;
therefore you will break them down
and not build them up.
PRIDE
Blessed are you, O Lord!
For you have heard the voice of my prayer.
FAITH
O Lord, you are my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in you, and I have been helped;
therefore my heart dances for joy,
and in my song will I praise you.
TRUST
You are the strength of your people,
a safe refuge for your anointed.
SECURITY
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
shepherd them and carry them for ever.
PRAYER

What I learn from this psalm is to tell God the truth when I pray – but the real truth -the truth that we hear back from God when we listen in our prayer. And that listening should always be done in sync with the Gospel. It is as if we cup the Gospel around our prayer the way we bend an ear to the faint but longed-for sound.


Poetry: Lost – David Whyte

Stand still. 
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you 
Are not lost. 
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. 
Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying 
Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows Where you are.
You must let it find you.”

Music: The Golden Forest – Tim Janis

Friday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Friday, September 10, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 16, complementing as it does today our first reading from 1 Timothy.

Both these scripture passages
speak to us
of finding
– and being found by –
God.


Paul, in guiding his beloved disciple Timothy, defines the phenomenon as “Grace”:

Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 1:14

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Grace is a participation in the life of God, which is poured unearned into human beings, whom it heals of sin and sanctifies.”

Paul agrees:

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.

1 Timothy 1:13

But how do we open ourselves do the gift of grace? How do we engage God’s desire to deepen us in holiness?

Psalm 16 offers us wisdom:

I bless the LORD who counsels me;
    even in the night my heart exhorts me.
I set the LORD ever before me;
    with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

Psalm 16: 7-8

We invite God’s counsel 

  • by an ardent study of scripture
  • by a sacramental faith
  • by a prayer that listens more than it speaks
  • by a life centered on the works of mercy
  • by a reverence for all Creation
  • by a love that loves as God loves

I have set the Lord always before me;
because you are at my side I shall not fall.
My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;
my body also shall rest in hope.
For you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor let your holy one see destruction.
You will show me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy,
and in your hand are graces for evermore.

Psalm 16: 8-11

Poetry: BELOVED IS WHERE WE BEGIN —Jan Richardson

from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.

Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
Beloved,
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.

Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.

I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching
of sun
or the fall
of the night.

But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.

I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.

I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
curious insistence
whisper our name:

Beloved.
Beloved.
Beloved.


Music: Lead Me, Lord

Memorial: St. Peter Claver

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 150, an all-out summons to praise God.

Psalm 150, with its four predecessors, creates a rousing chorus of praise to God. As the closing piece of the Book of Psalms, Psalm 150 summons all Creation to unbounded praise.


The prayer of praise may not come as easily to us as other types of prayer. We find the prayer of supplication easy – asking God for something. Even the prayer of thanks is natural to us. But even Pope Francis says that the prayer of praise might not come so readily:

The prayer of praise is quite different than the prayer we normally raise to God,
the Pope continued, when “we ask something of the Lord”
or even “thank the Lord”.

“We often leave aside the prayer of praise”.
It doesn’t come so easily to us, he said.
Some might think that this kind of prayer is only
“for those who belong to the renewal in the spirit movement,
not for all Christians.

The prayer of praise is a Christian prayer for all of us.
Each day during Mass, when we sing:
‘Holy, Holy…’, this is the prayer of praise.
We praise God for his greatness, for he is great.
And we tell him beautiful things, because we like it to be so”.

And it does not matter if we are good singers, the Pope remarked.
In fact, he said, it is impossible to imagine that
“you are able to shout out when your team scores a goal
and you cannot sing the Lord’s praises,
and leave behind your composure a little to sing.

Praising God is “totally gratuitous”, Pope Francis continued.
“We do not ask, we do not thank. We praise: you are great.
‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…’. 

L’ Osservatore Romano

Psalm 150 calls us to a prayer of pure praise:

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord in the holy temple;
praise God in the firmament of divine power.
Praise the Lord for mighty acts;
praise God for excellent greatness.
Praise the Lord with the blast of the ram’s-horn; 
praise God with lyre and harp.
Praise the Lord with timbrel and dance; 
praise God with strings and pipe.
Praise the Lord with resounding cymbals; 
praise God with loud-clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Hallelujah!

Psalm 150

By the culmination of the sequence in Psalm 150, there is a total lack of any specificity, and users of the psalm are invited to dissolve in a glad self-surrender that is to be enacted in the most lyrical way imaginable. Such praise is a recognition that the wonder and splendor of this God—known in the history of Israel and in the beauty of creation—pushes beyond our explanatory categories so that there can be only a liturgical, emotive rendering of all creatures before the creator.

Walter Brueggemann

We might try to offer this type of prayer in a simple manner, by naming God’s goodness – the goodness that we love and adore. We can do this in the same way that we tell any beloved being that we love them. Some prayer phrases might be:

  • You are beautiful in all Creation – in this morning’s dawn, this evening’s sunset.
  • You are just yet everlastingly kind.
  • Your power is stunningly gentle in a bird’s wing; it is overwhelming in the storm’s roar.
  • You are so humble to live within and among us.
  • You are infinitely loving through the gift of Jesus

Thoughts like these might also inspire us to a silent awe in which we offer wordless praise to our awesome God.


Music: No poem today, but two very different musical interpretations of Psalm 150 to inspire your prayer of praise

~ from Taize

Caesar Franck

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray in the power of the Gospel:

Ephphatha!  Be opened:

All minds to God’s omnipresence

All hearts to God’s infinite love

All spirits to God’s tender proposals

All eyes to God’s eternal vision 

All ears to God’s cry in the poor

All mouths to speak God’s Word in justice

All plans to the rhythm of God’s freedom

All dreams to God’s dream for all.

Be opened – especially in me today.
🙏 Amen!


Poetry: Be Opened! – Malcolm Guite

Be opened. Oh if only we might be!
Speak to a heart that’s closed in on itself:
‘Be opened and the truth will set you free’,
Speak to a world imprisoned in its wealth:
 
'Be opened! Learn to learn from poverty’,
 Speak to a church that closes and excludes,
And makes rejection its own litany:
‘Be opened, opened to the multitudes
 
For whom I died but whom you have dismissed
 Be opened, opened, opened,’ how you sigh
And still we do not hear you. We have missed
Both cry and crisis, we make no reply.
 
Take us aside, for we are deaf and dumb
Spit on us Lord and touch each tongue-tied tongue.

Saturday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 54, clearly described in its first two lines as a prayer of David when he was in deep trouble:

For the leader. On stringed instruments. A maskil of David,
when the Ziphites came and said to Saul, “David is hiding among us.”

Psalm 54:1-2

You can watch the whole story here – (and it’s a good one):


Psalm 54 goes to the heart of this traumatic experience for David. It allows us to be part of his prayer for deliverance. It lays open to us the deep intimacy and trust of David’s relationship with God.

Throughout his prayer, David calls on God for protection. He does so in a tone like that of a child who, in fear and necessity, runs to a powerful parent.


David’s situation reminds me of my gang when we were kids in the old neighborhood. If Big Jimmy, the block bully, threatened any of us, we would invoke the strength of a bigger brother or uncle as protection. It always worked —- just by the power of our sheer belief that it would.


Saul Looking like Big Jimmy 🙂

David is besieged by Saul, so he makes recourse to his “bigger” protector, his God. David’s prayer is more than a request. It is an insistent plea, almost a demand:

  • save
  • defend
  • hear
  • listen

And like many prayers of desperation, it is offered with promises:

When I am delivered,  I will offer you generous sacrifice
and give thanks to your name, LORD, for it is good.
Because it has rescued me from every trouble,
and my eyes look down on my foes.

Psalm 54:9

So what does Psalm 54 teach me?
That God will do what I “demand” if I pray hard enough?
That if I promise God something, I will get what I want?
No, not that. 


What I find in this prayer is the encouragement to live always
in honest and trusting relationship with God.
When troubles come, we can call to God for help,
and our practiced faith will allow us

to discern God’s steady companionship –
God’s Grace to find a deliverance for which
we might not otherwise have had the courage.


God is present as my helper;
the Lord sustains my life.

Psalm 54:6

Poetry: Keeping Watch – Hafiz

In the morning
When I began to wake,
It happened again—
That feeling
That you, Beloved,
Had stood over me all night
Keeping watch,
That feeling
That as soon as I began to stir
You put Your lips on my forehead
And lit a Holy Lamp
Inside my heart.

Music: I Will Trust – Lauren Daigle

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

Friday, September 3, 2021

 

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 100 which both invites and commands:

Come with joy into the Presence of the Lord.

Psalm 100:2

To know and honor this Presence is the sole pursuit of the Christian life.

Understanding is the reward of faith.
Therefore, seek not to understand that you may believe,
but believe that you may understand.

Augustine of Hippo

Our first reading from Colossians offers a beautiful hymn for our meditation as we pray to open ourselves to a deepening awareness of Jesus, present in our lives:

Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God,
    the firstborn of all creation.
For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth,
    the visible and the invisible,
    whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers;
    all things were created through him and for him.
He is before all things,
    and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the Body, the Church.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
    that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
    and through him to reconcile all things for him,
    making peace by the Blood of his cross
    through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Colossians 1:15-20

Prose: Jesus Prayer – John Henry Newman

Dear Jesus,
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I come in
contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, O Jesus will be all from You;
none of it will be mine;
It will be you shining on others through me.


Music: Jesus the Lord – Roc O’Connor

Wednesday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 52, whose chosen verses today form an exquisite prayer – one that can be held like a diamond to the Light:

I, like a green olive tree
    in the house of God,
Trust in the mercy of God
    forever and ever.
I will thank you always for what you have done,
    and proclaim the goodness of your name
    before your faithful ones.

Psalm 52: 10-11

It is ironic that these tenderly beautiful verses close one of the most virulent curses of the Psalms! It’s better to let them stand alone for today’s prayer. Like that, they perfectly complement Paul’s gorgeous blessing poured over the Colossians in our first reading:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
when we pray for you,
for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
and the love that you have for all the holy ones
because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.

Colossians 1:2-5

As this first day of September breaks over us, it is a good day to give thanks within these scriptural blessings:

  • for courage given and hope sustained
  • for storms weathered and favors received
  • for the resilience of new promises 
  • and the polished incandescence of the long-kept vow
  • for fields turned over toward a season of rest
  • for sweaters shaken out and ready to warm
  • for the smell of a sharpened pencil, the endless possibilities of a fresh notebook, 
  • and a new box of crayons ( to follow in a later post. I mistakenly send a fragment earlier today. I hope it wasn’t a distraction to you.)

Poetry: First Day of School – by Howard Nemerov (February 29, 1920 – July 5, 1991), an American poet. He was twice Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, from 1963 to 1964 and again from 1988 to 1990. For The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (1977), he won the National Book Award for Poetry,Pulitzer Prize for Poetry,and Bollingen Prize.

I

My child and I hold hands on the way to school,

And when I leave him at the first-grade door

He cries a little but is brave; he does

Let go. My selfish tears remind me how

I cried before that door a life ago.

I may have had a hard time letting go.

Each fall the children must endure together

What every child also endures alone:

Learning the alphabet, the integers,

Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff

So arbitrary, so peremptory,

That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it, as in Joseph’s dream

The sheaves bowed down and then the stars bowed down

Before the dreaming of a little boy.

That dream got him such hatred of his brothers

As cost the greater part of life to mend,

And yet great kindness came of it in the end.

II

A school is where they grind the grain of thought,

And grind the children who must mind the thought.

It may be those two grindings are but one,

As from the alphabet come Shakespeare’s Plays,

As from the integers comes Euler’s Law,

As from the whole, inseperably, the lives,

The shrunken lives that have not been set free

By law or by poetic phantasy.

But may they be. My child has disappeared

Behind the schoolroom door. And should I live

To see his coming forth, a life away,

I know my hope, but do not know its form

Nor hope to know it. May the fathers he finds

Among his teachers have a care of him

More than his father could. How that will look

I do not know, I do not need to know.

Even our tears belong to ritual.

But may great kindness come of it in the end.


Music: September Morn – instrumental version of Neil Diamond’s song. The words don’t exactly work for our prayer, but the melody does 🙂

Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 90 whose selected verses for today present three brilliant images for our prayer.


The image of an eternal God, who spins time like the threads of a dream:

You turn us back to the dust and say,
“Go back, O child of earth.”
For a thousand years in your sight 
are like yesterday when it is past 
and like a watch in the night.
You sweep us away like a dream;
we fade away suddenly like the grass.

Psalm 90: 3-5

The image of us, ordering our days on the great abacus of Grace:

So teach us to number our days aright
that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
Return, O Lord; 
how long will you tarry?

Psalm 90:12-13

The image of God, each morning answering our prayer, and we weaving that delicate gift, like fine lace, into the handiwork of our lives

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper our fragile handiwork!

Psalm 90:14,17

These images converge to remind us that time, from our perspective, is brief. But, with God, there is no “time”. God has breathed us forth, a song without end, into an eternal melody of love and joy.

The psalmist prays to honor that indescribable gift of life by making something beautiful of it in the time allotted.

We pray for that too, and are  invited to reflect on Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians in our first reading. This prayer captures what Paul believes to be something beautiful for God:

Now may God our Creator, and our Lord Jesus
direct our way to you,
and may the Lord make you increase
and abound in love for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts, 
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Creator
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

1 Thessalonians: 3:11-13

Prose: Something Beautiful for God – Mother Teresa

What I can do, you cannot. 
What you can do, I cannot. 
But together we can do 
something beautiful for God.
Yes, you must live life beautifully 
and not allow the spirit of the world 
that makes gods out of power, riches, and pleasure 
make you to forget that 
you have been created for greater things
 – to love and to be loved.

Music: Psalm 90 – Marty Goetz