Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

April 26, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 42, the only psalm that opens with a simile, and it is a memorable one:

As the deer longs for streams of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God.

Psalm 42:2

One pictures the psalmist crossing a desert-like expanse, longing for water. A deer wanders across the distance, also showing the effects of a deep, physical thirst. The psalmist is moved by the sight to consider a deeper thirst, that profound longing for God’s consolation and grace.

Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
    When shall I go and behold the face of God?


Not included in today’s Responsorial Psalm is this stark verse which gives us insight into the depth of the psalmist’s longing. This soul is not just thirsty, but rather desperate to imbibe Grace, yearning to slake a nearly disabling aridity.

My tears have been my bread day and night,
as they ask me every day, “Where is your God?”

Psalm 42: 4A

Psalm 42 is a powerful poem with a deep psychological message about relationship with God, particularly when that relationship suffers shadows.

Luis Alonso Schökel, SJ, professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, offers insight into this depth that may enlighten our own prayer:

(In Psalm 42) the manner of God’s presence is awareness of his absence. Absence which is not noticed nor deeply felt is a simple absence which causes no grief. But absence which is felt is a means of being present in the consciousness, bringing anxiety and grief.

Paradoxically, the taunts of the enemies sharpen the sensation of God’s absence and thus,in the form of nostalgia, increase the sense of God’s presence.

The presence of God in the psalm is pervasive, God’s relationship with the psalmist personal and intimate. This means to say that God communicates most intensely by creating an awareness of his absence (as in the book of Job, throughout the entire construction of the poem on two levels, and explicitly in ch. 23). If communion with God is the meaning of worship, it is difficult to deny that the psalmist worships “in spirit and in truth”…

…With its wealth of structure, its dynamics, its lyrical and dramatic intensity, this psalm exceeds mere classification. In the theme of the eclipse of God and in the lucid consciousness which expresses this theme, the psalm is of especial relevance to our time.

from The Poetic Structure of Psalm 42-43

Music: Quemadmodum (As the hart desireth the waterbrooks…) – John Taverner

In finem. Intellectus filiis Core.
2  Quemadmodum desiderat cervus ad fontes aquarum, ita desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus.
3  Sitivit anima mea ad Deum fortem, vivum; quando veniam et apparebo ante faciem Dei?
4  Fuerunt mihi lacrimae meae panis die ac nocte, dum dicitur mihi quotidie: Ubi est Deus tuus?
5  Haec recordatus sum, et effudi in me animam meam, quoniam transibo in locum tabernaculi admirabilis, usque ad domum Dei, in voce exsultationis et confessionis sonus epulantis.
6  Quare tristis es, anima mea? et quare conturbas me? Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi, salutare vultus mei,
7  et Deus meus. Ad meipsum anima mea conturbata est: propterea memor ero tui de terra Jordanis et Hermoniim a monte modico.
8  Abyssus abyssum invocat, in voce cataractarum tuarum; omnia excelsa tua, et fluctus tui super me transierunt.
9  In die mandavit Dominus misericordiam suam, et nocte canticum ejus; apud me oratio Deo vitae meae.
10  Dicam Deo: Susceptor meus es; quare oblitus es mei? et quare contristatus incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?
11  Dum confringuntur ossa mea, exprobraverunt mihi per singulos dies: Ubi est Deus tuus?
12  Quare tristis es, anima mea? et quare conturbas me? Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi, salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.

1  Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks: so longeth my soul after thee, O God.
2  My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God: when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
3  My tears have been my meat day and night: while they daily say unto me, Where is now thy God?
4  Now when I think thereupon, I pour out my heart by myself: for I went with the multitude, and brought them forth into the house of God;
5  In the voice of praise and thanksgiving: among such as keep holy-day.
6  Why art thou so full of heaviness, O my soul: and why art thou so disquieted within me?
7  Put thy trust in God: for I will yet give him thanks for the help of his countenance.
8  My God, my soul is vexed within me: therefore will I remember thee concerning the land of Jordan, and the little hill of Hermon.
9  One deep calleth another, because of the noise of the water-pipes: all thy waves and storms are gone over me.
10  The Lord hath granted his loving-kindness in the day-time: and in the night-season did I sing of him, and made my prayer unto the God of my life.
11  I will say unto the God of my strength, Why hast thou forgotten me: why go I thus heavily, while the enemy oppresseth me?
12  My bones are smitten asunder as with a sword: while mine enemies that trouble me cast me in the teeth;
13  Namely, while they say daily unto me: Where is now thy God?
14  Why art thou so vexed, O my soul: and why art thou so disquieted within me?
15  O put thy trust in God: for I will yet thank him, which is the help of my countenance, and my God.

Friday of the Second Week of Easter

April 16, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27, the prayer of one confident in God’s loving protection, no matter any surrounding threat. The psalmist exudes the equanimity of one who has given everything over to Love, who seeks only one fulfillment:

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the LORD’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the LORD’s beauty,
to visit his temple.

Psalm 27:4

I remember praying this psalm so intently as a young novice! I so wanted to understand and deepen in the spiritual life. I so wanted to be completely in love with God.


Gamaliel, from our first reading, has grown into such a love. It has freed him to respond to the Spirit even when the Spirit astounds, contradicts, and demands change.

Gamaliel said to the Sanhedrin…“So now I tell you,
have nothing to do with these men, and let them go.
For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin,
it will destroy itself.

But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

Acts 5: 38-39

It seems that Gamaliel is speaking from experience. He likely had his big or little tussles with the Spirit along the now long road of his life. He has one even today as Jesus’s pesky disciples challenge Gamaliel’s long-held religious practice.


But it is likely that a prayer like Psalm 27 rose up in the heart of this longtime friend of God:

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

For I am protected in the Lord’s shelter
when troubles threaten,
wrapped in the folds of the Lord’s tent,
set high upon the rock’s safety.

Psalm 27: 1,5

As we pray beautiful Psalm 27 today, may we remember our early, enthusiastic love. May we give thanks for the accumulated blessings of the years that have enriched and matured us in wisdom and faith. May we seek the courage to journey ever deeper into God’s heart.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
    be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27: 13-14

Poetry: Old Age by Edmund Waller

The seas are quiet when the winds give o’er; 
So calm are we when passions are no more. 
For then we know how vain it was to boast 
Of fleeting things, so certain to be lost. 
Clouds of affection from our younger eyes 
Conceal that emptiness which age descries. 
The soul’s dark cottage, batter’d and decay’d, 
Lets in new light through chinks that Time hath made: 
Stronger by weakness, wiser men become 
As they draw near to their eternal home. 
Leaving the old, both worlds at once they view 
That stand upon the threshold of the new.

Music: Depths – Hillsong

Psalm 27: Unchained Psalmody

Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

February 5, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 27, a song of intimate relationship with God. The psalmist is suffused with God’s Presence in the way morning light permeates the shadows.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
    whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
    of whom should I be afraid? 

Psalm 27:1

Because of this deeply abiding Love,  the psalmist fears nothing – not armies, nor any other threat to peace and grace-filled confidence.

Though an army encamp against me,
    my heart will not fear;
Though war be waged upon me,
    even then will I trust.

Psalm 27:3

We have little, or maybe big, wars at times, don’t we? Armies of pain, or sadness, struggle or confusion standing at the border of our hearts? In such times, Psalm 27 invites to remember and trust:

For God will hide me in the holy abode
    in the day of trouble;
will conceal me in the shelter of God’s tent,
    will set me high upon a rock.

With the psalmist, we pray with longing – we implore God to show us this comforting, protective love.

Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
    do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.


Poetry: from The Spiritual Canticle – John of the Cross

Oh, then, soul, 
most beautiful among all creatures, 
so anxious to know 
the dwelling place of your Beloved 
so you may go in search of him 
and be united with him, 
now we are telling you that 
you yourself are his dwelling 
and his secret inner room and hiding place. 
There is reason for you to be elated 
and joyful in seeing that all your good and hope 
is so close as to be within you, 
or better, that you cannot be without him. 
Behold, exclaims the Bridegroom, 
the kingdom of God is within you.

Music: Unchained Melody – sung by Susan Boyle

Psalm 27 reminds me of this modern classic which, no doubt, was written about a different kind of love. But listening to the song as a prayer, a holy longing can be unchained in our spirits.

Psalm 24: The Gates Are Lifted

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

February 2, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray once more with Psalm 24, still knocking on God’s door. As it is the Feast of the Presentation, we might picture Anna and Simeon murmuring this psalm as they await the appearance of their Savior.

Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
    reach up, you ancient portals,
that the king of glory may come in!

Psalm 24: 7

Anna and Simeon longed for the promised Redemption. They hoped and believed that Creation would be restored by the Messiah. They waited faithfully in the dark for the Light to come. And on that wondrous morning, sparks flew through the Temple door wrapped in a baby blanket!


In pre-Vatican II days, we nuns had sparse communication with our families. Throughout my over 1000 days of initial formation, I spoke with my mother fewer than 30 times. I stood it well because I was all wrapped up in my new life. But Mom languished. She pined for me and for our little daily chats.

So when the post-Vatican II era hit, Mom got on that phone. She called me every night just about seven o’clock – a brief, but treasured, check-in. Mom likened our phone calls to Stevie Wonder’s popular song at that time. Every now and again, even though it has been over thirty years, I still long for that ring.

For Mom and me, the gates had been unlocked, the lintels lifted up. The ancient portals had opened at the touch of John XXIII and his like-minded buddies. A mother-child light flowed back into us. We were both renewed by the reconnection.


On the Feast of the Presentation, we pray with Anna and Simeon, two so deeply practiced in prayer. As the child Jesus was carried into the Temple that morning, the plea of Psalm 24 was answered before their eyes. In our prayer today, let us joyfully welcome God into our hearts. Let us talk and walk with God as easily as we might with a beloved parent or a dearest friend on any given evening.

Lift up, O gates, your lintels;
    reach up, you ancient portals,
    that the God of glory may come in!

Poem: You, neighbor God, if sometimes in the night — Rainer Maria Rilke

You, neighbor God, if sometimes in the night
I rouse you with loud knocking, I do so
only because I seldom hear you breathe
and know: you are alone.
And should you need a drink, no one is there
to reach it to you, groping in the dark.

Always I hearken. Give but a small sign.
I am quite near.
Between us there is but a narrow wall,
and by sheer chance; for it would take
merely a call from your lips or from mine
to break it down,
and that without a sound.

The wall is builded of your images.
They stand before you hiding you like names.
And when the light within me blazes high
that in my inmost soul I know you by,
the radiance is squandered on their frames.

And then my senses, which too soon grow lame,
exiled from you, must go their homeless ways.

Music: He Walks with Me – Anne Murray

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The son of God discloses

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

He speaks and the sound of his voice
Is so sweet, the birds hush their singing
And the melody that he gave to me
Within my heart is ringing

And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known

Psalm 8: Hymn of the Universe

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

October 17, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 8.

O LORD, our LORD,
how glorious is your Name over all the earth!
You have exalted your majesty above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings
you have fashioned praise ….

Psalm 8:2-3

Just yesterday, I got an email from the amazingly organized Sister who manages our grounds. She wanted to alert us that there would be a small “star-gazing” event this weekend, sponsored by our school, in case we might wonder about unusual nighttime visitors.


The note took me back to my own star-gazing days, residues of which percolate from time to time, especially during meteor showers. These days I do most of my “gazing” out our kitchen window, but when I studied for my certification in Earth Sciences, I had several opportunities for “instructed” star-gazing with excellent West Chester University astronomers. In a subsequent reflection, I described one such experience like this:

There are a few places where nature offers an experience of darkness so absolute it can be terrifying.  Assateague Island lies along the barrier coast of Virginia.  On a winter night, darkness there feels complete, enveloping.  As evening lengthens, night pulls its velvet canopy from the black ocean, covering the beach in silence. The whisper of rustling sea oats along invisible dunes is the only link to a land left behind.  But slowly, like sparks rolling through dry tinder, stars burn one by one through heaven’s blanket.  By midnight, their incomparable brilliance convinces the soul that it has never been and can never be alone.


Three thousand years ago, our psalmist felt the same way:

When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you set in place—
What are we  that you should be mindful of us,
we human beings that you should care for us?

Psalm 8:4-5

Charles Spurgeon, revered Baptist preacher, calls this psalm “the song of the Astronomer“, as gazing at the heavens inspires the psalmist to meditate on God’s creation and humanity’s place in it.

You have made us little less than the angels,
and crowned us with glory and honor.
You have given us rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under our feet.

Psalm 8:6-7

Pope John Paul II said this:

 …. for those who have attentive ears and open eyes, creation is like a first revelation that has its own eloquent language: it is almost another sacred book whose letters are represented by the multitude of created things present in the universe. St. John Chrysostom says: “The silence of the heavens is a voice that resounds louder than a trumpet blast: this voice cries out to our eyes and not to our ears, the greatness of Him who made them.

General Audience – January 30, 2002

And our dear Pope Francis reiterates this thought so beautifully in his epic encyclical:

At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God, and be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe, which with us, will share in unending plenitude.

Laudato Si’

Let’s rest in all this beauty as we pray today with Psalm 8


Music: Beautiful Universe – Tim Janis

Psalm 1: The First Word

Wednesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

October 14, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 1.

Patrick D. Miller, Hebrew Scriptures scholar, suggests that Psalm 1 “sets the agenda for the Psalter through its identification of the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked as well as their respective fates” along with “its emphasis on the Torah, the joy of studying it and its positive benefits for those who do“.

Blessed the one who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on God’s law day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

What does it really mean to “meditate on God’s law day and night”? Become a monk? Read the Bible all day? Never sleep?

Of course not. I think it means to live in the firm belief that God is in everything, and to train our hearts to see and respond to that Omnipresent Love.

We all know people who, no matter the circumstances, are focused on good and radiate a joyful confidence. There is a light within them and a peace around them. The living of their ordinary lives is a meditation on God’s order in all things.

Such a person …

… is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever that faithful one does, prospers.

Psalm 1:3

It doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges … even protests, righteous anger, sadness and pain. Think of Jesus as he overturned the Temple tables!

It means rather that the focus is never lost because …
Creation’s sacred order is our Light;
and God’s law has taught ours hearts 
to find our joy in its Beauty.

my transliteration of Psalm 1:2

Let’s be that tree near
the running water of Grace!🙏


Poem: On Beauty by Khalil Gibran

And a poet said, Speak to us of Beauty.
     And he answered:
     Where shall you seek beauty, and how
shall you find her unless she herself be your
way and your guide?
     And how shall you speak of her except
she be the weaver of your speech?
    
The aggrieved and the injured say,
“Beauty is kind and gentle.
     Like a young mother half-shy of her
own glory she walks among us.”
     And the passionate say, “Nay, beauty is
a thing of might and dread.
     Like the tempest she shakes the earth
beneath us and the sky above us.”
    
The tired and the weary say, “Beauty is
of soft whisperings. She speaks in our spirit.
     Her voice yields to our silences like a faint
light that quivers in fear of the shadow.”
     But the restless say, “We have heard her
shouting among the mountains,
     And with her cries came the sound of
hoofs, and the beating of wings and
the roaring of lions.”
    
At night the watchmen of the city say,
“Beauty shall rise with the dawn from the
east.”
     And at noontide the toilers and 
the wayfarers say, 
“We have seen her leaning over
the earth from the windows of the sunset.”
    
In winter say the snow-bound, “She shall
come with the spring leaping upon the hills.”
     And in the summer heat the reapers say,
“We have seen her dancing with the autumn
leaves, and we saw a drift of snow in her hair.”
     All these things have you said of beauty,
     Yet in truth you spoke not of her but of
needs unsatisfied,
     And beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.
     It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty
hand stretched forth,
     But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.
     It is not the image you would see nor the
song you would hear,
     But rather an image you see though you
close your eyes and a song you hear though
you shut your ears.
     It is not the sap within the furrowed bark,
nor a wing attached to a claw,
     But rather a garden for ever in bloom and
a flock of angels for ever in flight.
    
People of Orphalese, beauty is life when
life unveils her holy face.
     But you are life and you are the veil.
     Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.


Music: I Delight in You, Lord – David Baroni

Psalm 105: God at the Center

Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

October 10, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 105, a recounting of the marvelous works God has done from the Abrahamic covenant to the Exodus.

Sing to God, sing praise,
proclaim all God’s wondrous deeds.
Glory in the Holy Name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!

Psalm 105: 2-3

Our psalm today enjoins us to remember God’s faithful mercy to us and to praise God as we remember.

Such sacred “remembering” is an act of radical faith which, first, recognizes God as the Center of our life, and second, acts from that radical awareness.


The word “obedience”, so commonly misconstrued as subservience, is another way of describing this radical faith which hears, listens, acknowledges, responds and centers itself on the voice of God. The word “obedience” comes from the same root as the word “listen”.

This freely-given and continually deepened obedience allows us to hear and discern the loving truth God weaves through our lives.

The counter-world of the Psalms contradicts our closely held world of amnesia and mediates to us a world of lively remembering….
… In Psalm 105, a long recital of the great deeds climaxes, “in order that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws” (v. 45). The purpose of remembering is thus to evoke a contemporary practice of obedience in the wake of the memory. The implied negative is that when the inventory of miracles is forgotten, there will be no contemporary obedience .

Walter Brueggemann, From Whom No Secrets Are Hid

In the encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis points out how this obedience, (this holy remembering, listening and acting), is tied to the course of human affairs. Francis quotes JPII here:

In this regard, I wish to cite the following memorable statement: “If there is no transcendent truth, in obedience to which the human person achieves full identity, then there is no sure principle for guaranteeing just relations between people. Their self-interest as a class, group or nation would inevitably set them in opposition to one another. If one does not acknowledge transcendent truth, then the force of power takes over, and each person tends to make full use of the means at their disposal in order to impose personal interests or opinion, with no regard for the rights of others… The root of modern totalitarianism is to be found in the denial of the transcendent dignity of the human person who, as the visible image of the invisible God, is therefore by very nature the subject of rights that no one may violate – no individual, group, class, nation or state.

St. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991)

Rootedness in this “remembering obedience” begins with each person’s own sincere prayer. With the psalmist, let us remember God’s loving fidelity to us and, in grateful response, live that Love faithfully into our conflicted world:

Look to the LORD’s strength;
seek to serve the Lord constantly.
Recall the wondrous deeds that God has wrought,
the signs, and the graces God has spoken in your life.

Psalm 105: 4-5

Poem: Called to Become – Edwina Gateley

You are called to become
A perfect creation.
No one else is called to become
Who you are called to be.
It does not matter
How short or tall
Or thick-set or slow
You may be.
It does not matter
Whether you sparkle with life
Or are as silent as a still pool.
Whether you sing your song aloud
Or weep alone in darkness.
It does not matter
Whether you feel loved and admired
Or unloved and alone
For you are called to become
A perfect creation.
No one's shadow
Should cloud your becoming.
No one's light
Should dispel your spark.
For the Lord delights in you.
Jealously looks upon you
And encourages with gentle joy
Every movement of the Spirit
Within you.
Unique and loved you stand.
Beautiful or stunted in your growth
But never without hope and life.
For you are called to become
A perfect creation.
This becoming may be
Gentle or harsh.
Subtle or violent.
But it never ceases.
Never pauses or hesitates.
Only is—
Creative force—
Calling you
Calling you to become
A perfect creation.

Music: Psalm 105 – Give Thanks – Sean Dayton

Mercy Day Reverie

This morning, as I prayed in preparation for a Mercy Day blog, I found it hard to pull the bright thread of Mercy out from the jumble of concerns now enveloping me – and I think most of us.

Of course, there’s the relentless pandemic. But there is a host of other burdensome issues pre-dating Covid 19 that seem to have gotten entangled with that global worry:

  • world poverty and hunger
  • endless war
  • climate crisis
  • racial injustice
  • poisonous politics
  • depersonalization of refugees and immigrants

I spent a long part of the morning wondering what I could write about Mercy in the shadow of these worries.


Then an image came to me … a delightful memory of my childhood in 1950s North Philadelphia. 

I’ve always treasured the fact that I grew up in a “real” neighborhood of row houses and still safe streets.  It was a geography of unarticulated intimacy, respect, and protection. You knew when your next door neighbor got up in the morning and ran the bath tub. The walls were shared with people of every possible ethnicity and religion. Even our telephone was on a “party line”, connected with a neighbor at the end of the block whom, of course, we never listened in on.

As little kids, we went out on a summer morning and never came home until we heard our mothers call from the doorsteps of our compacted houses. We spent the hours playing street games like Baby-in-the-Air, handball, hose ball, jacks, jumping rope, Red Rover. If you’ve never played them or even heard of them, I’m so sorry. You won’t find any fun like them in today’s video game stores!


But the frolic that came to mind this morning was the simple game of Tag and its core element of “base”. I pictured Petey Nicolo standing, eyes covered, against the corner telephone pole, chanting Tag’s magic formula:

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty ……
Anybody around my base is “It”!

The chant revealed this key component the game: if you touched “base” (the telephone pole), you were immune from the tag. You were safe.


Maybe my little reverie back to my childhood doesn’t seem much like a Mercy Day prayer, but here’s the thing. 

Our merciful God is our “base”, our Refuge. Touching into God’s abiding love for us, we are safe from the “tag” of life’s multitudinous worries. This is so, not because the worries disappear, but we are able to look through them to the Mercy of God who will always deliver us to grace if we ask.

On this strange Mercy Day, we are prevented in so many ways from touching one another. Let us, nevertheless, listen through the pandemic walls that separate us. Let us tap into one another’s “party line”. Let us run together, loved and protected children, toward Mercy Who calls us even, and maybe especially, in our tumultuous times. Let us place all the tangles in God’s gentle, unraveling fingers.

And as we run, let’s grab the hands of those our selfish culture wants to leave behind, pulling them with us to Lavish Mercy.

Music – Home by David Nevue

Psalm 17: Apple of God’s Eye

Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Friday, September 18, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 17, a confident prayer calling on God’s intervention.

The psalmist tenders a plea:

Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer
from lips without deceit.

Psalm 17:1

But before reiterating that plea, the pray-er convinces God that she is worthy of an answer:

You have tested my heart,
searched it in the night.
You have tried me by fire,
but find no malice in me.
My mouth has not transgressed
as others often do.
As your lips have instructed me,
I have kept from the way of the lawless.

Psalm 17: 3-4

It sounds a little boastful but it really isn’t. The one who prays this psalm is very familiar with God and God with her. There are no secrets between them. She knows that she is infinitely loved and protected, not despite her vulnerability but because of it. 

The psalmist, from long experience, is confident asking for help, as we would be asking a friend to turn and listen to us:

I call upon you; answer me, O God.
Turn your ear to me; hear my speech.

Psalm 17: 7

Have you ever been asked for prayers because you are “a good prayer”?
It happens to nuns all the time.

But no prayer is more powerful than another. We say “Of course” to such requests because it is our intention to join our prayer with that of the requester.

Show your wonderful mercy,
you who deliver with your right arm
those who seek refuge from their foes.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings

Psalm 17: 8-9

Each of us is God’s “eye-apple”. Each of us, when we give ourselves to a long familiarity with God, will be wrapped in the confidence of one who is always answered.

( In a second posting, I’ll be sending on an extra meditation on The Eye of God by Macrina Wiederkehr – beautifully profound.)


Poetry: As Kingfishers Catch Fire – Gerard Manley Hopkins

by Alcedo Atthis

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; 
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells 
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s 
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name; 
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: 
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; 
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells, 
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came. 

I say móre: the just man justices; 
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces; 
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is — 
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places, 
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his 
To the Father through the features of men’s faces. 


Music:   The Apple of My Eye by Umb-5 and Sam Carter

Sometimes a non-spiritual song captures a spiritual meaning in a beautiful way. Let God sing to you with this lovely song.

Psalm 116: The Return?

Saturday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, September 12, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the lilting Psalm 116, an intimate, tender, and powerful prayer.

The psalmist, overwhelmed by God’s goodness, asks a clear and urgent question:

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good God has done for me?


The verse itself shows the spiritual awareness of the questioner. Some people don’t believe God has done anything for them. They think they’ve done everything for themselves! And it’s sad to see somebody lost in that illusion.

They never feel awe and gratitude that they have received, as pure gift from God:

  • the breath of life
  • the capacity to believe, hope and love
  • the beauty of all Creation
  • the heritage of faith, family and friendship
  • the blessing of community in its many forms
  • the particular gifts that make them unique in the world
  • the capacity to care, act, and change things toward good
  • the irrevocable invitation to befriend God
  • the Lavish Mercy and steadfast accompaniment of that Divine Inviter
  • the promise of eternity

As we grow in our capacity to recognize and live out of these gifts, we deepen in our “sacrifice of praise”.

Walter Brueggemann describes a sacrifice of praise like this:

It must be an intimate, yielding act of trustful submission of “spirit and heart,” not “sacrifice and burnt offerings”. The speaker (psalmist), now situated in glad praise, can imagine an intimacy and communion in which contact between God and self is available and in which the distinction between the two parties is clear and acknowledged—God in splendor, the self in “brokenness”.


That “brokenness” is fully given to God to heal and empower with grace so that one’s life becomes a witness to God’s love.

To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.


The “sacrifice of praise” is not accomplished in a single declaration or decision. It can begin like that. But to last, it must be “lived into”, moment by moment, through an intentional, prayerful life. That is the lesson of today’s Gospel – it is how we build our “house” on rock.


Poetry: God of Shelter, God of Shade – by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

God of shelter from the rain,
God of shade from the heat, 
I run from You
through the muddy street
of my uncommitted heart
till wild winds beat
against my doors,
blasting sand
through all my walls,
and I stand
without retreat,
hear Your command
to be the wheat. 
Sweet the giving!
Sweet this land! 
God of shelter from the rain.
God of shade from the heat.
Music: Alvin Slaughter and Inside out - The Sacrifice of Praise