Finding Peace

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 21, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our Gospel offers us a profound message: what does it mean to live in the peace of God?

jn14_28 peace

So many things, from the monumental to the trivial, can make us unpeaceful. If we made a list, we might tire before we completed it! This lack of peace takes many forms in us – worry, anxiety, second guessing, distraction, self-doubt and myriad other forms of inner fragmentation.

For some of us, gaining inner peace is more difficult than for others. So much depends on the trust we have felt in our lives. For those who have felt betrayed by family, friends, or God, the journey to a peaceful heart can be a tortuous one.

But Jesus says we can do it because he showed us how.

Don’t you think he might have been confused and bewildered at times by what the Father was asking of him? Don’t you think he was disillusioned at times by the wavering faith of his disciples? Don’t you think he was frightened by the kind of death he faced?

So just how did Jesus grow to such a fullness of peace that he was able to bequeath it to us as our inheritance?

He said:

Not as the world gives peace do I give it to you.

The world gives peace by removing or dominating challenges. God gives peace by accompanying us through challenges.

Jesus came to the point, in his very human life, where he chose not to let his heart be troubled because he had found this accompaniment.

The willingness of Jesus to live, suffer, and die according to the Father’s Will gives us the pattern on which to build our peace.

Throughout the ages, many saints have found and lived this peace according to their own call from God. One of the many who inspire me is Julian of Norwich.  Julian was an English anchorite of the Middle Ages.  She wrote the earliest surviving book in the English language to be written by a woman, Revelations of Divine Love.

Julian was worried about the presence of sin in the world. It seems she wondered, like many of us might, why God didn’t just fix that!


“In my folly, before this time I often wondered why, by the great foreseeing wisdom of God, the onset of sin was not prevented: for then, I thought, all should have been well. This impulse [of thought] was much to be avoided, but nevertheless I mourned and sorrowed because of it, without reason and discretion.

But Jesus, who in this vision informed me of all that is needed by me, answered with these words and said: ‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’

These words were said most tenderly, showing no manner of blame to me nor to any who shall be saved.”


This also is a lovely quote from Julian to pray with:

“From the time these things were first revealed I had often wanted to know what was our Lord’s meaning. It was more than fifteen years after that I was answered in my spirit’s understanding. ‘You would know our Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well. Love was his meaning. Who showed it to you? Love. What did he show you? Love. Why did he show it? For love. Hold on to this and you will know and understand love more and more. But you will not know or learn anything else — ever.”

Music: Meg Barnhouse’s modern interpretation of Julian’s writing, which Meg has obviously studied.

 

All Things New!

Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 19, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings celebrate the New Creation given us in Jesus Christ.

Rev_ new

Acts describes the continuing whirlwind journey of Paul and Barnabas. They buzz all over the Mediterranean basin, carrying the Good News to Jews and Gentiles. Their work and enthusiasm teach us what the word “apostolic” truly signifies- reaching out to all people with the message of Jesus. Paul and Barnabas return home jubilant, 

… reporting what God had done with them
and how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

In our second reading, John, the visionary and poet, has another kind of door opened for him. His vision is of a New Creation, joined with God in a covenant of love. God renews the promise once made to Abraham, this time embodied in the gift of Jesus Christ to all humanity:

Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us once again how it is that we become part of this New Creation:

I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

All of these glorious images may help us see our life in God through new eyes. Perhaps there are a few half-closed doors in our lives that need to be oiled with the grace of renewal. Simply recognizing these in prayer, in God’s presence, is a step toward a New Creation of our hearts and spirits. We are so beloved of God! Let us open our hearts to that renewing love.

Music: Stars Go Dim – Heaven on Earth (This will wake you up!🤗)

Mary, Mother and Friend of God

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 18, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we encounter a reading we had reflected on just recently – when Philip asks Jesus to show him the Father. So, I will refer you to that reflection here, if you would like to revisit.

Click here for Philip’s Question

Instead, today, because this is a Saturday in May, we might like to pray with Mary of Nazareth. Do we know her?

May

The little we know of Mary we find in the New Testament. Like all women of the early Church, the power of Mary’s story was lost in the Romanized, masculinized Church of the 2nd century. Instead, the growing Church and the ensuing centuries’ cultures developed images of Mary, and other women disciples, which served the emerging characterization of women – gentle, passive, obedient and defined by their relationship to men. This did the real Mary a great disservice.

Beautiful Mother

Click here for hymn.

But, if you are like me, you grew up loving this re-characterized Mary. I pray to her as my Mother. I see her as a go-between with God, a Father who might not understand my needs. I love the old hymns I learned as child, and can still gustily sing almost all their flowery words. I still, and always will, have my favorites. 

Learning to think of Mary in a clearer and stronger light has been a challenge, and a gift, for me. Many women theologians have been helpful to me in this. Primary among these is Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ. This is a link to a superb article Dr. Johnson wrote for America magazine. It is a challenging and extremely worthwhile read. I encourage you to take time with it.

Click here to read Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ’s article

Today, as we pray, we may wish to use Mary’s own powerful hymn, given to us in Luke’s Gospel ( Luke 1: 46-55 )

My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.

Music: Latin Magnificat – Daughters of Mary

Do You Have Your Housekey?

Friday of the Fourth Week of Easter

May 17, 2019

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Jn14_2 dwelling

Today, in Mercy, Paul continues his preaching in Antioch. He delivers a very powerful, and condemnatory line about the inhabitants of Jerusalem and their leaders …

Though they found no grounds for a death sentence,
they asked Pilate to have Jesus put to death…

Being unable to accept the Truth that Jesus was, they conspired to destroy him.

Understanding, accepting and living within the Truth of God and of ourselves is the way to eternal life. In our Gospel, Jesus tells us that he is this Way, Truth and Life.

It sounds so straightforward and simple, doesn’t it? 

But in our world, truth has lost its definition. Its edges have been stretched beyond recognition by propaganda, moral convenience, political pretense, false advertising, manipulative social media, and other forms of self-serving deceit.

truthThe distortion of truth has become epidemic among us, infecting us all in one way or another.

Just as in the presence of any disease, we need to take precautions to keep ourselves healthy – true to God and to ourselves:

  • placing ourselves honestly before God in prayer
  • practicing a brief examination of conscience at the end of each day
  • discerning how we use power and advantage in terms of self-interest
  • living by self-respect and respect for others
  • evaluating our actions and choices in the light of the command to love one another

In the Father’s House there are many dwelling places. Truth is their entry key:

I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.

Music: Dwelling Place – John Foley, SJ

The Amazing Invitation

The Fourth Sunday of Easter 

May 12, 2019

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invite

Today, in Mercy, our three readings make one thing very clear – we are ALL invited to membership in the Body of Christ. We are ALL welcome in the Beloved Community.

In our first reading,  Paul and Barnabas preach to Jews, converts to Judaism and to Gentiles – to the effect that:

All who were destined for eternal life came to believe,
and the word of the Lord continued to spread
through the whole region.

In our second reading:

John, had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb.

And in our Gospel, Jesus says:

My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.

These readings describe the family of God to which every human being has been given entrance through the Death and Resurrection of Christ.

Think about that: 

  • when you look into people’s eyes today
  • when you see their stories on the news
  • when you people-watch at the airport or the mall
  • when you drive by a cemetery where lives are remembered in stone 
  • when you look at your children, your friends, your foes
  • when you take that last look in the mirror tonight before you fall asleep

This person has been invited, with me, to the family of God. How might that thought influence my choices and actions each day?

All of us – ALL OF US- are welcome; all of us, equally loved.

Music: All Are Welcome – Marty Haugen

Pour It All Out for Love

Saturday of the Third Week of Easter 

May 11, 2019

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Today, in Mercy,  Acts describes Peter in the full energy of his discipleship. The infant Church was at peace, being built up by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Peter, completely filled with this sacred power, raises a woman from the dead. He does this in the Name of Jesus to Whom he has given his entire being.

pour faith

Our Gospel describes the moment of Peter’s total commitment. Some have turned away from Jesus because of his teaching on the Eucharist. Jesus asks the Twelve if they to wish to go too.

Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go?
You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe
and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.

At pivotal points in our faith life, Jesus asks us the same question. May we always have the strength and insight to turn toward Christ. May we pour our hearts into the welcoming love of Jesus, just as Peter did.

Music: To Whom Shall We Go – Robin and Staci Calamaio – Father and daughter team

Do You Love Me?

Third Sunday of Easter

May 5, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Jesus asks Peter an open-ended question, the kind that leaves us very vulnerable to the answer:

Do you love me?

Jn21_17

Wow! What if Peter says “No”, or “Sort of” or worse yet, just stares off into the distance in silence?

And the question is kind of scary for Peter too. Maybe he’s thinking, “OK, this is it. Jesus wants me to lay it all on the line. Am I ready?”.

The Gospel poses questions to each of us today as well:

  • Who and what do I really love?
  • How does my primary love drive my life choices?
  • Are there places in my life that lack love – places where prejudice, blindness, selfishness or hate have filled in the emptiness?
  • Where is God in my loves?

St. John of the Cross wrote this:

At the end of our lives we will be judged on love.
Learn therefore to love God as God wishes to be loved.

More than enough to pray on today.❤️

Music: Where Charity and Love Prevail – a lovely English translation of Ubi Caritas, written in Gregorian chant.

Do Not Be Afraid

Saturday of the Second Week of Easter 

May 4, 2019

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Jn6-20 It is I

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel recounts a scary episode for the disciples. Just as in most scary stories, “It was a dark and rainy night”. Worse yet, these guys were out in the middle of a turbulent sea!

Been there? Maybe not in actual nautical terms, but we’ve all had our storms. Right?

The miracle in our Gospel story is that Jesus comes to the disciples out of the midst of the storm. And he will do the same thing for us, if faith can clear our eyes to see him.

In a spiritual direction relationship, where we share our soul’s journey with a guiding companion, that mentor will often ask the question:

Where is God in this situation?

It is the perfect question to ask ourselves in both our small and mighty storms. In all that happens within and around us, God abides – perhaps in the center calling us to new depths; perhaps at the edges calling us away from darkness.

Where is God today for you, dear friends?

Music: Sometimes He Calms the Storm – Scott Krippayne

(You might want just to linger over the words of this beautiful song, so I have printed them below.)

All who sail the sea of faith
Find out before too long
How quickly blue skies can grow dark
And gentle winds grow strong

Suddenly fear is like white water
Pounding on the soul
Still we sail on knowing
That our Lord is in control

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace,  “Be still.”
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will

Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

He has a reason for each trial
That we pass through in life
And though we’re shaken
We cannot be pulled apart from Christ

No matter how the driving rain beats down
On those who hold to faith
A heart of trust will always
Be a quiet peaceful place

Songwriters: Benton Kevin Stokes / Tony W. Wood
Sometimes He Calms the Storm lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Capitol Christian Music Group

Via, Veritas et Vida

Friday of the Second Week of Easter
May 3, 2019

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Jn14_6 way truthToday, in Mercy, Jesus clearly tells us who he is for us:

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Jesus is the one, immovable Light in any darkness or confusion that engulfs us. How comforting and centering that thought – if only we can remember it!

Each of us, no doubt, has lost and found our way hundreds of times in our lives.

We have all been tossed back and forth on the half-truths, white lies, and deceptive silences of ourselves and others.

We have walked a razor line along the cliffs of death either of our beloveds or in our own spirits.

If we came through those times, it was because God found us, opened our hearts to the truth, breathed a Divine Recovery into our souls.

We are so often like Philip whose feast with James we celebrate today. Philip lived in the abundance of Christ’s presence. He listened every day to His blessed Word. Yet, after years of being with Jesus, Philip says

“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus sounds a little surprised. He responds to Philip:

“Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

God has been with us too from the moment Divine Life was breathed into us. We can completely trust that Presence, that Way, that Truth, that Life.

Such trust can transform our lives!

Music: O Via, Vita, Veritas – (perhaps outdated in tone, but lovely in melody and sentiment ) by Blessed Giacomo Alberione

O VIA, VITA, VERITAS!

O Via, Vita, Veritas, o Jesu!
Lucens per omnes semitas, o Jesu!
Te sequemur, trahe nos / Credulos ac servulos.
Te collaudamus / In Te speramus / Amamus Te / Dulcissime, o Jesu!

In verbo tuo stabimus, o Jesu!
Crucis pugnam pugnabimus, o Jesu!
Dediti Ecclesiæ / Veritatis regiæ.
Te collaudamus / In Te speramus / Amamus Te / Dulcissime, o Jesu!

Our Way, our Truth, our Life divine – O Jesus, our Lord!
On ev’ry path as Light you shine – O Master adored!
Lead us so we shall fulfill,
Through our faith and works, your will.
We praise and bless you, / Our hope confess you!
In love we sing, / Eternal King, / O Master adored! 

Your word we’ll keep with all our might – O Jesus, our Lord!
The battle of the cross we’ll fight – O master adored!
Docile to your Church we’ll be,
By your truths led joyously.
We praise and bless you, / Our hope confess you!
In love we sing, / Eternal King, O Master adored!

Infinite Grace

Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
May 2, 2019

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Today, in Mercy,  in our reading from Acts, the disciples continue to show immense courage in preaching the Word.  They are bursting with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, soon to be confirmed in them on Pentecost.

Jn3_34

We, too, have these gifts confirmed in us, not only when we receive the sacrament of Confirmation, but each time we open our hearts without reserve to the Holy Spirit and her ensuing abundance:

Wisdom
Understanding
Counsel, or Right Judgment
Fortitude, or Courage
Knowledge
Piety, or Reverence
Fear of the Lord, or Awesome Wonder

Sometimes, we unfortunately forget to call on these infinite gifts as we navigate life’s challenges. It is a blessing to remember that we are not doing this thing called “Life” alone, just as the early disciples were charged by the power of God.

Our Gospel confirms the availability of God’s unbounded Grace to all who believe:

For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.
He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.

Let’s consciously claim that unrationed grace today! Oh, what a difference it might make in our lives!

Music: Mozart: Veni Sancte Spiritus (Latin and English Lyrics below)

Veni sancte Spiritus:
Reple tuorum corda fidelium:
et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
qui per diversitatem linguarum cunctarum
gentes in unitate fidei congregasti.
Alleluia.


Come Holy Spirit:
fill the hearts of your faithful,
and kindle your love in them.

You have gathered the nations
together in the unity of faith.
Alleluia.