To Say I Love You

Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

May 28, 2020

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Today, in Mercy, as we continue to read Jesus’s loving dialogue with his Father, we become the silent listener to an intimate conversation.

Jn17_21 all one

As I prayed with this passage, the memory of my own conversations with my mother came back to me. Many of these exchanges took place in person, but what I remembered today was our daily evening phone calls late in her life.

The calls were brief, but unflinchingly regular – 7PM every night. The exchanges were  very simple and almost formulaic: were we both OK, slept well, had a good day, had what for dinner, endured whatever weather….did we need anything?

But the real conversation was deep under any formula. It was the silent language of love, comfort, hope, trust and fidelity.  It was the unspoken assurance that we were, and would always be, FOR each other.


In John 17, we find the same kind of conversation between Jesus and his Father.

  • You and I are one
  • You have gifted me with your glory
  • You have empowered me in your Name
  • You have always loved me
  • I know your heart 
  • and I am grateful

What a privilege to listen to God’s conversation! In our prayer today, we may just want to witness silently the infinite love between Jesus and the Father. As Jesus prays for us to be incorporated into that love, may our hearts overflow in gratitude.


Music: I Just Called fo Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder

Mom and I loved this song because it so clearly described our relationship. I still sing it to her sometimes… loooong distance for sure now🥰.

I think it’s a song we could easily share with God in our prayer.

Our Beloved Communities

Memorial of Saint Philip Neri, priest

May 26, 2020

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given me

Today, in Mercy, Paul gives the first part of his Ephesian farewell address which he will complete in tomorrow’s reading.

Paul really loved the Ephesian community. He lived with them for three years and poured his heart and soul into teaching them. He doesn’t say it outright, but like all ministers, he must have learned from them as well – from their faith, compassion, and openness to his teaching.

Now Paul begins the last journey back to Jerusalem, a passage which will mirror Christ’s own journey to that sacred city. But before he departs, Paul tells the Ephesians how much he loves and expects from them. And he blesses them.

In tomorrow’s continuation, Paul will say:

And now I commend you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up
and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.

In our Gospel today, as Jesus commences his own final journey, he blesses his listeners as well:

Father, I pray for them.
I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me,
because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours


Today as we pray, whether we are at the beginning or late parts of our journey, we might take time to pray for the ones God “has given” us in our lives. Like Paul who shared life with the Ephesians, and like Jesus and his beloved disciples, God has given us communities to love and form us on our journey.

These extraordinary pandemic days have reminded us all of what’s most cherished in our lives. It’s such a perfect time to show our own beloved communities how much they mean to us. It doesn’t have to be a long address or a profound speech. My young nephew and his dear wife did it yesterday with a simple and delightfully surprising phone call just before they journeyed on a small vacation.

Just little phrases between us, passed over a thousand mile telephone signal, carried a much bigger message of love and gratitude:

  • just wanted to check on you
  • are you feeling well
  • do you have what you need
  • enjoy your time away
  • travel safely
  • thanks for thinking of me
  • I love you
  • God bless you

Today, as we read the orations of Jesus and Paul, we may not see the same exact phrases, but the message is the same. Jesus and Paul knew it was important to their communities to put that loving message into words. It’s important for our communities too.

familyThanks Jimmy and Kristin. Thank you all my dear family and friends. I am so blessed to have these kinds of conversations with all of you. I don’t ever want to take that for granted.

Like Paul,
I commend each one of you to God
and to that gracious word of his that can build you up
and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.

On this, and all your life journeys, travel safely and know you are deeply loved.

Music: The Lord Bless You and Keep You – John Rutter

Holy Thursday 2020

Holy Thursday 

April 9, 2020

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Eucharist

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the gift of Eucharist, the real and enduring Presence of Christ in  the world.

It is both ironic and instructive that on this “Corona” Holy Thursday, we are quarantined from the sacred Bread and Wine. 

Today, as supper time falls slowly from east to west over the Earth, so will a palpable sadness that pandemic keeps us from physical communion with Christ and the believing community.

There will instead flow a great surge of virtual communion as we join an irrepressible wave of faith. The evening skies will echo with the precious words that, despite circumstances, gather us from whatever distances prevent us:

Jesus took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

Our Gospel reminds us of something which seems even more important this year – there are two equally significant dimensions to a full understanding of Eucharist:

  • the Body and Blood we share at Mass
  • the sacrificial service we live daily among the People of God
    who are the living Body of Christ for us.

In these times of stark loss and need, that second dimension sustains us.

foot

Eucharist is offered when we wash the feet of our sisters and brothers:

  • by the medical and support personnel who tend and comfort the sick, who feed them, clean for them, pray for them
  • by the sick themselves who endure in faith and hope 
  • by those who strive to keep others well
  • by those who serve our essential needs for sustenance and safety
  • by those who pray for the healing, courage and restoration of all Creation 
  • by each one of us as we turn from self toward the good of the whole

As Jesus leans to wash the feet of his disciples, so may we lean in service over our suffering world. Jesus asks us:

Do you realize what I, your Lord and Master, have done for you?

Not fully, Lord, but we are learning a new depth of understanding.

bowl

The realization rises like a slow dawn over the shadows of our selfishness. It is a sunrise which continues throughout our lives. Please help us to rise with You no matter how the darkness weighs on us.

Like the fragile bread and fluid wine which hide your Omnipotent Presence, may we become holy nourishment and joy for one another – a true and living memorial to your infinite act of love for us.

Music: Pange Lingua – Chant of the Mystics.
Written by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century
English lyrics below

 

Sing, my tongue, the Saviour’s glory,
Of His Flesh, the mystery sing;
Of the Blood, all price exceeding,
Shed by our Immortal King,
Destined, for the world’s redemption,
From a noble Womb to spring.

Of a pure and spotless Virgin
Born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
Stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
Then He closed in solemn order
Wondrously His Life of woe.

On the night of that Last Supper,
Seated with His chosen band,
He, the Paschal Victim eating,
First fulfils the Law’s command;
Then as Food to all his brethren
Gives Himself with His own Hand.

Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
By His Word to Flesh He turns;
Wine into His Blood He changes:
What though sense no change discerns.
Only be the heart in earnest,
Faith her lesson quickly learns.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo, the sacred Host we hail,
Lo, o’er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail:
Faith for all defects supplying,
When the feeble senses fail.

To the Everlasting Father
And the Son who comes on high
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.
Amen.

The Word Will Not Be Void

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent

March 3, 2020

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Today, in Mercy, as I pray with today’s readings, I ask myself two questions:

      • “What has God’s Word accomplished in me?”
      • “What does God’s Word yet want to accomplish in me?”

If you’re like me, you’re always thinking about what you haven’t done, still must do, wish you had done. 

STOP

Let’s STOP and praise our gracious God for the good accomplished through our lives. I know every one of you reading this blog is an amazingly good person. God has already done beautiful things through you. Thank God. Give God the glory.

Lyrics:

How can I say thanks
For the things You have done for me?
Things so undeserved,
Yet You gave to prove Your love for me;
The voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude.
All that I am and ever hope to be,
I owe it all to Thee.

To God be the glory,
To God be the glory,
To God be the glory
For the things He has done.

With His blood He has saved me,
With His power He has raised me;
To God be the glory
For the things He has done.

Just let me live my life,
Let it pleasing, Lord to Thee,
And if I gain any praise,
Let it go to Calvary.


And then ask to go on, to open up your heart, to see God’s next desire for your precious life.

waterfal

For my young readers, give your dynamism to God’s imagination for you. There are great and holy things around every corner! Trust! Ride the grace-filled wave! Do not be afraid! Be a waterfall for God’s Word.

 


wellJPGFor some of us, as we get older, we do not have the physical energy to DO all that we once did. But oh, my dears, we can now BE more wonderful for God because of the long accumulation of his generous grace. Be a Well for God’s Word! Sink into grace! Do not be afraid!

 


For thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.


How amazing that promise is! Trust it! Let the Word transform you every day of your life.

Let’s consciously pray for one another today as today’s Gospel encourages us:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Music:  So Will I – Hillsong

Thank You, God, For Loving Me

Friday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Friday, November 29,2019

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Today, in Mercy, let us continue to bask in the deep gratitude of our hearts for God’s tremendous love for us.

earring

I wrote this reflection for the Sisters of Mercy blog several years ago. They republished it yesterday for Thanksgiving Day. Some of you may not have had the chance to read it. I would be honored if you did.:

Click here to find my reflection of the Sisters of Mercy blog

Music: Amazing Love – some gorgeous instrumental music for your prayer time.

Thanksgiving Prayers

Thanksgiving Day

November 28, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our Thanksgiving readings are so beautiful! Please take some time to read them. Let them bless you wherever you are in life’s journey.

1Cor1_4 Thanks

Throughout this Thanksgiving week, I have prayed by letting your names flow through my mind with deep gratitude. Every life that touches us leaves some kind of blessing or challenge. I am thankful for the gift each one of you has given me.

I know that many of you carry some heaviness through these days – the loss or illness of loved ones, challenges with your own health, or some of the other sorrows life weaves into our joy.

May God reach through any burden you bear to convince you of his Presence in your life,  to assure you with the blessing of our first reading (which I have adapted slightly).

And now, bless the God of all,
who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters our good from our mother’s womb,
and fashions us according to his mysterious plan for us!
May God grant us joy of heart
and may peace abide among us;
May God’s goodness toward us endure
to deliver us to joy
even through clouds of any passing sorrow.

May you and your loved ones be abundantly blessed on this Thanksgiving!

Music: I Thank My God

 

Thanksgiving Prayer

Blessed God, Great Spirit
Your Breath fills all creation.
It fills this country, making sacred
the land, the water, the sky.
It fills each of us,
making us all Your children,
sisters and brothers of many roots and colors,
who blessedly call ourselves “Americans.”

We give thanks to You today
for Your many gifts to us,
Your beauty and depth are mirrored to us
in the many faiths and cultures
that enrich us as a people.
Help us to reverence our diversity
as an expression of Your Divine Creativity.

We are a people with many names.
We thank You especially
for the names that have shaped us as Americans:
Washington, Lincoln, King –
Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth –
Geronimo, Joseph of the Nez Percé, Sacajawea.

We thank You for those whose names
have blended into the silence of history;
for the Native American who held this land
as a sacred trust;
for pilgrim, pioneer and patriot,
for suffragette, soldier, public servant, and saint…
for those in our own families
who first came – full of hope – to these shores,
and for the searching immigrants who come here now
to find the dream of peace.

We have many hopes and fears, dear God,
as a nation, as individuals, and as world citizens.
On this Thanksgiving Day, move us to bless and
reverence one another as sisters and brothers
and to renew ourselves ,
as your children, in the grace
of awareness, respect, justice and mercy.

Amen.

(Thanks)Giving

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

November 27, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, in our reading from Daniel, King Belshazzar sees “the handwriting on the wall”. We all know how that feels! It’s a feeling that tells us to pay attention to our lives.

As Thanksgiving comes closer, I hope this reflection will help us all pay attention to what is most precious in our lives, and to give thanks.


TY families

Thanksgiving is a most heart-warming time. While culture seems to have eroded Christmas into a holiday of “presents”, Thanksgiving remains a time of “presence” – a day simply to gather family and friends in fellowship and love.  It is a day full of remembering, ritual, hope and encouragement.  It is a time when we are brought back to our true selves by the people who know us best and share our memories.

No matter how many years pass, on Thanksgiving morning we can remember our mother’s kitchen – the early morning bustle of chopping, peeling and mixing; the aroma of roasting turkey rising steadily through the day. For some, the memory is of the gathering of cousins for a football game, or the community of aunts for the pie-baking marathon. Always, it is a memory of togetherness and comfortable acceptance.

For me, a precious memory rests with the turkey heart. Both Dad and I loved this rare treat. But, alas, the turkey has only one heart! So we created a ritual of “alternative years” where I got the heart one year, Dad the next. Somehow, every year, Dad said he had had it last year – until I grew old enough to recognize his generous ploy. Then, as the years passed, I grew up. I realized it was my turn – and my joy – to always say that I “had the heart last year, Dad.”

Often, for this feast, we emphasize the aspect of “thanks”, because we are so blessed and have so much to be grateful for. But perhaps a more powerful part of the celebration is “giving”. This blessed day is a time to renew ourselves in giving – and forgiving.  Our giving may be expressed in many forms:

  • I love you
  • I thank you
  • I am proud of you
  • I will help you
  • I understand, or perhaps just something like this:

I had the heart last year.

Such words bless us, dear family and friends, beyond the years. May you and your loved ones hear them from one another on this Thanksgiving Day.

Music: Thanksgiving Song – Mary Chapin Carpenter

You’re Welcome

Tuesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

November 26, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings echo the end-time themes we have been considering for several days. And we may continue to pray with these as we approach Advent.

But as we approach Thanksgiving, I want to shift gears and offer you some reflections I have written over the years in celebration of this holiday. For these next few days, I will focus on these. In the past, readers have used them for their prayer and at their own Thanksgiving tables. I hope you find them beneficial.

thnkgvg_mercy


You’re Welcome

Bill was a big Mid-western guy with the boots and belt buckles to prove it. His wife of thirty years was a patient in our east coast cancer wing. Hearing of a break-through experimental treatment, they had come seeking a cure despite every indication of its hopelessness.

Being away from home, Bill had a lot of empty time outside of visiting hours. He spent much of it observing things that would ordinarily go unnoticed in the bustle of his regular life: weather, nature and human idiosyncrasies.

During one cafeteria lunch, over a bowl of hot soup, he observed, “People around here don’t say ‘You’re welcome’. They hold a door. You say ‘Thank you’. They just say ‘Uh huh'”.  Bill didn’t like that. It made him feel invisible. He said it was like one hand clapping.

In this season of Thanksgiving, it’s something to consider. Thanks are not offered in a vacuum. They are given to benefactors, both human and Divine, on whom we depend for a reciprocity of love, companionship, care and courage. Bill, at such a vulnerable, lonely place in his life, was infinitely sensitive when his thanks received no answer.

During this special time, we may hear a “Thank You” offered to us. In this cold age of our digital distractions, can we receive it consciously? Can we return it with a mutuality of gratitude that says, “You’re welcome! You are welcome in the embrace of my life. I see you as a unique and precious life and I rejoice at any kindness I can give you.”? A simple, sincere smile can say all that. Such is the power of our conscious spirits!

Doing this, we might even hear the Creator’s whisper, saying the same thing to us as we offer our Thanksgiving prayers: “I have created you from an abundance of love. You are precious to me and I believe in you. I hear your “Thank You” and you are welcome in the embrace of my infinite love.”

Music:  Thanksgiving Classical Playlist (You may want to play this hour-long compilation during your Thanksgiving meal.)

A Grateful Spirit

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 13, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, two significant themes in our readings are gift-giving and gratitude.

In our first reading Naaman, a pretty hot-shot Syrian commander, is a leper. He takes the advice of a captured Israel slave girl who encourages Naaman to seek a cure from Elisa the prophet.

As Naaman approaches, Elisha sends word  to rinse in the Jordan. Naaman, who is obviously accustomed to personalized subservience, is not happy with Elisha’s absentee advice. Angry, Naaman sets out for home. But his servants encourage him to cool down and to act on Elisha’s instructions. 

Naaman receives the cure and he promises, half-heartedly, to from henceforth worship Yahweh. He then asks what he can pay for the gift of the cure. Elisha responds that there is no payment .

Notice: Naaman never says “Thank you”. Instead, he wants to pay, to owe nothing for the immense gift he has received. He doesn’t want to be beholden, even to God.

Elisha, in so many words, tells Naaman: What I was blessed to convey to you comes from God. The power is God’s. I am the instrument. You can’t buy or own it. I can’t sell it. It’s God’s – freely given.

2Tim2_9JPG

Paul repeats the theme to Timothy: the Word of God is not chained. God’s power, grace, and healing are given freely. We cannot earn them buy, them, control them, or ever thank God enough for them. But we should try.

In our Gospel, only one cured leper – a Samaritan – has the sense and humility to try to thank Jesus. Born of his faith, that gratitude saves him.

God is Infinite Gift. God’s love pours over us spontaneously and continually to bring us to wholeness. God can’t help loving us and hoping for our completeness in grace.

May we be delivered from any speck of entitlement, indifference, arrogance, or ingratitude in the face of such Goodness!

Music:  Thank You, Lord – Don Moen

God’s Thank You Note

Monday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time

August 26, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, we begin eight days of Thessalonians, coupled with the final section of Matthew’s Gospel before the Passion, Death and Resurrection narrative.

First Thessalonians is a love note, a thank you note. In it, Paul speaks to the community with great affection and gratitude because they have caught fire with the Gospel he shared with them.

Paul’s words carry the loving, grateful voice of God to us who also try, with all our hearts, to give ourselves to the Gospel.

1 Thes 1:5 Thank You

In today’s Gospel, Matthew gives us the sad counterpoint to Paul’s joy. Jesus thunders woe over the Pharisees who, unlike the Thessalonians, smother the ardent message he offers them.

They bind. They control. They peddle a religion rooted in parsimonious law rather than generous freedom. They promote a system that sustains their privilege.

Jesus tells us that Pharisaical religion sucks the soul from people, binding them in a self-serving, spiritless law – where power and material prosperity supersede truth, loving community, and sincere worship.

In Paul’s words, God blesses and thanks us for our true faith which – by generosity, hope, love, sacrifice and hopeful endurance – builds the Community of God.

Throughout history, some people have used the scripture to justify the kind of pharisaical selfishness bewailed in today’s Gospel. They isolate and demonize other human beings by the deceitful turning of the holy Word. They are clever and convincing. They appeal to our rationality rather than our souls.

Today’s readings remind us to take great care in discerning the Spirit. We will never find Her where there is no love, mercy, kindness, freedom, forgiveness, and joy.

Music: one of my favorite hymns. Though from Ephesians, it carries the same message as our reading from Thessalonians today. I pray this prayer for all of you, dear friends.

Ephesians 1 – by Suzanne Toolan, RSM

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In him we were chosen to live through love in his light.
That is why I never cease to give thanks to God for you.
And pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ
will grant you the Spirit of wisdom
and knowledge of himself
that you may  glory, glory in his goodness.