The Good, The True and The Beautiful

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

June 16, 2019

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Trinity

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the feast of the Blessed Trinity, a mystery of our faith beyond full human comprehension. Clearly realizing this, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist religion said this:


Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man,
and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.


Still, as we pray, we have some limited conceptualization of this Divine Mystery. We reshape it into human terms we can relate to:


Father, Son, Spirit
Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier


These give us some insight into the heart of the Triune God, but only from the limits of our human perspective. It is a mystery so infinite that even in heaven we may not plumb its depths.

Many theologians and philosophers have tried to stretch our perspectives. The great Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar writes:


The One, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, these are
what we call the transcendental attributes of Being,
because they surpass all the limits of essences
and are coextensive with Being.


It may be helpful in our prayer to think of the Trinity in these terms- The Good, The True, and the Beautiful. These concepts, while we can experience them clearly in an individual or an object, far surpass that one particular presence or circumstance.

So it is with the nature of the Trinity. We perceive it simply in glimpses. Though Its totality far surpasses our comprehension, perhaps these glimpses are enough:
C.S. Lewis puts it this way:


Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun
which you could never get from reading books on astronomy.
These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’
in the woods of our experience.


What does all this mean in our daily spirituality? How can we find a Trinitarian spirituality in our daily encounter with God? How can we find the “patches of Godlight”?

Pope Francis brings it down to our experience of family:


All of the love that God has in Himself,
all the beauty that God has in Himself,
all the truth that God has in Himself,
He gives to the family.


So, in the sincere love – given and received – of a family or community, we find the reflection of this immense mystery.

And St. Catherine of Siena confidently prays about this truth in this way:


You, Eternal Trinity, are my Creator,
and I am the work of Your hands,
and I know through the new creation
which You have given me in the blood of Your Son,
that You are enamored of the beauty of Your workmanship.


Music: Amazing Love – Billy Martin, Peggy Dequesnel, Steve Hall

We Are A New Creation

Saturday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

June 15, 2019

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Today, in Mercy,  we are reminded of two fundamentals of our spiritual life.

  1. In Christ, we are a New Creation. (2 Cor.5:17)
  2. We are called to live in the fullness of that Truth  (Mt.5:37)

If we could only believe and act from that power how our lives might be transformed!

2Cor5_7 new

Often, we let the relentless passing of time convince us each day that, rather than “new”, we are an older creation. Some of us tend to meet the cycles of life as challenges rather than opportunities. We use old, comfortable solutions that don’t quite meet the test. We get stuck, because life can be hard work!

But what if we realized that, every morning, God is imagining us into new possibility? That together with God, we have another day to become a sign of the Spirit in the world?

What if we consciously chose to meet any dispiriting situation with the attitude Jesus might take toward it? What if we lived life as an unfolding, glorious mystery rather than a problem?

What if we lived fully in the Truth that we are God’s beloved and, with God, capable of eternal life?

Today’s scriptures invite us to consider these questions with openness and faith.

Music: I Am a New Creation- The Worship Collection

O, the Depths!

Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

May 29, 2019

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Would you agree with this statement?

Nothing is ever completely what it seems to be.

The discrepancy is in us – in our limited capacity to access reality on its many levels.

iceberg

Like an iceberg, every story, every feeling, has an “understory” that we either miss, fear, or only incompletely comprehend.

Today, Jesus promises his faithful disciples the wondrous hope of the Holy Spirit Who, by Her profound gifts, will lead us to the depths of life in God. Descending ever more deeply into that Truth, we will see beyond the surface of our life into its sacred character. Our vision of the world, like a holy X-ray, will change radically. We will begin to see with the eyes of God.

This deepening is like a dance where the Spirit leads and we follow. By opening our eyes to each moment’s deeper truth, the Holy Spirit will invite us to live our lives in wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe of God.

Jn16_13

We can sense the dance in ourselves when we see the Holy Spirit’s fruits blossom in us: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, purity of heart.

We have all been there at moments in our lives, dear friends — on the edge of God’s immense love for us and for all Creation — a starry evening on a deserted beach; a quiet, warm room during a winter storm; a friend’s generous embrace in our sorrow; a small awareness of all the Love God has for us. Think of your own moments when the Holy Spirit longed to love you beyond yourself. Ask for a re-run!

Those readers in the northern hemisphere are close to our summer season, with the fields yielding the abundant fruit of winter’s waiting. All of us, no matter our location, await the imminent outpouring of Pentecost. It is a good time to look at our own heart’s fields, to open them the the Holy Spirit’s astounding call and companionship.

Music: Who Has Known – John Foley, SJ

This is really an Advent/Christmas hymn, but I think it works well with today’s reflection. I hope you agree. (Lyrics below)

O the depth of the riches of God;
and the breadth of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
For who has known the mind of God?
To Him be glory forever.

A virgin will carry a child and give birth,
and His name shall be called Emanuel.
For who has known the mind of God?
To Him be glory forever.

The people in darkness have seen a great light;
for a child has been born, His dominion is wide.
For who has known the mind of God?
To Him be glory forever.

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

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!

The True Heart

Monday, April 8, 2019

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Today, in Mercy,  our readings offer copious lessons as well as an enthralling drama from the Book of Daniel.

John8_12Light

We have heard the original story many times, and seen it repeated, down through the ages, in innumerable forms: a woman targeted by lecherous men, innocence betrayed by treachery, power exercised in destructive selfishness. When we see goodness vindicated in this story, we feel a certain victory for the ages! Am I right?

While the story’s surface addresses sexual assault and false condemnation, its heart is about power and truth. Susanna and Daniel embody these virtues. The two corrupt judges manifest their distortion.

In our Gospel, Jesus proclaims his identity as the Light of the World. He confronts the Pharisees because they “judge by appearances” rather than by truth. They use their power to oppress rather than to free.

Power and truth suffer terribly in today’s world. They are obscured by the same darknesses we see in the story of Susanna – conspiracy, secrecy, false accusation, dissimulation, malfeasance, and total disregard for human pain. Ultimately, it is always the innocent and poor who suffer most in such an atmosphere.

We pray today for Divine Light for every hidden darkness, for bravery like Daniel’s, for fidelity like Susanna’s, and for truthfulness to make us worthy of the Name of Christ.

Music: A mantra based on John 14 – The Spirit of Truth

It’s the Law … hmmm!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, our readings are all about “law”.

law,JPG

  • Deuteronomy talks about the Law of Moses as he received it from God.
  • Psalm 147 talks about God’s law as it is expressed in nature and human understanding.
  • In Matthew, Jesus talks about his New Law as a development, not a contradiction, of the Old Law.

All this talk of “law” seems coincidental, doesn’t it, in these days after the Mueller report and what is within, above and beyond “the law”. So many definitions and concepts of “law”!

So, as we pray these scriptures, we might ask ourselves, “What exactly is “law”, especially in terms of my spiritual life and development?”

St. Thomas Aquinas may be a good place to start. Here are his definitions, simplified:

oh boy

  • Eternal Law = God’s will and guidance which orders all creatures toward the good of the universe.
  • Natural Law = our self-ordering, by reason, toward this universal good.
  • Human Law = particular statutes instituted in accord with human reason for the good of civil society.
  • Divine Law = the revealed law of God as found in Scripture

Praying with these concepts is different from studying them.

If we pray with the concept of eternal law, we might offer praise for God’s unchanging Presence in our lives, assuring us that we are eternally loved.

If we pray with the concept of natural law, we might say of a prayer of supplication for the grace to be attuned to God in all our natural thoughts, words and actions.

If we pray with the concept of human law, we might pray in contrition for all the ways we humans mistake law for justice.

If we pray with the concept of divine law, we might offer thanks for God’s generous revelation which allows us to contemplate and grow in relationship with God.

We want our understanding and living of law to be rooted in the heart of God, according to these verse from John 6:

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Let’s pray for that rootedness today.

Music: I Will Delight in the Law of the Lord – Maranatha

Skies Darken for Jesus

Friday, March 22, 2019

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Agnus Dei

Today, in Mercy, we begin with the powerful and moving story of Joseph – sweet, innocent son of of Jacob who was betrayed by his brothers. Jacob sends Joseph to work with his brothers, believing they love him. He was wrong.

Our Gospel then tells the story of the frustrated landowner who sent his son on mission to settle his accounts. though the landowner’s servants had been abused by the tenants, he believed his son would be respected. He was wrong.

Both these stories are prototypes of the Father sending Jesus to redeem us. The intention is the same. The hope is the same. Unfortunately, the result is the same.

In our Gospel, Jesus realizes that the Father’s hope for him will not be met with openness and acceptance. He sees the Pharisees milling around in hateful conversation.  Referencing the parable, Jesus says:

“The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.
And although they were attempting to arrest him,
they feared the crowds, for the crowds regarded him as a prophet.

This morning, let’s pray for all those who send their beloveds out in hope to do good in the world:

  • for police officers, firefighters, first responders whose families send them out each day always fearing for their safety
  • for medical personnel who risk sickness in their care for others
  • for missionaries and justice workers who encounter threat and danger in helping others
  • for peacekeepers and military who work to end war and tyranny
  • for all of us when we reach out in justice and courage, hoping to be received with respect and mutuality

May the example of Christ inspire and sustain us to do our part for God’s continuing redemption of the world.

Music: Agnis Dei – Michael Hoppè

Wait on the Lord

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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Today, in Mercy,  we find so many singular, profound words in Sirach. Each word is like a deep pool that can be prayed into, like a diver becoming one with the water.

Sirach2_2

Sirach is instructing his “son” on relationship with God. As we pray with the reading, we can focus on these words. We can ask for the grace to enrich our friendship with God by deepening in these virtues:

Justice —- Sincerity—- Steadfastness—-
Peacefulness —- Patience —- Trust —-
Mercy —- Hope —- Spiritual Insight—-
Compassion —- Forgiveness

In our Gospel, the disciples need a reminder about which virtues lead to true greatness. Like them, we all get off track sometimes about our own self-importance.

Jesus brings their focus back to truth by placing a little child in their midst. Let’s pray today for a graceful re-focusing of our hearts.

“If anyone wishes to be first,   
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, Jesus placed her in their midst,   

and putting his arms around her, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”

Music: Be Still – Mary McDonald – Sunday 7pm Choir

Witness for the …

Sunday, February 10, 2019

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I bet I know the first word that popped into your mind when you read today’s headline:  PROSECUTION!

Agatha-Christies-Witness-for-the-Prosecution-set-for-BBC-One-remake-767x421

Today, in Mercy, our readings invite us to consider WITNESS — not for the prosecution, but for the RESURRECTION!

Is6_8 witness

In our first reading, we see Isaiah dramatically commissioned to WITNESS to the vision of faith in his heart. He responds wholeheartedly:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

Our second reading, Paul describes how Christ appeared to him and commissioned him, “the least of the Apostles” to be his WITNESS. Paul, too, responds wholeheartedly:

He appeared to me.
Therefore, … so we preach and so you believed.

In our Gospel, Simon Peter, James and John are awed by the miraculous power of Jesus as their nets pull hundreds of fish from the otherwise unproductive sea. Jesus tells them that, by their WITNESS, they will attract hundreds of souls to his message. They also respond wholeheartedly:

When they brought their boats to the shore,
they left everything and followed him.


For the Word of God to live,
WITNESS is everything.


Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB, in her beautiful book, “Seven Sacred Pauses”, describes the level of WITNESS in the first disciples:

They were impelled to continue proclaiming the Gospel in the face of opposition. They were zealous in preaching because they felt passionate about being entrusted with the scared message.

Think of this often-heard philosophical conundrum:

If a tree falls in the forest,
and no one is there to hear it,
does it make a sound?

Logic tells us that it does. But what does it matter if no one hears it?

If the Resurrection happened, and no one bears witness to it, what does it matter? That is the importance of our call to WITNESS –   just like Isaiah, Paul, Peter, James, John, and two millennia of believers who carry on the sound of that tomb bursting open to eternal life.

How will we witness to our faith today – not by preachy words or empty opinions, but by our active passion for justice and mercy in the world, and in our own choices?

Music: I Will Stand as a Witness for Christ