On a Personal Note

On Saturday, we will attend the funeral of our friend Pat Raber, one of the finest women I have ever known.  Pat was the epitome of faithfulness, generosity and simplicity.  She gave me so much through her friendship.

Pat RaberJPG

 Pat was a devoted child of God, wife, mother, daughter, sibling and friend.  She was selfless to the point of shining!

 We were blessed to know Pat because she graced our community by becoming an Associate of the Sisters of Mercy. She espoused our charism and the Sisters who lived it, especially our elderly and infirm.

 Pat was a quiet dynamo, whose core was connected to God. That dynamism lit everything about her. Though quiet, she burned with an infinite light.

 Pray with me today, will you please, in thanksgiving for her life – a dynamic expression of God in our world.  We who loved her will miss her dearly.  But she has blessed us in ways we have yet to discover.

 I think, if you need some special courage to show God’s love and mercy in the world, Pat is a good one to ask for help.

 Rest in Mercy, dear friend!

Music: Lux Aeterna – Michael Hoppé

Friendship Poems

door

Because You Were Kind
I suppose
it was the utter simplicity
of your self – gift
that clothed it so
with grace
and made it a door
for the Holy One
to walk through.
Had you noticed
God’s sacred footfalls
under your tender words;
do you await
the gracious return
of the Giver
to replace, a hundredfold,
the loving gift you gave to me?


shell

Unshelled
Immediate friend,
enduring friend,
where my vulnerability
is so finely echoed
I will allow it
to exist
unshelled.


plants
Re-Planting
(Written after my mother’s death)
That afternoon,
winter framed sunlight
in the cold windows.
I watched you spread small greens
across a wooden table,
fingering their thready roots
like harp strings.
A song fell from that,
like quiet, nurturing rain.

Unable to sing,
I let the song seep quietly into me,
bathing my uprooted soul
in the warm silence between us.
There, in that comfort,
the small cutting at my core
sought earth,
sought healing.

Finally, I spoke
and laid the whole parched root
upon the table of your mercy. And
you, ever-tender gardener, lifted it
and blew the dust away, and
spitting gently in your hand,
massaged the feeble life it hid
before you stood it carefully in soil.

You said, “Life is like this sometimes.
Be gentle with it.  It will bloom again.”


 

old friend

                      Old Friend
When I saw you gathered like a sigh
in your cornflower velvet chair,
quilted against a passing winter flu,
I hurt to see you,
weak like half-drawn tea,
but knew
we did not yet sail
the catastrophic sea.

What I did know as I had not before
is that, dear friend, you do grow old,
and the day on which I will not find you,
warm and easy near the window’s cold
fell into my heart like sudden, heavy rain
that drowned my voice so unexpectedly,
I dove beneath the wave
to find myself again.

When you are gone from me,
I’ll gather somewhere in a sigh,
near fragile things of earth,
near leaves that turn to lace before they fall,
or snow, whose symmetry is yielding,
even as it lay,
and I will love you
as completely as I did today.
Near fragile things of earth, I’ll love you
as silently and as completely
as I did today.


Music: Joe Bongiorno: Walk with Me

 

 

The Blessing of Friends

Friday, March 1, 2019

Click here for Readings

Sirach6_15 friend

Today, in Mercy, our beautiful reading from Sirach reminds us how blessed we are in our friends.

To have a true friend, loving, honest and concerned for us is a gift beyond description. In modern parlance, such friends are often referred to as BFFs – “Best Friends Forever”. 

Pray in thanksgiving for your BFFs today. 

Some you may not have seen in many years. Still they are nestled in a place of eternal thanksgiving within you.

Some you may not speak to every day. You still carry and can depend on their strength and love.

Some may have been present to only a small part of your life. Still their impression lives in you.

Some may have grown old and gone home to God. Their eternal life rises in you.

Let us all give thanks today for the precious gift of friendship. Let us pray to be good and faithful friends ourselves.

(A second posting today with a few of my poems on friendship. Thank you to all of you, my friends, for the gift of your friendship.)

Music: More Than You’ll Ever Know – Watermark 

Sophia-Wisdom

Monday, February 25, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy,  we begin a series of readings from the Book of Sirach. Today’s is particularly beautiful as it describes Wisdom – Sophia, a feminine principle of God’s nature.

sirach

The passage itself is poetically inspiring, and certainly doesn’t need my words to explain it. Each of us will draw our own inspiration from this reading. For me, this scripture stretches my perception of God’s nature, neither male nor female, but embodying and generating the beauty of both.

This thought provoking quote from theologian Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, may enrich your reflection as it did mine.

God Language and Women

“What is the right way to speak about God in light of women’s reality? Ideas of God are cultural creatures related to the time and place in which they are conceived. We have traced one pattern of Christian feminist language arising from diverse experiences: the Spirit’s universal quickening and liberating presence, the living memory of Wisdom’s particular path in the history of Jesus, and inconceivable Holy Wisdom herself who brings forth and orients the universe. We have explored the ways in which these discourses coalesce into the symbol of the Trinity, a living communion of mutual and equal personal relations. Divine capacity for relation has led to speaking about Sophia-God’s participation in the suffering of the world that empowers the praxis of freedom, a discourse that takes place in the energizing matrix of the one God’s sheer liveliness named with the symbol SHE WHO IS. All of the above chapters are clues, starting points, commencements. This generation needs to keep faith with this question, creating, testing, reflecting, discarding, keeping. No language about God will ever be fully adequate to the burning mystery which it signifies. But a more inclusive way of speaking can come about that bears the ancient wisdom with a new justice.”

from her book She Who Is

Music: Sanctus  –  from the Mass of St. Cecilia  – Gounod (sung by Jessie Norman)

The Ark of Your Hearts

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021919.cfm

duck
Sent to me this morning by my beautiful niece in Atlanta where they are having rain

Today, in Mercy, and for the next few days we have the story of Noah. It’s both a terrifying and delightful story. 

It is frightening to think of the earth inundated by flood, all Creation wiped out because of the Creator’s disappointment! 

But it is delightful to think of these thousands of animal couples, holding hands, paws, fins or tentacles and skipping into Noah’s big boat.

In this passage, the writer imbues God with the same emotions and responses we have when our project fails mightily. We crumple it up, press delete, throw it in the garbage disposal, or smash it on the ground. In Genesis, God decides to “erase by flood”.

Despite the woeful drama, the story is filled with hope. God has not completely given up. He just wants to start over again.

Throughout the voluminous rest of scripture, God starts over with us innumerable times. Think of the Prodigal Son, the Adulterous Woman, Joseph and his Brothers.  Forgiveness and new beginnings are the story of our relationship with a God Who loves us too much to let us fail.

So, if your faith life is a little stormy just now, take refuge in the “ark of your heart” – your trust, hope and faith in God. Pray for fairer weather and believe that God will send it. Ask for the eyes to recognize it when it comes.

Music: Eye of the Storm ~ Ryan Stevenson (a little bit country, but the message works)

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Readings: Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, commemorating the apparitions of Mary to the Mexican peasant Juan Diego in 1531. 

OLofGuadalupeJPG

It is also on this date, 300 years later, that Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland. 

Both Mary and Catherine found their joy in total commitment to God’s will and presence in their lives. May they inspire and help  to make God the center of our lives. May that discovery fill us with joy.

Perhaps  by increasing our spiritual simplicity, trust and humility like Juan Diego, we can grow closer to Mary and to her Son.

Today’s beautiful readings can lead us closer into Mary’s arms.  Zecharia, even without knowing her, named Mary the Holy Dwelling from whom Christ would come forth.

Revelation captures multiple images from the Hebrew scriptures, fashioning a glorious picture of Mary’s significance in salvation history.

And our treasured passage from Luke — can we not read it like a beloved family story that gives us roots and wings?

Mary is not so far away from us.  She chose to enter Juan Diego’s life, looking like a queen he would recognize in his own culture. She has chosen to do the same thing in many other struggling cultures. 

How is Mary present to us today? How was she present to Catherine McAuley? A homeless woman? An immigrant mother? An incarcerated young woman/? A sickly neighbor? An annoying, lonely grandmother?

What language is Mary speaking to us?

Music: Tota Pulchra Es Maria – Latin words and translation below. This lovely hymn reflects our responsorial psalm for today.

Tota pulchra es, Maria,
et macula originalis non est in te.
Vestimentum tuum candidum quasi nix, et facies tua sicut sol.
Tota pulchra es, Maria,
et macula originalis non est in te.
Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia populi nostri.
Tota pulchra es, Maria.

 

You are all beautiful, Mary,
and the original stain [of sin] is not in you.
Your clothing is white as snow, and your face is like the sun.
You are all beautiful, Mary,
and the original stain [of sin] is not in you.
You are the glory of Jerusalem, you are the joy of Israel, you give honour to our people.
You are all beautiful, Mary.

Like A Shepherd

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Click here for readings

Baruch 5_9 copy

 

Today, in Mercy, our magnificent readings are filled with the beloved phrases of Advent: 

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord”, 

“Comfort ye my people”, 

“Like a shepherd, he feeds his flock.” 

These words paint the background for our redemption: a merciful God is about to touch our suffering, twisted world with transforming Mercy! 

God will comfort, straighten, lift and heal all that is broken in and around us. 

We have much to put in God’s redeeming hands today in our prayer.

Music: Like A Shepherd – Bob Dufford, SJ

Rachel Weeps

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/103018.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Jesus poses a question to his followers:

“What is the Kingdom of Heaven like?” It is rhetorical question and he goes on to explain, in beautiful symbols, the joy and fullness of heaven.

But were Jesus walking physically among us today, He might answer his own question by saying:

This is what it is NOT like:

  • the killing of innocents because of their faith, heritage, lifestyle or politics
  • the starvation and incarceration of children from Yemen to Mexico to Syria
  • the fueling of war by an economy of arms sales
  • the destruction of an environment given to us in trust
  • the systematic dehumanization of humanity through violence, lies, greed, and political arrogance
  • the ignorant indifference in “good” people which blindly fosters such dehumanization

Indeed, Rachel weeps for her beloved martyrs in Pittsburgh, for her dear children in Jeffersonville – as do all of decent and loving heart. And she weeps also for thousands who die daily from the failure of love. She weeps for all of us. In a society this sick with violence and hate, we are all victims.

Let us all choose the only survival — to act in mercy, justice and love. Let us do so to the memory of these martyrs and the many whom they follow.

Music: Shalom Aleichem

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=gP2S5KPQID4