Psalm 1: Play Nice Together

Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

October 26, 2020

2018 Reflection on the Bent-Over Woman

Click here ^


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 1 which, together with our first reading from Ephesians, gives us a complete outline for moral behavior.

There are days when I feel like the world’s not doing too bad responding to that outline. But, to be honest, there are more days when I think we’re a pretty big mess. 

It may sound simplistic, I know, but why can’t we all just follow Paul’s advice and be kind?

Brothers and sisters:
Be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

Ephesians 4:32

I think Pope Francis feels pretty much the same way as I do. Our reading from Ephesians could easily serve as a summary statement for Fratelli Tutti. Praying with this profound document, we can see the hope and agony of the world open before God’s Mercy, begging for healing.

(You may realize that I frequently refer to Fratelli Tutti. I believe this ground-breaking encyclical to be critically important for the future of our world. If you share my belief, you will be interested in this superb analysis written in Commonweal magazine by Austen Ivereigh.)


Psalm 1 gives us the peaceful picture of a person – and a world – centered on God’s loving law, the “plumb line” for holy balance in our lives. It is that same plumb line which Pope Francis drops for us in Fratelli Tutti.

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.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

Psalm 1

Poetry: A thought from Confucius:

If there is righteousness in the heart, 
there will be beauty in the character.

If there is beauty in the character, 
there will be harmony in the home.

If there is harmony in the home, 
there will be order in the nations.

When there is order in the nations, 
there will peace in the world.

Music: Blessed Be the Tie – Sara Groves remasters an enduring hymn on Ephesians 4:32. The original was written in 1782 by Baptist theologian John Fawcett

You for a father’s throne
We pour our art in prayer
Our fears and hopes are one
Out comforts and our cares

Blessed be the tie
That binds our hearts
In Christian love
We share each other’s walls
Our common burdens bear
And love for each other
The sympathizing tear

Blessed be the tie
That binds our hearts
In Christian love
Blessed be the tie
That binds our hearts
In Christian love
Oh, kindred heart

It’s like heaven above
It’s like heaven
Oh, kindred heart
It’s like heaven above
It’s like heaven

Blessed be the tie
That binds our hearts
In Christian love, oh
Blessed be the tie
That binds our hearts
In Christian love

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

The Benedictus

Thursday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

October 8, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, for our Responsorial, we pray with a passage from Luke’s Gospel. This passage is known as the Benedictus or Canticle of Zechariah. It is one of three canticles in the first two chapters of Luke, the others being the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis. The Angelic Hymn is often considered a fourth.


At the Wednesday General Audiences given by the Pope, a theme is chosen for “catechesis” or teaching. From October 2001 until February 2006, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI gave their teachings based on the Psalms. JPII closed the first section of these audiences with these words:

“Our commentary on the Psalms and canticles from Morning Prayer concludes today with the Canticle of Zechariah, commonly known as the Benedictus. It is a prophetic canticle, in which the father of John the Baptist, indicates three events in God’s liberation of Israel: the covenant with Abraham, the covenant with David, and the new covenant with Christ. Like the “dawn from on high,” Christ gives light and guides us into the way of peace.”

Wednesday General Audience, October 1, 2003

As we pray with the hope-filled verses of the Benedictus, we pray in a world still seeking the fullness of that Dawn of Tender Mercy …

… the tender mercy of our God
by which the daybreak from on high will visit us
to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.


Pope Francis’s closing prayer in Fratelli Tutti reflects the same hope as his predecessors for that universal Dawn, that rising of Love in our hearts.

O God, Trinity of love,
from the profound communion 
of your divine life, 
pour out upon us a torrent 
of fraternal love.

Grant us the love reflected 
in the actions of Jesus, 
in his family of Nazareth,
and in the early Christian community.

Grant that we Christians 
may live the Gospel, 
discovering Christ in each human being, 
recognizing him crucified
in the sufferings of the abandoned
and forgotten of our world,
and risen in each brother or sister 
who makes a new start.

Come, Holy Spirit, 
show us your beauty, 
reflected in all the peoples of the earth,
so that we may discover anew
that all are important 
and all are necessary, 
different faces of the one humanity
that God so loves. Amen.

Music: A Mass for Peace: Benedictus- Karl Jenkins 

Fratelli Tutti

Celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
October 4-5, 2020

This year, in normal liturgical custom, our Sunday celebration supersedes the Feastday of Francis. But I can’t let this special day go by without notice. Therefore, I am publishing tomorrow’s reflection early, hoping that you will read some of it today. I write with warmest greeting to all Franciscans, especially my dear Sisters in Aston. PA. (The Franciscan Spiritual Center has designed some wonderful programs and made them accessible even during the pandemic. Here is a link to explore their wonderful offerings.)


St. Francis Preaches to the Birds – Giotto

For reflection, I plan to spend this evening and tomorrow morning with Pope Francis’s new encyclical Fratelli Tutti (Brothers and Sisters All), issued on this feast. St. Francis inspired the world with a renewed Gospel vision. Our Holy Father seeks to do the same with this ground-breaking teaching.

These will be the first of many prayerful days with this powerful document which Michael Sean Winters, in the National Catholic Reporter, describes:

What is clear is that Pope Francis has given the church a testament of authentic solidarity at a time when our president — and his nationalistic allies abroad — offers a counterfeit of solidarity. Both varieties of solidarity are responses to the excesses and the poverties created by neo-liberalism. Yes, poverties, it is clear, … that the material wealth neoliberal economies generate is precisely coincident with the generation of spiritual and moral poverty. The whole world groans to move beyond the moral slovenliness of laissez-faire ideas. But only the pope’s version represents an authentically Christian version of solidarity and, I would add, an authentically human version. This text challenges Christians in unique ways, but it challenges all….
…. If this pandemic does not shake us out of our post-modern cultural and moral and spiritual lethargy, what will? Pope Francis is throwing the Catholic Church and the whole world a lifeline. Will we grab it?


If you would like to pray with this profound and challenging instruction from Pope Francis, here is a link to it.


A second opportunity for prayer over today and tomorrow comes from our Mercy Sister Eileen Dooling. On our Sisters of Mercy blog, Eileen offers a lovely reflection on the Franciscan-Mercy connection. I’m sure you will enjoy it.


As you can see, there are so many ways to reflect, pray and grow on this beautiful feast. May your prayer be blessed by Francis (both of them) and by this amazing music!

Music: St. Francis Preaching to the Birds by Franz Liszt, played by Kotaro Fukuma