Psalm 19: God’s Perfect Law

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 2, 2020


Previous Prayer on Today’s Readings
June 30, 2016: Today, in Mercy, we pray in praise of God’s laws which hold the sun and moon in place, and make night and day turn softly into each other. We pray to love God’s law in our own hearts, respecting life in all its stages and expressions. May we see our own life as a marvelous manifestation of God’s divine balance, and may we so honor its risings and settings.


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19. The entire psalm opens with a familiar hymn to the Beauty of God’s Creation. and closes with a meditation on the beauty of God’s Law. Today’s verses focus on the psalm’s second half, lauding God’s flawless law. 

In both cadence and meaning, Psalm 19 is a song of balance. It dances back and forth between the immutable elegance of God’s Law and the perfection it offers to those who pursue it.

The concept of “law” might not immediately engender spiritual enthusiasm in our hearts. In our modern culture, the word “law” has become removed from the biblical sense of “justice”. 

In modern parlance, “law” is a set proclamations we may or may not agree with. The validity of this “law” depends on the morality of those who make it.

But law and justice in scripture are meant to be reflections of God’s perfection . They are the means to attaining right-balance in our lives, and in all Creation, according the God’s desire for us.

In fact, living a true biblical dimension of law and justice may require us, at times, to live outside a cultural sense of these words.  This happens when we protest “unjust laws” – a phrase whose seeming contradiction shows us just how difficult living justly might be.



How do we stay sharply and accurately aware of those contradictions so that we may discern a life of true Godly justice and right-balance in a culture that has become confused and calloused?

Psalm 19 is a good guide. Trusting its advice, we will find the virtues that lead to joy and peace.

Any “law” which does not lead to these blessings needs to be examined in the light of this beautiful psalm.


Poetry: God’s Grandeur– In Gerard Manley Hopkins’s exquisite poem, we see the magnificence of nature juxtaposed with human fragility.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.


And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Music: More Precious Than Gold – Acappella


They are more precious than gold 
Sweeter than the honey 
They are more precious than gold 
And the honey comb 

The laws of the Lord are perfect 
Reviving the soul, reviving the soul 
Reviving the soul 

They are more precious than gold 
Sweeter than the honey 
They are more precious than gold 
And the honey comb 

They make wise the simple 
They give joy to the heart 
Light to the eyes 
Enduring forever 
Righteous altogether 
They bring great reward 

The laws of the Lord are perfect 
Reviving the soul, reviving the soul 
Reviving the soul 

May the words of my mouth 
And the meditation of my heart 
Be pleasing in your sight 
O Lord my rock 
My rock and my redeemer 
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer 

The laws of the Lord are perfect 
Reviving the soul, reviving the soul 
Reviving the soul 
They are more precious than gold Sweeter than the honey 
They are more precious than gold 
And the honey comb

Under Her Fiery Wings

Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter

May 25, 2020

Click here for readings

Today , in Mercy, we read in Acts about Baptism in the Spirit and the powers it bestows. When Paul encounters some believers who have received the Baptist’s rite of repentance, he asks if they had received the Holy Spirit.

Their simple answer kind of amuses me:

We’ve never even heard of him!

Paul remedies the situation with a few quick sacramental steps and:

… they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul laid his hands on them,
the Holy Spirit came upon them,
and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.


When I read passages like this, I sometimes wonder what has happened in the millennia since those early Spirit-filled Baptisms… since the days when the Holy Spirits seems to have burst out all over in flames, wonders and eloquence.

batteryHas the Holy Spirit changed? Diminished? Is Her battery running low? Or have we changed … the Church and we members who comprise it?

Well, I guess we all know the answer, given our faith in a changeless God.


So why doesn’t the Holy Spirit blaze for us as She did for those twelve Ephesians in today’s reading?

I think it’s a matter of how we see, and listen. 

Sir John Lubbock, a 19th century scientist and polymath wrote this:
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”

― John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live In


Might not this wisdom apply as well to how we perceive the Spirit in our lives?

If in our daily experiences and interactions, we remain on a superficial, distracted relationship with the Holy then we, like the fellows in our reading, may “never even hear” of the Holy Spirit.

But if, by prayer and contemplation, we open ourselves to the Sacred within all Creation, what we see and hear, what we feel and respond to begins to change — to catch fire.

Hopkins_wings
During this week leading up to Pentecost, we might try this practice: let’s look more intensely for the Spirit in our daily lives by noticing the presence (or absence) of the Spirit’s gifts.

  • How are our choices, conversations, judgements, reactions reflective of these gifts?
  • In my experiences each day, what persons or circumstances have mirrored these gifts? What has overshadowed or eradicated them?

The Holy Spirit’s heart beats alive and well within all Creation. I might just need to dust off my stethoscope a bit!🤗 Maybe this beautiful poem will help.

God’s Grandeur- Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Meditation: God’s Grandeur- read so beautifully by Samuel West

Grace and Power

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

May 6, 2019

Today, in Mercy, Acts tells us more about Stephen, who was introduced in Saturday’s reading as “a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit”.

Acts6_8 Stephen

Stephen is among the first group of Christians designated as deacons “to serve at table” – in other words, to do the administrative tasks that kept the community whole.

However, Stephen’s gifts went well beyond these services. Acts describes him like this:

Stephen, filled with grace and power,
was working great wonders and signs among the people.

This man was radiant with Holy Spirit! He had so opened his soul to God’s grace and power that he was transformed even to the point that, when indicted:

All those who sat in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him
and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

That same grace and power that fired Stephen’s spirit are available to us. In this holy Eastertide, as we await the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, let us give sincere time and intention to praying for these gifts – for ourselves, for our faith communities, our communities of love, for our leaders, for our world.

This poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins might help us picture how the Holy Spirit waits to be welcomed into our hearts and lives:

God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
(Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89).  Poems.  1918.)

Music: J.S.Bach – Gedenk an uns mit deiner Liebe (Think of us with your Love)
– from Cantata BWV 29 – Wir danken dir, Gott, wir danken dir (Tranlations below)

Gedenk an uns mit deiner Liebe,
Schleuß uns in dein Erbarmen ein!
Segne die, so uns regieren,
Die uns leiten, schützen, führen,
Segne, die gehorsam sein!

Think of us with your love,
enclose us in your pity!
Bless those who govern us,
those who guide, protect and lead us,
bless those who are obedient!