No Shadow of Turning

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

February 18, 2020

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Today, in Mercy, James continues with his spiritual encouragements. 

For one thing, he makes it clear that God doesn’t tempt us. Some of us make the mistake of thinking that, saying things like, “God is testing me.”

James, outlining a perfect way to examine one’s conscience, says this:

No one experiencing temptation should say,
“I am being tempted by God”;
for God is not subject to temptation to evil,
and God himself tempts no one.
Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his own desire.
Then desire conceives and brings forth sin,
and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.


 

I don’t really like to talk about sins; I’d probably much rather commit them!!!! So if we have some little labyrinths of temptation and sinful habits ensnaring us, we should listen to James. He encourages us to examine and check our own concupiscent  desires as they are the seeds of our spiritual undoing. 

In my experience, these desires are usually disguised, pretending to be beneficial for us at first sight. But underneath, they are rooted in selfishness and excess, deviating us from our center in God. Just think how some of the famous ones have masqueraded into our lives: Pride, Envy, Gluttony, Sloth, Lust, Greed, Wrath (Vengeful Anger).


In the second part of this passage, James takes the tone up a notch. He reminds us that, once centered on God, we realize that only good things come from God.

All good giving and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.

I particularly love that last phrase, rendered in our hymn today like this:
James1_17 no shadow

It’s beautiful to see how James, as a real spiritual leader, is so aware of his flock’s human struggles. No doubt, he shares them. What a blessing that his wise and loving guidance has come down through the ages to us!

Music: Great Is Thy Faithfulness- Chris Rice

David, God’s Servant

Memorial of Saint Agnes, virgin and martyr

January 21, 2020

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Ps89_David

Today, in Mercy, we meet David, whose thrilling and passionate story unfolds and echoes throughout the rest of biblical history.

In today’s passage, David is called in from the fields to receive, quite unexpectedly, Samuel’s anointing:

David
Michaelangelo’s David

 

“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.

 

 
Now, the passage doesn’t indicate which field David was in. But maybe he was out in proverbial “left field”, the place from which many human beings are called to do important things, to respond in courageous ways.

 

Most of us, like David, are just living our ordinary daily lives –relatively oblivious to grace – when the life-changing moments come. Those moments may not be as momentous as David’s, but they are big deals for us. 

  • We get a college acceptance (or rejection) letter.
  • We get a job offer (or we get laid off).
  • We get elected to a position (or we don’t)

Someone asks us:

  • Want to go steady?
  • Will you marry me?
  • Have you ever considered religious life?

Young people, like young David, seem to meet a lot of these obvious directional points in their unfolding lives. But, in reality, we continue to meet them as we move to full maturity. Until the day we die, God is always calling to become deeper, more honest, more loving, more gracefully beautiful, more fully in God’s image.

Where have the pivotal calls and turning points come in your life? What are the junctures at which everything would have been different had you made another choice?What made young, innocent David ready when his first, and ensuing, calls came? 

Here’s why:
David had an exquisite love and constant relationship with God.
And God loved him back, just like God loves us.

Every critical point in our life’s journey is charged with the power of God’s love. That power comes disguised in routine circumstances, like a parent calling his shepherd son home for dinner. But if our hearts are tuned to God, we hear the call deep within those ordinary appearances and we receive the moment’s anointing.

May it be so, until we meet the Beloved Face to face.

Music: Anoint Me, Lord – written by Vickie Yohe, sung by Jonathan Matthews

Living Parables

Tuesday of the Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time

October 22, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Paul contrasts the sin of “Adam” to the gift of Jesus, demonstrating the specifics of Christ’s redemptive act.

Adam

A key phrase for our prayer might be the following. The concupiscence of human nature will always make the sinful choice a possibility. But we can gain courage and strength from this powerful line from Paul:

Where sin increased,
grace overflowed all the more….

Jesus teaches a lesson about perseverance in the spiritual life. He says if we stick with it, God will welcome us the way a generous master thanks and embraces a loyal servant. He adds a comforting thought for those of us of “a certain age”.

And should he come in the second or third watch
and find them prepared in this way,
blessed are those servants.

Yesterday, I attended a 95th birthday party for my Mistress of Novices. Fifty plus years ago, she guided a gaggle of hopeful and naive young nuns toward the depths of the spiritual life. She didn’t do it by words alone. She did it by faithful, humble, steadfast and joyful living in the Presence of God. Now, in the third watch, she is still doing the same thing – and she has done it for all the years in between…indeed, a blessed servant!

Catherine Rawley
Sister Catherine Rawley, RSM Happy 95th Birthday

This is what Jesus is talking about today. Look around you and see the parables alive in your own life, your own history, your own heart.

Music: Song of a Faithful Servant

(A simple, childlike song. Please excuse the spelling. There’s no way for me to fix it although I desperately want to)

Amazing Grace

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

Thursday, October 17, 2019

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Rm3_24 grace

Today, in Mercy, Paul makes clear that Jesus came to redeem ALL people.

For there is no distinction;
all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.
They are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption in Christ Jesus…

This is the magnificent message of the Good News, the Gospel, to which Paul dedicated his apostolic life.


We celebrate another champion of the Gospel today in St. Ignatius of Antioch, (not to be confused with the 16th century founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola.)

St. Ignatius of Antioch lived just a short time after Paul, dying in 107 BC. Like Paul, Ignatius was martyred in Rome. He too wrote many letters to his Church, although these are not included in the Bible.

Christianity is not a matter
of persuading people of particular ideas,
but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ.
So pray that I may never fall into the trap
of impressing people with clever speech,
but instead I may learn to speak with humility,
desiring only to impress people with Christ himself.

Ignatius lived a life of humble, faithful witness. He took to heart the cautions Jesus offers in today’s Gospel to those who teach and preach about faith:

Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.

We are all called to preach the Gospel by the witness of our lives. May we have humility,  courage and insight like that of Ignatius, so that we make it easier, not harder, for people to come to God.

Music: Amazing Grace – Sean Clive

Your Grace Amazes Me

Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

August 12, 2019

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Today, in Mercy, Moses recounts for the people God’s immense generosity toward them.

Dt10_7awesome God

Have you ever heard yourself, or someone dear to you, saying, “God has been so good to me!” Such a statement rises out of our awe at God’s love and mercy to us.

The deeper our faith, the clearer our insight into these gifts. I have heard people in the sparest of circumstances utter such a prayer. How can they do that, we might ask?

In all cases, there is a beautiful humility, trust, and generosity emanating from their spirits. Gratitude has transformed them. Hope, not wishing, has freed them.

Moses wants his People to be like that. He says:

Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens,
belong to the LORD, your God,
as well as the earth and everything on it.
Yet in his love for your fathers the LORD was so attached to them
as to choose you, their descendants …

This is your glory, he, your God,
who has done for you those great and awesome things
which your own eyes have seen.

I want to be that kind of grateful, faith-filled person too. Don’t you?

Today’s profound advice from Moses can help us.

Music: Your Grace Still Amazes Me – Philips, Craig and Dean

Ransomed

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/053018.cfm

1 Pet1_18 ransomed

Today, in Mercy, Peter tells us that we have been ransomed at an infinite price – the blood of Jesus. And what have we been ransomed from? The early Christians were quite familiar with slavery, some having been enslaved themselves. Peter shows them that their souls too may be enslaved.

In any form, slavery is a restriction or loss of freedom. It may be physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual or intellectual. It is that place where our Truth is constricted by the negativity of another force.

Peter tells us that we have been freed “so that our faith and hope are in God” and not in anything that can chain our souls. He tells us that we have been born anew so that we can love one another intensely from a pure heart.

Today, let’s pray for those, even ourselves, enslaved in any way – through illness, addiction, stereo-typing, racism, domination, poverty or ignorance; for those who are trafficked, for immigrants cruelly separated from family, for the unjustly or inhumanely imprisoned, for those forced from their homeland by war and violence.

Let us pray for conversion and forgiveness for any role we may have played, however unwittingly, in sustaining these social evils.

Music: Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi’s opera Nabucco. Inspired by Psalm 137, this mournful melody recalls the enslavement of Jews during the Babylonian Captivity.

Clash

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052218.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we officially re-enter the Church’s Ordinary Time, those large time frames in the liturgical year which fall outside the major seasons. We have just left the glorious cycle of Lent, Passion and Eastertide. And now we get to show how all those special graces will impact our ordinary lives. It’s rather like coming back from free-floating outer space and landing in the gravity-laden ocean where we have to be rescued.

In our readings today, James and Mark are our rescuers. And they’re tough on us! Both point out that the clash of good and evil in our lives is rooted in our pride and unruly passions. In other words, we tend to focus on protecting and promoting our own interests in this life, sometimes to the point of stepping on others.

Our readings challenge us to place our well-being in the hands of God; to humbly turn our attention outward; to find our wealth and security in service to God’s most needy ones – because that is where God dwells.

It may be called Ordinary Time, but it is by no means ordinary. It is the glorious and dangerous daily journey into the heart of God. Travel in grace, my friends!

Music: Strength for the Journey ~ Michael John Poirier

Mary, Mother of the Church

Monday, May 21, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052118.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. It is a day to honor Mary for giving life to Jesus for the sake of all humanity. It is day to beg her intercession for a world so desperately in need of Christ’s continued revelation.

Mary is the door through which Heaven visited earth to heal it from sinful fragmentation. May she continue to carry her beautiful grace to broken hearts and even to the twisted souls who broke them. Through her, may we all find healing.

Mary, Mother of Mercy, intercede for all Creation that we may embrace the love your Son taught us.

( Friends, I began my annual retreat on Pentecost evening. All of you, dear followers, will be very much in my prayers. Please pray for me too. ❤️)

Music: Ave Maria ~ Michael Hoppè

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=SLoaDz1af0M

It Was Winter

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Readings: Acts  11:19-26, Psalm 87;  John 10:22-30

Today, in Mercy, we accompany Jesus as He walks in the Temple area known as Solomon’s portico. In a very human touch, John tells us, “It was winter.” Thus, we can draw the conclusion that Jesus went inside to be warm. To think of Jesus experiencing the seasons – just as we do – makes him all the more real for us. Like us, Jesus experienced “inner seasons” too – that undulating range from sorrow to joy. When it is “winter” in our souls, and we seek the warmth of prayer, Jesus walks beside us.

IMG_5137

A Day To Bask in Grace

Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 22, 2018

Readings: Acts 4:8-12, Psalm 118, 1 John 3:1-2, John 10:11-18

Today, in Mercy, as we celebrate Earth Day, we are blessed with the most beautiful readings! Acts reminds us that it is in the Name of Jesus Christ that post-Resurrection grace fills the world. 1 John tells us that we are God’s children even now, and that we can’t imagine the fullness of life that grants us. In John’s Gospel, Jesus gathers us in his arms as a shepherd tenderly gathers his sheep. It is a day to gratefully bask in the infinite love God has bestowed upon us. Go out quietly with the Earth today, if you can and be blessed, dear friends.

jesus-good-shepherd-06