Psalm 111: An Attitude of Gratitude

Friday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

October 30, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111 set in complementarity with a beautiful reading from Philippians.

The heart of both these readings is holy gratitude, that powerful spiritual gift that can completely transform our lives.


Although I have been generously blessed for my whole life, I had to learn this virtue, and I’m still learning. Its lessons are infinite, as is the God from Whom we learn them. God’s generous mercy and our humble gratitude generate the dynamic energy of our spiritual life.

A lifetime may not be long enough
to attune ourselves fully
to the harmony of the universe.
But just to become aware
that we can resonate with it —
that alone can be like
waking up from a dream.

― Brother David Steindl-Rast

Sometimes we take a lot for granted. We don’t notice. We don’t realize. We don’t savor the gift right in front of us, be it clothed in blessing or challenge.


Our readings today teach us some of the steps toward that “waking up” that Brother David describes.

  1. Prayer for those we know and love, and a generous mutuality in a community of believers:

I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you,
praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,
because of your partnership for the Gospel
from the first day until now.

Philippians 1:3-5

2. Pausing to recognize that everything is God’s, and that God is bringing Creation to completion within each of our lives:

Majesty and glory are God’s work,
Whose justice endures forever.
God’s wondrous deeds have won renown;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.

Psalm 111:3-4

Certainly, it is easier to practice gratitude when we experience the fullness of God’s generosity. Eventually though, we can learn to be grateful even in times where God’s largesse may seem hidden, such as loss, change, or uncertainty. 

The continual practice of gratitude can help us find the sacred sweet point in every situation, discerning these questions

  • Where is God in this moment?
  • How is God offering me grace in this reality?

There are many other attitudes and habits that can school us in gratitude. One of the books that has changed my life is Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, where I learned about some of these practices. 


May we pray this for one another today:

“As we learn to give thanks for all of life and death, for all of this given world of ours, we find a deep joy. It is the joy of trust, the joy of faith in the faithfulness at the heart of all things. It is the joy of gratefulness in touch with the fullness of life.”

Brother David Steindl-Rast

Music: Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart – Dan Moen

Your Grace Amazes Me

Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time

August 12, 2019

Click here for readings

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

The Gift of Years

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/100718.cfm

Today, in Mercy, we read how Job’s elder years were blessed with peace and prosperity. We want this serenity and peace for all of our dear elders. They have traveled the road ahead of us, often showing us the way.

Job42_12

Today, I have the joy of celebrating, with my dearest friend, her 90th birthday. What a gift those years have been to her and all who love her! By her simple, steady faith and her inclusive, unconditional love of others, she has allowed God’s Mercy to shine in her. Those who gather to celebrate her today cherish her and will surround her with their appreciation.

All of our beloved elders need and deserve this kind of love and respect from us. Tell your parents, grandparents and older friends what a blessing they are to you. Let them know they have shone a light on your path.

When Job sat with his children in the midst of his latter riches, he had found a deep friendship with God through all the challenges of his life. His household had been blessed with the same friendship by learning from Job’s ardent faith.

May we never take for granted what we have been given by the ones who go before us, on whose shoulders we stand.

Music: A favorite hymn of my 90-year old friend: To God Be the Glory – André Crouch

Hungry?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Readings:  http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/072918.cfm

Today, in Mercy, our readings assure us that God cares about our hungry spirits and will satisfy them. 

Ps145 HungerJPG

Both the prophet Elisha and Jesus respond to the needs of the hungry crowds by the power of their faith. In each story, there is only a small amount of food to meet the overwhelming need of the people. But those small amounts, given selflessly and gratefully, renew themselves until all are satisfied.

Our spiritual hungers are deep, and much harder to fill than our physical ones. Sometimes, we don’t even know what we are longing for. Thus we may end up filling our emptiness with distractions and junk.

Today’s readings encourage us to turn our soul’s needs toward God. St. Augustine said this:

You have made us for yourself, O Lord,
and our hearts are restless (hungry)
until they rest in You.

Notice that in Jesus’s miracle of the loaves and fishes, there is one key action before the multiplication occurs.

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed them to those who were reclining,
and also as much of the fish as they wanted. 

Let’s sift through even the small sustenance of our life for the things that we are grateful for. When we lift these up in thanksgiving, glimpsing the loving face of God, other graces will begin unexpectedly to multiply around and within us.

Music: O, My Soul Hungered – Corbin Allred

Blessed Be God

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/071518.cfm

Today, in Mercy, our readings are filled with God’s glory and blessings. The magnificent passage from Ephesians is considered an example of the great Pauline Hymns. These are places in Paul’s writing where he breaks into lyrical songs of praise and thanksgiving, so overwhelmed is he by the goodness of God.

Eph1_17 hymn

Have you ever felt like that – just so grateful to God for the blessings of your life? So blessed to wake up in the morning, with the capacity to believe, to hope, and to love!

A practice I learned many years ago has helped me focus on this kind of prayerful gratitude. As soon as I realize I am awake in the morning (and sometimes that takes a while😀), I say this simple prayer:

Thank you, God, for my life.

On a special morning, I might pause and expand that prayer quite a bit. But every day, I start with at least that brief phrase.

Savor St. Paul’s eloquence in his hymn of praise today. Let your heart recognize God’s goodness and sing even a silent, personal Thank You.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.
Ephesians 1:3

Music: Ephesians Hymn ~ Suzanne Toolan, RSM, who is Sister of Mercy at Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA. She has mentored many people in centering prayer in retreats and in prisons. She is prolific composer of liturgical music, including the iconic hymn, “I Am the Bread of Life”. Suzanne recently celebrated her 90th birthday.

Our First Glimpse of God

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051318-seventh-sunday-easter.cfm

Today, in Mercy, our readings from John’s epistle and Gospel are replete with love – the Holy Love of God for us, and God’s hope for that love to be reflected in us. How fitting these readings are for Mother’s Day, when we honor the one who was a first source of love for us. A loving mother is our first glimpse into the face of God. Throughout our lives, she protects and prays for us, just as Jesus does for his disciples in today’s Gospel. Through her sacrificial love, she is our first teacher of what it means to live like Christ.

Let us pray today for all mothers, especially our own. Each one, no doubt, did the best she could to offer us life. For some, that was harder than for others – and some of us struggle with that reality throughout our lives. For others, our mother’s love has always been the unequivocal source of our strength and joy.

Today is a day to recognize that every mother has held the hope of loving us into the fullness of life. Let us bless our mother for that hope and for every bit of love she has given us.

1 John 4_Mothers Day

Song: A Mother’s Prayer – Celine Dion

Blushing a Little

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/042818.cfm

Today, in Mercy, Philip kind of puts his foot in his mouth. He tells Jesus, “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Oh, really? Is that all, Philip? It seems like that might be enough for just about anybody, don’t you think?

And Jesus sticks it to Philip a little, “Have I been so long with you and yet you do not know Me? The Father and I are one.”

We might hear Jesus’ question echo in our hearts. Has God been with us throughout our lives and we are still slow to recognize His Presence? Do we need to wake up like Philip in order to see the face of God in nature, in our loved ones, in the joys and sorrows of our life, in all Creation? Has God already shown us more than enough to help us love and believe in Him? Maybe, blushing a little like Philip, we just need to say, “Thank You!”