Psalm 145: Through the Generations

Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

July 6, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we again pray with Psalm 145 – different verses. The great tenderness in today’s other readings is reflected in the choice of these particular psalm lines.

Our first reading is God’s tender love song to Israel spoken through the prophet Hosea. Our Gospel recounts several acts of tenderness as Jesus ministers to the suffering people he meets.


Psalm 145 reminds us that if we look back over our lives, and even farther back over our ancestors’ lives, we too will discover God’s continual love and mercy to us.

Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.


Many ancestral blessings have been passed on to us – in skills, attitudes, physical strengths – but most importantly, in faith. We probably believe because someone before us taught us how.

There is no greater gift we can give to our children, and to all our beloveds, than to encourage their faith. Let’s take that to heart today as we pray. And let’s thank God for our own story and heritage of faith we have been given.


Poetry: Faith is the Pierless Bridge by Emily Dickinson, who appeared as more a dismissive critic of faith than a proponent. Yet, like many of us who bother to talk about a particular topic, she proved it to be more important to her than she professed.

Faith — is the Pierless Bridge
Supporting what We see
Unto the Scene that We do not —
Too slender for the eye
It bears the Soul as bold
As it were rocked in Steel
With Arms of Steel at either side —
It joins — behind the Veil
To what, could We presume
The Bridge would cease to be
To Our far, vacillating Feet
A first Necessity.

Music: In Every Age – Janèt Sullivan Whitaker

A Prayer of Praise

Saturday of the Third Week of Lent

March 21, 2020

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Today, in Mercy, we are encouraged to pray. Hosea tells us:

“Come, let us return to the LORD,
it is he who has rent, but he will heal us;
… the LORD will come to us like the rain,
like spring rain that waters the earth.”

Let the image of that truth sink into your parched spirit.

rain


Our Gospel leads us to pray humbly:

But the tax collector stood off at a distance
and would not even raise his eyes to heaven
but beat his breast and prayed,
‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’

As we pray humbly today, let us ask for God’s refreshment for all our sisters and brothers across the earth. In good times and in trials, let us always praise God.

I would like to share one of my own poems with you today, as we kneel before God with all struggling Creation begging God for the rain of Mercy.

        All Creation    

 All Creation kneels,
a Single Being,
to praise God.

 From its immense heart,
it sings myriad songs at once,
Morning and Evensong,
Praise and Dirge,
Alas and Alleluia,
intermingled

 It sings even over its own scars,
where the chasms cry out for balm.
It sings both the remembrance
and the hope of blessing.
It sings the endurance of faith
and the confidence of love.

 In roar and silence,
darkness and light,
Creation kneels,
a Single Being,
to praise God.

Music: Total Praise sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  Just watching these faith-filled people lifts my heart and gives me hope.  I trust it will do the same for you, dear friends as we pray for one another. (Lyrics below)

Lord, I will lift mine eyes to the hills
Knowing my health is coming from You
Your peace You give me in times of the storm
You are the source of my strength,
You are the strength of my life,
I lift my hands in total praise to You
Lord, I will lift mine eyes to the hills
Knowing my health is coming from You
Your peace, You give me in times of the storm
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to
Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life

That Little White Book

Friday of the Third Week of Lent

March 20, 2020

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Today, in Mercy, I’m going to tell you a story. But first …

In our first reading, the passionate prophet Hosea offers us this quintessential Lenten advice:

Return, O Israel, to the LORD, your God;
you have collapsed through your guilt.
Take with you words,
and return to the LORD

In our Gospel, Jesus is giving advice too. A sincere scribe seeks out Jesus’ wisdom:

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him,
“Which is the greatest of all the commandments?”

Jesus instructs the scribe:

The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

Then Jesus goes on to tell him the second greatest commandment:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Assessing the scribe’s sincerity, Jesus promises him:

“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”


Praying with these passages on this particular date took me back to March 20, 1963, Wednesday of the 3rd week of Lent that year. I was almost 18 years old and, while not wise as a scribe, I too sought answers to guide my faith.

One place I found that  wisdom was at the desk of a wonderful Sister of Mercy, Sister Mary Giovanni. Like many high school girls back then, I hung around Sister’s homeroom after school. Her good humor, gentle interest, and kind encouragement nourished all of us still slightly silly but ever-so-earnest young women.

On that particular afternoon, an unusual white book sat on Sister’s desk. Its gold letters attracted me and I asked what it was. Sister said it was her community’s centenary book and that, if I wanted, I could borrow it to read.

That little book changed my life. Well, I guess what it actually did was to capture many loose threads running through my mind and heart, and to tie them into a conviction.

I had been toying with a religious vocation ever since third grade. I did love God with my whole heart, just like the young scribe in today’s Gospel. And I loved the nuns and I always wanted to be like them. But actually becoming like them was another story. 

That little white book gave me the courage and will to make that commitment. Here’s what it said:

The Sisters of Mercy,
in addition to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience,
take a fourth vow of service of the poor, sick, and ignorant.

That was it! That short sentence opened my understanding to see that loving God had to be demonstrated in love of neighbor. The two great commandments are always interdependent.

So I decided to “take my words”, as Hosea encourages, and to ask God if He would have me as a Sister of Mercy.
follow

Less than a week after reading that book, I signed up to become a Sister of Mercy. And I have continued to become one every day for almost 60 years. Because just as Jesus said to the scribe, I believe I am “not far from the Kingdom of Heaven”. But I’m not there yet. Everyday is a chance to grow deeper into the glorious gift that was opened to me back in March 1963.

novices'_dining_room

As you pray with these passages today, take a long view of God’s continuing call in your life. You may have been called to marriage and parenthood, priesthood, a generous single life, a profession which allowed you to serve others. 

In each individual call, we are invited to love God with all our hearts and to love others as God loves them. Let’s pray for one another’s continuing deepening in our particular call.

Music: The Call – written by Vaughn Williams from the poetry of George Herbert
(Lyrics below)

 

the call

Mercy, like spring rain…

Saturday, March 30, 2019

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Hosea6_3 rainJPG

Today, in Mercy, our two readings encourage us to be humble and repentant.

In the reading from Hosea, God is very clear:

For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice,
and knowledge of God
rather than burnt offerings.

In our Gospel, Jesus tells us the parable of the proud Pharisee and the humble tax collector. The Pharisee’s prayer shows his judgmental self-satisfaction with all the sacrifices he’s made:

O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity —
greedy, dishonest, adulterous — or even like this tax collector.

I fast twice a week,
and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

On the other hand, we have the scorned tax collector ( a status we can understand this time of year:-)  who admits his weakness and need for God’s mercy.

Oh God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

The readings are really about seeing ourselves in the light of God’s truth, while knowing that our merciful God loves us infinitely, even in our weakness. They are about being open to that mercy so that we can know the fullness of God’s grace.

Music: Humble – Audrey Assad

God’s Loving Promises

Friday, March 29, 2019

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Hosea14

Today, in Mercy, Hosea, the composer of passionate love songs, tells us this:

I will heal your weaknesses, says the LORD,
I will love you freely;
for my wrath is turned away.
I will be like the dew for you:
you shall blossom like the lily;
You shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar,
and put forth your shoots.
Your splendor shall be like the olive tree
and your fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.
Again you shall dwell in the shade
and raise grain;
You shall blossom like the vine,
and your fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

The passage sings of new life, strength, vigor – the hope of Easter! Today as we pray, what withering branches in our lives do we wish to place in the warmth of this promise?

Mc 12,28-34 e
You are not far from the kingdom of God

In our Gospel, the good scribe asks for Jesus’s confirmation that he is on the right track to holiness. Jesus blesses him by saying:

You are not far from the kingdom of God

God is so good to us. Let us ask God’s generous help as we seek to grow in holiness, goodness and peace this Lent, so that we may be blessed by the same promises.

Music: Good to Me – Audrey Assad 

God’s Passionate Love

Monday, July 9, 2018

Readings: Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, our readings bring us Hosea, the poet-prophet who lived eight centuries before Jesus.  Although his warnings to Israel are stern, Hosea was, at heart, a lover – just as he imagined God to be.

Hosea tells us his personal story of marrying an adulterous wife, forgiving her, and welcoming her back to his love. He uses his own experience to challenge Israel, the “adulterous”, idolatrous beloved of God.

Hosea’s passionate poetry gives us the language and imagery of intense intimacy with God, a God who “allures”, “espouses”, and calls himself “husband”. It is the language of an unbreakable devotion and covenant.

Hosea2_19

This imagery can enrich our prayer and help us to deepen our realization of how much God loves us. God loves us as a parent would, as a friend would, as a lover would, as a spouse would. Still, God loves us beyond all these, beyond our human comprehension.

Any human love will always remain between two distinct beings. But Divine Love created us and lives within us. We are the very Breath of God Who, in loving us, loves the Divine Self into being.

In our prayer today, what a joy to surrender ourselves to this Amazing Love!