Memorial: St. Peter Claver

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 150, an all-out summons to praise God.

Psalm 150, with its four predecessors, creates a rousing chorus of praise to God. As the closing piece of the Book of Psalms, Psalm 150 summons all Creation to unbounded praise.


The prayer of praise may not come as easily to us as other types of prayer. We find the prayer of supplication easy – asking God for something. Even the prayer of thanks is natural to us. But even Pope Francis says that the prayer of praise might not come so readily:

The prayer of praise is quite different than the prayer we normally raise to God,
the Pope continued, when “we ask something of the Lord”
or even “thank the Lord”.

“We often leave aside the prayer of praise”.
It doesn’t come so easily to us, he said.
Some might think that this kind of prayer is only
“for those who belong to the renewal in the spirit movement,
not for all Christians.

The prayer of praise is a Christian prayer for all of us.
Each day during Mass, when we sing:
‘Holy, Holy…’, this is the prayer of praise.
We praise God for his greatness, for he is great.
And we tell him beautiful things, because we like it to be so”.

And it does not matter if we are good singers, the Pope remarked.
In fact, he said, it is impossible to imagine that
“you are able to shout out when your team scores a goal
and you cannot sing the Lord’s praises,
and leave behind your composure a little to sing.

Praising God is “totally gratuitous”, Pope Francis continued.
“We do not ask, we do not thank. We praise: you are great.
‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…’. 

L’ Osservatore Romano

Psalm 150 calls us to a prayer of pure praise:

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord in the holy temple;
praise God in the firmament of divine power.
Praise the Lord for mighty acts;
praise God for excellent greatness.
Praise the Lord with the blast of the ram’s-horn; 
praise God with lyre and harp.
Praise the Lord with timbrel and dance; 
praise God with strings and pipe.
Praise the Lord with resounding cymbals; 
praise God with loud-clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Hallelujah!

Psalm 150

By the culmination of the sequence in Psalm 150, there is a total lack of any specificity, and users of the psalm are invited to dissolve in a glad self-surrender that is to be enacted in the most lyrical way imaginable. Such praise is a recognition that the wonder and splendor of this God—known in the history of Israel and in the beauty of creation—pushes beyond our explanatory categories so that there can be only a liturgical, emotive rendering of all creatures before the creator.

Walter Brueggemann

We might try to offer this type of prayer in a simple manner, by naming God’s goodness – the goodness that we love and adore. We can do this in the same way that we tell any beloved being that we love them. Some prayer phrases might be:

  • You are beautiful in all Creation – in this morning’s dawn, this evening’s sunset.
  • You are just yet everlastingly kind.
  • Your power is stunningly gentle in a bird’s wing; it is overwhelming in the storm’s roar.
  • You are so humble to live within and among us.
  • You are infinitely loving through the gift of Jesus

Thoughts like these might also inspire us to a silent awe in which we offer wordless praise to our awesome God.


Music: No poem today, but two very different musical interpretations of Psalm 150 to inspire your prayer of praise

~ from Taize

Caesar Franck

Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Friday, June 23, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, a testament to God’s Word as living and real in our lives. This psalm foreshadows the beautiful words from John’s Gospel.

Our first reading recounts God’s presentation of the Ten Commandments on Sinai. This code was the basic framework for the community’s response to God’s gift of relationship. God was saying, “Here’s what I need from you to make this thing work.”

Psalm 19 shows us that even though this “Law” was “carved in stone”, it was lived in the hearts of the faithful. It was dynamic, required nuance and interpretation, needed human engagement to fully come to life.

In other words, the “Law” had to live, come off the stone, and into hearts.


When this happens, we grow in the essence of “law”, which is love, reverence, mutuality, and generosity. We experience God’s Word as gift and delight. We long to learn more perfectly what, in our choices and actions, can bring us closer to God.

Then the law becomes, as Psalm 19 tells us:

  • perfect, refreshing the soul
  • trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple
  • right, rejoicing the heart
  • clear, enlightening the eye.
  • pure, enduring forever;
  • true,
  • just
  • more precious than gold
  • sweeter also than syrup
  • or honey from the comb.

We all know people who claim to live by a static, lifeless but recite-able law. They can readily quote some out-of-context scripture to judge, reprimand, or condemn. It’s sad because the Word has died in them.

The Law of Love grows in the rich soil of today’s Gospel. It meets life with an honest, open, and loving spirit to find the unique adventure of grace God wants for each of us.

Pope Francis, when speaking of the Law, said this:

Our God is the God of nearness, a God who is near, who walks with his people. That image in the desert, in Exodus: the cloud and the pillar of fire to protect the people: He walks with his people. He is not a God who leaves the written prescriptions and says, “Go ahead.” He makes the prescriptions, writes them with his own hands on the stone, gives them to Moses, hands them to Moses, but does not leave the prescriptions and leaves: He walks, He is close. “Which nation has such a close God?” It’s the nearness. Ours is a God of nearness.


Poetry: What is the Root? – Hafiz

What
Is the
Root of all these
Words?

One thing: love.
But a love so deep and sweet
It needed to express itself
With scents, sounds, colors
That never before
Existed.

Music: Your Word is Life to Me – Travis Cottrell

I am a stranger in this place

This world is not my home

I want more than it can give

I am a desert needing rain

I’m thirsty for Your voice

The very reason that I live

You are the Word, my one desire

And all consuming Holy fire

The very breath that I am longing for

My heart is desperate for Your ways

Refine me in Your holy blaze

If that is what it takes to know You more

You are the Truth that sets me free

Your word is life to me

Only the power of Your Word

Can melt away these chains

That have held me far too long

So light the fire and let it burn

These shackles and restraints

And I will sing this freedom song

You are the Word, my one desire

And all consuming Holy fire

The very breath that I am longing for

My heart is desperate for Your ways

Refine me in Your holy blaze

If that is what it takes to know You more

You are the Truth that sets me free

Your word is life to me

Lamp unto my feet, light unto my path

Shine, shine on

Lamp unto my feet, light unto my path

Shine, shine on

Lamp unto my feet, light unto my path

Shine, shine on

Lamp unto my feet, light unto my path

Shine, shine on

You are the Word, my one desire

And all consuming Holy fire

The very breath that I am longing for

My heart is desperate for Your ways

Refine me in Your holy blaze

If that is what it takes to know You more

You are the Truth that sets me free

Your word is life to me

Psalm 79: Prisoners

Monday of the Second Week in Lent

March 1, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 79, marked in some translations as “A Prayer for Jerusalem”. The psalm is also considered one of the “Sad Songs of Zion” which lament the destruction of the Temple and the ensuing Babylonian Captivity.

We might compare the context for Psalm 79 to what Americans felt on 9/11 or Pearl Harbor. All serenity, confidence, and trust were shattered. The world was broken and we didn’t know if it could be mended.


Praying Psalm 79, I think of the experience of prisoners – prisoners of all kinds. I think of those whose bodies are in jail, and of those whose minds, hearts and souls are similarly confined. Their worlds have been broken, as has their victim’s, even if the victim was themselves.

Let the prisoners’ sighing come before you;
    with your great power free those doomed to death.

Psalm 79:11

I think how our crimes, or addictions, or hateful prejudices – or whatever shape our sinfulness takes – eventually incarcerate us.

And I think of James.


I remember being presented with the “opportunity”. I was about 12 years old and I hero-worshipped my 7th grade teacher, Sister Helen Carmel, SSJ. But I wasn’t so sure about what she was inviting us to do.

Sister had a list of prisoners in Eastern State Penitentiary. She painted a picture of them as lonely and often abandoned people who needed prayers and kindness. She wondered if some of us might like to take a prisoner as a pen pal.

Now, I’ll be honest, the last thing I wanted was a prisoner pen pal! I was becoming a teenager! I wanted new ice skates, an A on my math test, and Jimmy Danvers to hold my hand and treat me to pizza some Friday night.

But because I loved Sister Helen Carmel like a second mother, I got a pen pal. And, maybe because she loved me like a daughter, she gave me a doozie: James, who was on death row.

James and I corresponded occasionally for about three years until he wrote to say there would be no more letters. He didn’t say why, but I knew his time had come either for release or execution. I never learned which. I didn’t want to.


Around the time that James and I corresponded, a teenage girl was brutally raped and murdered, her ravaged body left in the mud of Fairmount Park. 

She went to Catholic high school like I did! She was a teenager like I was! She liked movies and friends and Friday nights like I did! I realized that what had happened to her could have happened to me! Her name, Mary Anne, was perpetually sealed in my mind. When her killer was apprehended and eventually sentenced to death, I was glad. 

But because of James, my gladness was conflicted. These two men have fought a tug of war in my soul ever since. 

Does a human being ever really forfeit the right to life because of their heinous actions? Does society ever have the right to take a life in retribution for crime? I still struggle with the feelings these questions generate. I have spent decades trying to learn how to change my heart from a retributive to a restorative model of justice.

It doesn’t just happen. It takes prayer, education, and right choices. It has taken me the help of more enlightened spirits like St. Joseph Sister Helen Prejean  and Mercy Sister Mary Healy.


Today we state clearly that ‘the death penalty is inadmissible’ and the Church is firmly committed
to calling for its abolition worldwide.

Pope Francis

The Pope has revised the Catechism
of the Roman Catholic Church to state that, 
“The death penalty is an attack
on the inviolability and dignity of the person
that is inadmissible in all cases.”

As we pray with Psalm 79 today, may we have the charity and courage to pray for condemned prisoners, their victim’s beloveds, and for a society that can create effective reform to heal the root causes of major crime.

Help us, O God our savior,
    because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
  for your name’s sake.

Psalm 79:9

No poem today. Some music though: The Prisoners’ Chorus from Beethoven’s opera “Fidelio”

Psalm 23: The Shepherd

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

February 22, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this Feast of St. Peter we pray with Psalm 23 – the Good Shepherd.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    In verdant pastures I am given repose;
Beside restful waters the Lord leads me;
    refreshing my soul.

Psalm 23

The history and devotion intrinsic to this feast can inspire us to pray especially today for our dear Pope Francis who carries Peter’s grace and burden in our time. He carries, in Primacy, the charge reflected in our first reading:

Tend the flock of God in your midst,
overseeing not by constraint but willingly,
as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly.
Do not lord it over those assigned to you,
but be examples to the flock.
And when the chief Shepherd is revealed,
you will receive the unfading crown of glory.


Pope Francis faces resistances just as Peter did. There are always forces within a community who pull its energy in contradictory directions. When rooted in love and reverent dialogue, that counteraction can generate growth. But when born of selfishness and obstinance, such opposition poisons the whole Body.

Francis needs our prayer. The Church needs our prayer. According to Teresa of Avila, Saint and Doctor of the Church, that prayer should be scriptural:

All the troubles of the Church,
all the evils in the world,
flow from this source:
that human beings do not
by clear and sound knowledge
and serious consideration
penetrate into the truths
of Sacred Scripture.

St. Teresa of Avila

Today, Psalm 23 inspires our prayer for our Pope:

Even in the dark valley
    may you fear no evil; for you are at God’s side
Whose rod and staff
    give you courage.
May God spread graces before you
    in the sight of your troubles;
and anoint your head with oil;
    your cup overflowing.
May goodness and kindness follow you
    all the days of your life;
May you dwell in the LORD’s sanctuary
    for all your days.


Poetry: When I was a boy … (Da ich ein Knabe war …) – Friedrich Hölderlin

Pope Francis’s favorite poet is said to be the German writer Friedrich Hölderlin. Perhaps Francis, composer of the lyrical Laudato Sí and Fratelli Tutti, loves this rhapsodic poem.

When I was a boy
Often a god would save me
From the shouts and blows of men;
I played safely and well
With the flowers of the fields
And the winds of heaven
Played with me.

As you make happy
The hearts of plants
When they extend to you
Their delicate tendrils,
So you make my heart happy,
Father Sun, and like Endymion
I was your favorite,
Holy Moon!

All true and neighborly gods!
If only you knew
How much I loved you then!
True, at that time, I didn’t
Know your names, and you
Never bothered to name me, like men
Who only pretend to know one another.

Yet I know you better
Than I’ve ever known anyone,
I understood the silence of the upper air,
But I’ve never understood the words of men.
I was raised by the sounds
Of the rustling grove
And learned to love
Among the flowers.
I grew up in the arms of the gods.

Music: Psalm 23 with Bach’s Sheep May Safely Graze

Psalm 25: Let Your Word Teach Me

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Sunday of the Word of God

January 24, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 25, a simple, heartfelt plea to learn God’s ways and to be blessed by that learning.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
    teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my savior.

Psalm 25: 4-5

The psalmist’s prayer is so fitting
for this special Sunday
which is dedicated as the
“Sunday of the Word of God”.

Pope Francis called for this commemoration with his Apostolic Letter “Aperuit illis”. The Latin words come from Luke 24:45, referring to Jesus’s post-Resurrection appearance to his confused disciples.

Then he opened their minds
to understand the scriptures.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.
He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.

Luke 24: 36-45

The Pope’s letter institutes the annual observance
of the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time
as “Sunday of the Word of God”,
devoted to the celebration, study and
dissemination of the Word of God.

Pope Francis wrote this:

A profound bond links sacred Scripture and the faith of believers. Since faith comes from hearing, and what is heard is based on the word of Christ (cf. Rom 10:17), believers are bound to listen attentively to the word of the Lord, both in the celebration of the liturgy and in their personal prayer and reflection.

Aperuit Illis, 7

If you are reading this blog, you already seek an ever deeper, more loving relationship with God through sacred scripture. But with our Infinite God, there is always more.

Let us use today’s Psalm 25 to reflect on and reaffirm that core relationship in our lives. Let’s re-examine the dedicated time we give to scriptural prayer and “lectio divina” to make it more intentional, quiet, and consistent.


For a good explanation of lectio divina, see the Transforming Center’s website:


In the spirit of Psalm 25, we pray to always be held in God’s merciful attention, and to hold God in ours through prayer and desire.

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
    and your love are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
    because of your goodness, O LORD.

Psalm 25: 6-7

These are two books that I love, and have mentioned before, to help deepen our scriptural prayer:

Too Deep for Words – Thelma Hall

The Flowing Grace of Now – Macrina Wiederkehr – (Kindle edition on sale now for just $2.99)


Poetry: The Opening of Eyes – David Whyte

That day I saw beneath dark clouds 
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before
life is no passing memory of what has been
nor the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.
It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing
speaking out loud in the clear air.
It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last,
fallen in love with solid ground.

Music: Word of God Speak – MercyMe 

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 

Psalm 119: A Living, Tender Love

Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

October 3, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119 – the longest psalm, as you might remember from one of my seven previous reflections on this rich piece of scripture.

From that wealth, we pluck this one pearl today:

I focus on this phrase to bring our attention to a beautiful document issued by Pope Francis on September 30th, the feast of St. Jerome: APOSTOLIC LETTER – SCRIPTURAE SACRAE AFFECTUS (Devotion to Sacred Scripture)

In this letter, our Holy Father describes scriptural devotion as “a living and tender love”. As we pray the scriptures each day, we ask that Love to form and instruct our hearts.

Lord, let your face shine on me.
Teach me wisdom and knowledge,
for in your commands I trust.

Pope Francis’s letter is an interesting exposition on the life and spirituality of Jerome sixteen hundred years after his death. I enjoyed reading it. But what I benefitted from most was the Pope’s encouragement to school our own hearts in a passion and pursuit of scripture. We can all learn from Francis’s words such as these:

This present anniversary can be seen as a summons to love what Jerome loved, to rediscover his writings and to let ourselves be touched by his robust spirituality, which can be described in essence as a restless and impassioned desire for a greater knowledge of the God who chose to reveal himself. 

How can we not heed, in our day, the advice that Jerome unceasingly gave to his contemporaries: “Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand”?

A radiant example of this is the Virgin Mary, evoked by Jerome above all as Virgin and Mother, but also as a model of prayerful reading of the Scriptures. Mary pondered these things in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19.51) “because she was a holy woman, had read the sacred Scriptures, knew the prophets, and recalled that the angel Gabriel had said to her the same things that the prophets had foretold… 

She looked at her newborn child, her only son, lying in the manger and crying. What she saw was, in fact, the Son of God; she compared what she saw with all that she had read and heard”. Let us, then, entrust ourselves to Our Lady who, more than anyone, can teach us how to read, meditate, contemplate and pray to God, who tirelessly makes himself present in our lives.

Music: Word of God Speak – Mercy Me

Psalm 31: Strife of Tongues

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

June 17, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 31, just three of its twenty-five passionate verses in today’s liturgy. These three will echo in you, as will many others if you read the whole psalm. The images are so strong and yet comforting, the prayer so sincere.

  • In you, LORD, I take refuge.
  • Let me never be put to shame.
  • Incline your ear to me;
  • For you are my rock and my fortress.
  • I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy.
  • Let your face shine on your servant.
  • Save me in your mercy.
  • You hide your beloved in the shelter of your presence.
  • You heard my voice, my cry for mercy.

In my prayer, I focused on this line:

You hide your beloved in the shelter of your presence
from the plottings of evil hearts;
You screen them within your abode
from the strife of tongues.


The strife of tongues”. What a phrase! And what a reality! Our divisive culture is drowning in it – in political, religious and civic contexts. It is often very hard for us to know whom to listen to and believe. But the psalmist helps us to understand a key characteristic of destructive speech – pride and boasting:

Love the LORD, all you his faithful ones!
The LORD keeps those who are constant,
but more than requites those who act proudly.


Today, I prayed for anyone caught in a persecution of words. Specifically, I prayed for Pope Francis and for the Archbishop of Washington, DC, Wilton Gregory. Both men have been victims of “the strife of tongues”.

In a publicized letter written to Donald Trump, Pope Francis was targeted by reactionary clergyman Carlo Viganò who dabbles in conspiracy theories and misinformation in order to undermine Francis’s ministry.

Archbishop Gregory described Donald Trump’s photo op at the Shrine of St. John Paul II as “reprehensible“, condemning the politicization of religion for “manipulative” purposes. As a result, the Archbishop, who is Black, has been racially and sexually slurred by, among others, a far-right hate group claiming to be “Catholic”.


As I prayed for these good priests, and for all others condemned for truthful and compassionate testimony, I asked God to enfold them in the verse from Psalm 31, part of which Jesus prayed on the cross:

Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, LORD, God of truth.

It is painful to witness this kind of sinful negativity in the Church, and the pain does enter into our prayer. Pope Francis points to a way to heal that pain:

Poetry: Our poem today is by a 19th century poet, Susan S. Button from her only book I could find which she published herself. She strikes me as an Emily Dickinson type without the same degree of literary accomplishment. There is very little information on her although she was notable enough in society to have a portrait by John Sartain (currently in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.)

The poem, although on a serious topic, still provided a level of delight about what happens to those who slander the innocent. I offer just a few verses of the long composition and hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Slander

What is the slander’s tongue? An arrow strong,
And sharp, and fierce, empoisoning many a word,
Such as to devil’s only do belong,
When they, by Envy and by Malice stirred,
Do contemplate dark deeds, and souls do gird
For vilest crimes, and with their deadly bane,
The good man rob of fame — with lies absurd
Asunder rend kind Friendship’s gold-linked chain,
And break the three-fold, silken cord of Love amain.
——
For though Slander’s pliant bow was newly strung,
And thick and fast her feathered arrows flew,
And through the misty air their echoes rung,
The light around his head more lustrous grew;
For Innonence forth from her treasures drew
A golden shield, and clasped it o’er his heart,
While Truth held up a golden lamp and new!
While through its lucent flame flew on the dart
From Slander’s quiver, brighter light it did impart.

It trembled on the shield of Innocence—
The good man gazed, and by its blood-stained shade
He knew full well who formed it, and from whence
It came — he plucked it from the shield and bade
The innocent “tremble not, nor be afraid.”
With force redoubled Slander drew her bow
And furious all her cruel haste betrayed,
But soon was heard a horrid shriek of woe,
As her rebounding dart did to her forehead go.

~ Susan S. Button (1858)

Music: Herr, auf dich traue ich – Otto Nicolai (1810-1849j, one of the founders of the Vienna Philharmonic

Psalm 31:1-2

Herr, auf dich traue ich,
Laß mich nimmermehr zu Schanden werden,
Errette mich nach deiner Barmherzigkeit,
Und hilf mir aus.
Neige deine Ohren zu mir, und hilf mir;
Sei mir ein starker Hort,
Ein Hort, dahin ich immer fliehen möge,
Der du hast zugesaget mir zu helfen.
Lord, I trust in you,
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in your mercy And assist me.
Incline your ear to me and help me;
Be a strong refuge for me,
A refuge to which I may always flee,
Which you have promised to me for my aid.

Earth Day 2020

Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter

April 22, 2020 – Fiftieth Anniversary Earth Day

Today, in Mercy, the theme of our readings falls perfectly in step with Earth Day.

John3_16 so loved

For my prayer this morning, I re-read Pope Francis magnificent encyclical Laudato Si’ which instructs us and begs us to cherish the gift of our Common Home. – a world which God has so loved that God gave the only begotten Son that we should not perish.

This sacred document has become even more meaningful as a global pandemic exposes the fragmentations we have wrought upon the earth.

Here are two of my favorite sections from the encyclical, although I do encourage you to read the whole masterpiece if you have the time and desire.


Click here for the complete Laudato Si’


In the Judaeo-Christian tradition,
the word “creation” has a broader meaning than “nature”,
for it has to do with God’s loving plan
in which every creature
has its own value and significance.
Nature is usually seen
as a system which can be studied,
understood and controlled,
whereas Creation can only be understood
as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all,
and as a reality illuminated by the love
which calls us together into universal communion.

(Laudato Si’ paragraph 76)

laudato


The ultimate destiny of the universe
is in the fullness of God,
which has already been attained by the risen Christ,
the measure of the maturity of all things.
Here we can add yet another argument
for rejecting every tyrannical and irresponsible domination
of human beings over other creatures.
The ultimate purpose of other creatures
is not to be found in us.
Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us
and through us towards a common point of arrival,
which is God,
in that transcendent fullness
where the risen Christ embraces and illumines all things.
Human beings, endowed with intelligence and love,
and drawn by the fullness of Christ,
are called to lead all creatures back to their Creator.
(Laudato Si’ paragraph 83)


May these words bless and enlighten us today to become blessings for Earth, our Common Home.

Music: God So Loved the World – sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Fearful Tuesday

Tuesday of Holy Week

April 6, 2020

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Fearful Tuesday

Today, in Mercy, our Gospel tells the sad story of Jesus’s betrayal by his closest friends.

Pope Francis, in his Palm Sunday homily, reflected on the depth of these betrayals:

Jesus suffered betrayal by the disciple who sold him and by the disciple who denied him.  He was betrayed by the people who sang hosanna to him and then shouted: “Crucify him!” He was betrayed by the religious institution that unjustly condemned him and by the political institution that washed its hands of him.  

We can think of all the small or great betrayals that we have suffered in life.  It is terrible to discover that a firmly placed trust has been betrayed.  From deep within our heart a disappointment surges up that can even make life seem meaningless.  This happens because we were born to be loved and to love, and the most painful thing is to be betrayed by someone who promised to be loyal and close to us.  We cannot even imagine how painful it was for God who is love.


thorns

As we walk beside Jesus on this Fearful Tuesday, let us confide our hurts, current or remembered, asking to be gracefully transformed by them. Let us listen to Jesus’s pain and heart-break, asking to be a source of comfort and love to Him.

With Jesus, may we carry in our prayer all those throughout the world suffering abandonment, fear, loss, or betrayal at this painful time.

Music: I Will Carry You – Sean Clive
You may hear this song in many ways. Perhaps Jesus comforts you with it. Or you might comfort Jesus in his escalating suffering. Or together, Jesus and you may sing it over a suffering world.
(Lyrics below)

I will carry you when you are weak.
I will carry you when you can’t speak.
I will carry you when you can’t pray.
I will carry you each night and day.

I will carry you when times are hard.
I will carry you both near & far.
I’ll be there with you whenever you fall.
I will carry you through it all.

My arms are wider than the sky,
softer than a little child,
stronger than the raging,
calming like a gentle breeze.
Trust in me to hold on tight because

I will carry you when you can’t stand.
I’ll be there for you to hold your hand.
And I will show you that you’re never alone.
I will carry you and bring you back home.

Not pain, not fear, not death, no nothing at all
can separate you from my love.
My arms and hands will hold you close.
Just reach out and take them in your own.
Trust in me to hold on tight.
I will carry you.