Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 146, a lilting song of praise, remembrance, hope, trust, gratitude, and joy.

Praying with this inclusive translation, I let my life story unfold in the Presence of the Beloved, turning each petal over and over in the Light of God’s incomprehensible grace and mercy. No words … just the grateful turning. And I listened…listened to the silence.

Psalm 146

Alleluia
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I live.

Happy are they who look to God for their help! 
For their hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them;
who keeps promises for ever;

who gives justice when we are oppressed,
food when we hunger
freedom when we are entrapped.

The Lord breaks through our blindness
The Lord lifts us up wthe we have been bowed.
and loves our desire for good.

I remember how the Lord cares for us
when we are brokenhearted,
but frustrates the way of the faithless. 
I know the Lord shall reign for ever.
Alleluia!

Poetry: “I Happened To Be Standing” by Mary Oliver

I don’t know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
I know I can walk through the world,
along the shore or under the trees,
with my mind filled with things
of little importance, in full
self-attendance.  A condition I can’t really
call being alive.
Is a prayer a gift, or a petition,
or does it matter?
The sunflowers blaze, maybe that’s their way.
Maybe the cats are sound asleep.  Maybe not.
While I was thinking this I happened to be standing
just outside my door, with my notebook open,
which is the way I begin every morning.
Then a wren in the privet began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why.  And yet, why not.
I wouldn’t pursuade you from whatever you believe
or whatever you don’t.  That’s your business.
But I thought, of the wren’s singing, what could this be
if it isn’t a prayer?
So I just listened, my pen in the air.

Music: Praise You – Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Lord I come to you today,
With a simple prayer to pray.
In everything I do,
Let my life O Lord praise you.

Praise you, praise you, praise you
Let my life, praise you
Praise you, praise you, praise you
Let my life, O lord praise you

Lord you formed me out of clay,
And for your glory I was made.
Use this vessel as you choose.
Let my life O Lord praise you

Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

May 7, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 57, a prayer of fervent praise to our awesome God.

Photo credit: Neil Rosenstech @neilrst

The act of prayerful praise can be hard to understand . The concept of human praise can get in our way. 

Prayerful praise in not flattery, or compliments, or the giving of deserved admiration to a distant God. Rather, as Psalm 57 shows us, it is an outpouring of reverent gratitude before Unimaginable Love.

Be exalted above the heavens, O God;
    above all the earth be your glory!

Psalm 57:12

Such a prayer rises
from our heart’s awestruck silence
not only to be in the Presence of,
but to be loved by
such Divine Wonder.


We may not be able to stand before a majestic mountain today to image God’s magnificence as we pray. But we can bow our hearts before the abundant evidence of God’s love for us. God created us and holds us in love with every breath we take.

Today, we may simply want to breathe our praise.


Poetry:Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who make the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and crotchety–
best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light–
good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Music: Be Exalted – John Michael Talbot

Psalm 150: The Last Word

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

November 18, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 150, the final chapter of the Book of Psalms.

When any of us writes or speaks an important message, we usually take pains to make sure the final comments are direct and powerful. We want our last words to make an significant impact on our audience.

I think the Book of Psalms wants to do the same thing.

So what’s the ultimate ringing word these sacred chapters leave with us?

And it’s not a gentle suggestion. The psalm charges us to SHOUT our praise! To make noise with our acclamations of God! To be absolutely cacophonous in our exaltation. We are to praise God:

  • with the blast of the trumpet,
  • with lyre and harp,
  • with timbrel and dance,
  • with strings and pipe.
  • with sounding cymbals,
  • with clanging cymbals

One might come away thinking we must be noisy in showing our love for God. But there are so many ways we “shout”, even in our silence. 

I think this morning of my Sisters at McAuley Convent, in the quiet accumulation of their elder years. There is very little noise in that beloved community. Still, everything about them shouts praise, gratitude, and faith – all without their even having to say a word.

True praise is an energy, not a sound. It is the direction of our whole being toward the God Who gives us life. It is the gathering of everything about our existence and lifting it all toward God in confidence of its transformation. 

It is the quiet sound of our every breath streaming “Alleluias” over all Creation. It is the final word of our being after everything else is said.

Let everything that has breath
praise the LORD! Alleluia


Poetry: Praising Manners by Rumi

We should ask God
To help us toward manners. Inner gifts
Do not find their way
To creatures without just respect.
If a man or woman flails about, they not only
Destroy their own house,
They incinerate the whole world.
Your depression is connected to your insolence
And your refusal to praise. If a man or woman is
On the path, and refuses to praise — that man or woman
Steals from others every day — in fact is a shoplifter!
The sun became full of light when it got hold of itself.
Angels began shining when they achieved discipline.
The sun goes out whenever the cloud of not-praising comes near.
The moment that foolish angel felt insolent, he heard the door close.

Music: J.S. Bach: Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV. 225

“Singet!”
Bach’s motet springs to life with the insistent repetition of this word, bouncing between two choirs. It’s a joyful and dazzlingly virtuosic celebration of the human voice, culminating in a mighty four-voice fugue.
This motet was performed for Mozart when he visited Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church in 1789. (Bach was music director at the church from 1723 until his death in 1750). Johann Friedrich Doles, a student of Bach who directed the performance wrote,
As soon as the choir had sung a few bars, Mozart started; after a few more he exclaimed: ‘What is that?’ And now his whole soul seemed to be centered in his ears. When the song was ended, he cried out with delight: ‘Now, here is something one can learn from!’( taken from
https://thelistenersclub.com/2019/10/11/joyful-sounds-of-praise-five-musical-settings-of-psalm-150/ )

Psalm 100: Sing Out Loud

Memorial of Saints John de Brébeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests, and Companions, Martyrs

October 19, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 100, the Jubilate Deo – a psalm that tells us to SING! You know, like this: (Go ahead, click. It’s fun.)


Psalm 100 was that kind of invitation for ancient Israel. And it is for us too.

It is a well-known and beloved psalm. Wikipedia tells us:

People who have translated the psalm range from Martin Luther to Katherine Parr, (last wife of Henry VIII), and translations have ranged from Parr’s elaborate English that doubled many words, through metrical hymn forms, to attempts to render the meaning of the Hebrew as idiomatically as possible in a modern language (of the time).

Sing joyfully to the LORD all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness.

Psalm 100:1-2

In our first reading, Paul clearly states a perfect reason for such singing:

But God, who is rich in mercy,
because of the great love God had for us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions,
brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
raised us up with him,
and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus,
that in the ages to come
he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace
in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 2:4-7

This is such a powerful passage from Ephesians!
If we really internalize it, there is no limit to the power of our faith.


(That’s me before I dyed my hair grey 🙂

Using an inclusive translation of Psalm 100, I sat quietly with its individual phrases today and my spirit was deeply fed. Sometimes, I put my reasoning mind to the side, and just let the dynamic beauty of the words rest in my heart.

Psalm 100 – Jubilate Deo

Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands;
serve the Lord with gladness
and come into the divine presence with a song.
Know this: the Lord, the Lord, is God;
the One made us and to whom we belong;
we are God’s people, the sheep of God’s pasture.
Enter the gates of the Lord with thanksgiving; 
go into these courts with praise;
give thanks to God and call upon the name of the Lord. 
For the Lord is good, whose steadfast love is everlasting;
and whose faithfulness endures from age to age.

Inclusive Language Psalter: Anglican Church of Canada

Music: Jubilate Deo  – Dan Forrest

I have included two separate links to this magnificent music which offers Psalm 100, the Jubilate, in eight languages!

First Movement: Latin

Complete concert:

Psalm 116: The Return?

Saturday of the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, September 12, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the lilting Psalm 116, an intimate, tender, and powerful prayer.

The psalmist, overwhelmed by God’s goodness, asks a clear and urgent question:

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good God has done for me?


The verse itself shows the spiritual awareness of the questioner. Some people don’t believe God has done anything for them. They think they’ve done everything for themselves! And it’s sad to see somebody lost in that illusion.

They never feel awe and gratitude that they have received, as pure gift from God:

  • the breath of life
  • the capacity to believe, hope and love
  • the beauty of all Creation
  • the heritage of faith, family and friendship
  • the blessing of community in its many forms
  • the particular gifts that make them unique in the world
  • the capacity to care, act, and change things toward good
  • the irrevocable invitation to befriend God
  • the Lavish Mercy and steadfast accompaniment of that Divine Inviter
  • the promise of eternity

As we grow in our capacity to recognize and live out of these gifts, we deepen in our “sacrifice of praise”.

Walter Brueggemann describes a sacrifice of praise like this:

It must be an intimate, yielding act of trustful submission of “spirit and heart,” not “sacrifice and burnt offerings”. The speaker (psalmist), now situated in glad praise, can imagine an intimacy and communion in which contact between God and self is available and in which the distinction between the two parties is clear and acknowledged—God in splendor, the self in “brokenness”.


That “brokenness” is fully given to God to heal and empower with grace so that one’s life becomes a witness to God’s love.

To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.


The “sacrifice of praise” is not accomplished in a single declaration or decision. It can begin like that. But to last, it must be “lived into”, moment by moment, through an intentional, prayerful life. That is the lesson of today’s Gospel – it is how we build our “house” on rock.


Poetry: God of Shelter, God of Shade – by Irene Zimmerman, OSF

God of shelter from the rain,
God of shade from the heat, 
I run from You
through the muddy street
of my uncommitted heart
till wild winds beat
against my doors,
blasting sand
through all my walls,
and I stand
without retreat,
hear Your command
to be the wheat. 
Sweet the giving!
Sweet this land! 
God of shelter from the rain.
God of shade from the heat.
Music: Alvin Slaughter and Inside out - The Sacrifice of Praise

Psalm 145: To Life!

Saturday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, September 5, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 145, the only chapter of this Book which is specifically identified as a “psalm”, a hymn of praise.

I think of “praise” as gratitude steeped in awe, rising from our hearts when we are overwhelmed by God’s mercy, love, generosity or power.

Praise is a connection between God and us – so powerful that it is beyond words. It flows from us in song, dance, tears, and that profound silence which enfolds us in the Holy.


My whole family is filled with praise this week because, yesterday, we welcomed our second baby this week, precious Nathaniel.

Nathaniel joins his cousin Claire, born on Monday, both shining the beautiful Face of God on our family and the world! (And they join their treasured brother/cousins Robert and Ollie who must, of course, be mentioned in our praise🤗)


As we pray today, may each of us relish the sacred icons of Divine Life that God has given us. Sometimes these signs come in very surprising costumes. May we recognize them with the eyes of faith.


Poetry: Opening Heart – an interpretation of Psalm 145 by Christine Robinson

I exalt you, Holy One, and open my heart to you
by remembering your great love.
Your expansiveness made this beautiful world
in a universe too marvelous to understand.

Your desire created life, and you nurtured
that life with your spirit.
You cherish us all—and your prayer
in us is for our own flourishing.

You are gracious to us
slow to anger and full of kindness
You touch us with your love—speak to us
with your still, small voice, hold us when we fall.

You lift up those who are oppressed
by systems and circumstances.
You open your hand
and satisfy us.

You ask us to call on you—
and even when you seem far away, our
longings call us back to you.

Music: Forever Young – Joan Baez

Psalm 103: Bless Your Sacred Heart!

Solemnity of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

June 19, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this tender feast of the Sacred Heart, we pray with Psalm 103, a hymn of exultant and confident praise.

Walter Brueggemann calls Psalm 103 the best known and best loved of the hymns of praise. He says these hymns have a five-fold purpose, which I paraphrase here:

First, praise imagines something new. It doesn’t describe what is. We are healed to become new selves in God:

God pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.


Second, hymns of praise are acts of devotion with political and controversial overtones. Human boundaries will not impede God’s Mercy.

Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.


Third, the Psalms refer to Israel’s whole salvation history in which God is the key character and lively agent. Our prayer is not about just this moment in our lives – it is built on a long faith-story.

Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.


Fourth … in singing praise, all claims for the self are given up as the self is ceded over to God. In other words, we fall in love with God.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
all my being, bless his holy name.


Fifth, the hymns of praise with their unreserved and exuberant self-abandonment into the infinity God, contrast starkly with modern “praise songs” which often revert to a narcissistic smallness. . True praise is a large prayer that includes all Creation

The Lord’s kindness is everlasting to those who fear him.


In Psalm 103, the psalmist begins by counting her own blessings. She then moves out to praise God for the blessings given to all Creation. This unfolding in prayer reminds us to enlarge our own awareness of the needs and blessings of others as we pray.

Praying this psalm, let us become amazed and delighted that God loves us completely, irrationally, perfectly and eternally. Wow!

God is so good that it just makes you want to dance. Thus, our energetic music this morning from Godspell

Music: O Bless the Lord, My Soul (based on Psalm 103)
(Lyrics below)

Oh bless the Lord my soul!
His praise to thee proclaim!
And all that is within me join,
To bless His holy name!
Oh yeah!

Oh bless the Lord my soul!
His mercies bear in mind!
Forget not all His benefits,
The Lord, to thee, is kind.
He will not always chide
He will with patience wait
His wrath is ever slow to rise

Oh bless the Lord
And ready to abate
And ready to abate
Oh yeah!

Oh bless the lord
Bless the lord my soul
Oh bless the lord my soul!
He pardons all thy sins
Prolongs thy feeble breath
He healeth thine infirmities
And ransoms thee from death
He clothes thee with his love
Upholds thee with his truth
And like an eagle he renews
The vigor of thy youth

Then bless His holy name
Whose grace hath made thee whole
Whose love and kindness crowns
Thy days


Poetry: Praise the Rain by Joy Harjo who is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She earned her BA from the University of New Mexico and MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Harjo draws on First Nation storytelling and histories, as well as feminist and social justice poetic traditions, and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values into her writing. Her

Praise the rain; the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk—
Praise the hurt, the house slack
The stand of trees, the dignity—
Praise the dark, the moon cradle
The sky fall, the bear sleep—
Praise the mist, the warrior name
The earth eclipse, the fired leap—
Praise the backwards, upward sky
The baby cry, the spirit food—
Praise canoe, the fish rush
The hole for frog, the upside-down—
Praise the day, the cloud cup
The mind flat, forget it all—

Praise crazy. Praise sad.
Praise the path on which we’re led.
Praise the roads on earth and water.
Praise the eater and the eaten.
Praise beginnings; praise the end.
Praise the song and praise the singer.

Praise the rain; it brings more rain.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.

Psalm 98: Nice Job, Lord!

Memorial of Saint Barnabas, Apostle

June 11, 2020

Click here for readings

psalm 98 strings
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 98, one of a small knot of psalms whose point is to shout praise over and over to God. It is a hymn psalm, and one of the ten Royal Psalms themed with “kingship”.

As we pray this exultant psalm, in Latin called “Cantate Domino” (Sing to the Lord), we can almost visualize the psalmist and fellow praisers clapping God on the back and chanting, “Great job! Nice work!”.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.


psalms
Walter Brueggemann has written extensively about the Psalms. He says this about the act of praise:

Praise articulates and embodies our capacity to yield, submit, and abandon ourselves in trust and gratitude to the One whose we are. … We have a resilient hunger to move beyond self. God is addressed not because we have need, but simply because God is God.
(Israel’s Praise: Doxology against Idolatry and Ideology)


We don’t have to be as articulate as the psalmist to weave praise into our prayer. 

Sometimes when we catch the sunrise at a morning window, we might quietly say, “Great job! Thank You, Radiant God”

When we look at the magnificence of a natural wonder like the Grand Canyon, we might abandon words and simply let our breathing be praise.

When we study the finely-aged face of a beloved elder, we might praise the monument of grace God has worked in her/his life.

When we finger the strings of our own faith history, we might, in our own words, echo the psalmist:

I sing You a new song in every moment, Lord
for You have done wondrous deeds;
Your loving hand has strung grace through my life,
your generous heart has blessed me amazingly.


Poetry today from Mary Oliver who rejoices in the redbird’s morning praise:

All night my heart makes its way
however it can over the rough ground
of uncertainties, but only until night
meets and then is overwhelmed by
morning, the light deepening, the
wind easing and just waiting, as I
too wait (and when have I ever been
disappointed?) for redbird to sing
― A Thousand Mornings

Music: Cantate Domino – Claudio Monteverdi 

What Return Can I Make?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Click here for Readings

Today, in Mercy, our readings challenge us to consider what we might offer to God in return for all the good we have received.

Ps50_praise

When I was young, and on a stressful occasion still, I have been known to bargain with God.  It goes something like this:
“Dear God, please, if You will only do X, I promise to do Y.”

The process reminds me of a game my Uncle Joe played with me when I was a toddler. He would give me some pennies to buy candy from him that he had just purchased at the corner store. He intended to teach me simple math. But I also learned what is was like to have resources, to possess buying power.

The glitch in the process was this: none of the resources really belonged to me. Everything belonged to Uncle Joe who allowed me to use his resources to learn and grow.

When we think about what we can offer God, it’s sort of a similar model. We have nothing that doesn’t first and already belong to God. We can give God nothing to “buy” God’s love and grace. God gives these freely and without restriction.

All that we really have to offer God is our love, demonstrated by our charitable actions. That’s what Sirach is talking about today.

In our Gospel, Peter – ever a guileless and simple soul – wants to make sure Jesus knows how much Peter has given up for God. Jesus affirms Peter’s offering, but says that God’s generosity exceeds it a hundredfold.

We live in loving relationship with an infinitely generous God. Our only currency in this relationship is the return of love, praise and thanksgiving.

When I regress to my bargaining stance with God, I think God smiles at me the way Jesus probably smiled at Peter. The smile says, “I am already giving you everything you need. Let yourself rest in Me.”

Music: To God Be the Glory ~ Andrae Crouch