Memorial of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111. Prayed in tandem with our first reading from 1 Timothy, the psalm directs our hearts to an awareness of the gifts we have received in faith.

We are all “gifted” by the Holy Spirit. Sometimes if someone tells us that we’re “gifted”, they are really referring to special talents we may have developed – like art, music, dance, writing etc.

But the gifts our readings highlight are those which are rooted in the Holy Spirit, and we receive them through our Baptism and Confirmation.


Paul tells Timothy not to neglect these gifts. And the psalmist suggests that the first step in such care is the practice of awe, wisdom and prudence.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
    prudent are all who live by it.
    His praise endures forever.

Psalm 111:10

We can’t just practice these gifts for an hour or two as we might practice piano!


The Holy Spirit’s gifts must be nurtured and tended daily, through all seasons of our lives,
allowing their roots to deepen and grow in us.
This was the advice that Paul gave Timothy.
We could all use it as well.


The prophet Isaiah was the first to list the Gifts of the Holy Spirit when he described the coming Messiah:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

Isaiah 11:1-3

We are baptized in the image of Christ. These same gifts flow, in a waterfall of grace, into our spirits. May we receive and respond!

Poetry: God’s Grandeur – Gerard Manel Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111 which enumerates and celebrates the joys of relationship with God. The psalm is offered within the “faithful assembly”, that covenanted community who long to be faithful to their ever-faithful God.

One way to strengthen that commitment in ourselves is to reflect on God’s splendor, generously flowing into our lives:

  • in the amazing mystery of our own lives
  • in the blessing of those we love and who love us
  • in the unbounded beauty of nature 
  • in the wonderful gifts of human creativity that convince us of God’s Presence within us
  • the gift of sharing faith in community, however small or large, which fortifies our spirits in life’s challenging tides

Poetry: Christine Robinson – Psalm 111

Hallelujah!
I will give thanks to God with my whole heart--
in silence and in company.
God’s deeds are great—
   I will study them.
God is compassionate and gracious
   I will remember
God speaks in the heart—
   I will listen
God’s hands work faithfulness and justice
   I will follow
Awe of God is the beginning of wisdo
   I will praise God forever.

Music: Mozart – Vesperae de Dominica – Confitebor Tibi Domini (Psalm 111)

Confitebor tibi Domine,
In toto corde meo;
In consilio justorum,
Et congregatione.
Magna opera Domini,
Exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.
Confessio et magnificentia opus ejus;
Et justitia ejus manetIn saeculum saeculi.
Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum,
Misericors et miserator Dominus.
Escam dedit timentibus se.
Memor erit in saeculum
Testamenti sui.
Virtutem operum suorum
Annuntiabit populo suo.
Ut det illis
Hereditatem gentium;
Opera manuum ejus
Veritas et judicium.
Fidelia omnia mandata ejus,
Confirmata in saeculum saeculi,
Facta in veritate et aequitate.
Redemptionem misit Dominus
Populo suo;
Mandavit in aeternum testamentum suum.
Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus:
Initium sapientiae timor Domini;
Intellectus bonus omnibus
Facientibus eum.
Laudatio ejus manet
In saeculum saeculi.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper.
Et in saecula saeculorum. Amen

I acknowledge you, o Lord,
With my whole heart;
In the council of the just
And in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
Chosen by all His desires.
I acknowledge as well the magnificence of His deeds;
And His justice endures
From generation to generation.
He has made memorials of His miracles,
A merciful and compassionate Lord.
He gives food to those that fear Him.
He will remember forever
His covenant.
The power of His works
Will be announced to His people.
So that He may give them
The inheritance of the nations;
The works of His hands
Are truth and justice.
All His commandments are faithful,
Confirmed from generation to generation,
Made in truth and fairness.
The Lord has sent salvation
To His people;
He has given His convenant for eternity.
Holy and awesone is His name;
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
All who practice it Have a good understanding.
His praise endures
From generation to generation.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, 
as it was in the beginning, is now, and forever, 
and for generations of generations. Amen

Psalm 111: Keeping the Promise

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

January 19, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111, a song of reassurance and hope.

God, renowned for grace and mercy,
Who gives to those living in awe,
will forever be mindful
of the covenant once promised.

Psalm 111: 4-5

It is a wonderful thing when we can trust someone to remember a promise made to us. Psalm 111 tells us we can trust God like that.

Maybe some of you share this experience. When I was a little girl, my Dad often did the food shopping. Sometimes, he went to the new “big store” (supermarkets were the new thing in the early ‘50s). When he did, I always asked him to remember to bring me a surprise, and he never forgot. 

Usually the surprise would be a little bag of M&Ms or Hershey kisses. But once it was a carrot- remarkably like the carrots he bought for the week’s cooking!

Had Dad forgotten his promise,
or was he just in to a healthier form of surprise?😂😉


Sometimes it feels like that with God’s Promise. Its fulfillment doesn’t always come to us in the ways we expect or pray for. Instead of special, surprising sweetness, God’s signs feel like carrots … ordinary carrots that we see every day, that we mix into the soup of our daily unsurprising lives.

Our Alleluia Verse today is a good prayer when our life seems full of “carrots”:

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope
that belongs to our call.

Ephesians 1: 17-18

May our eyes be enlightened to see God’s Promise fulfilled in the amazing blessings of our lives:

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
    in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
  exquisite in all their delights.

Psalm 111: 1-2

My Dad loved me with all his heart and would have given me anything good that was in his power to give.

We can be assured, as in Psalm 111, that all- powerful God is like that too. It’s just that sometimes those good things look like ordinary carrots and we need enlightened eyes to recognize their exquisiteness.


Poetry: Mindful – Mary Oliver

Everyday
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Music: Blessed Assurance

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
Chorus:
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

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

Psalm 111: Make It Personal

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

October 9, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 111, an elegant and simple hymn of praise to God.

Wikipedia says that the psalm praises God for a few specific things:

  • God’s great works v.2
  • God’s enduring Righteousness v.3
  • God’s grace and compassion v.4
  • God’d provision v.5
  • Truth and Justice v.7
  • Redemption for God’s people v.9
  • Granting of wisdom to those who revere God v.10

As I pray this psalm this morning, I will thank and praise God for these things. But I also want to be more personal in my gratitude, to thank God for the elegant Divine Presence in my life and in our world.

  • How blessed are we even to have been born, let alone loved, sanctified, and redeemed by God!
  • How blessed are we to know God and to seek the depths of God in our lives!
  • How blessed are we to share our moment in time with other beloveds of God who enrich and challenge us!
  • How blessed are we to be enlivened with the exquisite grace of God’s own life, and to know that our eternity will be the fulfillment of that grace!

Poem: Grace by Wendell Berry

Music: Arioso, Cantata 156 – Johann Sebastian Bach played by Susanne Beer