Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

June 8, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, a repeated favorite on the blog – you might like to re-visit any of the 13 entries:


Today, let’s pray with 119 in the light of Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, … 
was not “yes” and “no,” but always “YES”.
God’s promises … find their “Yes” in him.

2 Corinthians 1:19-20

Here’s what those slightly cryptic but profoundly meaningful phrases mean to me.

No doubt, sometime in your life you have heard someone powerful say “No” to you. Or perhaps life itself has said it with some insurmountable limitations.

It is in those moments that we truly understand what “Yes” means because it has eluded us!

That meaning takes various forms depending on our circumstances. “Yes” can mean freedom, love, mercy, forgiveness, renewal, possibility, hope, fulfillment.

And “Yes” is always a beginning … a mystery that longs to be unfurled, unpeeled – like this beautiful red onion ( that I bought yesterday for a salad that turned into a reflection!)


Psalm 119 “unpeels” the layers of our relationship with God. Here’s how I hear it in my prayer:

O Lovely God,
You are wonderful.
You are my Light.
You amaze me
by the “Yes” of your Love.
You fire my spirit
to love You in return.

Lavish Mercy, turn to me
because I love You.
Steady me in my shadows.
Draw my “yes” 
into the Light 
of your beautiful Face.

based on Psalm 119:129-135

Poem: love is a place – e.e.cummings 

love is a place
& through this place of
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds

Music: The Beauty We Love

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

April 19, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Law.

Yes, your decrees are my delight;
    they are my counselors.
I declared my ways, and you answered me;
    teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
    and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 119: 24-27

“Law”, as it is used in this psalm, speaks of that perfect Divine Order which creates and holds all things in Love. Praying this psalm, we ask to become ever more aligned to that Love.

Remove from me all guile,
    and favor me with your law.
The way of truth I have chosen;
    I have set your ordinances before me.

Psalm 119: 29-30

Such might have been the prayer of Stephen, as we read of his angelic face in Acts today. Such might have been the desire of those who followed Jesus across the sea in today’s Gospel asking, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”.

And it could be our prayer too.


Poetry: God Wishes Me a Happy Birthday

As I pray Psalm 119 today on my birthday, I hear God responding once again in a poem I wrote a few years ago. Perhaps you would like to keep it for your own birthday, dear friends.

On the day I made you,
I made thousands of other creatures.
Human beings,
each reflecting some facet of my infinite image.
Beautiful birds, riotous monkeys, infinitesimal ants.
My lava broke through earth's crusts to form new islands.
I folded hidden mountains into yet undiscovered gorges,
bent rivers into surprise journeys,
washed entire beaches onto new shores. 
I was busy the day I made you.
War raged and I welcomed its many victims into heaven.
More creatures died on your birthday than were born.
More came home to me than went out to begin their journey. 
But you were one who went out.
When I opened my hand and breathed your journey into you,
I smiled.
I saw the wonders that could bless the world because of you.
I saw a rainbow of love, generosity, mutuality,
happiness, encouragement, and faith
gathered like an unhatched egg in your heart.
I saw the storms and winds
that would release that prism in your soul.
I saw it spread across a wide sky
because of all the years
and experiences that I would give you.
I saw the hint of sunrise in you.
Its name was mercy.
It was a gift fired by the energy of My own heart.
I looked beyond you to the cold and shadowed world
that you could comfort with its light and warmth.
I was happy on the day I made you.
I was filled with hope for the blessing you would be.
I am still filled with joy, hope and love for you
on this your long-after birthday.
You have tried to live my sacred dream for you.
As the sun rises glorious in the eastern sky,
I promise you a future full of love. 
Notice that the western sky reflects the brilliance of the sunrise,
just as all the years now past assure you
of my presence at the core of your life. 
You have been and are infinitely loved.
Become Love in return. 
Your days are replete with mercy. 
Become Mercy in return. 

Be born again this day, beloved!

Psalm 119: DiliGENTLY

Saturday of the First Week of Lent

February 27, 2021


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with our familiar Psalm 119. Because it is the longest of the Psalms, there is plenty of material for its frequent use.


But sometimes, when things are frequent and familiar, they can also become “humdrum”. Our prayers, especially repeated vocal prayers such as those we say at Mass, can become veiled in monotony.


Thinking of this, I read Psalm 119 with new eyes today, looking for a dynamic word to pop out and speak to me. And here it was:

You have commanded that your precepts
    be diligently kept.
Oh, that I might be firm in the ways
    of keeping your statutes!

Psalm 119: 4-5

Diligently” – it is a wonderful word that suggests a range of attitudes we should hold in the Presence of God.

The word is derived from the Latin diligere: “to single out, value highly, esteem, prize, love; aspire to, be content with, appreciate”.

The psalmist suggests that God wants us to esteem and love God’s Word in a singular manner – that we should pay sharp attention, prize, and develop a deep appreciation for God’s precepts.


Our careful engagement of the Word of God must be delicate and gentle, as the root of “diligently” implies. We might imagine careful fingers peeling ripe fruit so delicately that nothing is lost of its pulp or juice.

In our daily prayer, we then savor that sweetness over and over, releasing its eternal meaning into the circumstances of our lives, feeding our spirits with its graces.

I will give you thanks with an upright heart,
    when I have learned your just ordinances.

Psalm 119:7

Poetic Advice: Taken from “The Journey of the Mind to God” by St. Bonaventure (1221–1274)

Do not assume that mere
Reading will suffice without fervor,
Speculation without devotion,
Investigation without admiration,
Observation without exaltation,
Industry without piety,
Knowledge without love,
Understanding without humility,
Study without divine grace.

Music: Wonderful Words of Life – Philip Bliss, 1874.
This is a lesser known hymn by the prolific Bliss who also composed the music for the more popular “It Is Well with My Soul”.

Psalm 119: Promises, Promises

Friday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

November 20, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray once again with our longest Psalm 119. 

This morning, we take one little morsel from its long string of reflections :


The word “promise” can evoke a range of responses from us. Indeed, they are sweet as the psalmist says. But they can also be elusive, ephemeral, and easily broken. I know I’ve have made a few promises in my lifetime that have fizzled away unfulfilled. Haven’t you?

On the other hand, there are some promises, kept, that have rooted and defined my life. These, made in the bud, have blossomed in a long, tendered fidelity. They have dug the deep roots of trust for the essential relationships of my life with God, beloved neighbor, and all Creation.


Such vital promises can be made and kept when we act in the image of God, the loving and faithful Promiser described in Psalm 119:

Your word, LORD, stands forever;
it is firm as the heavens.
Through all generations your truth endures;
fixed to stand firm like the earth.

Psalm 119: 89 – 90

Like the psalmist, we pray:

  • to be imitators of God who is always faithful.
  • to be promise-keepers in response to the trust God has placed in us by the gift of our creation.
  • to meditate on, and understand in our hearts, the divine order of God’s immutable Law of Love

Poetry: Psalm 119 – Christine Robinson

Dear God, The seed of your love is deep within
every molecule of the universe, and it abides through time.
The laws of the cosmos serve your purpose to the end.
If I remember this, I can abide all manner of trouble.
If I delight in this, it gives me life.
I belong to you to my very core.
Holding firm to that knowledge, I can live my life in love.
All things will come to and end.
And in the end all will be One
My mind is filled with your Way
Making me wise like a teacher or an elder.
Mastering my life in your way gives me purpose.
Many times I use it to guide my steps.
My mouth waters and my heart softens to consider your Way.

Music: God Hath Not Promised – Annie Johnson Flint

This charming 19th century hymn captures the faithful spirit of it composer whose life, though beset by suffering, radiated faith and joy. 

Psalm 119: Life’s Labyrinth

Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

November 13, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119 which is filled with repeated invitations to awake to the beauty of God’s Law all around and within us. But sometimes in our spiritual life, just as in our physical life, we just don’t want to wake up, do we?😉


Our psalm today tells us we need to be alert, to actively seek God in our lives:

Blessed are they who observe the Lord’s decrees,
who seek God with all their heart.

Psalm 119: 2

It’s not easy to believe that God can be found in everything, even the things that challenge and hurt us. It requires a new way of looking, of seeing.

God’s presence isn’t always sweet and comforting. In our bitter times, God may be with us in a push to change, or to resist, or to protest. It helps to trust that there is an integrity to God’s path in our lives, and that, by grace, we will be led to holiness, even in challenge.

With all my heart I seek your path,
let me not stray from your commands.
Within my heart I treasure your promise,
that I may not stray from your law.

Walking a labyrinth is a good way to intentionally practice this type of trusting prayer. Doing this, we rediscover the times God has already led us through life’s surprising, and sometimes immobilizing, twists.

We begin to see an order in what we thought was chaos, the order of God’s immutable law of love:

Open my eyes, that I may consider
the wonders of your law.

If you would like to pray with a labyrinth, this website is a great start. The Dominican Sisters of Peace take us through praying with a “finger labyrinth”. 


Poem: Excerpt from THE HOUND OF HEAVEN by Francis Thompson
Here is just the beginning of Thompson’s great poem, which speaks of the “labyrinthine” ways…

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
   I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
   Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
             Up vistaed hopes I sped;
             And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
   From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
             But with unhurrying chase,
             And unperturbéd pace,
     Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
             They beat — and a Voice beat —
             More instant than the Feet
     'All things betray thee, who betrayest Me'.

Music: The Peace of God – from Labyrinth by David Baloche

Psalm 119: Come, Sweet Mercy!

Tuesday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time

October 13, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119 whose refrain is beautiful to the ears of those who love Mercy.


We can invite Mercy in many ways.

One way is to ask Mercy to heal the fractured circumstances of our lives – the outside of the cup, if we would borrow an image from today’s Gospel:

  • to strengthen us against any pain or fear in our own lives
  • to deliver us and those we love from all that overwhelms
  • to forgive our inexcusable retreats into selfishness
  • to repair that which seems irrevocably broken 

But another, deeper way is to invite Mercy to the inside of our “cup”:

  • to indwell our hearts
  • to transform, within us, the place where we encounter life
  • to inspire us to respond always with the heart of Jesus
  • to flow from us in continual witness to God’s Mercy

Today, in our prayer, let’s spend some time with Mercy, the most beautiful Face of God.


Poem:  Blest are the undefiled in heart (Psalm 119)
by Isaac Watts (1674 – 1748) was an English Christian minister (Congregational), hymn writer, theologian, and logician. He was a prolific and popular hymn writer and is credited with some 750 hymns. He is recognized as the “Godfather of English Hymnody”; many of his hymns remain in use today and have been translated into numerous languages.

Blest are the undefiled in heart,
whose ways are right and clean;
who never from your law depart,
but flee from every sin.

Blest are the ones that keep your word,
and serve you with their hands;
with their whole heart they seek you, Lord,
obeying your commands.

Great is their peace who love your law;
how firm their souls abide!
Nor can a bold temptation draw
their steady feet aside.

Then shall my heart have inward joy!
I’ll keep my steps from shame;
your statutes help me to obey,
and glorify your name.

Music- Sanctuary by Secret Garden

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 119: A Lamp

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, Priestalso commonly known as Padre Pio.
Padre Pio died during the night of 23 September 1968, at the age of 81. On 16 June 2002, he was proclaimed a saint by Pope John Paul II. In his homily, the Pope said, “The life and mission of Padre Pio prove that difficulties and sorrows, if accepted out of love, are transformed into a privileged way of holiness, which opens onto the horizons of a greater good, known only to the Lord.”

September 23, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we continue praying with Psalm 119 which, with its 176 verses, is the longest psalm as well as the longest chapter in the Bible. So this could go on forever, right?

Well, it doesn’t. Even though Psalm 119 is used for the Responsorial a total of 22 times during the total liturgical cycle, we won’t see it again for a week or so.

However, the liturgical frequency of this psalm should alert us to the importance of its teachings. Although long and somewhat complex in its acrostic structure, the psalm is direct and simple in its message:

Learn, love and live God’s ways.


Today’s verses liken such pursuit to finding a lamp in the darkness:

Praying with this refrain, we might be able to recall a time we were enveloped in darkness, either material, emotional, or spiritual. Most of us become at least a little frightened by such conditions. We get disoriented. We don’t know if we will be able to find our way out.

The psalmist attests to similar experiences, and voices a confident call on God for deliverance. That confidence grows from the psalmist’s desire and commitment to walk in holy discernment:

From every evil way I withhold my feet,
that I may keep your words.
Through your precepts I gain discernment;
therefore I hate every false way.
Falsehood I hate and abhor;
your law I love.

In this beautiful verse, the psalmist’s confidence is confirmed by God’s faithful endurance:

The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Your word, O LORD, endures forever;
it is firm as the heavens.


Poetry: One, One, One – Rumi

The lamps are different. 
But the Light is the same. 
So many garish lamps in the dying brain's lamp shop, 
Forget about them. 
Concentrate on essence, concentrate on Light. 
In lucid bliss, calmly smoking off its own holy fire, 
The Light streams toward you from all things, 
All people, all possible permutations of good, evil, thought, passion. 

The lamps are different, 
But the Light is the same. 
One matter, one energy, one Light, one Light-mind, 
Endlessly emanating all things. 
One turning and burning diamond, 
One, one, one. 

Ground yourself, strip yourself down, 
To blind loving silence. 
Stay there, until you see 
You are gazing at the Light 
With its own ageless eyes.

Music: Beati Quorem Via – Charles Villiers Stanford, sung by voces 8
The title of this hymn is the first verse of Psalm 119 in Latin. Translation below.

Blessed are they whose road is straight,
who walk in the law of the Lord.

Beati quorum via integra est:
qui ambulant in lege Domini

Psalm 119: Guide Me, Lord

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

September 22, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with another of the Torah Psalms, Psalm 119. It is the prayer of one who delights in and lives by the Torah, the sacred law. ( See yesterday’s reflection for some scholarly words on the Torah Psalms.)

In today’s verses, with lovely antiphonal lilt, the psalmist describes the holy person, then asks for the virtues to become one.

  • Blessed are the blameless….. so guide me in your ways.
  • I want to meditate on your deeds …. so make me understand.
  • I want to observe your laws … so give me discernment
  • I delight in your path …. so lead me on it.
  • I will keep your law forever …. if you will just guide me.

I don’t think God can resist a sincere prayer like this. The psalmist is saying, “I want to love you, God, with my whole life. But you, Almighty, must help my weakness.”

Notice the guy on the right 🙂

As we pray today with Psalm 119, we might let a similar prayer rise up in our hearts.

We, too, want to love God well – completely. We, too, need Divine guidance to discern God’s continuing call in the complexities of our lives. We, too, long to deepen in discernment and commitment.


The psalmist gives us good example. Just tell God like it is. Tell God what you really want, what you really need to love as God wishes us to love.

If you hear yourself making requests for power, money, fame, security in any of their selfish forms, you better start all over again!😉

Remember the beginning of the psalm, the foundation of our prayer:

Blessed are they whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.

In the Christian scriptures, that foundation is proclaimed like this:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”


Let’s ask God for  the courage to offer a blameless prayer. The simple prayer of the Gospel centurion comes to mind:

Lord, I do believe. 
Help my unbelief.
Mark 9:24

Poetry: Morning Hymn by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley. They are considered founders of the Methodist religion.

Christ, whose glory fills the skies, 
Christ, the true, the only light, 
Sun of Righteousness, arise, 
Triumph o’er the shades of night:  
Day-spring from on high, be near:  
Day-star, in my heart appear.
  
Dark and cheerless is the morn  
Unaccompanied by thee,  
Joyless is the day’s return,  
Till thy mercy’s beams I see;  
Till thy inward light impart,  
Glad my eyes, and warm my heart.
  
Visit then this soul of mine,  
Pierce the gloom of sin, and grief,  
Fill me, Radiancy Divine,  
Scatter all my unbelief,  
More and more thyself display,  
Shining to the perfect day.

Music: Help My Unbelief – Audrey Assad

Psalm 119: Divine Thread

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

August 31, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 119, a song of the wisdom that comes from holiness.

Your command has made me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
I have more understanding than all my teachers
when your decrees are my meditation.
I have more discernment than the elders,
because I observe your precepts.

Psalm 119: 97-98

And we’ve all met them, haven’t we – those grounded, simple, wise and joyful people whose spirits are tied to that Sacred Thread running through all Creation. These blessed souls may be young or old, schooled or not. No matter – they shine with the reflection of Wisdom Itself.

Paul humbly claims such wisdom in our first reading. It is not a worldly persuasiveness, but rather a demonstration of truth and power grounded in the Spirit.

… my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2: 4-5

In our Gospel, Jesus chooses his hometown synagogue to announce that he is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, the Spirit and Wisdom of God:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Luke 4: 18-19 (Isaiah 61: 1-2)

Jesus is the Incarnation of Wisdom, the Divine Spirit that surpasses all human understanding.

Many turned away from Jesus at this proclamation. May we never be among them.

From every evil way I withhold my feet,
that I may keep your words.
From your ordinances I turn not away,
for you have instructed me.

Psalm 119: 101-102

Poetry: Wisdom by Rumi

I have one small drop of knowing in my soul. 
Let it dissolve in Your ocean.


Music: Be Thou My Vision – Eden’s Bridge ( On the video, you can drop the menu you down using the little arrowhead on the right under the picture. The Irish and English lyrics will then be displayed.)