Psalm 139: Life Knitter

Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

October 6, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 139 with its powerful image of God, the Life Knitter.

This psalm is hauntingly beautiful as it carries us in prayer to the moment of our own incarnation. We are awed by the thought of God touching us into life deep in the darkness of our mother’s womb.


Paul, in our first reading, says that even from that first moment, he was “set apart and called through grace.”

Every one of us receives the same divine mark as Paul. Every one of our lives is known full well in God’s love:

My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.


Praying with this psalm, I am profoundly aware of the “life issues” at the root of U.S. culture and politics which face us in this election. I place myself before my Creator as I grapple with my abhorrence of abortion and my deep commitment to a “whole life” morality.

The document I share below has guided me as I try to faithfully discern the best moral choice in voting. As the document points out, “Faith does not fit into political parties neatly”. Indeed there is currently no party platform that fully and perfectly responds to the moral demands of our faith. Yet that faith requires that we participate in the political process of moving toward such a response.

Faithful voters are presented with a dilemma in the fullest sense of that word, that is, ” a circumstance in which a choice must be made between two or more alternatives that seem equally undesirable.”

Still, it is not enough to abandon our discernment to a single-issue mentality.

Besides considering the whole range of life and justice concerns, we must calculate the moral character of those we choose to govern and set national policy:

  • their honesty, compassion, decency, respect, toward all people; 
  • their capacity for mutuality, dialogue, and peace-building; 
  • their “economics morality”, (i.e. who shares in the basic rights necessary for a decent life)
  • their vision of democracy, human rights, and international power
  • their compatibility with the total legacy of Catholic social teaching

As we pray with Psalm 139 today, let us bring our concerns and hopes to God and ask for inspiration and courage.

Click below for the voting discernment document Equally Sacred Priorities


Poem: Invocation by Everett Hoagland

(Originality from Philadelphia, PA, Hoagland was Poet Laureate of New Bedford, MA 1994-1998. He is Professor Emeritus at UMass Dartmouth.)

Architect of icebergs, snowflakes,
crystals, rainbows, sand grains, dust motes, atoms.

Mason whose tools are glaciers, rain, rivers, ocean.

Chemist who made blood
of seawater, bone of minerals in stone, milk

of love. Whatever

You are, I know this,
Spinner, You are everywhere, in All The Ever-
Changing Above, whirling around us.

Yes, in the loose strands,
in the rough weave of the common

cloth threaded with our DNA on hubbed, spoked
Spinning Wheel that is this world, solar system, galaxy,

universe.

Help us to see ourselves in all creation,
and all creation in ourselves, ourselves in one another.

Remind those of us who like connections
made with similes, metaphors, symbols
all of us are, everything is
already connected.

Remind us as oceans go, so go we. As the air goes, so go we.
As other life forms on Earth go, so go we.

As our planet goes, so go we. Great Poet,
who inspired In The Beginning was The Word . . . ,

edit our thought so our ethics are our politics,
and our actions the afterlives of our words.”

Music: I Cannot Hide from You

Psalm 139: Lord, You Know Me

Thursday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 139, such a deeply personal and beautiful meditation. It is all we need for our prayer today.


Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 
For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.
19 
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 
They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 
I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

O God, You Search Me and You Know Me- Bernadette Farrell

Psalm 139: God of Our Secrets

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

June 24; 2020

Psalm 139 (stained glass window by Ted Felen)

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on the great feast of John the Baptist, we pray with Psalm 139, the prayer of awed gratitude.

June 24th is a pivotal date in my life. It became so in 1966 on the day I was first professed as a Sister of Mercy. Our then Mother General, who chose our Profession date, had deep devotion to John, and often spoke to us wide-eyed novices about his holiness.


In one such lecture, she solemnly pronounced the core of his sanctity – how he considered himself in relation to his cousin Jesus:

He must increase and I must decrease. 

Mother Bernard told us that this was the key to the spiritual life: let God grow in you as self recedes.


It was a beautiful lesson but a hard one to swallow. We were a gaggle of 20-somethings fired up to find our adulthoods. We were all about growing – making our statement in the world! 

Learning to discover, rely on, and magnify the hidden omnipresence of God within would – at least for some of us – takes a lifetime, just as it probably should.


Psalm 139 is a prayer that can lead us to God’s powerful secrets in our hearts, ready to be unfolded as the years pass. These treasures include:

  • that we are made of earth and stars and must find vigor in harmony with them
  • that we are woven of both the dances and the dyings of our mothers, fathers, and ancestors – each a mysterious blessing
  • that as we live our lives, it is God living within us
  • that God knows, loves, and redeems everything about us

June 24, 1966 came clothed in noontime sun and trumpet blasts all those years ago – shouting youth, hope, and a good deal of ambition.

The date’s passing iterations have gently mellowed the song God sings to me. Now it goes something like this:


Autumn Colors – Zamfir

Today, the date’s rising carries the sustained melody of a gentle pan flute. Within its breathy music, I cherish the gift of years, how intimately accompanied and tenderly cared for I have been … even from my mother’s womb until now.

May each of us today – in whatever season and sound of the journey – pray with our hidden, ever-present God who cherishes our being.


Called to Become
From Edwina Gateley, There Was No Path So I Trod One (1996, 2013)

You are called to become
A perfect creation.
No one is called to become
Who you are called to be.
It does not matter
How short or tall
Or thick-set or slow
You may be.
It does not matter
Whether you sparkle with life
Or are as silent as a still pool.
Whether you sing your song aloud
Or weep alone in darkness.
It does not matter
Whether you feel loved and admired
Or unloved and alone
For you are called to become
A perfect creation.
No one's shadow
Should cloud your becoming.
No one's light
Should dispel your spark.
For the Lord delights in you.
Jealously looks upon you
And encourages with gentle joy
Every movement of the Spirit
Within you.
Unique and loved you stand.
Beautiful or stunted in your growth
But never without hope and life.
For you are called to become
A perfect creation.
This becoming may be
Gentle or harsh.
Subtle or violent.
But it never ceases.
Never pauses or hesitates.
Only is—
Creative force—
Calling you
Calling you to become
A perfect creation.

Music: If I Take the Wings of Morning – John Rutter

Beautiful God Within

Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

August 28, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, celebrate the Feast of St. Augustine who gave us such beautiful quotes as these:

late have i loved

These quotes reflect a clarity of soul Augustine pursued all his life. He was a brilliant philosopher, intellectual, and poet. His early spiritual practice struggled for years to break through the shell of philosophy into the heart of true faith.

made us for yourself

Eventually, through the prayers of his mother Monica and the gentle guidance of St. Ambrose, Augustine’s searching soul found God as reflected in today’s choice for a Responsorial Psalm:

Lord, you have searched me and known me;
you understand everything I do;
you are closer to me than my thoughts.
You see through my selfishness and weakness,
into my inmost self. 

There is not one corner of my mind
that you do not know completely.
You are present before me, behind me,
and you hold me in the palm of your hand. 

Such knowledge is too awesome to grasp:
so deep that I cannot fathom it.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence? 

If I take the wings of the morning and fly to the ends of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me
and your spirit will give me strength.

~  A Book of Psalms by Stephen Mitchell

Some of us , no matter how hard we try, have a tortuous path to spiritual peace. Augustine is a saint because he never abandoned that path.

Paul’s Thessalonians seemed to have had an easier way:

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us,
you received it not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God,
which is now at work in you who believe.

Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel continues his tirade against those who only appear to seek that path to spiritual sincerity and whole-heartedness:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

The etymological root of the word “hypocrisy” is to “under decide” – a kind of half-heartedness, a falsely comfortable pretense, a neither “here nor there” attitude that safeguards our worldly advantage but paralyzes us on the path to holiness.

Augustine lived in that limbo for a long time. He came late to true Beauty, Love and Clarity. Oh, but what a transformation!

What does he want to teach us today?

Music: Late Have I Loved You – Len Sroka