Saint Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church

April 29, 2021

Catherine of Siena Writing – Rutilio di Lorenzo Manetti

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 89 which captures the spirit of Catherine of Siena, one of the Church’s greatest treasures.

The favors of the LORD I will sing forever;
    through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
    in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

Psalm 89:2-3

The beauty of Catherine’s life and spirituality has blessed the world for nearly seven centuries. Still, it has never grown old because it was fully rooted in an eternal God.

Catherine’s sanctity was born of:
transcendent FAITH,
uncompromising TRUTH,
and overarching LOVE
for God
and God’s Creation.


She lived the Lord’s promise as we find it in Psalm 89:

My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with you,
    and through my name shall your spirit be exalted.
You shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
    my God, the Rock, my savior.

Psalm 89: 25-27

Here are a few of thoughts from Catherine’s extensive writings:

FAITH

The soul is in God and God is in the soul. 
God is closer to us than water is to a fish. 
Turn over the rudder in God's name, 
and sail with the wind heaven sends us.

TRUTH

Proclaim the truth 
and do not be silent through fear.
We've had enough exhortations to be silent. 
Cry out with a thousand tongues - 
I see the world is rotten because of silence.

LOVE

You know that every evil is founded in self-love, 
and that self-love is a cloud that takes away the light of reason, 
which reason holds in itself the light of faith, 
and one is not lost without the other.
Love transforms one 
into what one loves.

Poetry: My Nature Is Fire – Prayer of St. Catherine of Siena

In your nature, eternal Godhead,
I shall come to know my nature.
And what is my nature, Boundless Love?
It is fire,
because you are nothing but a fire of love.
And you have given humankind
a share in this nature,
for by the fire of love you created us.
And so with all other people
and every created thing;
you made them out of love.

O eternal Trinity, my sweet love!
You, Light, give us light.
You, Wisdom, give us wisdom.
You, Supreme Strength, strengthen us.
Today, eternal God,
let our cloud be dissipated
so that we may perfectly know and follow your Truth in truth,
with a free and simple heart.
God, come to our assistance!
Lord, make haste to help us!
Amen.

Music: The Prayer – given by violinist SJCelestin and saxophonist Ketler Macome

Psalm 89: Faithful Righteousness

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

March 19, 2021

A blessed and happy feast day to all the dear Sisters of St. Joseph
who have touched so many of our lives over the years.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 89 as we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph.

Joseph is a beloved figure despite that we know him only in outlines. So little is said about him in scripture, yet we draw our sentiments from how he treated Mary and Jesus. Through their relationships, we imagine a man who was spiritual, thoughtful, faithful, gentle and wise. These conclusions have generated an immense devotion to Joseph over the centuries, one that I share. He is my go-to-guy in prayer when discerning and faithful wisdom is needed.

Example of a Prayer to St. Joseph

But, beyond devotion, our psalm today reminds us of Joseph’s true and clear significance in salvation history. It was through his house that God’s promise to David was finally fulfilled.

The promises of the LORD I will sing forever;
    through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness,
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
    in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

Psalm 89: 2-3

The person and life of Joseph is a lived confirmation of God’s faithfulness expressed centuries before in the psalmist’s hopeful proclamation:

I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
    and establish your throne for all generations.

Psalm 89: 4-5

Joseph was, as Paul describes in our second reading, a witness to “the righteousness that comes from faith.”  In other words, it is only because Joseph believed and lived out of his belief that God’s Promise was fulfilled in him and in the world he knew.

This is the deep lesson Joseph offers us, even beyond the stretch of our devotions. By faithful righteousness, Joseph – with Mary – became the new “House of Promise”. From that house, the New Covenant in Christ was fulfilled for all of us.


Let us pray to Joseph today
to be filled with our own measure
of justice that comes from faith,
and to act on it in the world
that God has given us.

Poetry: O Sapientia – by Madeleine L’Engle

It was from Joseph first I learned
of love. Like me he was dismayed.
How easily he could have turned
me from his house; but, unafraid,
he put me not away from him
(O God-sent angel, pray for him).
Thus through his love was Love obeyed.

The Child’s first cry came like a bell:
God’s Word aloud, God’s Word in deed.
The angel spoke: so it befell,
and Joseph with me in my need.
O Child whose father came from heaven,
to you another gift was given,
your earthly father chosen well.

With Joseph I was always warmed
and cherished. Even in the stable
I knew that I would not be harmed.
And, though above the angels swarmed,
man’s love it was that made me able
to bear God’s love, wild, formidable,
to bear God’s will, through me performed. 

Music: Te, Joseph, Celebrent

Psalm 89: Mary’s Echo

Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary

June 20, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 89, as the Church celebrates the blessed humanity of Mary.

Yesterday and today, these beautiful “heart” feasts follow one upon the other, reminding us that both Jesus and Mary loved with human hearts like ours – Jesus as God, and Mary as God’s transformed Mirror.

As we pray with Mary today. Psalm 89 offers us a perfect context. The psalm was likely composed during a difficult time, when Israel began to doubt Yahweh’s enduring promise to care for them – some say during the Babylonian Captivity.

The psalm reminds the People of the Covenant and the Promise:

I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.

Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.
I will make his posterity endure forever
and his throne as the days of heaven.


Mary, born of the House of David, is the ultimate deliverer of that Promise in the person of her son, Jesus Christ. When, just before Jesus’ birth, Mary prays the Magnificat, we can hear echoes of Psalm 89:

And Mary said, 
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior….

He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly….

He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.


An extra song for Mary today, written in 1961 for a Firemen’s Choir

In our own times of trouble, or when a long endurance is required of us, our faith in God’s promises might waver too. Mary is a good one to talk to in such times. Her faith was refined from all need to place stipulations on God’s timing. She believed. Period.

And she wants to nurture that gift in us.


Poetry: I think Mary and psalmist would have liked this poem by Kahlil Gibran. I hope you do too. For me, it speaks of how faith deepens, as Mary’s did.

God
In the ancient days, when the first quiver of speech came to my lips,
I ascended the holy mountain and spoke unto God, saying, 
“Master, I am thy servant.  Thy hidden will 
is my law and I shall obey thee for ever more.”
 
But God made no answer, and like a mighty tempest passed away.
 
And after a thousand years I ascended the holy mountain and again
spoke unto God, saying, “Creator, I am thy creation.  
Out of clay hast thou fashioned me and to thee I owe mine all.”
 
And God made no answer, but like a thousand swift wings passed
away.
 
And after a thousand years I climbed the holy mountain 
and spoke unto God again, saying, “Father, I am thy child.  
In pity and love thou hast given me birth, 
and through love and worship I shall inherit thy kingdom.”
 
And God made no answer, and like the mist that veils the distant
hills he passed away.
 
And after a thousand years I climbed the sacred mountain 
and again spoke unto God, saying, “My God, my aim and my fulfillment; 
I am thy yesterday and thou are my tomorrow.  
I am thy root in the earth and thou art my flower in the sky, 
and together we grow before the face of the sun.”
 
Then God leaned over me, and in my ears whispered words of sweetness,
and even as the sea that enfoldeth a brook that runneth down to
her, God enfolded me.
 
And when I descended to the valleys and the plains God was there
also.

Music: Psalm 89: Forever I Will Sing the Goodness of the Lord – Brian J. Nelson; cantor David Adams