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: 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.)

Psalm 63: The Longing

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 30, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the magnificent Psalm 63 which captures the soul’s deep longing for God.

It is a longing that, once released in the heart, must be satisfied.


In our first reading, Jeremiah experiences it akin to an addiction, the power of it consuming his life:

I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

Jeremiah 20:9

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, says not to resist the longing, but to let ourselves be consumed by it like a sacrificial offering:

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. 

Romans 12:1

Jesus, in our Gospel, is the One who surrenders himself fully to that holy longing. He calls us to imitate him:

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.


These are profound readings calling us a place that words cannot describe, a place where the Cross intersects with the truth of our lives. May we have the grace to hear and believe.


Poetry: The Longing – Rumi

There is a candle in your heart,
ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul,
ready to be filled.

You feel it, don't you?
You feel the separation
from the Beloved.

Invite Love to quench you,
embrace the fire.

Remind those who tell you otherwise that 
Love
comes to you of its own accord, 
and the longing for it cannot be learned in any school.

Music: The Prayer – Montserrat Cabalé

Psalm 112: Key to Blessedness

Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

August 10, 2020


“Beatus Vir” from a 9th Century Psalter

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 112, a poetic description of what “holiness-in-action” looks like. The psalm’s tone is reminiscent of the beloved passage from Proverbs 31,  “Who shall find a valiant woman…” Only this passage says, “Blessed is the man… Beatus vir”.

Both these passages give us a glimpse into the righteousness expected of one who is in covenant with God. That person reflects the Divine Righteousness of God in both word and deed.

The “righteousness of God” comes down to concrete actions
that intend generous rehabilitation of those without resources.
The Psalms sing of these concrete acts.

Walter Brueggemann

A slow reading of the psalm is a good prayer today, asking God to help us open our hearts and choices to this graceful righteousness.  The heavily masculine translation can be a little off-putting for the women among us though. So you might like to use this translation as I did.


Happy are those who revere God 
    and delight in doing his will. 
Their children will be greatly honored 
    and their grandchildren greatly blessed. 
Abundance will fill their houses
     as gratitude fills their hearts. 
They conduct their affairs with justice; 
    their integrity cannot be shaken. 
They give of themselves to the poor 
    and share their wealth with the needy. 
They are patient, cheerful, compassionate, 
    generous, impeccably fair. 
They harbor no regrets for the past 
    and no worries about the future. 
Their minds are centered in God,
    and they trust him with all their hearts.
They honor themselves, and are honored; 
    they walk with their heads held high. 
Their rising is like the sunrise, 
    and their light fills heaven and earth. 
Their righteousness shines on all people; 
    their good works endure forever.
from A Book of Psalms: Selections Adapted from the Hebrew by Stephen Mitchell

Poetry: from Rumi

Your acts of kindness
are iridescent wings
of divine love
which linger and continue
to uplift others
long after your sharing.


Music:  Beatus Vir – Antonio Vivaldi

Beatus vir qui timet Dominum,
In mandatis ejus volet nimis.
Blessed the man who fears the Lord,
in his commandments he delights greatly.

Dare to Follow the Way

Memorial of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Click here for readings

Today, in Mercy, we celebrate St. Thérèse, popularly venerated as The Little Flower. She propagated a spirituality that has become known as “The Little Way”. 


Rev. John F. Russell, O.Carm. describes the Little Way like this:
The Little Way is an image that tries to capture St. Thérèse’s understanding of being a disciple of Jesus Christ, of seeking holiness of life in the ordinary and the everyday.
Saint Therese based her “little way” on two fundamental convictions: 

  • God shows love by mercy and forgiveness
  • She could not be perfect in following the Lord. 

Both our readings today also talk about a “way”.
Zechariah has a vision of all nations following the way to a New Jerusalem. 

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
In those days ten men of every nationality,
speaking different tongues, shall take hold,

yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say,
“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Dare

In our Gospel, Jesus begins his way on his final journey. He knows now that the way will be through suffering and death yet, He dared…

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem…

Grace makes a way in our lives too. As with Thérèse, the ancient Jews, and Jesus, our particular way will unfold before us through prayer and a listening heart. It is the way of love that leads away from selfishness to God and God-in-Others.

Rumi’s poem captures it:

The way of love is not
a subtle argument. 

The door there
is devastation. 

Birds make great sky-circles
of their freedom.
How do they learn it?

They fall, and falling,
they’re given wings.

(In a later post today, I will share a poem by Amy Lowell which I feel could describe “the journey “ — Christ’s, mine, yours… and perhaps offer further food for prayer.)

Today, we pray for the courage and freedom to follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Music: from the musical Godspell – By My Side

The song conveys the desire of Jesus’s disciples, all but Judas, to accompany him on his Way. They were not perfect – but they dared. As we consider our lives, have we dared? What “pebbles” have we willingly “put in our shoes” to follow Jesus?

 

 

Radical Joy

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Ignatius
by Francisco de Zubarán (1598–1664)

July 31, 2019

Click here for readings


Today, in Mercy, Exodus tells us:

Exodus34_29 Radiant

Obviously, I haven’t met Moses personally. 😂 But I have met many wonderful human beings who have reflected a similar radiance.

It is a mirrored glory that comes from friendship with God. 

It glows in the innocence of children and the layered wisdom of the elderly. It blazes in those seeking social justice and in those silently, unwaveringly praying for it. It lights the hope of the living and the dying. It is that mysterious, unquenchable candle shining in both joy and sorrow. Its other holy names are Faith, Hope and Love.

 No one need tell us. We know when we are in the presence of such Light. It needs no words.

Rumi radiant

Today, let’s pray for the blessing of this Radiance all over our shadowed world. Let’s pray for it to shine within us.

Music: Radiant God – Hannah Ford