Psalm 149: Let’s Dance Again!

Saturday after Epiphany

January 9, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 149.

Our psalm contains a brief line tucked at its center which foreshadows the entire message of the Gospel. 

Let them praise God’s name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves us,
and adorns the lowly with victory.


We will find a dancing, singing joy when we give ourselves to these truths:

  • God loves us irrevocably
  • We can fully receive this great love to the degree that we become like Christ whose image we find among the poor, lowly, and suffering.

Poetry: Dance from Rumi

Come to me, and I shall dance with you
In the temples, on the beaches, through the crowded streets
Be you man or woman, plant or animal, slave or free
I shall show you the brilliant crystal fires, shining within
I shall show you the beauty deep within your soul
I shall show the path beyond Heaven.
Only dance, and your illusions will blow in the wind
Dance, and make joyous the love around you
Dance, and your veils which hide the Light
Shall swirl in a heap at your feet.

Music: Psalm 149 – Antonín Dvořák

Psalm 149: Let’s Dance!

Thursday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

November 19, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 149 which calls the community to sing and dance because God has delivered them.

This happy, celebratory summons is set, contrastingly, between two readings that mention weeping.

Then I saw a mighty angel who proclaimed in a loud voice,
“Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?”
But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth
was able to open the scroll or to examine it.
I shed many tears because no one was found worthy
to open the scroll or to examine it.

Revelation 5:2-4

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem,
he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
“If this day you only knew what makes for peace–
but now it is hidden from your eyes.

Luke 19; 41-42

The readings leave us with a sense that there is a secret to eternal life – a secret to which only grace can open our eyes and hearts.


John writes that “the Lion of Judah” has the key:

One of the elders said to me, “Do not weep.
The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed,
enabling him to open the scroll with its seven seals.”

Revelation 5:5-6

Jesus, Uncreated Grace, is the Lion of Judah. He has incarnated the sacred key in his Life, Death, and Resurrection. For those who receive him and share his life, the door is opened, the scroll unrolled.

So what is the path to such union with Jesus? 


Our psalm contains a brief line tucked at its center which foreshadows the entire message of the Gospel. 

Let them praise God’s name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves us,
and adorns the lowly with victory.

We will find a dancing, singing joy when we give ourselves to these truths:

  • God loves us irrevocably
  • We can fully receive this great love to the degree that we become like Christ whose image we find among the poor, lowly, and suffering.

Poetry: Dance from Rumi

Come to me, and I shall dance with you
In the temples, on the beaches, through the crowded streets
Be you man or woman, plant or animal, slave or free
I shall show you the brilliant crystal fires, shining within
I shall show you the beauty deep within your soul
I shall show the path beyond Heaven.
Only dance, and your illusions will blow in the wind
Dance, and make joyous the love around you
Dance, and your veils which hide the Light
Shall swirl in a heap at your feet.

Music:  Psalm 149 – Antonín Dvořák

Psalm 150: The Last Word

Wednesday of the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time

November 18, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 150, the final chapter of the Book of Psalms.

When any of us writes or speaks an important message, we usually take pains to make sure the final comments are direct and powerful. We want our last words to make an significant impact on our audience.

I think the Book of Psalms wants to do the same thing.

So what’s the ultimate ringing word these sacred chapters leave with us?

And it’s not a gentle suggestion. The psalm charges us to SHOUT our praise! To make noise with our acclamations of God! To be absolutely cacophonous in our exaltation. We are to praise God:

  • with the blast of the trumpet,
  • with lyre and harp,
  • with timbrel and dance,
  • with strings and pipe.
  • with sounding cymbals,
  • with clanging cymbals

One might come away thinking we must be noisy in showing our love for God. But there are so many ways we “shout”, even in our silence. 

I think this morning of my Sisters at McAuley Convent, in the quiet accumulation of their elder years. There is very little noise in that beloved community. Still, everything about them shouts praise, gratitude, and faith – all without their even having to say a word.

True praise is an energy, not a sound. It is the direction of our whole being toward the God Who gives us life. It is the gathering of everything about our existence and lifting it all toward God in confidence of its transformation. 

It is the quiet sound of our every breath streaming “Alleluias” over all Creation. It is the final word of our being after everything else is said.

Let everything that has breath
praise the LORD! Alleluia


Poetry: Praising Manners by Rumi

We should ask God
To help us toward manners. Inner gifts
Do not find their way
To creatures without just respect.
If a man or woman flails about, they not only
Destroy their own house,
They incinerate the whole world.
Your depression is connected to your insolence
And your refusal to praise. If a man or woman is
On the path, and refuses to praise — that man or woman
Steals from others every day — in fact is a shoplifter!
The sun became full of light when it got hold of itself.
Angels began shining when they achieved discipline.
The sun goes out whenever the cloud of not-praising comes near.
The moment that foolish angel felt insolent, he heard the door close.

Music: J.S. Bach: Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV. 225

“Singet!”
Bach’s motet springs to life with the insistent repetition of this word, bouncing between two choirs. It’s a joyful and dazzlingly virtuosic celebration of the human voice, culminating in a mighty four-voice fugue.
This motet was performed for Mozart when he visited Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church in 1789. (Bach was music director at the church from 1723 until his death in 1750). Johann Friedrich Doles, a student of Bach who directed the performance wrote,
As soon as the choir had sung a few bars, Mozart started; after a few more he exclaimed: ‘What is that?’ And now his whole soul seemed to be centered in his ears. When the song was ended, he cried out with delight: ‘Now, here is something one can learn from!’( taken from
https://thelistenersclub.com/2019/10/11/joyful-sounds-of-praise-five-musical-settings-of-psalm-150/ )

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