Psalm 146: Praise God with Your Life!

Memorial of Saint Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr

November 12, 2020

from A Book of Psalms by Stephen Mitchell

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 146, a call to praise God. The call is supported by the particular verses of today’s reading. We should praise God, the psalmist says, because God:

  • secures justice for the oppressed
  • gives food to the hungry
  • sets captives free
  • gives sight to the blind
  • raises up the humble
  • loves the just
  • protects strangers
  • sustains fatherless and the widow
  • thwarts the way of the wicked

Reading this elaborate hymn of praise makes one think the Lord was pretty busy in ancient Israel. Were all these good things happening for otherwise unfortunate people?

For me, this psalm, rather than being a retrospective list of God’s generous accomplishments, is a call to realize the way God wants things to be. Within that call is another deeper call – to become an agent for God’s Will for good. In other words, God acts through us to make God’s mercy real in the world through the ways the psalm describes.


The loving will of God is always turning the world toward good. But sometimes our lack of faith inhibits our insight into that holy turning. Sometimes we see only the surface of life and get caught in its tangles.

Prayer is the ointment that releases our inner vision to find God in all things, either calling us to foster good or to thwart evil, as our psalm describes. As we cooperate with this call, God’s everlasting creative action opens before us and we see the world, and our role in it, with new eyes.

Spoken Psalm::

Psalm 90: A Thousand Years

Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

September 26, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 90. My daily readers may have noticed that I skipped to this psalm yesterday by mistake. Some mistakes are good ones, because this profound psalm about “a thousand years” deserves at least two days attention!😉


Today, Psalm 90 is set between two “downer” readings. The unknown author of Ecclesiastes is a phenomenal poet but definitely not a cheerleader. Telling the young man to “put away trouble from your presence, though the dawn of youth is fleeting…

The writer encourages the young man to enjoy life…

Before the silver cord is snapped
and the golden bowl is broken,
And the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the broken pulley falls into the well,
And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.


As doleful as these images are, they rang a bell with me as I prayed. The long siege of this pandemic, its frightful toll in human life, the inexplicable resistance to controlling it, surely seem as doleful. Indeed, as Psalm 90 tells us

You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.


But what else,
what more important encouragement of hope,
does Psalm 90 offer us? 

I think this following passage is unbeatable, especially as transliterated by Stephen Mitchell in his book, A Book of Psalms.

Teach us how short our time is; 
let us know it in the depths of our souls. 
Show us that all things are transient, 
as insubstantial as dreams, 
and that after heaven and earth have vanished, 
there is only you.

Fill us in the morning with your wisdom; 
shine through us all our lives. 
Let our hearts soon grow transparent 
in the radiance of your love.

Show us how precious each day is; 
teach us to be fully here. 
And let the work of our hands prosper, 
for our little while.


Poetry: God by Khalil Gibran

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 slave. 
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 mercy 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, he enfolded me.
And when I descended to the valleys and the plains God was there also.

Music: Psalm 90 by Charles Ives, performed by the Stamford Choir 

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