Memorial Of St. John Chrysostom

Monday, September 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 28, a prayer of nine succinct verses in which the psalmist rides a seesaw emotion.

My prayer is like that sometimes. I try to pray the way Jesus would pray — the “Our Father” type of goodness and all.

But to be honest, “Thy Will be done” and “as we forgive those who trespass” are not always easy sentiments for me. How about you?


Our psalmist seems to have some trouble too … but with points of light and redemption in the end:

O Lord, I call to you;
my rock, do not be deaf to my cry;
lest, if you do not hear me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
FEAR
Hear the voice of my prayer when I cry out to you, 
when I lift up my hands to your holy of holies.
PLEADING
Do not snatch me away with the wicked or with the evildoers,
who speak peaceably with their neighbours,
while strife is in their hearts.
JUDGEMENT
Repay them according to their deeds,
and according to the wickedness of their actions.
According to the work of their hands repay them,
and give them their just deserts.
VENGEANCE
They have no understanding of your doings,
nor of the works of your hands;
therefore you will break them down
and not build them up.
PRIDE
Blessed are you, O Lord!
For you have heard the voice of my prayer.
FAITH
O Lord, you are my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in you, and I have been helped;
therefore my heart dances for joy,
and in my song will I praise you.
TRUST
You are the strength of your people,
a safe refuge for your anointed.
SECURITY
Save your people and bless your inheritance;
shepherd them and carry them for ever.
PRAYER

What I learn from this psalm is to tell God the truth when I pray – but the real truth -the truth that we hear back from God when we listen in our prayer. And that listening should always be done in sync with the Gospel. It is as if we cup the Gospel around our prayer the way we bend an ear to the faint but longed-for sound.


Poetry: Lost – David Whyte

Stand still. 
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you 
Are not lost. 
Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.

The forest breathes. 
Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying 
Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still.
The forest knows Where you are.
You must let it find you.”

Music: The Golden Forest – Tim Janis

Psalm 8: Hymn of the Universe

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr

October 17, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 8.

O LORD, our LORD,
how glorious is your Name over all the earth!
You have exalted your majesty above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings
you have fashioned praise ….

Psalm 8:2-3

Just yesterday, I got an email from the amazingly organized Sister who manages our grounds. She wanted to alert us that there would be a small “star-gazing” event this weekend, sponsored by our school, in case we might wonder about unusual nighttime visitors.


The note took me back to my own star-gazing days, residues of which percolate from time to time, especially during meteor showers. These days I do most of my “gazing” out our kitchen window, but when I studied for my certification in Earth Sciences, I had several opportunities for “instructed” star-gazing with excellent West Chester University astronomers. In a subsequent reflection, I described one such experience like this:

There are a few places where nature offers an experience of darkness so absolute it can be terrifying.  Assateague Island lies along the barrier coast of Virginia.  On a winter night, darkness there feels complete, enveloping.  As evening lengthens, night pulls its velvet canopy from the black ocean, covering the beach in silence. The whisper of rustling sea oats along invisible dunes is the only link to a land left behind.  But slowly, like sparks rolling through dry tinder, stars burn one by one through heaven’s blanket.  By midnight, their incomparable brilliance convinces the soul that it has never been and can never be alone.


Three thousand years ago, our psalmist felt the same way:

When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars which you set in place—
What are we  that you should be mindful of us,
we human beings that you should care for us?

Psalm 8:4-5

Charles Spurgeon, revered Baptist preacher, calls this psalm “the song of the Astronomer“, as gazing at the heavens inspires the psalmist to meditate on God’s creation and humanity’s place in it.

You have made us little less than the angels,
and crowned us with glory and honor.
You have given us rule over the works of your hands,
putting all things under our feet.

Psalm 8:6-7

Pope John Paul II said this:

 …. for those who have attentive ears and open eyes, creation is like a first revelation that has its own eloquent language: it is almost another sacred book whose letters are represented by the multitude of created things present in the universe. St. John Chrysostom says: “The silence of the heavens is a voice that resounds louder than a trumpet blast: this voice cries out to our eyes and not to our ears, the greatness of Him who made them.

General Audience – January 30, 2002

And our dear Pope Francis reiterates this thought so beautifully in his epic encyclical:

At the end, we will find ourselves face to face with the infinite beauty of God, and be able to read with admiration and happiness the mystery of the universe, which with us, will share in unending plenitude.

Laudato Si’

Let’s rest in all this beauty as we pray today with Psalm 8


Music: Beautiful Universe – Tim Janis