Autumn Equinox

Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

September 22, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as we mark the Autumn Equinox, we pray with a verse from our Responsorial Psalm:

Bless the Lord, all you chosen ones,
and may all of you praise God’s majesty.
Celebrate days of gladness, 
give God praise.

Tobit 13: 7-8
"EQUINOX"
- the beautiful heft of the word!
Four malleable vowels and
two steely consonants,
softened slightly by a third.
On the fulcrum of a middle "i",
"equ" pushes for balance
against the pressure of "nox",
whose mass bears 
winter's weighted threat.

However we may read the word “equinox”, it spells “change“. Trees put away their lithesome summer greens, like sleeveless tops folded on September’s shelf. Slowly, they wrap themselves within autumn’s deep gold and umber sweaters, trimmed in warm magenta.

We too return to the enterprise of warmth, of fueling fires, of lighting lamps. What nature gave, and we heedlessly received in bright July, is spent. Some chilled memory of solstice motivates us to prepare.


Our hearts too, in synch or out with seasons, cycle through such changes. This inner rhythm of need and abundance is the music through which the Holy Spirit shapes our understanding of God. As in all graceful dances, there must be a yielding. There must be abandon to the mystery into which each passing step dissolves.

God hums the infinite song in our souls, if we will listen. It is deeper than any single note of joy or sorrow. It is the fluid under-beat of Love which recreates and sustains us in every shifting moment of our lives. We belong to it as the waves belong to the Sea, as the leaves belong to the Seasons.


In Philadelphia, it is a glorious day – a perfect vestibule to a season of amazing beauty.  Nature prepares to shed the showy accretions of summer in a multi-colored ritual of leave-taking. It is time to return to the essentials – back to the branch, back to the buried root, back to the bare, sturdy reality that will anchor us in the coming winter.

On each of the coming days, some new layer of green will ignite in a blaze of scarlet or gold then turn out its light for a long winter’s sleep. Nature knows when things are finished.  It knows when it has had enough.  It knows its need for a season of emptying, for a clearing of the clutter, for the deep hibernation of its spirit.


But we humans often ignore the need for an “autumning” of our spirits.  We try to live every moment in the high energy of summer – producing, moving, anticipating, and stuffing our lives with abundance.  

But simplicity, solitude and clarity are necessary for our spirit to renew itself.  Autumn is the perfect time to prayerfully examine the harvest of our lives – reaping the essentials and sifting out the superfluous. In the quiet shade of a crimson maple tree, we may discover what we truly love, deeply believe and really need to be fully happy.

Take time on these crystal days to ask yourself what is really essential in your life.  Nurture those things with attention and care.  Don’t take them for granted.  After the flare of the summer has passed, these are the things that will sustain you: a strong faith, a faithful love and a loving compassion. Tend them in this season of harvest.

Music: Autumn from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi

Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with the final prayer of Tobit for our Responsorial Psalm.

The Church has  followed Tobit’s story for a little over a week. We have seen a man who, even through his dramatic ups and downs, remains a steadfast believer. 

For Tobit, the exigencies of his life do not dictate the intensity of his faith. Rather, that intense faith fuels his response to life.

The Lord scourges and then has mercy;
    casts down to the depths of the nether world,
    and brings up from the great abyss.
No one can escape the Lord’s hand.
So now consider what the Lord has done for you,
    and give praise with full voice.
Bless the Lord of righteousness,
    and exalt the King of ages.

Tobit 13: 2,6

Tobit realized that his faith stood as a sign to others. He preached by his attitude in life, not so much by his words:

In the land of my exile I praise him
    and show his power and majesty to a sinful nation.

Tobit 13:7

Written from a place of exile, the Book of Tobit gives us good advice to sustain faith in our own small “exiles”. Always bless and praise God. Find the points of light and joy. Cling to and celebrate them.

Bless the Lord, all you his chosen ones,
    and may all of you praise his majesty.
Celebrate days of gladness, and give the Lord praise.

Tobit 13:8

Tobit is a make-believe person. But our Gospel shows us a real woman who embodies the simple, steadfast faith which the Book of Tobit preaches. She also preached with her actions rather than her words.

Although she had little, she lived out of her abundance not her scarcity. That abundance was fired by the God she believed in and trusted, as was the faith of apocryphal Tobit.

As we pray with Tobit and the widow, we might share with them our own faith, both its strengths and it weaknesses, asking to draw inspiration and courage from their stories.


Poetry: This Place of Abundance – Catherine of Siena
~ from Love Poems from God – Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West
by Daniel Ladinsky

We know nothing until we know everything.
    I have no object to defend
    for all is of equal value
    to me.

I cannot lose anything in this
place of abundance
I found.

    If something my heart cherishes
    is taken away,
    I just say, “Lord, what
    happened?”

And a hundred more
appear.

Music: Live Like You’re Loved – Hawk Nelson

Friday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

June 4, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 146, a song of uninhibited delight and thanksgiving to God.

Coming after our reading from Tobit, we see just what such utter delight looks like.

That “angelic fish gall” re-lit the world for Tobit in a way he had never imagined before!


Sometimes we too have to experience a profound blindness before we really begin to see rightly. Let’s be honest: haven’t we all been blind a few times in our lives.

  • Blessings unrecognized
  • Friendships taken for granted
  • Kindnesses overlooked
  • People misjudged 
  • Needs ignored
  • Expectations unsurrendered 
  • Biases unexamined
  • Opportunities bypassed
  • Perhaps even responsibilities shirked

Praying with Psalm 146, we might take note of those whom the Lord favors:

the oppressed, the hungry. captives, those who are bowed down; 
the just, strangers, orphans and widows

These favored of God share a common trait – a vulnerability learned through suffering.


None of us seeks suffering in our lives. But we all will encounter it personally at least to some degree. Further, all in the community of faith are called to share the sufferings of others by our works of mercy.

In both instances, can we allow suffering to let us see the world differently, to lift the scales of any blindness in our hearts? Because here is the beautiful mystery: the God of Mercy is with us in our lights and shadows — and is always Light.

Praise the LORD, O my soul;
    I will praise the LORD all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God while I live. 

Psalm 146:1

Poetry: God Pours Light – Hafiz

God
pours light
into every cup,
quenching darkness.
The proudly pious
stuff their cups with parchment
and critique the taste of ink
while God pours light
and the trees lift their limbs
without worry of redemption,
every blossom a chalice.
May I seduce those withered souls
with words that wet their parched lips
as light
pours like rain
into every empty cup
set adrift on the Infinite Ocean.


Music: Amazing Grace – Leo Rojas

Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 112, a hymn deeply rooted in the biblical concept of law and justice.

Blessed the one who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in God’s commands.
That person’s posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.

Psalm 112:1-2

In our first reading, as Tobit and Anna share a familiar type of marital spat, we see that there are many perspectives from which one can approach the concept of justice. Anna knows her actions to be just from experience. Tobit analyzes the situation from judgement and law.

But in our Gospel, the wily Pharisees try to manipulate the law in order to ensnare Jesus:

Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion.
You do not regard a person’s status
but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?

Mark 12:14

Jesus, who is the essence of Truth, is not trapped. After examining the coin which was given him:

Jesus said to them,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.
They were utterly amazed at him.”

Mark 12:15

Our psalm tells us that understanding God’s law is grounded in the transparency of our own truth:

The just one’s heart is firm, 
trusting in the LORD.
It is steadfast and fearless.
From its abundant confidence, 
such a heart lavishly gives to the poor;
with a generosity that shall endure forever,
standing firm to glorify God.

Psalm 112: 7-9

Our readings give us a lot to think about. And if nothing else, a delightful story from Tobit. 🤗


Poetry: Truth by Rumi

The truth was a mirror 
in the hands of God. 
It fell, 
and broke into pieces. 
Everybody took a piece of it, 
and they looked at it 
and thought they had the truth.


Music: The Voice of Truth – Casting Crowns