So Loved …

Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter
April 19, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we continue what we began on Monday, a long immersion in John’s Gospel which will not conclude until Pentecost.

As a guide in praying with the glorious Gospel, I am using a book from the series “A Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture”. This particular volume is “The Gospel of John” by Francis Martin and William M. Wright. These authors open their work with this beautiful introduction:

Pope St. Gregory the Great compared Scripture to
a “smooth, deep river
in which a lamb may walk
and an elephant may swim.

These words certainly apply to the Gospel of John.
Within its pages are found divine teachings
articulated with simple images such as water and light,
memorable stories composed with literary and dramatic skill,
and glimpses into the very mystery of God,
proceeding from the most profound mystical illumination.
Like the loaves and fishes multiplied by Jesus,
the Gospel of John provides a superabundance
of spiritual teaching, edification, and challenges to all its readers,
whether beginners or experienced.

Our Gospel today gives us the central point inspiring John’s entire Gospel:

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.

John 3:16

As we go deeper into our post-Easter journey, on the way to the confirmation of Pentecost, we need to keep repeating this amazing truth to ourselves …

And it helps to remind ourselves as well that “God so loved ME … that God gave God’s ALL for me.”

As we pray with John’s Gospel over the next several weeks, we will be doing the same work that the Apostles are doing in our first reading from Acts.  We will be telling the story of Love – the story of Jesus who lived, died and rose from the dead to save us.

Each little part of that story can teach us and change us.  By our choice to believe, and to act on that faith, we are transformed from darkness to Light in the power of the Resurrection.

And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.

John 3:19-21

For today, we may want to consider any darkness in our world or in ourselves that we wish to carry into God’s amazing Light and Love. There, let us lay the darkness down and pray to live the truth which John encourages us to live.

Poetry: “Truth”, said a traveller by Stephen Crane

“Truth," said a traveller,
“Is a rock, a mighty fortress;
“Often have I been to it,
“Even to its highest tower,
“From whence the world looks black.”

“Truth," said a traveller,
“Is a breath, a wind,
“A shadow, a phantom;
“Long have I pursued it,
“But never have I touched
“The hem of its garment.”

And I believed the second traveller;
For truth was to me
A breath, a wind,
A shadow, a phantom,
And never had I touched
The hem of its garment.

Music: God So Loved the World – Sir John Stainer

God so loved the world,
that He gave His only-begotten Son,
that whoso believeth in Him should not perish,
but have everlasting life.
For God sent not His Son into the world
to condemn the world;
but that the world through Him
might be saved. Amen.

Lovers or Liars

January 6, 2022
Thursday after Epiphany

I know: the title sounds like a new TV series, doesn’t it?
But it’s not. It’s a story as old as time!

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, John talks about liars. He made me really think.

Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!

When I was a kid going to weekly Saturday night confession (yes, remember a lot of us did that!) I really had to scrape to get a decent pile of sins. I mean, honestly, how much evil can one eight-year-old generate in a week?

  • But lying was always a good fallback to report on. You know the deal:
  • I told my teacher that I forgot my homework when I really hadn’t done it.
  • I told Petey Nicolo I could beat him up when I knew I couldn’t.
  • I told Chickie Schmidt I could ride a big bike like hers when I had actually just fallen on my face off a smaller one.
  • I told Sister I wasn’t smoking in the girls’ room when my very own cousin Joanie threw me under the bus!

As you can see, I was your normal childhood compulsive liar – pretending to be and do lots of things I only wished I could be or do. But that’s just part of growing up. Like most people, I got over it when I began to realize the power and necessity of growing confidently into one’s true self.

People depend on us to be who we really are, to be the real deal. The value of our work and contributions to the world hinges on this. The depth and endurance of our relationships rest on such transparency and authenticity. Even our ability to love ourselves is rooted in honest self-awareness.

So how do we deepen in that kind of truthfulness, especially in a modern culture that so often abuses it? John tells us that love is the way:

Beloved, we love God because
God first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates their brother or sister , they are liars;
for whoever does not love the one they can see
cannot love God whom they have not seen.
This is the commandment we have from God:
Whoever loves God must also love their sister and brother.

1 John 4:19-21

Friends, we live in a culture drowning in lies. Some have come to believe that unless one lies, one cannot compete. Businesses lie to sell untested or worthless commodities. Manufacturers veil the danger of their drugs, tobacco and vaping products. Politicians lie to condemn their opponents and excuse themselves. Leaders lie to justify war. And criminals lie to hide their crimes.

These liars may never even consider that their tangled lives are related to the scriptures. But every one of these deceptions is fueled by a failure in reverence and love for our sisters and brothers, by a failure in courage to be responsible for and love one another.

We lie because we think our truth is not enough.
John tells us differently.
Our awesome Truth is that we all are God’s children!
And that is not only enough–it is EVERYTHING!

Our reading closes today with these words, so critical to the rebuilding of a truthful world:

In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey the commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep the commandments.
These are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

1 John 5:2-4

Let’s pray for one another’s courage, dear Friends,
to be and demand the Truth that Love requires.

Prose: from “Man’s Universe” by Rabindranath Tagore

On the surface of our being 
we have the ever-changing phases of the individual self,
but in the depth there dwells
the Eternal Spirit of human unity beyond our direct knowledge.
It very often contradicts the trivialities of our daily life
and upsets the arrangements made for securing our personal exclusiveness
behind the walls of individual habits and superficial conventions.
It inspires in us works that are the expressions of a Universal Spirit;
it invokes unexpectedly in the midst of a self-centered life a supreme sacrifice.
At its call, we hasten to dedicate our lives to the cause of truth and beauty,
to unrewarded service of others.

Music: True Heart – Oak Ridge Boys

Often, I use a popular song for prayer, allowing its words to speak to God for me.
You might like to try it with this song. No doubt intended as a human love song, it can be a divine love song too – and it’s sure a good wake up prayer 🙂

Making money they can hide away.
They never know what they’re working for.
All they think about is making more.
And every time the world spins round
There’s a few more hearts that can’t be found
‘Cause they never had nothing to hold on to
The way that I’m holding you.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
Some people spend day and night
Trying to love everybody in sight
They never know what love is for
All they think about is keeping the score.
And every time the world spins round
There’s a few more hearts that can’t be found
‘Cause they never had nothing to hold on to
The way that I’m holding you.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
Your true heart.
No they never had nothing to hold on to
The way that I’m holding you.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.
All ever need is your true heart
Next to me when it’s cold and dark.
All I need to keep from falling apart
Is the beat of your true heart.

Psalm 19: What Is Truth?

Saturday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 19, a hymn to the beauty of God’s Law.

The law of the LORD is perfect,
    refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
   giving wisdom to the simple.

Psalm 19: 8

Placed as it is in today’s liturgy, the psalm brings added emphasis to our exquisite first reading from Hebrews:

The Word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit,
joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.

Hebrews 4: 12


These themes shout out to us from today’s readings. And they need to shout in order to be heard above the clamor of a culture that has so enfeebled “truth” that it can barely speak.

At the electoral confirmation hearings, after the Capitol insurrection, Mitt Romney bravely said, “The best way we could show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth”.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a novel idea in our fallacious political culture.

Praying Psalm 19 challenges me to recognize my role in reclaiming a mutually truthful, respectful, and reverently attentive society. It also summons me to demand the same from my political and religious leaders.

Poetry: two poems today

truth - Gwendolyn Brooks
And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?
Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?
Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Propitious haze?
Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.
The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.

And this one from a Franciscan friend and revered mentor in social justice – Marie Lucey, OSF

A Justice- Seeker’s Journey
In high school art class—and in life--
I stayed within the lines.
“Timid soul,” the teacher branded me.
In English class I stood—green girl
in more ways than uniform--
to argue with the wiser nun
that men were more intelligent than women.
(Forgive me, God, and sisters!)

How did I get from there—a lifetime ago--
to here?
Over time layers of knowing peeled away,
core truths revealed.
Cries of people suffering—oppression,
injustice, human cruelty,
and my own dark nights,
insisted that I stand up, speak up, act up,
kneel down, reach out, reach in,
march, be cuffed and fined,
and even jailed just once.
Neither brave nor timid
I try to follow Jesus
who walked outside the lines.

Music: The Trouble with Truth – Joan Baez

Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s always the same old thing
So hard to forget, so impossible for me to change
Every time I try to fight it
I know I’ll be left to blame.

Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s always the same old thing
And the trouble with the truth
Is it’s just what I need to hear
Ringing so right, deep down inside my ear.

And it’s everything I want
And it’s everything I fear
Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it’s just what I need to hear

It had ruined the taste of the sweetest lies
Burned through my best alibis
Every sin that I deny
Keeps hanging round my door
Oh the trouble with the truth
Is it always begs for more

That’s the trouble, trouble with the truth
That’s the trouble, trouble with the truth
And the trouble with the truth
Is it just won’t let me rest
I run and hide, but there’s always another test
And I know that it won’t let me be
‘Till I’ve given it my best
The trouble with the truth
Is it just won’t let me rest

The Good, The True and The Beautiful

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

June 16, 2019

Click here for readings


Today, in Mercy, we celebrate the feast of the Blessed Trinity, a mystery of our faith beyond full human comprehension. Clearly realizing this, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist religion said this:

Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man,
and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.

Still, as we pray, we have some limited conceptualization of this Divine Mystery. We reshape it into human terms we can relate to:

Father, Son, Spirit
Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier

These give us some insight into the heart of the Triune God, but only from the limits of our human perspective. It is a mystery so infinite that even in heaven we may not plumb its depths.

Many theologians and philosophers have tried to stretch our perspectives. The great Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar writes:

The One, the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, these are
what we call the transcendental attributes of Being,
because they surpass all the limits of essences
and are coextensive with Being.

It may be helpful in our prayer to think of the Trinity in these terms- The Good, The True, and the Beautiful. These concepts, while we can experience them clearly in an individual or an object, far surpass that one particular presence or circumstance.

So it is with the nature of the Trinity. We perceive it simply in glimpses. Though Its totality far surpasses our comprehension, perhaps these glimpses are enough:
C.S. Lewis puts it this way:

Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun
which you could never get from reading books on astronomy.
These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’
in the woods of our experience.

What does all this mean in our daily spirituality? How can we find a Trinitarian spirituality in our daily encounter with God? How can we find the “patches of Godlight”?

Pope Francis brings it down to our experience of family:

All of the love that God has in Himself,
all the beauty that God has in Himself,
all the truth that God has in Himself,
He gives to the family.

So, in the sincere love – given and received – of a family or community, we find the reflection of this immense mystery.

And St. Catherine of Siena confidently prays about this truth in this way:

You, Eternal Trinity, are my Creator,
and I am the work of Your hands,
and I know through the new creation
which You have given me in the blood of Your Son,
that You are enamored of the beauty of Your workmanship.

Music: Amazing Love – Billy Martin, Peggy Dequesnel, Steve Hall

Truth on Friday 13th

Friday, July 13, 2018


Today, in Mercy, we pray with the word “Truth”. The word appears 137 times in the Bible. God clearly has something to tell us about it!


A truth theme runs through today’s readings like a magnetic thread, drawing us to deeper self-understanding. Friday the 13th is a good day for that, don’t you think – a day fraught with superstitions and falsehoods?

When I was a teenager, my parents decided to wallpaper our living room. Dad, a master craftsman at just about any DIY project, had been physically incapacitated by several heart attacks. So, while he was the architect, I was the contractor for this home project.

Dad was an exact yet patient teacher. I learned how to cut, paste and match seams. I absorbed the craftsperson’s essential mantra: measure twice, cut once. Even the mysteries and miracles of Dad’s old, treasured toolbox were opened to me.

One morning, Dad said we had to “true up” a wall and that we were going to “drop a plumb line”. It was Greek to me. But he explained that no building is perfectly level. If we didn’t begin our papering from a leveled line, we would end up feeling like our living room was a tilted funhouse. 

Don’t you sometimes feel like our world is that funhouse? But it isn’t really very much fun, is it? We live in a time when information and communication are at our fingertips. Yet, we are confused by half-truths and distorted facts. We are assailed with propaganda and cyber-manipulation. We are fed a diet of constant cabled lies AND we consume them to satisfy our biases. Even in our personal lives, we may be undercut by false friends and masquerading enemies. Like Pontius Pilate, we are left with the question, “Truth! What is “Truth”?

Today’s readings drop a plumb line into that skewed world. 

  • Hosea tells us, “Straight are the paths of the Lord; in them the just walk.” 
  • Our Psalm implores God to create in us a true heart. 
  • Our Gospel tells us that, even in the midst of deceit, that true heart will be guided by the Holy Spirit.

On this Friday the 13th, we can start by truing up our own spirits. Let’s pray for the grace today to be true friends – not fair weather; true patriots – not nationalists; true believers – not Pharisees. 

Behold, you are pleased with sincerity of heart,
and in my inmost being you teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me of sin with hyssop, that I may be purified;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
(from today’s Psalm)

Music: Change My Heart, O God! – Maranatha Music

A Sacrifice of Praise

Monday, July 2, 2018


sacrifice of praise

Today, in Mercy,  our readings are harsh. We don’t want to think about our sinfulness, do we? We’re doing the best we can. Right?

Well, maybe not. 

Our Old Testament brethren thought they were doing fine, too. But today’s reading from Amos lashes out at the societal sins of Israel: slavery, prostitution, systemic oppression of the poor, obstinate immorality, and idolatry. Beloved Israel – the nation that God had delivered from Egypt – had lost its way! 

The prophet Amos demands that the people look in a mirror to see what they have become. He tells them that they are not doing OK, that they are a selfish mess, that they face the crushing wrath of God!

Today’s psalm reinforces the dire warning:

~  You use religion to justify your misdeeds
~  You deal with thieves and adulterers
~  You lie and provoke violence by your words
~  You slander and spread rumors in order to keep power over others
Remember this, you who never think of God!

Sounds kind of familiar, maybe? Describes our 21st century reality too, doesn’t it? 

Many of us read these passages and think, “Thank God I’m not doing any of this terrible stuff!” But that’s not enough. What we must ask ourselves is how we passively contribute to any of these societal sins by a myopic faith, plastic morality, prejudiced politics, and unexamined cultural choices. 

Do we approve, or at least stay silent, when religion is used to ostracize people? When political power crushes the rights of those we disagree with? When our entertainment relies on violence and dehumanization of people? 

It is painful and difficult to do this deep examination of conscience. We might all find ourselves complicit, in some way, with the evils we hate and fear. 

Let the closing words of today’s psalm encourage us:

“Consider this, you who forget God,
lest I rend you and there be no one to rescue you.
The one who offers a sacrifice of praise glorifies me;
and to the one that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God.”

Music: Sacrifice of Praise ~ Alvin Slaughter

Lord I lift a song of worship
For Your glory and Your grace
Let my heart reveal all my words fail to say
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise

On the mountain in the valley
As I wait in my secret place
I will trust trust in the name of the Lord
Now receive this sacrifice of praise
Now receive this sacrifice of praise

You’re my shield. You’re my shelter
From the storm and from the rain
Cover me beneath the shadow of Your wings
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise

Hallelujah hallelujah
Hallelujah to Your name

For all You’ve done
You are and evermore will be
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise
Lord receive this sacrifice of praise

The Tangled Web

Saturday, June 16, 2018


Why do we lie? It gets us so mixed up!

I vividly remember a quotation painted along the chalkboard border of my 6th grade classroom. It is from Sir Walter Scott’s poem Marmion:

“O what a tangled web we weave
when first we practice to deceive.”

Perhaps the quote impressed me so much because I was entangled in a juvenile drama over smoking in the girls’ bathroom. Some supposed friend had reported two of us to the principal, a tiny nun who kept an unused  (but nonetheless threatening) cat-o-nine tails in her desk drawer. When confronted, what was there to do but lie?

Mt 5_37 yes_no

But, oh the complexity of it! Would my partner in crime tell the same story? Would any slight discrepancy render us convicted? Would she instead take the part of the informant? Would my smoker parents be brought in as investigators of the behavior they had inspired? Where would the whole quagmire end!

Wouldn’t it have been so much simpler to just tell the truth? So why do we lie? Why do we swear to what is not true? Why do we boast of things we cannot claim? This is the same challenge Jesus puts to his followers in our Gospel passage.

In my young case, as in many others, we lie because our behavior has fractured us from the image of who we are expected to be. We want to be respected, loved, powerful and right. These are conditions that should be earned by the integrity of our behavior. But when our actions cheat, we often lie, pretend, avoid, distract or otherwise compromise the truth.

Our world is full of this kind of lying. Our politics are crippled with it; our leaders unashamedly expert at it. Our culture is so poisoned with a lack integrity, that it seeps into our own relationships and choices almost unnoticed. Lying becomes normalized.

And the situation is not new. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is warning his disciples to avoid just such corruption.

A remedy? Here’s what Jesus says:

“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the Evil One.”

It sounds simple enough. But it requires the hard work of prayerful self-examination, loving mutual correction, forgiveness (even of ourselves), and a good old “firm purpose of amendment”. (Remember that one from the Act of Contrition?)

It was a heck of a lesson I was taught in sixth grade – and, like most great lessons – it wasn’t in any textbook! I only hope I learned it somewhat well.

Music: Tell the Truth ~ Eric Clapton (Get ready to jam! Lyrics below.)

Tell the truth.
Tell me who’s been fooling you?
Tell the truth.
Who’s been fooling who?

There you sit there, looking so cool
While the whole show is passing you by.
You better come to terms with your fellow men soon, cause
The whole world is shaking now. Can’t you feel it?
A new dawn is breaking now. Can’t you see it?

Tell the truth.
Tell me who’s been fooling you?
Tell the truth.
Who’s been fooling who?

It doesn’t matter just who you are,
Or where you’re going or been.
Open your eyes and look into your heart.

The whole world is shaking now. Can’t you feel it?
A new dawn is breaking now. Can’t you see it?
I said see it, yeah, can’t you see it?
Can’t you see it, yeah, can’t you see it?
I can see it, yeah.

Tell the truth.
Tell me who’s been fooling you?
Tell the truth.
Who’s been fooling who?

Hear what I say, ’cause every word is true.
You know I wouldn’t tell you no lies.
Your time’s coming, gonna be soon, boy.
It doesn’t matter just who you are,
Or where you’re going or been.
Open your eyes and look into your heart.

Songwriters: Bobby Whitlock / Eric Patrick Clapton / Robert S. WhitlockTell the Truth lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Music Sales Corporation

Let Your “Yes” Be “Yes!”

Friday, May 25, 2018


Today, in Mercy, we once again are faced with “tough talk” readings. James is simply that kind of preacher. And, in the Gospel, Jesus takes on the gnarly topic of adultery. So it’s not going to be sweet inspiration today!

What both readings have in common is the quintessential call to integrity at the core of committed Christian life. Our word, given in compassion and mercy, should be our bond. Our loving care for ourselves and all Creation should be trustworthy and persevering. For a person of faith, “fake news” and “alternative facts” are simply code for the deceitful avoidance of our duty to love one another.

We should not allow deceit, indifference, pretense or abuse to ever adulterate our efforts to love. Respect for ourselves and for other human beings requires that we say “Yes” and “No” honestly. Our reverence for God demands that we offer the same loving veracity to God.

The covenant of marriage, or of religious profession, places this obligation in a particularly bright light. When we give ourselves in commitment to another, and receive their commitment in return, we imitate the Blessed Trinity who exist in the unity of selfless, creative love. This “Yes”or “I do” is tied to our very identity as a person capable of living in the mutuality of love as God does.

James and Jesus tell us today to take every care to treasure and protect such precious commitments by the deep integrity of our hearts.

Holy Trinity Icon by Andrej Rublëv, an Eastern Orthodox monk, considered to be one of the greatest medieval Russian painters of Orthodox icons and frescos.

Music: Russian Orthodox Chant ~ Srtensky Monastery Choir

I Greet the Holy within You

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Today, in Mercy, in our reading from Acts, Paul continues his prayer for those who will safeguard and carry the faith into the future. In the Gospel, Jesus does the same thing. Both Jesus and Paul talk about the “consecration“ of those they are praying for.

Consecration is the act of making something sacred – setting it apart in God. Each one of us, by our Baptism, has been so consecrated. Jesus tells us that “the world” (read: the influences of greed, power, and self-absorption) will challenge what is sacred in us. These influences will fight against the Truth that we, and every other creature, are holy because Christ died for us.

On occasion, at very special liturgies, the celebrant will venerate the altar and the congregation with incense from a thurible. At funeral liturgies, the body of our loved one is so venerated. These acts recognize the holiness within us. In Hindu culture, the greeting, “Namaste” captures this understanding because it literally means, “I greet the Holy in you.” I was deeply moved to learn this word, many years ago, from one of our missionary Sisters returning from India.

Today’s readings encourage us to reflect on this question: Is my life an act of veneration to the sacred within me and everyone I meet?

Acts 20_32

Song: Holy Now by Peter Mayer

Can Love Survive Without Truth?

Monday, April 16, 2018: Today, in Mercy, we meet Stephen, proto-martyr of the Christian faith. Like Jesus, Stephen is persecuted for his goodness. Like Jesus, Stephen had false witnesses presented against him. How can Love survive in the absence of Truth? And yet, as today’s Gospel assures is, it does. We live in a time that has forgotten the essence and value of truthfulness. We live in a world where some people’s lives are a lie – a pretense of who they truly are as children of God. But our faith calls us to truth, mercy, justice and commitment to Christ’s teachings. May we be inspired by the witness of Stephen and his companions to tell the truth, be the truth, call for truth in others.