Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord

May 13, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 47, one of seven enthronement psalms which celebrate a “coronation” of God.

All you peoples, clap your hands,
    shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
    is the great king over all the earth.

Psalm 47: 1

Used for the feast of the Ascension, the point of the psalm is much more than an exercise of pageantry. It is an act of faith and reverence to God, the Loving Omnipotence who chose to redeem us by assuming our humanity.

It is a confirmation that we believers do see the Supreme Being in the human Jesus we have come to love. This is what Paul prays for the Ephesians in our second reading:

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might,
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1:18-21

The Great Commission, found in today’s Gospel, is the true gift of the Ascension.

Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:15

Jesus tells us that his time on earth is complete. The lesson of Love has been taught. We now are given the power to continue the message for all time. 

Jesus promises that our faith will:


overcome evil
-create new possibilities to preach the Gospel
-show courage against antagonism
-resist suppression
-heal and strengthen others to believe

These signs will accompany those who believe:

-in my name they will drive out demons,
-they will speak new languages.
-They will pick up serpents with their hands,
-drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.


If we believe and open our hearts to this message, indeed, it is a day for trumpet blasts! Here are a few from one of my favorite triumphal pieces! If the Apostles had only had trumpets, they might have played something like this for the Lord as He ascended 🙂

Poetry: Ascension Sonnet – Malcolm Guite

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.

We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centred now, and sings,

Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we our selves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,

His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed.

Music: Psalm 47 – Rory Cooney

Psalm 96: The Lord’s Triumphant Coming

Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs

November 24, 2020


Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, a royal psalm praising God as the King of all Creation.

The psalm’s first verses, not included in today’s passage, call us to sing and dance before the King.

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.

Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his marvelous deeds.

Psalm 96: 1-3

We might pray this psalm with deep consciousness of our place in Creation, in the divine handiwork of this generous King. We have been given life alongside a panoply of beautiful creatures in order that we might, together, sing God’s song.

We sing in a choir of evening stars and morning sunrises, beside choristers of great redwoods and lofty mountains. We join in the prayerful music of the rainbow of animal and human voices rising to praise God.

A dear friend posted this yesterday. I thought it was delightful.

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.

Psalm 96: 11-12

As we continue to draw down the curtain on the final days of this liturgical year, the daily readings draw our attention to the end of time – when all God’s created munificence will be finally gathered to the Eternal Presence.

Once, on a retreat with the Wernersville Jesuits, I went to their recreation room and played a 33 1⁄3 rpm record (yes, it was that long ago!). It was Wagner’s triumphant Ride of the Valkyries. You can listen to the music by clicking below.

The music engaged my spirit and no words were needed for my prayer. I imagined a Glorious Light rising over time’s darkness, a rider on the Dawn’s steed. 

I pictured us all coming to that Light in waves of praise, one order of creation after the other, over the hills of time and into a merciful, eternal Brilliance.

Each wave rose out of any darkness, pain, or death that might have  hindered them. They broke on to God’s merciful shore and were embraced in Light.

…. the meanest souls of history first, bowing repentant before God’s forgiveness. Then one wave after another, finally coming to the most innocent, the poor and the humble. These heroes of the Beatitudes marched triumphant, their places beside God already prepared, their faces already redeemed by God’s justice

The Lord comes to rule the earth.
to rule the world with justice 
and the peoples with constancy.

Psalm 96:13

The prayer of imagination can open the heart in a way far beyond words. It does take time to place ourselves in the quiet peace that welcomes such prayer. But I think it is so worth it. Our psalm might be inviting us to that kind of prayer today.


Reflective Reading: Prayer of Imagination for Anna the Prophetess
from Twelve Women of the Chalice – Leddy Hammock and Sue K. Riley

Now, in this moment I close my outer eyes 
and look within with my inner eyes.
I see a vision of wonder,
for I am the daughter of the vision of God,
of the tribe of the blessed ones,
a soul under grace.

I judge not by appearances.
I believe in God’s promises.
I fast from shadows and I live on light.
From my youth, I have served at the temple,
a vessel to a holy purpose.

Prayer is the temple where I dwell
Here I behold the image of the Lord.

I close my eyes and behold that image,
the eyes of the Infinite beholding me
all through the ages,
so tenderly gazing with love and compassion,
enfolding me.

Prayer is the temple where I dwell.
Here, I behold the image of the Lord.

The thoughts held in mind 
are mirrored in kind all around me,
reflecting through all that I see.

Now, I behold with inner vision
the wonders that will be in the fullness of time.
The dreams of all my days and nights
are incensed in the inner sanctum.

My thoughts of truth are flowers on the altar of light.
In the presence of the Holy of Holies,
I keep the high watch.
Gifted with the inner sight,
I see beyond the present.

I am an old, old soul, yet ageless in eternity.
Though outer eyes may seem to dim with time,
the inner eyes are crystal clear.

Though outer vision may seem obscured by time and place,
or clouded by the sorrows and the slavery of sense,
another world’s revealed so clear.
And what I see will be.

My thoughts are giving form,
And held in mind, shall reproduce in kind.
O Lord, I take a long loving look at the real.
I prophesy.

Christ is here.
I have seen the Lord, Thine image, 
and held that image to my own heart.
I am the Spirit of Imagination.
I am Anna, the prophetess, woman of power.

The Rapture

Monday, November 26, 2018

Click here for readings.

Today, in Mercy, our first reading from Revelation describes what has come to be known in modern culture as “the Rapture”. It’s a concept probably more popularized by modern fiction than by our devotion to scripture.

Rev 4_1 rapture

Maybe you are one of the  60 million readers of the “Left Behind” books by Jenkins and LaHaye. This popular series captures our fascination with “the end times”. 

The writer of Revelation is doing the same thing. This highly imaginative ancient author -adept at symbols, allegory, and poetry – writes to awake and engage us in our own salvation.

Whether or not his visions predict facts is not the point. The point is that there will come an end time to every life. When it comes to us, we want to have already become God’s familiar and beloved friend.

A second point is that this world, as we know it, is passing. We should not make our heart’s investment here. Our lasting treasure lies in God’s realm which, while present here, is often rendered invisible by our human hungers and distractions.

Revelation enjoins us to wake up, see beyond the visible, and live a life worthy of eternity. 

How? The true and simple answer is in today’s Gospel:

“When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasure
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, “I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

This blessed widow, even in her impoverished circumstances, understood where her true treasure lay. She was already counted among the sainted  “hundred and forty-four thousand”.

Music: When I read these apocalyptic passages, I like to imagine the scene by listening to compatible music. One of my favorite accompaniments is Richard Wagner: Ride of the Valkyries. Just imagine Jesus riding into our lives on these exalted melodies!