Alleluia: Wonderful Signs

Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 19, 2022

Today’s Readings 

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071922.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse reiterates that the love of God is a mutual exchange. God loves us first. But God blossoms in us to the degree that we respond to God’s Word.

Alleluia, alleluia.
If you love me
you will keep my Word,
and my Father will love you
and we will come to you.


Our first reading demonstrates, with beautiful images, the longing of Micah’s community for this kind of relationship:

Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
That dwells apart in a woodland,
in the midst of Carmel.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,
as in the days of old;
As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,
show us wonderful signs.

Micah 7:14-15

Show us wonderful signs! 

Micah 7:15

It’s a prayer that we can all say at times in our lives. We long to see where and how God is present in our sometimes chaotic world. We want God to wave a sacred wand over our pain, confusion, loss, anger, loneliness and a thousand other burdens. Perhaps we want God to say, “Look! It’s only Me hiding in the corners of your life!”

Our Alleluia Verse says that if we live in God’s Word those signs of Presence will become apparent to us. 

They are there – woven through our everyday experiences. It is our alignment to the Word, nurtured by prayer and good works, that will reveal them to us.


Prose: Thich Nhat Hanh, from “The Sun My Heart”

There is no phenomenon in the universe 
that does not intimately concern us, 
from a pebble resting at the bottom of the ocean, 
to the movement of a galaxy millions of light years away.

Music: Diamonds in Rain – Michael Hoppè

Hoppè dedicated this piece of music to the poet Edward Thomas who, like all good poets, could see diamonds hidden in the rain – signs of wonder and grace. One of ET’s poems in below for your enjoyment.

Out in the dark over the snow
The fallow fawns invisible go
With the fallow doe;
And the winds blow
Fast as the stars are slow.

Stealthily the dark haunts round
And, when the lamp goes, without sound
At a swifter bound
Than the swiftest hound,
Arrives, and all else is drowned;

And star and I and wind and deer,
Are in the dark together,—near,
Yet far,—and fear
Drums on my ear
In that sage company drear.

How weak and little is the light,
All the universe of sight,
Love and delight,
Before the might,
If you love it not, of night.

Alleluia: Be Mercy

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 10, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071022.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings take us on a centuries-long journey from Sinai nearly to the foot of Calvary. 

Our guideline for the pilgrimage is the Word:

  • given first to Moses
  • cherished in Psalms
  • and finally revealed in the full glory of the Incarnated Christ.

Throughout the ages, each of us receives the same direction to holiness as that given by Moses thousands of years ago:

If only you would
heed the voice of the LORD, your God…


The young man in today’s Gospel requests such direction straight from the mouth of Jesus. And he receives it in the form of an iconic story which holds in simplicity all the ponderous theology of the ages:

Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?”
He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”


With this story, Jesus translates into action that age-old Biblical Word:

  • Hear Mercy
  • Love Mercy
  • Do Mercy
  • Become Mercy

Poetry: Ramadan –  Erik K. Taylor

It was the month of Ramadan, 
the month when Muslims fast. 
From the day’s first light, 
when they could tell a white thread from a black one, 
until evening hid the difference again, 
they did not eat, did not drink, and 
– here in rural Liberia – 
did not even swallow their own spit.

We were three thousand miles from home 
when the telegram came. 
My mother’s father had died. 

From Gbapa, three miles away, 
five dark-skinned Mandingo men 
came walking to our house. 
Students from her English class, 
a class in a building with mud-brick walls 
and a tin roof that pinged in the rain. 
She drove to them several nights each week, 
teaching them to write “hut” and “mat” and “cat,” 
drawing little pictures beside the words. 

But this day, they came to her, 
walking over dusty, rust-colored roads, 
under the African sun. 
They came to sit with her, 
to offer what comfort they could.

We could not offer them water or coke or tea. 
For a few hours they sat, talking in soft voices, 
stepping out occasionally to spit. 
Then home again… 
waiting for black and white to merge back into one.

Someone once asked Jesus 
what it meant to love our neighbor. 
He said it was to be those men.

Music: Kyrie ( Lord, have Mercy) – Robert Gass

Alleluia: Unmuted!

Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 5, 2022

Today’s Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/070522.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, a double-sided theme runs through our readings

Our first reading references idols of silver and gold, “the work of artisans, no god at all”. 

The Responsorial Psalm describes in detail how the power of God’s creative Word  contrasts to these mute and powerless idols.

Our God is in heaven;
whatever God wills, God does.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the handiwork of men.
R. Alleluia.

They have mouths but speak not;
they have eyes but see not;
They have ears but hear not;
they have noses but smell not.
R. Alleluia.

They have hands but feel not;
they have feet but walk not.
Their makers shall be like them,
everyone that trusts in them.
R. Alleluia

In today’s Gospel, we see the power of the Living Word, Jesus, to release the mute man from his demons. As we pray with this Gospel, we can think of the word “mute” in many ways.

Wherever truth, integrity, kindness and respect are stifled – whether in us or in others – God’s desire to speak to and through us is muted. 

Sometimes we mute ourselves by burying our true voice under a blanket of pretenses, frivolities, excuses, or useless ambitions. We can mute others by our prejudices, judgements and indifference. And we can do it all so easily, like flipping a button on the TV remote!

Let’s pray to be amazed today, as were the Gospel crowds, at the power of Jesus to free the Word in us!


Poetry: In Silence by Thomas Merton

Be still.
Listen to the stones of the wall.
Be silent, they try
to speak your

name.
Listen
to the living walls.

Who are you?
Who
are you? Whose
silence are you?

Who (be quiet)
are you (as these stones
are quiet). Do not
think of what you are
still less of
what you may one day be.

Rather
be what you are (but who?)
be the unthinkable one
you do not know.

O be still, while
you are still alive,
and all things live around you

speaking (I do not hear)
to your own being,
speaking by the unknown
that is in you and in themselves.

“I will try, like them
to be my own silence:
and this is difficult. The whole
world is secretly on fire. The stones
burn, even the stones they burn me.
How can a man be still or
listen to all things burning?
How can he dare to sit with them
when all their silence is on fire?”

Music: Echo of Our Souls – Kerani

Some lovely instrumental music to unmute the Word as we pray.

Alleluia: Speak, Lord!

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 26, 2022

Today’s Readings

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/062622.cfm

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse suggests an amazing consideration- that the Almighty God responds to our human invitation!

Alleluia, alleluia.
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the words of everlasting life.

1 Sm 3:9; Jn 6:68


This humble, hopeful prayer encapsulates themes from each of today’s readings which all use the symbol of a yoke to illustrate their message.

Elisha, and the listeners to both Paul and Jesus understand what a yoke does. It ties the beast of burden to its task. It also ties the one who holds the reins and plow handle.

Although the symbols of ploughing and yoke may be less familiar to us, our readings instruct us that to truly hear God’s voice in our lives we must have a deep freedom from anything that burdens our spirits. How do we do that while living normal human lives with responsibilities, worries and frustrations?

Our verse today might offer us an answer. It all depends on how we perceive our daily lives. 

Speak, Lord, your servant is listening;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Do we see our life only for itself with all the burdens it might put on us? Or do we see it as the sacred unfolding of an infinitely deeper life – everlasting life?

  • Elisha’s life was so much more than the field he had to plow that day!
  • The Galatians lives were so much more than the “biting” arguments that plagued them that day!
  • Jesus’s invitation to follow him is to so much more than the surface concerns of our lives.

Our life in Christ is a call to live in the deep stream of grace – to live “everlasting life” even within the limits of time’s circumstances.

Doing so changes us. It breaks the yoke that constricts our vision, our hope, our capacity for mercy. It allows us to invite God to speak and to hear God’s voice in our ordinary day. It strengthens us to live with extraordinary love and “everlasting “ grace.

Poetry: from T.S.Eliot’s Ash Wednesday 

I have taken a few lines from this long poem of Eliot’s. He wrote it in his later years. He expresses his continuing struggle with living a deep faith. After the excerpt, there is a link to the entire poem. I find Eliot not to be an easy poet, but oh is he ever worth the effort!

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent

If the unheard, unspoken

Word is unspoken, unheard;

Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,

The Word without a word, the Word within

The world and for the world;

And the light shone in darkness and

Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled

About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word

Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence

Not on the sea or on the islands, not

On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,

For those who walk in darkness

Both in the day time and in the night time

The right time and the right place are not here

No place of grace for those who avoid the face

No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny

the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for

Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,

Those who are torn on the horn between season and season,

time and time, between

Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait

In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray

For children at the gate

Who will not go away and cannot pray:

Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender

Yew trees pray for those who offend her

And are terrified and cannot surrender

And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks

In the last desert before the last blue rocks

The desert in the garden the garden in the desert

Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/t__s__eliot/poems/15133


Music – I Can Hear Your Voice – Jean Watson, Michael W. Smith

Alleluia: Just Shine

Friday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
June 10, 2022

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our Alleluia Verse gives us a powerful encouragement– “Shine”. That’s it – just shine because the Word of God has charged you with Light and Life.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life. ( Phil. 2:15-16)

As our verse so clearly indicates, the more we absorb the beauty of the scriptures into our hearts, the more we shine.

And it’s not just about reading the Bible. It’s about sitting down with the Word just like we would with an old and dear friend. It’s listening, not only to what is said, but the immensity that is unsaid or whispered – both by the scriptures and by our own self-examination.

It is taking what our heart hears and letting it change or deepen our lives. It is letting go of so much that doesn’t matter in order to hold on the the Word that does matter.

It is becoming a sanctuary where others see that Word shining and are strengthened.

May we shine with a Holy Light that draws others to God’s Brilliant Love.

Poetry: I found this little poem on the internet, author unknown. I think it works for today’s meditation.

You don’t have to tell how you live each day;
You don’t have to tell if you work or play;
A tried and true barometer stands in its place—
You don’t have to tell, it will shine in your face. …
If you live close to God and God’s infinite grace—
You won’t have to tell, it will shine in your face.

Music: Walk in the Beautiful Light

I think this video is amazing. The hymn is being sung by a German speaking choir!

(Lyrics below — I especially like those “dewdrops of mercy”)

Walk in the light, beautiful light,
come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright.
Oh shine all around us by day and by night,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world;

Oh we shall walk in the light, beautiful light,
come where the dewdrops of mercy shine bright.
Oh shine all around us by day and by night,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world;

No need to worry, no need to fret,
all of my needs, the man named Jesus has met.
His love protects me from hurt and from harm,
Jesus is, Jesus is the light of the world.

If the gospel be hid, it’s hid from the lost,
my Jesus is waiting to look past your faults.
Arise and shine, your light has come,
Jesus is, I know that He is the only light of this world.

Jesus is the light,
light of the world.

Jesus is the light,
light of the world.

Jesus is the light,
light of the world.

He’s ever shining in my soul.

Lent: Fired by the Word

March 8, 2022
Tuesday of the First week of Lent

So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, as I pray with today’s readings, I ask myself two questions:

“What has God’s Word accomplished in me?”
“What does God’s Word yet want to accomplish in me?”


If you’re like me, you’re always thinking about what you haven’t done, still must do, wish you had done.

Let’s just STOP that and, instead, praise our gracious God for the good accomplished through our lives. I know every one of you reading this blog is an amazingly good person. God has already done beautiful things in you and through you. Thank God. Give God the glory.


Let’s consciously pray for one another today as today’s Gospel encourages us:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.


Poetry: My Psalm – Renee Yann, RSM

May my life be its own psalm of praise to You.
Within its melody, my whole being
bows to you in gratitude.
You chose to breathe your soul into me,
to warm my name in your cupped hands,
to wind your Divine Heart into the notes of my life.
Thank You.
My years have unfolded like flowers, 
slowly warming to your grace.
The petals of my years have each been kissed by You.
Whether in joy or sorrow,
silence or song, seen or unseen,
You have been with me.
Thank You.
You loved the child I once was and You played within me.
You loved the young girl who walked toward your call
along the precious, winding path of mercy.
You loved the woman I became, over and over,
as I learned to find You hiding in the world.
Thank You.
Now, as years deepen and with them,
our comfort in each other's love,
let my trust also deepen.
Let my faith reflect You,
like the face of a well-polished rock,
fully turned to your steadfast Light,
fully afire in your Abiding.
Thank You.

Music: My Tribute ( To God Be the Glory)

How can I say thanks
For the things You have done for me?
Things so undeserved,
Yet You gave to prove Your love for me;
The voices of a million angels
Could not express my gratitude.
All that I am and ever hope to be,
I owe it all to Thee.

To God be the glory,
To God be the glory,
To God be the glory
For the things He has done.

With His blood He has saved me,
With His power He has raised me;
To God be the glory
For the things He has done.

Just let me live my life,
Let it pleasing, Lord to Thee,
And if I gain any praise,
Let it go to Calvary.

The Word

The Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas

December 31, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 96, which set the tone for us to more deeply appreciate our beautiful Gospel today on this New Year’s Eve.

The LORD comes,
comes to align the earth in Grace.
The LORD shall tender the world
with merciful justice
and the peoples with divine constancy.

Psalm 96: 13

Who is this Lord Who comes,
comes to each of us and all of us?

I think no one describes this mysterious, yet enfleshed, God more beautifully that the writer of John’s Gospel and Epistles.

For our prayer, let’s savor that beauty from today’s Gospel.

Click the little white triangle in the grey bar above to hear some lovely accompanying music
as you slowly move through the slides below by pressing the right arrow on the slide.

Poetry: a prayer from Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179 – O Eternal Lord 

Dear Friends, perhaps we might pray Hildegard’s prayer for one another as we leave this painful year and move toward New Hope.

O eternal Lord,
it is pleasing to you
to burn in that same fire of love,
like that from which our bodies are born,
and from which you begot your Son
in the first dawn before all of Creation.
So consider this need which falls upon us,
and relieve us of it for the sake of your Son,
and lead us in joyous prosperity.

The Tangled Web

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/061618.cfm

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

A Thimbleful of Metaphors

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/051218.cfm

Today, in Mercy, our readings offer us two thoughts about communication. In the passage from Acts, Paul’s senior disciples Priscilla and Aquila need to work with a new young preacher Apollos to make sure he communicates the Word perfectly.

In the Gospel, John indicates that he has been communicating by metaphor, but that the post-Resurrection experience of the Holy Spirit will be clearer than metaphors.

Indeed, John’s writing is full of metaphor to the point that it can seem overwhelming – trying to press an infinite message into the thimble of our human minds. We need to read his Gospel not as we would read a newspaper, but as we would read a poem. This will open our minds to the suggested layers of meaning too big for human words. For example, Jesus was not really a shepherd. But the metaphor of “Good Shepherd” allows us to experience, in just two words, all Christ’s tender and protective love for His followers.

When reading John’s Gospel, it is good to savor it in thimblefuls, like a rich dessert.  Let its metaphorical sweetness sink in.

John16_25

Song: Word of God Speak – Mercy Me