GOD 101: Forgiveness, Grace, And Mercy

January 13, 2019

I have a new little wooden box that is sectioned off.  It allows me to put small bottles in each section. I relate to that box.  My mind likes to put its ideas in little sections, and organize and reorganize the sections to see how things line up. Like a kaleidoscope.  Each piece standing in its own place, but changeable in its relationship to the other pieces. There’s a lot in theology and even in our liturgy that I find sloppy.  Or is done in such a way that causes a person’s sloppy thinking. I would like to say, Well, we don’t have to always be exact about things in the church, and mean it.  But, well. That’s just not me. Yes, I know.  People are good-hearted.  And they mean well. But let’s talk [...]

PRAYER: God’s Mercy by Catherine of Siena

July 23, 2018

Merciful Lord, it does not surprise me that you forget completely the sins of those who repent.  I am not surprised that you remain faithful to those who hate and revile you.  The mercy which pours forth from you fills the whole world. It was by your mercy that we were created, and by your mercy that you redeemed us by sending your Son.  Your mercy is the light in which sinners find you and good people come back to you.  Your mercy is everywhere, even in the depths of hell where you offer to forgive the tortured souls.  Your justice is constantly tempered with mercy, so you refuse to punish us as we deserve.  O mad lover!  It was not enough for you to take on our humanity; you had to die for us as well. [...]

SPIRITUAL FORMATION: Mercy Within Mercy Within Mercy by Christine M. Bochen

July 20, 2017

(Presidential Address – ITMS Seventh General Meeting June 7, 2001) Epiphanies of Mercy Christians, who celebrate annually the Feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentiles, know that an epiphany is a manifestation of the divine in our midst. Epiphany is revelation. Mercy, Thomas Merton writes in the opening paragraph of The Climate of Mercy, is the “epiphany of hidden truth and of God’s redeeming Love.” Mercy is a “revelation of God,” a revelation of God’s very Self – “as Love, as Creator and Father, as Son and Savior, as Life-Giving Spirit.” Mercy is not an intellectual deduction; it is a happening: “an event in which God reveals himself to us [...]

POETRY: E Tenebris by Oscar Wilde

March 8, 2017

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach thy hand, For I am drowning in a stormier sea Than Simon on thy lake of Galilee: The wine of life is spilt upon the sand, My heart is as some famine-murdered land, Whence all good things have perished utterly, And well I know my soul in Hell must lie If I this night before God’s throne should stand. “He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase, Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name From morn to noon on Carmel’s smitten height.” Nay, peace, I shall behold before the night, The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame, The wounded hands, the weary human [...]

SACRIFICE: The Raven’s Fate

March 2, 2017

And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made: And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole Earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the [...]

FORGIVENESS: Role Reversal At Tables—Jesus, a Pharisee, and a Sinful Woman by John T. Carroll

January 26, 2017

From Luke: A Commentary Jesus, the man with the well-earned reputation of enjoying a good meal and befriending sinners, finds himself in a banquet setting where he can befriend the righteous.  At the home of a Pharisee, however, the unexpected appearance of a woman with her own reputation in the town – as a sinner – turns the occasion into another display of feasting and embracing, and being embraced by, a sinner.  The twin themes of inside-out role reversal and divergent responses to Jesus continue, bound up with differing views of his identity.  Jesus defends the uninvited guest who honors him and criticizes the righteous host who finds fault with him.  Within the realm of God, honor and virtue are not what, in polite company, [...]

ALL SOULS: Cluny And The Feast Of All Souls, by Iotsald

November 2, 2016

From Iotsald Concerning the vision of a hermit. Lord Bishop Richard related to me the story of a certain vision, which I had heard once before but I could not remember the details.  At that time, he said, a certain devout man from the district of Rouergue [in southwestern France] was returning from Jerusalem.  But when he had sailed halfway across the sea that stretches from Sicily to Thessaloniki, very strong winds struck his boat and drove it to an island, or rather a rocky outcropping, where a certain servant of God lived as a hermit.  As he waited for a while for the sea to calm, the pilgrim tarried long enough to have a conversation with this servant of God about many different topics.  Asked by the man of God where he was [...]

A CLOUD OF WITNESSES: Prayer And The Christian Way Of Life (Part Four) by Claire E. Wolfteich

October 27, 2016

From Lord, Have Mercy: Praying for Justice with Conviction and Humility The Power and the Ambiguity What these stories of the desert elders, Ignatius, and Teresa show is a common thread of the tradition: the centrality of prayer to the Christian way of life.  The practice of prayer actually is the path to knowledge of God; prayer is part of the faith that seeks understanding.  This understanding of prayer has unfortunately been undermined by a false separation of spirituality from theology that began in the high Middle Ages and continues today, leaving devotion privatized and disconnected from a whole life that seeks wisdom.  For the desert elders, Ignatius, and Teresa, the practice of prayer was integral to a way of life that seeks [...]

LENTEN MEDITATION: Bothering To Love by James Martin

February 16, 2016

From Huffington Post One Priest’s Modest Proposal for Lent What have you given up for Lent? That’s what many Christians – from almost every denomination, and especially Roman Catholics – are asking one another this time of year.  The most common thing to forego, I would wager, is some kind of food: soda and chocolate seem to be the Most Favored Sacrifices, with cigarettes and liquor running a close third.  Each year, in fact, a Jewish friend from my college days calls me on Ash Wednesday to tell me what to give up, since he thinks my deciding on my own is too easy.  Last year it was chicken wings, which was harder than you might think.  (I’ll save the story of how he came to assign my abstinence for another [...]

LENTEN MEDITATION: Message For Lent by Pope Francis

February 15, 2016

Make your hearts firm. (James 5:8) Dear Brothers and Sisters, Lent is a time of renewal for the whole church, for each community and every believer.  Above all it is a time of grace.  God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us.  We love because he first has loved us.  He is not aloof from us.  Each one of us has a place in his heart.  He knows us by name, he cares for us, and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him.  He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us.  Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings, and the [...]

POETRY: Do You Honor God?, by Hippolytus of Rome

January 27, 2016

 For the kingdom of Heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.  After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.  And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, “You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.” So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, “Why do you stand here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You go into the vineyard [...]

THE CHURCH: The Religion Of Mercy by Robin R. Meyers

May 1, 2014

From Morning Sun on a White Piano For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. —Hosea On a bright spring morning, three days after Easter in Oklahoma City, a clean-cut but lonesome drifter with a pathological hatred for the U. S. government drove a truck packed with homemade explosives to the front door of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and blew a gaping hole in the myth of the American Heartland. Bottle-fed on Hate Radio, and estranged from everything and everyone, including himself, this crusader against the Evil One has finally shown us what the politics of fear can produce: sow enough bad seeds, and eventually you harvest a mutant crop. This is the city where I live and work, [...]

GRATITUDE: I Am What I Am by Michael Casey

November 26, 2013

From Reflections On The Prologue Of Benedict’s Rule In the same way, Paul the Apostle did not attribute anything of his preaching to himself but said, “It is by God’s grace that I am what I am.” There is a growing trend these days for authors to include a lengthy list of acknowledgements at the beginning or end of their books.  I am often bemused by these, especially when they include those who were simply hired for their services.  Cynic that I am, I often wonder whether this is not just an elaborate form of political correctness rather than a sincere admission of indebtedness.  The same holds for winners of Academy Awards and other forms of social recognition.  Am I really expected to be gushingly grateful to [...]

MISSION: Catherine McAuley (1778-1841) by Moira Bergin

July 9, 2013

From Treasures of Irish Christianity: People and Places, Images and Texts Catherine Elizabeth McAuley was born on 29 September 1778 in Drumcondra, Dublin, to James and Elinor McAuley.   As a young woman she would begin a mission of mercy that grew and spread over the years and is still relevant today.  Catherine had a sister, Mary, and a brother, James.  Her father died in 1783 and, as a result, life for the children changed dramatically, both economically and socially.  During her late teenage years her mother became seriously ill, necessitating Catherine to nurse her until she died in 1798.  Catherine, together wither her brother and sister, were cared for by their relatives. In 1799, Catherine met William Callaghan, a wealthy [...]

SERMON: (from) Sermon For The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost, by Anthony of Padua

June 16, 2013

The Gospel for the fourth Sunday after Pentecost: Be ye merciful, which is divided into four clauses. [PROLOGUE] (First, a sermon for the preacher or prelate of the Church: David, sitting in the chair.) 1. At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: Be ye merciful, as your Father also is merciful. [Luke 6.36] It says in the second book of Kings, towards the end: David, sitting in the chair, the wisest chief among three, was like the most tender little worm of the wood; who killed eight hundred men at one onset. [2Kg(Sm) 23.8] David represents the preacher, who should ‘sit in the chair, etc’. Take note of all the words. The ‘chair’ signifies humility of mind; ‘wisest’ implies clearness; the ‘chief’ is constancy; the [...]

MERCY: God’s Mercy And Love by Simone Weil

March 26, 2013

From Waiting for God It is in affliction itself that the splendor of God’s mercy shines, from its very depths, in the heart of its inconsolable bitterness.  If still persevering in our love, we fail to the point where the soul cannot keep back the dry, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, if we remain at this point without ceasing to love, we end by touching something that is not affliction, not joy, something that is the central essence, necessary and pure, something not of the senses, common to joy and sorrow: the very love of God. We know then that joy is the sweetness of contact with the love of God, that affliction is the wound of this same contact when it is painful, and that only the contact matters, not the [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Saturday Of The Second Week Of Lent

March 3, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  This is the great work Abba Antony said to Abba Poemen, “This is the great work of a person: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.” I will never grow tired Abba Macarius beseeched Christ, “Jesus, Jesus, if my cries do not ring in your ears when I call out day and night to you in Heaven to have mercy on me and to pity me on account of my sins, I will still not grow tired of imploring you.” Fruit-bearing struggles A disciple of a great old man was once besieged by sin.  When the old man saw him struggling, he said to him: “Do you want me to entreat God to lift the warfare from [...]

MYSTICAL WOMEN: Faustina—Painting the Portrait of the Divine

January 18, 2012

A passage from the diary of Faustina: Jesus made known to me how very pleasing to him were prayers of atonement.  He said to me, The prayer of a humble and loving soul disarms the anger of my father and draws down an ocean of blessings.  After the adoration, half way to my cell, I was surrounded by a pack of huge black dogs who were jumping and howling and trying to tear me to pieces.  I realized that they were not dogs, but demons.  One of them spoke up in a rage, “Because you have snatched so many souls away from us this night, we will tear you to pieces.”  I answered, “If that is the will of the most merciful God, tear me to pieces, for I have justly deserved it, because I am the most miserable of all sinners, [...]

PRAYER: A Prayer To Be Merciful To Others

January 18, 2012

Author unknown O Most Holy Trinity, as many times as I breathe, as many times as my heart beats, as many times as my blood pulsates through my body, so many thousand times do I want to glorify your mercy. I want to be completely transformed into your mercy and to be your living reflection, O Lord.  May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor. Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue. Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings. [...]