COR THOUGHTS 174: The Womb of Mercy


“The Lord hears the cry of the poor,” as we proclaim in this Sunday’s psalm. And this is why the Pharisee’s prayer is not received by God. We have no reason to believe he was lying about all his “righteous deeds” when he delighted that he was not like the tax collector. His collection of “righteous deeds,” however, became a source of pride that blinded him to his poverty before God. And if you, like me, have found yourself being harsh with the Pharisee in this parable (“Well thank God I’m not like that Pharisee who looks down on others”) aren’t you, like me, guilty of looking down on him? Mercy. We are all in need of it. And that’s precisely the point: we’re all in the same boat, and, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s sinking. The biblical word for mercy is related to the word “womb.” A woman’s body reveals mercy as an experience of being reborn into the divine milieu of unconditional love. What’s my paradigm? Unconditional love and forgiveness, or love if … forgiveness if … If what? If I’m worthy of it? If I perform well? If I’m not really “that bad”? Whenever I catch myself trying to justify myself by my own merits, I can be sure that somewhere in my heart I don’t really believe in God’s unconditional love. If I did, I wouldn’t be striving so hard to earn it.  Babies in the womb don’t need to earn love. From within the womb of mercy, nor do we.

TIME & THE MYSTERY w/ Mike Mangione

Matisyahu: Music's Potential to Become Prayer

[Mike Mangione is a nationally touring musician and popular podcast host. To subscribe to his podcast, Time & the Mystery, on iTunes click here. To learn more about his music, click here.]

When Matisyahu came onto the scene people took notice. A Hasidic Jew, dressed in a black suit, broad brim hat, beard and glasses, and singing reggae music will turn a few heads. But it was the quality of his music, reverence for his craft and sincerity for his faith that has sustained this international pop/reggae star for the past decade. As another artist of strong faith, Mike and Matis share common ground and discussed the possibility of music’s transcendent power and its potential to become prayer. Matisyahu wants to build a home for you to dwell and know you are loved.

Join Mike & and Matis as they open the front door in this episode of Time & The Mystery: Conversations With Matisyahu.

Listen Here!

178. How to Love Others When They’ve Stabbed You In the Back (Part II)

It is not easy to forgive those who’ve hurt us. It is not easy to love our enemies. In my last blog post, I wrote about receiving an email recently that was a real stab in the back. Then I reflected on these critical words of the Catechism:

“It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (2843).

Some years ago when I was wrestling internally with someone who had slandered me, my spiritual director urged me to write out what I was really feeling in a letter to Jesus, without editing or censoring any of it. I did. And it felt good to get it out. Really good! Then, in a kind of whisper I sensed in my heart, I felt Jesus saying to me, “The pain you feel is the pain this person feels. This person is pouring pain out on you because others have poured pain on this person. I’m asking you to bear this pain, to accept it freely, even welcome it for this person’s sake. I’m asking you to suffer with this person and offer this pain as intercession for this person’s healing. I’m asking you to love this person with me and through me and to allow me to love this person with you and through you.” 

COR THOUGHTS 173: To Pray Always Is to Desire Always


Luke tells us that the purpose of the parable we hear in this Sunday’s Gospel reading is to teach us “the necessity … to pray always without becoming weary.” Is this even possible? It depends how we understand prayer.  Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “The Fathers of the Church say that prayer, properly understood, is nothing other than becoming a longing for God.” Let that sink in. The Christian life is never a matter of annihilating our longings. It’s a matter of redirecting them towards their true object. It’s called prayer. To “pray always,” then, as this Sunday’s Gospel admonishes us to do, one must learn how to live within the painful “ache” of constant longing for heaven, for the Marriage of the Lamb. To the degree that we remain “attached” to the pleasures of this world, we have not yet learned to pray. “So brethren, let us long, because we are to be filled,” says Saint Augustine. “That is our life, to be trained by longing; and our training through the holy longing advances in the measure that our longings are detached from the love of this world.” How do we pray always? Augustine concludes: “Desire is your prayer; and if your desire is without ceasing, your prayer will also be without ceasing. The continuance of your longing is the continuance of your prayer.” Lord, teach us to pray!

177. How to Love Others When They’ve Stabbed You in the Back (Part I)


I got an email recently that really stung. No need to go into the details, but someone had stabbed me in the back. “Love your enemies”? “Do good to those who persecute you”? It’s a fundamental teaching of Jesus. But, man, I have a hard enough time loving my friends! How am I supposed to love the people who deliberately try to harm me? Pope Francis even says I’m supposed to “cherish the good name” of my enemies and not speak ill of them (see Joy of Love 112).

But how do I cherish the good name of others when they have not cherished mine? How do I love the person when I’m boiling inside with anger because of the way he’s deliberately harmed me? Humanly, it’s not possible. But we are not left merely to human resources. I can’t tell you how much comfort I take in this hopeful proclamation of the Catechism 

“It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (2843).