Thursday, March 10, 2011

After the Woe - take comfort and take up arms

My previous post talked about applying the sad psalms of today's Morning Prayer and Office of Readings to a devastating contemporary situaion. Now for a more hopeful conclusion.

You'll notice that there is never a time when all 3 psalms of either Morning or Evening Prayer are strictly of the mourning/complaining/despairing type. There is always a call to rejoice and be glad despite all the suffering. So this morning we have, after the distress of Ps. 143, the comfort of a canticle from Isaiah, where God promises to care for us like a nursing mother cares for her baby. And then, Ps. 147, where we are called to rejoice in  the beauty of creation, and to praise God for that despite whatever else is going on around us.

(Just as an aside--I love nature psalms!  I love imagining this Israelite from thousands of years ago enjoying the same sorts of things that I do. Here he has noticed a nest of hungry young ravens calling for food. Details like this help connect me to these spiritual forefathers.)

Okay,  we've had some comfort after the prayer of woe.  But this evening, we must  pick ourselves up and get back into the battle that promises eventual and inevitable victory. Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my arms for battle, who prepares my hands for war. He is my love, my stronghold, my Savior, my place of refuge...(Psalm 144)   Hmmm...psalms 143 and 144.  Makes me think there might be a particular purpose to the ordering of the psalms in the Bible. As a matter  fact, there is. Emmaus Road publications has a book about just that. It's cutely titled Singing in the Reign.  I'll confess to not having read it yet. One of these days...

This battle training language is perfect for lent. That's what we're doing with all these pathetic little sacrifices that seem to loom so large. Will giving up chocolate today fit me to endure the criticism that comes when I'm forced to take an unpopular stand tomorrow? Will hauling myself out of bed for weekday mass prepare me for martyrdom? Hope I'm not forced to test that one out.  In the meantime, I'll just plod along

 This was not meant to be a long post. Just wanted to show you an example of how the day's psalmody all fits together. Now it's time to plan another meatless dinner. Will I do battle with black beans or lentils tonight?