Thursday, January 19, 2012

Despair to Trust to Victory in today's Office

Most days, by the time I'm saying the psalms of Evening Prayer, I've completely forgotten what psalms I read that morning at Lauds and the Office of Readings.   So now and then--not everyday--it's helpful to quickly  scan through all the psalms of the day. Taken together, they often seem to  form a narrative.

The Office of Readings and Morning Prayer  has us sorrowing and mourning over the ills suffered by the People of God: Yet now you have rejected us, disgraced us...It is for you we face death .. all day long.Lord, why do you sleep? Arise, do not reject us for ever! have fed them with tears for their bread, an abundance of tears for their drink, you have made us the taunt of our neighbors, our enemies laugh us to scorn.
Think: the many martyrs of the 20th century and continuing persecution of the Church in the 21st. The harm done to the Church  by the sexual  abuse scandals. The assaults on faith by the "New Atheism" movement and its cheerleaders in the media.

By Daytime Prayer we are starting to take heart, acknowledging past sins, resolving to stick with God's commandments come what may, still stating some worries  about  enemies, but overall making acts of trust in God's mercy: Before I was afflicted I strayed but now I keep your was good for me to be afflicted to learn your will...When I fear, I will trust in you, in God whose word I praise...what can mortal man do against me?...In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge...

Then, this Evening, we quite talking about ourselves and our feelings about God, instead focussing on the Answer to Everything: Christ the King. He shall endure like the sun and the moon from age to age...In his day justice shall flourish...he shall save the poor when they cry, and the needy who are helpless...from oppression he will rescue their lives, to him their blood is dear...the victorious reign of our God has begun. 

Our final response is to ask not for an end to trials but for unfailing  confidence: let our hearts never waver from the love of your law. Lead us on through darkness to the dawning of eternal life.

All in all, a compelling story of the life of faith. Don't you think?