Saturday, July 15, 2017

Free from the Burden! (guest post)

Here's the conclusion of a meditation on Psalm 81, verse 7.  Many thanks to Harold Koenig for sharing these thoughts with us. It's been a wonderful example of how daily liturgical prayer, although offered primarily on behalf of, and in union with, the Church universal, will also bring personal gifts from God to the one who prays it. 

Part 3: I relieved you from your burden
I hear a tongue I do not know: I relieved Israel’s shoulder of its burden; they set down the basket.– – –– – after Ps. 81
One reason to pray the office is that it is the work of God, the “opus Dei.” And the work of God, our Lord tells us, is to believe in him who God has sent. Our prayer is a work of faith.
To believe in him whom God has sent is not a matter of assent to certain propositions or articles of faith.  It is to have confidence, to trust. Jesus, whose very name amounts to “God saves,” is to be trusted to save us, to have saved us, to be saving us, to save us at the last day, the great morning.
I reproach myself often for my lack of fervor. I approach the office sometimes in ennui and frustration. I am not very devout, my mind wanders. This little commitment of time to him who deserves all I have and am seems like a huge and empty burden.
Me, me, me!  What foolishness!  He removes the burden from my shoulder and I immediately stoop to pick it up, turn to him irritably, and ask, “Now where were we? Oh yes, talking about me and my inadequacies.”

If you pray, “Lord, open my lips,”  do you think he will leave you mute?  If you cry, “God, come to my assistance!” will he not hasten to help you? Trust him, and the burden will be lifted, the basket of self-criticism set down.


  1. Great set of reflections! I've found that sticking it out especially during times of aridity, distraction, worry, self-doubt, exhaustion, is particularly fruitful in retrospect. Much like a farmer who, working his fields on good days and bad, rain or shine, whether he "feels like it" or not, ends up that much more grateful for the grace to keep going when he finally sees the harvest.

  2. Imperial reaction: I have been told that if I use the Commons for a memorial I.E St Apollinaris that the Saints Memorial would be raised to a Feast if I used the antiphons reading Benedictus/Magnificat antiphon and Intercessions from the common for both Lauds and if i used the Psalms for Vespers 2 from the appropriate Common.

    Is it classed as raising it to a Feast if I only use Vespers 2 of the Saint Day? As I prefer to put full focus on the Saint in question?

    1. "Is it classed as raising it to a Feast if I only use Vespers 2 of the Saint Day? As I prefer to put full focus on the Saint in question?"

      I'm not entirely sure what you mean. If you take the Psalmody from the common, then yes, you're technically "celebrating it as a feast." But memorials can (and IMHO, and traditionally speaking, should) take their invitatory, hymn, and everything from the Chapter onward (after the Psalms), including the Ben. and Mag. antiphons, intercessions &c from the common or proper. Basically, everything OTHER THAN the Psalms and their antiphons.

      Does that make sense?

  3. Also, one minor kvetch in re-reading this otherwise great reflection: "To believe in him whom God has sent is not a matter of assent to certain propositions or articles of faith."

    Well, yes and no. "To believe in him" is certainly no MERE intellectual assent ("faith without works is dead," after all) -- but we also can't obstinately dissent from "certain propositions or articles of faith" inasmuch as they are part of the divinely revealed deposit of faith, and still have any reasonable claim to "believe in him."

    In other words, assent is only a part, yes, but a necessary one, of the Christian life. I'm sure this is what Mr. Koenig meant in the first place -- just wanted to clarify it.

    1. I think the word "mere" is precisely what makes the clarification you describe.

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