Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blissful Justice, New Songs, Arrows

Trying to get back with the blog after a week of first world problems, mainly involving the death of my cute little netbook.I mean, having to wait my turn at the family computer--what a drag! And then, once I'm on, finding it so uncomfortable to use, compared to sitting on the couch with my little machine. And then, after working several hours on the book manuscript, waking the next day to find my neck and shoulders in genuine, geriatric pain from holding my head at an unaccustomed angle towards the desktop.
Great lenten penance for a spoiled American. 

It all gets better tomorrow when the new netbook arrives:

Ready to go

In the meantime, I'm here for the Wednesday post, welcoming new follower"Encourage One Another",who apparently runs a cute churchy humor blog by the same title.

In the Office of Readings psalter today is Psalm 89 which includes this line:
Happy the people who acclaim such a king, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who find their joy every day in your name, who make your justice the source of their bliss.
I konw this "source of their bliss" is just one of many ways that the Hebrew is translated, and that the Grail psalms are not known to be a super-accurate translation. But the juxtaposition of God's justice with "bliss" is striking. We're more likely seee God's love and compassion as blissful for us, rather than his justice. Being sinners. So this verse brought to mind the words of St. Therese of Lisieux: 
“I hope as much from God’s justice as from His mercy. It is because He is just that He ‘is compassionate and filled with meekness, slow to punish and abounding in mercy.’

Skipping ahead to Morning Prayer, Psalm 98 begins, as do several of the psalms, "Sing a new song to the Lord." I wondered what was meant by this phrase, "new song". Does it just mean the latest lyric that the  psalmists have come up with, the newest tune to be heard in the courts of the temple? Or is it something more, something truly original that breaks the mold of previous songs? According to Blessed John Paul II, who commented on this psalm during one of his Wednesday audiences, a "new song" in biblical language means, a perfect, full , solemn song accompanied by festive music. He suggests that another "new" factor to this psalm is the "cosmic applause" of a "colossal choir" of earth, sea, rivers and mountains named in this psalm.   

In addition, says John Paul, Christians can read into this psalm its messianic meaning--the newness of the crucified Redeemer. He then quotes Origen: A new song is the Son of God who was crucified- something that had never before been heard of. A new reality must have a new song...Christ healed the sick, raised up the dead, cleansed lepers, but other prophets did this...what new thing did he do to merit a new song? God died as a man so that men might have life; the Son of Man was crucified to raise us up to heaven.

Tonight's Evening Prayer includes paslm 127. It begins, If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do its builders labor...  The last two strophes, about sons being a gift from the Lord, and the full quiver, are a favorite of those of us with large families. Given the childless option that is increasingly preferred in Europe, these lines are really an affirmation, these days, for those who have any chidren at all. Pope Benedict sadly remarked on these lines that, Begetting is thus a gift that brings life and well-being to society. We re aware of this in our days in the face of nations that are depreived, by declining populatons, of the freshness and energy of a future embodied by children.

And my own little comment: we, the Church in America,  indeed have some "cause for shame" when we "dispute with our foes in the gateways".  The 90+ percent of Catholic using contraception have considerably weakened us in our dispute with the federal government over the healthcare mandate. And, having contributed to the vocation shortage, they've weakened us in our spiritual warfare as well.

Jumping ahead to Night Prayer to end on a note of hope, My soul is waiting for the Lord, I count on his word...because with the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption. Israel indeed he will redeem from all its iniquity.