Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Sentiments of the Psalmist

Whenever I'm having a bad day and feel guilty because I want to put down my cross, I read the psalms.  The gamut of emotions is run, everything from effusive praise to "Dear God, what ARE You thinking?"  Despair, joy, agony, ecstasy, faith, doubt, etc.  They're all there in the psalms.  From Vespers today, Psalm 80.

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
   you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth 
2   before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
   and come to save us! 

3 Restore us, O God;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved. 

4 O Lord God of hosts,
   how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers? 
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears,
   and given them tears to drink in full measure. 
6 You make us the scorn* of our neighbours;
   our enemies laugh among themselves. 

7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved. 

8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
   you drove out the nations and planted it. 
9 You cleared the ground for it;
   it took deep root and filled the land. 
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
   the mighty cedars with its branches; 
11 it sent out its branches to the sea,
   and its shoots to the River. 
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
   so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? 
13 The boar from the forest ravages it,
   and all that move in the field feed on it. 

14 Turn again, O God of hosts;
   look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine, 
15   the stock that your right hand planted.* 
16 They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;*
   may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance. 
17 But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
   the one whom you made strong for yourself. 
18 Then we will never turn back from you;
   give us life, and we will call on your name. 

19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved

 I was thinking today of the times when I am disappointed by God, how I am sometimes full of despair over some of the stupidest things you can imagine.  I don't get angry at God, but I don't always bear what He sends me with joy.    After uncertainty and doubt about some issues I am facing, I felt like I had had enough, so I did not appeal to the Blessed Mother or St. Therese to intercede for me.  I appealed directly to the Lord to help me and in His great generosity, He did. I said "Lord, you know I am a wretched creature, a nothing, but I beg you to help me in this matter.  I know that I am a fool, and no one knows that better than You.  Have mercy on me and take some of this burden from me."

I was thinking of how His help had brought me such sensible or felt joy, and I thanked Him for it.  And then I got to thinking of how much easier it is to love Him when He does what I want and I was remorseful about this.  And then He asked me: "And what is it that you do when you ask for me for something and you do not get a reply?  Do you not continue to pray in good faith that I will send you what you need, regardless of whether or not it's what you want?  Do you not continue to turn to Me for help?  Then how can you say that you love Me less? "

Because, after all, love is not an emotion, whatever Hallmark would have us believe.  It's a choice.  The same one we make when we say "for better, for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health".  We may have long ago lost that spark that brought us together, but we do not abandon our spouse based on how we feel.  It is love that compels us to stay.   I am not speaking of situations where there is abuse.  I am speaking of situations where one spouse is much less imperfect than the other.  What good is working for my own salvation if I ignore the fact that my spouse may be spiraling into hell?  

Love is why, when one has an ungrateful child with a tongue as sharp as a serpent's, we do not respond in kind. It's why when one of our children makes a mess of their lives despite our desperate warnings that they would, we do not turn on our backs on them when they return to us downtrodden and defeated.  Love is why we continue to care for an elderly parent who takes their anger at their loss of independence out on us.  

The psalmist speaks of the vine that God planted.  A vine can be a thing of beauty, or it can be a choking weed that destroys everything in its path.  God loves us unconditionally.  He loves us with the intention of helping us to produce good fruit.  We can only do so when we love others as He loves us.


  1. Joyce, Only one that has known that pain can understand the absolute heartbreak and despair of it. You have my prayers,& my love as a sister in Christ, even though we only know each other through our websites.
    He is Your Strong Tower.

  2. Yes, Caroline, he is, and I thank you for the beautiful sentiments you expressed. It is very true that we are sisters in Christ and though we speak only minimally, your love and prayers are felt, believe me.
    In Him

  3. I think that I see myself in the lives of my children, and how I keep coming back to God with my messes, and He always takes me where I am, and sets me back on the path. So when they come to me with their messes, I can find the will to accept them and help them get back on the path.
    Ah,who knew being parents and wives would rend our hearts like it does, and also bring us to our knees, bring us deep love and joy, and be our sharpening stone?
    You always have my prayers as well.



Comments which reflect true Christian charity are always welcome. Comments which attack the Pope, the Church, priests or other bloggers will go in the dustbin, especially if they are anonymous. Thank you and God Bless you!