The incredible thing about the Divine Office is that it never grows stale. No matter how many times I may cycle through the weeks and the liturgical seasons, the prayers never cease to touch me and speak to me. Sometimes they comfort me. Sometimes they convict me. Today, it was a little of both.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the Invitatory Psalm, Psalm 95. And yet this morning, it really struck me.
“Do not grow stubborn as your fathers did in the wilderness,
when at Meriba and Massah they challenged Me and provoked Me,
although they had seen all of My works.
They are a people whose hearts go astray and they do not know My ways.”
These familiar words really panged my heart. Heaven knows that I have been known to be stubborn, even before God. My heart has gone astray more than once. And despite knowing how good God has been to me, I have doubted. Perhaps some of the pangs I felt were personal remorse. And then, there is the remorse I feel on behalf of the culture in which I live. Talk about stubbornness and going astray, challenging and provoking. It’s the Western way these days, I’m afraid.
This evening, Psalm 46 made me think of the horrible suffering in Haiti, after that devastating earthquake, while also being a fervent expression of hope and trust:
God is for us a refuge and strength,
a helper close at hand, in time of distress:
so we should not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains fall into the depths of the sea,
even though its waters rage and foam,
even though the mountains be shaken by its waves.
I know that’s pretty easy to say here where I am, where the earth has not in fact rocked and quaked and engulfed and trapped and killed. If I were in Haiti right now, I might find no comfort or hope at all in those words. I might not feel that God was with me at all in my time of distress.
More than anything, I feel that this is a call for me, and for all of us, to do everything we can to let our suffering brothers and sisters in Haiti see and feel and hear God and His love through us. To let them know that they are not alone or abandoned. Most of us cannot be there in person, but we can support and supply the people who are there giving assistance in person.
I feel this calling very strongly. To give prayers, to give money. My local bishop is calling for special collections to be taken for relief in Haiti; I think the same is true in dioceses across the country and around the world. I’m sure that non-Catholics are finding ways to help too.
It’s a tragedy that such catastrophes must occur and cause so much suffering. But tragedies can also break us from our stubbornness, our pride, our blindness. They can shake down the walls of complacency and self-centeredness. They can bring forth wellsprings of mercy and charity. They can bring us closer to God and His ways than ever. They can inspire us to imitate Him, to make His presence known and felt in the world.
To do so is a tremendous privilege. In helping bring Him to others, we can become closer to Him ourselves. We can also make amends for our failings as individuals and as nations.
Also, I would like to remind my Catholic readers that in addition to helping provide material assistance, we can also give our prayers and good works to assist those who have died in this disaster. We can seek indulgences for those dear souls who may be suffering in Purgatory now. We can provide real, first-hand aid to them! A kind of aid that would not even occur to many people, or in which many people do not believe. Praying for the dead is a very important and much-needed act of mercy!