Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What I read in church today

This is why I love the Liturgy of the Hours-- you get readings like this, from the "Detailed Rules for Monks" by Saint Basil the Great (Bishop of Caesarea, born A.D. 329):
How, then, shall we repay the Lord for all his goodness to us? He is so good that he asks no recompense except our love: that is the only payment he desires. To confess my personal feelings, when I reflect on all these blessing I am overcome by a kind of dread and numbness at the very possibility of ceasing to love God and of bringing shame upon Christ because of my lack of recollection and my preoccupation with trivialities.
How about that? Sometimes I know how St. Basil felt. So did the men who wrote these lines:
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let they goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, oh take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above!
and these:
O, make me Thine forever!
And should I fainting be
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for Thee.
I sing those hymns a lot. So anyway, then the Office of Readings included this from Psalm 68:
They see your solemn procession, O God,
the procession of my God, of my king, to the sanctuary:
the singers in the forefront, the musicians coming last,
between them, maidens sounding their timbrels.
I assume this is another Psalm about the Ark of the Covenant being brought into the Tabernacle. And it reminded me of a Eucharistic procession I saw a video of recently-- the priests and people processing through crowded New York streets with the monstrance under a canopy and boys in surplices swinging incense and all. The Old Testament is more vivid now that I'm Catholic. Practices that I used to think were superseded, I now see are not extinct at all but fulfilled.

For another instance, the OT reading for Mass today was from 2 Samuel 6, so I started reading the following chapter which begins:
Now when the king [David] dwelt in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about, the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent."
Which is still true because my church has had construction problems that necessitated the removal of the walls, and so the sides of the church have consisted of white sheeting for about two years now and it's just like a tent! :) All right, that might not have been intended as fulfillment of Old Testament practice, but it should have been.

Continuing on in 2 Samuel 7, Nathan gives David a message from the Lord: don't build me a temple just now. Rather, says God, I will build you a house: "Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever." This of course is a Messianic prophecy; when Jesus came he was called "Son of David". King David, on receiving this incredible promise from God, "went in and sat before the Lord." That has to mean he went to the Tabernacle (the tent) to sit before the Ark of the Covenant (where the presence of God dwelt). I read this while I myself was sitting in our tentlike church before our own tabernacle, where the Body of Christ is kept. That's the kind of thing I'm thinking of when I say that the OT means more now that I'm Catholic. :)

Here's the beginning of the prayer David offers in thanksgiving as he sits before the Lord:
Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God; you have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come, and have shown me future generations, O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have wrought all this greatness, to make your servant know it....
When I read this today I felt I was praying the same thing. "Who am I, O Lord God, that you have brought me thus far?"

My future is very unknown right now. I haven't even got a guess of what I'll be doing a month or three months from now, or next year, or five years from now, or fifteen. I do know it won't be the same thing, since my last day of work is this Friday. Life has changed a lot recently, in my job and where I live and the friends I've made and the church I go to every day and my doctrine-- so I've been feeling unsettled. Then today I read God's promise to David and David's amazed reply, and I can't explain it: I felt as sure, as happy, as overwhelmed with gratitude, as David must have felt. I have no prophetic promise about the future, but there's this: "'I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord." It's enough that He knows what I don't. His plans might not be the easiest but they will be the best--He has already given me such grace.

So that's some of what I read and thought today. And today wasn't at all unusual. I could write a long post nearly every day about what I've just read in Scripture and how cool it was. But it would take forever and you, lone reader who's lasted to the end of this entry, would be the only one to read it! Now, to bring this long post to a spectacular close-- no, I'll settle for just ending it. :)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to let you know that at least one reader made it to the end. Of course, I had to, it's the only way (other than the Xmas letter) I get information about what you're up to :). Tomorrow is your last day at work? and you moved out?
Where are you? Where are you going? Why is everything changing for everybody?

You may not know what you're doing a month or three months from now, but I hope you know where you'll be on April 19!
mrs. a

Columban said...

I realy like your comment on our tent like temple. Thanks!

Rachel Gray said...

Sorry, Mrs. A, but I'm going to a good friend's reception on April 19. I don't have time for you old married fogies anyway. :)

Columban, are you from SPC too?