From the Pastor: Thank You For The Spiritual Bouquet!
This week I finally got around to reading the Spiritual Bouquet cards so many of you filled out for me for Priesthood Sunday a while back. I was touched by the beauty of the cards themselves, although I had seen them before they were written upon, but even more so by the beauty of the offerings of prayers expressed so sweetly and succinctly. If you remember how they were laid out, with the chosen prayer to be offered on my behalf followed by a number of flowers, you can see how different people filled them out differently. Some circled a few flowers. For instance, on one card next to “Mass” followed by five flowers, three of them were circled. Three Masses for me! Others wrote next to or above the flowers, so next to “Memorare” the four flowers were untouched but three stars were inked in! Still others made little notes, such as “One a week” after the “Act of Charity” flowers. Some cards had written notes on the back, a few were signed with names or initials, and one was obviously from one of the youngsters and was just scribbled on. It was my favorite! There were too many prayers listed for me to count (since I wasn’t homeschooled!) and I appreciate them all. I want to comment on one of them in particular that caught my attention. Under “Other” “Psalm 35, 5 times” was written. I picked up my trusty Douay-Rheims bible to see what was being prayed for me (no, I do not have all of the Psalms memorized!) and I will share this with you. I have to confess: I am not quite sure what to make of it. “The unjust hath said within himself, that he would sin: there is no fear of God before his eyes.” Oh-oh! What is this person trying to say to/about me? I continued reading, hoping for a change in tone. “For in his sight he hath done deceitfully, that his iniquity may be found unto hatred.” No change of message yet! “The words of his mouth are iniquity and guile: he would not understand that he might do well.” Okay, I thought to myself, this is being prayed five times for me. I better start paying attention to something in here, even if it hurts! “He hath devised iniquity on his bed, he hath set himself on every way this is not good: but evil he hath not hated.” Whew! That’s not exactly a pleasant way to be seen by a parishioner! “O Lord, thy mercy is in heaven, and thy truth reacheth even to the clouds.” All right, at least he or she is asking God to be merciful to me, a sinner! “Thy justice is as the mountains of God, thy judgments are a great deep.” Oh, no! Mercy, Lord, not justice! “Men and beasts thou wilt preserve, O Lord: O how hast thou multiplied thy mercy, O God! But the children of men shall put their trust under the covert of thy wings They shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure. For with thee is the fountain of life; and in thy light we shall see light. Extend thy mercy to them that know thee, and thy justice to them that are right in heart. Let not the foot of pride come to me, and let not the hand of the sinner move me. There the workers of iniquity are fallen, they are cast out, and could not stand.” So it ends on a good note. Maybe this is being prayed for me so that I may repent of my numerous sins and receive mercy from God rather than reap His justice? I hope so! Heaven awaits only those who do so, even among priests.
Of course, there could also be another possible meaning to the Psalm being prayed. Maybe the person praying it used a different bible translation. The translation itself would not be so vastly different as to change the meaning, but the numbering system used is not always the same! Did you know that different bible versions number the Psalms differently, even among Catholic bibles? So I pulled out the New American bible and opened to Psalm 35. “Fight, O Lord, against those who fight me; war against those who make war upon me.” Oh, yeah, this one might be the one! “Take up the shield and buckler, and rise up in my defense. Brandish the lance, and block the way in the face of my pursuers; Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” This Psalm is a bit too long to quote in its entirety but it continues by showing that the writer (King David) has enemies who plot against him, who fake friendship, whose delight is to destroy him through any evil means, similar to what we are currently witnessing so clearly in both the secular and ecclesial worlds. But it is a Psalm of trust in God to conquer evil men and for the good men to give glory to God through both their reliance on Him and their praise of Him. It is scary due to the evil that even “God’s chosen one” had to endure but comforting at the same time, secure in the knowledge that God is always in control even when wicked men seem to be winning. This Psalm, by the way, is numbered 34 in the Douay-Rheims. Whichever Psalm is being said five times for me, I am sure God knows the reason it was chosen! Thank you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka