Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Praying for the Sorrowful

Readings for Tuesday, September 28/Memorial of St. Wenceslaus:
Job 3:1-3,11-17, 20-23
Psalm 88:2-8
Luke 9:51-56

In the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily prayer of the Church, different days and times of the day are often characterized by a certain ‘flavor’ if you will. Saturdays are typically more Marian in their prayer, whereas Fridays are more penitential.  Morning prayer is more anticipatory and intercessory and Evening Prayer is more a prayer of thanksgiving. On Fridays at night prayer, we always pray Psalm 85 – a psalm full of sorrow and darkness; a psalm truly intended for those in despair. And yet we pray it each Friday. But sometimes you really aren’t sad when you go to pray that night prayer. On many occasions, I have come to that time of day rather joyful and excited. So how do we reconcile that sorrowful psalm with our joyful state? I once heard this question posed to a priest and he said that often approaches those psalms of sorrow or desolation and finds himself in a joyful mood, and so he remembers that while he is joyful there are many in the world who are feeling sorrow, darkness, and desolation in that very moment. He remembers those who are persecuted for their faith, those who are in prison, those who are plagued by spiritual or emotional darkness; and for each of those people he offers that prayer, knowing that many were unable to pray it themselves. He speaks it for them.

As I stand here at this ambo today I look outside and I see clear blue skies, a nice change in the weather, and am rather joyful at all of this. And yet we hear this reading from Job where he says ‘cursed be the day I was born’ and he laments his being brought into the world. And then we have the psalm which speaks of being brought into the dark abyss and being dragged down into sorrow. And as we hear these readings we are again struck by the disconnect between our experience and the prayers selected for us. So, though we may not be sorrowful ourselves, we remember that today there are thousands upon thousands of people throughout the world who are in great darkness and are in need of God’s grace to sustain them. Let us remember them in this Mass, as we lift up our prayers to the Lord, that he might console them and give them strength.