Praise Amidst Serene Smiles or Stormy Seas

praise, heart, joyful, prayer

“Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”

This past Sunday, the responsorial psalm at Mass, as quoted above was a beautiful one.  I especially like the melody we used, to which it was set for liturgical use.  Since I am normally the one who leads the psalm for our Sunday Masses at St. Anne’s Living Center, I pay special attention to such things.

Psalm 66 offers encouragement to us to praise God with joy, something that is easy to forget in the busyness of our daily lives.  I need to make a conscious effort at giving thanks and praise throughout the day.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church so eloquently explains:

Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all… [P]rayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart “We must remember God more often than we draw breath.” But we cannot pray “at all times” if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it. (CCC 2697)

In meditating upon the psalm (and other readings) at my prayer that morning, the phrase that especially struck me was: “He has changed the sea into dry land; through the river, they passed on foot.”

It spoke to me about God’s ability and willingness to intervene in human lives.  When the people of Israel called out to Him in their slavery in Egypt, God appointed Moses, sending him to Pharaoh.  He brought His people out of bondage with “a strong arm.”  He worked wonders to free them and bring them to the land of promise.

Then the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders. (Deuteronomy 26:8)

Psalm 136:11-14 echoes and elaborates on this thought:

[He} led Israel from their midst, for his mercy endures forever; With mighty hand and outstretched arm, for his mercy endures forever;  Who split in two the Red Sea, for his mercy endures forever; And led Israel through its midst,  for his mercy endures forever…”

This same pattern of mercy and power, I imagine, can be seen today.

I may not have a terrible sea that I need to cross, pursued by a mortal enemy, but I have my own crosses of daily life, some big, some small.

I, too, can cry out to God, not only in joy but also in sorrow.  I can beg His mercy in my need, asking him to rescue me and see me through whatever storm or sea I am facing.

This thought reminds me, too, of the Gospel scene of Jesus calming the storm on the sea (Luke 8:22-25), which is a beautiful one to meditate upon in times of darkness, when my soul seems to be tossed about by winds and the boat of my heart swamped with floods of distress.  Like Peter, in a similar scene (Matt. 14), when Jesus came toward their boat, walking on water, I would do well to keep my focus on Christ, rather than on the raging waters.

Adapted from a post originally published on Sr. Christina’s blog, Our Franciscan Fiat

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5 thoughts on “Praise Amidst Serene Smiles or Stormy Seas”

  1. Great article, Sister. You treat this issue with great tenderness, thoughtfulness, and dignity. I so often forget to keep up with my reading of the Psalms, which is really ironic, since I am a poet at heart. They remind me that Jesus was the ultimate warrior-poet, one who brought the sword of truth to a broken world while singing a sweet song of salvation all the way to the cross. The reason I can weather the storms in life is because I see my Savior loving me from the cruel cross, going down into the earth, and rising again on the third day. The Psalms point so well to that great love – as do the prophets. These holy words teach me that Jesus, the One who spoke the world into existence, came to the earth in perfect love and took the penalty I deserved so that I could come through the storm and find heaven on the other side. Thank you for such a wonderful reminder of God’s love!

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  3. Thank you, Sister, for this wonderful article. As someone who has gone (and is going through) an incredible storm in life, I can attest to the truth that while it can be difficult, one of the best courses of action is to praise God even in the midst of our trials. It becomes so easy to forget our total dependence on our Father’s love and mercy when times are good. It is through the trials of life that we are made aware of how fragile we are, and how we are dependent on our God for all things. It is why we can find joy on our trials and our suffering, because through them we are brought closer to Hod and to His Son Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit. May all praise, honor and glory be to God, now and forever.

    Benedictum Nomen Sanctum Eus

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