Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Psalm 142 pt 4: verses 13&14

Verses 13&14
The procession of St Gregory seeking an end to the plague
Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 71v
the Musée Condé, Chantilly

In the previous part of this mini-series, I looked at verses 11&12 of Psalm 142, and suggested that the psalmist’s pleas to be delivered from his enemies was to be accomplished in large part by his learning to do God’s will, and guidance by the Holy Spirit. Those verses provide some context for the verses I want to look at today by way of conclusion of this Lent series, namely the last two verses of the psalm – and thus of all of the penitential psalms – which contain a further plea for God’s help.

At first glance, verses 13 and 14 present problems to the modern reader, since they sound awfully like a request for God to do some smiting! And while we might all feel the desire for that to occur from time to time, we know full well that in fact we are called on to forgive our enemies, and to return good for evil. So how should we reconcile these seemingly conflicting messages?

The text

First let’s take another look at the verses themselves. Here is the Vulgate (which is identical to the neo-Vulgate):

13
V/NV
Edúces de tribulatióne ánimam meam: * et in misericórdia tua dispérdes inimícos meos.
JH
educes de angustia animam meam ;  et in misericordia tua dissipabis inimicos meos,

The key verbs here are all in the subjunctive, making them a pleas or request: educare means to lead out, bring or draw forth; disperdere means to destroy, or destroy utterly.  Hence a literal translation of this verse would be something like: ‘may you bring my soul (animam meam) out of distress/trouble (de tribulatione), and in your mercy/kindness/compassion (misericordia) destroy my enemies (inimicos meos) 
educo, duxi, ductum, ere 3,  to lead out or forth.
disperdo, didi, ditum, ere 3, to destroy, destroy utterly.

DR
You will bring my soul out of trouble: And in your mercy you will destroy my enemies.
Brenton
thou shalt bring my soul out of affliction.  And in thy mercy thou wilt destroy mine enemies,
MD
In thy justice save me from distress, and in Thy mercy disperse my enemies
Cover
bring my soul out of trouble. And of thy goodness slay mine enemies,

14
V/NV
Et perdes omnes, qui tríbulant ánimam meam, * quóniam ego servus tuus sum.
JH
et perdes omnes ligantes animam meam; ego enim sum seruus tuus.

ie: And (et) you will destroy (perdes) all (omnes) those who trouble/afflict (qui tribulant) my soul, because (quoniam) I am (ego sum) your servant (servus tuus)’.

perdo, didi, ditum, ere 3, to destroy

DR
And you will cut off all them that afflict my soul: for I am your servant.
Brenton
and wilt destroy all those that afflict my soul; for I am thy servant.
MD
And destroy all who afflict my soul: because I am Thy servant
Cover
And destroy all them that vex my soul; for I am thy servant.

Who are our enemies?

We shouldn't, in my view, back away from the idea of praying for the defeat of actual physical enemies here, whether they be personal, enemies of the Church, or of our country. The harsh reality is that evil can and does get worked through others. We shouldn’t be afraid to pray that someone who is hurting us or others be stopped from doing so!

Of course, our prayer must be, first and foremost, that they be converted.

And we must genuinely seek to forgive them for what they do to us and others.

Forgiving someone though, doesn’t mean letting them continue to sin! Accordingly, it is important to keep in mind that praying for the defeat of evil and those who oppress us by whatever direct or indirect means God chooses to employ, or helps us to employ, is perfectly legitimate.

David's Victory
Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 95r
Musée Condé, Chantilly.
Victory over sin

Nonetheless, in the context of the penitential psalms, our primary focus should be first and foremost on the mote in our own eye! The enemy in this context is not so much others: for we can accept bear their attacks as part of our penance, or offer up our sufferings at their hands for others.

But we must also focus, especially during this Lenten season, on overcoming our own weaknesses, bad habits, faults and sins. And we shouldn't hesitate to ask God's help in this most personal of battles.

The previous psalms, as well as the earlier verses of this psalm teach us the other weapons we must employ: work to develop a strong and deep sense of contrition; go to confession, tell all of our sins, and be absolved; do our penance and more; study, meditate and contemplate God's works; and submit ourselves to God's will and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Of course, in this battle, it is also important to keep in mind that not all of our faults come from within ourselves: we are also engaged in a spiritual warfare waged against powers and principalities; so call too for God's help in the form of our own guardian angel's interventions.

We should pray too, for final perseverance, for above all, these verses reminds us of God’s promise that evil will eventually be defeated and good vindicated, if not in this life, then in the next.

Psalm 142: Domine, exaudi orationem meam
Vulgate
Douay-Rheims
Psalmus David, quando persequebatur eum Absalom filius ejus.
A psalm of David, when his son Absalom pursued him
1 Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam: áuribus pércipe obsecratiónem meam in veritáte tua : * exáudi me in tua justítia.
Hear, O Lord, my prayer: give ear to my supplication in your truth: hear me in your justice.

2  Et non intres in judícium cum servo tuo: * quia non justificábitur in conspéctu tuo omnis vivens.
And enter not into judgment with your servant: for in your sight no man living shall be justified.
3  Quia persecútus est inimícus ánimam meam: * humiliávit in terra vitam meam.
For the enemy has persecuted my soul: he has brought down my life to the earth.
4  Collocávit me in obscúris sicut mórtuos sæculi : * et anxiátus est super me spíritus meus, in me turbátum est cor meum.
He has made me to dwell in darkness as those that have been dead of old: And my spirit is in anguish within me: my heart within me is troubled.
5  Memor fui diérum antiquórum, meditátus sum in ómnibus opéribus tuis: * in factis mánuum tuárum meditábar.
I remembered the days of old, I meditated on all your works: I meditated upon the works of your hands.
6  Expándi manus meas ad te: * ánima mea sicut terra sine aqua tibi.
I stretched forth my hands to you: my soul is as earth without water unto you.
7  Velóciter exáudi me, Dómine: * defécit spíritus meus.
Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit has fainted away.
8  Non avértas fáciem tuam a me: * et símilis ero descendéntibus in lacum.
Turn not away your face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
9  Audítam fac mihi mane misericórdiam tuam: * quia in te sperávi.
Cause me to hear your mercy in the morning; for in you have I hoped.
10  Notam fac mihi viam, in qua ámbulem: * quia ad te levávi ánimam meam.
Make the way known to me, wherein I should walk: for I have lifted up my soul to you.
11  Eripe me de inimícis meis, Dómine, ad te confúgi: * doce me fácere voluntátem tuam, quia Deus meus es tu.
Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, to you have I fled: Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.
12  Spíritus tuus bonus dedúcet me in terram rectam: * propter nomen tuum, Dómine, vivificábis me, in æquitáte tua.
Your good spirit shall lead me into the right land: For your name's sake, O Lord, you will quicken me in your justice.
13  Edúces de tribulatióne ánimam meam: * et in misericórdia tua dispérdes inimícos meos.
You will bring my soul out of trouble: And in your mercy you will destroy my enemies.
14  Et perdes omnes, qui tríbulant ánimam meam, * quóniam ego servus tuus sum.
And you will cut off all them that afflict my soul: for I am your servant.

Ne reminiscaris Domine...

I want to conclude this series not with another version of the psalm for you to listen to, but with the antiphon used at the end of the penitential psalms.  Here, it is in an English setting by Purcell.

The first half of the setting is simply a translation of the Catholic liturgical text:

Remember not, Lord, our offences,
nor the offences of our forefathers;
neither take thou vengeance of our sins:

The second part is an addition from the Book of Common Prayer, but it is so catholic in content that I strongly suspect it actually has its quasi-liturgical origins in the Sarum Rite:

spare us, good Lord, spare thy people,
whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood,
and be not angry with us for ever.
Spare us, good Lord.

And that concludes this Lenten series.  I do hope you have enjoyed this series and found something in it to stimulate your prayer.

May you have a happy and holy Easter.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Penitential Psalms - Psalm 142: verses 10-12

The Descent of the Holy Spirit. Fresco Borgia Apartments,
Hall of the Mysteries of the Faith, 1492-4

Today's verses of Psalm 142 deal with how to be effective in meditation and contemplations.

Verses 10-12: Knowledge of God enkindled by his spirit

 In verse 10, the psalmist asks that God make known his ways to the genuine seeker after truth:

10
V/NV
Notam fac mihi viam, in qua ámbulem: * quia ad te levávi ánimam meam.
JH
notam fac mihi uiam in qua ambulo; quoniam ad te leuaui animam meam.

 notum facere, to make known.

DR
Make the way known to me, wherein I should walk: for I have lifted up my soul to you.
Brenton
make known to me, O Lord, the way wherein I should walk; for I have lifted up my soul to thee.
MD
Make known to me the way which I must go, for to Thee have I lifted up my soul.
Cover
Show thou me the way that I should walk in; for I lift up my soul unto thee.

David Tenier the Younger, 1610-90,
Rocky Landscape with pilgrims

In verse 11, he asks for God to teach him the virtue of obedience:

11b
V/NV
doce me fácere voluntátem tuam, quia Deus meus es tu.
JH
Doce me ut faciam uoluntatem tuam, quia tu Deus meus

confugio, fugi, ere 3, to flee for refuge or succor, to take sanctuary.

DR
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.
Brenton
Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God;
MD
Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God
Cover
Teach me to do the thing that pleaseth thee; for thou art my God.

 Finally, and most crucially, in verse 12 he asks for the help of the Holy Ghost:

12
V
Spíritus tuus bonus dedúcet me in terram rectam: * propter nomen tuum, Dómine, vivificábis me, in æquitáte tua.
NV
Spiritus tuus bonus deducet me in terram rectam; propter nomen tuum, Domine, vivificabis me. In iustitia tua 
JH
spiritus tuus bonus deducet me in terra recta. Propter nomen tuum, Domine, uiuificabis me: in iustitia tua

DR
Your good spirit shall lead me into the right land: For your name's sake, O Lord, you will quicken me in your justice.
Brenton
thy good Spirit shall guide me in the straight way. Thou shalt quicken me, O Lord, for thy name’s sake; in thy righteousness
MD
May Thy good spirit lead me on the right path, for Thy name’s sake O Lord, preserve my life.
RSV
Let thy good spirit lead me on a level path! For thy name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life!
Cover
Let thy loving Spirit lead me forth into the land of righteousness. Quicken me, O Lord, for thy
Name’s sake; and for thy righteousness’ sake

The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

Hildegarde von Bingen, creation
The existence of the Holy Ghost is of course foreshadowed in the Old Testament: in the spirit that hovers over the waters at the time of creation. The clearest prophesy of the life of grace that the psalmist is asking for here though, is surely those famous verses from Ezekiel, featured at the last World Youth Day.

St Robert Bellarmine comments:

“That good Spirit is the Holy Ghost, who is essentially good, and through whom "the charity of God is poured out into our hearts;" and this it is that makes us wish to work and carry out our wishes; and it is of it Ezechiel speaks when he says, "And I will put my Spirit in the midst of you, and I will cause you to walk in my commandments." This good Spirit "shall lead me into the right land;" in that plain and direct road, the Lord's law, which is most plain and direct The "right land" may also mean our country above, where all is right and straight, and nothing distorted or crooked. "For thy name's sake thou wilt quicken me in thy justice." To show us that justification, which is a sort of spiritual resuscitation, is not to be had from our own merits, but from the gratuitous gift of God, he adds, "For thy name's sake," for the glory that will accrue to you by the gift of so much grace, "thou wilt quicken me in thy justice."

Indeed, each of the seven penitential psalms can readily be associated with one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, no doubt one of the reasons why the Catechism of the Catholic Church in fact cites this verse in relation to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:

CCC 1831: “The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David. They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations. Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”

Defeating our enemies with the help of grace

I deliberately skipped over the first half of verse 11 above, which is the lead in to the request to be taught obedience and given the guidance of the Holy Ghost. In fact, it says:

11a
V/NV
Eripe me de inimícis meis, Dómine, ad te confúgi:
JH
Libera me de inimicis meis, Domine: a te protectus sum. 

confugio, fugi, ere 3, to flee for refuge or succor, to take sanctuary.

DR
Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, to you have I fled: 
Brenton
Deliver me from mine enemies, O Lord; for I have fled to thee for refuge. 
MD
Deliver me from my enemies of Lord to Thee I fly for refuge.  
Cover
Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies; for I flee unto thee to hide me. 

These gifts of the spirit, then, together with the virtues, most especially hope, are the key to escaping sin and defeating the temptations that beset us in the spiritual war that we must wage.

Psalm 142: Domine, exaudi orationem meam
Vulgate
Douay-Rheims
Psalmus David, quando persequebatur eum Absalom filius ejus.
A psalm of David, when his son Absalom pursued him
1 Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam: áuribus pércipe obsecratiónem meam in veritáte tua : * exáudi me in tua justítia.
Hear, O Lord, my prayer: give ear to my supplication in your truth: hear me in your justice.

2  Et non intres in judícium cum servo tuo: * quia non justificábitur in conspéctu tuo omnis vivens.
And enter not into judgment with your servant: for in your sight no man living shall be justified.
3  Quia persecútus est inimícus ánimam meam: * humiliávit in terra vitam meam.
For the enemy has persecuted my soul: he has brought down my life to the earth.
4  Collocávit me in obscúris sicut mórtuos sæculi : * et anxiátus est super me spíritus meus, in me turbátum est cor meum.
He has made me to dwell in darkness as those that have been dead of old: And my spirit is in anguish within me: my heart within me is troubled.
5  Memor fui diérum antiquórum, meditátus sum in ómnibus opéribus tuis: * in factis mánuum tuárum meditábar.
I remembered the days of old, I meditated on all your works: I meditated upon the works of your hands.
6  Expándi manus meas ad te: * ánima mea sicut terra sine aqua tibi.
I stretched forth my hands to you: my soul is as earth without water unto you.
7  Velóciter exáudi me, Dómine: * defécit spíritus meus.
Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit has fainted away.
8  Non avértas fáciem tuam a me: * et símilis ero descendéntibus in lacum.
Turn not away your face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
9  Audítam fac mihi mane misericórdiam tuam: * quia in te sperávi.
Cause me to hear your mercy in the morning; for in you have I hoped.
10  Notam fac mihi viam, in qua ámbulem: * quia ad te levávi ánimam meam.
Make the way known to me, wherein I should walk: for I have lifted up my soul to you.
11  Eripe me de inimícis meis, Dómine, ad te confúgi: * doce me fácere voluntátem tuam, quia Deus meus es tu.
Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, to you have I fled: Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.
12  Spíritus tuus bonus dedúcet me in terram rectam: * propter nomen tuum, Dómine, vivificábis me, in æquitáte tua.
Your good spirit shall lead me into the right land: For your name's sake, O Lord, you will quicken me in your justice.
13  Edúces de tribulatióne ánimam meam: * et in misericórdia tua dispérdes inimícos meos.
You will bring my soul out of trouble: And in your mercy you will destroy my enemies.
14  Et perdes omnes, qui tríbulant ánimam meam, * quóniam ego servus tuus sum.
And you will cut off all them that afflict my soul: for I am your servant.


And you can find the final post in this series on Psalm 142 and the Penitential Psalms here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Psalm 142 verses 8-9




8
V
Non avértas fáciem tuam a me: * et símilis ero descendéntibus in lacum.
NV
Non abscondas faciem tuam a me, ne similis fiam descendentibus in lacum.
JH
ne abscondas faciem tuam a me, et comparabor descendentibus in lacum.

similis, e, like
descendo, scendi, scensum, ere 3  to descend, to come or go down.
lacus, us, m.  a pit.; pitfall, a trap;  the grave, the nether world, the kingdom of the dead, Sheol;

DR
Turn not away your face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
Brenton
turn not away thy face from me, else I shall be like to them that go down to the pit.
MD
Hide not Thy face from me, that I be not like those gone into the grave.
Cover
hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.

Cassiodorus sees this verse as a warning of hell:

Earlier God had turned away His face because of the arrogance of sinning, but the prophet now begs that He look upon him because he prostrated himself in remorseful entreaties; for it befits the Lord's mercy to look kindly on the humble since He despises the hearts of the proud. By pit we must understand the lower region of hell, where the wicked are to be plunged into eternal punishment. So such men are matched with those who spurned God's power, and who befouling the images in which they were created assumed the shape of the devil's condemnation. Go down is a good description, for those who deserve to enter that pit are plunged to the lowest depths. So he entreats that he should not be­come like the proud, by lamenting his sins with humble satisfaction.

9
V/NV
Audítam fac mihi mane misericórdiam tuam: * quia in te sperávi.
JH
Fac me audire mane misericordiam tuam; quoniam in te confido :

auditum facere, to sound forth, utter, announce.

DR
Cause me to hear your mercy in the morning; for in you have I hoped.
Brenton
Cause me to hear thy mercy in the morning; for I have hoped in thee;
MD
Make me experience Thy mercy soon, for I trust in thee
Cover
O let me hear thy loving-kindness betimes in the morning; for in thee is my trust.

The morning here is symbolic, As Cassiodorus explains:

To hear thy mercy refers to the Lord's clemency widely known through the whole world, by which He lends help to suppliants, and kindness to the afflicted. The prophet seeks to hear the gospel words: Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.' The morning denotes the time of par­don, for it brings light to the mind when it descends on it with blessed outcome. It is rightly called the morning, for it comes after the dark­ness of sins, when guilt is forgiven. Alternatively it refers to the news of the resurrection, when the angel said to Mary: Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he has risen from the dead, as he said? The reason also follows, which must hold good: there was hope in Him who cannot deceive those who show praiseworthy trust in Him. Observe too that by such reasoning he strengthens his other requests that follow.

The text

Psalm 142: Domine, exaudi orationem meam
Vulgate
Douay-Rheims
Psalmus David, quando persequebatur eum Absalom filius ejus.
A psalm of David, when his son Absalom pursued him
1 Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam: áuribus pércipe obsecratiónem meam in veritáte tua : * exáudi me in tua justítia.
Hear, O Lord, my prayer: give ear to my supplication in your truth: hear me in your justice.

2  Et non intres in judícium cum servo tuo: * quia non justificábitur in conspéctu tuo omnis vivens.
And enter not into judgment with your servant: for in your sight no man living shall be justified.
3  Quia persecútus est inimícus ánimam meam: * humiliávit in terra vitam meam.
For the enemy has persecuted my soul: he has brought down my life to the earth.
4  Collocávit me in obscúris sicut mórtuos sæculi : * et anxiátus est super me spíritus meus, in me turbátum est cor meum.
He has made me to dwell in darkness as those that have been dead of old: And my spirit is in anguish within me: my heart within me is troubled.
5  Memor fui diérum antiquórum, meditátus sum in ómnibus opéribus tuis: * in factis mánuum tuárum meditábar.
I remembered the days of old, I meditated on all your works: I meditated upon the works of your hands.
6  Expándi manus meas ad te: * ánima mea sicut terra sine aqua tibi.
I stretched forth my hands to you: my soul is as earth without water unto you.
7  Velóciter exáudi me, Dómine: * defécit spíritus meus.
Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit has fainted away.
Non avértas fáciem tuam a me: * et símilis ero descendéntibus in lacum.
Turn not away your face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
9  Audítam fac mihi mane misericórdiam tuam: * quia in te sperávi.
Cause me to hear your mercy in the morning; for in you have I hoped.
10  Notam fac mihi viam, in qua ámbulem: * quia ad te levávi ánimam meam.
Make the way known to me, wherein I should walk: for I have lifted up my soul to you.
11  Eripe me de inimícis meis, Dómine, ad te confúgi: * doce me fácere voluntátem tuam, quia Deus meus es tu.
Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, to you have I fled: Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.
12  Spíritus tuus bonus dedúcet me in terram rectam: * propter nomen tuum, Dómine, vivificábis me, in æquitáte tua.
Your good spirit shall lead me into the right land: For your name's sake, O Lord, you will quicken me in your justice.
13  Edúces de tribulatióne ánimam meam: * et in misericórdia tua dispérdes inimícos meos.
You will bring my soul out of trouble: And in your mercy you will destroy my enemies.
14  Et perdes omnes, qui tríbulant ánimam meam, * quóniam ego servus tuus sum.
And you will cut off all them that afflict my soul: for I am your servant.