Thursday, November 17, 2011

Psalm 114/8 - Accept your eternal reward

Today’s verse of Psalm 114 points to the end of the struggle to live this earthly life, and tells the dying soul that it is now alright to look for deliverance and relief in heaven. It is:

Convértere, ánima mea, in réquiem tuam: quia Dóminus benefécit tibi.
Turn, O my soul, into your rest: for the Lord has been bountiful to you.

St John Chrysostom tells us that:

“The literal meaning has to do with an awesome liberation, some kind of relief and deliverance. If you were to take it in an anagogical sense, however, you would be able to speak of departure from this life as redemption, and call it rest. It is, in fact, release from all unexpected troubles, and he is subject no longer to uncertainty, a victim of insecurity, having now taken his departure with solid hope.”

Looking at the Latin

Convértere = turn/return/turn again (imperative)

converto, verti, versum, ere 3, to turn, change, alter, bring back; quicken, refresh; bring back; convert, turn from sin;

ánima mea = my soul

in réquiem tuam = to your rest

requies, ei, f., rest; a resting-place.

Turning the soul to its rest can be taken as meaning either literally, acceptance that the end of this life has come, or more generally turning away from the death of the soul that comes from sin. Cassiodorus, for example, suggests that

“The soul which is alienated from the Lord should sing this in company with the prophet; the sheep which had wandered and had merited a return to the pens, borne on the shoulders of the Protector, should also sing it. So should the son who was dead and has come to life again, who had been lost and was found. So should the devoted people who have been redeemed by His precious blood, and have through the Lord's generosity gained the attainment of the rest for which they longed. So the prophet urges his soul to turn to the Lord, from whom come to him both peaceful rest and the removal of sins.”

quia Dóminus benefécit tibi = for the Lord has dealt kindly with/dealt bountifully with/rewarded with you

benefacio, feci, factum, ere 3, to do well; to do good to, to deal kindly with, to deal bountifully

The reward spoken of can take two forms: God’s delivering him from heath through healing of his illnesses; or the reward of heaven.

I have fought the good fight…

St Basil comments:

“The brave contestant applies to himself the consoling words, very much like to Paul, when he says: 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith. For the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice. These things the prophet also says to himself: Since you have fulfilled sufficiently the course of this life, turn henceforth into thy rest, 'for the Lord has been bountiful to thee.' For, eternal rest lies before those who have struggled through the present life observant of the laws, a rest not given in payment for a debt owed for their works, but provided as a grace of the munificent God for those who have hoped in Him. Then, before he describes the good things there, telling in detail the escape from the troubles of the world, he gives thanks for them to the Liberator of souls, who has delivered him from the varied and inexorable slavery of the passions.”

Psalm 114

Diléxi, quóniam exáudiet dóminus vocem oratiónis meæ.
Quia inclinávit aurem suam mihi: et in diébus meis invocábo.
Circumdedérunt me dolóres mortis: et perícula inférni invenérunt me.
Tribulatiónem et dolórem invéni: et nomen Dómini invocávi.
O Dómine, líbera ánimam meam: miséricors Dóminus, et justus, et Deus noster miserétur.
Custódiens párvulos Dóminus: humiliátus sum, et liberávit me.
Convértere, ánima mea, in réquiem tuam: quia Dóminus benefécit tibi.
Quia erípuit ánimam meam de morte: óculos meos a lácrimis, pedes meos a lapsu.
Placébo Dómino in regióne vivórum.

And please do continue on to the final part of this mini-series.

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