Psalm 48: You’re Upheld

Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin

July 14, 2020

From 2016 

Today in Mercy, on this feast of St. Kateri, we pray for the grace to love others while still wisely discerning their words. May we listen, and allow our spirits to be formed, only by those words that reflect the love of God, respect for all God’s creation, and compassion toward all people. May we consistently eliminate from our life all words of hate, prejudice, indifference, and disrespect for ourselves and others.

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 48 which describes God’s greatness, especially as enshrined in the magnificent Holy City. Even enemy kings were so stunned by the city’s splendor that they fled before attacking, trembling in their stirrups.

I like to think about that trembling. When we were the youngest of nuns, about three months out of high school, we learned to say the Little Office of the Virgin Mary. This psalm was part of the Office and contained my favorite line:

Quaking seizes them there;
anguish, like a woman’s in labor,
As though a wind from the east
were shattering ships of Tarshish.

Go ahead. You try saying it! It struck a few of us funny and gave us “church giggles”. Ever had them?

We were young. Everything was so new, and a little funny to us. It would take years of praying before God’s awesome magnificence – revealed in the long unfolding of life – to understand that “Tarshish” kind of soul-shaking.

But those years also have proven true the exultant refrain of today’s Responsorial:

God upholds his city for ever.

My dears, we are God’s beloved City. Let’s look back today at God’s merciful upholding of our lives through our many “Tarshishes” (dare you to say that one 😂)

We praise and thank you, Awesome Mercy!

Poem: Tyre – by Bayard Taylor who was an American poet, literary critic, translator, travel author, and diplomat. Taylor was born on January 11, 1825, in Kenneth Square in Chester County, PA. For my readers from other parts of the world, that’s about 30 minutes from where I live.❤️

A wonderful poem, not necessarily religious. But it is so beautifully crafted and will certainly help you imagine those “ships of Tarshish”.

THE wild and windy morning is lit with lurid fire;
The thundering surf of ocean beats on the rocks of Tyre, -- 
Beats on the fallen columns and round the headland roars, 
And hurls its foamy volume along the hollow shores,
And calls with hungry clamor, that speaks its long desire: 
‘Where are the ships of Tarshish, the mighty ships of Tyre?'

Within her cunning harbor, choked with invading sand,
No galleys bring their freightage, the spoils of every land, 
And like a prostrate forest, when autumn gales have blown, 
Her colonnades of granite lie shattered and o'erthrown; 
And from the reef the pharos no longer flings its fire,
To beacon home from Tarshish the lordly ships of Tyre.

Where is thy rod of empire, once mighty on the waves, --
Thou that thyself exalted, till Kings became thy slaves?
Thou that didst speak to nations, and saw thy will obeyed, --
Whose favor made them joyful, whose anger sore afraid, --
Who laid'st thy deep foundations, and thought them strong and sure, 
And boasted midst the waters, Shall I not aye endure?

Where is the wealth of ages that heaped thy princely mart? 
The pomp of purple trappings; the gems of Syrian art;
The silken goats of Kedar; Sabæa's spicy store;
The tributes of the islands thy squadrons homeward bore, 
When in thy gates triumphant they entered from the sea 
With sound of horn and sackbut, of harp and psaltery?

Howl, howl, ye ships of Tarshish! the glory is laid waste: 
There is no habitation; the mansions are defaced.
No mariners of Sidon unfurl your mighty sails;
No workmen fell the fir-trees that grow in Shenir's vales 
And Bashan's oaks that boasted a thousand years of sun, 
Or hew the masts of cedar on frosty Lebanon.

Rise, thou forgotten harlot! take up thy harp and sing: 
Call the rebellious islands to own their ancient king:
Bare to the spray thy bosom, and with thy hair unbound, 
Sit on the piles of ruins, thou throneless and discrowned!

There mix thy voice of wailing with the thunders of the sea, 
And sing thy songs of sorrow, that thou remembered be!
Though silent and forgotten, yet Nature still laments
The pomp and power departed, the lost magnificence:
The hills were proud to see thee, and they are sadder now; 
The sea was proud to bear thee, and wears a troubled brow, 
And evermore the surges chant forth their vain desire: 
‘Where are the ships of Tarshish, the mighty ships of Tyre?'

Music: I Will Carry You – Sean Clive

4 thoughts on “Psalm 48: You’re Upheld

  1. Lucille Hillerman

    Thanks, Renee! I love the way you ended this reflection with “I Will Carry You”. I am sure I am being carried by my God. I couldn’t be doing this on my own! Blessings and love to you, dear Renee! 🙏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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