Psalm 138: Heart Waves

Feast of Saints  Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

September 29, 2020

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 138, a lilting hymn of praise to God.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.


From the time I grew up in my beloved parish of St. Michael’s Church, I have always loved this feast and its prayers and readings. The thought of angels as our friends and champions was very much a part of our early education.

St. John’s vision, as recounted in our readings from Revelation and Daniel today, was depicted in a huge mural at the church’s side altar. And, as most parishes in those pre-Vatican II times, we said the prayer to St. Michael at the end of every Latin Mass.


So Michael, who has no body, no gender, and never held a sword, has been my friend for many, many years. And over that long friendship, I have come to know Michael very differently.

The Michael I know now is the Breath of God, very much like me, but breathed into a different form of beauty. God lives in the angels the way God lives in music, nature, color, emotion, poetry, and virtue. No form can fully hold such a Spirit. It permeates, embraces and uplifts that which it meets in love.

The angels’ songs are beyond our human hearing, but not beyond our understanding. They sound like those deep heart waves that we can never express – the love too deep for words, the sorrow beyond tears, that mingling with nature that silences us, the irrational but invincible hope, the faith that cannot be broken.

It is within those heart waves that I have come to know Michael who sings with and for me to our beautiful God.


Prayer to St. Michael:

written, in Latin, by Pope Leo XIII. Below is the prayer as it was prayed in Ireland, as quoted in James Joyce’s Ulysses. We used this translation too in my very Irish parish.🙏❤️

St Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, 
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; 
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; 
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, 
by the power of God, cast into hell Satan 
and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.”

Music:  Confitebor tibi, Domine – Psalm 138 by Josef Rheinberger

Latin text
Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo.
Retribue servo tuo, ut vivam et custodiam sermones tuos.
Vivifica me secundum verbum tuum, Domine

English translation
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart,
O do well unto thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word:
Quicken me according to thy word, O Lord

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