Opening: 100 Days of Psalms and Prayers

Sunday, June 13, 2021 (Day 13)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 13 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
How long, O Lord, will You forget me always?
How long hide Your face from me?

…But I in Your kindness do trust,
my heart exults in Your rescue.
Let me sing to the Lord,
for God requited me.

An Opening Word
Again the psalmists return to their cry of desperation. They remind us of the anguish of life. We get the classic faithful question: “How long, O Lord?” We get the dynamic, exaggerated use of the word “always.” It’s as if the psalmist knows us. They know that in the midst of something really hard, it feels as if there will never be relief.

And then predictably, by the end of Psalm 13, the psalmist boomerangs back to trust, to song, to praise. Robert Alter addresses this common reversal from anguish to relief saying that we should not expect psalms to express “one static attitude but an inner evolution or oscillation of attitudes.” He also wonders if in Psalm 13, “the prayer itself served as a vehicle of transformation from acute distress to trust.”

Mother Cabrini, in the prayer below seeks such transformation as well: from worry to peace, from anxiety to freedom. Mother Cabrini is a Catholic saint who though born in Italy, ended up founding hospitals and schools across the globe, even in Chicago where she died in 1917. When she was canonized as a saint in 1946, a reported 120,000 people participated in related worship services at Soldier Field. You’ll recognize her name locally from the Cabrini-Green housing project, and you long-time Chicagoans out there probably innately know even more of her ties to the city.

I appreciated this article from Vatican News which explains that on her first cross-Atlantic trip, “she shared the discomfort, problems, and uncertainties of those who left everything in order to search for a better future elsewhere.” Out on the ocean she had a divine encounter about which she said, “truly the Lord is in this place and we did not know it.” A nun at the time, she originally intended to head to China as a missionary, but the Pope suggested New York City, where migrants were in deep need. She said “yes,” understanding that wherever she went “the modern world would be marked by huge migratory flows and by men, women, and children fleeing their homes to find peace and a better future.”

(Wikipedia took a less earnest approach to Cabrini’s life story claiming, among other things, that because she lived for a long while in New York City, she makes a perfect patron saint of parking spaces. Just pray, “Mother Cabrini, Mother Cabrini, please find a spot for this little machinery.”)

Prayer from the Mystics: Mother Cabrini (1850–1917)
Fortify me with the grace of your Holy Spirit
and give your peace to my soul
that I may be free
from all needless anxiety,
solicitude, and worry.

June 13, 2021

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