Sunday, July 4, 2021 (Day 34)
Katie Snipes Lancaster
Psalm 34 (adapted from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
When the lowly calls,
and from all straights rescues him.
The Lord’s messenger
encamps round those who fear the Lord
and sets them free.
Taste and see that the Lord is good,
happy is the one who shelters in God.
An Opening Word
“Taste and see that the Lord is good,” is our classic eucharistic Psalm text, a reminder that the very earth exudes the presence of God. Robert Altar describes it as a “powerful immediacy,” or sensual full-bodied way of experiencing the divine, especially after rescue from danger. Maybe you’ve been there: an intense situation in which you nearly lost your life, and that ensuing relief in which God’s rescue was literally physical in nature, not metaphorical.
Marie of the Incarnation, today’s mystic, is one who sought rescue from God. She began to understand a calling to a mystic or religious life even at the young age of seven, but her parents would not let her pursue the religious life and had her marry. With her husband she had a son, but her husband died before her son was three, leaving her at the age of 19 to take over the family business (which failed), and then move home to live with her parents. By the time her son was 11, she had decided for a second time to pursue monastic life. She left her son and was sent to Canada to begin one of the first orders of the Ursuline convent there in Quebec. A series of heartrending letters between mother and son were published, first by the son and then by others, about her sorrow and longing that came along with becoming a nun who left behind a young son. Her son became a Benedictine monk, powerful in his own right, and their letters speak of their relationship to one another and to God.
The prayer below is one she prayed over and over as a young widow. Knowing she prayed it in her early twenties, trying to keep up the family business and raise a toddler makes it all the more powerful.
Prayer from the Mystics: Marie of the Incarnation (1599–1672)
In Thee, O Lord,
do I trust,
let me never be confounded.