Wednesday, August 11, 2021 (Day 67)

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Psalm 67 (from Robert Altar’s 2007 translation)
May God grant us grace and bless us,
may God shine his face upon us.
To know the earth Your way,
among all the nations Your rescue.
Nations acclaim You, O God,
all peoples acclaim You.
Nations rejoice in song,
for You rule peoples rightly,
and nations on earth You lead…
May God bless us,
and all the ends of the earth fear God.

An Opening Word
Psalm 67 begins with a request for God’s blessing. The request: God, please bless us. Give grace. Let your face shine. Of course, the opposite of God’s face shining on us would be God hiding from us, which is what other Psalmists have cried out against. The gift of God’s face shining on us, we know, is not a given, not a universal expectation, but instead, something we know can wax and wane, and so we ask boldly for God’s face to shine on us because we (the universal “we” of all people of faith across all times) know that sometimes it feels as if God is hiding God’s face from us.

In response to God’s grace, blessing and shining presence, the whole world rejoices. Nations sing. People cheer. To the ends of the earth there is celebration. You can hear the deep breath, the trust, the embodied sigh from all corners of creation: God is near. It doesn’t make all troubles disappear but it does bring that collective joy that we know we need these days.

Today’s mystic is Padre Pio, who was born in Italy in 1887 to peasant parents. He was one of seven children, two of whom died in infancy, and by the age of five he was already deeply in tune with God. Suffering typhoid and other illnesses as a child that left him bedridden, he may have had more opportunity than most to be confronted with his own mortality, and the grief of losing infant siblings at so young an age. As an adult, he became a Franciscan, and though he and some of his brothers were called up for duty during WWI, he was dismissed from service because of poor health. He spent much of his life suffering one ailment or another, and was troubled with what is called “stigmata,” wounds on his hands that mirror the wounds of Christ. Suspicious of his growing popularity, the Pope sent medical doctors to examine his wounds to check to make sure he wasn’t just play-acting at having Christ-like wounds, which would tarnish the authenticity of the ministry he was extending to the community. The physicians seemed to think the wounds were genuine, neither self-imposed nor drawn on, but truly sore wounds offering him distress, but ultimately deepening his faith and gaining him a devout following. He offered folk wisdom, healing prayers, and was attentive to the needs of the poorest of the poor in his community. One of his most popular sayings is, “Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. Our Merciful Lord will listen to your prayer.”

Prayer from the Mystics: Padre Pio (1887–1968)
My past, O Lord, to your Mercy;
my present, to your Love;
my future, to your Providence.
Amen.