You formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works!
My very self you know.
My bones are not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me unformed;
in your book all are written down;
my days were shaped, before one came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16
Psalm 139 is one of my favorites. It makes me think of the tender care with which God has formed our bodies. One of my favorite tunes that runs through my head is based on Psalm 139: “O God, You Search Me and You Know Me” by Bernadette Farrell. I’d like to share a recording of it with you, but unfortunately I can’t find one with good audio. I have a CD that was given to me by a friend that includes this beautiful psalm. I unfortunately don’t know much about it because it is a copy and all the information I have is the handwritten title, “Sisters in Song.” On the CD, a women’s choir sings “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (see Ephesians 5:19) anyway, this song is just gorgeous in this recording.
Last Tuesday I was at a Mass where this was the responsorial psalm and later I told Brett, “I figured out what the moving and poking is going on in my belly: knitting needles.” As the Psalm says “You knit me in my mother’s womb.” And trust me, there’s a whole lot of knitting going on in there.
Praised are you, my Lord, for our sister bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe on those who will die in mortal sin!
Blessed are they who will be found
in your most holy will,
for the second death will not harm them.
St. Francis of Assisi, from Canticle of the Creatures
I am dismayed when I see St. Francis of Assisi co-opted as some kind of warm and fuzzy, new-age saint. My experience of new-age ideas is that the people who subscribe to them don’t think that a person is capable of sin, and since we can’t sin and God is love, he would never send us to Hell. If we are not capable of sin, we could never die in mortal sin. But what happens to those who die in mortal sin? Since they have told God “I don’t want your rules,” God says, “Since in life, you didn’t want me, I will give you what you want, separation from me, forever.” And this eternal separation from God has another name: Hell. St. Francis may have been cheerful or stern – thanking God for all His gifts in creation didn’t make him new-age or warm and fuzzy. But there is good news even here. If we accept God, and accept his rules, when we die, we can go to live with Him. Knowing that Heaven awaits those who die in God’s will, it’s no wonder St. Francis praised Him for bodily Death.
“Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor… Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.”
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta
The Son of God… worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin.
From the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes
This section of Gaudium et Spes was quoted in today’s Daily Catechism lesson. What better time to meditate on the Incarnation, than as we approach Christmas, the feast celebrating that blessed event. God sent us His Son… and He became like us. He went through what we go through.
“…to do good without God’s help is as impossible as to make the sun shine at night.”
St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face (St. Therese of Lisieux)
The little Doctor of the Church’s feast was yesterday. She has been a favorite saint of mine since childhood. I only wish that I could imitate her childlike way, her pleasant demeanor. I find myself more child-ish than child-like, like Therese before her conversion, when she was known to have temper tantrums despite her faith and the way her family catered to her. I pray that I can imitate her Little Way, and offer myself to Christ to do with me as he pleases.
St. Therese, pray for us!