A song of ascents
I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
From whence shall come my help?
At this, the beginning of our journey, it’s natural to ask questions, to have worries and anxieties. The singer is far from the center of worship and from God, but still there is trust.
Questions do not mean we don’t trust God. Rather, they are invitations for God to say again what he has always said to us: I will guard you. I am your shepherd, your guard and your lover, God says, trust in me.
Ask your questions, God will answer swiftly. Look to his dwelling and see him racing out to meet you. We don’t have to be in the very midst of the grandest cathedral to praise and to look to God for protection. We just need to begin.
My help comes from the LORD,
the maker of heaven and earth.
We are reminded that God is the Creator of Heaven and Earth and everything contained therein. The mountains, the seas, and the rivers and everything made by humans are great and wonderful even. But God is greater.
Nothing is beyond his power or ability and we, as the pinnacle of his Creation, are always under his protection and upheld by his love. God is not confined to time or place, he is the master of all and has the power to protect us on our journey to him.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
or your guardian to sleep.
Though earthly nations and powers might change and earthly safety seem unlikely, God’s power is unshakable and his love for you is the same. When we stand in God’s grace, and in the light cast by Jesus Christ, we too are unmovable.
When we falter through sin and shame in our journey towards God we are steadied by his presence and his love. Though guards might have to sleep, God never does. Whenever we are in need, whenever we feel our safety and our souls threatened, God is there to defend us. In every Catholic Church we find him, his real presence, waiting for us. He is our one true guard and he has waited eons for you.
Behold, the guardian of Israel
never slumbers nor sleeps.
Though guards might have to sleep, God never does. He is a watchman who protects the city in the night. When we gaze upon his Body in the Blessed Sacrament He gazes back as he has always done. God never tires of looking for us, of loving us.
Whenever we are in need, whenever we feel our safety and our souls threatened, God is there to defend us. We need only cry out to him. When the People of Israel fled out of Egypt, the Lord sent the pillar of fire to guard them in the night and a pillar of cloud in the day. He is our ever present guardian, our light and our shade.
The LORD is your guardian;
the LORD is your shade
at your right hand.
The Israelites in their travels through the desert were confronted by the heat and burning gaze of the sun. We too often find ourselves confronted by eyes of judgement and derision because of our faith. We want to hide, but God asks us to trust him and to continue moving forward through our own personal deserts.
God will not leave us defenseless or without shade in the heat of this world. God has sent his own Son as our protection and shade. He shields us with his very body, with his very Presence. He is at our side ready to lend us his own hand and support. Stretch out, grab hold of him.
By day the sun will not strike you,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will guard you from all evil;
he will guard your soul.
The LORD will guard your coming and going
both now and forever.
Three times in a row the Psalmist repeats: God is our guard and protector. Nothing can change this.
God’s presence surrounds us and as long as it does there is nothing which can truly threaten us. And even if we think we are alone and darkness is our only companion, we shall find out that the Lord was there. In the darkness, when we cannot see or sense God, we are drawn deeper into the mystery of Christ’s own Crucifixion and are united more fully with him.
The only way out of His Presence is to choose to depart of our own free will. God will not command us to remain, but how he longs for us to choose him, to choose the Divine Love which is his very self.
If we choose him and his love, if we choose to remain in his Presence, we shall find ourselves lifted up and exalted, protected forever in the arms of a God who saves.
Written by Br. Dominick Jean, O.P.
Dominican Friars of St. Louis, MO
The Dominican Friars living at St. Dominic Priory in St. Louis, MO are members of both the Central U.S. Province and the Southern U.S. Province. Our student friars go through their formation together at the St. Louis Studium, otherwise known as the House of Studies.