19 April 2015

One of my favorite cries from the lips of the Psalmists: "Lord, let your face shine upon us!"

Each person who reads the collection of Psalms contained in the Sacred Scriptures seems to be more drawn to certain psalms than others. This is only natural as we each have our own personalities and the Psalms express, in one way or another, every emotion of the human heart.

The verses of the Psalms which speak of the desire to see God have always moved my soul. When first I read them, they seemed to express the deepest yearning of my heart, this verse perhaps above all:
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God (Psalm 42:2-3)?
This was long before I knew anything of the sacred veil revered today at the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello!

Now I can say that I have seen the very image of his Holy Face which he himself left behind for us in his tomb (see John 20:7). Now these prayers of the Psalmists take on for me a new depth of meaning and express my longing all the more!

Holy Mother Church puts these words from one of the Psalms of King David into our mouths today, "Lord, let your face shine on us" (Psalm 4:7). We speak these words as the antiphon (a.k.a., the refrain), but in the chanting of Psalm 4 we will sing, "O LORD, let the light of your countenance shine upon us" (Psalm 4:7)!

The word "countenance" is not one we use with great frequency today, though it does occur with some frequency in English translations of the Scriptures. What, then, is a countenance?

The Oxford English Dictionary explains the origin of the word - which can often be the best means for understanding a word's meaning - thus: "Middle English: from Old French contenance 'bearing, behaviour', from contenir (see contain). The early sense was 'bearing, demeanour', also 'facial expression', hence 'the face'."

It is somewhat unfortunate that today we will not also chant first half of verse 7 of Psalm 4 today, which seems to give ever more significance to David's plea: "Many say, 'May we see better times!'" The Revised Standard Translation translates verse 7 a little differently: "There are many who say, 'O that we might see some good!' Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord!'"

Both translations, though, express the same thought, that to look upon the face of God is look upon he who is good.

No comments:

Post a Comment