March 14 / First Thursday of Lent
On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.~ Ps 138:3
Many years ago, when I was a graduate student in a venerable British university, I would wander into my college’s cathedral for evensong. With candles flickering against the damp dark of the declining day, the boys’ and men’s choir sang the psalm verses antiphonally. One side issued the call from the carved choir stall on the left: “O Sing unto the Lord a new song.” From their robed counterparts across the aisle, an immediate response: “for he hath done marvelous things.” The first group begins the thought: “With his own right hand, and with his holy arm.“ The second group finishes it: “hath he gotten himself the victory.” (Perhaps our divided government might try some antiphonal singing). For me, the connectedness and the reliability of this antiphonal dance mirror the intimacy and reliability of our relationship with God. Underlying all our prayers, whether they are prayers of petition, intercession, contrition or thanksgiving, is the sure and certain knowledge that God loves us and will answer our call. This does not necessarily mean that our specific wishes will be granted, but it does mean that God hears us and will respond at the time and in the manner of his choosing. Or as the 19th-century theologian and scholar John Henry Newman prayed, “God leads us by strange ways; we know He wills our happiness, but we neither know what our happiness is, nor the way. We are blind; left to ourselves we should take the wrong way; we must leave it to Him.” The answer may not always be what we are looking for, but God’s response to our call, if we allow it, will strengthen our souls and fortify our hearts.
All-hearing and all-loving Lord, give me implicit and abiding trust that you will answer me on the day I call.Amen.
[Editors’ note: This is part of a daily Lenten reflection series. Sign up for our America Today newsletter to receive each reflection every day in your inbox.]