Peace for My Soul

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Peace for My Soul

If you have heard of Zechariah and Elizabeth, then you will know that they are the parents of John the Baptist.  You may not know, however, that when the angel Gabriel came to tell them that they would have a child in their old age, Zechariah disbelieved him.  This skepticism and resistance resulted in him being struck dumb.  At his circumcision, Elizabeth told her relatives and friends that the baby’s name would be John, which means “graced by God.”  They protested because it was traditional to give the first born male his father’s name, or at least some other male relative’s name.  But Zechariah had learned his lesson.  He wrote on a tablet: “His name is John.”  And immediately he could speak again.  His first words were the Benedictus, also known as the Canticle of Zechariah.  The Benedictus praises God’s faithfulness and prophesies John’s own role in God’s plan for our salvation.

I was doing lectio divina with the Benedictus recently.  As I prayed, I asked myself how often am I not responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit?  Am I grateful enough for God’s presence in my life?  I meditated on many themes which stood out for me.  The times when God gently (and maybe not so gently) brought me back when I had strayed from the right path.  Who, specifically, have been the people through whom God has spoken to me?  Why does God remain faithful even when I do not?  Why am I not faithful all the time?  Who or what are my “enemies?”  How does God help me overcome them?  What am I called to do for God?  In the end, I was inspired to write a response to this beautiful canticle.  My response to praying the Benedictus reflects my own joy of and gratefulness for God’s role in my own life.

Benedictus

Peace for My Soul

 

 

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,

I praise you God, my Father;

who shepherds the people, and sets them free.

you intervened and guided me, and set me free.

 

 

God raises from David’s house

You sent your Son to humankind,

a child with power to save.

a savior for all, for me.

Through the holy prophets

Your spirit speaks through

God promised in ages past

my friends, neighbors, family, the stranger.

to save us from enemy hands,

You promise to protect me from my enemies –

from the grip of all who hate us.

from anything that might harm me.

 

 

The Lord favored our ancestors

You have always been faithful to me

recalling the sacred covenant,

recalling your covenant,

the pledge to our ancestor Abraham,

the pledge to all your people through time.

to free us from our enemies,

You free me from harm.

so we might worship without fear

I can worship without fear

and be holy and just all our days.

and strive for holiness and justice every day.

 

 

And you, child, will be called,

By my baptism

Prophet of the most high,

I, too, am a prophet

for you will come to prepare

and must prepare the way,

a pathway for the Lord

making clear a path for you,

by teaching the people salvation

by proclaiming the Gospel

through forgiveness of their sin.

and the law of love.

 

 

Out of God’s deepest mercy

Your mercy comprises unfathomable depths,

a dawn will come from on high,

securing for me immeasurable hope,

light for those shadowed by death,

light in times of darkness,

a guide for our feet on the way to peace.

and peace for my soul.

 

 

Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau

Sister Paule Pierre Barbeau is a novice at Saint Scholastica Monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Originally from Quebec, Canada, she lived in the Southeastern United States for 16 years before coming to Duluth. She did research in the field of exercise physiology for over years, and more recently completed a graduate degree in theology, while volunteering in parishes, giving workshops and retreats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart. Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict