Sister Paule Pierre – Reflection on Psalm 42

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Sister Paule Pierre – Reflection on Psalm 42

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?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’



I, too, yearn for running water, for trails and streams to feed my soul.  I yearn for God, the living water, the source of life.   I yearn to see God face to face.  I know that this won’t happen while I walk this earth.  Meanwhile, people continue to ask me, where is God? 

These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.


I think of the good days.  I rejoice in the happiness around me.  I look for reflections of God’s face around me.  I find God in my Sisters – our sharing at meals and recreation.  I find God in my family – in our walks together, in our ongoing shared story, and in my nieces and nephews.  I find God in my friends – in our hopes and dreams, and the intimacy of friendships.  I see Him in strangers I meet – in the discovery of our shared humanity.  I see Him in the animals that cavort outside my window and those I encounter in the wild as they go about the business of survival.  I see Him in nature – in the splendor of colors and changing of the seasons.  Yet something is still missing.  There is a deeper longing. 

My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
at the thunder of your cataracts;
all your waves and your billows
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.


I am in exile, a pilgrim on earth, making her way toward heaven, toward God – the God who dwells within me, yet who is elusive, not quite knowable, just out of reach.  My prayer keeps the conversation with God open, but words often escape me, so I rely on the Holy Spirit to pray for me.  In my obstinacy, I continue to try to take control during the day; at night, when I sleep, God has control.

I say to God, my rock,
‘Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully
because the enemy oppresses me?’
As with a deadly wound in my body,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’

  Snowy wood 

Sometimes people ask me why I believe in God.  They are suffering or grieving.  Or perhaps it is I who am suffering or grieving.  It is harder to find God’s reflection then – or is it?  Jesus was misunderstood, calumniated, mistreated, and put to death.  Surely, I can find something in there with which to identify!  It sometimes seems easier to connect with God in sorrow and tragedy than it does in moments of joy!

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

Sharing with Christ 

Hope springs eternal.  The living water is within our grasp.  I partake in it daily in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  I praise God and I turn to share all my joys, sorrows, fears, and hopes with Christ, who has understands all and who can rejoice with me and share my burdens.  Prayer quenches some of my longing, but not all.





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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“Before all, and above all, attention shall be paid to the care of the sick, so that they shall be served as if they were Christ Himself.”
–St. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of Saint Benedict