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“JUDICA ME, DEUS, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso eripe me: quia tu es Deus meus et fortitudo mea.”
“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art my God and my strength.”
Today the Roman church celebrates the beginning of a season within the Lenten fast known as “Passiontide.” The Introit (Entrance Antiphon) in both forms of the Roman Rite begins with the prayer, that is traditionally prayed by the priests and his ministers at the foot of the altar. It is taken from Psalm 42(43), which was composed to inspire during a time of tribulation for the Chosen People. Not only does the Psalmist plead with God for justice upon himself, but against his enemies.
Amidst the cry for help, there is more. There is a longing.
“Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum et in tabernacula tua.”
“Send out Thy light and Thy truth: they have led me and brought me unto Thy holy hill, even unto Thy tabernacles.”
Just as Elijah would climb the heights to await the still small voice, just as Christ led the Three to the height of Mount Tabor for a glimpse of His majesty, just as the priest would begin at the first step of his pilgrimage to sacrifice -- so too the Psalmist prayed to be led up to the mountain of God, that he might dwell with Him in His holy place.
Such is the prayer of the Church today, as Her faithful children are beleaguered by persecution in the public square.
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Nearly seven years ago, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver (now of Philadelphia) rendered a sad appraisal of our state of affairs:
November [of 2008] showed us that 40 years of American Catholic complacency and poor formation are bearing exactly the fruit we should have expected. Or to put it more discreetly, the November elections confirmed a trend, rather than created a new moment, in American culture ...
Some Catholics in both political parties are deeply troubled by these issues. But too many Catholics just don’t really care. That’s the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn’t need to waste each other’s time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow ‘balanced out’ or excused by three other good social policies ...
We need to stop over-counting our numbers, our influence, our institutions and our resources, because they’re not real. We can’t talk about following Saint Paul and converting our culture until we sober up and get honest about what we’ve allowed ourselves to become. We need to stop lying to each other, to ourselves and to God by claiming to “personally oppose” some homicidal evil — but then allowing it to be legal at the same time.
We went in the space of one week from “Laetare Sunday” as a respite of rejoicing during the Great Fast, to “Judica Sunday” a call for the verdict of a Just Judge. Have the sins of a nation come to visit her inhabitants? Other than quibbling on Facebook as to which issues are more important than others (with nary a thought as to how one reaches those conclusions), how would her children respond?
“Judge me, O God ...”