Tuesday, August 2, 2011



...Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side...
(Psalm 23)

Most of us are familiar with these words of Psalm 23, usually read during a Funeral Mass.

I recently heard this psalm proclaimed at a funeral for a close family member. I was thinking, yes, seeing someone you love suffer illness and death is truly traveling a spiritual path in the valley of darkness. However, we know through the teaching of St. John of the Cross, that this "dark night" is about purification and trusting in the gift of faith, even though through this intense purification of the night of the spirit, it may seem that God has abandoned us. 

We can ask ourselves, what is my "Valley of Darkness" in my current state of life?  Is it serious illness? Is it a feeling of abandonment by God? Is it a broken relationship? Family problems? Temptation to sin?

In God's great mercy, he gives his people who are struggling to keep hope alive, his own Mother, Our Lady! She comes to help us when we cry out to her. She never fails her children!  In that famous prayer, "Hail, Holy Queen" we ask her to help us on our pilgrimage, we, who are 'mourning and weeping' in this valley of tears.  Let us get to the root of our mourning and ask God to purify our sadness.  Is it a true mourning-longing to see God face-to-face? Is it a real heartfelt sorrow for our sins? Or is our sadness based on pride and the effects of a wounded ego and resistance to detachment?

Let us pray for each other, that we assist each other with our prayers as we travel in the dark night of faith together, a valley of darkness, if you will. We are not the 'blind leading the blind' as Our Lord speaks of when we take Our Lady's hand. We follow Christ through Mary. She will not lead us astray. And when we experience fear and trepidation, let us return to that beautiful ancient hymn of the Church and of the Carmelites, the beautiful supplication prayer "Salve Regina" (Hail, Holy Queen). Let us sing with full voice to our loving Mother, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and echo with St. John of the Cross: "For I know well the spring that flows and runs, although it is night." (Excerpt from  Song of the Soul that rejoices in knowing God through faith).

Peace be with you!
Rosemarie, ocds

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