Matins and Hurricane Idalia

A Handmaid HPB Vocations, News

If we needed any reminders that God is in charge of everything in this universe, we only needed to look at the readings from the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office) for Matins. This is typically prayed in the morning and its hymns, psalms, antiphons, readings and prayers for Wednesday were selected long ago by Holy Mother Church. Yet its contents seem practically tailor-made for the situation of the major hurricane named Idalia. Idalia was making landfall in the Big Bend area of Florida just around the time for Matins. For Wednesday Week I the Breviary features Psalm 18 for Matins. It just “happens” to have a great deal of language that brings to mind water, waves, storm surge, winds, lightning, destruction and a poetic description of that helpless feeling all humans know when they are outmatched by nature.

Yet this psalm notably begins and ends with confidence in the Lord. We can have that confidence not because of anything we have done to earn God’s help but rather, we can have such confidence because we know of his love for us. It’s completely gratuitous. His love cannot be earned, but it can be relied upon even in the most frightening and destructive circumstances.

Many people in the path of this hurricane probably did not have a lot of time to formally pray, but in our vocation as contemplative nuns, we can pray for them, meaning we can pray in their place as it were. This is the prayer of petition, and impetration for the needs of others.

We may also find a lesson in this psalm of how God responds to our cry for help. It doesn’t sound very gentle. In fact, it sounds a lot more like Idalia. But be not afraid! God is with us. He will help. Because he loves us and he is Love.

From Psalm 18:

I love you, Lord, my strength,
my rock, my fortress, my savior.
My God is the rock where I take refuge;
my shield, my mighty help, my stronghold.

The Lord is worthy of all praise;
when I call I am saved from my foes.

The waves of death rose about me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
the snares of the grave entangled me;
the traps of death confronted me.

In my anguish I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.

Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the mountains were shaken to their base:
they reeled at his terrible anger.
Smoke came forth from his nostrils
and scorching fire from his mouth:
coals were set ablaze by its heat.

He lowered the heavens and came down,
a black cloud under his feet.
He came enthroned on the cherubim,
he flew on the wings of the wind.

He made the darkness his covering,
the dark waters of the clouds, his tent.
A brightness shone out before him
with hailstones and flashes of fire.

The Lord thundered in the heavens;
the Most High let his voice be heard.
He shot his arrows, scattered the foe,
flashed his lightnings and put them to flight.

The bed of the ocean was revealed;
the foundations of the world were laid bare
at the thunder of your threat, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your anger.

From on high he reached down and seized me;
he drew me forth from the mighty waters.
He snatched me from my powerful foe,
from my enemies whose strength I could not match.

They assailed me in the day of my misfortune,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me forth into freedom,
he saved me because he loved me.