The Daily Office | February 14, 2018
Psalms 71, 72
Psalms 73, 74
Collect: Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made, and you forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
“In you, O Lord, do I take refuge.” Such a fitting first line for Psalm 71, and such a fitting first Psalm as we enter Lent. Our first Psalm, our first prayer, is one of seeking refuge in God.
Today we commit to fasting for forty days, to a season of repentance and reflection. We enter the desert through which we must journey to reach the promised land. What other cry ought we to make than “Be to me a rock of refuge!”?
John Cassian, a 4th century monk, wrote of such lines in the psalms: “O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!” Cassian encouraged Christians that
“to keep the thought of God always in your mind you must cling totally to this formula for piety…
This verse carries within it all the feelings of which human nature is capable. It can be adapted to every condition and can be usefully deployed against every temptation. It carries within it a cry of help to God in the face of every danger. It expresses the humility of a pious confession. It conveys a sense of our frailty, the assurance of being heard, the confidence in help that is always and everywhere present…
This short verse is an indomitable wall for all those struggling against the onslaught of demons.
It is an impenetrable breastplate and the sturdiest of shields.
Whatever the disgust, the anguish, or the gloom in our thoughts, this verse keeps us from despairing of our salvation since it reveals to us the One to whom we call, the One who sees our struggles and who is never far from those who pray to Him.” (Conference 10 On Prayer)
As we begin this journey of Lent, reflect on God as your refuge, your ever-present help in times of need. How, practically, do you seek refuge in God? What helps you to find stillness and peace amidst chaos? What spiritual disciplines or practices might be good options for you to explore this season?