Re-carve your spirit

Turn, O Lord, and deliver my soul (Ps 6:5). Turning himself, the Psalmist prays that the Lord will also turn toward him, as is said elsewhere: Turn to me, and I will turn to you, says the Lord (Zech 1:3). Or should we understand that phrase, Turn, Lord, to mean: Make me turn, since the Psalmist feels the difficulty and labor in his own turn-about? For our perfect turn-about finds the Lord ready, as the prophet says: At dawn we shall find him ready (Hos 6:3, lxx). For its our turning away, not the absence of him who is present everywhere, that causes us to lose him. ... But when we turn ourselves around, that is, when we re-carve our spirit by changing our former life, we find how hard and laborious it is to be turned back from the fog of our earthly desires to the serenity and tranquility of the divine light. And in that difficulty we say, Turn, O Lord, that is, help us to complete the turn-about that finds you ready to give yourself for the enjoyment of those who love you. And so, after saying, Turn, O Lord, he added, And rescue my soul clinging as it is to the obscurity of this world and torn during its turn-about by the thorns of its desires. Save me, he goes on, for your mercys sake. He understands that his healing is not a matter of his merits, since a just punishment was due to him in his sinful neglect of Gods commands. Heal me, then, he says, not for my merits sake but for your mercys sake. (Augustine, EnPs 6, 5; PL 36, 92-93)

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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