I went to confession last Friday, and for a penance, the priest told me to pray through Psalm 4. It turned out to be very appropriate for my struggles about the corruption that is being revealed in the Catholic Church. I thought I would go through the psalm and talk about what it means to me.
The psalm starts with:
Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
Many of the psalms were written when the author was in great distress, often being pursued by enemies, so there is an urgency and intensity as the psalmist cries out to God for help. This should be our response, also. Cry out to God, don’t grumble to your neighbor. God can do much more about the situation than anyone else you could talk to.
You have given me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
This is not the first time the psalmist has turned to God for help. He has an ongoing relationship with God and acknowledges God’s goodness to him in the past. This gives him confidence to seek God this time.
O sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?
This speaks to some of what is going on in the Church that has been making me angry, especially these last 6 months. People twist words so that they can claim to be following Catholic teaching while actually advocating the opposite. They also twist the words of those who stand up for the truth, calling them extremist, dangerous, rigid, and divisive. They claim to promote unity, but all they want is to silence the opposition against their agenda to change the Church. They appear to be dull of heart, lacking true faith in God and Apostolic doctrine, since they claim doctrine to be oppressive instead of liberating. However, Jesus said that the truth would set us free (John 8:32).
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself, the Lord hears when I call to him.
This must be our confidence when it looks like the whole world is against us.
Be angry, but sin not; commune with your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
There is a place for anger, but it must be channeled in a constructive way. Ranting and raving is not effective in the ways of God. Rather, our anger should make us more firm in our resolve to stand up for what is right. We gain strength by quieting our hearts in the presence of God.
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
Do not forsake the worship of God; do not leave the Church that Christ established. It is still his body, even though there are tares mixed in with the wheat.
There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord!”
We understandably want to see these problems resolved quickly, but we must be patient because God has a plan. It appears to me that God is letting those who have worked secretly for many years show their hand because they think they have support from the top. Instead, God is allowing their evil to be clearly seen so that its true nature is apparent.
You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
How can we have joy while evil doers celebrate their apparent success? By knowing that Christ is on the throne, and he will put all of his enemies under his feet.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Look at the contrast between how the psalm begins and how it ends. The psalmist begins in distress, but as he puts his trust in God he finds peace. Praying with this psalm, we can go through the same process to find peace when the world is going crazy around us.