– Maria Kwak
Last Tuesday, I took pleasure in joining the choral prayer service held at the Church of Saint Joseph, provided by the angelic voices of Eton College Chapel Choir. I was delighted to be part of worshipping the Lord and community gathering.
The repertoire included ‘Richte mich, Gott’ by Mendelssohn (1809-1847). The lyrics were based on Psalm 43:1-5, which inspired me to write this article.
The first verse of the song starts with “Do me justice, o God, and fight my fight against a faithless people; from the deceitful and impious man rescue me. For you, o God, are my strength.”
When are we expected to fight against a faithless people? And how do we define faithless people? I reflected upon the times when I thought that my life was in a serious trouble. I was reaching the age of 30 without any financial security. I sacrificed enough things in order to achieve success in my career but I was totally powerless when I became ill. The Lord turns us down when we chase after the things that are superficial. Society often values studies or jobs that guarantee success. However, we must understand that those values have no significance in God’s eyes. That is what ‘faithless’ means.
The song continues: “Why must I go about in mourning, With the enemy oppressing me?” The belief that everything in this world is God’s work is not alway shared even among the Christians, especially when it comes to financial dealings and material transactions. There is a great danger. We don’t even realise that when we build our own castle against Christian values, things start to fail. So we know that we are wrong when things do not unfold the way we want. It’s a pinch from God, your navigation is wrong… Peers and close ones advised me to find a man and get married as soon as possible. That pressure made me feel even sadder.
So I decided to seek guidance from the Lord and came to a decision to take a pilgrimage. The purpose of the trip was to understand who I am and I followed the soul’s calling.
The soothing melody asking for God’s light follows. “Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.” How do we witness God’s light? I believe the Lord makes his presence felt through various ways when we pray.
The last verse of Psalm 43 similarly presents us with a question – “Why are you so downcast, o my soul?” We may ask ourselves if we do not find peace. “Hope in God!” We must find hope in God, not in superficial things. The Lord taught us to follow his way through love and peace. I realize that I cannot bring peace to others if I am not at peace. We cannot be at peace when we set our eyes on material goods.
The Lord presents us with unexpected gifts in life, when we seek the truth of God. I had lost my job but later I understood that it was never a failure nor punishment from God. It was only an end to a life that was superfluous and the Lord becomes our savior who guides us to another path of his choice. To me, it an adventure outside my comfort zone despite the uncertainty.
As my first assignment in Seville, I encountered Saint Isidore of Seville, who was a great scholar and converted the Visigoths to Catholicism in the 6th century. He left us with a piece of wisdom – “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
I was glad that I took an adventure to follow what puts my heart at peace.