Domine, ne in furore

A prayer of a penitent for the remission of his sins. The third penitential psalm.

Psalm 37

  1. A psalm for David, for a remembrance of the sabbath.
  2. Rebuke me not, O Lord, in thy indignation; nor chastise me in thy wrath.
  3. For thy arrows are fastened in me: and thy hand hath been strong upon me.
  4. There is no health in my flesh, because of thy wrath: there is no peace for my bones, because of my sins.
  5. For my iniquities are gone over my head: and as a heavy burden are become heavy upon me.
  6. My sores are putrified and corrupted, because of my foolishness.
  7. I am become miserable, and am bowed down even to the end: I walked sorrowful all the day long.
  8. For my loins are filled with illusions; and there is no health in my flesh.
  9. I am afflicted and humbled exceedingly: I roared with the groaning of my heart.
  10. Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hidden from thee.
  11. My heart is troubled, my strength hath left me, and the light of my eyes itself is not with me.
  12. My friends and my neighbours have drawn near, and stood against me. And they that were near me stood afar off:
  13. And they that sought my soul used violence. And they that sought evils to me spoke vain things, and studied deceits all the day long.
  14. But I, as a deaf man, heard not: and as a dumb man not opening his mouth.
  15. And I became as a man that heareth not: and that hath no reproofs in his mouth.
  16. For in thee, O Lord, have I hoped: thou wilt hear me, O Lord my God.
  17. For I said: Lest at any time my enemies rejoice over me: and whilst my feet are moved, they speak great things against me.
  18. For I am ready for scourges: and my sorrow is continually before me.
  19. For I will declare my iniquity: and I will think for my sin.
  20. But my enemies live, and are stronger than I: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.
  21. They that render evil for good, have detracted me, because I followed goodness.
  22. Forsake me not, O Lord my God: do not thou depart from me.
  23. Attend unto my help, O Lord, the God of my salvation.

I met a homeless man named J.R. Old, black, spending his nights bundled up in the stairwell to the basement of a church. Someone had stolen all his blankets, so he asked if I had some to spare. We talked for a while, about his wife of 23 years leaving him, and a little about God. I said to pray to God for a way out of this, but he didn’t really seem to want a way out. Maybe he had been doing this for so long that this was just life now, but I think he was happy living in perpetual punishment of himself. There are a lot of people like this. My friend Chris was like this. They don’t want forgiveness, neither for themselves or for the people who have wronged them. They don’t believe it’s deserved.

That’s the situation of people who don’t believe in God. All penance must be done here on earth, temporally. As Christians we know this is impossible. No amount of penance will cleanse our own sins, or the sins of those who have wronged us. That is why we needed Christ, to bridge the gap.

Then it’s a matter of trusting in that forgiveness, which means accepting the forgiveness for yourself, too. What good is Christ’s forgiveness if you haven’t accepted it?

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