By Sr. Faustina Olson
Praising Jesus, through the Immaculate!
Psalm 23 is such a comforting Psalm; it is usually read at a Funeral Mass to console the bereaved. Yet, it can also be called a Sacramental Psalm because it points to SIX of the Sacraments. How so ??
“He restoreth my soul” - The soul is reconciled to God and at peace through Confession. “He leads me in the paths of righteousness” - the grace of Confession leads to a repented life.
“Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death... thy rod and thy staff comfort me” - The Shadow of Death brings fear, but The Viaticum, i.e. Sacrament of the Sick, brings strength and comfort to the dying.
“Thou preparest a table before me" - the Fathers of the church taught that this Table points to the Banquet of the Bread of Life - the Holy Eucharist. St. Paul of Jerusalem says of this line: “But when You came, O Lord, You prepared a table before me, which is none other than the sacramental and spiritual table which God has prepared for us.”
“Thou anointest my head with oil” – denotes the oil used in the Sacraments of Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick and Anointing of the hands at the Ordination of the Priesthood. The oil is mentioned in Ps. 133, “Precious is the oil upon the head, running down… upon the beard of Aaron”. This profuse anointing of Aaron is found in Ex 30:23. God told Moses to make a holy oil with specific directions and elements. He was ordered to make a bounteous supply and pour it upon the Tabernacle, the sacred vessels, upon Aaron and his sons who were designated as priests. This oil was to be holy unto all generations. No one else was allowed to be anointed by it. It was such a holy oil that God forbade the duplication of the ingredients – else whey would die. The oil was NOT to be poured on anyone else – so sacred was this oil! This bounteous oil was generously poured upon Aaron’s beard – like the “Dew of Hermon”. The dews of Hermon resembled showers of rain and would be very heavy and refreshing. The oil of Aaron prefigured the grace and unity descending and flowing from the head of the Church, (the pope) to the other priests and to all the faithful.
“My Cup runneth over” - Eusebius of Caesarea says, “In these lines the Word clearly designates the sacramental unction (chrism) and the holy sacrifice of Christ’s table”. St. Cyprian of Carthage teaches: “The Holy Spirit expresses in the Psalms the same figure of the Eucharist when the Lord’s chalice is mentioned; ‘Thy cup which inebriates me, how excellent it is!’ But the inebriation which the Lord’s chalice gives is not similar to that of profane wine. It intoxicates in such a way that it does not make one lose his reason; it leads souls to spiritual wisdom...” And in Acts 2:13-17: “Others mocking said, these men are full of new wine. But Peter...said unto them...these are not drunken, as ye suppose...but this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: and it shall come to pass in the last day, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever! All of these Sacraments help us on our pilgrimage to heaven.