Musing on Psalm 143:10

“Teach me to do Your Will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” — Psalm 143:10

Tuesday Night Prayer

Teach me to do your will
for you, O Lord, are my God.
Let your good spirit guide me
in ways that are level and smooth.

A MUSING

For years, as I have prayed Tuesday’s Night Prayer, which asks the Lord to send us His good spirit (the Holy Spirit) to guide us in ways that are “level and smooth,” a certain image has always been present in my mind as I say these words.

If you haven’t already noticed, I am a (recent) alumna of the University of Kansas in Lawrence. If you’ve never visited the campus, it is very beautiful (especially in the fall). But, the campus is notorious in Kansas, because it was built on a hill called Mt. Oread. Everyday, students make the trek up “the Hill” to go to class. With the way the campus is configured, there is a dip between Mt. Oread, where the majority of the campus buildings are, and the hill where the dorms are, Daisy Hill.

Many students ride the bus between the dorms and the campus to avoid the walk down Daisy Hill and then the subsequent walk up Mt. Oread (and vice versa on the return trip). While I didn’t live on Daisy Hill, I did frequent the Catholic Center, which is right across the street from the dorms.

In my first few days on campus, I learned about a “back route” to Daisy Hill – a road that didn’t involve any great changes in elevation – Crescent Road. The road curved through a quaint little neighborhood and essentially onto the ‘back porch’ of the Catholic Center. Most students would cut through the Center’s parking lot and continue down the street to the dorms, but I didn’t need to go any farther. The Catholic Center was my destination.

It is a nice walk, and a well-worn one, too. You can see places along the road where the grass won’t grow anymore, because so many students take it. There is a little rise and fall to it, but it’s only noticeable if you’re biking or running. And, depending on where on campus you have to get to, it might be a little bit longer route, but students take it nonetheless.

When I was still there, every now and again, I would take “direct route” down Mt. Oread and up Daisy Hill; but when I did, I would be so worn out climbing the steep hill toward the dorms and the Center. I never missed an opportunity to take Crescent Road back to campus.

It was a place where, now as I look back on it, I think the Spirit was and still is. Many of my Catholic friends and I would take that road to and from Mass, Adoration, spiritual direction, Confession, and other center activities. The Holy Spirit was there, gently pushing us closer to Christ in the Tabernacle, drawing us in, drawing us closer together – both with Him and with one another. And all while on a (relatively) level road.

Perhaps you have your own Crescent Road. Perhaps it isn’t a place. Maybe it’s a point in time. An event. A group of people. Something.

Something that, if you hadn’t known better, you would’ve missed it entirely. Something that made your life easier, even though it might’ve been the “long way.” Something that you missed and regretted whenever you foolishly decided against it. Something that led you closer to Christ, the way Crescent Road led me closer (and more easily) to the Catholic Center.

Something that comes to mind when you think of “ways that are level and smooth.” (Or “level ground,” if we’re going with the NAB translation).

But, anyway, I wanted to share my “level ground” with you. I hope that the next time you pray Tuesday Night Prayer, or read/meditate on Psalm 143, you might remember Lawrence’s Crescent Road and whatever your own “level ground” is.

And, I pray that we are all open to the Spirit, that He may guide us “in ways that are level and smooth.” Amen. +CHS

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Poem on Fr. Emil Kapaun

Fr. Kapaun says Mass for soldiers on a battlefield in Korea.

Author’s Note: This poem was written in 2008 or 2009 to honor Fr. Emil Kapaun, an Army chaplain during WWII and the Korean War. He died in a prisoner-of-war camp in China, after spending months praying with and ministering to his fellow soldiers. He was from the Diocese of Wichita, and he has been honored with the title “Servant of God.” His cause for beautification has been submitted to the Holy See in Rome. For more information on Fr. Kapaun’s life, please visit www.frkapaun.org . Also, I apologize but this blog is not very conducive to poetry.

A Man of God

He was a farm boy

Born on Holy Thursday

Raised on Pilsen prairie

Always looking up to God

He was an altar boy

Who strove to be perfect

And practiced whenever he could

Always looking up to God

He was a good student

With an agile mind and memory

Constantly challenging himself

Always looking up to God

He was a classmate

Who loved to fish and play

Had a lively wit and good humor

And was always looking up to God

He was a seminarian

With a special devotion to Mary

Sometimes doubting his call

But always looking up to God

He was a friend

Who loved to play a harmless joke

Wrote humorous letters when he could

While always looking up to God

He was a priest forever

In the line of Melchizedek

Ordained June 9, 1940

While looking up to God

He was a young pastor

Playing with the children

Dressing as a “cowboy priest”

Always looking up to God

He was an auxiliary chaplain

Writing letters to those in service

Gathering the wandering sheep

Always looking up to God

He was an obedient servant

Who did the will of his bishop

But also wanted the best for his men

Always looking up to God

He was military chaplain

Driving thousands of miles

To say Mass for the troops in India

While always looking up to God

He was a university student

Working toward a master’s degree

Anxious to lead others to salvation

While always looking up to God

He was an Army chaplain

Serving on the front lines in Korea

Guiding his brothers in their fight

Always looking up to God

He was a leader

That could have fled to safety

But instead stayed behind to help his men

While always looking up to God

He was a shepherd

Who prayed with his men when he could

And always had a smile on his face

While always looking up to God

He was a prisoner of war

Who stole food and washed clothing

To provide for the suffering troops

While always looking up to God

He was a man of God

Who forgave his captors

And loved his men to the end

While always looking up to God

He is Chaplain Emil Kapaun

A martyr and a saint

And even now, he is

Always looking up to God