Two Prayers Against Despairing

Benn Matthew, May 10, 2016, Fig Tree Painting, Habakkuk
I. Prayer of the Old Testament Prophet Habakkuk

Though the fig tree does not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vine,
the yield of the olive fail,
and the fields produce no food,
and there be no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
take joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
he makes my feet as light as a doe’s;
he sets my steps on high places.
(Habakkuk 3: 17-19)

Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi (1837-1887), “Christ in the Desert” (The Temptation of Jesus by the Devil), Oil on canvas, 1872, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia
II. prayer of the streets, 2022

Though Satan, predator
of back streets, dark turns of alleys,
proffers the syringe of forgetfulness, 
the numbing sweet poison of no Past,
no Tomorrow, an easy step off the curb, 
heedless traffic, the solace of
train tracks, imminent locomotives,

we pray to resist the Evil
sufficient to each day,
rejoice in the Word
spoken from the Beginning,
overcoming the Darkness
with the Light of Love.

Jesus, Holy Spirit,
companion to the least of us,
be our strong arm
each morning, our salvation
in time of distress.
(Isaiah 33: 2)

“Homeless Jesus” sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz, Papal Charities Building, Vatican City