"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

30-Day Lockdown Retreat Journey: Courage in times of great adversity… breaking point into turning point (DAY 4)


Today is Day 4 of our 30-day lockdown retreat journey or what I call “Whole Community Retreat.”

Our theme is on the grace of courage.

Point Of Departure: Michael Card in his book “A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching out to God in the Lost Language of Lament.” (Navpress 2005)

N.B. I am posting here a large part of page 29 of Card’s book that is a highly recommended read during times of crisis.


I quote Michael Card,

We're going to talk about Hebrew grammar. "Hebrew grammar!" you're saying to yourself, "What could be helpful about that?" But read on.

Vav is the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It looks basically like a [vertical] line with a small flag on the top that always points to the left. [Or just think of the lightning image in our image above courtesy of Jean Denton.]

In the Hebrew language, vav [is largely equivalent to] “and.” But it has other uses. One of those is called the adversative. Then it is usually translated “but” (or sometimes “yet”), and marks a shift in thinking [Recall  Day 1 on lateral thinking].

The vav adversative occurs frequently in biblical laments. It marks a mysterious transition in the heart and mind of the lamenter. Sometimes you get the feeling that it marks the point at which he simply exhausts himself against God. Sometimes it marks the point at which he stops pouring out complaint and begins to paradoxically pour out praise from his own emptiness. The shift is unpredictable. Sometimes it happens in verse 5. Sometimes in verse 55. When the “crossing of the line” (remember vav is a vertical line) occurs, the psalmist dramatically shifts focus from [oneself] and [one's] pain to God and His glory. Often the shift is so abrupt that the only explanation seems to be that God somehow “showed up” [Day 3’s God-experience] and radically transformed the perspective of the one who was lamenting, but who is now worshiping. 

Here are some of the most striking examples of the vav adversative:

[Scriptural Supplements: Choose one Psalm for a short period of prayer. Use the methods in Day 4 e.g. prayerful listening with the heart method a.k.a. Lectio Divina, or the Breath Prayer method choosing the verse where the vav adversative occurs in a given Psalm.]

Ignatius And The Moor
by Peter Paul Rubens c. 1609
Grace To Beg For: This is to ask for what I desire… courage and generosity in a time of adversity... that I may turn this breaking point of my life now into a turning point to God.

Question To Ponder:

How am I allowing the virus to "cross the line" these days?

Now get your Bible and choose a Psalm to pray and beg God to grant you today's grace of courage.

Word Of God: (Song recordings are from divineoffice.org)

1. Psalm 3, the shift occurs in verse 3

2. Psalm 13, the shift is in verse 5

3. Psalm 22, the shift is in verse 19

4. Psalm 41, the shift is in verse 10

5. Psalm 55, the shift is in verse 16

6. Psalm 69, the shift is in verse 13

7. Psalm 71, the shift is in verse 14

8. Psalm 73, the shift is in verse 23

Nota Bene: The editorial cartoon is courtesy of Jean Denton. I will be constantly borrowing her very succinct editorial cartoons to help see the lighter side of things. You can find it in the book "Bill Huebsch: Whole Community Catechesis in plain English; Twenty-third Publications, 2002."

Prayer Requests:
You can email request for prayers for the dead (Name—RIPusing 8thworkermercy@bloggercom—there is a DOT between 8thworker and mercy. It is restricted so that only me as blog author can read it. Others will NOT be able to read any email; instead they will get a message stating that this is private. We will offer your intentions during our regular 6:30AM Masses in our community of Jesuit priests and novices.

P.S. Feel free also to include the names of all who are sick (Name—Get well soon).

Fr. JM Manzano, SJ


  1. The situation we are in right now is really VAV. Everything is shifted and turned upside down. Perhaps, a real life VAV, that we only realize the beauty of life when it is upside down--vertical VAV.


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