Today Fr. Dan Berrigan’s body will be laid to rest.
To celebrate this I read the psalms for Morning Prayer of the Office for the Dead. The final psalm, 146, seems particularly fitting for this priest, prophet, poet, prisoner.
“I will make music to God while I live.” (verse 2)
His poetry and his writings have been music to my ears, opening them more fully to God.
“Put no trust in princes…” (verse 3)
Fr. Dan did not trust princes, especially those who are armed to the teeth with weapons of death. Fr. Dan’s life spoke of a deeper trust – in a God of Life.
“It is he who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry…” (verses 6-7)
I am not sure whether the psalmist is speaking of the Lord or of those who put their hope in the Lord. Does it matter? We are to be holy as the Lord is holy, to be just as the Lord is just, to share our bread as the Lord has shared bread with us.
“…the Lord sets prisoners free…” (verse 7)
Even more, we are called to set prisoners free. The Resurrection of Christ icon has Jesus setting free Adam and Eve and all the holy ones who went before Him. He breaks the gates of Hell.
“the Lord gives sight to the blind,
raises up those who are bowed down;
the Lord protects the stranger
and upholds the widow and orphan.” (verses 8-9)
Fr. Dan opened the eyes of many of us so that we can not deny that we are called to raise up those bowed down by violence and poverty, we are called to protect the stranger and migrant in our midst, we are called to uphold the least of all.
“It is the Lord who loves the just
but thwarts the path of the wicked.” (verses 8-9)
Fr. Dan loved justice and his acts of holy disobedience were often attempts to thwart the path of the the wicked.
“The Lord will reign forever….” (verse 10)
My guess is that this is what Fr. Dan prayed for.
May the Reign of God, a reign of love, justice, peace, come.
I think we’ve seen glimpses of this Reign in the life of Father Dan.
The translation of the psalm is adapted from the Grail translation.