Hedged About With Thorns


As I’ve studied verses in an interlinear translation,
I’ve been struck by the Hebrew word “shamar”, usually translated as “keep”,
as in “I will keep Your statutes” (Psalm 119:8)
or “Keep me as the apple of Your eye” (Psalm 17:8).

According to Strongs concordance,
the sense of “shamar” is “to hedge about as with thorns”
(sort of like natural barbed wire, only more formidable)
–rather more visceral than the English!


Then I read this:

Adorable Heart of Jesus,
sanctuary of the love that led God to make Himself man,
to sacrifice His life for our salvation,
and to make of His body the food of our souls:
in gratitude for that infinite charity,
I give You my heart,
and with it all that I possess in this world,
all that I am, all that I shall do,
all that I shall suffer.
But, my God, may this heart, I implore You,
be no longer unworthy of You;
make it like unto Yourself;
surround it with Your thorns
and close its entrance to all ill-regulated affections
set there Your cross,
make it feel its worth,
make it willing to love it.
Kindle it with Your divine flame.
May it burn for Your glory;
may it be all Yours,
when You have done what You will with it.
You are its consolation in its troubles,
the remedy of its ills,
its strength and refuge in temptation,
its hope during life,
its haven in death.
I ask You, O Heart so loving,
the same favor for my companions. Amen.
~Madame Elizabeth,
(Élisabeth Philippine Marie Hélène de France),
sister of Louis XVI


A shock of recognition ran through my soul.

How often the plea is made in Sacred Scripture for God to “keep” us,
and for us to keep His commandments
–which is the same thing!–
and here they are, brought together
in the divine conflagration of Jesus’ Passion,
represented by His Heart, encircled by thorns,
aflame with caritas.

So that’s why God made the ground bring forth thorns
in response to Original Sin! (Genesis 3:18)

Thorns on my Head (Jesus, Colossians 1:18) guard my mind;
thorns around my heart guard my will.

With these two fortresses intact,
I’m impregnable.

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