feeling for the truth to come; for though we are bidden to pray even for our enemies, he revealed the nature of the truth concerning the obdurate who are doomed to perish. These words were not, however, uttered without fruit as the outcome of his great devotion, for many people save themselves by correction from the punishment which was foretold, once they realise the fate that overhangs the obstinate.
A canticle of steps. Unless we recall with concern the practice of the Church, some uncertainty can arise about why the prophet prostrates himself to offer satisfaction, when he has gained a foothold on the eleventh step. Though he was implanted on that height, and had made his way up towards enduring glory, he could still experience agitation if not destruction. A similar account was given at Psalm 127, when we said that fear of the Lord befits holy persons at every stage in this world. The Church says at Psalm 128: Often have they fought against me from my youth, and a little later: The wicked have wrought upon my back, 1 and in their ascent this people recounts the many disasters which they were still enduring in this world. So here too the closer the prophet's spirit mounted to the heights, the more he prostrated himself in devoted humility, so that bent low he could still ascend in mind, as long as he did not presume on his own merits. In his awareness of the human condition, though he had long subdued it, he bent low with greater humility, for no-one known to be implanted in our frail body can escape sin; for at what moment do we not sin in thought, or err through excess of words, or slip through thoughtless action? So there is this one safe course for the person living in this world: continually to bend low with devoted prayers, so that despite our inability to be free from guilt, we may deserve to be pardoned through the kind offices of devotion.
The prophet's vision is mental rather than physical. To avoid being overwhelmed by massive billows of faults, in his exordium he cries