Bible:Dash the Infants of Our Enemies Against the Rock!

Pope Benedict XVI baptizing.

Dash Thy Little Ones Against the Rock!

Recently, I had a little exegetical epiphany while meditating on the Vulgate Psalms in Latin. Previously I’ve been troubled by Psalm 136{137}:9, which reads, “Blessed be he that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock.” Being blessed for infanticide? Huh?

However, the Clementine Vulgate version opens itself to a very beautiful allegorical reading:

“beatus qui tenebit et adlidet parvulos tuos ad petram.”

We are encouraged to dash the infants of our enemies “ad petram.”

Now couple this with the Vulgate version of Matthew 16:18

“et ego dico tibi quia tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam.”

To read it allegorically, we should be asking that the infants of our enemies be dashed against Peter and the foundation of the Catholic Church! For example, see the photo at that top of this post—that’s Pope Benedict’s hand baptizing an infant.

It’s edifying (nerdy Latin Vulgate pun intended) to pray Psalm 136 with Mt 16:18 in mind, and then intend that the children of our enemies (secularists, terrorists, haters of the Church, those who have hurt us) be thrown against Peter and the Church…that they be baptized, saved, and remain within the barque of Peter…

The Psalms are so rich. It’s too bad that Psalm 136:9 has been removed from the Liturgy of the Hours. A true pity.

via Dash Thy Little Ones Against the Rock! ~ Canterbury Tales by Taylor Marshall.

Taylor Marshall is an accomplished scholar and I truly enjoy his work especially when he points out little nuggets of the faith-building, truth-supporting facts.

Psalm 137[136] reads:

1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres.
3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!
6 Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!
7 Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Rase it, rase it! Down to its foundations!”
8 O daughter of Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall he be who requites you with what you have done to us!
9 Happy shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! (Psalms (RSV) 137)

To place this verse in some context, consider that the Psalmist is speaking to his enemies, the enemies of Israel: Babylon. In his commentary on the Psalms, St. Augustin contends that the Psalmist is expressing the need for Babylon to repay it transgressions against Israel. He states:

“Happy shall he be that repayeth thee, as thou hast served us.” What repayment meaneth he? Herewith the Psalm closeth, “Happy, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the rock” (verse 9). Her he calleth unhappy, but him happy who payeth her as she hath served us. Do we ask, what reward? This is the repayment. For what hath that Babylon done to us? We have already sung in another Psalm, “The words of the wicked have prevailed against us.” For when we were born, the confusion of this world found us, and choked us while yet infants with the empty notions of divers errors. The infant that is born destined to be a citizen of Jerusalem, and in God’s predestination already a citizen, but meanwhile a prisoner for a time, when learneth he to love ought, save what his parents have whispered into his ears? They teach him and train him in avarice, robbery, daily lying, the worship of divers idols and devils, the unlawful remedies of enchantments and amulets. What shall one yet an infant do, a tender soul, observing what its elders do, save follow that which it seeth them doing. Babylon then has persecuted us when little, but God hath given us when grown up knowledge of ourselves, that we should not follow the errors of our parents. …How shall they repay her? As she hath served us. Let her little ones be choked in turn: yea let her little ones in turn be dashed, and die. What are the little ones of Babylon? Evil desires at their birth. For there are, who have to fight with inveterate lusts. When lust is born, before evil habit giveth it strength against thee, when lust is little, by no means let it gain the strength of evil habit; when it is little, dash it. But thou fearest, lest though dashed it die not; “Dash it against the Rock; and that Rock is Christ.” (Augustin on Psalms 137)

In this commentary St. Augustin equates the “little ones” to sin; sin which must be dashed against Christ Who is the Rock. Some may say that Taylor is way off base on this one but I would disagree. Peter is named such because he is the visible Rock upon whom Jesus built the Church. Furthermore, Jesus left Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven.” In doing this, Jesus makes Peter His steward or vicar. Peter speaks with the authority of Christ. As such, Taylor’s argument that this Psalm, read in an allegorical fashion in light of the New Covenant, extols us to dash the ‘little ones’ of our enemies, “against Peter, the foundation of the Catholic Church!” In this Taylor speaks of infant baptism into the Catholic Church.

It is important to note that none of this can be accomplished without Jesus. So “dashing the little ones” against the Peter the Rock is equivalent to dashing them against Jesus the Rock. This is evidenced by Jesus’ words to Saint Paul, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?…I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”  (Acts (RSV) 9:4b, 5b). Jesus does not say to Paul, then Saul, “Why do you persecute my Church?” No, He asks Paul, “Why do you persecute ME.” The Church is the Body of Christ, we refer to her as the mystical Body of Christ. And if there is only One Christ, there can logically be only One Body or One Kingdom, One Israel – simply One.

To this One, Jesus left stewardship to Peter. And thus, dashing the little ones
of our enemies against the Rock that is the foundation of the Church is visibly Peter and invisibly Jesus.

Nice work Taylor!


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