"I Have Kept To Arduous Paths" : An Address In Honor of Bishop Athanasius Schneider

By Peter A. Kwasniewski

I have developed a particular affection for a certain verse of Psalm 16: Propter verba labiorum tuorum ego custodivi vias duras, “On account of the words of Thy lips, I have kept the arduous paths” (Ps 16:4). What are these arduous paths? We learn from Scripture that they are the keeping of God’s commandments and the offering of worthy worship to His divine Majesty. These things, which for unfallen man would have been easy and a source of delight, have become burdensome for fallen human nature. Christ our Lord has come to earth, has given for us His very life and death, to restore some measure of ease and joy to those arduous paths by which we reach our ultimate destiny in the heavenly Jerusalem. “Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me,” He says, “because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:29–30). We find this rest most of all in the Sacred Liturgy, where, like the cherubim, we “set aside all earthly cares” and throw ourselves into the infinite mystery of Jesus Christ, who alone can save us.

The Psalms also remind us of the virtue of steadfastness, immovability—what we might call a holy stubbornness. “My persecutors will exult if ever I should be moved” (Ps 12:5). But the faithful man says: “Ever will I keep the Lord before my eyes: for with Him at my right, I shall not be moved” (Ps 15:8). Indeed, he begs the Lord: “Make firm my steps in Thy ways, that my footsteps not be moved” (Ps 16:5). Our enemies, both spiritual and temporal, demonic and democratic, wish to shake us up or thrust us out of the narrow way of truth, but they will not succeed if the Lord Himself, who is an immovable Rock, strengthens our feet, that they not be moved.