Micah 7:19

Micah 7:18-19

“Who is a God like You? who takes away iniquity, and passes by the sin of the remnant of thy inheritance?
He will send in his fury no more, because He delights in mercy.
He will turn again, and have mercy on us.
He will put away our iniquities, and He will cast all our sins into the bottom of the sea
.”

This Micah passage is used a fair amount in Church literature in Latin, but in English it’s usually quoted by Protestants. (I suppose because to most lay Catholics, it’s a prophecy easily seen to be granted through Confession. But it’s still sad that we are underusing it.) It was part of the Advent readings. Here’s some Dominicans singing “Qui venturus est,” which contains the “profundum maris” passage.

Jerome’s Letter 69 (To Oceanus, c. 6, 4) references this verse in connection to Baptism: “And it is to the grace of baptism that the prophecy of Micah refers: “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities, and will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Jerome quotes the Old Latin version of the passage.)

Medieval theologians apparently liked to point out that God had Micah prophesy that He would put sins at the bottom of the sea, because the sea was not permanent, according to Rev. 21:1 – “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth was gone, and the sea is now no more.” This tied in with Jeremiah 50:20, which said that “”In those days and at that time,” says the Lord, “the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sin of Judah, and there shall none be found; for I will be merciful to those whom I shall leave.””

Bernini’s nephew, Father Francisco Marchese, wrote a devotional work meant for dying persons which associated all sorts of water imagery in the Bible with Christ’s Blood. This included associating the sea with Christ’s ocean of mercy, as represented by the Precious Blood (p. 308), since the viaticum was one of the few occasions when a Catholic in those days would receive Communion under both forms. So you can go a lot of different ways with this verse.

Now to the point of this post. The Anchoress published this quote attributed to St. Benedict which references the Micah verse:

It is only we who brood over our sins. God does not brood over them; God dumps them at the bottom of the sea.

The problem is that we don’t really have much said by St. Benedict except his Rule. So where would this quote even come from? Well, it turns out that a handful of the man’s letters and sermons do survive, but none of them mention sins or “profundum maris.” Neither does the Rule. Neither does the Life given in The Dialogues of St. Gregory. The only appearances in English seem to be on Bombay Christian’s Facebook page, the Anchoress’ page, and a couple of Pinterest pins. So… yeah, I’m doubting this one. If it comes from anywhere, it’s probably from another language that isn’t Latin. I’ll check Spanish and see if that’s where people are getting it.

That said, it’s still true. It’s just not St. Benedict who said it.

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