Saturday & Sunday, October 18 & 19, 2008 – Psalms – The Praises
The Psalms, a collection of liturgical pieces for temple worship and personal devotion, were composed over a 1000 year period from the time of Moses (about 1400 before Common Era) to the Babylonian Captivity (about 586 before Common Era). They are anonymous with superscripts describing origins and/or attributing them to various composers. Scholars are not in agreement about the authorship of many of these prayers but they do agree to define the Psalter in the following way: The Psalms, also known as THE PRAISES*, embody the Voice of The Holy Spirit of God. They are both a mirror of God’s marvelous deeds and a reflection of the human spirit. They are personal and communal prayer that recalls the saving events of the past but also extend into the future end of history. They commemorate the promises already kept by God and they await the Messiah – who is the fulfillment of all promises and the fulfillment of God’s covenant with humankind. The words of the Psalms are our human prayer which the Spirit inspires from God’s work and the expression of humanity’s Response to God.
For me, the Psalms are beauty, they are understanding, they are prodding, they are mercy, they are love, they are sorrow, they are joy, they are peace. It is perhaps for this reason that I love to pray The Liturgy of the Hours, a day and night-long abiding with God through reading of and meditation on the psalms and other spiritual readings.
Many saints spent continual hours in prayer using the 150 psalms of and to and for and from both God and God’s people. I have favorites for certain circumstances, and perhaps you do as well. If you do not have favorites, you will want to spend some time with this book even if your days are jammed with activities of both work and play. Sometimes the only thing we have a moment for in a hectic life is a snatched brief psalm or strophes taken from a longer one . . . but read them we must. They never fail; they always bring comprehension; they always open a true and consoling channel to God.
Prayer is often used to flee the difficult moments of life . . . but this is short-changing the power of intimate communion with God. For whether prayer is plaintive, argumentative, intercessory or a giving of thanks, it is always a direct encounter with God – whether we feel God’s presence or not. God always hears our voice, and God is always present everywhere – for God is all. So let us allow ourselves to be inspired by the Psalms and to offer humanity’s masterwork of prayer back to the God who created us . . . and let us sing The Praises of God.
*ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV), pages 789-790
The CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, CCC 1176 and 2585-2597
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