Posted by: fvbcdm | November 20, 2014

Feast of Saint Edmund Rich (20 November 2014)

Let’s think about the psalms a little bit today. The book of the psalms, called the psalter, is one of the wisdom books of the Old Testament and has been the basic prayerbook of the Jewish people since before the time of Jesus. In fact, every devout Jew knew the entire psalter—all 150 psalms—by heart, and prayed them regularly. They came to the mind, heart, and lips of the religious Jews as the Our Father and the Hail Mary do to us. Then, in the earliest days of the Church, the psalms were built into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and are still very much with us. We recite or sing one of the psalms, or a part of one, after the first reading at every Mass we celebrate. And those of us who pray the Liturgy of the Hours, also called the Divine Office, each day, find that the psalms are the basis of this official prayer system of the Church.

The famous Trappist author, Thomas Merton, devoted a book to the psalms; he called it “Bread in the Wilderness,” and explained how the psalms have been given to all God’s people, but especially to those like monks and nuns who pray the Divine Office each day on their own behalf and that of the entire Church and indeed, the entire human race. It is beautiful to realize that these psalms which we say in our daily prayer or at least on Sundays at Mass are the very prayers which Our Lord and His Blessed Mother prayed all their lives. As Jesus was dying in unspeakable agony on the cross, he cried out: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Those who do not understand what was happening believe that Jesus was expressing his despondency and his feeling that his heavenly Father had forsaken him. Not at all! That utterance is the first line of psalm 22. If you will read the whole thing, which was of course implied by Jesus= saying the first line in a loud voice, you will find an almost photographic description of his terrible sufferings on the cross, which then ends in a great cry of triumph and accomplishment and victory. Yes, Our Divine Lord was undergoing terrible physical sufferings, and probably a great deal of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual pain, too, but he certainly did not believe that his Father had, or ever would, abandon or forsake him. When you attend Mass, my dear friends, pay close attention to the responsorial psalm after the first reading, and to the entrance and communion antiphons, which are usually taken from the psalms, and remember that you are praying to God in the very same words and ideas which Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother used in their prayer life. Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note: This message was composed some years ago.

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