A prayer for all reasons

THE OLDIE magazine is not the most likely place to look for inspiration for a post on a Catholic blog but one takes what is on offer!

The magazine runs two regular articles on the same page: “God”, which used to be written by Melanie McDonagh and is now penned by ‘Sister Teresa’ (I put the name in inverted commas because I suspect it is a pseudonym, though I may be wrong) and deals with matters religious, and (inevitably) “Mammon” which is mainly about financial matters.

In this month’s article the writer is suggesting that anyone still on the lookout for a New Year resolution could do worse than make themselves familiar with the psalms, pointing out they form the “backbone” not only of Jewish liturgy but also of the Church’s Divine Office.

Morning Prayer (Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers) both begin with two readings from the psalms together with a Canticle, from the OT at Lauds and the NT (St Paul or Revelations) at Vespers.

Night Prayer (Compline) has a single reading most days but two shorter ones on Saturday and Wednesday.

The minor offices — Terce. Sext and None — consist of three psalm readings, one other brief biblical text and a prayer.

The Book of Psalms is more quoted in the New Testament than any other OT book, not least by Jesus Himself and, as Sister Teresa reminds us, they are the prayers that Jesus used which is the best reason for us to use them and to know them better than we do.

She goes on

They give us access to God in times of all our strongest emotions, from fear, anger and bewilderment through to joy and exultation. They contain not the slightest suspicion of sentimentality and though they can be difficult and though some of them are very off-putting, they never pall.

A good Commentary is almost essential for those who are not familar with the psalms themselves but wish to know more and there are theological works by St Robert Bellarmine, St Augustine, and St Thomas Aquinas (whose feast it is today) all of which are excellent expositions, as one would expect, if not always an easy read!

This link leads to a site that gives a useful background explanation of the Book of Psalms itself.

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