June 13, 2015
Let Us Sing Psalms to the Lord
Greetings and peace to everyone as we begin these months of summer. No doubt you are already enjoying the summer days.
Many of us as people of faith often question and wonder how to better pray. The life of prayer over a lifetime is by no means easy. Of course the Eucharist is central for us as Catholics. When Jesus was approached by some of his disciples with the question of how to pray, Jesus gave them and us the Our Father. It is a treasured prayer that we use almost every time that we gather together to pray. But how did Jesus himself pray? No doubt his heart burned with love for God his Father and out of the depths of this love he prayed. But as a faithful Jewish man Jesus daily prayed the Psalms as was the tradition of the Jewish people at that time. In the Book of Psalms we have a hidden treasure. In it are 150 psalms expressing faith in God and every human longing and emotion. One could say that the psalms, as a part of God’s revealed word in the Bible, are God’s own words, which we use in turn as our words in our daily prayer to God. Priests and religious daily pray the prayer of the Church, the Divine Office, which is mainly composed of the psalms and readings from both the Old and the New Testaments. Here in the abbey we begin the day and we end the day praying and singing the psalms. As we prayed this morning in the abbey church I was very much struck with the words of St. Ambrose about the psalms. I quote:
“What is more pleasing than a psalm? David expresses it well: Praise the Lord, for a song of praise is good: let there be praise of our God with gladness and grace. Yes, a psalm is a blessing on the lips of the people, a hymn in praise of God, the assembly’s homage, a general acclamation, a word that speaks for all, the voice of the Church, a confession of faith in song. It is the voice of complete assent, the joy of freedom, a cry of happiness, the echo of gladness. It soothes the temper, distracts from care, lightens the burden of sorrow. It is a source of security at night, a lesson in wisdom by day. It is a shield when we are afraid, a celebration of holiness, a vision of serenity, a promise of peace and harmony. It is like a lyre, evoking harmony from a blend of notes. Day begins to the music of a psalm. Day closes to the echo of a psalm.”
There are of course many good ways to pray in our Catholic tradition. But as we begin these summer months, I would suggest praying the psalms. Perhaps slowly pray one or two psalms a day, one in the morning and one at night, as St. Ambrose mentions. They are God’s own words to us and our words back to God. What could be a better way to pray?
God’s blessings to you this summer!
Abbot John Brahill, O.S.B. ‘67