Friday, October 03, 2008

Praying the Psalms

In preparing for my upcoming talk on the Liturgy of the Hours, I'm really enjoying Joseph Jungmann's book on the history of Christian Prayer. A tidbit I read yesterday mentioned that--it being a given that monks would pray the psalms as their primary form of prayer--by the Middle Ages, some monks didn't know how to pray the psalms. They just tried to get through them. One kindly bishop offered the "helpful" suggestion that they meditate on the various aspects of the suffering of Jesus as a way of engaging their minds and hearts while they recited the words of the Psalter. (Some monasteries, especially early on, had the goal of reciting all 150 Psalms every day!)
I don't really have much trouble praying the Psalms; they seem to say just about everything. Singing the blues? Psalm 22. Singing for joy? Psalm 92. Singing of love? Psalm 18 (parts of it, at any rate!). And one of my Dad's old books provided me with an insight that I have found especially fruitful. The book was "The Soul of Jesus," and in one chapter, it offered a meditation on how Jesus himself learned to pray at home in Nazareth. I imagined Mary and Joseph praying the Psalms, and little Jesus lisping along with them, and it became like an invitation to me to witness the way the members of this Holy Family prayed the Psalms. So now, when I prepare at night for the next day's liturgy, I read the responsorial Psalm four times: once, just to open my mind to it. And then I read it again, opening myself to the way Mary would have prayed those words. Then it's Joseph's turn, and then Jesus'. It has really made a difference in how I then take up the Psalm as my own.
Try it with today's Psalm!

3 comments:

Christopher Humphries said...

What a great post! Thanks for offering this suggestion of praying the psalms and a new perspective on meditation with them. How refreshing (especially on LOTH with psalms you're familiar with).

This is going to help my prayer and spiritual life. Much appreciated! God bless you, Sister! I'll be praying for you :)

Fred said...

Thanks again for a helpful teaching tool for working with adults in RCIA...I will pass this on to my candidates who are so eager for help!
Hope to see you soon...
Blessings,
Father Fred, CMF

jun said...

Guilty as charged. Though there are a lot of psalms that I know by heart, I admit that I often just skim through the Responsorial Psalm. There are times when I can't make heads or tails of what it really means. Sometimes it's teh repetitiveness that puts me off. But come to think of it, I "repeat" Our fathers. Hail Mary's and Glory Be's with the Rosary.

Maybe re-reading them several times would make me see.

God bless from Quezon City Philippines!