Friday, February 4, 2011

Every Friday, Psalm 51

Although ideally we should examine our conscience and make an act of contrition daily, the Church wants us to be especially repentent on Fridays. And the official prayer of the Church, the Divine Office, gives us such a lovely act of contrition to say that it's not so bad thinking about our sinfulness after all. I refer to Psalm 51.  You hear it at mass as the responsorial psalm now and then, and probably see it's poetic penitence quoted by lots of spiritual writers:

"Have mercy on me, God in your kindness, In your compassion blot our my offense,
O wash me more and more from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.
...O see, in guilt I was born, a sinner I was conceived
...a clean heart create for me O God,
put a steadfast spirit within me...
...a humble, contrite heart, O God, you will not  spurn."

When praying this psalm you are repenting both for yourself and in union with the whole Church, pack of sinners that we are. That's one of the beauties of the liturgy. Millions are praising, thanking, begging, or repenting as one.  

One particular verse of this psalm is the opening verse of every hour of the Divine Office: "Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Your praise." You say that while making the sign of the cross. But more about that when we get to our How-To blog posts.