Friday, August 21, 2015

St. PIus X: The Psalms Rock!

Image result for ST. Pius X wikimedia

The commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours two or three or more times per day is, well a commitment. And as with any commitment to order our day or our lives in a certain way, our will to keep going can sometimes flag a bit. We need something to spur us on, to renew our original desire, to rekindle the spark.   

Pope St. Pius X gives us just that today in the Office of Readings. For those of you who don't do this particular liturgical hour, here is the reading: 

The collection of psalms found in Scripture, composed as it was under divine inspiration, has, from the very beginnings of the Church, shown a wonderful power of fostering devotion among Christians as they offer to God a continuous sacrifice of praise, the harvest of lips blessing his name. Following a custom already established in the Old Law, the psalms have played a conspicuous part in the sacred liturgy itself, and in the divine office. Thus was born what Basil calls the voice of the Church, that singing of psalms, which is the daughter of that hymn of praise (to use the words of our predecessor, Urban VIII) which goes up unceasingly before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and which teaches those especially charged with the duty of divine worship, as Athanasius says, the way to praise God, and the fitting words in which to bless him. Augustine expresses this well when he says: God praised himself so that man might give him fitting praise; because God chose to praise himself man found the way in which to bless God.

The psalms have also a wonderful power to awaken in our hearts the desire for every virtue. Athanasius says: Though all Scripture, both old and new, is divinely inspired and has its use in teaching, as we read in Scripture itself, yet the Book of Psalms, like a garden enclosing the fruits of all the other books, produces its fruits in song, and in the process of singing brings forth its own special fruits to take their place beside them. In the same place Athanasius rightly adds: The psalms seem to me to be like a mirror, in which the person using them can see himself, and the stirrings of his own heart; he can recite them against the background of his own emotions.Augustine says in his Confessions: How I wept when I heard your hymns and canticles, being deeply moved by the sweet singing of your Church. Those voices flowed into my ears, truth filtered into my heart, and from my heart surged waves of devotion. Tears ran down, and I was happy in my tears.

Indeed, who could fail to be moved by those many passages in the psalms which set forth so profoundly the infinite majesty of God, his omnipotence, his justice and goodness and clemency, too deep for words, and all the other infinite qualities of his that deserve our praise? Who could fail to be roused to the same emotions by the prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received, by the petitions, so humble and confident, for blessings still awaited, by the cries of a soul in sorrow for sin committed? Who would not be fired with love as he looks on the likeness of Christ, the redeemer, here so lovingly foretold? His was the voice Augustine heard in every psalm, the voice of praise, of suffering, of joyful expectation, of present distress.


  1. Hi Daria, thank you for your post. I thought todays (Saturday) Psalmody in Vespers particularly touching ...
    Ant. 1 Like burning incense, Lord, let my prayer rise up to you.
    followed by
    Psalm 141:1-9

  2. Amen to that. I've noticed that all four of thopening psalms for Sunday EP I really set the mood for the Sabbath nicely, but I agree this is the best of them.

  3. After years of praying LOTH through my iPad app, I recently acquired a full 4 volume LOTH set for a very reasonable price. For me, praying out of the book is like night and day compared to the iPad. Physically turning the pages is actually a help to my attention rather than a hindrance, as I really have to pay attention to what I'm doing. Also, there's no clock at the top of the book like there is on my iPad. Finally, there's no temptation to go on FB or email instead of the app. I'm really glad I made the switch. Despite being a tech-savvy person, there are just some things that don't work as well electronically.

    1. Lots of people would agree with you. I bounce back and forth from one to the other according to circumstances. If you have to do lots of work on a computer each day, there's a real sense of retreat and relaxation when you get away from it and turn to a real book. And, you know, the book is a sacramental. An app isn't.