Monday, March 21, 2011

A cruise through today's office - Part I &2

Office of Readings
Don't want to spend too much time on this since many of you only use the one-volume Breviary. But every lent we are taken through the book of Exodus, since the story of Moses is the scriptural pre-figurement of our salvation. I need to re-read Exodus regularly to fill the gaps in the Prince of Egypt version that is sadly lodged in my brain. Today I am noticing how sarcastic the Israelites are when they complain to Moses: Were there no graveyards in Egypt that you had to bring us out here to die in the dessert?

Morning Prayer
Monday Week II – my favorite day of the psalter after Sunday Week I , since it contains two very beautiful psalms. First Psalm 42: Like the deer that years for running streams, so my soul is thirsting for you, my God...when can I enter and see that face of God? It's that perfect pattern of sorrow, complaint, and trust in God that truly teaches us how to pray. Look at this frightening yet beautiful description of being overwhelmed with sorrow: deep is calling on deep in the roar of the waters: your torrents and all your waves swept over me. But through it all, the soul returns to Hope in God,I will praise him still, my savior and my God.

Then there's Psalm 19A, which C.S. Lewis calls the greatest poem of all the psalms, and perhaps one of the greates poems period. The heavens proclaim the glory of God, and the firmament shows for the the work of his unto day takes up the story and night unto night makes known the message. Say this one while you watch a sunrise. The New Covenant application is to Christ, the Sun of Justice, the Dayspring who shines on us who dwell in death's shadow.

Now for the afternoon. I tend to not get to day time prayer until well after lunch.

Psalm 119: You commands have been my delight; these I have loved. It always gives me pause to read the daytime prayer psalms which so often express a passionate love for God's law. Too often we see God's laws as mere duties. Things we have to do. Sure, we love God. We love Him for coming to earth to save us. We love His Church. And because we love Him we willingly follow (more or less, in varying degreees of faithfulness) His law. But these psalms express wild enthusiasm about the law itself. There's another line in one of the daytime psalms that says Your commands have been my song in the land of my exile.  I hope that verses like this will come to haunt us next time we are fretting about how honest we have to be when filling out government forms, or fussing about NFP abstinence, or trying to justify doing unnecessary  physical labor on a Sunday.

Evening Prayer
The highlight here for me is Psalm 45, which is split in two parts: one about the bridegroom and one about the bride. Since the part about the bride is always the responsorial psalm on the feast of the Assumption and possibly other marian feasts, I have always thought of it being applied solely to Our Lady. But there is another interpretation which I read today in The School of Prayer, and excellent commentary on  morning and evening prayer from Liturgical Press. Thanks to Scott Hahn and other commentators, most of us are familiar with the office of the Queen Mother in Israel. The "bridegroom" half of Psalm 45 ends with The Queen stands at your right hand arrayed in gold. This is the Queen Mother, since the bride doesn't even enter until later in the "bride" half of the psalm, led to the king with her maiden companions. So, we see the Queen in gold as Mary, the mother of the King, Jesus. The bride of Christ is the Church, bringing along her maiden companions--people of all races and nations. Is that cool or what?