Monday, November 7, 2011

Turning pathetic into Magnificent - GILH #3

 Back to our periodic discussion of bit and pieces of the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours. This is from Section I - The Prayer of Christ

 When the Word, proceeding from the Father as the splendor of his glory, came to give us all a share in God's life, "Christ Jesus, High Priest of the new and eternal covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile the hymn of praise that is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven." [3] From then on in Christ's heart the praise of God assumes a human sound in words of adoration, expiation, and intercession, presented to the Father by the Head of the new humanity, the Mediator between God and his people, in the name of all and for the good of all.

This paragraph makes what might seem to be a breathtaking claim: that Christ personally  introduced the Psalter or Liturgy of the Hours. One might object:  the people of Israel were already praying the psalms in the synagogue and temple and no doubt at home, since morning, evening and midday prayer were already an ancient custom. I'm not a theologian, so this reply may not be as systematic as one might wish, but here's some ideas on what the Church means when it says Christ "introduced" the hymn of praise that is sung thought out all ages in the halls of heaven.":

1. Christ is God. It was through His Divine Inspiration that the psalms were written by men long before He became incarnate.  But when mere and sinful men uttered these inspired praises, their  prayer was still imperfect due to the unredeemed state of the humanity. Their prayer was only a weak, unworthy, damaged,  pathetic echo of  the "hymn of praise" sung by the angels in heaven. But then,

2. The Incarnation changed everything. Everything about mankind became elevated by virtue of the fact that Jesus now participated in it. Ears, hands, eyes, and feet are more wonderful things now that God Himself has them. Eating a meal, or going for a walk, or doing work, can now be (in some way) holy actions, because Jesus has done them. So...

3. Our prayers--praising, thanking, and petitioning God--became elevated. Became holier, more worthy once Jesus came to earth and prayed as God made man. When He prayed the inspired prayers of Israel--the psalms--He made those holy word Super-holy. He made our praying of them a holier and more worthy act than it had every been before.  So now our praying of those divine praises is linked to that heavenly hymn of  praise because Christ is the Bridge between us and heaven.

4. Also, Christ obviously instituted the mass, and the liturgy of the hours flows into and out of the Eucharistic sacrifice. The book of psalms finds it's true place and purpose and fulfillment in the Incarnation, the Redemption, and the ongoing expression of the Redemption which is the Mass.

I hope that makes sense.