Tag Archives: psalms

Can You Prove Your Christianity?

21 Apr

aaaaHave you ever noticed that it’s often easier to be kind to strangers when you’re angry than it is to be kind to your family?

In this Sunday’s responsorial psalm we hear that the Lord is “slow to anger and abounding in compassion,” and in the Gospel Jesus tells His disciples that they will be known by how well they love. How well we love our families, especially in anger, is proof of our Christianity!

If that’s a challenge, consider this. We don’t have to feel warm and fuzzy to be kind. In fact, often when we act kind or compassionate despite our feelings to the contrary, the feelings follow.

The next time we may feel tempted to snap at our loved ones, let’s try to think of what it would look like to respond with “abounding compassion.” This self-control will be a powerful witness to our children.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.


Psalmody to Love

9 Jan

billie hollidayTrivia question (answer at end): What would you have if Billie Holliday came back to life and prayed the Liturgy of the Hours?

I still vividly recall entering a religious community in the mid-1980s. A native of Los Angeles and a fairly recent law school graduate, I knew I was stepping into a very different environment. As I settled into this life, I realized that I was doing many of the same things I had been doing before entering this community. I had already become accustomed to daily Mass and holy hours. The studies (I was preparing for the priesthood) likewise came naturally to a “professional student” like me. And of course the meals and recreation times were very enjoyably spent with the great guys we had in the community.

The one thing that was markedly different for me was praying the Liturgy of the Hours (aka “Divine Office”) at set times each day with the other seminarians and religious. I had owned and used a breviary (a prayer book containing the Liturgy of the Hours) before entering seminary, but the regularity and fervor of this prayer of the Church was the most distinctive–and in many ways the most enriching–aspect of my seminary journey. This attraction to the Liturgy of the Hours has stayed with me ever since.

For that reason, the commitment of deacons and deacon candidates to pray the Liturgy of the Hours has fit me as an old, comfortable shoe as I’ve begun formation for the diaconate here in Kansas City. I especially enjoy the opportunity to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with my awesome brother candidates during our formation weekends and other occasions.

Still, the Church in our time, particularly since the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), has encouraged all Catholics to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. While one may find one-volume and four-volume breviaries at any Catholic bookstore, there are also apps and websites available that add a further element of convenience. I’d also like to mention that my friend Daria Sockey has an excellent blog that gives terrific information and guidance to anyone who would like to take up this beautiful prayer of the Church.

Okay, here’s the answer to the trivia question: Psalm Sung Blue (Yes, my wife didn’t laugh either.) Lord, have mercy on me in your kindness . . .

Numbering the Psalms

14 Jun

As I’ve been reading through the Douay-Rheims Bible, I’ve noticed that the Psalms have a slightly different numbering as compared to other versions of the Bible. Why is that?

A little background is in order here. While the individual psalms themselves may be very early in origin, the final organization of the Psalter into 150 psalms took place sometime in the late post-exilic period. In fact, the earliest evidence we have of the canonical form of the Psalter is the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Septuagint dates back to the second or third century B.C.

The Masoretic Psalter (MT), in its final form, cannot be dated until much later. Elements of the eschatological hopes found in the Greek Psalter were omitted from the Masoteric text, reflecting the impact of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

However, despite minor variations, it is clear that the MT and the LXX contain the same psalms, placed in the same order, though their numbering is slightly different. The LXX combines MT Psalms 9-10 and 114-15, while it separates MT Psalms 116 and 147 into two.

The Catholic Church has always accepted the LXX as canonical, including a handful of books that are not found in the MT. Protestants generally use the MT and refer to the “extra” books in the LXX as “apocryphal,” while Catholics convincingly point to the historical and theological basis for accepting the LXX in its entirety. For more on that issue, click here.

Since both forms of the OT contain all the same Psalms in the same order, with only a difference in the numbering, most modern Catholic Bibles, in a spirit of ecumenism and good will, have adopted the numbering of the MT even though otherwise they preserve the LXX. An exception is the Douay-Rheims Bible, which retains the LXX numbering.

An example of this at work: There is the Miserere, the Psalm that begins “Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness; in your mercy blot out my offense . . .” That Psalm is generally referred to as Psalm 51, but in the Douay-Rheims (LXX), it is Psalm 50. For that reason, you will sometimes see this Psalm cited as Psalm 51 (50).

The Lord Is Near

8 Sep

The Pope continued his teachings on prayer this week by beginning a series of weekly meditations on the Psalms, which he calls the “prayerbook par excellence.” Yesterday (September 7th) he reflected on Psalm 3, a psalm of lament and supplication imbued with trust in God’s saving presence.

I invite readers to ponder the Pope’s reflections in their entirety, but here is his closing summary, which will give you a good sense of the Holy Father’s message to us today:

“Dear brothers and sisters, Psalm 3 presents us with a prayer full of trust and consolation. In praying this psalm, we can make the psalmist’s sentiments our own–[the psalmist] who is a figure of the just man who is persecuted, and who finds his fulfillment in Jesus. In suffering, in danger, in the bitterness of misunderstanding and offense, the psalmist’s words open our hearts to the comforting certainty of faith. God is always near–even in difficulties, in problems, in the darkness of life–He listens, He responds and He saves according to His ways. But we need to know how to recognize His presence and to accept His ways, like David in his crushing escape from Absalom his son; like the just man who is persecuted in the Book of Wisdom; and finally and fully, like the Lord Jesus on Golgotha. And, when to the eyes of the impious, God seems not to intervene and the Son dies, precisely then are true glory and salvation’s definitive realization manifested to all who believe. May the Lord grant us faith; may He come to the help of our weakness; and may He enable us to believe and to pray in every anxiety, in the painful nights of doubt and in the long days of suffering, by trustfully abandoning ourselves to Him who is our ‘shield’ and our ‘glory.'”