By Kaelanne Jordan
The psalms take us through the “whole gamut” of human emotions—from sadness to joy. And while in the Caribbean tradition, many persons have their favourite psalms, sometimes we “deprive” ourselves of the opportunity of going through the full 150 psalms and being exposed to the “movements”.
So said Abbot John Pereira OSB during the first of a series of live weekly podcasts/ reflections from the Mount which began Thursday, May 7. Part One was on ‘The Psalms—an introduction of the importance of the psalms in the life of the Christian.’
Persons can listen here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1071265
Abbot Pereira told Catholic News via phone that the podcasts on Thursdays are another medium of reaching out to faithful “from a distance”.
As of Friday, May 8, the 20-minute podcast had already attracted 200 downloads on Buzzsprout.com.
Abbot Pereira began by sharing that the psalms are central to the spirituality of the monks at the Abbey. He quoted from St Ambrose, one of the early Fathers of the Church, on his explanation of the psalms which says although all scripture is fragrant with God’s grace, the Book of Psalms has a special attractiveness.
In The Rule of St Benedict, Chapter 8, St Benedict underlines the importance of the psalms as a tool for Lectio.
“Throughout his rule St Benedict gives priority to the psalms. In Chapter 10 on ‘The Arrangement of the Night Office in Summer’, he recommends that due to the shortness of the summer nights, some of the readings may be omitted but the psalms are never sacrificed. In the chapter on ‘The Celebration of Vigils on Sunday’, he says that if the brothers arise too late then the readings or the responsories will have to be shortened but he does not allow them to interfere with the psalms,” Abbot Pereira shared.
The psalms, the Abbot said, are also the prayers of Jesus. His mother Mary had taught Him how to pray them.
“We know that He took part in the public prayers of the synagogue. At the beginning of His ministry in the Gospel of Luke, we are told Jesus went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as He usually did. He also said those prayers which pious Jews said every day…. He also sang the psalms with His disciples as Matthew, Chapter 26 tells us.”
There are specific references to the psalms in Jesus’ time of suffering. Just before He breathed His last, Jesus cried out in a loud voice: “Father into Your hands I commit my spirit” (Psalm 31). Another example is in the Gospel of Matthew when He uttered the words “My God, my God why have you forsaken me” (Psalm 22).
“Jesus’ prayer to the Father marked His whole period of suffering. From the Last Supper to the Agony in the Garden and on the cross, were all marked by His prayerful trust in the Father. It is this prayer and particularly His praying of the Psalms that brought meaning to the Paschal Mystery,” Abbot Pereira said.
To this end, Abbot Pereira hoped that faithful can use these psalms to come to an understanding of their own life situations. “When we read the psalms, when we pray the psalms, let us try to find Jesus there. Let us try to situate Him. Let us ask ourselves at what point in His life He may have been using a particular psalm. Then let us do the same for ourselves…” he said.