By Mary Sayad
The Bible is the fountain of living water. The Bible is God speaking to us. When we allow Him to guide us and when we trust in His love, we will live in harmony and with confidence. During this year's Lent, I will post some of the Psalms relative to the Lenten season and their meaning.
There are a total of 150 Psalms which were also referred to as the Hebrew Psalters. The psalms were derived from pre-Christian Jewish tradition. Some psalms are dated before 587 B.C. (pre-exilic) and other are post-exilic (after 539 B.C). They are prayers and hymns (songs) of prayers. They are part of our liturgical life.
Although the psalms are the product of many individual collections, they were eventually combined into the present work of five books. Seventy-three psalms are attributed to David. In the Old Testament David is revered for having defeated the giant Goliath. In addition, David is known for many victories and especially his success for the capture of Jerusalem, St. Joseph, Jesus' foster father, was a descendent of David (see Matt:1:1-17 Genealogy of Jesus). David was the father of King Solomon who is known for his wisdom and his love of God.
The majority of psalms were composed precisely for liturgical worship where the community was urged to sing praises of God. Important features of the psalms are:
1) Thanksgiving psalms included an offering of a praise sacrifice with friends at the Temple.
2) Psalms of lament which started as a cry for help in times of distress. There are more psalms of lament than any other type.
3) Royal psalms dealt directly with the reigning king. Many of these psalms were given a messianic interpretation by Christians.
4) Wisdom psalms conflicted with the concerns of the sages of that time because the psalms are spiritually inspired; here there are also "torah" psalms in which the instruction or law of God is glorified.
5) Historical psalms - they may be termed liturgies because their structure reflects a liturgical incident.
The psalms were considered a "school of prayer". They provided us with models to follow and also help inspire us to express our deepest feelings and aspirations through prayer.
Psalm 3 -
1 A psalm of David when he fled from his son, Absalom
2 How many are my foes Lord!
How many rise against me!
3 How many say of me,
`"God will not save that one."
4 But you ,Lord, are a shield around me;
my glory, you keep my head high.
5 Whenever I cried out to the Lord,
I was answered from the holy mountain
6 Whenever I laid down and slept,
the Lord preserved me to rise again.
7 I do not fear, then, thousands of people
arrayed against me on every side.
8 Arise Lord! Save me my God!
You will shatter the jaws of all my foes;
9 Safety comes from the Lord!
Your blessing for your people!
In our lives, the enemies and foes are our temptations. Sin is a lie; it attacks truth. Sin separates us from God's love. Daily, temptations of lying, gossiping, dishonesty, etc. abound. When we are aware of our faults and when we ask in prayer and through the Sacrament of Reconciliation for forgiveness and strength in overcoming our tendencies towards sin, Our Lord will assist us in our battles with our weaknesses.
The above Psalm is an individual lament complaining of enemies who deny that God will come to the rescue. Although David was chosen by God for greatness, he sinned against God and sought forgiveness. Despite such taunts the psalmist hopes for God's protection even in sleep. The Life of David is found in 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible. However, while reading the above Psalm and all Psalms, we should meditate on the meaning of the hymn.
Our Blessed Mother recited the Psalms daily. In fact, according to her dictations, she would recite all of them daily from midnight to dawn. During her life, Mary was preoccupied with directing everyone to God. Indeed, today she continues to call her children and the entire world to her son, Jesus, through her apparitions and with the miraculous weeping oil occurring in her portraits throughout the globe.
I encourage you to include the below petition to your morning prayers especially during the Lenten season. It is always a good idea to review the Bible lessons in our archives. Thank you.
Your Companion in Prayer,
Oh Mary, Immaculate Mother of Jesus
We beseach thee, offer to the Eternal Father the Precious
Blood of Thy Divine son, to prevent at least one mortal
sin from being committed somewhere in the world today.
Conversion or Return to Faith
O God, all hearts are in Thy Hands,
Thou canst bend, as it pleases Thee, the most stubborn,
And soften the most obdurate. I beseech Thee by the
Merits, Wounds and Divine heart of Jesus,
Thy Beloved Son, to grant the conversion we ask.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdon come.
Sweet Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us and
all our brethren who have gone astray.
O Mary, most sorrowful mother of all Christians,
Pray for us.
** Prayers taken from the Jesus, Mary and Joseph Novena Manual
by Father Stedman
Director of the Confraternity of the Precious Blood