Thank God for the Psalms!

The Holy Father yesterday spoke of the Psalms and their significance during his general audience. If you happen to read Italian, you can read his discourse at: the Holy Father.

Here are a few excerpts (translation by Diane Montagna):

As prayer, the Psalms are manifestations of the soul and of faith, in which everyone can recognize himself and in which there is communicated that experience of special closeness to God, to which each man is called. And it is the whole complexity of human existence that converges in the complexity of the different literary forms of the various psalms: hymns, lamentations, individual and collective supplication, songs of thanksgiving, penitential psalms, and other genre that are found in these poetic compositions…..

Despite this wide range of expression, two great areas can be identified that synthesize the prayer of the Psalter: petition, which is connected with lament, and praise — two interconnected and almost inseparable dimensions….

In petition, the one who prays laments and describes his situation of distress, of danger, of desolation; or, as in the penitential psalms, he confesses guilt and sin, and asks to be forgiven. He bares his neediness before the Lord, in the confidence of being heard, and this implies an acknowledgement of God as good, as desirous of the good, and as the lover of life…. In an analogous way — the psalms of thanksgiving and of praise — in remembering the gift received or in contemplating the greatness of God’s mercy, one recognizes one’s own littleness as well as one’s need for salvation, which is at the foundation of petition…..In this way, in the prayer of the Psalms, petition and praise are interwoven and blend together into one unique song that celebrates the Lord’s eternal grace that bends down to our frailty…..

Dear brothers and sisters, let us take this holy book in hand; let us allow ourselves to be taught by God to address ourselves to Him; let us make the Psalter a guide that helps us and accompanies us daily along the way of prayer. And let us, like Jesus’ disciples, also ask: Lord teach us to pray (Luke 11:1), opening our hearts to receive the Teacher’s prayer, in which all prayers attain their fulfillment. Thus, made sons in the Son, will we be able to speak to God calling Him Our Father.

This is a good reflection for all of us committed to praying the Liturgy of the Hours. The Psalter belongs to all people though, and the more one prays them, the more one identifies with the prayer of the psalm. The expressions of lament, petition, and praise resonate in our hearts and speak to us all.