Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Studying the Psalms

November 11, 2009

Peace and Good,

This past week I was home in Ellicott City. I gave a series of talks on the psalms. We had two identical sessions for each talk, in the PM and in the following AM, beginning with Monday evening and ending with Friday morning. I was very pleased with the way that the talks turned out.

The first day we looked at the psalms in general and the wisdom psalms (those which speak about the good life and how to live it). The second day we looked at lamentations, both individual and communal. That is the largest category in the psalter. I paid special attention to Psalm 22. That one fascinates me, because when you read it, you would swear it was written especially for the passion of Jesus, and yet it was written many hundreds of years before. I emphasized that since almost all individual lamentations end with a thanksgiving (called a todah in Hebrew), then Jesus' words, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me," are the introduction to a psalm that ends with a profession of faith that God would intervene. The third day we looked at psalms of trust and hope, including most people's favorite, Psalm 23. I compare that psalm to the song in the Sound of Music about raindrops on roses and warm woolen mittens. It is a series of pleasant images to remind us that we can trust in God. The last day we looked at Messianic psalms, royal psalms and songs of Zion. Psalm 45 is my favorite. It was written for the wedding of a king of Israel, Ahab, and his foreign wife, Jezebel. Yet, hundreds of years later, it was used by the early Christians as a psalm that foretold the wedding of Christ with the Church. God does truly write straight with crooked lines.

I taped all of these talks and will be editing them over the next few months. If you would like a notice when they are ready, drop at line at my e mail address,

I finished reading a second work by St. Augustine, the Enchiridion. It is about faith, hope, and charity, and it uses the Creed and the Our Father as its starting point. The thing that fascinated me is that I was able to see how Augustine seems to have gotten caught up a bit in the whole question of predestination. It is almost as if God had decided who would go to heaven and who would go to hell. You can see where the reformers such as Calvin drew their ideas when you read Augustine's writings. I have to believe that God intends all of us to be saved, yet he has given us freedom to decide for ourselves. I am sure it breaks God's heart if one of his children chooses the wrong path, but love cannot be forced.

I also finished listening to a book on CD called Leviathan by Eric Jay Dolan. I thought it was going to be about whales, but it was about whaling. Nevertheless, it was interesting to read about the harrowing journeys and adventures of those who went to sea in this enterprise.

I am in a parish in Lynnfield, MA, near Boston, this week.

God bless and

fr. Jude


Post a Comment