August 4: The Psalms as Personal Prayer V.

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Statue of the Visitation at Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, Israel by Deror avi see: Visitation Church

On the opposite end of the scale to the angry psalms perhaps, are psalms which may express states which we feel unworthy of calling our own: states of innocence, maybe.  Or holiness.  The New Testament Canticle, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), might fall into this category.  It’s not actually a psalm, strictly speaking – but we pray it every night at Vespers, so I think it deserves a mention.

We might think, ‘How can I, a twit and sinner, pray the Magnificat.  How can I say, “henceforth all ages will call me blessed”, for example.  But, once again, the Divine Office is not just about me.  St. Augustine says about psalmody that sometimes we pray in the voice of Christ our head, sometimes we pray in the voice of his members.  Here, we pray in Our Lady’s voice, and in our way, we allow her words to continue to resound in the Church.  Imagine the impoverishment to the Church if, out of a misguided humility, the Church had no tradition of praying the Magnificat!  In the Magnificat, we are recalling – re-presenting – the astounding fact of Our Lady’s immaculate heart.  She knew that it was all God’s gift – and says so in the canticle.  When we pray it, we pray in hope that we might receive a like gift of purity of heart.

Admittedly, the Magnificat is one of those prayers that are too big for us, and maybe we feel like the child trying to walk about in its parent’s shoes when we pray it.  We need to “grow into” it.  But, people, by God’s grace, do grow into it.  It’s not a futile hope.  He does give the gift of holiness.  Saints are real people.  I was just reading about the recent martyrdom of a group of Missionaries of Charity and their volunteer helpers in Yemen.  I suspect they felt themselves to be pretty ordinary people.  Yet, the gift of holiness was given, and they gave the ultimate gift of their lives to murderers who shot them because they were Christians.  Now all ages will call them blessed.

SJC

Follow this link to read about the martyred sisters: Missionary Sistersof Charity in Yemen

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Filed under Daily Reflections, Laudato si', poetry

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