Monday 17 October 2022

Praying the Psalms - Pope Benedict XVI - CTS Year of Faith

Praying the Psalms 
Pope Benedict XVI
ISBN 9781860828553
CTS Booklet Do872

This is the fifth volume I have read from the Catholic Truth Society that is part of the Year of Faith Series. Some of them are clearly marked on the front, and others like this volume have the Year of Faith Logo on the back of the booklet. This volume was published in 2013, and there is not an eBook edition available. Over the last several years I have read over 300 volumes from the Catholic Truth Society. In fact, this is the 215th book or booklet from the CTS that I have read Several of them by or about Pope Benedict. The ‘Year of Faith’ was from October 2012 through November 2013. I did not encounter any of these booklets during the year of faith, but from the two I have read so far, they are well worth tracking down and reading. 

The description of this volume:

“The Psalms are the prayer book par excellence of every Christian. Pope Benedict meditates on seven Psalms which closely relate to the experience and aspirations of Jesus, and brings out their meaning for us as well. Together with a master teacher we attend Pope Benedict’s ‘school of prayer’, discovering how all the Psalms are filled with Christological significance and with his joy, faith, suffering, affliction and supreme trust in God.”

The chapters in the volume are:

Arise. 0 Lord! Deliver me! Psalm 3 
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Psalm 22 (21) 
The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want Psalm 23 
The Lord has done great things for us Psalm 126 
The Great Hallel Psalm 136 (135) 
The Great Song of the "Law": Psalm 119 (118) 
Christ the King: Psalm 110 (109) 

Like much of what I have read by Pope Benedict XVI, this volume is infused with his deep personal faith, his mastery of theological concepts, and great wisdom. But some of his works are far more academic than this offering. This one can be engaged with and enjoyed by any Catholic, and I would go so far as to say any Christian would benefit from the analysis and examples provided in this small work. These pieces were taken from general audiences given by Benedict CVI between September 7th, 2011 and November 16th 2011. And they were compiled in this volume for the Year of Faith.

As almost always when reading books by booklets from the CTS, and books by Benedict XVI I highlighted several passages while reading this volume. Here are some of the sections I highlighted my first time through this volume.

“Today we are resuming the Audiences in St Peter's Square and the “school of prayer'” which we attend together during these Wednesday Catecheses. I would like to begin by meditating on several Psalms, which, as I said last June, constitute the “prayer book” par excellence.”

“The praying person, even in peril, in the midst of battle, can sleep serenely in an unequivocal attitude of trusting abandonment. His foes have pitched camp around him, they are numerous, they besiege him, they rise up against him, taunting and trying to make him fall: instead he lies down and sleeps, calm and serene, sure of God's presence.”

“God is silent and this silence pierces the soul of the person praying, who ceaselessly calls but receives no answer. Day and night succeed one another in an unflagging quest for a word, for help that does not come: God seems so distant, so forgetful, so absent. The prayer asks to be heard, to be answered, it begs for contact, seeks a relationship that can give comfort and salvation.”

“For this reason I would like to reflect with you today on a Psalm that is totally imbued with trust, in which the Psalmist expresses his serene certain ty that he is guided and protected, safe from every danger, because the Lord is his Shepherd. It is Psalm 23 (22. According to the Graeco-Latin numbering), a text familiar to all and loved by all.”

“And let us not forget here that the scene elicited by the Psalm is set in a land that is largely desert, on which the scorching sun beats down, where the Middle-Eastern semi-nomad shepherd lives with his flock in the parched steppes that surround the villages. Nevertheless the shepherd knows where to find grass and fresh water, essential to life, he can lead the way to oases in which the soul is “restored” and where it is possible to recover strength and new energy lo start out afresh on the journey.”

“The Psalmist becomes the object of much attention for which reason he sees himself as a wayfarer who finds shelter in a hospitable tent. Whereas his enemies have to stop and watch, unable to intervene, since the one whom they considered their prey has been led to safety and has become a sacred guest who cannot be touched. And the Psalmist is us, if we truly are believers in communion with Christ. When God opens his tent 10 us to receive us, nothing can harm us.”

“In the previous catecheses, we have meditated on a number of psalms of lament and of trust. Today, I would like to reflect with you on a notably joyous Psalm. a prayer that sings with joy the marvels of God. It is Psalm 126 - according to Graeco-Latin numbering. 125 - which extols the great things the Lord has done with his people, and which he continues to do with every believer.

“In our prayer we should look more often at how, in the events of our own lives, the Lord has protected, guided and helped us, and we should praise him for all he has done and does for us.”

“These few words refer to a 40-year experience, a crucial period for Israel, which, in selling itself be guided by the Lord, learned to live in faith, obedience and docility to God's law. These were difficult years, marked by hardship in the desert, but also happy years. !rusting in the Lord with filial trust.”

“The entire alphabet unfolds through the 22 stanzas of this Psalm and also the whole of the vocabulary of the believer’s trusting relationship with God: we find in it praise, thanksgiving and trust, but also supplication and lamentation. However, they are always imbued with the certainty of divine grace and of the power of the word of God.”

“The Law of the Lord, the object of the passionate love of the Psalmist as well as of every believer, is a source of life.”

“And we immediately understand that this king, seated at the right hand of God, who shares in his kingship, is not one of those who succeeded David, but is actually the new David, the Son of God who triumphed over death and truly shares in God's glory. He is our king, who also gives us eternal life.”

“In the Risen Lord Jesus who had ascended into heaven where he is seated at the right hand of the Father the prophecy of our Psalm is fulfilled and the priesthood of Melchizedek is brought to completion. This is because, rendered absolute and eternal, it became a reality that never fades (cf. 7:24 ). And the offering of bread and wine made by Melchizedek in Abraham's time is fulfilled in the Eucharistic action of Jesus who offers himself in the bread and in the wine and. having conquered death, brings life lo all believers.”

And it concluded with this entry:

“In these recent catecheses I wanted to present to you certain Psalms, precious prayers that we find in the Bible and that reflect the various situations of life an<l the various states of mind that we may have with regard to God. I would therefore like to renew to you all the invitation to pray with the Psalms, even becoming accustomed to using the Liturgy of the Hours of the Church, Lauds in the morning, Vespers in the evening, and Compline before retiring. Our relationship with Gou cannot but be enriched with greater joy and trust in the daily journey towards him.”

This is an excellent little volume. It is always inspiring to read the words of Benedict XVI to see his faith infused in his teachings. His love for God and his desire for our growth is evident in these talks. It is a great read and I highly recommend it.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2022 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

For reviews of other books in the Year of Faith Series click here.

CTS Year of Faith Books:
The Essential Creed - Exploring the Apostles' Creed in the Year of Faith
Year of Faith with John Paul II
The Gift of Scripture
The Word of the Lord Discovering Verbum Domini
Praying the Psalms …

Other books from the Year of Faith:
Books edited by Francis Fernandez Carvajal:
Year of Faith Treasury: The Sacrament of Confession 
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Faith
Year of Faith Treasury: The Virtue of Fortitude

Books by Benedict XVI:

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