Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Start Every Day with a Psalm

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, a fairly large number of hippies became Christians, becoming part of the so-called “Jesus Freak” movement. Some of these converted hippies had been musicians, and many of these newly illumined wanted to use their musical gifts to praise God. One group that came out of the movement was the Second Chapter of Acts, composed of two sisters and their little brother. Their early music was an enthusiastic blend of folk, rock, and traditional gospel, with tight three-part harmonies throughout. One of their earliest songs was entitled “Start Every Day with a Smile,” advice that is perhaps a little on the shallow side, but nonetheless wise.

Being an off-the-chart NON-morning person, I find it virtually impossible to start every day (or any day, for that matter!) with a smile. Instead, I have adopted another practice, one which sometimes actually does help me to smile, even at 6 in the morning: I try to read one Psalm each morning. After reading the Psalm, I then read the commentary on the Psalm from one of my favorite biblical commentaries, Christ in the Psalms, by Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon.

In Christ in the Psalms, Fr. Patrick draws upon biblical, patristic, and liturgical sources to make the Psalms relevant for the 21st century reader. As you can guess from the title, Fr. Patrick’s main concern is to show how each Psalm typologically refers to one or more episodes from the life of our Lord Jesus. Also interesting are his brief discussions on how each Psalm is used liturgically in the life of the Church (and why this is important). Each of Fr. Patrick’s reflections is at most two pages, so normally, one could read both a Psalm and the reflection on that Psalm in ten minutes or so. Then, one could reflect on that Psalm and its meaning for our lives throughout the day.

Since there are 150 Psalms, if you read one Psalm a day on average, it will take you five months to read through the whole Psalter. But if you do, I guarantee that you will be blessed.

By the way, you can read more of Fr. Patrick’s reflections on Scripture in Again and Touchstone magazines, as well as online at the "Daily Reflections" section of Touchstone’s website. In addition, he has written three books besides his work on the Psalms: Christ in His Saints, The Trial of Job, and Chronicles of History and Worship. I heartily recommend them all to you.

May the Lord bless and keep you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For those of us with less time - or smaller attention spans - there is "Living Waters for a Parched Land...Refreshing Reflections on the Psalms for Orthodox Christians" by Collette D Jonopulos
published by Light and Light 2000.

A quote from a Psalm is followed by a short devotional. Poetry is interspersed. Occasionally there is a comment about where and when that Psalm is used in Orthodox Liturgy.