Via, Veritas, et Vita

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CHAPTER XVIII. In What Order the Psalms Are to Be Said

21 Feb. 22 June. 22 Oct.
First of all let this verse be said: "O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me," and the Gloria, followed by the hymn proper to each Hour. At Prime on Sunday four parts of the hundred and eighteenth Psalm are to be said. At the other Hours, that is, Tierce, Sext and None, let three parts of the same Psalm be said. At Prime on Monday let three Psalms be said, namely, the first, second and sixth and so in the same way every day until Sunday let three Psalms be said at Prime in order, up to the nineteenth; the ninth and seventeenth, however, being divided into two Glorias. It will thus come about that at the Night-Office on Sunday we shall always begin with the twentieth Psalm.

A Litany of Praise

Saint Benedict reserves Psalm 118 (Beati immaculati) to Sunday, the Day of the Lord, the day par excellence of lectio divina, with the overflow of verses being chanted on Monday. Psalm 118 is a long, rapturous litany in praise of the Law. It was by means of the Law that God made known His Heart -- the splendour of His truth, the glory of His beauty, the immensity of His goodness -- to Israel. The psalmist cannot find enough words to describe the munificent self-revelation of God to Israel. With the mystical accents of a lover, the psalmist sings of the word of the Lord, of His precepts, His commandments, His ordinances, His statutes, His laws, His will, His righteousness, His justice, His mercy, and His utterances. Having exhausted all that he can say, he fails even to begin to approach the splendour of what God has revealed to Israel!

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

The rabbis of old referred to the Torah, the Law, as "the way, the truth, and the life." When the Lord Jesus applied these three words to Himself, saying, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life", He was revealing Himself as the true Torah, the fulfillment of the Law and of the Prophets, the One and Only Way to the Father. In this light, Psalm 118 becomes a litany of love addressed to the Word, a long contemplation of His Face, a confession of His holiness, His beauty, His goodness, and His mercy.

An Offering of Adoration and of Love

There is true spiritual joy in the weekly return of Psalm 118. It is an integral part of the Day of the Lord, spilling over into the feria secunda, the second day of the week. Of all the psalms, it is the one that I can pray most directly to Christ, offering Him verse after verse in adoration and in love.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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