Sunday, August 14, 2016

Psalm 118 - Daleth (Sunday Prime no 4)

 Sunday Prime – daleth (Verses 25- 32): Adhæsit paviménto ánima mea
25. Adhæsit paviménto ánima mea: * vivífica me secúndum verbum tuum.
My soul clung to the dust: revive me according to your word.
26 Vias meas enuntiávi et exaudísti me: * doce me justificatiónes tuas.
I have disclosed my ways and you have heard me : teach me your justifications.
27 Viam justificatiónum tuárum ínstrue me: * et exercébor in mirabílibus tuis.
Instruct me in the ways of your justifications: and I will be exercised with your wondrous works.
28  Dormitávit ánima mea præ tædio: * confírma me in verbis tuis.
My soul has slept because of weariness : confirm me in your word
29 Viam iniquitátis ámove a me: * et de lege tua miserére mei.
Put away from me the ways of iniquity: and from your law have mercy on me.
30 Viam veritátis elégi: * judícia tua non sum oblítus
I have chosen the way of truth: I have not forgotten your judgments.
31 Adhæsi testimóniis tuis Dómine: * noli me confúndere.
 I have adhered to your testimonies Lord: do not let me be confounded.
32 Viam mandatórum tuórum cucúrri: * cum dilatásti cor meum.
I will run in the way of your commandments: when you have enlarged my heart          .

Knox translation:

Deep lies my soul in the dust, restore life to me, as thou hast promised.
Deign, now, to shew me thy will, thou who hast listened when I opened my heart to thee. 
Direct me in the path thou biddest me follow, and all my musing shall be of thy wonderful deeds. Despair wrings tears from me; let thy promises raise me up once more. 
Deliver me from every false thought; make me free of thy covenant. 
Duty’s path my choice, I keep thy bidding ever in remembrance. 
Disappoint me, Lord, never, one that holds fast by thy commandments. 
Do but open my heart wide, and easy lies the path thou hast decreed.

Ancient Christian Commentaries series: 
Revive, teach and strengthen me 
The council of the faithful passes to the fourth letter, in which they say that they are held bound by physical necessity, and can be saved only by the Lord's devotion. They entreat that He remove from them the ways of iniquity, since they had chosen the path of truth. The human condition is explained by most splendid comparisons.
St Robert Bellarmine:
In the next eight verses David still assumes the person of one imperfect, who is kept back by the concupiscence of the flesh from the perfect observance of the commandments, and asks for grace and help to observe them.
St Benedict:
Therefore must we establish a school of the Lord's service; in founding which we hope to ordain nothing that is harsh or burdensome. But if, for good reason, for the amendment of evil habit or the preservation of charity, there be some strictness of discipline, do not be at once dismayed and run away from the way of salvation, of which the entrance must needs be narrow. But, as we progress in our monastic life and in faith, our hearts shall be enlarged, and we shall run with unspeakable sweetness of love in the way of God's commandments; so that, never abandoning his rule but persevering in his teaching in the monastery until death, we shall share by patience in the sufferings of Christ, that we may deserve to be partakers also of his kingdom. Amen.”  (RB Prologue, trans J McCann)

And you can read more on these verses in my longer post: Daleth Pt 1 and Pt 2 (Enlargement of heart)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Masterpost: Prime in the Benedictine Office

Introduction to Prime

Prime, which literally means the first hour after sunrise, is a very important hour in the Benedictine Office, not least by virtue of the psalms set for it, which include Psalms 1 and 2, regarded as an introduction to the entire psalter.

Prime has a very simple structure: opening prayer, hymn, three (four on Sunday) psalms with antiphon, and closing prayers.  The hymn and prayers are the same everyday, and give the hour a strong focus on preparing for the day.

In monastic practice, it is normally immediately followed by Chapter, which includes the reading of the martyrology and Rule, prayers for the Dead, and prayers to be said before work, which reinforces this focus.

Thematic unity?

Prime has no fixed or repeated psalms - instead, St Benedict uses the Psalms 1 to 19 (leaving out Psalms 3-5), and adding in four stanzas of Psalm 118 on Sunday.  All the same, the hour does very much feature some very important and often repeated ideas that are closely connected to themes in the Benedictine Rule.

From the Incarnation to the Resurrection

Sunday and Monday Prime echo each other closely: both begin on a beatitude (Beatus vir/Beati immaculati), and the opening verses of both psalms are very similar in content.

These two psalms have often been interpreted in the Christian tradition as signalling the progression from Christ as the blessed man of Psalm 1, incarnated (see especially Psalm 2) to teach us the path to imitate; to the many following him into heaven, the way reopened by the Resurrection (see for example the psalm commentaries of St Augustine).

St Benedict presumably had this in mind, since Monday in his Office has many allusions to the Incarnation, while Sunday is always a celebration of the Resurrection in his psalm schema.

Christ, fulfilment of the law

One of the most important themes of the Fathers was the idea of Christ as the fulfilment of the law.   And Prime features all three of the 'Torah' or law psalms of the psalter.

Psalm 1 portrays the good or happy man as the person who meditates on the law day and night; while Psalm 18 instructs us that 'the law of the Lord is perfect, converting souls'.  And of course, Psalm 118, the longest in the psalter, is an extended meditation on the law of the Lord.  Thus we have a symbolic three days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) in which the perfection (Trinity) of the law is praised.

 A nice example of how this theme plays out in Patristic Scriptural exegesis is provided by St Ambrose's comments on why the first miracles recorded in St Luke's Gospel are of Christ healing on the Sabbath.  St Ambrose comments that:
"That the Lord began to heal on the Sabbath-day showeth in a figure how that the new creation beginneth where the old creation ended. 
It showeth, moreover, that the Son of God, Who is come not to destroy the law but to fulfil the law, is not under the law, but above the law.
Neither was it by the law, but by the Word, that the world was created, as it is written "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made." [Sunday, or Day 1 of creation]
The law, then, is not destroyed, but fulfilled, in the Redemption of fallen man. Whence also the Apostle saith: "Put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts and be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Our hymn of praise to the law at Prime then, starts, as St Ambrose suggests on the Sabbath, to symbolise that the new creation starts where the old ends.

It continues on the 'eighth day', that celebrates the Resurrection and our redemption in Psalm 118.

And is repeated a third time on Monday, in Psalm 1, a day I suggest that St Benedict makes a celebration of the Incarnation (most of the psalms of Matins are clearly linked to this theme by the patristic commentaries, indeed virtually the whole of the Benedictus and Magnificat can be reconstructed from lines in these psalms; moreover, Psalm 2 at Prime gives us the Introit verse for the Midnight Mass of Christmas).

The problem of atheism

The psalms of Prime through the week also ponder the problem of the opposite of the man who follows the law, namely the man who acts as if God does not exist ('the fool says in his heart, there is no God' of Psalm 13 for instance). Sinners don't seem to realise, the psalmist suggests, that in fact God is looking down from heaven to see if anyone is seeking after God (Psalm 13).  Several of these  psalms ask why the evil seem to thrive, while the good suffer.

There are key messages for us in these psalms, echoed in many places in the Rule, about the importance of mindfulness of God, continued prayer for his assistance, and perseverance in the face of difficulties.

Christ the victorious king

The psalms of Prime also, though, point us to the promise of Christ's ultimate victory as a response to the problem of evil in the world.  In particular, on both Saturday and Monday we are also presented, in the following psalm, with the image of Christ the victorious king.

Michael Barber, in his book Singing in the Reign [2], drew attention to the similarities in content between Psalms 1 and 2 (Monday), and Psalms 18 (19) and 19 (20) (Saturday):
"Psalm 19 [18] is unique because of  its strong emphasis on wisdom.  Its role may be better understood when examined in light of Psalm 20 [19].  Together these two psalms - situated at the centre of book I - mirror Psalms 1 and 2.  Psalm 19 exalts the law of the Lord, the source of wisdom: "The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple" (v. 7).  Them Psalm 20 evokes Psalm 2, speaking of the Lord's deliverance of the Davidic king from his enemies, sending support from Zion.  Thus, as in Psalms 1 and 2, wisdom is connected with the victorious Davidic king."
A similar point can be made on the similarities in content between these two sets of psalms, and the first four stanzas of Psalm 118 St Benedict uses at Sunday Prime.  Both Sunday Prime and Monday, for example, begin with a beatitude, praise the importance of the law, call for or prophesy the destruction of enemies and point to the victory 'over princes' (Ps 2; Ps 118, esp 21-23).

Alpha and Omega, Aleph and Taw?

There are some possible numerological connections to these themes as well.

The minor hours in the Office, all have three psalms each day, which several of the Fathers suggest is in honour of the Trinity, making in total 21 psalms said at these hours each week.

St Benedict, though, starts Prime each week on Sunday with four stanzas of Psalm 118, taking the number up to 22.

Why is this significant?  The answer is that the Hebrew alphabet has 22 letters, so the number of psalms marks one for each letter.

Moreover, Psalm 118 has 22 stanzas, each labelled with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, so Sunday Prime starts with aleph, beth, ghimel and daleth.

So the extra 'psalm' is perhaps a piece of numerical symbolism signalling a connection to the Christ as the fulfillment of the law theme, mimicking the Greek, 'I am the alpha and omega'.

Posts on the psalms of Prime

The liturgical genius of St Benedict: the puzzle of Prime


Psalm 1

Introduction to Psalm 1
Notes on Ps 1 verse 1 - Christ the perfect man
Psalm 1 v 2 - Pray without ceasing
Psalm 1 v 3 - Christ as the tree of life
Psalm 1 v 4 - The healing of nations
Psalm 1 v 5 - The fate of the wicked man
Psalm 1 v6 - Rising up in judgment
Psalm 1 v7 - God knows us


Commentary of St Basil on Psalm 1
St Augustine on Christ in the Psalms (From his commentary on Psalm 1)
On the power of Psalm 1 (History of the Monks in Egypt)
Psalm 1 - Short summaries
Introduction to Psalm 1 (2014)

Psalm 2


Psalm 2 - Short summaries
Introduction to Psalm 2 (2014)
Psalm 2 in the context of Tenebrae for Good Friday)

Psalm 6

Psalm 6 - Short summaries of the psalm
Psalm 6 - Introduction
Ps 6 v 1 - On God's anger
Ps 6 v 2 - God the physician
Ps 6 v 3-5 - In death no man remembers Thee
Ps 6 v6 - A baptism of tears
Ps 6 v 7-10 - Praying for and resisting enemies
Psalm 6 as a penitential psalm


Psalm 7

Psalm 7 - short summaries
Introduction to Psalm 7

Psalm 8

Psalm 8 - short summaries
Introduction to Psalm 8

Psalm 9 (pt 1)

Psalm 9 - short summaries
Introduction to Psalm 9 (Pt 1)


Psalm 9 (pt 2)

Psalm 9 (pt 2) - Short summaries
Introduction to Psalm 9 (Pt 2 aka Psalm 10)

Psalm 10

Psalm 10 - Short summaries
Introduction to Psalm 10

Psalm 11

Psalm 11 - short summaries
Introduction to Psalm 11


Psalm 12

Psalm 12 - Short summaries

Psalm 13


Psalm 15

Psalm 15 - short summaries
Psalm 15 in the context of Tenebrae

Psalm 16

Psalm 17


Psalm 17 (Pt 2)

Psalm 17 (2) short summaries

Psalm 18

Psalm 18 - short summaries

Psalm 19

Psalm 19 - short summaries


(Introduction to Psalm 118 Pt 1Part IIPart III & Part IV)


Ps 118 - Aleph - Short summaries
Psalm 118 (Aleph) - Beati immaculati


Ps 118 Beth - short summaries
Psalm 118 (Beth) - In quo corrigit


Ps 118 Ghimel - short summaries
Psalm 118 (Ghimel) - Retribue servo tuo


Psalm 118 (Daleth) - Adhaesit pavimento anima mea &vs 32 (cum dilatasti cor meum)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Psalm 118/3 (Ghimel) - Prime, Sunday No 3

beheading of St. Valentine
above: Psalm 118(119):17 ‘Retribue servo tuo, vivifica me, et custodiam sermones tuos.’ ('Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.’)
Queen Mary Psalter, London 1310-1320.
British Library, Royal...
Beheading of St Valentine
Queen Mary Psalter, London 1310-1320.
British Library, Royal 2 B VII, fol. 243r

Psalm 118 – ghimel (verses 17-24): Retríbue servo tuo

17 Retríbue servo tuo, vivífica me: * et custódiam sermónes tuos.
Deal bountifully with your servant, revive me: and I will keep your words
18  Revéla óculos meos: * et considerábo mirabília de lege tua.
Open my eyes, and I will consider the wonderful things of your law.
19. Incola ego sum in terra: * non abscóndas a me mandáta tua.
I am a stranger on the earth: do not hide your commandments from me.
20  Concupívit ánima mea desideráre justificatiónes tuas, * in omni témpore
My soul has longed to desire your precepts: at all times
21 Increpásti supérbos: * maledícti qui declínant a mandátis tuis.
You have rebuked the proud: cursed are they who turn away from your commandments
22  Aufer a me oppróbrium, et contémptum: * quia testimónia tua exquisívi
Take away from me contempt and reproach: because I have sought your testimonies
23  Etenim sedérunt príncipes, et advérsum me loquebántur: *servus autem tuus exercebátur in justificatiónibus tuis.
For the enthroned princes spoke against me: but your servant had been kept busy with your precepts
24  Nam et testimónia tua meditátio mea est: * et consílium meum justificatiónes tuæ.
For your testimonies are my meditation: and my counsel your justification

The Knox translation, which retains the acrostic nature of this psalm in the Hebrew translates it as:

Crown thy servant with life, to live faithful to thy commands.
Clear sight be mine, to contemplate the wonders of thy law.
Comfort this earthly exile; do not refuse me the knowledge of thy will.
Crushed lies my spirit, longing ever for thy just awards.
Chastener of the proud, thy curse lies on all who swerve from thy covenant.
Clear me of the reproach that shames me, as I was ever attentive to thy claims.
Closeted together, princes plot against me, thy servant, that thinks only of thy decrees.
Claims lovingly cherished, decrees that are my counsellors!

They come to the third letter, in which they confess human need, and commend the Lord's grace in all things. They claim that the proud who persecute the Lord's faithful with unjust agitation are rebuked.
St Robert Bellarmine:
In the next octave he enumerates the obstacles to the observance of the law, and prays for their removal out of his way. 
Fr Pasch:
Overcome obstacles
You can find an extended commentary on this stanza of Psalm 118 here.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Psalm 19 - Saturday, Prime No 3

Ceiling of St. Michael's Church, Hildesheim
Psalm 19 (20) : Exaudiet te Dominus in die tribulationis 
Vulgate (numbering follows psalter)
Douay-Rheims (numbering follows Bible)
In finem. Psalmus David.
1 Unto the end. A psalm for David.
1 Exáudiat te Dóminus in die tribulatiónis: * prótegat te nomen Dei Jacob.
2 May the Lord hear you in the day of tribulation: may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2  Mittat tibi auxílium de sancto: * et de Sion tueátur te.
3 May he send you help from the sanctuary: and defend you out of Sion.
3  Memor sit omnis sacrifícii tui: * et holocáustum tuum pingue fiat.
4 May he be mindful of all your sacrifices: and may your whole burnt offering be made fat.  
4  Tríbuat tibi secúndum cor tuum: * et omne consílium tuum confírmet.
5 May he give you according to your own heart; and confirm all your counsels.
5  Lætábimur in salutári tuo: * et in nómine Dei nostri magnificábimur.
6 We will rejoice in your salvation; and in the name of our God we shall be exalted.
6  Impleat Dóminus omnes petitiónes tuas: * nunc cognóvi quóniam salvum fecit Dóminus Christum suum.
7 The Lord fulfil all your petitions: now have I known that the Lord has saved his anointed.

7  Exáudiet illum de cælo sancto suo: * in potentátibus salus déxteræ ejus
He will hear him from his holy heaven: the salvation of his right hand is in powers.
8  Hi in cúrribus, et hi in equis: * nos autem in nómine Dómini, Dei nostri invocábimus.
8 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will call upon the name of the Lord, our God.
9  Ipsi obligáti sunt, et cecidérunt: * nos autem surréximus et erécti sumus.
9 They are bound, and have fallen: but we are risen, and are set upright.
10  Dómine salvum fac regem: * et exáudi nos in die, qua invocavérimus te.
10 O Lord, save the king: and hear us in the day that we shall call upon you.

In its historic setting this psalm is a call by the people for God to grant David victory in battle, and therefore could be used before any battle in wartime.  It can also of course, be read as a plea for help before the spiritual battles that face us everyday.

The Fathers and theologians, however, have consistently interpreted it as also looking forward to the coming celebration of the Resurrection, thus it provides a fitting conclusion to the Holy Saturday theme of Prime.  St Augustine, for example, says in his commentary on the opening verses:  “And turn the cross, whereon You were wholly offered up to God, into the joy of the resurrection.”  Verses 6-7 and 9 contain the most explicit prophesies of the Resurrection, saying, for example, “now have I known that the Lord has saved his anointed…”

St Augustine:
It is not Christ who speaks; but the prophet speaks to Christ, under the form of wishing, foretelling things to come.
The most holy prophet has taught us with what devotedness we must serve Christ the Lord.  He seeks for Him the blessings which he knew would come to pass, for it is the habit of believers to pray for what we long to happen.  So in the Lord's prayer we are likewise forewarned Thy kingdom come,...So let us be oppressed at his passion, and rejoice at His resurrection, for we can be called His if we deserve to be associated with His dispensation. 
St Alphonsus Liguori:
This psalm is a prayer which the people address to God for the success of the arms of David. But Bellarmine and Rotigni think that this psalm and the two following psalms, that is, the XX. and the XXI. Of the psalter, refer to the victories of Jesus Christ over the devil and the persecutors of the Church.
Fr Pasch:
This Psalm is a plea to the Father before the day's battle, the week's conflict, of the kingdom of God―a plea which expresses at the same time great confidence of victory.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Psalm 17 (pt 1) - Friday Prime No 3

Psalm 17/1: Diligam te Domine 

In finem. Puero Domini David, qui locutus est Domino verba cantici hujus, in die qua eripuit eum Dominus de manu omnium inimicorum ejus, et de manu Saul, et dixit:
Unto the end, for David, the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this canticle, in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: and he said
Díligam te, Dómine, fortitúdo mea: * Dóminus firmaméntum meum, et refúgium meum, et liberátor meus.
I will love you, O Lord, my strength: The Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer.
2 Deus meus adjútor meus, * et sperábo in eum.
My God is my helper, and in him will I put my trust.
3 Protéctor meus, et cornu salútis meæ, * et suscéptor meus.
My protector, and the horn of my salvation, and my support.
4  Laudans invocábo Dóminum: * et ab inimícis meis salvus ero.
Praising, I will call upon the Lord: and I shall be saved from my enemies.
5  Circumdedérunt me dolóres mortis: * et torréntes iniquitátis conturbavérunt me.
The sorrows of death surrounded me: and the torrents of iniquity troubled me.
6  Dolóres inférni circumdedérunt me: * præoccupavérunt me láquei mortis.
The sorrows of hell encompassed me: and the snares of death prevented me
7  In tribulatióne mea invocávi Dóminum, * et ad Deum meum clamávi.
In my affliction I called upon the Lord, and I cried to my God:
8  Et exaudívit de templo sancto suo vocem meam: * et clamor meus in conspéctu ejus, introívit in aures ejus.
And he heard my voice from his holy temple: and my cry before him came into his ears.

9  Commóta est, et contrémuit terra: * fundaménta móntium conturbáta sunt, et commóta sunt, quóniam irátus est eis.
The earth shook and trembled: the foundations of the mountains were troubled and were moved, because he was angry with them.
10  Ascéndit fumus in ira ejus: et ignis a fácie ejus exársit: * carbónes succénsi sunt ab eo.
There went up a smoke in his wrath: and a fire flamed from his face: coals were kindled by it.
11  Inclinávit cælos, et descéndit: * et calígo sub pédibus ejus.
He bowed the heavens, and came down, and darkness was under his feet.
12  Et ascéndit super Chérubim, et volávit: * volávit super pennas ventórum.
And he ascended upon the cherubim, and he flew; he flew upon the wings of the winds.
13  Et pósuit ténebras latíbulum suum, in circúitu ejus tabernáculum ejus: * tenebrósa aqua in núbibus áëris.
And he made darkness his covert, his pavilion round about him: dark waters in the clouds of the air.
14  Præ fulgóre in conspéctu ejus nubes transiérunt, * grando et carbónes ignis.
At the brightness that was before him the clouds passed, hail and coals of fire.
15  Et intónuit de cælo Dóminus, et Altíssimus dedit vocem suam: * grando et carbónes ignis.
And the Lord thundered from heaven, and the Highest gave his voice: hail and coals of fire.
16  Et misit sagíttas suas, et dissipávit eos: * fúlgura multiplicávit, et conturbávit eos.
And he sent forth his arrows, and he scattered them: he multiplied lightnings, and troubled them
17  Et apparuérunt fontes aquárum, * et reveláta sunt fundaménta orbis terrárum:
Then the fountains of waters appeared, and the foundations of the world were discovered:
18  Ab increpatióne tua, Dómine, * ab inspiratióne spíritus iræ tuæ.
At your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the spirit of your wrath.
19  Misit de summo, et accépit me: * et assúmpsit me de aquis multis.
He sent from on high, and took me: and received me out of many waters.
20  Erípuit me de inimícis meis fortíssimis, et ab his qui odérunt me: * quóniam confortáti sunt super me.
He delivered me from my strongest enemies, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
21  Prævenérunt me in die afflictiónis meæ: * et factus est Dóminus protéctor meus.
They prevented me in the day of my affliction: and the Lord became my protector.
22  Et edúxit me in latitúdinem: * salvum me fecit, quóniam vóluit me.
And he brought me forth into a large place: he saved me, because he was well pleased with me.
23 Et retríbuet mihi Dóminus secúndum justítiam meam: * et secúndum puritátem mánuum meárum retríbuet mihi :
And the Lord will reward me according to my justice; and will repay me according to the cleanness of my hands:
24  Quia custodívi vias Dómini, * nec ímpie gessi a Deo meo.
Because I have kept the ways of the Lord; and have not done wickedly against my God.
25 Quóniam ómnia judícia ejus in conspéctu meo: * et justítias ejus non répuli a me.
For all his judgments are in my sight: and his justices I have not put away from me.
26  Et ero immaculátus cum eo: * et observábo ab iniquitáte mea.
And I shall be spotless with him: and shall keep myself from my iniquity.
27 Et retríbuet mihi Dóminus secúndum justítiam meam: * et secúndum puritátem mánuum meárum in conspéctu oculórum ejus.
And the Lord will reward me according to my justice: and according to the cleanness of my hands before his eyes.

The sheer length of this psalm might appear sufficient in itself to explain why St Benedict splits it between Saturday and Sunday.  

There is though, an important thematic reason for this as well: the first half of this psalm is very much a psalm of Good Friday, for it can be read as describing the events from Christ’s trial, to the earthquake at his death and descent into hell.

Today’s section of the psalm focuses on the idea, following on directly from the previous psalm, that God has heard the psalmist’s prayer because he is blameless – as Christ became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. 

And the centrepiece of this part of the psalm is a dramatic theophany, a storm that shakes the earth with God’s anger, echoing the ‘terra tremuit’ verse in Psalm 75 at Lauds for Friday, and serving as a reminder of the earthquake that split the Temple in two at the moment of Our Lord’s death.  

St Augustine:
That is, for the strong of hand, Christ in His Manhood. The words of this song which he spoke to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him out of the hands of his enemies, and of the hand of Saul; and he said, On the day when the Lord delivered him out of the hands of his enemies and of the hand of Saul: namely, the king of the Jews, whom they had demanded for themselves. For as David is said to be by interpretation, strong of hand; so Saul is said to be demanding. Now it is well known, how that People demanded for themselves a king, and received him for their king, not according to the will of God, but according to their own will.
St Thomas Aquinas:
In the preceding psalm, the psalmist sought in prayer to be liberated from his enemies; here he has been liberated and is giving thanks. And first he gives thanks for the benefit of liberation. Second, he burst into praise of the liberator, where he says, "The heavens tell the glory of God. The title. To the end, for the boy of the Lord, David. And he spoke the words of this song on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hands of his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And this psalm, word for word, is to be found in 2 Kings 22. The story is, as in 1 Kings 19, how Saul sought to kill him: and when Saul had died, 2 Kings 2: Again Abner and his son were against him In the end David was victorious over them. And on this account he made this psalm. And since Christ is signified by David, all these things can be referred to Christ, either according to the head, or according to the body, namely the Church, which is liberated from Saul, that is, from death: the name "Saul" is translated as "petition", because he was given, or rather extorted (from God) because the people asked for him, and he was not given so that he would remain for any length of time. Thus Christ first bore death, then there was a time of quiet, according to the gloss. He was also liberated from all his enemies, the Jews and demons, and with respect to his body, that is, the Church. In the first part he recalls the benefit of liberation in general terms. 
St Alphonse Liguori:

David gives thanks to God for having delivered him from the hands of his enemies, and especially from the hands of Saul. This psalm is applicable to the Christian soul that sees itself delivered, with God s help, from every grave persecution or every temptation of the devil.
Fr Pasch
David's hymn of thanks and victory: At the end of his life, David sings this Psalm as a sort of swan song, one of the most beautiful compositions in the Psalter.  He looks back over the battles of his life and his final victory over all his enemies―a note of courage for the coming conflicts of the week. God's Kingdom, too, must battle in Church and soul―but under God's sure guidance, it will be victorious.  Note particularly the magnificent description of God's apparition, in the figure of a thunder storm.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Psalm 14 (Prime, Thursday No 3)

Ravenna, c6th
Psalm 14 (15): Domine quis habitabit 
Psalmus David.
A psalm for David
Dómine, quis habitábit in tabernáculo tuo? * aut quis requiéscet in monte sancto tuo?
Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle? Or who shall rest in your holy hill?
2  Qui ingréditur sine mácula, * et operátur justítiam
He that walks without blemish, and works justice
3  Qui lóquitur veritátem in corde suo, * qui non egit dolum in lingua sua :
He that speaks truth in his heart, who has not used deceit in his tongue
4  Nec fecit próximo suo malum, * et oppróbrium non accépit advérsus próximos suos.
Nor has done evil to his neighbour: nor taken up a reproach against his neighbours.
5  Ad níhilum dedúctus est in conspéctu ejus malígnus: * timéntes autem Dóminum gloríficat
In his sight the malignant is brought to nothing: but he glorifies them that fear the Lord.
6  Qui jurat próximo suo, et non décipit, + qui pecúniam suam non dedit ad usúram, *et múnera super innocéntem non accépit.
He that swears to his neighbour, and deceives not; he that has not put out his money to usury, nor taken bribes against the innocent:
7  Qui facit hæc: * non movébitur in ætérnum.
He that does these things, shall not be moved for ever

St Augustine:
Tabernacle is taken in its proper meaning, it is a thing of war. Hence soldiers are called tent-fellows, as having their tents together. For we war with the devil for a time, and then we need a tabernacle wherein we may refresh ourselves. Holy mountain signifies the eternal habitation itself, the super-eminence of the love of Christ in life eternal. 
St Benedict (Prologue to the Rule):
Let us, therefore, gird our loins with faith and the performance of good works, and following the guidance of the Gospel walk in his paths, so that we may merit to see him who has called us unto his kingdom. And, if we wish to dwell in the tabernacle of his kingdom, except we run thither with good deeds we shall not arrive. But let us ask the Lord with the prophet: Lord, who shall dwell in thy tabernacle, or who shall rest upon thy holy hill? Then, brethren, let us hear the Lord answering and showing us the way to that tabernacle and saying: He that walketh without blemish and doth that which is right; he that speaketh truth in his heart, who hath used no deceit in his tongue, nor done evil to his neighbour, nor believed ill of his neighbour. He that taketh the evil spirit that tempteth him, and casteth him and his temptation from the sight of his heart, and bringeth him to naught; who graspeth his evil suggestions as they arise and dasheth them to pieces on the rock that is Christ. Such men as these, fearing the Lord, are not puffed up on account of their good works, but judging that they can do no good of themselves and that all cometh from God, they magnify the Lord's work in them, using the word of the prophet: Not unto us, 0 Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give the glory. So the apostle Paul imputed nothing of his preaching to himself, but said: By the grace of God I am what I am. And again he saith: He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
 St Thomas Aquinas:
Here, he treats of proper justice. He consults with God, like a priest standing in God's presence, he first poses a question, and then offers an explanation, at, He who enters without blemish. So, he puts forth two questions because of the two-fold status of the Church, that is, in the here and now, and in the future. The first refers to the Church as it struggles on this earth, the Church Militant. By the tabernacle is designated the Church as it struggles on this earth, and by the temple on the mount, the state of its future life.
St Alphonsus Liguori:
This psalm presents the portrait of a worthy minister of the altar, and at the same time that of the predestined soul, who also will have the happiness of being admitted for all eternity into the heavenly country.