COUNTRY MUSIC FOR THE SOUL
For those familiar with Country Music you know the lyrics express so many emotions of life’s experiences. From the joy of birth to the closeness of a loving partner to the betrayer of friend or lover, the composers and singers dig into our feelings.
The word “Psalm” means “Instrumental Music”, that is, they were songs that were part of the Temple Worship in Israel. In a sense these biblical verses could be catalogues under “Religious Country Music”.
For most Catholics listening to the Psalms being read or sung in the Mass is just passing time until we can hear the second reading or Gospel. But there is such emotion in these verses that often express what you and I are going through in life.
The Psalms contain Israel’s, and I might add, our life and religious experiences. The spiritual history of the Jewish people is one of joy (being accepted as God’s chosen ones), to liberation (from slavery in Egypt) to the possessors of a promised land, to exile from that land , to restoration to that territory.
Are not these the ups and downs of our life’s experiences? The Psalms can put into words what we are feeling. And the best part of this is that God is part of these experiences. God is active in our lives. Even the catastrophic event of the Israelites’ exile was seen as a judgement, yet a wonderful renewal of their being chosen, favorites of God.
Is our present situation a time of exile? We are not forgotten by God but being called to a time of renewal. From our “sufferings” we will be different. Family and friends’ relationships will be different, our appreciation of what God has given us, the earth in all its beauty that we longed to be part of, will be deepened. The need for people that are special in our lives, to be reconnected to the society that supports us, the need to be renewed.
This all came from a reflection from one of the prayers that we religious are obligated to pray each morning and evening. The Liturgy of the Hours is a prayer that I and all clergy must pray each day, not for ourselves, but for the People of God. It consists of three Psalms or passages from the Scriptures and intercessions.
This morning (April 22) Psalm 77 was offered as a prayer. It reads:
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God that he may hear me. In the day of my distress I seek the Lord. In the night, my hand is stretched out without ceasing I think of God and I moan, I meditate and my spirit faints.”
WOW! Is this the feeling of people today affected by the atmosphere surrounding the restrictions coming from this pandemic.?
But the Psalm continues:
“I will recall the deeds of the Lord, yes, recall your wonders of old. I will ponder all your works; on your exploits I will meditate. Your way, God, is holy; what god is as great as our God? …With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph.”
It continues remembering the deliverance from the slavery of Egypt and the journey to the promised land of milk and honey.
What a wonderful addition to our worship of God in the Mass. Unfortunately, not understood, or respected!
More next time on the wonderful Psalms.
I hope that many of you have taken advantage of the fact that the churches are opened for private prayer from 9 AM to 3 PM every day except when the Mass is being live streamed. You can join the priests in a virtual viewing and celebration of the Mass from Monday to Saturday at 9 AM and on Sundays at 10 AM.
As you enter the Church you will find a small missalette of the Sunday readings. Take one home with you? They are free! Look over the Responsorial Psalm. Does it express what you and I are going through right now?
Be Safe! Peace!