This was part of the 31 Days of Encountering Judaism (here) but I came up with yet another post that pushed this one out, even though I like this post immensely.

The psalms are at the heart of Christian monastic practice. As an Associate of the Order of Holy Cross, I am a little hooked on the monastic way of life. For those of you who are new readers of my blog, I keep a rule of life which means I pray morning and evening, among other things.

While one could very safely say that the Torah is at the heart of Jewish practice, the psalms have a place too. I got a thrill seeing my favorite psalm used in the Saturday morning liturgy.

That would be Psalm 150 which is my favorite because: a) it's short; and b) the tones used by the Mt. Calvary monks used to chant this are just lovely. I'd chant it quite happily around work, except there seems to have been this compulsion to add a verse on the Trinity to the end of every blessed psalm. You know, just in case Christian monastics forgot about Jesus. [/end sarcasm]

It's not that I suddenly resent the addition of a Trinity verse at the end of every psalm. It just makes it awkward to share/chant while working at synagogue -- because you know how when you know the words to something really well, it just flows out of you?

Yeah, that. Not necessarily good to chant just anywhere.

The psalms, for me, illustrate just how human the Bible is; in that the prayers to God are raw and real: "God I suck because I haven't been following your way, forgive me", "God, I miss you, why can't I feel your presence". "God, you are a thing of wonder", "God, I haven't forgotten how you have walked through history with us", "God I'm being persecuted, save me and punish them for doing that to me, and oh yeah, really make it hurt. P.S. I think you're wonderful."

But always, always, whether a psalm is mournful, happy, or cursing, always the psalmist ends in praise to God.

Because everything begins and ends with praise.

How do you feel about the psalms?


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