THE ABBEY PSALTER

A few years ago during bible study, I learned of a book of the Psalms used by the Trappist Monks of Genesee Abbey, a convent and monastery in Piffard, New York. The Psalms are chanted in prayer in communion with God as a deepening of their walk with the Lord. A cover page before Psalm 1 relates a quote from St. Augustine:

“The Psalm is spoken in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, both head and members. Not without good  reason then, his voice is ours and our voice is also his. Let us therefore listen to the Psalm and recognize it in the voice of Christ.” — St. Augustine.

This practice of praying the Psalms did not originate with monks and nuns. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, himself prayed the Psalms even to his death on the cross:

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? You are far from my plea and the cry of my distress. Oh my God, I call by day and you give no reply; I call by night and I find no peace.

Yet you, O God, are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted you and you set them free. When they cried to you, they escaped. In you they trusted and never in vain.

But I am a worm and no man, the butt of men, laughing-stock of the people. All who see me deride me. They curl their lips, they toss their heads. “He trusted in the Lord, let him save him; let him release him if this is his friend.”

Yes, it was you who took me from the womb, entrusted me to my mother’s breast. To you I was committed from my birth, from my mother’s womb you have been my God. do not leave me alone in my distress; come close, there is none else to help. 

Many bulls have surrounded me, fierce bulls of Bashan close me in. Against me they open wide their jaws, like lions, rending and roaring. Like water I am poured out, disjointed are all my bones. My heart has become like wax, it is melted within my breast. 

Parched as burnt clay is my throat, my tongue cleaves to my jaws. 

Many dogs have surrounded me, a band of the wicked beset me. They tear holes in my hands and feet and lay me in the dust of death.

I can count every one of my bones. These people stare at me and gloat; They divide my clothing among them. They cast lots for my robe. 

Oh, Lord, do not leave me alone, my strength, make haste to help me! Rescue my soul from the sword, my life from the grip of these dogs. Save my life from the jaws of these lions, my poor soul from the horns of these oxen.

I will tell of your name to my brethren and praise you where they are assembled. “You who fear the Lord give him praise; all sons of Jacob, give him glory. Revere him, Israel’s sons.

For he has never despised nor scorned the poverty of the poor. From him he has not hidden his face, but he heard the poor man when he cried.”

You are my praise in the great assembly. My vows I will pay before those who fear him. The poor shall eat and shall have their fill. They shall praise the Lord, those who seek him. May their hearts live forever and ever!

All the earth shall remember and return to the Lord, all families of the nations worship before him for the kingdom is the Lord’s; he is ruler of the nations. They shall worship him, all the mighty of the earth; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust. 

And my soul shall live for him, my children serve him. They shall tell of the Lord to generations yet to come, declare his faithfulness to peoples yet unborn: “These things the Lord has done.”  

I seek a deeper walk, especially on days when my path is not clear. Those days I look for meditations which are inspirational and speak wisdom into my heart. Today I chose the Abbey Psalter and read Psalm 4:

When I call, you answer me, O God of justice; from anguish you released me, have mercy and hear me!

Oh men, how long will your hearts be closed, will you love what is futile and seek what is false?

It is the Lord who grants favors to those whom he loves; the Lord hears me whenever I call him.

Fear him; do not sin: ponder on your bed and be still.  Make justice your sacrifice and trust in the Lord.

“What can bring us happiness?” many say. Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord.

You have put into my heart a greater joy than they have from abundance of corn and new wine.

I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. 

I have underlined the phrase which spoke to me more than any other today. That is how it works when I’ve read through the Psalm twice and looked for its meaning in my life for any particular day. Today I will make justice my sacrifice and trust in the Lord. I will lie down in peace and dwell in safety.

© copyright 2017…..Phyllis Rogers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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