The Most Essential Christian Prayer Book

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On the Lips of Saints
During the final days of Bl. Columba Marmion (d. Jan 30, 1923), a certain individual was trying to encourage him to confide in God’s mercy. The gist of what the latter said was this: “Think of all the good works you have performed: remember all the conferences you have given, the books you have written, the sermons you have preached.” Shaking his head, the holy Abbot simply had this to say: ‘Deus meus, misericordia mea!’ (‘My God, my mercy!’).

Where did he learn this beautiful little prayer? Was it his own composition? Did he find it in the writings of a pious author? Was it revealed to a chosen soul? No. These words come straight from the Psalter – that is, the book of Psalms. We will find no better prayer book; every word comes from the Heart of God. This explains the preference of so many desert fathers, priests, religious, and Saints in general, for the Psalter.

‘Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Thy name:
the just wait for me, until Thou reward me.’

– Final words of St. Francis of Assisi (Ps. 141:8)

What better way to address Him than in those words which were inspired by the Holy Spirit, Whosearcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God’ (1 Cor. 2:10)? Are His words not ‘spirit and life’ (Jn. 6:64)?

If you wish to ‘put on Christ’ (Gal. 3:27), you must have ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Cor. 2:16), and if you wish to have the mind of Christ, you must let your heart be dissolved in His prayer, in His life. ‘It is written,’ said Our Lord (quoting the book of Deuteronomy), ‘that Man liveth not by bread alone, but by every word of God’ (Lk. 4:4). Open your Bible, then; listen to your God, Who calls on you, saying: ‘For I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it’ (Ps. 80:11).

“The Psalms form indeed the chief of all books of prayer.”
– Bl. Ildephonsus Schuster

The Psalms: A Key to the Heart of Christ
“The holy Gospels, writes Bl. Cardinal Schuster, “relate the life of Jesus in all its details and expound His teaching, but the Psalms of David show us the mind of our Saviour, and make known to us His preferences, His feelings, His struggles and His anxieties, and tell us of the accents of deep love in which He prayed to His heavenly Father.

Throughout His life, Jesus addressed Him in the words of the Psalter, and on the Cross, during His last agony, the twenty-first psalm was on His lips. We might almost liken the Psalter to a sacerdotal book of prayers which the eternal Pontiff recited whilst offering up to His Father the sacrifice of His own life…

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The private piety of present-day Catholics would gain much if, letting themselves be influenced by the example of our common Mother, the Church, who appoints for her ministers the weekly recital of the Psalter, they, too, would make more use of this prayer-book, which was inspired by the Holy Ghost and adopted for our example by our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself.” (‘The Sacramentary,’ p. 156, vol. II)

2 thoughts on “The Most Essential Christian Prayer Book

  1. Ciao, dear Julie!

    Always nice to hear from you. I am thankful that the above words are helpful. The Psalms are perfectly suited to every stage and state in life; I cannot live without them.

    “A psalm on the lips, Christ in the heart.”

    A “thank you” as always for your prayers, which I joyfully reciprocate.

    J.M.J.

  2. The Holy Spirit has been directing me towards the Psalms these past 4 months. Your reflection is a beautiful and clarion call for me and a confirmation of the directions I have been given. God Bless your vocation Ben, and as always, a great big smile and thank you!
    With affection as always,
    Julie

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