Praying psalms is way of connecting with Jesus in anticipation of Christmas
Aren't the Advent and Christmas seasons simply the best? The music, the lights, and the ho, ho, ho? All of that, of course, being anchored in our faith that God becomes human; the creator becomes the creature. And why would God deign to do such a thing? Well, as the Fourth Century St. Athanasius wrote, God deigned to do so in order that you and I could become like God.
Now I ask you: how can we thank the good Lord enough for that one?
Well, we can't.
But you know what we can do? Pray. And this being just the beginning of the Advent season, how about considering this prayer: Psalms.
Daunting, you might be mumbling to yourself. Balderdash! The psalms are simply songs. Don't we sing songs at Christmas? Granted, the songs we sing at Christmas are not thousands of years old, as are the psalms, but so what?
Don't know the melody to the psalms? Again, so what? Have you ever stood next to a tone-deaf soul at Mass who really belts out the hymns? Never mind their voice would grate the ears of a sow, they grind it out anyhow. Don't be intimidated by antiquity or virtuosity.
Here is what I suggest. First, grab hold of a translation of the psalms that speaks to you. If you try to pray a translation of the psalms over which you trip and stammer, frustration will only ensue. You don't want or need that.
The translation of the psalms found in your Bible may be comfortable for you. Fine. If not, try "The Psalms" published by Paulist Press. This is the translation used in the Liturgy of the Hours.
Okay, whatever translation you use, dive into it. What I am suggesting, here, is that you keep a running psalter. That is, you pray the psalms from beginning to end, from Psalm 1 to Psalm 150.
You got to be kidding, you might be thinking to yourself.
No, I'm not.
I'm not suggesting you pray all 150 psalms in any given period of time. All I am suggesting is that you pray them. Pray one a day. Pray one every other day. Pray a psalm whenever the Spirit moves you to do so. Whatever. The goal here is not to pray all 150 psalms over any period of time. The goal is to keep the psalms on the tip of your tongue, in the swells of your heart, in the fire of your soul. And the psalms cannot be on the tip of your tongue, in the swells of your heart and in the fire of your soul if you never pray them. Hence, the repetition.
If it takes you nine months to pray all 150 psalms, so what? The psalm police aren't going to bust down your door and throttle you for psalm delinquency. Just do it.
But, you might be saying to yourself, some of the psalms are, well, quite long. Simple. Just pray portions of the long ones at one sitting.
Take the biggie, for example, Psalm 119. One hundred and seventy-six verses. But it's divided into twenty-two sections, each section only eight verses. Pray a section per day.
Now, after you do finally make it through all 150 psalms? Turn back to Psalm 1 and start over, but before you do, write down in the cover of your Bible or Psalter the date on which you completed the 150th Psalm (if you are squeamish about writing in your Bible of Psalter, do so on a piece of paper and insert the paper into your Bible of Psalter). By doing this you have a record over which you can refer to see how many "psalters" you prayed over any given period of time. We have beads to count Hail Marys, don't we? Well, why not dates to count psalms?
Our Lord Jesus the Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity, prayed the psalms. Recall that St. Athanasius wrote that God became human so that humans can become like God. Our God, Jesus the Christ, prayed the psalms. When we pray the psalms, we become more like God.
Merry Christmas, Church of Gary!