Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - EXPOSITION OF THE PSALMS OF THE LITTLE OFFICE OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
We continue our examination of the five vesperal psalms and antiphons in the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (English texts are taken from the Douai Rheims Challoner version).
The second psalm of Vespers in the Little Office is Psalm 112: Laudate pueri Dominum, “Praise the Lord, ye children.” One of the most striking verses of this psalm is v. 3: “From the rising up of the sun unto the going down of the same: the name of the Lord is worthy to be praised.” David speaks here of the joyful duty of praising God at the various hours of the day, the ancient Israelite practice which undergirds the Liturgy of the Hours.
We may also interpret this verse as prophesying a time of world-wide knowledge and worship of the Lord. Such a phenomenon is fulfilled in the Church with the apostolic preaching of the Gospel. In our day (and for several centuries now) the Church is truly spread over the entire globe. There is not a single hour when the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are not being offered, as we hear prophesied by Malachi: “For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts” (Mal. 1:11, RSV).
We might also point out the question posed in vv. 5- 6: “Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high: and regardeth the things that are lowly in heaven and in earth?” The answer, of course, to this question is emphatically “No one is like the Lord!” God so infinitely transcends all created things in beauty, goodness, and truth, since He is the infinite I AM (cf. Ex. 3:14).
Our praise of God, therefore, is a necessary reminder of His infinite greatness and of our creaturely status, as Fr. Gallagher explains: “praise situates us in our truth as creatures...praise is the way to live in this truth” Indeed, the daily effort of cultivating a prayer life is what produces in us the metaphysically correct posture towards God. The prayer of praise offered each day allows us to do the principal thing we are created to do as human beings, and therein find fulfillment (cf. Gallagher, A Layman’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours, pp. 110-12; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 2566, 2628, 2639; General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours nos. 15-16).
The final verse, v. 9, rehearses a common theme in Scripture, namely, God’s miraculous intervention for barren women: “Who maketh the barren woman to dwell in her house: the joyful mother of children.” Beyond the literal sense, this verse also speaks mystically of the spiritual fruitfulness of Our Lady and the Church. In receiving St. John at the foot of the Cross, Our Lady also receives us, thereby making her our mother “in the order of grace” (cf. Catechism nos. 501, 969-70). The Church is likewise our mother, bringing forth multitudes of children from the baptismal font (cf. Catechism no. 507, 757). Thus, this psalm indicates the joy of Christ and Our Lady in the growth of the Church.
The antiphon for this psalm is again drawn from the Song of Solomon: “His left hand under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me” (Song of Solomon 2:6, 8:3). The spiritual sense is what is relevant in the Liturgy. Here, we see the mystical nuptial embrace of Christ and the Church, and, as we saw last week, “Mary is the symbol and the most perfect realization of the Church” (cf. Catechism nos. 507, 796, 967). Indeed, this verse summarizes quite simply what is taking place in the very praying of the office itself, the nuptial dialogue between Christ and his Church (cf. GILH nos. 15-16; Catechism nos.1088-89).(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.