Oh God come to my assistance. Oh Lord make haste to help me.
These words have ended my evening every night for almost the past two months. This summer I’ve been able to pray night prayer every night with priests, fellow college students, adults on fire for their faith, and high school kids who are eager to learn everything they can about being Catholic.
If you don’t know about Liturgy of the Hours (which I didn’t until I went to college…and I was homeschooled) you are in luck. Let me introduce you to a beautiful prayer of the Church. It’s also known as the Divine Office or the Work of God and is the prayer used in the Catholic Church to pass the day around the foundation of prayer. It is “The voice of the Bride herself [the Church] addressed to her Bridegroom [Christ] It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses the Father.” (SC 84) This is amazing!! Words can’t describe how neat this is! (How neat is that?) The prayers consist of the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer.
Just the liturgy of the hours in themselves are amazing. You get to pray the same prayer that Catholics are praying around the world at all times. You join in with priests from Africa, sisters and nuns from Europe, your own bishop, and the Pope in Rome. On top of that, the Psalms were what Christ Himself prayed with during His time on earth.
The Psalms are a book of the Bible that I have slowly but surely begin to fall deeply in love with. I originally thought they were just David’s song to the Lord, which made it a bit awkward to read, honestly. It was like seeing notes that my parents had written each other when they were dating. Beautiful and awesome, yes, but I still felt like I was intruding on their love story, when I wanted my own. I felt that the Psalms were a David-and-God thing, and Chloe was the third wheel, reading their love letters of their shoulder.
Then one of the priests with us at Prayer and Action said something one night while explaining night prayer that caught me off guard and made me want to delve into the Psalms with more excitement than I had ever felt about scripture.
The Psalms are God’s love song to Himself that we get to sing to Him.
Whoa. Imagine your in a relationship and your significant other tells you exactly what to do to make them feel loved and appreciated. They told you what they liked to do on a date, their favorite food, and anything you could possibly need to know about them. They know what they like best, and then they’re letting you in on it. You could respond in two ways:
1) Take the information they gave you, treasure it, and then use it to bring about their good and happiness.
2) Ignore it, because you may know them better than they know themselves and want to give things a go with your own ideas and way.
You’d be crazy to not pick option one. Your loved one has told you exactly what makes them content, and you get to contribute to that. Welcome to the Psalms.
There is a Psalm for everything. Psalms that praise God in times of thanksgiving, Psalms that petition for His help in dark nights of the soul. Psalms for asking forgiveness. These are some of my favorites from the Night Prayers that I’ve said this summer:
“In the morning let me know your love, for I put my trust in you. Make me know the way I should walk; to you I lift up my soul.”
“Be a rock of refuge for me, a mighty stronghold to save me. For you are my rock, my stronghold. For your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.”
“My soul is waiting on the Lord, I count on His word. My soul is longing for the Lord, more than watchmen for daybreak. Let watchmen count on daybreak, and Israel on the Lord.”
If you haven’t prayed any of the Liturgy of the Hours, I highly recommend them. There is a website that lets you pray along with them, as well as an app (iBreviary is my favorite free one) that has the readings and Psalms in the order of the day. Even more beautiful is that these love songs to God can be sang with someone – so join in community and praise Him in the way that He loves best.