The Psalms

March 31, 1996
Brother John Raymond

	Continuing with the Catechism of the Catholic Church we arrive at
 the Psalms, the prayer of the assembly. The Church has certainly
 placed a lot of importance on the Psalms as is indicated in Her
 Sacred Liturgy. They are used for the Responsorial Psalm in the Holy
 Mass and are used extensively in the official prayer of the Church,
 the Liturgy of the Hours.
	The Psalms are very broad in scope. They are at the same time
 both personal and communal. The psalms are both concerned with those
 praying them and all men. They embace all of creation. Even time is
 limitless in them as they embrace saving events of the past as well
 as those of the future, even until the end of time. The Psalms
 recall promises God has already kept and await the Messiah Who will
 fulfill them for all time. As we move into Holy Week it is
 interesting to note that the Catechism tells us, "Prayed by Christ
 and fulfilled in Him, the Psalms remain essential to the prayer of
 the Church." (#2586)
	In other books of the Old Testament we read about God's works and
 the mystery contained therein. The Psalter (the collection of
 Psalms) is unique in that the Word of God becomes man's prayer. It
 both expresses and acclaims God's saving works. They show both God's
 work and man's response. In Our Lord both God's both of these are
 united. "In Him, the psalms continue to teach us how to pray."
	As is evident from the Psalms, they reflect both the official
 prayers used in the Old Testament Temple liturgy and those contained
 in the human heart. "Whether hymns or prayers of lamentation or
 thanksgiving, whether individual or communal, whether royal chants,
 songs of pilgrimage or wisdom meditations, the Psalms are a mirror
 of God's marvelous deeds in the history of His people, as well as
 reflections of the human experiences of the Psalmist." (#2588) The
 psalms are such that they can be prayed in truth by men of all times
 and conditions.
	When something good happens some people respond with "Praise the
 Lord." Well, the Psalter certainly is a reflection of this very
 acclamation with its fitting title, "The Praises." Praising God
 sustains prayer throughout the psalms. Even with this underlying
 theme, the constant characteristics found in the psalms have a rich
 variety in their simplicity and spontaneity, their desire for God
 through and with His creation. They even give us the situation of a
 distraught believer who chooses God's will and waits on His faithful
 response while at the same time being surrounded by enemies and
	Following a literary analysis of a psalm's structure, vocabulary,
 etc. by Hermann Gunkel we can classify some of the psalms into the
 following categories:
1) Hymns or Praises: pss. 8, 29, 68, 103-105, 148
2) Thanksgiving: pss. 30, 34, 66, 67, 124
3) Lamentation or Supplication: pss. 22, 69, 80, 83, 88
	Subgroups A) Penitential: pss. 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143
			B) Curses: pss. 35 (vv. 4-8), 58, 83 (vv. 10-19), 109
4) Royal: pss. 20, 21
	Subgroups A) Zion: pss. 46, 48, 68, 76, 87, 132
			B) God Reigns: pss. 47, 93-99
			C) Messianic: pss. 2, 45, 72, 110
5) Wisdom: pss. 1, 32, 73, 90
6) Prophetic: pss. 50, 82, 85, 95, 110
7) Gradual: pss. 120-134
	"My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?" (Ps. 22,1) Sound
 familiar? Was Our Lord praying this Psalm from the Cross? Let us go
 through Holy Week praying and reflecting on the psalms in order to
 enter more deeply into the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our