Friday, July 27, 2012

First Year of War (or, The Old Testament Makes Sense)

As of last Thursday, I have officially lived in one place for twelve consecutive months (a feat I have not accomplished since high school).

More importantly, it has been twelve months since I began to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I have been amazed by how relevant each day's prayers can be; by how well-suited the Ordinary is to the way my mind works; by how poetic the psalms and the Old Testament are; by how good God is.

I have a friend who tells me that the Old Testament "doesn't make jack for sense." Maybe he is thinking of passages like Psalm 149, which sounds lovely:
Sing a new song to the Lord,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful...
For the Lord takes delight in his people.
He crowns the poor with salvation....
until it turns violent:
Let the praise of God be on their lips,
and a two-edged sword in their hand,
to deal out vengeance to the nations
and punishment on all the peoples;
to bind their kinds in chains
and their nobles in fetters of iron;
to carry out the sentence pre-ordained;
this honor is for all his faithful.
"Ugh," you might think. "God sounds disgusting; he unleashes his randomly-chosen favorites on everyone else, calls it an honor, and prizes it as if it's worship."

But because Ps. 149 is in the psalmody for Week I (and is prayed at least every four weeks), I had a lot of opportunities to think about it. Faith and familiarity with On Christian Doctrine led me to think that this war passage makes sense. It's not disgusting.

The war passage is a definition of 'praise' in a psalm about singing praise to the Lord. A soul gives true praise to God when she takes a merciless look at her vices (the nations, or her nobles and kings) and wages war on the evil in herself and in others. The war of becoming holy is an honor. It is faithful. And the soul's weapons are the praise of God on her lips.

I encourage all who can to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. If you already pray it, appreciate it more and enjoy it. And celebrate with me the first anniversary of my declaration of war.

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