Monthly Archives: March 2024

Psalms as Personal Prayer

On our journey to heaven, the three primary means of knowing God are reading/studying the Bible, prayer, and receiving the sacraments. There is something that combines two of these three! The Book of Psalms (right in the very middle of the Bible) are prayers that God has given us to pray to Him. Just as Jesus models prayer with the Lord’s Prayer, so too does YHWH use David and others to model prayer via the psalms. 

Psalms as Personal Prayer front coverHe gave them to us in the Hebrew language through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; in order to pray them we have translations— a number of them. There are numerous translations due to preferences of different sects within Christendom, translations to conform to the English language in different time periods and dialects, and to address different purposes for the translation. Yes, translations have different purposes or goals: one might be intended for liturgical use (NAB, NABRE), others for musical usage (Grailville). Still others for formatting (Jesus’ words in red) or for ecumenical audiences (RSV, NRSV). 

The newest translation— Psalms as Personal Prayer, an Intimate Translation— has just been released with the purpose of personal prayer engendering an intimacy with my Creator and Redeemer; coincidentally it also has the goal of being the most true to the original— inspired— Hebrew language. To do so it scrupulously holds to the Bible’s overall message, and to the poetry within the Psalms. 

Spoiler alert: I am the translator of these psalms! My study of the Hebrew language at Mount St. Mary’s School of Theology (aka The Athenaeum of Ohio) and two decades of teaching the Psalms and Scripture as a whole have prepared me for this, my life’s work. It is available strictly as an eBook (Apple or Kindle). See the web page where you can get details and subscribe to your own copy that you can download to your multiple devices connected with your online account.

This can be used in conjunction with your Liturgy of the Hours (Morning and Evening Christian Prayer), your own devotional or prayer regimen, or while waiting in line throughout the day! Please let me know your experience with these. When you go online to the purchase page at your preferred vendor, you’ll be able to see an excerpt. I hope you will find this translation a blessing and helpful boost to your prayer life. And, oh yes I have written commentaries after a number of these psalms. 

Crucifixion Insight from Chrysostom

Good Friday. We see Jesus, divine Son of God who has consented to take human form, crucified ignominiously on the cross. An innocent man suffering the death of a criminal. The Gospel passage relates that in order to confirm death, one soldier thrusts his lance into Jesus’ side: blood and water flow out, he is indeed deceased (Jn 19:34). We realize that everything in Biblical accounts, especially as related to Jesus, has symbolic importance and we understand that the water is life-giving and relates to baptism, and blood is life-sustaining and refers to the Holy Eucharist. 

This is the Passover time, and the innocent yet executed Jesus is indeed the sacrificial lamb of the Passover: the angel of death passed over the houses of those Hebrews who sprinkled the blood of the sacrificed lamb on their door posts and lintels. The Hebrews were saved at the time of the Passover and we (all humanity) are saved through Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection. 

St. John Chrysostom (meaning “Golden-mouth”) has even more for us to consider in this mystery. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and Jesus’ body is the preeminent temple. The soldier’s lance breaches that temple and opens it up for all of us. What pours forth are the initiation sacraments of the Church. This is the birth of the Church. 

In the verses immediately preceding this scene, Jesus spoke to the disciple whom he loved and instituted him (who represents us) as the son of Mary, and then gave the disciple (again, us) to his new Mother (Jn 19:26f). Thereupon we have our Mother Church. Then in the scene of Jesus’ side (temple) being opened for us, the initiation sacraments of the Church are given to us. So these two actions together are the founding of the Church. 

Chrysostom further elaborates how fitting it is that Jesus (the new Adam) created the Church from his own side just as Eve (the mother of all mankind) had been fashioned from the side of Adam (Gen 2:21f). Adam had been in a deep sleep and Jesus too was in death, which also was temporary. Note too that Adam describes Eve as “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (Gen 2:23a). 

The “golden-mouth” then ends his catechesis: “Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself and what food he gives us all to eat? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and nourished. As a woman nourishes her child with her own blood and milk, so does Christ unceasingly nourish with his own blood those to whom he himself has given life.” (See St. John Chrysostom, Catecheses 3:13-19)

Have a Blessed Easter!