By Madeleine Callahan
St. Mary Monastery Oblates have started our second year of studying psalms more closely so as to deepen our experience of them.
A Jewish friend asked me if we were studying the psalms for content, form and their history or contemplatively. I answered, we do a bit of everything with the psalms to make them feel “alive” and significant in our lives. Continue Reading
“Let the crimes of their ancestors be held against them before God, and their parents’ sins never be erased” (Psalm 109:14).
This is a curse – whose vivid vengeful energy is true, even if none of us would wish to bear the guilt of our ancestors’ crimes.
It snagged my thoughts a bit during lectio, though. What crimes indeed have my ancestors committed? Or yours? Continue Reading
Yesterday I found two dead young possums in my yard. Sensing there might be more, I went investigating this morning and found a third. The two I picked up via gloves and a bag yesterday felt warm still (if fly covered), their small bodies flexible. The third I picked up today was stiff. So I am guessing one of the stray cats that claims a stretch of houses on my street probably had great fun slaying them yesterday. Only one possum was bloody, and none had been eaten. Continue Reading
Reading Psalm 3 by my two remaining orange poppies this morning, I noticed a theme that’s caught my eye a great deal in recent years: the holiness of God as something that abides through every betrayal.
Psalm 3 is attributed to David when he’s fleeing his son Absalom, who has killed his brother Amnon for raping their sister Tamar. Not exactly healthy dynamics in the royal family! None of it ends well, for Absalom is eventually hung by his hair when it gets tangled in some trees while he’s trying to flee his father’s men on a mule. Continue Reading
Unexpectedly on Christmas I saw the 1970 movie “Patton,” a nuanced portrayal of General Patton during WWII. Hearing lines from the psalms echo in the background of some solo shots of the General walking across a landscape, it was easy to see his instinctive identification with the ups and downs of David’s own military conquests, his times in and out of exile and being on the run. So now for a time I suspect I’ll be praying in the psalms alongside this image of Patton and all the morally ambiguous values regarding war that he embodied.