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Lent in the psalms

psalmsOn Ash Wednesday I, as many others would have, urged my community:

“I invite you, in the name of Christ, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting, self-denial, and giving to those in need, and by reading and meditating on the word of God.”

For some, yes, they will give up things for Lent. For many, here in post-quake Christchurch/Canterbury, they have already given up far more than they ever would have imagined they could bear. My community will raise funds to give to those in need – we usually give away around $10,000 from a Lent Appeal. But I want to particularly focus on reading and meditating on the word of God.

The psalms have long been a framework for my spiritual life. But I want to deepen this more this Lent. And I will focus on the psalms this Lent in my community.

What about you? Can I urge you also to focus on reading and meditating on the word of God (resources here and here)? Particularly by immersing yourself more deeply in the psalms?

What other ideas do you have for Lent?

And don’t forget Lent Madness – website here.

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14 thoughts on “Lent in the psalms”

  1. Julianne Stewart

    Thanks Bosco. I am doing just that, by slowly working my way through Robert Alter’s translation and commentaries on the Psalms, as an adjunct to praying them as part of twice daily offices. Am finding this a deeply enriching experience 🙂

  2. Julianne Stewart

    Oh, and for anyone who would like to chant psalms but does not feel confident, Lent might be a good time to delve into Cynthia Bourgeault’s “Chanting the Psalms”, especially listening a little each day to the instructional CD that comes with the book.

    Can be ordered from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Chanting-Psalms-Practical-Guide-Instructional/dp/1590302575 or directly from the publisher at http://www.soundstrue.com/shop/Singing-the-Psalms/352.productdetails?gclid=CJC-y8e0sq4CFUcmpAodFVgDSg

  3. praying can be time consuming, giving to the poor can be like a loss, denying yourself looks like stupidy, but i sure you our God is a God of truth, he has evidences, he has shown himself to us in three ways he has shown him self in the word, his creation and through Jesus Christ so why don’t we value and praise him for what he is, he is supernatural being, he has been there before and will be there onwards with out no doubt. so lets respect the lent and give it the time it deserve, God bless u. http://newchristianad.blogspot.com/

  4. Thank you for this Bosco
    It is troubling that the Psalms seem to have slipped so far from the church’s radar, when they have sustained us for so long, 3 millenia?
    Often the first thing to disappear from liturgical worship
    Trying to reverse the trend here as we’ve just re-introduced them! 🙂

    1. It’s so sad to hear, Eric, that the psalms have been neglected – and you are not the only one to say it. It is quite distant from my own experience – I would not regularly worship in a community that neglected the psalms, and, of course, in the communities that I have led, the psalms have always been central. Blessings.

  5. I must admit that Lent is somewhat difficult for me. Having grown up in a Baptist church, I never gave it much thought until I joined the Orthodox Church in the mid-90s. After 5 years with them, I moved to the Anglican Church. The views and teachings of Lent are similar in both traditions. But my early omissions of the season from the Baptists continue to affect my views. Part of me just wants to look forward to Easter and ignore all the rest…while another part says, “Step out in faith, Michael. See what God will teach you about this time. Allow him to touch your heart and mind.”

    Last night at the Ash Wednesday service, our priest encouraged us to read one of the Gospels during these 40 days. I decided I would do that…as a starting place. I do know that I have been apathetic regarding the season. I don’t want to be. Now, thanks to your encouragement, Fr. Peters, I’ll add Psalms, as well.

    This brings an unrelated question to my mind — one I’ve always wondered about:

    In our service last night, the reading of the Psalms was chapter 51. At one point, David says, “…Against you, you only, have I sinned…” I’ve always wondered about that. Surely David also sinned against Bathsheba and even more so against Uriah — he had him killed! The only conclusion I can come up with is that ultimately, all our sins are primarily against God, even though they often affect others. I would appreciate any thoughts you may have about this.



    1. Thanks, Michael, for your comment; and encouragement. May I continue to encourage you on your chosen discipline for Lent.

      I think you have the essence of “…Against you, you only, have I sinned…” not as a limitation of sin – as if the sins against Bathsheba and Uriah are excluded; but rather the opposite: sin is understood in the wider setting of our relationship with God – no matter against whom our sin appears to have been directed. Ultimately every sin is directed against God.


  6. I agree with Michael’s Vicar. The reading of the Gospels is perfect for Lent. It’s surprising how most Christians experience the Gospel as pericope rather than genre and neglect the full narrative the Gospel authors give us. Reading all four is doable with a little effort. Keeping the Passion narratives for Holy Week and the Easter Gospel for Easter Week would work well too.

    As for the Psalms, maybe the Book of Common Prayer system of reciting all 150 over 30 days in the morning and evening might be helpful for some.

    I’m reading from the Church Fathers this Lent according to an Anglicanised version of the Roman Office of Readings that I recently picked up second-hand. No dreary Vatican II documents just Clement and Jerome, Leo and Chrysostom, Hooker and Pusey.

    Talking of the Orthodox, I respect their stance on fasting. They are virtually vegan until Pascha and they don’t get Sundays and Festivals off as most Anglicans and RC’s do over Lent. Christ did assume his disciples would fast and this neglect in the Western Church has no excuse.

    I’m not talking about developing a pre-Easter eating disorder. I’m talking about reducing – in some individually appropriate way – the quantity and luxurious nature of our food (ie simplification) in order to give more time to prayer and study and to allow any monetary savings to be given to those in need.

    This runs counter-cultural to our foodie society which has set up food and drink (eg coffee!) as idols and often encourages complex cooking methods with pretentious ingredients. But didn’t Chesterton say that a faith that demands nothing is worth nothing?

    1. Thanks, Steve. I regularly tell my community to sit down and read a gospel through (rather than, for example, bouncing between gospels, or all around the Bible) – it only takes an hour or two. Thanks for your other thoughts also. Blessings.

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