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Psalm 34

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

The responsorial psalm for today's liturgy is one of my favorites, Psalm 34. It is a Hebrew anacrostic poem. In other words, each successive verse begins with each successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet beginning with the letter "aleph." This form of poetry is still created today. There are several psalms written in this fashion.

Because the form imposes a rigid construct on the poet, such poems rarely have a logical thought pattern. Rather each verse typically stands on its own and oftentimes can become a mantra for prayer. For instance, I am sure that we can all identify with the following: The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. (Psalm 34:19) When one is dealing with a broken heart, this single verse can serve as a powerful prayer.

One verse I frequently pray appears rather early in the psalm: I sought the LORD, and he answered me, delivered me from all my fears. (Psalm 34:5) We all know times when we need such a prayer. I can imagine the Blessed Mother repeating this verse when she was struck with fear at the appearance of the angel at the Annunciation.

I would encourage you, especially people with chronic illness and or disability, to find a verse in Psalm 34 to quietly repeat throughout the day. It is a wonderful source of prayer.

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