My Soul Waits

ADVENT PRAYER: Monday Of Advent II by Martin Shannon

December 11, 2017

From My Soul Waits Psalm 34 I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (v. 1) The psalmist’s joy is so full that he is determined to do two things: praise God at all times, and get as many others as possible to join in.  Then, once he has the attention of his listeners, he invites them to live their entire lives to the glory of God. The poet begins: “I will bless the Lord at all times,” the Lord’s “praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  The praise of God should never cease, because the love of God never ceases.  Nothing weakens in God’s commitment to bless his people; should anything weaken in their whole-hearted gratitude for his kindness? The superscription of the psalm (“A [...]

ADVENT PRAYER: Second Sunday Of Advent by Martin Shannon

December 10, 2017

From My Soul Waits Psalm 66 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me. (v. 16) The Hebrew inscription of this psalm reads: “To the choirmaster – a song – a psalm.”  Most of the early Greek manuscripts (known as the Septuagint) add another word: anastaseos, meaning, “of the resurrection.”  This tells us that, by the second, or even late in the first century, Psalm 66 was probably sung by Christians at Easter, the feast of the Lord’s resurrection. Before Christians adopted Psalm 66 as a song in celebration of the resurrection, it was a song in celebration of God’s deliverance of Israel.  You hear in these words the prayer of a faithful Jew, coming to make his sacrifice in the temple, in [...]

ADVENT PRAYER: Saturday Of Advent I by Martin Shannon

December 9, 2017

From My Soul Waits Psalm 51 Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. (v. 1) The context of Psalm 51 is given in its superscription: “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.”  The conversation between Nathan and David is recorded in 2 Samuel 12:1-13, and the story that led to the exchange is a familiar one, (2 Samuel 11).  Late one spring afternoon, the eyes – and then the hand – of King David falls lustfully upon Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah who was one of the kingdom’s faithful soldiers.  Bathsheba becomes pregnant with David’s child and, in a desperate attempt to cover his own unfaithfulness, [...]

ADVENT PRAYER: Friday Of Advent 1 by Martin Shannon

December 8, 2017

From My Soul Waits Psalm 122 Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem! (v. 2) “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God,” wrote John the seer (Revelation 21:2).  The completion of all human history and the fulfillment of all Heaven’s promises are contained within this radiant vision of the glorified Jerusalem.  It is a far cry from the broken and conflicted city we see today.  Perhaps Psalm 122 can remind us that, even as we pray for peace in the Earthly city, we also join with Abraham, the father of faith, in looking “forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God,” (Hebrews 11:10). Of all the psalms called “Songs of Ascent” – the [...]

ADVENT PRAYER: Thursday Of Advent I by Martin Shannon

December 7, 2017

From My Soul Waits Psalm 97 The Lord reigns; let the Earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! (v. 1) Psalm 97 is one of a group sometimes referred to as enthronement psalms, named for their use in celebrating not the coronation of a king but the sovereignty of Almighty God.  These psalms serve as liturgical reminders that the supreme ruler of the universe – of all that is seen and all that is unseen – has never been nor ever can be dethroned by any other power, no matter how strong it might appear.  Other enthronement psalms are 47, 93, 96, and 99.  The psalmist perceives God’s matchless strength in some of the most dramatic displays of nature – thunder and lightning, stormy seas, earthquakes, fire, floods, and winds.  [...]

ADVENT PRAYER: Wednesday Of Advent I by Martin Shannon

December 6, 2017

From My Soul Waits Psalm 107 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28) Psalm 107, which opens the fifth and final “book” of the complete Psalter, belongs to the type of psalms known as “historical” because it recounts events of God’s saving intervention in the lives of his people.  It is a story of God’s deliverance.  Indeed, it is four stories wrapped into one. The opening call to “give thanks to the Lord,” (1) is inspired by God’s steadfast love, a love that not only “endures forever” but also shows itself in very specific divine acts.  The psalmist illustrates the people of God being redeemed and gathered from the four compass points of the [...]

ADVENT PRAYER: Tuesday Of Advent I by Martin Shannon

December 5, 2017

From My Soul Waits Psalm 85 For he will speak peace to his people, to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts. (v. 8) Something is amiss in the land.  Is it a drought?  Is it the threat of defeat at the hand of the enemy?  Is it some sudden national disaster?  All we know for sure is that something has gone desperately wrong, behind which the psalmist sees the hand of God’s divine judgment.  His appeal is simple yet fervent: “Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away thy indignation toward us!” Upon what does the psalmist base his petition?  He spends the opening verses of the song looking back upon multiple evidences of God’s faithfulness and love for his people: God has already been gracious in [...]

ADVENT PRAYER: Monday Of Advent 1 by Martin Shannon

December 4, 2017

From My Soul Waits Psalm 67 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us. (v. 1) Aaron and the Levitical priesthood were instructed to bless the people of Israel with these words: “The Lord bless you and keep you: The Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace,” (Numbers 6:24-26).  Psalm 67 is a prayer of blessing that comes out of the same tradition.  It sees the blessing of God as the very source of life and health, without which there is no hope for prosperity or peace. A rich tone of thanksgiving is prevalent throughout the psalm, and this probably explains why it was used at the great autumn Feast of Sukkot, or [...]

ADVENT PRAYER: First Sunday Of Advent by Martin Shannon

December 3, 2017

From My Soul Waits Psalm 33 Our soul waits for the Lord. (v. 20) The first word of Psalm 33 is one of six words for “praise” used by the author of this song.  It first appears in scripture in the book of Leviticus to describe the response of the Jewish assembly when the fire of God came down from Heaven and consumed the offerings made by Moses and Aaron in the tent of meeting.  When all the people saw the glory of the Lord unexpectedly appearing in this way, “they shouted for joy and fell facedown,” (Leviticus 9:24).  This was a spontaneous cry of rejoicing, elicited by an extraordinarily dramatic sign of God’s presence come among them. Psalm 33 is a call to praise and worship.  Unlike many psalms that were written in [...]

ADVENT PRAYER: Introduction by Martin Shannon

December 2, 2017

From My Soul Waits In his rule for monastic life, Saint Benedict wrote that the life of a monk should be like a continuous Lent (chapter 49).  He acknowledged that not everyone has the strength to do this (how’s that for understatement?), so, at least during the liturgical season, he wanted his monks to take on some additional and intentional acts of self-denial, all the while never forgetting that the essential aim of Lent is to look forward to Easter with joy and longing.  Life has plenty of asceticism built in already (most of it unexpected), and it is nothing if not a hope and desire for resurrection in the end.  So, even though he didn’t, perhaps Benedict could have said something similar about Advent. I live in an [...]