POPE NOTES HOW PSALMS ARE GOD’S WORDS
Says Toddlers Have Something to Teach About Prayer
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says the Psalms are a school of prayer, by which God gives us words to speak to him, just as a child learns words from his parents and surroundings.
The Pope made this comparison today at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square, when he continued his series of catechesis on prayer.
Today he looked at the Book of Psalms as a whole. “The Psalms, in fact, teach us to pray,” he said.
The Holy Father noted how in the Psalms, “the Word of God becomes the word of prayer — and they are the Psalmists’ inspired words — which also become the word of the one who prays the Psalms. … The Psalms are given to the believer precisely as a text of prayer, which has as its one end that of becoming the prayer of the one who takes them up and, with them, addresses himself to God.”
Since the Psalms are God’s Word in the Bible, the Pontiff explained, “he who prays the Psalms speaks to God with the very words that God has given to us; he addresses him with the words that he himself gives us. Thus, in praying the Psalms we learn to pray. They are a school of prayer.”
Like little children
Benedict XVI observed that an analogous process happens when a child begins to talk — “when he learns, that is, to express his feelings, emotions, and needs with words that do not belong to him naturally, but which he learns from his parents and from those who live around him.”
The Pope spoke of how the child wants to express his personal experience, but uses means of expression that belong to others.
“And little by little he appropriates them — the words received from his parents become his words, and through those words he also learns a way of thinking and feeling; he enters into a whole world of concepts, and in this [world] he grows, relates with reality, with men and with God. At last, the language of his parents becomes his language; he speaks with the words received from others, which by now have become his words,” the Holy Father reflected.
“And so it is,” he continued, “with the prayer of the Psalms.”
“They are given to us so that we might learn to address ourselves to God, to communicate with him, to talk to him about ourselves with his words, to find language for an encounter with him,” the Pontiff said.
These words also enable one to “know and to receive the standards of his way of acting, to approach the mystery of his thoughts and of his ways (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9), so as to grow always more in faith and love.”
“As our words are not only words, but also teach us about a real and conceptual world,” the Pope said, “so also these prayers teach us about the heart of God, for which reason are we able not only to speak with God, but also to learn who God is and — in learning how to speak with him — we learn what is it to be man, to be ourselves.”