A Life Changing Psalm

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I don’t do this often, but today I want to reflect on our Responsorial Psalm in the Mass. It is Psalm 51, which we use pretty often during Lent.

One year for Lent, one of my practices was to pray Psalm 51 every day. There were days when I would literally go through Psalm 51 ten times or more. Naturally, I grew to know it very well. It is a Psalm not only from David’s heart, but from his gut. I can envision King David writing or praying or singing this Psalm blubbering like a baby, with snot running down his nose, mixing with tears and spit and…well, I hope you get the picture. And the reason I can see this happening with King David is because it happened with me so many times. So, in the interest of helping to break you down, too, I have included Psalm 51 in today’s text. I encourage you to read it slowly, and to insert yourself into the words. Don’t just read it, pray it. Make it your own, and you will not be able to come out unchanged. Enjoy!

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.
Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my offense; my sin is always before me.
Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sight
That you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn.
True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.
Still, you insist on sincerity of heart; in my inmost being teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.
A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.
I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.
Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power. Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.
Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifice, burnt offerings and holocausts; then bullocks will be offered on your altar.

Today’s Readings

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