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Institute for Pastoral Initiatives News

Praying Psalms during COVID-19

By Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH,D.Min

As my UD students share their fears, concerns and anxieties about the coronavirus during opening prayer of each virtual class, I encouraged them to find solace by composing their personal COVID-19 Psalm Book of prayers (songs) of lamentation, petition, praise and thanksgiving.

So, what do COVID-19 Lamentation Psalms look and sound like?

Praying the Liturgy of the Hours has been an essential part of my daily life since I entered my religious community, the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, over 55 years ago.

Essentially, the Liturgy of the Hours, called the Divine Office, is constituted of selections from the 150 Psalms in the Scriptures prayed throughout the year. The Psalms fall into four categories of prayers (songs) of praise, thanksgiving, petition and lamentation (sorrow).

Each Psalm normally follows a similar pattern of an opening address, statement of purpose, and closing line. The Psalms, written in Old Testament times, were the prayers (songs) of a person or people communicating with God incorporating their reflection upon the present conditions in their life.

Now and then, in praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the wording of a certain Psalm unsettles me.  I am shocked, upset, or, refuse to accept the violence that erupts within the lines of the Psalm. I find myself skipping those Psalms and moving on, or, finding another Psalm to replace it.

Shortly after COVID-19 entered our lives though, I soon discovered it challenged me to pray those uncomfortable Psalms.

The daily media news reports, as well as stories shared by family, friends and our students concerning the impact of COVID-19 in their lives offered sufficient fodder for expressing the depth of my feelings in contemporary Psalms of Lamentation.

I decided each day to compose a Covid-19 Psalm. It may be a Psalm of praise, thanksgiving, petition or lamentation. In allowing my soul to cry out in lamentation, I discovered that I understood with significant personal appreciation the Lamentation Psalms.

Through these weeks my personal COVID–19 Psalm journal is flowing with lamentations.  

Through such expressions I discover it allows me to connect deep into the Heart of Christ, to hear my cry and the cries of our people today for healing, recovery, justice, solidarity and peace.

As we journey through the remaining COVID-19 days, which we hope are less than more, I encourage you to compose your personal COVID-19 Psalms.

VLCFF.UDayton.edu offers online faith formation courses for UD alumni and participants around the globe year-round. Next start dates: May 24, July 12, August 30, and October 18.  Cost is only $10 week for a 5-week course ($50) or $40 for a 3-week seminar.  Go to VLCFF.UDayton.edu  and click calendar to see the course list.

 

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