instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, July 05, 2007

This you should write on the threshold and door of your mouth

If you're familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours, you're familiar with Psalm 70:2, nee Psalm 69:2, which begins every canonical hour (except the first of the day):
Deus in adjutorium meum intende; Domine ad adjuvandum me festina.

O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.
The practice of beginning the Office with this verse goes back to St. Benedict, and even earlier Cassian reports on its use by desert monks "for keeping up continual recollection of God":
For it embraces all the feelings which can be implanted in human nature, and can be fitly and satisfactorily adapted to every condition, and all assaults. Since
  • it contains an invocation of God against every danger,
  • it contains humble and pious confession,
  • it contains the watchfulness of anxiety and continual fear,
  • it contains the thought of one’s own weakness, confidence in the answer, and the assurance of a present and ever ready help....
  • It contains the glow of love and charity,
  • it contains a view of the plots, and a dread of the enemies, from which one, who sees himself day and night hemmed in by them, confesses that he cannot be set free without the aid of his defender.
Abba Isaac's advice can be summed up this way:

When you want or need God's assistance and help, recite this prayer.

When you don't, don't.