Category Archives: Tools – 2016

Podcasts of Tools of the Spiritual Life which were published for the Liturgical Year 2016 A.D.

N048 – 7th Sunday after Trinity

7th Sunday after Trinity

Collect: Lord of all power and might, who art the author and give of all good things: graft in our hearts the love of thy holy Name, increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, Our Lord: Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

The Introit. Ps. 47 (Omnes gentes) O clap your hands together, all ye people: sing unto God with the voice of melody. Ps. 47 For the Lord is high and to be feared; he is the great king upon all the earth.

The Epistle: Romans 6:19-23 The difference between a life involved in sinfulness and a life dedicated to righteousness in the Lord is very stark. It is as simple as the difference between death and life. We must be dead to sin so that we can receive the gift of eternal life from God.

Gradual: Ps 47 Come, ye children, and hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. They had an eye unto him and were enlightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

Alleluia. Ps 47 O clap your hands together, all ye people: O sing unto God with the voice of melody. Alleluia.

The Gospel: St. Mark 8:1-9 Four thousand people have been following Jesus in the wilderness and listening to His teaching for three days. Their supplies have run out – only seven loaves of bread and a few fish are left. Their physical hunger signifies their even greater spiritual hunger. Jesus multiplies the loaves and fish miraculously so that all are not only fed but were filled. The physical food of loaves and fishes signifies the riches of grace with which Christ fills our spiritual hunger by the sacramental mysteries of the Church.

Offertory: Daniel 3.  Like as in the burnt-offerings of rams and bullocks, and like as in ten-thousands of fat lambs: so let our sacrifice be in thy sight this day that it may please thee: for they shall not be confounded that put their trust in thee, O Lord.

Communion: Ps 31 Bow down thine ear: make haste to deliver me.

At the Divine Office

The Old Testament lessons in the Daily Office for the week to come are set out below:


Sunday Monday








Friday Saturday
Matins Hosea 14 1 Sam. 8:4-end  1 Sam. 9:1-10 1 Sam. 9:11-21 1 Sam.9:22 – end 1 Sam. 10:1-16 1 Sam. 10:17-end
Vespers Dan. 5:1-30 Dan. 4:4-18 Dan. 4:19-27 Dan. 4:28 – end Dan. 5:1-9 Dan. 5:10-16 Dan. 5:17 – end

Sunday Benedictus and Magnificat Antiphons

At 1st  Vespers: Thou hast heard, O Lord, the supplication of thy servant, that I might build a temple to thy Name.

At Matins: The multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat, alleluia.

At 2nd Vespers: I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting, they will faint by the way, alleluia.

Click here to download a PDF file of these minor propers.

Click here to download a PDF file of this talk.






T008 – Introduction to the Psalms, Part V.

How Psalms are used in the Liturgy

Two psalms are used extensively in the liturgy of Holy Week. This provides an opportunity to look at them in depth and gain a better understanding of how the psalms are used in the liturgy.

Psalm 35 is used for the Introit, Gradual, & Communion on Monday of Holy Week and as the Gradual on Tuesday of Holy Week.

Psalm 102 is used for the Introit, Tract after the 2nd lesson (Hebrews), Offertory, & Communion on Wednesday of Holy Week.

The text of the Psalms for this talk is that as given in the King James Version. Click here to download a PDF file of Psalms 35 & 102 to better understand and follow this talk.

T007 – Introduction to the Psalms, Part IV

T007 – Introduction to the Psalms, Part IV

Episode Notes

Theme:  The Psalms as a tool for our theosis, our personal growth in holiness, continued .

  1. The language of the Psalms – Prayers and Curses
    • The entire spectrum of human needs, moods, and passions are found in the Psalms
    • Controlled prayer (Psalm 137:1-6) is followed by passion for revenge (vv.7-9).
    • Nevertheless, the psalms longs for Jerusalem – Peace, security, union with God while simultaneously crying out against personal experience of the evils which are inflicted on the disadvantaged, displaced, weak, ignorant, and otherwise vulnerable.
  2. Such language calls out for immediate action. The Psalmist sees that the world is in crisis. The violent imagery of these psalms indicates just how deeply the psalmist longs for a just and proper order of things and is violently repelled by injustice and falsehood.
  3. Consider Psalm 58 .
    • Note the clearly vengeful terms used.
    • Poet desires the destruction of unfair rulers, indeed, the annihilation of enemies
    • “The curses in the Bible do not represent uncontrolled outbursts of human emotion, nor are they the abuse of a victim on the rampage. Given their liturgical, communal setting, they are the modulated, if vitriolic, articulation of the desire for the annihilation of evil forces against God’s people.” (Ibid).
    • It is never wrong to hate evil and wish for its final and complete defeat and annihilation.

(1) Prophetic curses, such as found in Amos 1-2, are part of the liturgical and prophetic tradition of the Jews.

(2) Furthermore, we must never forget that the Psalms are not just any set of poems. They are inspired by God.

(3) God intends the words chosen by the psalmist when he writes the psalms and, therefore, we must learn from this. “Both violent and pacific expressions are the Word of God; both have a home in the Bible. With these difficult prayers, [we are able to appeal to] God to attend to even the crudest level of human nature”

  1. God, Who knows human nature and human needs better than we ourselves do, has given us these psalms so that we will be able to bring to Him every aspect of ourselves, particularly those aspects which are in most need of reformation, change and healing. For never, I say again, never forget that the Psalmist knew well to Whom he was addressing the Psalm!
  2. As a practical example, let us consider Psalm 51, which has been the great penitential psalm of the Church in both Testaments. It is interesting to note, by the way, that the psalms which are placed close to it in the psalter include several psalms which use rather strong language regarding evil and those who perpetrate evil.

Click here to download a PDF file of these Episode Notes.

T006 – Introduction to the Psalms, Part III

T006 – Introduction to the Psalms, Part III

Episode Notes

Theme:  The Psalms as help to our theosis, our personal growth in holiness.

  1. A few words on the pitfalls of some 20th Century theories of Biblical interpretation.
    • The common understanding of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures was close to “God dictated it all word-for-word. Anything which is described or mentioned in Scripture is literally true.”
    • Archeological and historical research found evidence that gave a different view of this.
    • If, however, you want to learn how the Lord continued to care for and protect His people from the Philistines, then you do go to 1st Samuel 17.
  2. David’s conflict with Saul, Ps: 3-41. Here also let us first consider the ascription or title which appears over many psalms in the Psalter. These are part of the Scriptures, not some late addition superimposed on the existing text. Consider:
    • David was a poet and musician as well as King.
    • There is a lot of internal evidence that Moses composed Psalm 90
    • A specific character in Hebrew is used to denote authorship.
    • Archeological work has conclusively demonstrated a very early date for many of the psalms and strongly supports the traditional view.
    • Christ and the Apostles considered ascriptions as part of Scripture.
    • The Fathers, notable St. Augustine and St. Jerome unhesitatingly accepted the ascriptions of the psalms. From the earliest days, the Church has continuously accepted the psalms with their notations, etc. as part of Scripture.
  3. The Form of the Psalms
    • Individual Laments (Ps 51).
    • National Laments (Ps 44).
    • Declarative Praise or Thanksgiving Psalms of Individuals (Ps 32; also see 1 Samuel 2:1-10)
    • Descriptive Praise Psalms of the People (a/k/a Hymns) (Ps 24)
    • Psalms of Special Intentions
      • Wisdom Psalms (Ps 112)
      • Pilgrim Psalms (Ps 120 – 134).
      • Royal Psalms (Ps 110)
      • Enthronement Psalms (Ps 96)
  1. The Psalms as the School of Prayer
    • The psalms reflect experience – very personal and real experience
    • The psalms have a profound insight into the depths of our nature, particularly our sinful nature.
    • In the psalms as well we learn how to praise God and, perhaps more importantly, why we should praise Him
    • The very words of the Psalms are given us as part of Holy Scripture, so that when we pray in the words of the Psalms, we may be confident that God wants to hear us just as we are.
  2. The Psalms in context:
    • Hebrew poet’s own culture and experience.
    • The caption or ascription which we have discussed above, since it provides a setting for the psalm.
    • The garden plot of human existence
    • “The Psalter is packed with symbols which make the poet’s experience accessible: narrowness or the sensation of being cramped, ups and downs, enemies and trying days, the sense of the loss of God or the failing of self.”
    • Every day people find that the deep sentiments of the psalms apply to them.
    • What, then is taught about prayer in the Psalter?
      1. “Some psalms refer to historical events of the Hebrew people, the crossing of the Red Sea and the entrance into the Promised Land.”
      2. “Others describe personal dramas, like conversion, betrayal, or personal weakness.”
      3. The psalm as prayed becomes “the expression of one who, conscious of his own misery, the sufferings of loved ones, and the suffering of the world, entrust them to God. Such a prayer is purifying. It relieves the sufferer, transforms the person praying, and transposes the pain into prayer”
  1. Practical Example: Psalm 26 (Judica me, Domine). This psalm is so apt an illustration of the forgoing. It is used several places in the Liturgy, the most common is the prayer which the priest says at the end of the Offertory of the Mass as he washes his hands.(At the lavabo.)
Click here to download a PDF file of these Episode Notes. Click here to download a PDF file of the transcript of this talk.

T005 – Introduction to the Psalms, Part II

Some Thoughts on the Literal and Figurative Meanings of Scripture and the Structure and Imagery in the Psalms .

  1. In her Introduction to Bede: On the Temple, Dr. J O’Reilly provides a succinct explanation of how this works in relationship to the Temple of God
  2. Bede himself provides us with this insight beautifully in his homilies On the Dedication of the Church, Hom II. 24 & 25.
  3. The Book as we now have it in the Bible is divided into 5 parts, 1-41, 42-72, 73-89, 90-106, 107-150. This does not appear to be particularly significant as to content. A more useful grouping of the Psalms is in accord with the general history of Israel around the Covenant, particularly with reference to David. (see here, Schaefer, pp 352-355, particularly 1st full para on p 353)
    • Introduction: The righteous one, Ps: 1-2
    • Book I: David’s conflict with Saul, Ps: 3-41
    • Book II: David’s kingship, Ps: 42-72
    • Book III: The Assyrian crisis, Ps: 73-89
    • Book IV: The destruction of the Temple and the Exile, Ps: 90-106
    • Book V: Praise & reflection on the Return and the new era, Ps 107-145
    • CONCLUSION: Climatic praise to God, Ps. 146-150.
  4. It is important to begin any study of the Psalms with a discussion of the literary structure of the Psalms. It is remarkable – undoubtedly a sign of God’s special care – that the vast majority of the imagery and meter is not lost with translation from the original (Hebrew or Greek) to another language. We follow here Dom Konrad Schaefer, OSB.
    • Imagery – reality, both actual and distorted, is depicted with a broad panorama of images. (pp xii-xiv)
    • Repetition and Parallelism – the basic structure of Hebrew poetry is parallelism, or the interrelation of two half-lines of poetry. (pp xiv – xix)
    • Context and Sequence – The Psalter begins with a “wisdom” psalm which blesses those who delight in the Law of the Lord which is followed by Psalm 2 which, though different in structure and meter than Psalm 1, complements it and forms part of a single introduction.
  5. Practical Example, Psalms 1 & 2 and the commentaries thereon in St. Augustine and Schaefer. The “Law” as we see the psalmist delighting in meant something very unique and special to him and to all who followed. For the good Jew of the Old Testament, the “Law” meant far more than a set of precepts given by God (“Thou shalt not…, etc.). It meant a complete human life in which every action was done in full accord with the manner in which God intended for us to act. So it would be better to think of the Law as not a set of precepts but rather of a picture – a moving picture – of human life correct lived in accordance with the Will of God, Who created mankind. We know, of course, that such a life is beyond our own strength and ability, although it is not beyond our desire! However, as member of the Body of Christ, Christ gives us the power to live as we should.

T004 – Introduction to the Psalms, Part I

Introduction to the Psalms – Week I

 Some considerations about the theology of Divine Revelation

and the Psalms in general.

How God Reveals Himself:

  • The Bible as we have it now is a compendium
    1. A number of “books” with a variety of human authors and a variety of styles.
    2. Bible is the record of the lives of the people who are in a special relationship with God.
    3. The Bible is the record of what the Jews thought was important in their history and what God considered to be important in the same history.
  • The Bible is addressed to all of us, extended both through space and through time.
    1. Something “obscure” or “irrelevant” now may be just what the Church of 2316 A.D. may need.
    2. Likewise, something which was critical in the past, may now be outdated or irrelevant – However, we must be careful here as it is all too easy to write off some uncomfortable truth as “irrelevant.”
  • Through words, deeds (the actions of men), and events (actions of nature or men considered collectively)
  • Events form the structure around which the whole is placed. E.g.: creation, call of Abraham, Egyptian captivity, Exodus, etc.
  • The primary rule to be followed always is set out in Scripture itself:
    • Romans 15:4: For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
    • 2 Timothy 3:16: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
    • Luke 24:13-35 (The disciples on the road to Emmaus after the Resurrection encounter Christ) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
    • It is appropriate to say that God wills:
      1. The events described in Scripture
      2. The development of human civilization
      3. Development of human languages
      4. The development of writing and literature and the use of writing as a means of communicating from one generation to the next.
      5. The work of each human author of Scripture. While it is not true that God “dictated” all of Scripture (He certainly seems to have done some!), but it is true that He intended the results, and so preserved human authors from errors which would obscure or detract from His purpose. This is a mystery which we can not comprehend!
  • All of this was understood by the Church and as it developed, the various teachers and Fathers developed what are now generally referred to as the four senses of Holy Scripture. These are:
    • Historical (or literal) – the meaning of the words themselves
    • Allegorical – the meaning that is hidden in the text
    • Tropological – the moral lessons which can be drawn from the text
    • Anagogical – pointing toward the end times, the Coming of Christ.
  • Or, As Cassian says, one and the same Jerusalem can be taken in four senses:
    1. historically as the city of the Jews;
    2. allegorically as Church of Christ,
    3. anagogically as the heavenly city of God “which is the mother of us all,”
    4. tropologically, as the soul of man, which is frequently subject to praise or blame from the Lord under this title.

Click to download The Four Levels of Scripture

Detailed Biblical History Timeline


T003 – Basic Tools of The Spiritual Workshop

In this talk I provide the listener with an explanation of the various parts of the Mass (Eucharist, Divine Liturgy, etc.) as we have in the Western Rite.   This includes explanation of various liturgical terms such as Collect, Propers, Commons, Ordinaries, Minor Propers, Introit, Verse, Gradual, Alleluia, Tract, Offertory, Communion, as well as Divine Office, Matins, Lauds, Vespers, Evensong, Vigils, etc.

I also provide some general background on the use of Holy Scripture in the Western Rite as a brief overview of the theology of revelation — all Holy Scripture is inspired by God — and brief the manner in which it get into the form we currently have. I conclude with a preliminary discussion of the Psalms.