By Molly Herrera
If I’m being honest, I used to hate the reading of the Psalms at Mass. I have memories of daily Mass during my Catholic grade school days, of the monotone voice of the elderly lector as she dragged on reading these repetitive scripture verses that sounded so foreign to me.
Now, the psalms are one of my favorite ways to pray.
A few years ago while I was in the midst of grief from tragically losing a loved one, my spiritual director suggested praying with the Psalms, particularly Psalm 22 & 23. I remember how beautifully these words exemplified the very real grief that I felt: “My God, I call by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I have no relief.” (Psalm 22:3) as well of the glimmers of hope of God’s presence in my pain that I hung on to “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me,” (Psalm 23:4).
Around the same time, I was reminded about one of my heroes, Dorothy Day, and her proclamation in The Long Loneliness,
“My strength returns to me with my cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms.”
I now feel the same way. When the hardest and darkest moments of life seem to consume me, I return to the Psalms (with a delicious cup of freshly brewed coffee) and I am almost always able to feel God’s intimate presence and consolation move through me.
When I started connecting with the Psalms in prayer during this difficult time in my life, I had no idea that David and other psalm writers loved writing about the roller coaster that is our human emotions. One minute David writes about praising God for his greatness and the next he is asking God why he has abandoned him.
Today’s psalm is a great reminder for me to sit and pray with the goodness of God.
When I pray and repeat “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” it allows me to sit and meditate on finding God in all things. It allows me to look and find how God is present in every single way in my life and in my world. It has been easy for me to get wrapped up in how terrible this past year has been: death, loss, grief, turmoil. Sometimes if I’m not careful, it is all that I see.
But, in moments like these, where the world seems to be such a dark place, the psalms help me pull myself out of my own darkness and into the light and goodness of God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Molly Herrera is the Program Director of Campus and Young Adult Ministries for the Archdiocese of Washington and a graduate student in Theology. Previous to her work at the Archdiocese, Molly spent four years at a dynamic multicultural parish as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry as well as four years abroad in post-grad volunteer work and teaching in Ecuador. She and her husband Frixon live in Maryland with their one year old son, Liam. In addition to balancing work and family life, Molly loves watching DC sports (go Nats!), reading anything by Henri Nouwen, cooking her favorite Ecuadorian dishes, and diving deeper into Ignatian spirituality. You can find her here.