Sunday, 6 March 2011

Still looking for a Lenten penance? How about saying the penitential psalms?

The Penitential Psalms were traditionally prayed communally each day during Lent - indeed, Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) ordered them to be prayed at this time.

So this Lent, I will try to offer some reminders of this tradition in some form or other throughout the season. 

What are the penitential psalms?

The listing of the penitential psalms - Psalms 6, 31 (32), 37 (38), 50 (51), 101 (102), 129 (130) and 142 (143) - was firmed up by Cassiodorus, a sixth century contemporary of St Benedict.

You can find them with the antiphon normally used in most missals, or on the web here.

Ideally one says them all every day - but there are various alternative approaches one could take, such as one a day, or just saying them on Fridays. Or you could use them as a basis for lectio divina, focusing on one of the seven psalms each week.

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