Monday, 18 March 2013

Tenebrae psalms/29 - Psalm 14

This psalm opens with two questions: Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle? Or who shall rest in your holy hill?  The antiphon set for Holy Saturday provides us with the answer: Christ will dwell in the tabernacle, and will rest on the holy hill.

The Fathers interpret the tabernacle here as referring to God’s presence dwelt amongst the Israelites during their forty years in the desert and in the Temple, and also to the new tabernacle of the Eucharist instituted on Maundy Thursday for us as a source of grace.  St Augustine sees the psalm as alluding to the refreshment offered in the midst of our battle against the devil, while St Thomas Aquinas builds on this by suggesting that the tabernacle also represents the Church as it struggles on this earth.  The holy hill, or temple mount, St Thomas suggests, refers to the Church Triumphant in heaven.

The psalm points to Our Lord’s action as high priest, making it possible for us to follow him into heaven despite our sinful natures.  It is a salutary reminder that it is not enough to have faith, or pray: we must also render justice to others.  Yet the psalm also reminds us that our ability to act justly depends entirely on the work of God’s grace in us, not our own efforts.

Psalm 14

Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo? aut quis requiescet in monte sancto tuo?
Qui ingreditur sine macula, et operatur justitiam;
qui loquitur veritatem in corde suo : qui non egit dolum in lingua sua, nec fecit proximo suo malum, et opprobrium non accepit adversus proximos suos.
Ad nihilum deductus est in conspectu ejus malignus; timentes autem Dominum glorificat.
Qui jurat proximo suo, et non decipit; qui pecuniam suam non dedit ad usuram, et munera super innocentem non accepit :
qui facit hæc non movebitur in æternum.

The English:

Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle? Or who shall rest in your holy hill?
He that walks without blemish, and works justice:
He that speaks truth in his heart, who has not used deceit in his tongue: Nor has done evil to his neighbour: nor taken up a reproach against his neighbours.
In his sight the malignant is brought to nothing: but he glorifies them that fear the Lord.
He that swears to his neighbour, and deceives not; he that has not put out his money to usury, nor taken bribes against the innocent:
He that does these things, shall not be moved for ever.

Tenebrae of Holy Saturday

Nocturn I: Psalms 4, 14, 15
Nocturn II: Psalms 23, 26, 29
Nocturn III: Psalms 53*, 75*, 87*
Lauds: 50*, 91, 63, [Is 38], 150

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