Vitamin P: Psalms

In today’s podcast and interview, I relate a story. We were early in our deacon formation classes. Our schedule had us doing a full semester class on the Psalms. And my internal and early reaction was something like: what can we do besides read the Psalms for an entire semester? I bet this class will be boring. Little did I know.

Our professor was Sister Mary Timothea Elliott, RSM, SSD. And with no disregard to our wonderful guest for this podcast, I first reached out to Sr. Timothea to see if she would agree to be our guest. She wanted to do it but was right in the middle of a transfer to a new assignment. Darn.

And so, God led us to Sister Kathleen Glavich, SND – a wonderful, joy-filled author of more than 50 books. And among them — a book or two on the Psalms. We couldn’t put links to all of her works — but we’ll include Sister Kathleen’s website and selected books that she has authored.

How can a book of writings be a Catholic Vitamin? How can we gain spiritual nourishment from a book? Ah — exact thinking that I had when I found out we were going to study the Psalms during our four year deacon formation classes. I couldn’t remember who it was that said this quote about the Psalms — they are like a gymnasium for the soul. Sr. Kathleen knew the answer as soon as I posed this during our interview.

The Psalms are an exercise in emotion. There are tender psalms, such as a God who knew me when I was formed in my mother’s womb. There are psalms written by people who danced and played flutes and tambourines and harps and many other instruments.

Now while the Psalms were most often accompanied by music — and music has the power to elevate the mind and heart to God — the Church teaches and we know that the words of all Scripture are inspired. Therefore — we can read… meditate upon the Psalms. Meditate? Yes == we can sit and ponder the actions of our forefathers in faith. We can ‘see’ them doing communal expressions of praise, procession and enthronement. There are Psalms of lament — times of frustration, tiredness… both personal and communal lament. There are prayers of thanksgiving and wisdom and eloquent expressions of seeing God as cause and in everything around us.

As I said above about flutes and tambourines — the first question on the first exam given by Sr. Timothea was this: Identify five musical instruments actually named in the psalms and give the citation for each. The second question was: name a musical instrument reserved to the priest in the Jewish culture. Care to find the answers and email me? I hope that this topic whets your appetite for learning more about and then beginning to pray the Psalms as part of your daily life. Listen to the closing quotation from Dorothy Day given to us by Sister Kathleen. It’s an example of how much we can glean from the Psalms… how much they are waiting for us to explore them.


deacon tom


About our guest: Sister Kathleen Glavich:
Sister Kathleen was born and raised in the Cleveland, OH area. She entered the international Sisters of Notre Dame order just after her 18th birthday. She is a veteran educator and writer with more than 50… FIFTY books to her credit. She carries on the reputation that her order of nuns is famous for — education. See if you’d like information about this order of nuns.
You can reach sister by going to her own website:
Selected books written by Sister Kathleen Glavich include:
1. The Catholic Companion to the Psalms, 2008 (ACTA Publications) — Everything you might want to know about them.
1. Prayer-Moments for Every Day of the Year 2009 (Paulist Press) — One-line prayers. mostly psalm verses for times when it’s difficult to pray.
2. The Catholic Way to Pray, 2009 (Twenty Third Publications) — An overview of how to pray as a Catholic, including using Scripture as a springboard.
3. Coming up: The Catholic Companion to Jesus, 2010 (ACTA Publications) This book is modeled after the quite popular The Catholic Companion to Mary, which people love. The margins have tidbits of information and is a great format book for study groups.
4. Coming up: Lent 2010 for Kids: We Follow Jesus, 2010 (Twenty-Third Publications) A page a day for Lent each with a reflection, a short prayer and an activity.
5. A great resource for parish education programs, families and neighborhoods: Gospel Theater for the Whole Community, 2006. (Twenty-Third Publications). Every event, miracle, and parable in the Gospels in the form of a five minute play. Very helpful for religion teachers.

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