February 15, June 16, October 16

On ordinary weekdays, Lauds are celebrated as follows. First, Psalm 66 is said without a refrain and slightly protracted as on Sunday so that everyone can be present for Psalm 50, which has a refrain. Next, according to custom, two more psalms are said in the following order: on Monday, Psalms 5 and 35; on Tuesday, Psalms 42 and 56; on Wednesday, Psalms 63-64; on Thursday, Psalms 87 and 89; on Friday, Psalms 75 and 91; on Saturday, Psalm 142 and the Canticle from Deuteronomy, divided into two sections, with the “Glory be to the Father” after each section. On other days, however, a Canticle from the Prophets is said according to the practice of the Roman Church. Next follow Psalms 148 through 150, a reading from the Apostle recited by heart, a responsory, an Ambrosian hymn, a versicle, the Gospel canticle, the litany, and the conclusion.

The psalms speak into the ordinary of our lives, highlighting what we might not notice. They reach into us and engage our experience, helping grace to heal and community to grow. The psalms are touchstones into the ordinary, into our daily struggles and joys, facilitating a way that makes it possible to simply be in life.

In light of this, Benedict offers us a steady and faithful rhythm of psalms so that the gift in them may not be overlooked or forgotten. Like any wisdom literature that we return to again and again, the psalms, over time, can speak into different and deeper parts of us and our lives. In this repetition we practice noticing the movements of spirit and psyche and learn the art of consciousness.

We can be slow to learn this art and we are often tardy. Psalm 67 is an invitation to arrive, both physically and psychologically. If we miss the words of the psalms, we risk non-involvement in the work of God. The words are there for us to soak in as they are said; this allows us to be in the movement of them, allowing rather than examining.  

Stillness and presence are important if we are to be this way with the psalms. A stillness of body aides a stillness of mind, a stillness of mind helps a stillness of body. In this we are present, free to let the words do their work. It is the same during meditation as the mantra does its work. In stillness is a silence that draws attention beyond all experience. Both the psalms and meditation serve this silence: with the psalms we come to heart and with the mantra we move deeply into the heart of a silence forgotten.  

O God, be gracious and bless us and let you face shed its light upon us. So will your ways be known upon earth and all nations learn your salvation. (Ps. 67[66]: 2-3, RNJB)