PSALM 22 – Blessed
You are my Queen, O Mother and you have turned to me your merciful face
Blessed are your most resplendent eyes: which have turned toward sinners.
Blessed are the light and the splendor of your countenance: blessed is the grace of your face.
Blessed be the mercy of your hands: blessed be the stream of your mercies.
Let your prophets bless your holy name:
Let the righteous, saints, and martyrs sing praise to you.
Praise the Lady – Psalm 146
Praise the Lady, for a psalm is good: let her praise be pleasant and beautiful.
For she heals the broken-hearted: and she refreshes them with the ointment of devotion.
Great is her power: and her mercy has no end.
Sing to her in jubilation: and in her praise sing a psalm to her.
Those who hope in her and in her mercy are a good pleasure to her
Psalms as praise and thanksgiving
To discuss the Psalms either the Biblical Psalms or the Marian Psalms is above all to talk about prayer. Because that is above all what the Psalms are. They are prayers. In the case of the Biblical Psalms they are prayers addressed to Yahweh, the God of Israel, and the Marian Psalms are addressed to Mary the exalted Queen of Heaven / Mother of Jesus. And in spite of the fact that the Virgin Mary within official Christian theology is ontologically only a mere women and on this side of the divine / human divide, within many of the Marian psalms, she often takes on roles and attributes that in the Bible are normally associated only with God and certainly not with humans. She is addressed as to a goddess. What I would argue is that this is because in reality the Christian Marian cult is the breaking through of the Goddess into Christian history. Enough of this for now.
The primary point of this is that the Psalms are prayers. To initiate a discussion about them is therefore to discuss to some degree the nature and value of prayer. That is what I plan to do within this post. There are two primary groups of themes present within the Psalms and many aspects to these themes. The most prominent theme, that which is most commonly recognized as being prayer by most human beings is the prayer of petition, the prayer of need or desire in which the human being or human community asks for a divine intervention for the satisfaction of her, his or its needs or wants. Thus one prays for deliverance from sickness or death for either himself or others. One prays for food or shelter when one is threatened by the lack of these. One may even pray for riches or other material goods or items. The list of possible desires and needs is endless. The second set of themes are the interconnected themes of praise, thanksgiving and gratitude. It is this second theme which will be discussed now
Most people who have at some point within their lives attended Christian, Jewish or Islamic worship services is aware of the fact that public prayers of praise, gratitude and thanksgiving are a regular part of public worship. However it also seems to be the case that very often these gestures of praise and thanksgiving take on a very formulaic nature, and for many attendees at services become very routine and invoke little heart felt response . Very often this worship degenerates to the lip service only to God which so irked the Biblical prophets. I do not intend to discuss the reason why this separation of the heart from word so often occurs but simply note that it does. What does need to be stated is that often as a result of this separation of words of praise and gratitude from the heart the significance and centrality of the function of praise and thanksgiving is forgotten or hidden.
As I stated in a recent post in spite of the fact that I had attended the Fundamentalist Church of Christ in my adolescence and had periodically attended various liberal Protestant churches during my 20’s, I only began to discover some actual joy and feeling of emotional closeness with God when I started to attend Pentecostal Church services in my early 30’s. This was because within these churches praise, thanksgiving, devotion and the joy which often comes with these responses to God were given first place within that form of Christianity. When I left Pentecostalism a few years latter the process did not end there. Again over the years I discovered that praise, thanksgiving, and devotion have been central to many other forms of religion. Furthermore often when people center their life on love of Dea / God at least some degree of joy and sense of connection with God often results. Thus I have attempted to seek it out to the best of my ability over the years.
So why should we praise and make thanksgiving to Thea? Is It is because she is a great egoist who demands praise on the threat of punishment to assuage his or her divine ego? I do not deny that there are many passages in the Bible and other forms of religious literature which suggest this. However I would argue that the real reason is that God / Dea as our Source and Creatress is infinitely lovable and good. She is love and justice and grace and all else that is good. Thus the showing of praise and love to Her is at a minimal an appropriate response for the gifts of life itself.
However it is more than this. I would argue that such praise, thanksgiving, and gratitude expresses a deep need from within. By praising Dea / God one makes contact and relationship with the One who is love, beauty, and all other goods. Thus prayer particularly in its form of praise and thanksgiving is a form of giving love to Dea herself. It is not all about harps and horns within an long interminably dull church service in heaven like the old cartoons use to suggest. And it is not about ignoring the beauties and goodness that exist within the earth itself. If anything loving that which is good and beautiful on this earth is more appropriately seen as being occasions to love Dea with even more passion. It is about connecting with the Center from which which life proceeds.