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A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith
Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: February 20, 2021
By Deacon Mike Cumnock
St. Mary Church, Hot Springs
As we enter this Lenten season, the whole world seems to be in disarray. We are clearly in a time of turmoil. We have seen times like this before, and I have faith that God and good will prevail. We are constantly reminded of the fragility of life. Where are we to turn?
As followers of Jesus, we should look to him as our role model. We ask ourselves, “What did Jesus do?” There are numerous accounts in the Gospels where Jesus prays as part of an activity or goes off by himself to pray. In reading Scripture, it is amazing how many times Jesus references Scripture.
A major component of the Liturgy of the Hours is the psalms, prayers Jesus clearly prayed regularly. Reading them every day since my diaconate formation, I am amazed at how new and fresh they still seem. When I find myself in situations that seem too much to bear, I surrender and turn it over to God, which for me is never easy.
Jesus knew the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) as his father’s biography and the story of his very passionate and sometimes stormy encounters with the people he created. This was the Bible that Jesus read, used, knew and loved.
His disciples called him rabbi, teacher, and Jesus was clearly a biblical scholar. Prayer was a regular part of Jesus’ ministry, and he taught his followers to do the same. In reading Scripture, I discover more and more places where Jesus refers us back to the Hebrew Bible. When the permanent diaconate was restored during Vatican II, deacons were instructed that they should join priests in praying the Liturgy of the Hours (LOTH) on a daily basis.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, LOTH, “also known as the Divine Office or the Work of God, is the daily prayer of the Church, marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer. The hours are a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ, using Scripture and prayer.”
We as deacons are to include at least morning and evening prayers in our daily routine. A major component of the LOTH is the psalms, prayers Jesus clearly prayed regularly. Reading them every day since my diaconate formation, I am amazed at how new and fresh they still seem. When I find myself in situations that seem too much to bear, I surrender and turn it over to God, which for me is never easy.
Then I pray the LOTH and ask God to be my strength. He has helped me survive some really tough times. The Gospels tell us that while on the cross, and things seemed unbearable, Jesus cries out: “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani” translated as: “My God. My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:33)
When the time comes for his death — at about 3 p.m., during an eclipse of the sun — the temple is torn down the middle. Jesus again cries out in a loud voice “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit ...” and when he had said that, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44) In both cases he was, in fact, praying the psalms. (Psalms 22 and 31)