The Psalms – The Penitential Psalms

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent. Therefore, this Thursday we will be studying the seven great penitential Psalms (Psalms 51, 6, 32, 38, 130, 143, 102). This grouping goes back at least to a 6th-century Roman commentary on the Psalms. In the early 13th century Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) ordered that the faithful should pray these Psalms each day during Lent. In his chapter on “Guilt,” Bonhoeffer calls these the “Lutheran Psalms” because of their emphasis on the grace of God as being the sole means by which our iniquities are blotted out.

This week, please read these seven Psalms and Bonhoeffer’s chapter on “Guilt.” You may also want to google  “(seven) penitential psalms” to get a broader understanding of their history of use.  (As an aside, you may notice that different resources number the Psalms differently. This is because the Eastern and Roman churches generally number the Psalms using the system in the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures) whereas Protestants and Anglicans use the Hebrew numbering system. A breakdown of the differences can be found here.) If you would like to lead a 5-10 minute discussion on one of these Psalms, please let me know.  In the words of St. Ambrose, “All men learn before they teach, and receive from Him what they may hand on to others,” and therefore, I have always found that in preparing to teach I learn more than when simply being taught.

Dan is preparing dinner for us this week, and Julia has volunteered to bring a Valentine’s dessert. Also, if you are looking for a more light-hearted Lenten discipline, please check out

Dinner is at 6. Hope to see you here.

Teaching Notes – Ash Wednesday Psalms (Penitent Psalms)
Bonhoeffer “Guilt”, Prayer of Manasseh
     Psalms 51, 6, 32, 38, 130, 143, 102

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