The Psalter of Our Hands

ironing for blog2

By Sister Marianne Burkhard, OSB

When we sing the psalms during our Liturgy of the Hours, we praise God with the psalter (the book of psalms). St. Augustine says we also praise God with the “psalter of our hands.”

What does that mean?

Augustine says, “Our work is our psalter; whoever works with his or her hands doing good works sings psalms to God; whoever reveals God with her or his mouth, sings to God.”

He also says that one “may be silent with his or her  tongue, but proclaim God aloud with her or his life.”  And: “your life will sing, and your actions will sing.”

We all have our own instruments to praise God. Our psalter is evident in what we do with our hands, in what we say, in all our actions that show compassion.

It’s evident in how we ‘listen with the ear of our heart.’

Consequently, our psalter is always with us – in mundane work as well as in liturgical prayer – and our instruments are as varied as our work.

They range from small kitchen tools to big machines, from brooms to medical instruments. They include this very computer keyboard – a small technical wonder that can let us all know that we truly praise God not just in church and chapel or in praying in the privacy of our room or heart, but everywhere.

The psalter of our hands help us fulfill Benedict’s motto, “That in all things God be glorified.” (RB 57.9).


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