I am deeply grateful to God for this period of grace, in which the entire Ecclesial Community has been able to deepen the value and importance of the Rosary as a Christological and contemplative prayer.
1. We know from numerous testimonies that from the fourth century onwards Lauds and Vespers had become an established institution in all the great Eastern and Western Churches. This is borne out by St Ambrose: "Just as every day, in going to church or devoting ourselves to prayer at home, we start from God and end in him, so the entire day of our life here below and the course of every single day always starts from him and ends in him" (De Abraham, II, 5, 22).
1. Since "every day of our pilgrimage on earth is a gift ever new" of God's love (Preface for Sundays in Ordinary Time, VI), the Church has always felt the need to devote the days and hours of human life to divine praise. Thus, for Christians, sunrise and sunset, characteristically religious moments for every people and formerly made sacred in the biblical tradition of offering a burnt sacrifice in the morning and evening (cf. Ex 29: 38-39) and of burning incense (cf. Ex 30: 6-8), have been two special times of prayer since the earliest centuries.
1. Having reached the end of our long journey through the Psalms and Canticles of the Liturgy of Lauds, let us pause to consider the prayer that marks the Office of Lauds every morning. It is the Benedictus, the Canticle intoned by Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, when the birth of that son changed his life, wiping away the doubt that caused him to go mute, a serious punishment for his lack of faith and praise.
1. In meditating on Psalm 8, a wonderful hymn of praise, we come to the end of our long journey through the Psalms and Canticles that make up the prayerful heart of the Liturgy of Lauds. In these catecheses, we have reflected on 84 biblical prayers whose spiritual intensity we have especially tried to emphasize, without overlooking their poetic beauty.
1. Today I would like to reflect with you on the Apostolic Visit that I had the joy of making to Slovakia last week. I thank the Lord who enabled me to visit that noble country for the third time. I once again express my gratitude to all those who welcomed me with such warmth. I first thank my venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, the President of the Republic and the other Authorities, as well as all those who saw to every aspect of my stay in that country.
1. The Canticle that has just echoed in our ears and hearts was composed by one of the great prophets of Israel, Ezekiel, a witness of one of the most tragic ages the Jewish people lived through: the destruction of the Kingdom of Judea and its capital, Jerusalem, followed by the bitter exile in Babylon (sixth century B.C.). The passage that has become part of the Christian prayer of Lauds is an extract from chapter 36 of Ezekiel.
1. The canticle just presented to us is the song of a man faithful to Holy God. It is in Psalm 92 which, as the ancient title of the composition suggests, was used by Jewish tradition "for the Sabbath". The hymn opens with a general appeal to celebrate and praise the Lord in music and song. It seems to be a never-ending stream of prayer, for divine love must be exalted in the morning when the day begins, but it must also be declared during the day and through the hours of the night.
1. The Psalm now offered for our reflection makes up the second part of the preceeding Psalm 147. However, the ancient Greek and Latin translations, followed by the Liturgy, considered it as an independent hymn, since its opening is clearly distinguishable from what goes before it. This beginning has also become famous because it has often been put to music in Latin: Lauda, Jerusalem, Dominum. These opening words comprise the typical invitation of psalmody to celebrate and praise the Lord: now Jerusalem, a personification of the people, is summoned to exalt and glorify her God (cf. v. 12).