Chasing away devils

Daily Reading for September 28 • Richard Rolle, 1349, Walter Hilton, 1396, and Margery Kempe, c. 1440, Mystics

A great fullness of spiritual comfort and joy in God comes into the hearts of those who recite or devoutly intone the psalms as an act of praise to Jesus Christ. They drop sweetness in men’s souls and pour delight into their thoughts and kindle their wills with the fire of love, making them hot and burning within, and beautiful and lovely in Christ’s eyes. And those who persevere in their devotion he raises up to the life of meditation and, on many occasions, he exalts them to the melody and celebrations of heaven.

The song of the psalms chases away devils, stirs up angels to help us; it drives out and destroys discontent and resentment in the soul and makes a peace between body and soul; it brings desire of heaven and contempt for earthly things. Indeed, this radiant book is a choice song in God’s presence, like a lamp brightening our life, health for a sick heart, honey to a bitter soul, a high mark of honor among spiritual people, a voicing of private virtues, which forces down the proud to humility and makes kings bow in reverence to poor men, nurturing children with gentleness.

In the psalms there is such great beauty of meaning and of medicine from the words that this book is called “a garden enclosed,” a sealed fountain, a paradise full of apples. The song which gives delight to hearts and instructs the soul has become a sound of singing: with angels whom we cannot hear we mingle words of praising, so that anyone would be right to reckon himself exiled from true life if he does not in this way experience the delightfulness of this gift of wonderful sweetness.

From the Prologue to the English translation of the Psalter by Richard Rolle, quoted in Richard Rolle: The English Writings, translated, edited, and introduced by Rosamund S. Allen (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1988).

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