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Psalms of Ascent: A WWP Lenten Pilgrimage

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Explaining the Significance: Psalms of Ascent

In Ancient Israel, the Jewish people were required to make a pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem during three major feasts: Passover, the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). It is with these pilgrimages that the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120–134) are associated. As the people of Israel journeyed up to the temple, they would sing these Psalms. Composed of both songs of lament and praise, the Psalms of Ascent encompass the joys and sorrows of life and reminded the Jewish people that they were called to praise God in every circumstance.

Like the ancient pilgrims, we too are on a pilgrimage home to God, to a place where we can worship Him perfectly. These psalms, with their diverse themes of gratitude, humility, and reliance on God, become a guide for our journey. In moments of joy, our hearts resonate with praise, and in times of trial, we echo the sentiments of lament; but throughout every moment, we call upon God’s holy name. By incorporating the Psalms' timeless wisdom into our daily lives, we begin a transformative interior ascent.

Throughout the ages, our journey from this world to heaven has been described by the prophets and saints as a pilgrimage, and a climb. Indeed, Saint Pope John Paull II wrote, “The whole of the Christian life is like a great pilgrimage to the house of the Father, whose unconditional love for every human creature, and in particular for the ‘prodigal son’ (cf. Lk 15:11–32), we discover anew each day. This pilgrimage takes place in the heart of each person, extends to the believing community and then reaches to the whole of humanity.”[1] This Lent, may we rediscover God’s unconditional love for us and take heart that others are joining us in the climb.
[1] Pope John Paul II, Tertio millenio adveniente, Apostolic Letter, November 10, 1994, https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/1994/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_19941110_tertio-millennio-adveniente.html

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