“O God, smash the teeth in their mouths!”
“Make their eyes so dim they cannot see.”
“May his children be fatherless, his wife, a widow.”
Who prays like that? Well, we do: Christians. Those petitions––those curses––that I just
recited come from Psalm 58, Psalm 69, and Psalm 109. But we don’t hear them
very often: not in the public liturgy as at Mass, not in the liturgy of the
hours that we might pray alone. What is being lost by not praying things like
that, in just those words: the words of Scripture––the Psalms?
These are examples of the imprecatory psalms. My guest today says we need to bring back
these psalms into the regular of the Church. He wrote an essay for our Church
Life Journal with the very direct title, “Bring Back the Imprecatory Psalms.”
This is the voice of Christ himself, who in praying the psalms took on even
these cries, which the abused and oppressed offer up to God against their
victimizers and the wicked.
Timothy Troutner is a doctoral candidate in systematic theology at Notre Dame, where he
focuses on the doctrine of creation and the place of language. He is here to
talk about this call to bring back the imprecatory psalms, especially now in
the wake of scandals in the Church and the seeming prosperity of the wicked at
the expense of the lowly across the world today.