Now that St. Hilary has established the Prophet is speaking specifically to us and that we are the subject of the First Psalm, he sets about introducing us to the purpose of the Psalm:
The Holy Spirit made choice of this magnificent and noble introduction to the Psalter, in order to stir up weak man to a pure zeal for piety by the hope of happiness, to teach him the mystery of the Incarnate God, to promise him participation in heavenly glory, to declare the penalty of the Judgment, to proclaim the two-fold resurrection, to shew forth the counsel of God as seen in His award. It is indeed after a faultless and mature design that He has laid the foundation of this great prophecy; His will being that the hope connected with the happy man might allure weak humanity to zeal for the Faith; that the analogy of the happiness of the tree might be the pledge of a happy hope, that the declaration of His wrath against the ungodly might set the bounds of fear to the excesses of ungodliness, that difference in rank in the assemblies of the saints might mark difference in merit, that the standard appointed for judging the ways of the righteous might shew forth the majesty of God.
Note the the primary actor in this is the Holy Spirit and that the primary message is the comparison of the Kingdom of Heaven — what is possible for the happy man — and the fallen world — the fruits of ungodliness. This demonstrates two things: First, it is not possible to understand Scripture without the Holy Spirit. In the prayer prior to the reading of the Gospel we pray:
Shine within our hearts, loving Master, the pure light of Your divine knowledge and open the eyes of our minds that we may comprehend the message of Your Gospel.
As an aside, yes it is this prayer from which this blog gets its name. Also note this priestly prayer from Orthros:
O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has raised us up from our beds and has gathered us together at this hour of prayer; Grant us grace in the opening of our mouth, and receive our thanksgiving as we have power to make them, and instruct us in Your statutes. For we know not how to pray as we ought unless You, O Lord, by Your Holy Spirit, guide us.
This leads to the second point about the Holy Spirit: when we pray and when we read Scripture we are allowing the Holy Spirit to move in and through us. In other words, when we make daily prayer and Scripture reading a part of our lives, we are actively participating in the Holy Spirit.
Since we are in the midst of celebrating The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple, I would be remiss if I did not mention that our Holy Mother models this behavior. Note what the Church says in her hymns (from the Stichera of Vespers of the Entrance):
In that holiest place of all, the most holy and blameless Maid, in the Holy Spirit does come to dwell therein; and by an Angel is fed she who is truly the holiest temple of our Holy God, Who by dwelling Himself in her cleansed and sanctified all creation, and He has deified the very nature of us mortals, though it had fallen away from Him.
In other words, Mary is being prepared to become the Theotokos — the new ark where Christ Himself will reside. We, too, prepare to receive Christ, not only as the Body and Blood, but as the Christ Child in the coming Feast of the Nativity by allowing the Holy Spirit to descend upon us through our prayer and our reading of Scripture. May we all take advantage of the time of fasting to prepare in order to make the coming feast a truly magnificent one. Amen.