"Psalming the New Testament"
Irish Oblate's Ground-Breaking Venture
When the name Desmond
O'Donnell popped up in a recent Donegal Domain newsletter distributed by
Seamus O'Donnell, with the information that he was a native of Ballyshannon, it
sent my mind racing back to the days when we were both primary school students
being taught by the De La Salle Brothers in their school on the Rock. After a
lapse of sixty years, not knowing anything of his subsequent life, I was
overjoyed to discover he has had a long and fruitful life as a member of the
Oblate Missionaries of Mary.
Tangible evidence of his ministry is available in "Psalming the New
Testament" published by Veritas Publishing of Dublin in 2000, a copy of which
reached me recently. It is a remarkable book, venturing into a new ecumenical
field of prayer, and even more remarkable for the fact that it has received
unreserved recommendation from leaders of five main denominations in Ireland,
the Archbishop of Armagh (Catholic), the Archbishop of Armagh (Church of
Ireland), the President of the Baptist Union, President-Designate of the
Methodist Church in Ireland, and Ruth Patterson, a prominent Presbyterian
Minister in Belfast. Any book which can draw encomiums from such disparate
sources in Ireland is worth attention.
It is a simple book following on the tradition of the psalmists in the Old
Testament, and it has all the quiet but overwhelming impact of the former. The
one hundred themes it embraces range from compassion, death, ecology,
encouragement, friendship, motherhood through to truth, wisdom and worship. The
verses in each psalm are from two to five lines in length. Any one verse in any
one psalm is at once a prayer and a cause for meditation.
Father Des and his co-author, Maureen Mohan, an Australian Sister of Mercy,
give comfort to all those seeking moments of peace away from the hub-bub of
everyday living. And since "Psalming the New Testament" comes with the
endorsements mentioned above, readers may wish to seek it out themselves. It
carries the international catalogue number IZSBN 1 85390 586 0.
On a personal note, Father Des's mother and mine were good friends. His
father, court clerk in Ballyshannon, died at a tragically early age.
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