the pits

Feb 23, 2024


Psalms are often overlooked in the daily diet of Mass scriptures. These ancient hymns hold a place of great esteem in the Christian life since they were prayers that Jesus knew by heart and prayed daily from memory.

There is a psalm for every human experience and emotion, for joy and for grief, for pain and loss, for tentative curiosity and for confident hope.

There are psalms to express delight, gratitude and excitement.

There are psalms for people who have been robbed of reputation and psalms for those who are unjustly slandered and physically attacked.

Some psalms express the suffering of one abandoned by friends and others well up from the depths of loneliness and insecurity.

Today’s psalm is often referred to as the De Profundis, from the Latin for the opening cry: “Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord.”

This is a psalm which 13 years ago voiced the pain of Cantabrians as dawn broke over a devastated city grieving the loss of life and livelihood. It is a psalm that rises from the heart of people who suffer in every part of our country and throughout our world.

Every healthy person feels down at times. In our lowest moments we can fear that the darkness will not pass.

I am greatly comforted at such times knowing that my hard feelings are not necessarily a sign that something is wrong with me. Very often pain and grief is the healthy response to desperate circumstances.

I’m especially encouraged knowing that Jesus has been there before me, and that even the most confident, successful and happy people I know at time feels as though they are in the pits.

Our Christian faith is about facing reality however difficult and unwelcome that reality is. While there is nothing wrong with taking opportunities to lift a mood by calling a friend, at other times, perhaps in the middle of the night, we will be alone and there is no easy relief or escape.

Such moments are a privileged opportunities for knowing the presence of Jesus. When we turn to him he responds with assurance that we are not alone, reminding us that the darkest hours are closest to the dawn.


Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord,
Lord, hear my voice!
O let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleading.

If you, O Lord, should mark our guilt,
Lord, who would survive?
But with you is found forgiveness:
for this we revere you.

My soul is waiting for the Lord.
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman for daybreak.
(Let the watchman count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.)

Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity.

Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning,
is now and every shall be
world without end


Psalms for every situation:
Click on the psalm number to pray the psalm.

When Afraid
Psalm 27, Psalm 56

When Anxious
Psalm 46

When Disaster Threatens
Psalm 34, Psalm 91, Psalm 121

When Discouraged
Psalm 23, Psalm 37, Psalm 42, Psalm 55, Psalm 90

When Facing a Crisis
Psalm 34, Psalm 46, Psalm 118, Psalm 121, Psalm 88

When Friends Fail
Psalm 27, Psalm 121

When Leaving Home
Psalm 27, Psalm 35

When Needing God’s Protection
Psalm 27, Psalm 62, Psalm 91, Psalm 139 Psalm 88

When Needing Inward Peace
Psalm 37, Psalm 85

When Needing Prayer
Psalm 4, Psalm 6, Psalm 20, Psalm 22, Psalm 25, Psalm 42, Psalm 51

When Sick
Psalm 32, Psalm 38, Psalm 91

When We Sin
Psalm 6, Psalm 51, Psalm 139

When Sorrowing
Psalm 40, Psalm 42, Psalm 43, Psalm 51

When Tempted
Psalm 1, Psalm 73, Psalm 101, Psalm 110, Psalm 139

When Thankful
Psalm 65, Psalm 84, Psalm 92, Psalm 95, Psalm 100, Psalm 103, Psalm 116, Psalm 136, Psalm 147

When in Trouble
Psalm 2, Psalm 16, Psalm 31, Psalm 34, Psalm 37, Psalm 38, Psalm 40, Psalm 139

When Weary
Psalm 6, Psalm 27, Psalm 55, Psalm 60, Psalm 90


  1. Amen thank you Father John for Psalms you words and teaching is such an inspiration and to know we learning something everyday God bless

  2. Thank you for the references to different psalms for different times. I recall when a loved one was near death feeling so deep in grief and yet so comforted that God was palpably near. I’m so grateful he is God with us. .

  3. Amen Amen

  4. Thank you very much for including the reading that your reflection is based on. That was an instant response to my question asking for this, and I did not expect such a fulsome reply!
    It’s very helpful to have the list of Psalms with occasions that fit them too. I will print that and keep it inside my prayer book for reference.

  5. Looking at psalms with fresh eyes! Thank you, and for the list, brilliant.


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