Praying in One Voice and The Call of The Shofar

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5-6

It seems I have been inspired to write on the subject of unity in the Body of Christ today. I don’t think we realize how powerful that unity is in our prayers, how praying in “one voice” can bring us into the presence of the Lord. Or how the sound of the many in “one voice” strikes fear in the heart of the enemies of our soul. The Church from it’s earliest days has been attacked by disagreement, division, dissention, heresy and schism. Jesus said “ a house divided cannot stand” (Mt 12:25, Mk 3:25, Lk 11:17) and the Epistles are full of verses calling us to remain as one, one with each other and one with the teachings of the Church. This unity is such a position of strength for us, so great in its power that satan does his very best that it not be so. For when it is so, he has no power against it.

"When the trumpeters and singers were heard as a SINGLE VOICE praising and giving thanks to the Lord, and when they raised the sound of the trumpets, cymbals and other musical instruments to `give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever,; the building of the Lord's temple was filled with a cloud. The priests could not continue to minister because of the cloud, since the Lord's glory filled the house of God" 2 Chr 5:13-14

That is a striking and powerful biblical image. As Catholics, though, we have the experience described in this verse. We do enter into the literal Presence of Jesus at Mass. We pray together with one voice. The Mass is where “behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them (as their God). Rev 21:3. This Real Presence dwells in the sacrifice of the Mass, in the tabernacles of our Churches and in the tabernacles of each and every one of us who receives him in the Eucharist. To separate ourselves from the Church separates us from this experience and from this presence. To separate ourselves from each other diminishes our one voice.

In my previous post I mentioned a Shofar. For those of you that may not know what a Shofar is or what significance it may have here is an explanation. Whenever we read in the Old Testament about the sound of trumpets it may be describing a shofar or ram’s horn.

Shofar literally means a sense of incising; a cornet or curved horn; cornet or trumpet. Shofar is a Hebrew word that comes from a root meaning beauty. The word shofar, however, through tradition came to mean almost solely "ram's horn". The shofar was used in biblical times for various occasions ranging from calling the armies together to signaling death. Which brings up the curious point that shofar is also literally translated as a "sense of incising". Incising means to cut or burn into. Obviously the sound of the shofar was more than a mere horn blast to the ancient Hebrews to earn a name that signified a cutting or burning into the heart and soul of the people. According to the Talmud the shofar can be made of the horns of various animals including the sheep, both domestic and wild goats, the antelope, the gazelle, and of course the ram:

Now, while a ram is preferred, a cow's horn is forbidden. The reason being that the Hakhamim believe that if a cow's horn is used, it will remind the Satan to continue to accuse Israel for the "Golden Calf" incident, and HaShem (God) will then be biased in His dealings with Israel. Along with the harp, the shofar is the most spoken of musical instrument in the Bible. While the harp is used to calm and soothe the spirit and soul, the shofar is constantly used to grab hold of the attention and spirit of the people. The harp is a consoler while the shofar is a preparer.

1. The shofar is a signal of the presence of HaShem(God) that causes the people to tremble, this is their emotional response. After the emotional response, we see that there is an action response. The
action is the drawing near to Hashem (God). These two responses should always flow from the sound of the shofar.

2. Another use of the shofar is to bring about the will of HaShem (God). This instrument is capable of breaking down the greatest of barriers

3. The shofar is used to gather the people

4. The shofar is capable of bringing fear to the heart of even the most hardened man:

5. The shofar can be used to halt actions that are not helpful:

6. The shofar is also used to alert us and to call us to battle against our enemies

7. The shofar is used to call all of HaShem's (God) people to repentance on Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah)

8. As a call to return in repentance before HaShem (God), the shofar has no equal

9. The shofar was used to call the people to assemble before HaShem (God). This call to assemble is required before we can understand the rest of the message.
It was the sound of the shofar and the one voice shout of the people that brought down the walls of Jericho. “ As the horns blew, the people began to shout. When they heard the signal horn, they raised a tremendous shout. The wall collapsed…”Joshua 8:20

"When in your own land you go to war against an enemy that is attacking you, you shall sound the alarm on the trumpets, and the Lord, your God, will remember you and save you from your foes. On
your days of celebration, your festivals, and your new moon feast, you shall blow the trumpets over your holocausts and your peace offerings; this will serve as a reminder of you before your God. I,
the Lord, am your God" Num 10:9-10

"'Have no fear of them! Keep in mind the Lord, who is great and to be feared, and fight for your brethren, you sons, and daughters, your wives and your homes'…where ever you hear the trumpet sounds, join us there; our God will fight with us." Neh 4:8,14-15

On that day, a great trumpet shall blow, and the lost in the land of Assyria and the outcasts in the land of Egypt shall come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain, in Jerusalem" Is 27:13

I have heard recordings of a shofar. It does get your attention and inspires in the heart an urge to respond, to answer the call. We do not sound the shofar any more. I think, though, that the call to our hearts is the same as a shofar. We can keep in mind that it gathers us in. We can keep in mind that it is incising and penetrating even the hardest of hearts and calling them to repentance. We can remember that it is breaking down even the most impossible of barriers and walls. The shofar is also a battle cry against all that the enemy seeks to bring against us. And that as we pray to God in one voice He is present with us, hearing us and bringing about His will in and for us.


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