What “a song of ascents” means we don’t have to keep repeating: the voice singing is that of one going up with pious and loving affections toward that Jerusalem above for which we sigh as long as we are away from it and where we shall rejoice when we return there from our wandering. One who progresses ascends towards that city; anyone who falters falls away from it. Don’t try to go up there on foot, and don’t think you come down on foot. You go up by loving God; you fall by loving the world. These are songs of people in love, on fire with a holy desire. The ones singing these songs are ablaze in their hearts: their burning hearts are seen in their behavior, in the good company they keep, in works in accord with God’s commandments, in their scorn for temporal things, and in their love for eternal things. (EnPs 126, 1; PL 37, 1667)
Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.