The Psalter as the Medicine for an Ailing Soul

            As Orthodox Christians, we have an embarrassment of riches.  We have multiple copies of multiple translations of the Psalter, the New Testament, the Old Testament, the writings of the Church Fathers, the lives of the saints, and the liturgical books.  And yet, for all of these riches, for all that we have access to, we all too often do not make use of them.

            To be sure, we work a lot.  We have busy schedules.  We need to pick up children from activities.  Or, if there are not activities because of COVID, then we have to figure how to give our children constructive things to do.  We have to cook meals.  We have to work.  We have to go to school.  We have to sit in traffic.  Or, if we are on Zoom calls all day, we have to get up and move when we are not.  All of this is true.  I know.  As a father of eight children, I have been there. 

            Yet, despite all of this, we have to be honest with ourselves.  We still have time, or, at least, bits of time, to give to God.  There are those little moments of quiet, when we are taking a walk perhaps, when we are reading the news, when we are watching cats do funny things on YouTube, when we are texting with ten different people at once, when we are caught up feeling sorry for ourselves for whatever has happened now.  Our minds are all over the place.  We need to acquire inner stillness, even in the midst of the world. 

            Now, you might say, “Yeah, sure, Father John that’s all true.  But, how do we do it?”  There is a long answer and a short answer.  The long answer is acquired after a life of repentance and purification, a life to which all Orthodox Christians are called.  The short answer is found in two places, the Book of Psalms and the Holy Gospels.  When I say that, I do not mean that the other books of Sacred Scripture are unimportant.  God forbid!  In the Psalms and the Holy Gospels, however, we find the archetype, the pattern, for the life of the Orthodox Christian.  And, since prayer is fundamental to that life, we must have the words of blessed David on our lips continually. 

            To understand the Psalter, we need a guide.  Thankfully, Saint Athanasius the Great left us his letter to Marcellinus.  In the letter, we find his guidance on how to think about the Psalter, both as a prayer book, as a book of prophecy, and as a book of Sacred History. 

Join us at 7:30 PM on Wednesday and Friday from September 24 to October 29.  The cost to participate in the discussion group is $100.  All proceeds from the discussion group will benefit the Saint John OEI Scholarship Fund and other administrative costs.  To register, please call the Initiative at 215-987-2655 or register online.

Here is a link for the book:

Athanasius : The Life of Antony and the Letter To Marcellinus