Our Psalter Group will begin praying the Psalter tomorrow. We each pray a kathisma per day, and we finish by praying a Lord, have mercy for each person in the group. I always find that it’s a great blessing to me — both praying the Psalms themselves, and feeling the prayers of the group as I work my through the challenges every fast brings.
I am thinking about how amazing it is that the Psalms were written for Christ and about Him, and then He took on flesh and joined us, holding the Psalter in His hands and praying them with us.
Andrew Louth writes that the Scriptures are not simply texts teaching us about God, but in fact they function on a number of fascinating levels: … “in the Christian use of the psalms: these are words that we hear, they are also words that we use. Many of the Fathers suggest that in both cases it is in union with Christ that we hear and pray the psalms: we both pray with Christ and we pray to Christ; we both hear Christ and we speak with his voice.”
“A psalm implies serenity of soul; it is the author of peace, which calms bewildering and seething thoughts. For, it softens the wrath of the soul, and what is unbridled it chastens. A psalm forms friendships, unites those separated, conciliates those at enmity. Who, indeed, can still consider as an enemy him with whom he has uttered the same prayer to God?
So that psalmody, bringing about choral singing, a bond, as it were, toward unity, and joining the people into a harmonious union of one choir, produces also the greatest of blessings, charity. A psalm is a city of refuge from the demons, a means of inducing help from the angels, a weapon in fears by night, a rest from toils by day, a safeguard for infants, an adornment for those at the height of their vigor, a consolation for the elders, a most fitting ornament for women.
It peoples the solitudes; it rids the market place of excesses; it is the elementary exposition of beginners, the improvement of those advancing, the solid support of the perfect, the voice of the Church. It brightens the feast days; it creates a sorrow which is in accordance with God.
For, a psalm is the work of angels, a heavenly institution, the spiritual incense.”
— St. Basil the Great
If uttering the same prayers to God unites us, may praying the Psalter bring each of us closer to our Lord, and to one another. May God bless you this Nativity Lent!
If you haven’t signed up to pray the Psalter with us, but you wish you had… there’s still time.