SAINT PAISIOS OF MOUNT ATHOS
THE SAINT PACHOMIUS ORTHODOX LIBRARY
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St. Arsenios of Cappadocia: BLESSING-PSALTER
THE PSALTER AS A BOOK OF NEEDS, according to the usage of St. Arsenios of Cappadocia, as transmitted by the Athonite Saint Paisios.
translated for the St. Pachomius Library by Vassilios Kollias
edited by Karen Rae Keck
EDITOR’S NOTE: Saint Arsenios used to use the Psalms for blessings, especially when there was no prescribed blessing for a particular occasion. Here in Part One is the correspondence between the psalms and different occasions. The original Greek list can be found in -O Geron Paisios- by the Hieromonk Christodoulos, Agion Oros, 1994. In Part Two, we have provided a (rather poor) index; perhaps someone else would care to fashion a better.
Apart from all religious considerations, this “Book of Needs” is a fascinating portrait of village life in Anatolia at the beginning of the Twentieth Century: whether it reflects more the “longue duree” of Byzantine history or the particular difficulties of St. Arsenios’ time we do not feel well enough informed even to speculate. There is certainly no idealization of rural conditions here: particularly noteworthy is the extreme concern for alleviating psychological as well as physical pain, and the mention of what we would nowadays call “post-traumatic stress disorder”.
To us, at least, the exact reasoning behind the saint’s choice of a particular psalm for a given need is not always obvious; perhaps this is by design, to encourage close reflection on the words. Orthodoxy is not magic, and a document like this one is not an endorsement of “peasant superstition”; it is rather a channel through which the Love of God can enter into every aspect of human society.
PART ONE: A LIST OF PSALMS FOR USE AS BLESSINGS, ARRANGED BY ORDER IN THE PSALTER:
[IMPORTANT NOTE: The FIRST number is the number of the psalm in the Greek Septuagint Bible. The SECOND number is the number of the psalm found in the Masoretic text and in most English language Bibles, such as the King James!]
1 (1) When a tree or a vine is planted, so that it may bring forth fruit.
2 (2) So that God illumines those who go to meetings and councils.
3 (3) So that badness goes away from people, so that they do not torment unjustly their fellows.
4 (4) So that God heals the sensitive people who fell ill from depression because of the behaviour of hard-hearted people.
5 (5) So that God heals the wounded eyes that were bitten by a bad person.
6 (6) So that God frees the person who has been under a spell.
7 (7) For those who got damaged from fear, from the terrors and the Continue reading “THE PSALTER AS A BOOK OF NEEDS, according to the usage of Saint Arsenios of Cappadocia, as transmitted by the Athonite Saint Paisios”