St Athanasios’ Letter to Marcellinos

New Picture (10)

In the first part of the Letter to Marcellinos, St Athanasios shows how the book of Psalms summarises the whole of the Old Testament and foreshadows the New Testament. For the remainder of the letter, he demonstrates the rich variety of the Psalms and their applicability to our own spiritual life. St Athanasios writes:

“It is possible for us, therefore, to find in the Psalter not only the reflection of our own soul’s state, together with precept and example for all possible conditions, but also a fit form of words wherewith to please the Lord on each of life’s occasions, words both of repentance and of thankfulness, so that we fall not into sin; for it is not for our actions only that we must give account before the judge, but also for our every idle word.”

The Psalter is a garden that contains the fruits of all the other books in the Bible. Not only this, the benefit of the Psalter is that one can use the words contained in them as our own prayer. A selection of this letter is presented below:

”…If you are persecuted by your own family and opposed by many, say Psalm 3; and when you would give thanks to God at your affliction’s end, sing 4 and 75 and 116. When you see the wicked wanting to ensnare you and you wish your prayer to reach God’s ears, then wake up early and sing 5; and if you feel yourself beneath the cloud of His displeasure, you can say 6 and 38…The 65th Psalm will meet your need, whenever you desire to sing praise to God: and if you want to teach any one about the Resurrection, sing the 66th. When asking mercy from the Lord, praise Him with the 67th. When you see wicked men enjoying prosperity and peace and good men in sore trouble, be not offended or disturbed at it but say Psalm 73…If through the weakness of your nature and the strain of life you find yourself at times downcast and poor, sing for your consolation Psalm 102, and use the two that follow it (103, 104) to lift your heart in thankful praise to God, as in and through all circumstances we should always do. Psalms 105, 107, 113, 117, 135, and 146 to 150 not only show the reasons why God should be praised, but tell you how to do it…”



Source: April – May 2016 Lychnos Edition