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St. Basil the Great on the Psalms


psalms

Ran across this today. Often the most basic aspects of our faith are overlooked and severely undervalued. The Psalms are no exception; they have a very definite purpose, albeit a subtle one, and St. Basil brings this forward beautifully.

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

Did you know that in monasteries that keep the full cycle of services they’ll read through the entire Psalter every week? With this understanding from St. Basil, it’s no wonder they’re able to be at peace even in the midst of demonic temptation.