walk with Christ into the Nativity
Psalmody is calm of soul, author of peace.
Psalmody is convenor of friendship, union of the separated, reconciliation of enemies.
Saint Ephraim the Syrian on Psalmody
Tomorrow, November 15, ushers in the period of the Nativity Fast for Orthodox Christians. This is a 40 day period leading up to the Nativity of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Aside from amending and curtailing some of our physical nourishment, we also increase our spiritual nourishment, in the form of almsgiving, prayer and worship. This is our time of preparation.
For more than a decade, I have been a part of an incredible group of women, who pray the psalter during the seasons of the Nativity and Great Lent. It is a time of year, toward which we always look forward. If you have never participated in a psalter prayer group, it is very easy to get one started.
The Psalter is the Book of Psalms broken into twenty groupings of psalms, called Kathisma’s. It is not necessary to have twenty members in a psalter prayer group, but if you do, then the psalter is prayed in it’s entirety every day by the group.
It’s about twenty minutes to pray a Kathisma, but it is wonderful time to reorient oneself from the constant droning of what often becomes a hectic season of Christmas shopping, dashing here and there to holiday parties (which are no doubt fun times to spend with friends), and the overall commercialism of a season which no longer wants Christ in the midst of it.
So each day of praying the psalms becomes a twenty minute respite for calm of soul.
In praying the psalter, each woman also prays for one another and so psalmody within a psalter prayer group is absolutely the conveyor of friendship and union of the separated, because though we pray each in our own homes, we pray with oneness of soul uniting us in prayer. Some members have moved out of the area over time, and so that makes these occasions of the year when come together again through the Psalms, all the more special.
By the end of the Nativity period, each woman will have prayed through the psalter twice and that is both a sober grounding and a blessing.
“It is the profound Christian persuasion that Christ walks within the psalms”(1) and so it is a great joy to pray the psalms, as we walk with Christ on this journey toward His Incarnation.
Have a Blessed Nativity Season.
(1) Father Patrick Henry Reardon, Christ in the Psalms