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Vol: 6 Issue: 8

Misra 1728 / August 2012

Introduction to the Psalms H.E. Met. Malki Syrian Orthodox Met of Australia Psalms have a prominent place in our church. In ancient times, one of the Popes of Alexandria refused to ordain one of the bishops because he hadn't memorised all the psalms by heart. It was a condition for the three ranks of priesthood (bishopric, priesthood and deacon) to recite all the psalms before their ordination. St Paul tells us in his epistle to the Corinthians, "How is it then brethren, whenever you come together each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation, let all things be done for edification." (1Co 14:26) In other epistles St Paul tells us: "[Speak] to one another in psalms." (Col 3:16) In other words, he encourages ALL Christians to memorise and speak psalms as it is better to proclaim the word of God than to proclaim the words of the world. It is the responsibility of the monk to keep his mind connected to God at ALL times. The best way to strengthen this connection is by reciting and reading the psalms, as this leaves no space for worldly thoughts and lusts. Reading and singing psalms benefits you in two ways; you amuse yourself with the beautiful melodies of the psalm and you taste the beauty of the words of the Lord. Psalms also purify the heart as they contain a combination of praises and prayers of repentance. They are suitable for each and every occasion in our lives. What's in the name: The word "Psalm" is taken from the Greek word; "Psalmodia", which means "singing." In arabic and in Syriac, the Psalms are called "mizmar" or "mazmoor." In Hebrew, they are called "tahleem". "Tahleem" comes from "Halleluia" which is a unique word used in the liturgy. "Hallelu" in Hebrew means "sing" whereas "ia" means God. So, "Halleluia" means "Sing to the Lord." In areas like Egypt and Syria, people "zaghrat" or say "Halelulululu" during weddings and ordinations, which means they are singing out of happiness. However, "Halleluia" is the liturgical version and the same meaning applies to the word "psalm."

Composer of the Psalms? King David is the main composer of the Psalms. However, some are written by Solomon, Sons of Korah and one psalm is dedicated to Moses. Since David wrote the majority of them (73 psalms), they are called the Psalms of David; calling the majority on the minority. There are also 35 psalms not attributed to anyone, thus called "Orphan Psalms," without father or mother, but surely they come from the liturgy and the fore fathers of the Old Testament. What can we learn from the Psalms? The book of Psalms was actually a liturgical book because it was used in the temple during the liturgies of the Jewish. Firstly, the psalms teach us the WORD of the Lord. When a driver has lost his way, how important is the navigator in giving him directions and guiding his way? Such is the importance of the WORD of the Lord, in each one who is seeking spirituality. The navigator of our spiritual life is the WORD of the Lord as David says in his psalms: "Show me your ways O Lord. Teach me your paths." When David was young, he was following his own ways, but after learning the ways of the Lord, he followed in these paths of majesty. Secondly, the Psalms teach us FAITH. Although David, at times, did what he desired, he was always faithful to the Lord and depended on Him. For example, when he encountered Goliath. David's faith gave him the courage to say: "yea Lord, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me." If you are stuck in a dark jungle with lions, serpents and spiders, no one would have the courage to walk out without fear. Yet, David says in his psalms, "I will fear no evil, for YOU ARE WITH ME"...and that is faith. (From H.E. talk at the monastery)

Special thanks to Bishop Staphanous & Bishop Athanasius for blessing us at the feast

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Visiting youth groups

St Abraan Youth Group

St Mark Youth Group

ArchAngel Michael Youth Group

ArchAngel Michael Youth Group

St Abanoub Youth Group

QLD Youth Group

St Mary Youth Group Page 3

Contemplation on Psalm 23 By: One of the youth The following is a contemplation on a psalm we all know very well and if you allow me, you may see it from a different perspective and learn something not obvious from before. The imagery in this psalm has been painted onto the walls of the catacombs in Rome and is repeated several times in the New Testament. It is the psalm memorized most by Christians worldwide and is very often the last words of a dying Christian. Most importantly Jesus Christ uses the imagery in this psalm to describe Himself. The psalm is The Lord is my Shepherd (Psalm 23). So why a Shepherd? The job of a shepherd is not a pretty one. Sheep stink. They are filthy and they are relatively stupid. The job is given to the lowest person so they can contend with the smell and the role of keeping them from falling into various ditches! Often the job of a shepherd involves walking for many kilometres to find suitable area for grazing and water. It involves spending all day either in the hot sun or in the cold wind. We know that David the psalmist was given this job as he was the youngest boy of a family of 8 boys and his parents did not even consider him worthy of being blessed by Samuel the Prophet. Despite this, God is not ashamed to call Himself a shepherd. The Lord humbles Himself to guide us. He does not guide from afar, He does not ride a horse while we sheep walk on the dirt. He walks through what we walk through and steps in what we step in. He is willing to walk with us for many kilometres to lead us directly to food, water and shelter. He is the good shepherd, He is willing to die for His sheep! He will never flee, not even for a wolf. He will lay His life down for us sheep and all He wants from us in return is to follow Him (See John 10). The analogy of the shepherd shows to what extent our trivialities are chief concerns to our Lord. The psalm says “You make me lie down in green pastures”. Not only does our Lord, the shepherd know the best places to lead us sheep to but Philip Keller (in A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23) writes that sheep do not lie down easily, and will not unless four conditions are met. Because they are timid they will not lie down if they are afraid. Because they are social animals they will not lie down if there is friction among the sheep. If flies or parasites trouble them they will not lie down. Finally, if sheep are anxious about food or hungry they will not lie down. Rest comes because the shepherd has dealt with fear, friction, flies, and famine. So what should we do to have God as our shepherd? Sheep are regarded as property and objects of value. In the same way a man could own a sheep is the same way we are owned by the Lord. Before a man can truly say “the Lord is my shepherd” he must feel himself to be a sheep by nature, for he cannot know that God is his Shepherd unless he feels in himself that he has the nature of a sheep.” He must relate to a sheep in its foolishness, its dependency and helplessness. Page 4

To further highlight sheep’s helplessness, “A sheep”, says Aristotle, “is a foolish and sluggish creature…great tendency to wander, though it feel no want, and unable to return…a sheep can make no shift to save itself from tempests or inundation; there it stands and will perish, if not driven away by the shepherd.” Hence we must rely totally on the shepherd and not think for a moment we can lead ourselves to green pastures alone.

Visiting youth groups

St Marks Youth Group

St Marks Youth Group

St abou sefien Youth Group

St Barbra Youth Group

Youth Group from different churches

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On The Psalms By: St Basil the Great All scripture is inspired by God and is useful, composed by the Spirit for this reason, namely, that we men, each and all of us, as if in a general hospital for souls, may select the remedy for his own condition. For, it says, “care will make the greatest sin to cease.� (Eccles10:4) Now, the prophets teach one thing, historians another, the law something else, and the form of advice found in the proverbs something different still. But, the Book of Psalms has taken over what is profitable from all. It foretells coming events, it recalls history, it frames laws for life, it suggests what must be done, and in general, it is the common treasury of good doctrine, carefully finding what is suitable for each one. The old wounds of souls it cures completely, and to the recently wounded it brings speedy improvement. The diseased it treats, and the unharmed it preserves. On the whole, it removes, as far as is possible, the passions, which subtly exercise dominion over souls during the lifetime of man, and it does this with a certain orderly persuasion and sweetness which produces sound thoughts. When, indeed, the Holy Spirit saw that the human race was guided only with difficulty toward virtue, and that, because of our inclination toward pleasure, we were neglectful of an upright life, what did He (the Holy Spirit) do? The delight of melody He mingled with the doctrines so that by the pleasantness and softness of the sound heard we might receive without perceiving it the benefit of the words, just as wise physicians who, when giving the fastidious rather bitter drugs to drink, frequently smear the cup with honey. Therefore, He devised for us these harmonious melodies of the psalms, that they who are children in age or even those who are youthful in disposition might to all appearances chant. For never has any one of the many indifferent persons gone away easily holding in mind either an apostolic or prophetic message, but they do chant the words of the psalms, even in the home, and they spread them around in the market place, and, if perchance, someone becomes exceedingly wrathful, when he begins to be soothed by the psalm, he departs with the wrath of his soul immediately lulled to sleep by means of the melody. Oh! the wise invention of the teacher who contrived that while we were singing we should at the same time learn something useful; by this means, too, the teachings are in a certain way impressed more deeply on our minds. Even a forceful lesson does not always endure, but what enters the mind with joy and pleasure somehow becomes more firmly impressed upon it. What, in fact, can you not learn from the psalms? Can you not learn the grandeur of courage, the exactness of justice, the nobility of self-control, the perfection of prudence, a manner of penance, the measure of patience, and whatever other good things you might mention? Therein is perfect theology, a prediction of the coming of Christ in the flesh, a threat of judgment, a hope of resurrection, a fear of punishment, promises of glory, an unveiling of mysteries; all things, as if in some great public treasury, are stored up in the Book of Psalms. To it, although there are many musical instruments, the prophet adapted the so called harp, showing, as it seems to me, that the gift from the Spirit resounded in his Page 6

ears from above. With the cithara and the lyre the bronze from beneath responds with sound to the plucking, but the harp has the source of its harmonic rhythms from above, in order that we may be careful to seek the things above and not be borne down by the sweetness of the melody to the passions of the flesh. And I believe this, namely, that the words of prophecy are made clear to us in a profound and wise manner through the structure of the instrument, because those who are orderly and harmonious in soul possess an easy path to the things above. (From The Fathers of the Church : St Basil Exegetical Homilies Vol: 46)

Thanks to the priests who attended

Thanks to those who helped

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St Shenouda Feast Procession Sat 14th of July

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Pimonakhos Vol 6 Issue 8  
Pimonakhos Vol 6 Issue 8  

This month we talk about a much loved book of the Bible especially by Orthodox Monks. We have also included photos from St Shenouda feast an...