From a liturgical point of view, one of the most important sections of Scripture are the Psalms. They are read in their entirety over the course of one week during all of the services the Orthodox Church has during the week. During Great Lent, the entire Psalter is read twice.
The reason for this liturgical emphasis can be seen in the Letter to Marcellinus from St. Athanasius the Great (quoted here). The Psalms offer us everything that the rest of Scripture does with that “very special grace” of imbuing Scripture with the full width and breadth of human emotion. St. Athanasius tells us that we are then able to see ourselves in the words of the Psalms — we are able to make the words of the Psalms our words. In so doing, we then allow the Holy Spirit — He who inspired these words — to form us according to the pattern He has given us in the Psalms.
Usually, however, one only sees the reading of the entire Psalter at monasteries because the burden of doing every service of the Orthodox Church over the course of a week is too much for a parish. While true, this reality need not stop us from experiencing the “very special grace” of the Psalms.
Great Lent is upon us and our fasting regimen, if done within context of its original intent, is supposed to give us more free time to spend in prayer and in reading the Scriptures. This year, I propose we take up the challenge of this original intent and find time within our busy schedules to read the entire Psalter.
Thus, this Great Lent I will be encouraging all of us to undertake what I will call The Psalms Challenge. The goal of this challenge is for all of us to read the entire Psalter, not just once, but over the course of one week. This will allow all of us to experience the Psalms as they are intended to be: the foundation of our prayer life, not something we only occasionally read.
To that end, here is a suggested schedule for getting through the entire Psalter in one week:
- Sunday 9-24
- Monday 25-46
- Tuesday 47-70
- Wednesday 71-85
- Thursday 92-109
- Friday 120-150
- Saturday 1-8; 110-119
I invite everyone who is up to taking this challenge to comment below so that we may all share our experience of reading the Psalms, our struggles and our questions. Good Strength!