01 November 2008

the 17th Kathisma

I have been reading the 17th Kathisma of the Psalter for my departed Grandmother and am interested to learn the specific reasons why this particular Kathisma was chosen.

Personally, as I read it I think, "This is not describing me at all!" and that's partly why I wondered why it would be read for me at my departure from this life. Here is a quote that directly addresses my question:

"At this service the 17th Kathisma (17th Kathisma — a Kathisma is one of the 20 divisions of the Psalter. The 17th Kathisma is comprised solely of Psalm 118 (Psalm 119 in the King James Version), the longest psalm in the Psalter) is read, which reveals to us the condition of our heart, and like a magnet draws out of it everything passionate and sinful which prevents us from approaching the Lord." (The One Thing Needful)

As I, a sinner, read it, it really does seem to turn into a prayer of compunction followed with the hope that someday, somehow I will be able to pray Prophet David's words from a pure heart.

Please share if you have learned anything about it or find anything!


caleb j seeling said...

i've never read through that entire psalm, even when i was reading through the psalms. as i, a sinner, read it, it made me want to find my fifth of gin and a pillow.

Petronia said...

I'll read it quietly on the side on Thurs then ;)

It is quite long--takes me about 15 or so minutes.

Marfa said...

In reply to your comment on my blog (which I just deleted, and I deleted the phrase I wrote in my post as well, because only those who "spit on Satan" at their Baptism like us Orthodox would understand)...everytime we drive by the local mosque, I spit, a small spittal because it is evil. So, yes, I spit at Obama.

Petronia said...

I don't agree that that is appropriate or an Orthodox thing to do. Sorry.

Tony-Allen said...

If I could just interject, I'm afraid that I have to agree with Petronia; to spit on the ground at the sight of a mosque is rather unorthodox. Remember that we are told "never pay back evil for evil to anyone" (Rom 12:17), as well as to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44).

I'd also like to point out that in the Gospels there are only two moments in the earthly life of our Lord that spitting was involved: one time was by the Temple elders, who spat at and on Christ in mockery and disdain, because they considered him evil; another time was by Christ himself...but it was a far different scenario, because Christ spat to heal the blind man.

Now (to be honest), I did not vote for Obama, nor do I agree with his policies - however, he was legally elected our president, and so I accept him as our president. I also accept him as our president because, as a Christian, I see precedent for how to treat our leaders. The early Christians, when they were being tortured, had nothing but good things to say about their persecutors. You had incidents where Christians would have their flesh burned, ripped from their muscle, and swords sent into their bodies, and all the while they prayed for their persecutors. They didn't curse, they didn't spit, they didn't utter a word of hate - they offered words of love, because Christ loved them, even the worst of them. I look at this, and then I look in our modern times, and I can't help but wonder what excuse I have. That is, what excuse do I have for not showing respect to a man simply because I disagree with him politically, when my predecessors loved leaders who murdered them?

There is a lot of evil in this world, but we have to be careful about how we respond. If we respond to evil with evil, then we have forgotten the commandments given to us by our Lord. We (I include myself in this) have to keep patience, endurance, and love on our minds. Most of all, we should pray; prayer is the ultimate weapon against evil.

Chuck said...

I have heard it mentioned that some people will spit at the devil 3 times at their Baptism or Christmation. It must be a cultural tradition with a small “t” because at my baptism in Romania I did not spit. Romanians don’t do that unless it is something really really horrible and then they are crossing themselves and spitting away the evil.

I don’t want to Monday morning quarterback the election to death but the moral issues did pass. I thank God for that. It means that the hearts of the voters are for the same truths we hold to our heart. We as Christians bless those who curse us. Wishing evil upon someone is witchcraft. I will never wish harm on our president nor will I spit at him or on him. I did not vote for him but I will pray for him.

“Christians therefore ought to strive continually, and never to pass judgment on anyone - no, not upon the harlot on the street, or upon open sinners and disorderly persons - but to regard all men with singleness of intention and purity of eye, so that it may become like a fixed law of nature to despise no one, to judge no one, to abhor no one, to make no distinctions between them. If you see a man with one eye, be not divided in your heart, but look upon him as if he were whole. If a man is maimed of one hand, see him as not maimed, the lame as straight, the palsied as whole. This is purity of heart, when you see sinners or sick people, to have compassion on them and be tender-hearted towards them. It happens sometimes that the saints of the Lord sit in theatres and behold the deceit of the world. According to the inner man they are conversing with God, while according to the outer man they appear to men as contemplating what goes on in the world.”
-- St. Macarius the Great.

“The Lord has ordered us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and to do good to those who persecute us. What danger we are in then, when we hate one another, when we hate our co-members, one with us, sons of God, branches of the true vine, sheep of the spiritual flock gathered by the true Shepherd, the Only-Begotten Son of God, Who offered Himself in sacrifice for us! The Living Word underwent these sufferings for so great a work, and you, man, hate it through jealously and vainglory, or avarice, or contempt - things for which the enemy has ensnared you, to make you a stranger to God. What defense will you present before Christ?”
--St. Pachomius the Great.

And finally…

“Consider to what a dignity he exalts himself who esteems his brother's salvation as of great importance. Such a man is imitating God, as far as lies with the power of man. And God says so through His Prophet [Jer. 15:19]. What He says is that he who is eager to save a brother who has fallen into careless ways, he who hastens to snatch his brother from the jaws of the devil, that man imitates Me as far as lies in human power. What could equal that? This is greater than all good deeds; it is the peak of all virtue.”
--St. John Chrysostom.

In Christ’s Love,
Michael (Chuck)

Petronia said...

Part of an explanation on baptism I found:
3. The Renunciation of the Devil, in which the catechumen, along with his sponsor(s) turns to the west, which personifies the region wherein the powers of darkness abide, and renounces Satan and all his works, breathing and spitting on him as a sign of this renunciation. The catechumen then turns back to the east (which symbolizes the region wherein Light resides) and declares himself ready to unite himself to Christ. (http://www.orthodoxy.org.au/eng/index.php?p=72)

It is done in the Russian church for sure. It does say that this is part of the preparatory rites "which, in antiquity, were not part of the Sacrament itself."

At my own baptism and that of my daughter, I understood it in this context: I must renounce my old master, the Evil One, before I can serve a new master. Can't be much more clear than spitting on him. I never thought of spitting on the Evil One out of this context. I have yet to read of a saint who spat on the demons when attacked. I just remember them praying. Besides, evil is not something which is separate from us-- we all sin pretty regularly (to say the least).

Thanks everyone for your thoughts!

Chuck said...

It goes to show you the many flavors we have in our Orthodoxy. :) I guess the Romanians and Greeks leave this out of the service.


Let’s return to the topic of David's Psalm, somehow this thread got hijacked for a moment and I believe that the original topic is a good one. There has been several times where I have read this Psalm internally and sensed David's heart in the words and yes there have been times I have cried and sat there in silence as a sinner. This is due mostly because I lost everything including my job then later my home due to circumstances beyond my control. I sought refuge in the Psalms and landed on Psalm 119. Remember me God and please teach me your ways prepares us to become a part of Him. Ultimately that is the goal of every Orthodox Christian is to be united with Christ. I believe this is why I consider it a blessing to receive the Eucharist every time it is offered as long as I prepared myself. At first look the Psalm seems ominous because it is the longest one in the bible but I look back and remember how I thought the Liturgy was so long on Sunday mornings. Yet again, I read it for my wife the other day and she fell asleep, so it works great for insomnia… I guess it is all in how you take it. ;)

Andy said...

I was going to post the link that Chuck had in his last comment, but to point out where spitting is specifically carried out in the preparation for Baptism...I'm not sure if Chuck is saying the Greek church leaves spitting out? It doesn't. It's toward the end of the catechumen service.

As for the Psalter, Petrona, which version (i.e. which publisher) do you use?

Petronia said...

The Psalter According to the Seventy from Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston. I believe it is the one we use in services.

Andy said...

Thanks. I need a copy and that's the one I was thinking about buying. I have their "blue" prayer book and I like it a lot.

::Sylvia:: said...

We have a tradition where I live where we split the Psalter up among 20 women and we each start from a different kathisma and read through one each night. This way we all read through it twice during the fast. It's really nice, I read the 17th in 2 days, now I really want to skip ahead. :)

Also, wanted to let you know to vote for what you want to swap, stop by my blog and leave a comment for either ornaments or books. :)