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St. Arsenios of Cappadocia: BLESSING-PSALTER


THE PSALTER AS A BOOK OF NEEDS, according to the usage of St. Arsenios of

Cappadocia, as transmitted by the Athonite Elder Paisios.

Translated for the St. Pachomius Library by Vassilios Kollias and edited by Karen Rae Keck.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Saint Arsenios used to use the Psalms for blessings,

especially when there was no prescribed blessing for a particular occasion.

Here in Part One is the correspondence between the psalms and different

occasions. The original Greek list can be found in -O Geron Paisios- by the

Hieromonk Christodoulos, Agion Oros, 1994. In Part Two, we have provided a

(rather poor) index; perhaps someone else would care to fashion a better.


Apart from all religious considerations, this "Book of Needs" is a

fascinating portrait of village life in Anatolia at the beginning of the

Twentieth Century: whether it reflects more the "longue duree" of Byzantine

history or the particular difficulties of St. Arsenios' time we do not feel

well enough informed even to speculate. There is certainly no idealization

of rural conditions here: particularly noteworthy is the extreme concern for

alleviating psychological as well as physical pain, and the mention of what

we would nowadays call "post-traumatic stress disorder".


To us, at least, the exact reasoning behind the saint's choice of a

particular psalm for a given need is not always obvious; perhaps this is by

design, to encourage close reflection on the words. Orthodoxy is not magic,

and a document like this one is not an endorsement of "peasant

superstition"; it is rather a channel through which the Love of God can

enter into every aspect of human society.





[IMPORTANT NOTE: The FIRST number is the number of the psalm in the Greek

Septuagint Bible. The SECOND number is the number of the psalm found in the

Masoretic text and in most English language Bibles, such as the King James!]

 [For the first number see the Douay Rheims version. For the second number see the New American which is much more recent. (See the first footnote to Ps. 9 in the NIV.) RJS]

1 (1) When a tree or a vine is planted, so that it may bring forth fruit.
2 (2) So that God illumines those who go to meetings and councils.
3 (3) So that badness goes away from people, so that they do not torment
unjustly their fellows.
4 (4) So that God heals the sensitive people who fell ill from depression
because of the behaviour of hard-hearted people.
5 (5) So that God heals the wounded eyes that were bitten by a bad person.
6 (6) So that God frees the person who has been under a spell.
7 (7) For those who got damaged from fear, from the terrors and the
intimidations of bad people.
8 (8) For those who are hurt by demons or by perverse people.
9 (9 & 10) So that the demons stop tormenting you in sleep or with fancies
during the day.
10 (11) For hard-hearted couples that argue and divorce (when the
hard-hearted man or woman torments their sensitive wife or husband).
11 (12) For mentally ill people who have badness and harm others.
12 (13) For those who suffer from their liver.
13 (14) For a terrible demon, continually three times a day for three days.
14 (15) So that robbers or thieves change their mind and return having done
no harm, and having repented.
15 (16) So that the key is found when it is lost.
16 (17) For a grave and unjust accusation, three times a day for three days.
17 (18) When there is an earthquake or other natural disaster, or
devastating rain with lightning.
18 (19) So that women give birth successfully.
19 (20) For the couples who for medical reasons cannot have children, so
that God heals them and that they do not divorce.
20 (21) So that God softens the hearts of the rich and they give alms to the
21 (22) So that God contains the fire, so that no big harm happens.
22 (23) So that God makes milder the very rebellious children that bring
sorrow to their parents.
23 (24) So that the door opens when the key is lost.
24 (25) For people who temptation troubles a lot and so brings continual
problems into their lives, making them lose their peace and complain.
25 (26) When somebody asks something good from God so that He gives it
without the person getting harmed.
26 (27) So that God protects the peasants from the enemy army, so that they
do not harm the people or their fields.
27 (28) So that God heals those who suffer from illnesses of nervous or
mental origin.
28 (29) For those that the sea makes sick and who are afraid of the rough
29 (30) For those that are in danger far away, in the territory of barbarous
and unbelieving people, so that God guards them and illumines the people
there to become peaceful and to come to know God.
30 (31) So that God gives enough grain and fruit when the weather is not
good for agriculture.
31 (32) So that the travelers find their way when they are lost and
suffering from it.
32 (33) So that God reveals the truth to those who were unjustly imprisoned,
and so that they are set free.
33 (34) For those on the edge of death, when they are tormented by demons.
Or, for the enemy army when it brings danger and enters the borders with
ominous intentions.
34 (35) So that God frees the good people from the traps of the bad people,
who take advantage of the people of God.
35 (36) So that animosity disappears completely after arguments and
36 (37) For people badly wounded by criminals.
37 (38) When the jaws have pain coming from rotten teeth.
38 (39) So that the people who are abandoned and depressed find work, so
that they stop being in sorrow.
39 (40) So that the love between employer and employee comes back when there
has been exchange of heavy words.
40 (41) So that women give birth with success when the child comes
prematurely into the world.
41 (42) For young people when they get ill from falling in love, and one
person gets wounded and is in sorrow.
42 (43) So that the people get free from the prisons of an enemy nation.
43 (44) So that God reveals the truth to couples when there has been a
misunderstanding, so that they come into mutual peace and love again.
44 (45) For those who suffer from heart or kidneys.
45 (46) For the young people that the enemy because of envy prevents from
making a family (i.e. from getting married).
46 (47) So that the employee or the employer find peace, when the employee
leaves offended by the employer, and so that the employee finds work.
47 (48) When gangs of criminals go robbing and grave disasters are
happening: to be continually read for 40 days.
48 (49) For those who do a dangerous job.
49 (50) So that the people who are far from God repent and return to God and
are saved.
50 (51) When, because of our sins and in order to correct us, comes the
punishment of God (epidemics of illness and deaths for people or animals).
51 (52) So that the hard-hearted masters repent and become compassionate and
do not torment the people.
52 (53) So that God blesses the nets and they get filled with fish.
53 (54) So that God illumines the rich people that have bought slaves so
that they free them.
54 (55) So that the name of a family that had been unjustly accused is
55 (56) For sensitive people, whose souls have been wounded by their
56 (57) For those people who suffer headaches coming from big sorrow.
57 (58) So that things come in a helping way for those who work with good
intention, so that God prevents every perverse action of demons or crooked
58 (59) For those that cannot speak, that God gives them the ability to
59 (60) So that God reveals the truth when a whole group of people is
unjustly accused.
60 (61) For those that have trouble in their work either because of laziness
or because of fear.
61 (62) So that God relieves from troubles the person who is weak, so that
he is not dominated by the urge to complain.
62 (63) So that fields and trees bring forth fruit when the water is
63 (64) When a person is bitten by a dog or wolf that had rabies. (He was
also for giving them blessed water to drink).
64 (65) So that merchants prosper, so that they do not speak too much and
take advantage of simple people.
65 (66) So that the evil one does not bring obstacles in the homes and cause
families to be in sorrow.
66 (67) So that the places where hens are raised are blessed.
67 (68) So that the women whose pregnancies fail manage to endure and become
68 (69) When there is severe rain and the rivers overflow, taking with them
people and houses.
69 (70) For sensitive people that get sad from little things and come to
despair, that God gives them strength.
70 (71) For deserted people who become uninteresting to others [lit.
"boring"] because of the devil's envy and come to despair, that they may
find mercy and healing from God.
71 (72) So that God blesses the gatherings of the new agricultural
production that the peasants bring home.
72 (73) So that the criminals repent.
73 (74) So that God protects the peasants that work in their fields when the
enemy have surrounded the village.
74 (75) So that the barbarous employer becomes peaceful and does not torment
his fellow human beings, the empoloyees.
75 (76) For a mother who is scared during her giving birth, so that God
gives her braveness and protects her.
76 (77) When there is no mutual understanding between parents and children,
that God illumines them, so that the children listen to the parents and the
parents show love.
77 (78) So that God illumines those who lend so that they do not press their
fellows for their debt, and so that they are compassionate.
78 (79) So that God protects the villages from the robbing and stealing of
the enemy army.
79 (80) So that God cures a person whose face gets swollen and all his head
is in pain.
80 (81) So that God takes care of the poor who are in need and sorrow and
are depressed because of poverty.
81 (82) So that people buy the products of the peasants, so that the
peasants are not sad and depressed.
82 (83) So that God prevents the bad people who want to do murders.
83 (84) So that God preserves all that is kept in the house, and the
animals, and the products of the producers.
84 (85) So that God heals those who were wounded by robbers and moreover got
psychologically damaged from terror.
85 (86) So that God saves the world when plague comes and people die.
86 (87) So that God extends the lives of those members of the family that
are still urgently needed by the rest of the family.
87 (88) So that God protects all those who have no protector and are
suffering from hard-hearted fellows.
88 (89) So that God gives strength to those who easily fall sick and are
physically weak, so that they can work without getting tired and depressed.
89 (90) So that God brings rain when there is a drought, or that the wells
bring forth water again if they have stopped doing so.
90 (91) So that the devil disappears when he appears in front of a person
and brings him terror.
91 (92) So that God gives prudence to people so that they progress
92 (93) So that God protects the ship when it is in great danger at sea. (He
was also for throwing blessed water at the four corners of the ship).
93 (94) So that God illumines the disorderly people who cause problems to
the nation and bring commotion to the people, causing trouble by disorder
and divisions.
94 (95) So that no spells cause couples to start finding reasons for
arguments and fights.
95 (96) So that God gives to the deaf people the ability to hear.
96 (97) So that spells go away from people.
97 (98) So that God gives comfort for those who are in sorrow so that they
stop being depressed.
98 (99) So that God blesses and gives grace to those young people who want
to leave everything and follow God. [I do not know how succesful is my
translation here. To my Greek ear the exact phrase that is used would make
me think of people who follow the monastic life but I am not sure. --Trans.]
99 (100) So that God blesses and makes real the desires of the people that
are in accordance with His will.
100 (101) So that God gives graces and talents to the good and simple
101 (102) So that God blesses the people who hold offices of power so that
they help the people with kindness and understanding.
102 (103) So that the monthly flow of blood comes to a woman when it is
103 (104) So that God blesses the possessions of the people that they are
not sad and depressed, but glorify God.
104 (105) So that people repent and confess their sins.
105 (106) So that God gives illumination to people so that they do not move
away from the way to salvation.
106 (107) So that God gives the woman who could not give birth the ability
to do so.
107 (108) So that God humbles the enemies, so that they change their bad
108 (109) So that God cures the epileptics. Or, so that God has mercy on
those who accuse unjustly and they repent.
109 (110) So that the younger have respect for the older.
110 (111) So that the unjust judges repent and judge justly the people of
111 (112) So that God protects the soldiers when they go to war.
112 (113) So that God gives blessings to the poor widow, so that she pays
her debts and is saved from going to prison.
113 (114 & 115) So that God cures the mentally retarded children.
114 (116:1-9) So that God gives blessings and comfort to the sad poor little
children, so that they are not looked down upon by the children of the rich
and consequently feel depressed.
115 (116:10-19) So that God cures the horrible passion of lying.
116 (117) So that families keep unity and love and glorify God.
117 (118) So that God humbles the barbarians when they surround the village
and bring fear, and that He reverses their bad intentions.
118 (119) So that God shatters the barbarians and humbles their action when
they slay innocent women and children.
119 (120) So that God gives patience and forbearance to those people who
have to live together with crooked and unjust people.
120 (121) So that God protects the slaves from the hands of the enemy so
that they are not mutilated before they are set free.
121 (122) So that God cures those who suffer from the "evil eye".
122 (123) So that God gives eyesight to the blind and cures the eyes that
are in pain.
123 (124) So that God protects people from snakes, so that they do not bite.
124 (125) So that God protects the fields of the just people from the bad
125 (126) So that God cures the people who suffer from continual headaches.
126 (127) So that God brings peace to a family when there are arguments.
127 (128) So that the badness of the enemy never approaches the homes, and
that there is the peace and blessing of God in the family.
128 (129) So that God cures the people who suffer from migraines, or, so
that God shows mercy to the hard and indiscreet people who bring sorrow to
the sensitive.
129 (130) So that God gives braveness and hope to those who start a new job
and do not know it well yet, so that they do not find extreme difficulty in
their work.
130 (131) So that God gives repentance and comfort with hope to people so
that they are saved.
131 (132) So that God shows pity to the world when because of our sins there
are continual wars.
132 (133) So that God illumines the nations and they become friendly and the
people find peace.
133 (134) So that God protects people from every danger.
134 (135) So that people concentrate at the time of prayer and their mind is
united with God.
135 (136) So that God protects the immigrants when they abandon their homes
and leave so that they are saved from the barbarians.
136 (137) So that God brings steadiness to the person with unsteady
137 (138) So that God illumines the masters of the place so that people's
requests are treated with understanding.
138 (139) So that God stops the temptation of sensitive people by
blasphemous thoughts.
139 (140) So that God makes peaceful the head of the family who has a very
difficult character and brings suffering to all the family.
140 (141) So that God makes peaceful the barbarian master of a place who
torments his fellows.
141 (142) So that God makes peaceful the rebel who is doing bad; then even
if he is a Kurd he becomes a lamb. [St. Arsenios was living in Asia Minor.
Kurds, who were often soldiers, had a reputation among other ethnic groups
for being brutal fighters. --Trans.]
142 (143) So that God protects the mother throughout the pregnancy so that
she does not loose the child.
143 (144) So that God pacifies the people when they are in unrest so that no
civil war happens.
144 (145) So that God blesses the work of people so that it is well accepted
by God.
145 (146) So that God stops the flow of blood from people who suffer from
146 (147:1-11) So that God heals the people who have been bitten and wounded
in the jaws by bad people.
147 (147:12-20) So that God brings peace to the wild animals so that they do
not harm people or farm produce.
148 (148) So that God makes the weather appropriate so that people have
plenty and glorify God.
[These were from St. Arsenios. The following two are from Fr. Paisios of the
Holy Mountain.]
149 (149) From gratefulness and thankfulness to God for His many kindnesses
and for the plenitude of His love, that knows no limit and bears with us.
150 (150) So that God gives happiness and comfort to our sad brothers and
sisters who are in far places, and to those of our brothers and sisters who
are sleeping and are even farther away. Amen.
[IMPORTANT NOTE: Only the Septuagint psalm number is given in this index.]
AGRICULTURE: 1, 26, 30, 50, 52, 62, 66, 71, 83, 124, 147, 148
ANIMALS, Unfriendly: 63, 123, 147
CHILDREN: 22, 76, 109, 113, 114
DISASTERS: 17, 21, 30, 50, 62, 68, 85, 89
HEALTH, Physical: 5, 12, 28, 36, 37, 44, 56, 58, 63, 79, 86, 88, 95, 102,
108, 122, 125, 128, 145, 146
HEALTH, Psychological: 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 24, 27, 41, 55, 56, 60, 61, 69, 70,
80, 81, 84, 97, 100, 103, 128, 136, 138
HEALTH, Women's: 18, 19, 40, 67, 75, 106, 142, 145
LAW AND GOVERNMENT: 14, 16, 32, 36, 47, 51, 59, 72, 82, 84, 93, 101, 108,
110, 137, 140, 141, 143
MAGIC AND DEMONS: 5, 6, 8, 9, 13, 33, 57, 65, 90, 94, 96, 121
PEACE AND WAR: 26, 33, 42, 73, 78, 93, 107, 111, 117, 118, 120, 127, 131,
132, 135, 140, 141, 143
PEACE (among friends and family): 10, 19, 22, 35, 41, 43, 45, 54, 65, 76,
86, 94, 109, 116, 126, 127, 139
PROPERTY: 14, 15, 23, 47, 83, 103, 124
PROTECTION: 9, 13, 34, 47, 48, 57, 90, 133
SOCIAL CONCERNS: 20, 32, 35, 38, 51, 53, 59, 77, 80, 81, 87, 93, 101, 110,
112, 113, 114, 119, 124, 137, 140
SPIRITUALITY: 3, 9, 24, 25, 29, 49, 50, 57, 72, 91, 98, 99, 100, 104, 105,
108, 115, 119, 130, 134, 136, 149
TRAVEL AND EMIGRATION: 28, 29, 31, 92, 135, 150
WORK: 2, 38, 39, 46, 48, 51, 52, 57, 60, 64, 74, 81, 83, 100, 101, 103, 129,
137, 140,144
The St. Pachomius Orthodox Library, Nativity of the Forerunner 1995
Have mercy, O Lord, upon Thy servants the Hieromonk Christodoulos, the
translator Vassilios, and Karen.

From the Catholic tradition, be sure to see
The Psalms, the Prayer Book of God and see A shorter introduction to the Psalms from My Daily Psalm Book, a Prayer Guide for the Psalms, part one, and part two.

Art as a Source of Meditation
Awaken to Prayer
Index of all parish pages
Placed online 11/15/99, amd restored 2/16/09. It is a copy of the Blessing Psalter found at the St. Pachomius Orthodox Library.
You may also find useful, St. Augustine on the Psalms.