“The Letter to Marcellinus” is the second piece in the book I’ve been reading by St. Athanasius. It is a good companion piece to “The Life of Antony” especially since St. Antony is considered the father of monasticism.
The letter is entirely focused on the Psalms and its helpfulness to those who are prayerful, thus why it would make sense to be included following St. Antony’s life, which was one devoted to the monastic life and prayer. St. Athanasius instructs Marcellinus saying, “In the Psalms it is written and inscribed how one must bear sufferings, what one must say to one suffering afflictions, what to say after afflictions, how each person is tested, and what the words of those who hope in God are” (108). He goes on to tell Marcellinus what Psalms are good for praying in certain situations.
St. Athanasius concludes with these instructions regarding praying the Psalms, “…recite and chant…the things written just as they were spoken, in order for the holy men who supplied these, recognizing that which is there own, to join you in your prayer, or, rather, so that even the Spirit who speaks in the saints, seeing words inspired by him them, might render assistance to us” (127).
How fortunate we are to have the words penned in prayer by those who have gone before us and when we utter them again and again, are joined by the saintly author. What a blessing!