24 December 2009

Happy Christ-Mass

Christ is born; glorify Him!
Christ comes from heaven; go to meet Him!
Christ is on earth; be exalted!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
And praise Him with joy, O people,
for He has been glorified!

~ St. Cosmas the Melodist, Nativity Canon, Ode 1

Venite adoremus,
Venite adoremus,
venite adoremus,
~ Adeste Fidelis

Whom have we, Lord, like you?
The Great One who became small,
the Wakeful who slept,
The Pure One who was baptized,
the Living One who died,
The King who abased himself to ensure honor for all.
Blessed is your honor!
It is right that man should acknowledge your divinity,
It is right for heavenly beings to worship your humanity.
The heavenly beings were amazed to see how small you became,
And earthly ones to see how exalted.
~ St. Ephrem the Syrian

E sursum Agnus mittitur
laxare gratis debitum;
omnes pro indulgentia
vocem demus cum lacrimis.

The Lamb descends from heaven above
to pardon sin with freest love:
for such indulgent mercy shewn
with tearful joy our thanks we own.
~ Prudentius, Vox Clara

23 December 2009

Keep Mass in Christmas

Christmas Eve Vigil Mass is one of my favorite services of the year.

I encourage and invite all my readers to celebrate the feast by becoming a manger yourself through reception of the Eucharist.

Make room in your heart's cave for the newborn king!

12 December 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe

I was drawn to this miracle of Our Lady's image not made by hands even before I was Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. I was at the house of the pastor I worked with at an Assembly of God and he had on EWTN (this was in 1994). They were discussing the icon and it's symbolism. Pastor Dan made the comment, "It reminds me of the woman clothed with the sun in Revelation."

My next experience with OLG occured while I was in the hospital for asthma during Lent 2006. Bob & Penny Lord were on EWTN with a program about her and Juan Diego. Hearing the whole story for the first time brought me closer to Mary's visit to America.

In closing, I'll leave you with the Byzantine Catholic Troparion and Kontakion for the feast of the Theotokos of Guadalupe:

When you appeared in the New World, O Theotokos, you fixed your image on Juan Diego's rose laden tilma. All the poor, hungry, and oppressed seek you, Lady of Guadalupe. We gaze upon your miraculous icon and find hope, crying out to your Son concealed in your womb: Hear our plea for justice, O most merciful Lord.

No longer shall the New World lie wounded in useless blood sacrifice, for she who is clothed with the sun has revealed the Son to us. O Mother of the Americas, imprint His Name upon our hearts, just as you wove your image into the cactus cloth. Teach your children to cry out: O Christ God, our hope, glory to you.

29 November 2009

The Four Advents

Catholic tradition says that there are four comings of Christ. All of them are mentioned in the Advent Liturgy. The first is His coming in the flesh. The last is when He comes again in glory. But between them are two more: Christ comes into our hearts, and Christ comes for us at our death. The purpose of this season is to prepare us for all of these "advents".

In hora mortis meae voca me.
Et iube me venire ad te,
Ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te
in saecula saeculorum.

16 November 2009

Selecting a Patriarch, Serbian Style

Patriarch PAVLE of the Serbian Orthodox church died today. May his memory be eternal. He led his flock through some tough times.

Now comes the process of finding a new Patriarch to serve the Serbian church. Here's how they do it:

~Candidates for patriarch must have five years of eparchy service.

~The names of the three bishops who receive the most votes are put into separate envelopes and placed inside the Holy Gospel.

~The Holy Gospel is then placed at the holy throne in the church.

~A monk, who is appointed by the Assembly, takes out the envelopes from the Holy Gospel and draws one of them.

~The monk then hands it to the chairman of the Election Assembly to read the name of the new head of Serbia's Orthodox Church.

This process was instituted in the 1960s to keep politics out of the Church and is the way Patriarch PAVLE was selected.

What do you think of this "vote to narrow it down then let God decide" approach?

28 August 2009

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever

26 August 2009

Our Lady of Chestochowa

Maryjo, Królowo Polski,
Jestem przy Tobie, pamiętam,
Jestem przy Tobie, czuwam, czuwam.

Mother, with a face black as the earth of Poland
Our Queen, defending shield, pray for us

Live Webcam from the icon chapel at Jasna Gora

23 August 2009

New Roman Missal Coming Soon

The USCCB just put up the text of the newest Roman Mass translation. Now it just needs approval from the Holy See.

I'm so glad to see changes that bring it closer to the Latin original. Having been in the Antiochian Orthodox (Eastern & Western Rite), I was accustomed to replying "And with your Spirit" when the priest says "The Lord be with You".

It's also great to see "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault" restored to the Confiteor. Now I can strike my chest three times in pious contrition--one time just doesn't seem enough.

I can again profess "I believe..." at the Creed.

I'm glad I get to say: "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." I always liked that wording better, as it is the prayer of the centurion from the Gospel (mostly).

The only change I'm not happy about is the new wording for the Embolism, the part the priest says at the Lord's Prayer. I liked the old wording "protect us from all anxiety". Now it asks to keep us "safe from all distress". I can live with the change, but being bipolar and prone to panic attacks, the old wording pulled me through some tough times.

Overall, kudos to the U.S. Bishops for improving the English Mass. Be gone liturgical minimalism!

Here's the complete text of the revised Mass.
Here are the changes.

20 August 2009

None of Your Beeswax?

In the News...
Candle use linked to cancer risk

South Carolina State University experts found that paraffin wax candles give off harmful fumes linked to lung cancer and asthma. They did, however, admit that it would take many years use to risk health.

The scientists suggested switching to candles made from beeswax or soy, which do not release significant levels of the chemicals.

I light the candles in my icon corner when I pray at night. Guess I'll be spending the extra money for beeswax from now on. No more bulk votives from Big Lots for me!

18 August 2009

Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above

Hail holy queen enthroned above,
Oh Maria.
Hail mother of mercy and of love,
Oh Maria.
Triumph all ye cherubim,
Sing with us ye seraphim.
Heaven and earth resound the hymn.
Salve, salve, salve regina. :|

16 August 2009


Oh Mother of God, Oh Virgin,
Maria, blessed by God,
Your son, our Lord,
Maria, chosen Mother,
Return to us, bestow upon us.
May the Lord have mercy.

This poem is the earliest known original literary composition in the Polish language

15 August 2009

Dormition of the Theotokos

O marvellous wonder! the source of life is laid in the tomb, and the tomb itself becomes a ladder to heaven. Make glad, O Gethsemane, thou sacred abode of the Mother of God. Come, O ye faithful, and with Gabriel to lead us let us cry: "Hail, thou who art full of grace: the Lord is with thee, granting the world through thee great mercy".

Glorious are thy mysteries, O pure Lady. Thou wast made the Throne of the Most High, and today thou art translated from earth to heaven. Thy glory is full of majesty, shining with grace in divine brightness. O ye virgins, ascend on high with the Mother of the King. Hail, thou who art full of grace: the Lord is with thee, granting the world through thee great mercy.

The dominions and the thrones, the rulers, the principalities, and the powers, the cherubim and the fearful seraphim glorify thy Dormition: and those who dwell on the earth rejoice, adorned by thy divine glory. Kings fall down and sing with the archangels and angels : "Hail, thou who art full of grace: the Lord is with thee, granting the world through thee great mercy".

~Stichera from Dormition Vespers (Tone 1)

31 July 2009

The Church is One

The separation of Churches or, better said, the schism of Christianity is the greatest failure of the Christendom in history. This failure testifies, how much freedom the Providence of God has given to man, and how much man has misused this freedom.

In the Church there cannot be separation, because the Church is One, and it is homogeneous. Its oneness is determined through the fact that Christ is living in it, that it is mediating the gifts of Grace, and that in it are administered the sacraments.

It is not the Church that is divided, but rather Christian humanity. The separation happened within the kingdom of Caesar which became interweaved with the Kingdom of God, but it is not in the Kingdom of God, in which there cannot be separation.

~Nikolai Berdyaev
There is only one Church, not several Churches. And de facto the schism was not in the Church of Christ, but in sinful humankind, in the kingdom of this world, in the kingdom of Caesar. And the restoration of Christian unity does not consist in unifying the Churches, but rather in reunion of the splintered parts of Christian humankind. All parties are guilty of the schism between Christians.

Even when I am convinced that the dogmatic Truth is with Orthodoxy, I must still however feel the guilt which is on us, Christians of the Orthodox East. Also with us there was a lack of love, self-assertion, aloofness, an aversion to engage a spiritual world which seems to be something strange, also with us there was the ecclesiastical nationalism and particularism, there was the recoursing to the typical confessionalism.

Reunion and union of the Christian world must begin with community and unification of Christians of all Confessions, with mutual respect and love, with an inner universal spiritual attitude. All must begin with spiritual life, with spiritual unity, and it must work from inside outwards.

Unification of the Churches can only be a work of the Holy Spirit. But we can prepare this work spiritually in our human part, we can create a favorable spiritual soil. Christian unity must not begin with negotiation of Church governances, but with a spiritual unification of Christians, with forming a Christian friendly association, which is possible while also remaining true to one's own creed.

~Nicolai Berdyaev
"Orthodoxy & Ecumenism" (1927)

29 July 2009

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

O Holy Spirit, most merciful Comforter: You proceed from the Father in a manner beyond our understanding.

Come, I beseech You, and take up your abode in my heart. Purify and cleanse me from all sin, and sanctify my soul. Cleanse it from every impurity, water its dryness, melt its coldness, and save it from sinful ways. Make me truly humble and resigned, that I may be pleasing to You, and that You abide with me forever.

Most blessed Light, most amiable Light, enlighten me. O rapturous Joy of Paradise, Fount of purest delight, my God, give Yourself to me, and kindle in my innermost soul the fire of Your love.

My Lord, instruct, direct, and defend me in all things. Give me strength against all immoderate fears and against despondency. Bestow upon me a true faith, a firm hope, and a sincere and perfect love. Grant that I always do your most gracious will.


~St. Antiochus of Lyons (5th c.)

27 July 2009

Need for the Holy Spirit

Without the Holy Spirit, God is far away, Christ stays in the past, the Gospel is a dead letter the Church is simply an organization, authority, a matter of domination, mission, a matter of propaganda, the Liturgy no more than an evocation Christian living a slave mentality.

But in the Holy Spirit, the cosmos groans with the birth pangs of the kingdom; the risen Christ is there, the Gospel is the source of life, the Church shows forth the life of the Trinity, authority is a liberating service, mission is a Pentecost, the Liturgy is both memorial and anticipation, human action is deified.

~Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch ATHENAGORAS (1948-1972)

Catholic Without Being Latin

"Dear brothers from Rome, one can be Catholic without being Latin. And we were attacked on two fronts, Catholic-Latin and Orthodox-Byzantine. And we said: No, dear brothers, one can be Ukrainian, one can be Byzantine, one can be at the same time Catholic. These different elements do not contradict one another. So this is why neither the Latin Church nor the Orthodox Church is very happy with us. "

~His Beatitude Lubomyr Husar,
Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Patriarch of Kviv-Halych

26 July 2009

Ghetto Mentality: Threat to the Eastern Catholic Mission

In a ghetto life is closed in upon itself, operating only within itself, with its own ethnic and social clichés. And the Parish lives upon the ethnic character of the community; when that character disappears, the community dies and the parish dies with it.

One day all our ethnic traits - language, folklore, customs - will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, primarily for the service of the immigrant or the ethnically oriented, unless we wish to assure the death of our community. Our Churches are not only for our own people but are also for any of our fellow Americans who are attracted to our traditions which show forth the beauty of the universal Church and the variety of its riches.

~Melkite Archbishop Joseph Tawil
"The Courage to be Ourselves" Christmas, 1970

20 July 2009

Jesus Takes a Break

Jesus withdrew with His disciples...(Mark 3:7)

I found this curious. He was healing people and casting out demons, showing His power, yet Jesus was concerned about being crushed by a mob. He told the disciples to have a boat ready so he could get away (Mark 3:9).

Was He turning His back on people who needed to be healed?

Here again we see the humanity of Jesus. From reading Mark's Gospel it seems like Jesus has been going non-stop since emerging from the desert. He's been so busy: preaching, healing, calling His disciples. Action, action, action!

It's as if He finally wore out and just needed to get away from the crowd.

This is important to remember in our own lives. I've seen people get so busy in their work for the Lord that they burn out.

You can't heal everybody.

Take time to rest. Time to breathe. Time to think. Time to discern.

13 July 2009

Renewal and Prelest

I remember talking with an Eastern Orthodox brother about the Charismatic Renewal and he referred to it as "Prelest". That there are no shortcuts in the spiritual life, so the idea of "baptism in the Holy Spirit" and speaking in tongues was delusion.

This Russian Orthodox word "Prelest" is often translated into English as spiritual deception, illusion, or delusion. It is the opposite of spiritual sobriety or watchfulness.

General Prelest is to think that you have no sin or need for forgiveness. Like the pharisee you see yourself as righteous before God based on your own efforts. The reality is that without Christ you are nothing. As you truly grow in holiness you become more aware of your sinfulness.

The Eastern fathers often speak of a particular Prelest that happens when you "live beyond your capabilities". This is someone who hasn't been cleansed of passions yet strives for a life of contemplation and desires the delights of spiritual grace. This spiritual "eagerness" leads to demonic exploitation of these desires. This person imagines that they are near to God and in a higher dimension of spirituality.

Seraphim of Sarov warned that "Surpassing their acquaintances in struggles of prayer and fasting, they imagine that they are seers of divine visions, or at least of dreams inspired by grace. In every event of their lives, they see special intentional directions from God or their guardian angel. And then they start imagining that they are God's elect, and often try to foretell the future."

The possibility of falling into Prelest is the leading cause of Eastern reluctance to the Charismatic Renewal. "The monks on Athos don't speak in tongues, so how could Nick the usher?"

I've been around the Charismatic movement since I was in diapers and will admit there were ups and downs in the last four decades. Mistakes and mis-steps have been made and some people do swim out over their heads and get into trouble.

The best safeguard against Prelest, according to Eastern writers, is to have a good spiritual director. If you are accountable to a priest or other elder in the Lord you are less likely to fall into error.

And that is exactly what the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church did. Those who had experienced this new outpouring of the Holy Spirit went to the Church hierarchy for guidance and clarification. In their wisdom the Pope along with many cardinals and bishops recognized the "new Pentecost" that they were praying for.

My experience in the Orthodox church showed me a different reaction. Suspicious bishops "disciplined" priests who encouraged Charismatic experience. Lay people who experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit had their enthusiasm "bridled".

Direct access to the Holy Spirit? That's something you earn by fleeing the world and living a life of strict asceticism--even then there are no guarantees. Illumination is a reward--no shortcuts!

This rigid thinking has led to a quenching of the Spirit. Like the pharisees they only expect God to act in a certain way according to established rules. Anything outside of those rules is suspicious, delusional, or even heresy.

It's all based on fear. Fear of prelest, fear of diluting or destroying tradition, fear of losing ethnic identity, fear of "ecumenism".

We are so fortunate in the Catholic Church to have a shepherd that encourages all the faithful to experience the baptism in the Holy Spirit (May 2008). We have a growing Charismatic presence that compliments and enhances our ancient rituals and devotions.

Pray for our brothers and sisters of the East that they would overcome fear and re-discover the joy and freedom found in the Holy Spirit.

12 July 2009

St. Symeon the new Theologian

Let us be like those who knock patiently and to whom the Lord opens the doors of His kingdom, according to His promise, and like those who seek and are given the Holy Spirit. It is impossible for a man who seeks with all his soul not to find the Holy Spirit and be enriched by His Charismata. (Cateshesis 22)

A person who has within him the light of the most Holy Spirit, unable to endure it, falls prostrate upon the ground; and he cries out and shouts in terror and great fear, for he sees and experiences something that surpasses nature, thought and imagination. He becomes as one whose entrails have been set ablaze: devoured by fire and unable to bear the scorching flame, he is beside himself, and he cannot control himself at all. And though he sheds unceasing tears that bring him some relief, the fire of his longing is kindled to yet fiercer flames. Then he weeps more abundantly and, washed by the flood of his tears, he shines as lightning with an- ever-increasing brilliance. When he is entirely aflame and becomes as light, then is fulfilled the saying, ‘God is joined in unity with gods and is known by them. (Practical and Theological Chapters 3:21)

When someone suddenly lifts up his gaze and contemplates the nature of existing things in a way that he had never done before, then he is filled with amazement and sheds spontaneous tears without any sense of anguish. These tears purify him and wash him in a second baptism, that baptism of which our Lord speaks in the Gospels when He says, ‘if someone is not born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Again He says, ‘If someone is not born from above’ (John 3:5,7). When He said ‘from above’, He signified being born from the Spirit.

11 July 2009

Did Eastern Fathers Pray in the Spirit?

In the Spiritual writings of the Christian East, specifically the Philokalia, many types of prayer are described: psalmody, the Jesus Prayer, contemplation, singing hymns, and vigils. One type of prayer that is often mentioned but not explained is "formless prayer" that, according to St. Peter of Damaskos, exchanges human words for "the divine words of the Spirit".

Ilias the Presbyter calls this free-form prayer, "sweet smelling wine," and "those who drink deep of this wine are rapt out of themselves." (Gnomic Anthology, 72)

If you've been following my recent posts then you can guess where I'm going with this. When I read words like this through a Charismatic lens I can't help but connect it to the spontaneous prayer in the Spirit associated with the Renewal. I naturally associate praying with "divine words of the Spirit" with praying in tongues. And the resulting rapture and ecstasy is that sweet consolation one feels when caught up in Spirit-filled worship.

I'll admit that I could be totally off-base here and simply projecting my experience onto ancient words. Even so, what I have discovered in my recent survey of Eastern Christian spirituality is a vocabulary for understanding contemporary Charismatic experience in an Eastern context.

My prayer is that Eastern Christians find joy and "sober-minded drunkenness" as they transcend the words of prayer, psalms, and Liturgy into communion with the Holy Spirit.

Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, everywhere present and filling all things, Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, cleanse us of all stain and save our souls, o gracious One.
~Eastern Prayer to the Holy Spirit, Tone 6

10 July 2009

Fire Divided for Sharing Gifts

O Lord, the Spirit of Your salvation, which formerly was received by the prophets in fear, now creates a pure heart in Your apostles and renews in our hearts an upright Spirit; for your commandments, O Lord, bring us light and peace.

~Pentecost Matins Canon, Ode 5

09 July 2009

Getting Drunk with St. Macarius

The Makarian Homilies were attributed to St. Macarius of Egypt, a fourth-century desert father. In the eleventh century they were paraphrased by St. Symeon Metaphrastis. It is this text that appears in the Philokalia.

Like much of Eastern Christian spirituality he considers individual effort (heroic virtue) essential to spiritual perfection: We receive salvation by grace and as a divine gift of the Spirit. But to attain the full measure of virtue we need also to possess faith and love, and to struggle to excercise our free will with integrity. (1)

But, St. Macarius adds that through much prayer and faith, and by turning completely to God, we are able, with the help of the Spirit, to conquer the passions and root out sin (3). This is what distinguishes him from most Eastern Fathers. He emphasizes communion with the Holy Spirit and the need for more than human effort. In fact, he considers asceticism without the joy of the Holy Spirit to be empty:

[The Christian] may have fasted, kept vigils, chanted the Psalms, carried out every ascetic practice and acquired every virtue; but if the mystic working of the Spirit has not been consummated by grace with full consciousness and spiritual peace on the altar of his heart, all his ascetic practice is ineffectual and virtually fruitless, for the joy of the Spirit is not mystically active in his heart. (113)

To bear fruit, according to Macarius, requires participation in the Holy Spirit. He calls the Spirit a heavenly treasure and admonishes his reader to aquire it (87). For those who experience this release of the joy and love of the Holy Spirit, "Sometimes it seems they are in some realm greatly rejoicing and drunk with the inexpressible drunkenness of the mysteries of the Spirit, and then at other times they are full of grief, weeping and lamenting as they intercede for men's salvation." (89)

His descriptions of communion with the Holy Spirit sound very much like my experience in the Charismatic Renewal. I've seen similar emotional and physical reactions to the Spirit at prayer meetings. So, what we see is that such experience is not foreign to Eastern spiritual life. Of course, St. Macarius lived during the golden age of Church history before spontanaety succumbed to institutionalism.

Later, St. Macarius describes that the spirit-filled person at prayer, "...experiences an ineffible and measureless delight; his intellect wholly suspended and ravished, is overwhelmed, and during the time he is in this state he is mindless of every worldly concern. For his thoughts are filled with numberless incomprehensible realities and are taken captive by them. In that hour his soul through prayer becomes one with his prayer and is carried away with it." (91)

Those who have experienced the release of the Holy Spirit in their life know this delight and feeling of being carried away by love. The Charismatic Renewal did not invent this kind of prayer and worship, nor did we borrow it from Protestant Pentecostals--it was part of the undivided Church in the East and West.

What we see today is a rediscovery of refreshing, dynamic, active life in Communion with God the Holy Spirit. To my brothers and sisters in the Eastern Rite, I invite you to enter into joyful communion with the Holy Spirit by following the admonision of St. Macarius of Egypt:

We should eagerly drink spiritual wine and become drunk with a sober-minded drunkenness so that, just as those glutted with ordinary wine become more talkative, we too, brim-full with this spiritual wine, may speak of the divine mysteries. (99)

~David Samuel Thomas

*Quotations from "The Philokalia, Vol III". Palmer, Sherrard, & Ware, ed. trans. London: Faber & Faber, 1984

08 July 2009

Spontaneous Prayer in Eastern Spirituality

St. Peter of Damaskos was an Eastern bishop of the eighth century. His writings appear in the Philokalia, an influential compendium of spiritual writings revered in the Orthodox church. In his work on the eight stages of contemplation he mentions yielding to the Holy Spirit when He "interrupts" your normal prayer routine:

When, however, God's grace kindles a sense of deep penitence in the heart, you should allow your intellect to be bathed in tears of compunction, even if this means that your mouth stops reciting psalms and your mind is made captive to what St. Isaac the Syrian calls 'blessed captivity'. For now is the time to harvest, not plant.

He also quotes St. Isaac's description of someone in a state of pure prayer:

Often it happens that a person so concentrates his intellect during prayer that, like Daniel the prophet, he falls unbidden to his knees, his hands outstretched and his eyes gazing at Christ's Cross; his thoughts are changed and his limbs are made weak because of the new thoughts that arise spontaneously in his intellect. (from the Mystic Treatises)

St. Peter adds that "the more habitual these thoughts become, the more the longing for God draws us on to understand and worship the Father ' in Spirit and in truth', as the Lord said. St. Paul also indicates this when he says: 'I would rather speak five words whose meaning I understand than ten thousand words in a strange tongue' (1 Cor. 14:19); and again: 'I wish that men would pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without anger and quarrelling' (1 Tim 2:8)."

He concludes that singing hymns is a remedy for weakness, but "the experiences of rapture mark the perfection of the intellect."

Here is an example of the charismatic and liturgical working together in the spiritual life of the Eastern church. If you are sensitive to the action of the Holy Spirit, then don't be surprised if He interrupts your regularly scheduled prayer rule. Don't be afraid to fall on your knees, lift holy hands, and even pray in tongues. Here are two eastern saints, Peter of Damaskos and Isaac the Syrian, who testify to this reality.

*Quotations from "The Philokalia, Vol III". Palmer, Sherrard, & Ware, ed. trans. London: Faber & Faber, 1984

03 July 2009

Spontaneous Vocal Worship in the Eastern Rite?

As long-time readers know I spent 12 years in the Eastern Orthodox church and was a tonsured Reader in the Antiochian Arrchdiocese.

I still frequent Eastern Rite Catholic parishes now that I am in communion with St. Peter's successor in Rome. My home parish in the Latin Rite is officially Charismatic and encourages spontaneous vocal worship, and yes, "speaking in tongues", during Mass. There are liturgically appropriate times for such expression, known among the Church Fathers as "jubilatio".

Today I was musing about how such expression would work in the Byzantine Rite.

The Divine Liturgy in the Eastern churches has less flexibility and is treated as a museum treasure that should never be altered. Of course, one finds variations between Russians, Greeks, Antiochians, Serbs, and Romanians but nothing to convene a council about. Then you get the ultra-orthodox who only do the Liturgy in Church Slavonic or Greek and consider English as an inferior language for worship. But I digress...

There are two parts of the Divine Liturgy where I most often feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. So, maybe I'm biased about where He would inspire the faithful to break out in spontanous worship and glossolalia.

The first place is during the Trisagion. Right after the Little Entrance, when the priest comes out with the Gospel and declares "Wisdom, be attentive" the faithful sing "Come let us worship and fall down before Christ..." But where is the worship? Where is the falling down? Sounds like an invitation to DO something.

Next is the Trisagion hymn: Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us (three times). Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen. Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.

HERE is the place where I imagine singing in tongues, shouting praises to God, vocal declarations of worship like I find in my Charismatic parish. What happens after? The priest declares "Dynamis" or "Again with fervor" and the faithful sing one more time "Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us."

Okay, I can hear a collective groan from the Byzantine liturgists, but if you consider this seriously, it appropriately enhances what is happening at that point in the Divine Liturgy. What if people are distracted? Well, the next thing said is "Let us be attentive", so everything is brought back into order. Did the Holy Spirit set it up that way?

At the beginning of the Anaphora, right after the priest tells the faithful to lift up their hearts,"We lift them up unto the Lord" is the reply, then the celebrant commands "Let us give thanks to the Lord", with the response "It is proper and right".

Here we go again! More time to worship in the Spirit. Hearts (and for some, hands) are already lifted, why not praise the Lord with angelic tongues. This naturally leads to the next part of the Liturgy, what the Latins call the Sanctus, where we join the angels in singing "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabbaoth..." Totally appropriate in timing and order.

I don't claim any historic precedent for these musings. We know that spontanous expression did happen in the early Church, but with the establishment of organized Liturgy the freedom faded. I am not proposing that Orthodox and Eastern Catholics modify their Liturgies to accomodate such innovations.

My point is that IF spontaneous worship and speaking in tongues were to happen in a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, this is where I imagine it.

01 July 2009

July Arrives!

July is dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus.

Precious Blood,Ocean of Divine Mercy: Flow upon us.
Precious Blood,Most pure Offering:Procure us every Grace!

Precious Blood,Hope and Refuge of sinners: Atone for us!
Precious Blood,Delight of holy souls:Draw us! Amen.

~St. Catherine of Siena

The Holy Father's Prayer Intention for July are:

Christians in the Middle East -- That Christians in the Middle East may live their faith in complete freedom and become instruments of reconciliation and peace.

Humanity Reconciled -- Through the witness of the faithful, may the Church be the seed and soil of a humanity reconciled to be God's one true family on earth.

Commemorations this Month:

+Blessed Junipero Serra (1)
+Sts. Cosmas & Damian (1-Eastern Rite)
+St. Thomas (3)
+St. Maria Goretti (6)
+St. Benedict (11)
+Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel (13-ER)

+Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (14)
+St. Vladimir of Kiev (15-ER)

+Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (16)
+St. Elias [Prophet Elijah] (20-ER)

+St. Mary Magdalene (22)
+St. Panteleimon (27-ER)
+St. Macrina (19-ER)

+St. Christina (24-ER)

+St. Ignatius of Loyola (31)

24 June 2009

Unless You Become as a child...

A child is dependent, open, simple, trusting, playful, sensitive, emotional, blunt, truthful, and compassionate.

They don't know barriers and rarely doubt.

When they fail, they try again. Failure just means that a skill still needs to be learned.

When they fall, they may cry, but quickly brush themsleves off and keep on playing.

Play is their work--a spontaneous extension of self. It is serious business that recieves full attention.

Ordinary things are gateways to adventure. They turn cardboard boxes into spaceships and race cars.

They desire independence, but aren't afraid to ask for help when needed.

They learn by doing, by experiencing, taking risks and making mistakes.

They embrace the present moment, living in the NOW.

They make friends easily--with others, grasshoppers, stray dogs, and their imagination.

They avoid things that steal their joy.

They eat when hungry and sleep when tired.

They speak as if everything they say will come to pass.

~David Samuel Thomas

18 June 2009

Conformity to the Sacred Heart

Salvation is this deification or conformity to the Sacred Heart. No soul which is deformed, that is, which is unlike to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, shall enter the Kingdom of God. No soul can live eternally which is not in union with God. And no soul which is not conformed to the Sacred Heart can be united with God. Therefore conformity to the Sacred Heart is the vital condition of our salvation.

~Cardinal Henry Edward, The Glories of the Sacred Heart (1876)

09 June 2009

Pentecost Vigil Podcast

Pentecost Vigil at Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan was incredible this year. What a wonderful time of praise, worship, encouragement, and best of all, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Fr. Ed Fride's homily was a rallying call to boldly proclaim the message of Pentecost and stop apologizing for being Charismatic.

Now that the sermon is online, I recommend it to everyone who wants to know about what the Holy Spirit has been doing in the Catholic Church. It's almost an hour long, but is time well spent. You can listen or download the message here...


04 June 2009

It's June

June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The feast of the Sacred Heart is on June 19 with the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the 2oth.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for the month are for:

Foreign Debt Relief -- That international efforts to help poorer nations bring prompt, concrete results to relieve the crushing burden of foreign debt.
The Church in Areas of Violence -- That local Church communities serving areas torn by violence may be supported through the love and help offered by Catholics around the world.

St. Justin the Martyr (1)
St. Ephrem the Syrian (9)
Solemnity of the Most Holy Body & Blood of Christ (14)
Sts. Thomas More & John Fisher (22)
Birth of St. John the Baptist (24)
St. Cyril of Alexandria (27)
Sts. Peter & Paul (29)
First Martyrs of Rome (30)

**Eastern Rite Catholics begin the Apostles Fast on June 8 and continue fasting until the 28th, the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter & Paul.

02 June 2009

Drink of the Spirit

In prayer one drinks the wine that gladdens a man's heart, the intoxicating wine of the Spirit that drowns all memory of the pleasures of the flesh. It drenches anew the arid recesses of the conscience, stimulates digestion of the meats of good works, fills the faculties of the soul with a robust faith, a solid hope, a love that is living and true; it enriches all the actions of our life.

~St. Bernard of Clairvaux, On the Song of Songs 18:5

More from the Holy Father on Pentecost

Without [the Holy Spirit] what would the Church be reduced to? Certainly it would be a great historical movement, a complex and solid social institution, perhaps even a type of humanitarian agency. In truth many regard the Church in this way because they observe it from outside the viewpoint of the faith. Yet in reality, its true nature and its real historic presence has ceaselessly been guided and formed by the Spirit and the Lord.

~Pope Benedict XVI, Pentecost 2009

01 June 2009

B16 - Pentecost 2009

God’s Spirit, wherever it enters, quashes fear; it helps us recognize and feel that we are in the hands of an Omnipotent love; whatever happens His infinite love will never abandon us.

The witness of the martyrs shows us this, the courage of the confessors of faith, the intrepid zeal of the missionaries, the frank nature of the preachers, the example of all of the saints, some even adolescent and children. The very existence of the Church shows us this, which, despite the limits and fault of man, continues its journey on the oceans of history, blown onwards by the breath of God and animated by his purifying fire.

With this faith and joyous hope we repeat today through the intercession of Mary: "Send your Spirit Oh Lord, and renew the face of the earth!".

~Pope Benedict XVI, Pentecost Sermon 2009

31 May 2009

Pentecost Poems & Prayers

In the womb that bore
you are Fire and Spirit,
Fire and Spirit are in the river
where you were baptized,
Fire and Spirit are
in our baptism too,
And in the Bread and Cup
are Fire and Spirit.

~St. Ephrem the Syrian

O God the Holy Ghost
Who art light unto thine elect
Evermore enlighten us.
Thou who art fire of love
Evermore enkindle us.
Thou who art Lord and Giver of Life,
Evermore live in us.
Thou who bestowest sevenfold grace,
Evermore replenish us.
As the wind is thy symbol,
So forward our goings.
As the dove, so launch us heavenwards.
As water, so purify our spirits.
As a cloud, so abate our temptations.
As dew, so revive our languor.
As fire, so purge our dross

~Christina Rossetti

Most Holy Spirit,
the Paraclete, Father of the poor,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Light of hearts, Sanctifier of souls;
behold me prostrate in Thy presence.

I adore Thee with profoundest homage:
I bless Thee a thousand times
and with the Seraphim who stand before Thy throne,
I also say: "Holy, holy, holy."

I firmly believe that Thou art eternal,
consubstantial with the Father and the Divine Son.

I hope in Thy goodness
that Thou wilt deign to save and sanctify my soul.

I love Thee, O Divine Love,
with all my affections
above all the things of this world,
because Thou art Infinite Goodness,
alone worthy of all love.

And since in my ingratitude and blindness
to Thy holy inspirations,
I have so often offended Thee by my sins,
with tears in my eyes
I beg Thy pardon a thousand times,
and am more sorry for having offended Thee,
the Sovereign Good, than for any other evil.

I offer Thee this most cold heart of mine,
and I pray Thee
to pierce it with a ray of Thy light,
and with a spark of Thy fire,
which shall melt the hard ice of my iniquities.

Thou who didst fill the soul
of the most holy Mary with immense graces,
and didst inflame the hearts of the Apostles
with holy zeal, inflame, I beseech Thee,
my heart also with Thy love.

Thou art the Divine Spirit:
give me courage against all evil spirits.

Thou art Fire:
enkindle in me Thy love.
Thou art Light:
enlighten my mind with the knowledge of eternal things.
Thou art the Dove:
give me innocence of life.
Thou art the gentle Breeze:
disperse the storms of my passions.
Thou art the Tongue:
teach me how to bless Thee always.
Thou art the Cloud:
shelter me under the shadow of Thy protection.
And lastly, Thou art the Giver of all heavenly gifts:
animate me, I beseech Thee, with Thy grace;
sanctify me with Thy charity;
enlighten me with Thy wisdom;
adopt me by Thy goodness as Thy son,
and save me in Thy infinite mercy;
so that I may ever bless Thee, praise Thee, and love Thee;
first during this life on earth,
and then in heaven for all eternity. Amen.
Alphonsus Liguori

O living Spirit, O falling of God-dew,
O Grace which dost console us and renew,
O vital light, O breath of angelhood,
O generous ministration of things good,
Creator of the visible, and best
Upholder of the great unmanifest
Power infinitely wise, new boon sublime
Of science and of art, constraining might,
In whom I breathe, live, speak, rejoice, and write, --
Be with us in all places, for all time!

~Manuel Phile (tr. by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

30 May 2009


Pentecost Troparion, Tone 8

Bearing the seal of the divinity, the Spirit was imparted to the apostles in the form of fire; He is manifested through the gift of tongues, for He is the divine power who comes freely from the Father.

Receive the Holy Spirit, breathing the flames of fresh dew as a baptism that takes away sin, O children enlightened by the Church. For today the law comes forth from Zion; it is the grace of the Spirit which comes in tongues of fire.

When the Most High descended and confused tongues, He scattered nations. When He distributed the tongues of fire , He called all to unity. We also, with one voice, glorify the Most Holy Spirit.

While the apostles were preaching the marvels of God, the unbelievers took for drunkenness the power of the Spirit who made known to us the Trinity, the one God of our Fathers!

Let us approach the inviolate mountain without fear of the terrible fire; come, let us climb the mountain of Zion, the city of the living God. In joy, let us now unite ourselves with the choir of the disciples, the bearers of the Spirit: Sing to the Lord, all you works of the Lord, and exalt Him forever.

~from the Pentecost Canon (Eastern Rite)

26 May 2009

Feast of St. Philip Neri

"Let me get through today, and I shall not fear tomorrow."
~St. Philip Neri

St. Philip Neri liked to pray at night. He would go out in the streets, sometimes to churches, but most often into the catacombs.

On the vigil of Pentecost in 1544, St Philip was praying in the Catacombs of St. Sebastian, as he had done many times, and asked God to give him more of the Holy Spirit.

As the night passed, he was suddenly filled with great joy, and had a vision of the Holy Spirit, who appeared to him as a ball of fire. This fire entered into St Philip’s mouth, and descended to his heart, causing it to expand to twice its normal size, and breaking two of his ribs in the process. He said that it filled his whole body with such joy and consolation that he finally had to throw himself on the ground and cry out, "No more, Lord! No more!"

St Philip is often described in art, poetry and prayers as having a "heart of fire". St. John Newman called him a "Vessel of the Holy Spirit".

When asked how to pray his answer was, "Be humble and obedient and the Holy Spirit will teach you."

St. Philip Neri was well known for his sense of humor. To honor him today try to laugh at yourself when something annoying happens, try to make someone else happy by your cheerful disposition.

His order, the Oratorians, have established oratories throughout the world. One North American oratory is in Toronto.

23 May 2009

Ascension Sunday

Christ has ascended! From earth to heaven!

The Lord ascended into heaven to send the Comforter into this world. The heavens prepared His throne and clouds were His ladder; the angels marvelled at the sight of a human being more exalted than themselves. Today the Father receives again in His bosom the One who was in Him from all eternity, and the Holy Spirit gives command to all the angels: Lift up your lintels, O you gates! O you nations of the earth, clap your hands, for Christ ascends to the place where He had been from all eternity.

~Stichera from Ascension Vespers, Tone 6

By going up again into heaven from which you had descended, you did not leave us orphans, O Lord. Show to all Your people the works of Your power, that Your Spirit may come down upon us and bring peace to the world, O Lord and lover of us all.

~Litija, Tone 1

14 May 2009

Still Breathing

Hello everybody, it's your humble blogger here. Half the month is passed and no updates. Sorry about that. I just moved into a new apartment in Ypsilanti, Michigan and I don't have an internet connection. I will add new posts soon since Ascension and Pentecost are coming up. I have not abandoned you loyal readers.

Stay tuned...


01 May 2009

May 2009

May is Mary's Month

Spend some time this month getting to know Jesus' Mom. She is our Mother too: Mother of the Church. There are two decent books written by Evangelicals about Mary that I reviewed last year.

On May 13th she is celebrated as Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.

Hopefully you can find a local parish that is having a May Crowning. The ceremony traditionally takes place with young girls dressed in dresses carrying flowers (traditionally hawthorn) to adorn the statue. One of the girls (often the youngest) carries a crown of flowers or an actual golden crown on a cushion for placement by the May Queen (often the oldest girl) on the statue. The flowers are replaced throughout the month to keep them fresh.

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today!
Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,

Queen of the Angels and Queen of the May.

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions

Lay Vocation Promoters: That the laity and Christian communities may embrace their responsibility for promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

A Missionary Church: In response to the Lord for the gift of faith, may the younger Catholic communities generously participate in the universal mission of the Church to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Prophet Jeremiah (May 1 Byzantine)
Athanasius the Great (May 2)
Martyrs of England & Wales (May 4)
St. John the Evangelist (May 8 Byzantine)
Sts. Cyril & Methodius (May 11 Byzantine)
St. Isidore the Farmer (May 14)
Ascension of Our Lord (May 21)
Venerable Bede (May 25)
St. Philip Neri (May 26)
Pentecost (May 31)

26 April 2009

Myrrh-Bearing Women

On the second Sunday after Pascha (Easter), Eastern Catholics remember the women who brought spices to the tomb of Jesus. In some countries Mother's Day is celebrated today.

Why do you hasten, O myrrh-bearers? Why are you carrying myrrh to the living God? Christ is risen as he said. Wipe away your tears and from now on change your tears into joy.

Coming near to your tomb, O Savior, the myrrh-bearers hesitated, saying to each other: Who will roll the stone away from the tomb for us? They looked and saw that it had been rolled away. Startled by the sight of the radiant angel, they were seized with fear and wanted to flee, but the young man cried out to them: Do not be afraid! The One whom you seek is risen; come and see the place where the body of Jesus lay. Hasten to his disciples and proclaim to them: the Savior is risen from the tomb.

(Matins Canon, Ode 6)

22 April 2009

The Grace of Poor Health

This is an English translation
that I did of a French holy card.

The original can be seen at the
"Holy Cards for Your Inspiration" blog.

19 April 2009

Divine Mercy Sunday

The Feast of Mercy is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement. It is a day of reconciliation and intercession.

The Gospel reading shows Jesus appearing in the upper room and giving the disciples the authority to forgive sins [John 20:19-31]. The Epistle reading mentions the Blood and Water which poured forth from the heart of Jesus [1 John 5:1-6]. The Psalm reading declares, "His mercy endures forever" [Psalm 118].

"I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the Fount of My Mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and recieve Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet." ~Jesus to St. Faustina (Diary 699)

**Today is Pascha (Easter) for the Eastern Orthodox. Christ is Risen! Visit Last week's post for my Paschal greeting.

15 April 2009

Maronite Patriarchate - Pascha 2009

The resurrection of Christ was the greatest proof he gave about his divinity. Human beings die but do not return to this life. But Christ died and returned alive but in body not made of earth. His resurrection is a pledge of our rising up from death. Thus , the Apostle Paul says : “If , then , we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Rom. 6:8).

In order to be able to live with Christ after death, we must live with him on earth. This means that we have to fill ourselves with his teachings, implement them and apply them in our daily life throughout all its stages. The Christian cannot be Christian in the Church and non-Christian at work, allowing to himself what is refused by right, justice and the conscience enlightened by faith.

The Christian who is willing to live his Christian life as wanted by Christ, cannot permit for himself the forbidden , violate the sacred and commit reprehensible actions as if he had two ways of action : one with God and the other with people. There must be a harmony between the two ways of living. Moreover, he has to lead one life with his ownself , with people and with God . Being true to oneself is a sine-qua-non condition, for man, to live in an atmosphere of truth with people. He who is not true with his ownself , how can he be true with people ?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says : “the Christian must live in truth as God does”. The total truth of God was revealed in Jesus Christ. He is full of the grace and truth (Jn. 12:8). He who believes in him does not stay in darkness. The disciple of Christ keeps his word so that he knows the truth which sets him free and sanctifies (Jn. 8:31-32).

Following Jesus means that the faithful lives out of the spirit of truth (Jn. 14:17) sent by the Father in his name (Jn 14:26) and who leads to all truth (Jn.16:13). Jesus taught his disciples the love of an unconditional truth. “Let your “Yes” mean “Yes”, and your “No” mean “No” (Mt. 5:37).

On the occasion of Easter, we ask God for many returns full of blessing, good, tranquility and peace of mind.

14 April 2009

Ukrainian Catholic Hierarchs - Pascha 2009


"Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus…" Luke 24:13

The highlight of Easter morning for each of us is undoubtedly the moment we first hear the triumphant Paschal troparion ringing out at the beginning of the Matins of the Resurrection: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs giving life!" When we repeat these joyful words, as we will many times on Easter Sunday and for the next forty days, all our earthly cares seem to melt away, things that trouble us fade into the background and become somehow less burdensome. A heavy weight – the weight of sin and eternal death – has been lifted from our shoulders with the glorious Resurrection of Christ.

These feelings of joy were not shared by at least two of Jesus’ disciples, however. In one of the most memorable and evocative scenes from the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection, we see Cleopas and his nameless companion, hurrying away from Jerusalem as the sun sets on that momentous day.

They are distressed, disappointed and fearful. As they walk they speak in hushed and agitated tones to one another about what has just taken place before their eyes: the seizure, trial, scourging and death by crucifixion of their leader upon whom they had pinned all their aspirations of national liberation, Jesus of Nazareth. Their hopes are dashed; they are convinced that everything is finished. And then, it seems out of nowhere a stranger joins them on the road and begins to converse with them…

We are all familiar with this marvelous scene, how Jesus gradually lifts the veil from the eyes of Cleopas and his companion so that they are able to recognize him, how he transforms their fear and doubt into rekindled hope and a zealous faith in the reality of his Resurrection. How does he do this; how does he convince them? Through his word and through the breaking of the bread.

As he walks with them Jesus does not perform a miracle that would instantaneously convince Cleopas and his companion of his identity. Instead, he teaches them. He speaks to them from Holy Scripture and allows everything that Moses and the prophets said about the coming of the Messiah to gradually reveal to them who he really is. And later, at table at the inn in Emmaus, when Jesus takes the bread, invokes a blessing, breaks it and shares it with them, the final obstacle is removed from their mind, the veil is completely lifted from their eyes. The light floods in and they recognize him. It is the Lord! And in this jubilant realization they drop everything and race back to Jerusalem, even now in the dead of night, to share with the others, this astonishing appearance of the resurrected Jesus.

It is no accident that the name of Cleopas’ companion on the road to Emmaus is never revealed. He is nameless because he is us. And the road that links Jerusalem to Emmaus and back again is a symbol of the road along which each of us is a traveler. In fact all humanity moves along this path – the path of life – an immense caravan of people who are sometimes happy and content, but often distrustful and disillusioned, sometimes sure and steady, but often uncertain and disoriented, but who are always searching or waiting.

We, like Cleopas’ companion along the road, are naïve, filled with fickle hopes and worldly aspirations. We are blind to God’s Providence and have been brought low by the circumstances of life and our own sinfulness and pride. Who can restore our equilibrium? Who can save us?

Who indeed, but the Resurrected Lord, who comes to us of his own free will. It is he who joins us as we journey every day along our road of life. It is he who teaches and comforts us. It is he who shares a meal with us, as he did with Cleopas and his companion. In other words he enlightens us through Holy Scripture and he nourishes us with his Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. And our eyes are opened and our hearts are warmed and we gain strength for the journey.

Our prayer for you on this glorious Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is that our ears may always be attuned to hear the voice of the Lord as he speaks to us in many ways but especially through the inspired writings of Holy Scripture. May also our eyes be opened to truly recognize our Lord in the breaking of the bread so that we may worthily receive him in the Holy Eucharist. And, along with Cleopas and his companion, may our hearts also ‘burn within us’ with the love of God and neighbor.

God grant to you and to your loved ones, and to our brothers and sisters in our beloved Ukraine and scattered throughout the world, good health, joy, peace and contentment. A blessed Pascha!

~Ukrainian Catholic Hierarchs in the U.S.A.

Metropolitan-Archbishop of Philadelphia

Eparch of St. Josaphat in Parma

Eparch of St. Nicholas in Chicago

Eparch of Stamford

Auxiliary Bishop to the Metropolitan

13 April 2009

Patriarch Gregorios III - Paschal Message 2009

No Cross
without Resurrection:
no Resurrection
without Cross

For every Cross
a Resurrection:
for every Resurrection
a Cross

The fact of linking resurrection to cross and cross to resurrection, cross-resurrection and resurrection preceded by cross, is not simply a ritual gesture and not an ingenious liturgical genre, but rather the highest expression of life’s reality and the lonJustify Fullgings of mankind.

We say to each and every human being, find in every cross the seeds of the beginning of the resurrection, as you find in every shadow of a very dark night, the first glimmerings of dawn. In the depths of your suffering, trust that the resurrection is for you, your suffering and cross.

So it becomes evident again that liturgical prayers and services are not marginal to the lives of the faithful, but go to the very depths of their lives. The liturgy and liturgical prayers, through their meanings, teachings, spirituality and symbols, express our reality and illuminate our way. The saying is still true, “Whosoever prays is saved:” (cf. Romans 10:13) so, whosoever does not pray is not saved.

That deep relationship between cross and resurrection in the Liturgy is the expression of their relationship, or spiritual correlation, in our life and evidence that one cannot subsist without the other. No cross without resurrection to follow the cross and save us from the cross: no resurrection without cross in the reality of our life. Resurrection takes us down from the cross.
Just as cross and resurrection are intimately linked in Jesus and in the life of Paul and the other saints, so it is too with our reality, as Saint Paul testifies, saying, “…If Christ be not raised (after his passion and cross) your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” (I Corinthians 15:17)

Besides, refusing to link cross to resurrection and resurrection to cross is the cause of many dangers, including despair, suicide, atheism, darkness, sin and crimes.

Linking cross to resurrection and resurrection to cross goes to the heart of our Christian faith and doctrine and is essential in the lives of the faithful and in Christian philosophy. Both of them sum up the meaning of the incarnation and redemption, as they do the relationship between man and God. “For he created us, yet did not cease to do everything to raise us up to heaven..” (that is, to bring us to resurrection life.) (Prayer of the anaphora from the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom)
Besides, this relationship sums up the economy of salvation. It is the best response to our human condition and the longings of our soul for immortality, for, on the one hand, we live the reality of the cross, but we hope to have done with it and, on the other hand, we aspire to immortality and resurrection. That is the meaning of being taken down from the cross and resurrection; that is the experience of Paul on the road to Damascus; that is the journey of the saints and martyrs. It is Jesus’ mission to save us from the cross and grant us the gift of resurrection.

Jesus has abased himself for us, to death, death on the cross. He came down to our human reality and rose again to fulfil our longings for resurrection. As we read in the Kneeling Prayers on the Monday of Pentecost, Jesus gives life “with the hope of resurrection to those who were smitten with the sting of death,” and announces to us the great “hopes of resurrection and of life immortal.” He is the “Chieftain of our resurrection,” who has “become a partaker, on equal terms, of our flesh and blood, because of (his) exceeding great condescension.” Of his own will, he “took upon (himself) our passions,” and “led us to apatheia,” (or passionlessness: that is, to resurrection.) (Kneeling Prayers)

That is also what appears very clearly and splendidly in the prayer of consecration of light on the morning of Great and Holy Saturday (the Saturday of Light) where we find a very beautiful description of the whole economy of salvation and the linkage between sin, incarnation, cross, death, resurrection and return to paradise. Here is an extract from this prayer, to be found in the Triodion: “Thou, Saviour, didst set the law before the first man, while he was in the state of light, to guide him towards the new world and give him the desire to grow towards eternal life, but by transgressing thy commandment, he fell from that great glory which was his. And he disgraced himself by his fall and became exiled from thee, thou glorious Light. But thou, O Lord, Lover of mankind, by thy death and the abundance of thy goodness and limitless compassion, hast condescended to the lowliness of us abandoned sinners, so as to restore us to that glory and first light whence we fell. And thou didst will to dwell in the tomb for the sake of us, who transgressed thy divine commandments. Thou didst descend to Hades and to the bowels of the earth and hast destroyed the everlasting doors and saved those who were in the darkness of death and raised them. Thou hast illumined the human race by thy resurrection on the third day and hast granted the world new life, illumining the whole world more brightly than the sun and hast restored our nature, by thy compassion, to its first rank and to the glorious light, whence we were exiled. As thou hast raised us up and restored us to life from the abyss of sin and hast delivered us from the shadows of our crimes, make us worthy, by thy rich compassion, to light our own lamps from the light of this day, symbol of thy glorious, radiant resurrection and grant to thy holy catholic and apostolic Church that perfect light.”

The meaning of that prayer is that Jesus condescended to our condition (reality of the cross). He was crucified so as to participate in our condition and he rose up to the level of our aspirations and hopes for immortality. In other words, man wished to become God and was disappointed: so “God became man that man might become god.”

~His Beatitude Gregorios III, Melkite Patriarch of Antioch and of All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

12 April 2009

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Al'Masiah qam! Haqqan qam! (Arabic)
Krist je uskrsnuo! zaista je uskrsnuo! (Croatian)
Vstal z mrtvŷch Kristus! V pravdê vstal z mrtvŷch! (Czech)
Le Christ est ressuscité! En vérité, il est ressuscité! (French)
Christus ist auferstanden! Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden! (German)
Krisztus feltàmadott! Valóban feltàmadott! (Hungarian)
Tá Criost éirithe ; go deimhin tá sé éirithe. (Gaelic)
Cristo è risuscitato! In verità è risuscitato! (Italian)
Harisutosu hukkatsu! Jitsu ni hukkatsu! (Japanese)
yinqa' HrIyStoS! yinqa'bej! (Klingon)
Jidu fuhuo liao! Zhende, ta fuhuo liao! (Mandarin)
Christ daaztsáádéé' náádiidzáá! 'ááníí, daaztsáádéé' náádidzáá! (Navaho)
Chrystus zmartwychwstal! Prawdziwie zmartwychwstal! (Polish)
Christo ha resucitado! En verdad ha resucitado! (Spanish)
Kristus är uppstånden! Ja han är sannerligen uppstånden! (Swedish)
Hristos vosskress! Vo iss-tinou vosskress! (Ukrainian)
Atgyfododd Crist! Atgyfododd yn wir! (Welsh)
Ukristu uvukile! Yebo uvukile! (Zulu)

Surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia! Et apparuit Simoni, alleluia! (Latin)

11 April 2009

Sabbatum Sanctum

Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.