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.

10 April 2009

Lamentation at the Tomb

Christ our Paschal Lamb has been sacrificed! (1 Corinthians 5:7b)

Holy and Great Friday

I saw how the Lord suffered as He was being scourged. Oh, such an inconceivable agony! How terribly Jesus suffered during the scourging! O poor sinners, on the day of judgement how will you face the Jesus whom you are now torturing so cruelly: His blood flowed to the ground, and in some places His flesh started to fall off. I saw a few bare bones on His back. The meek Jesus moaned softly and sighed.

~St. Faustina Kowalska, Diary 188

09 April 2009

Listen to the Heartbeat

"One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus." (John 13:23)

We must not hurry past this scene in search of deeper revelation, or we will miss a magnificent insight. John lays his head on the heart of God, on the breast of the Man whom the council of Nicea defined as "being co-equal and consubstantial to the Father... God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God."

This passage should not be reduced to a historical memory. It can become a personal encounter, radically affecting our understanding of who God is and what our relationship with Jesus is meant to be. God allows a young Jew, reclining in the rags of his twenty-odd years, to listen to His heartbeat!

~Brennan Manning "Abba's Child"

08 April 2009

Anointing of the Sick

In the Eastern Rite an anointing service takes place on Holy Wednesday evening. During the service the following hymns about healing are sung:

Through the prayers of Your holy Apostles,
You have shown us Your favor, O Lord,
for You are easily swayed and love all people
in this holy anointing for the healing
of the wounds and illnesses of all mankind.
Have mercy now upon those who approach
in faith the anointing with this holy oil.
Sanctify them and show them your mercy,
for you are full of compassion.
Purge from them every illness
of soul and body, and grant them
Your incorruptible blessing, O Lord
(Troparia, Tone 4)

With eyes that are spiritually blind
I come to You, O Christ;
and, like the man who was blind since birth,
I cry out to You with repentance:
You are a shining light to those in darkness.
(Kontakion, Tone 4)

O Lord, with Your divine authority,
as You once raised the paralytic,
now raise my soul, paralyzed dreadfully
with all kinds of sin and disgraceful deeds,
that, being saved, I may cry out to You:
Glory to Your power, O merciful Christ.
(Kontakion, Tone 3)

O faithful healers who worked
for the community without pay,
you were fountains of healing,
for you were deemed worthy
of mighty gifts from our Savior,
the everlasting fountain.
As to the zealous workers,
the Lord said to you:
Look, I have given you power
over unclean spirits,
to cast them out and to heal
every sickness and disease.
You were as zealous as the apostles.
As you lifted uprightly
according to the commandments,
you received freely and gave freely,
and healed the ills of soul and body.
(Troparion, Tone 4)

07 April 2009

The Hymn of Kassiana

O Lord, the woman who
had fallen into many sins,
sensing Your Divinity,
takes upon herself
the duty of a myrrh-bearer.
With lamentations
she brings you myrrh
in anticipation of
your entombment.
"Woe to me!" she cries,
"for me night has become
a frenzy of licentiousness,
a dark and moonless love of sin.
Receive the fountain of my tears,
O You who gathers into clouds
the waters of the sea.
Incline unto me,
unto the sighings of my heart,
O You who bowed the heavens
by your ineffable condescension.
I will wash your immaculate feet
with kisses and dry them again
with the tresses of my hair;
those very feet at whose sound
Eve hid herself from in fear when
she heard You walking in Paradise
in the twilight of the day.
As for the multitude of my sins
and the depths of Your judgments,
who can search them out,
O Savior of souls, my Savior?
Do not disdain me Your handmaiden,
O You who are boundless in mercy."

~Bridegroom Matins (Byzantine 9th c.)

06 April 2009

Fig Monday

O faithful let us fear the
punishment of the fig tree
which was dried up for
not having borne any fruit;
let us offer worthy fruits of
repentance to Christ,
who grants us His great mercy.

Bridegroom Matins, Tone 8
Metropolitan Cantor's Institute

05 April 2009

Holy Week Companion

One way to make Holy Week more meaningful is to spend it with a Biblical character. Follow them through the days. Take them with you to church.

The Blessed Virgin Mary: What joy she must have felt as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. A proud Jewish mother thinking "That's my boy!" Then, sorrow as she meets Him on the Via Dolorosa covered in blood and carrying a cross.

St. Peter: "I will not forsake you." Cutting off a servant's ear while defending the lord. Then denying Christ and going into hiding.

St. John: Leaning on Jesus' breast at the Last Supper. Standing at the foot of the Cross.

The Centurion: Mocking Jesus, whipping Him, guarding Him at the Cross. "Surely this man was the Son of God!"

Who will be your traveling partner?