28 March 2010

Triumphant Entry

"The (willow) branch beats you, not I beat you, Pascha is one week from today!"

This is how Ukrainians and other Slavs greet each other after the Divine Liturgy on Palm Sunday. They do this while tapping each other with blessed willow branches that represent the branches used to welcome our Lord during His entrance into Jerusalem the week before his Passion.

Palm Sunday Troparion
(Tone 1) O Christ God, when You raised Lazarus from the dead, before the time of your passion, you confirmed the future resurrection of all. We too, like the children of old, carry before You the symbols of your triumph and victory and cry out to You, the Conqueror of Death: "Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"

26 March 2010

Easter Novena Begins

Here we are nine days before Pascha! That means it's time to start your Novena for the Resurrection in preparation.

Here's a short novena prayer:
O Divine Saviour, who rose from the dead on that first glorious Easter morn, grant that I may rise from my sins and so live as to see You, glorious and immortal, in heaven. Lord, I am nothing, but, although nothing, I adore You.
(Mention request then conclude with 3 Aves, Our Father, and Gloria Patri)

This Resurrectional Stichera
from the Eastern Catholic & Orthodox tradition could also be used:

Your resurrection, 0 Christ our Savior, is praised with songs by the Angels in heaven, make us worthy to praise You also here on earth and to glorify You with a pure heart. (Tone 6)

14 March 2010

Fourth Sunday in Lent

"Ascend, ascend, Brethren."

Today in the Eastern Catholic tradition we are reminded of the "Soul-saving and Heavenward Ladder" described by St. John Climacus in the seventh century.

The ladder reminds us that union with God -- theosis, or sanctification -- is a process. No one can climb the ladder in one stride, St. John reminds us, the virtues lead from one to the other. Since the work was originally written for monastics it should be read carefully under spiritual direction.

Meanwhile, over in Rome....

Today's Collect:

Father of peace, we are joyful in your Word, your Son Jesus Christ, who reconciles us to you. Let us hasten to our Easter with the eagerness of faith and love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Many Roman priests wear rose vestments today. The fourth Sunday of Lent is traditionally called "Laetare Sunday", a day of hope and rejoicing that Easter is almost here.

06 March 2010

Third Sunday of Lent

We're halfway to Pascha (Easter)!

For Byzantine Catholics today is dedicated to the "Adoration of the Holy Cross". The Cross is the center of our faith, so here it is at the center of our Lenten journey.

This is a good time to review your spiritual progress (or lack of it). Have you been fasting, praying, and giving to the poor? Have you been controlling the passions?

Have you even observed Lent? It's not too late to start. Lay down your life at the foot of the Holy Cross. The season of sacrifice continues.

"Hail! life-giving Cross, the fair Paradise of the Church, Tree of incorruption that brings us the enjoyment of eternal glory: through you the hosts of demons have been driven back; and the hierarchies of angels rejoice with one accord, as the congregations of the faithful keep the feast. You are an invincible weapon, an unbroken stronghold; your are the victory of kings and the glory of priests. Grant us now to draw near to the Passion of Christ and to His Resurrection." ~From Great Vespers

The following Troparion and Kontakion are sung in the Byzantine Catholic Church today:

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritence. Grant victory to Your Church over evil, and protect Your people by Your cross.

No longer does the flaming sword guard the gates of Eden, for the tree of the Cross has come to quench it wondrously. The sting of death and the victory of Hades have been driven out.