Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Great Canon

The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is one of the most moving canons in the Byzantine Rite.  It is often called the Canon of Repentance because it is only sung during the Great Lent.  On the first four days, a part of it is recited during Great Compline.  It also is recited in its entirety during Orthos on the Wednesday (or Thursday) of the fifth week of the Great Lent.

As the Canon progresses, the faithful are shown examples of both virtuous and wicked people in the Bible.  The Canon highlights the beauty of a life of a holiness while also showing us the dark road of damnation.  When I was at Church tonight, I was struck by two of the following lines,

"Deliberately have I imitated blood thirsty Cain, O Lord, enlivening my flesh while murdering my soul by striking it with my evil deeds." 
"Prepare yourself, my soul! Be courageous like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that acquiring diligence and wisdom you too may meet your God. Through contemplation may you reach the awesome depths in which He dwells and in so doing become a good steward of the Lord. 
Jacob and his sons, the patriarchs, established for you, O my soul, an example in the ladder of active ascent. By his way of Life Jacob took the first step, fathering twelve sons and offering them as further rungs, which step-by-step ascend to God."

When the Priest sung the line about Cain, I was immediately confronted with the reality that I am capable of great evil just like he was.  The Church, through this Canon, warns me to stay away from the path of Cain. To stay away from the pain of evil.  To stay away from the path that leads to the hellfire.

However, when the Priest sung the lines regarding Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons, I was comforted knowing that there was a path that led to Paradise.  The Church was telling me that these are the men that I should take as holy guides.  They saved their souls in the midst of worldly chaos.

I could go on and on with examples but I will simply put the link below to the part of the Canon that was sung today.  May Our Savior have mercy on us and may the Theotokos intercede on our behalf.


Monday, February 27, 2017

The Great Lent Begins

As I noted last week, the Great Lent had begun for those who follow the Coptic Rite on the 20th of February.  For adherents of the Byzantine Rite, it starts today and for those who follow the Roman Rite, it begins on Ash Wednesday which is only two days away.

No matter what tradition we follow, we have to remind ourselves of how much of a blessing it is to enter this solemn period.  We should act is if this was our very last Lent.  Let us purify our hearts and enter into the mystery of our salvation.


This Lent, I will attempt to connect the three traditions that I have found solace in (Byzantine, Coptic, and Roman) and will make posts alternating between the three liturgical traditions.  I will start tomorrow on a post about the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete (Byzantine) and then, God Willing, continue down the line.

Let us pray for another.

Mercy of Christ

"Regard yourself as more vile and miserable in the sight of God because of your faults than any sinner whatever, no matter what his sins. . . and consider closely that any grace or inclination to good or desire of virtue you may have, is not of yourself but of the sole mercy of Christ."

-St. Vincent Ferrer 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Sunday of the Expulsion of Adam from Paradise (Cheesefare Sunday, Forgiveness Sunday)

"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

-St. Matthew 6:14-21


"Then after Vespers – after hearing the announcement of Lent in the Great Prokeimenon: "Turn not away Thy face from Thy child for I am afflicted! Hear me speedily! Draw near unto my soul and deliver it!", after making our entrance into Lenten worship, with its special memories, with the prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian, with its prostrations – we ask forgiveness from each other, we perform the rite of forgiveness and reconciliation. And as we approach each other with words of reconciliation, the choir intones the Paschal hymns, filling the church with the anticipation of Paschal joy.

What is the meaning of this rite? Why is it that the Church wants us to begin Lenten season with forgiveness and reconciliation? These questions are in order because for too many people Lent means primarily, and almost exclusively, a change of diet, the compliance with ecclesiastical regulations concerning fasting. They understand fasting as an end in itself, as a "good deed" required by God and carrying in itself its merit and its reward. But, the Church spares no effort in revealing to us that fasting is but a means, one among many, towards a higher goal: the spiritual renewal of man, his return to God, true repentance and, therefore, true reconciliation. The Church spares no effort in warning us against a hypocritical and pharisaic fasting, against the reduction of religion to mere external obligations. As a Lenten hymn says:

In vain do you rejoice in no eating, O soul!
For you abstain from food,
But from passions you are not purified.
If you persevere in sin, you will perform a useless fast."
-Fr. Alexander Schmemann

Friday, February 24, 2017

Test Cricket Strikes Again!

Last night, I settled in comfortably to watch day two of the first test between India and Australia.  For fans of cricket, this tour has been highly anticipated and so far it has been amazing.

Australia were all out on 260 in their first innings and India were 94/3 in 32.1 overs towards the middle of day two.  Then, it happened.  India were all out on 105 in just 40.1 overs.

In eight overs, the tide of this match completely changed.  The pressure, the incredible turn on the subcontinent wicket and excellent bowling completely dominated in the middle part of the Indian lineup.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Great Lent Fraction

The Great Fast

For those who celebrate the Coptic Rite, the Great Fast begins today.  I have attached the Gospel below for the Monday of the First Week of the Great Fast.

"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! 
"Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 
"Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 
"And anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but to him who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven. 
"Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

-Saint Luke 12:4-12

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Wisdom of St. Paul

"Brethren, you gladly suffer the foolish: whereas yourselves are wise. For you suffer if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take from you, if a man be lifted up, if a man strike you on the face. I speak according to dishonor, as if we had been weak in this part. Wherein if any man dare (I speak foolishly), I dare also. They are Hebrews, so am I. They are Israelites, so am I. They are the seed of Abraham, so am I. They are the ministers of Christ (I speak as one less wise), I am more: in many more labors, in prisons more frequently, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.

Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once I was stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea: in journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren: in labor and painfulness, in much watching, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness; besides those things which are without, my daily instance, the solicitude for all the Churches.

Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I am not on fire? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my infirmity. The God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is blessed for ever, knoweth that I lie not. At Damascus the governor of the nation under Aretas the king, guarded the city of the Damascenes, to apprehend me: and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands. If I must glory (it is not expedient indeed) but I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, whether in the body I know not, or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth, such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth: that he was caught up unto paradise, and heard secret words which it is not granted to man to utter.

For such a one I will glory: but for myself I will glory nothing but in my infirmities. For, though I should have a mind to glory, I shall not be foolish: for I will say the truth: but I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or anything he heareth from me. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing, thrice I besought the Lord that it might depart from me. And He said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee: for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

-Epistle for Sexagesima Sunday 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Such Glory and Such Magnificence

 "When we stood in the temple we hardly knew whether we were in heaven or on earth. For in truth it seems impossible to behold such glory and such magnificence on earth. We could not possibly relate to you what we saw in that place. But one thing we know, there God dwells among men, and all the worship of other countries is to us, forevermore, as nothing. We cannot forget that beauty which we saw. Whoever has enjoyed so sweet a sight will never be satisfied with anything else; nor will we consent to remain any longer in paganism as we are now.”

-The Russian Emissaries on their experience at the Hagia Sophia.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Way

"The impediment to action advances action.  What stands in the way becomes the way."

-Marcus Aurelius

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thank you, Captain

"If just a few words were used to describe Alastair Cook in his role as England's captain, "honesty", "integrity" and "resolve" might lead the way. In this age of unflagging self-promotion, he has remained private and discreet, whispering not a word of his own journey or, more particularly, of the hurdles that have made it more difficult and emotionally draining than anyone on the outside could possibly imagine.
On a personal level, he keeps clear of social media, but the general noise is unavoidable and he has frequently been aghast at the vitriol pumped his way. During the early part of the summer of 2014, when his team was losing matches it should not have, the freewheeling and generally irresponsible criticism all but finished him off. Somehow he found the strength to carry on, displaying perhaps the most impressive of his abilities - where he rolls up his sleeves and gets on with the job."

-Mark Nicholas on Alastair Cook's legacy as England Captain

Cook might not have been the most successful skipper, however with him, you always felt like the club had a strong stoic leader who would perform his duties even in the face of great adversity.   

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Heart

"Notice the way in which Zacchaeus confessed his sin. He did not say: “Lord, I am a sinful man!”, or “Avarice is my sickness!” No; but, showing the fruits of repentance, he thus confessed his sin and his sickness: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.” is not this a clear confession that riches are his passion? “And if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” Is not this a clear confession that his riches were acquired in a sinful manner? He did not, before this, say to the Lord: “I am a sinner, and I repent.” He confessed this silently to the Lord in his heart, and the Lord silently received his confession and repentance.
It is of more importance to the Lord that a man acknowledge and confess his sickness and cry for help in his heart than with this tongue, for the tongue is capable of deception, but the heart is not."
-St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Monday, February 6, 2017

Our Faith

Friends, with the sufferings we have to go through in this life, let us deal with them with a calm mind and by telling ourselves all things will pass.  However, may we never fall into doubt regarding the Truth of our Catholic Faith.  In my mind, once we lose the Faith, we lose everything.  If this tragic situation occurs, not only are we suffering in the life but we have lost our chance to redeem this suffering and we will spend the next in the hellfire.

Please friends, hold on to this venerable Faith of ours for everything else is trivial in comparison.

May all the Holy Martyrs of our Faith pray for us.

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Home of Cricket

A beautiful short video on my favorite cricket ground, Lord's.  There are many wonderful honors in the world of sport but I cannot think of anything more supreme than playing test cricket at Lord's for England.

Can you think of all the men who are part of the mystic of this ground?  Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe, Brian Lara, Sachin, Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting, Andrew Strauss...

Thursday, February 2, 2017


There are several beautiful things in our Catholic Faith.  The Liturgy, the Mysteries (Sacraments), the Saints, devotions, etc..

What I find to be especially moving is a Priest sitting in a Confessional listening to the confessions of sinners.  The sinner, recognizing his own dirtiness, recognizing that he is the chief of sinners, comes humbly to the Priest because he is the only one can absolve sins.  

Pray for our Priests.  Pray for the Catholic faithful.  Pray for those who go to Confession regularly.  Pray for those who have not gone for some while but are currently battling the devil who is trying to keep them away from the Sacrament.

Happy Candlemas.

A note on Candlemas.  I had the special grace to assist at the Mass which was celebrated in the traditional Norbertine Rite.  I was able to see a procession where the Sacred Ministers wore violet and the Deacon and the Subdeacon wore folded chasubles!  I never thought I would enter a Church and see folded chasubles but there they were!  May God be praised in our quest to restore Tradition! 

Medieval Chant - Salve Regina

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Interior Battles

“All the trials we endure cannot be compared to these interior battles.” 

-St. Teresa of Avila