Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Our Lady of China and the Underground Church in China

A very good sermon on the abject situation of our brothers and sisters in China.   Please pray a Hail Mary for the priest.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Sunday of St. John Climacus

"How should we battle against vainglory? John Climacus teaches us how we should battle against it and against all other passions as well. He says: One needs to descend into the radiant depths of humble-mindedness. Now vainglory pushes me to want to please people. But out of humility I will tell myself: there is nothing in me that is pleasing to people; I cannot please them in any way. And when I will not please them, I will not be offended, because I will recognize that there is nothing pleasing in me.

"Once a visitor approached a holy man who was in holy orders and said to him: “You know, I’ve heard that you aren’t smart, that you’re simply stupid. This rather confuses me. I don’t know whether I should listen to you or not, since you’re stupid!” This was said in even harsher terms. And this holy man, with extraordinary meekness and the sincerest humility, said to him: “That’s just what I am!” He thought to himself: “There are many smart people and I, of course, cannot stand alongside them.”

"Meekness! John Climacus writes that meekness should always counteract any passion, and vainglory above all. One should accept insults with great meekness, accept lack of praise with great meekness, and live with great meekness – but with meekness that fills the depths of one’s soul. This is what “descending into the radiant depths of humble-mindedness” means. After all, God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). It is only in this way that we can receive that grace-filled power with which we can uncover our conformity with God Himself, the image of God, the true humanity in the human person! Only in this way!"

-Uncovering Our True Humanity: On the Sunday of St. John Climacus - Archpriest Shpiller 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Divine Office During Lent

Much can be said about the Divine Office.  It is part of the Church's public prayer and because of that, it is placed on an elevated platform compared to our private devotions.  During the season of Lent, the Office has several unique facets that I wish to get into at the current moment.

Lauds During Lent:

Lauds is one my favorite hours in the Office.  Whether I anticipate it the night before or pray it half awake in the morning, it is a wonderful way to praise God for all His works. 

1.) The first Psalm is Psalm 50.  This great Penitential Psalm of David strikes into the heart of repentance.  It mirrors all of our dealings with sin.  We all have committed great acts of evil against God and man and all we can do is beg for God's forgiveness.  Without His mercy, all of our sacrifices and burnt offerings would have no value.

2.) The last three Psalms are the Laudate Psalms (148-149-150).  Even though Lent is a sorrowful time, I am glad that these Psalms have a place in the Psalter because it reminds us that God is to be glorified and praised at all times.  Yes, we are currently in a time of bondage, however, Christ will be Risen soon on Pascha and we must never forget this fact during our Lenten pilgrimage.

3.) The Chapter Verse is:
"Clama, ne cesses, quasi tuba exalta vocem tuam, et annuntia pópulo meo scélera eórum, et dómui Iacob peccáta eórum." 

"Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their wicked doings, and the house of Jacob their sins."

Once again, it reminds us of the utter destitution that we are in.   We are sinners and must never forget that.  In a time when many believe that there is a no sin,  this a stark warning to tell us the opposite.

4.) Towards the end we get to the Weekday Intercessions which are beautiful prayers asking God for His mercy, prayers for our leaders, our benefactors, those who have died and those who are afflicted and imprisoned. 

5.) Psalm 129.   This is quite possibly my favorite thing about the pre-1911 set up.  Psalm 129, another wonderful Penitential Psalm is added towards the end.

The Little Hours During Lent:

The Little Hours are essentially the same (Psalm 118).  The main difference is that a smart part of the Weekday Intercessions are added towards the end.

Kýrie, eléison. Christe, eléison. Kýrie, eléison.

Pater noster, qui es in cælis, sanctificétur nomen tuum: advéniat regnum tuum: fiat volúntas tua, sicut in cælo et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidiánum da nobis hódie: et dimítte nobis débita nostra, sicut et nos dimíttimus debitóribus nostris:

V. Et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem:
R. Sed líbera nos a malo.
V. Dómine, Deus virtútum, convérte nos
R. Et osténde fáciem tuam, et salvi érimus.
V. Exsúrge, Christe, ádjuva nos
R. Et líbera nos propter nomen tuum.
V. Dómine, exáudi oratiónem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te véniat.

Vespers During Lent:

The Weekday Intercessions from Lauds are added however instead of Psalm 129, Psalm 50 is prayed towards the end.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy Feast of St. Joseph!

This Lent, I have been oscillating between praying the Roman Office according to the 1568 (Trent) and the Divino Afflatu (St. Pius X office) rubrics.  Even though the DA office is much better than 1955 and 1960, it is still feel incomplete compared to the Tridentine Office.  I will try to make to post on the Office during Lent in a few days.

In the DA office, tomorrow is the Third Sunday of Lent with the St. Joseph's day being transferred to Monday.  The reason being is that his feast is a Double of the First Class and this does not take precedence over a Sunday in Lent.  However, in the 1568 rubrics, the feast is just a Double so St. Joseph is actually commemorated tomorrow at the Mass and Office.

So, I suppose the point is, whether you'll be celebrating St. Joseph on Sunday or Monday, let us remember the greatness of this man who was called to be the Foster Father of Our Lord.

From Mattins, Second Nocturn, DA Office, Feast of St. Joseph (March 20th, 2017)

"What and what manner of man the blessed Joseph was, we may gather from that title wherewith, albeit only as a deputy, God deemed him fit to be honoured he was both called, and supposed to be the Father of God. We may gather it from his very name, which, being interpreted, signifieth Increase. Remember likewise that great Patriarch who was sold into Egypt, and know that the Husband of Mary not only received his name, but inherited his purity, and was likened to him in innocence and in grace.
If then, that Joseph that was sold by his brethren through envy, and was brought down to Egypt, was a type of Christ sold by a disciple, and handed over to the Gentiles, the other Joseph flying from the envy of Herod carried Christ into Egypt. That first Joseph kept loyal to his master, and would not carnally know his master's wife; that second Joseph knew that the Lady, the Mother of his Lord, was a virgin, and he himself remained faithfully virgin toward her. To that first Joseph it was given to know dark things in interpreting of dreams; to the second Joseph it was given in sleep to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
The first Joseph laid by bread, not for himself, but for all people; the second Joseph received into his keeping that Living Bread Which came down from heaven, not for him only, but for the whole world. We cannot doubt but that that Joseph was good and faithful to whom was espoused the Mother of the Saviour. Yea, I say, he was a faithful and wise servant, whom the Lord appointed to be the comfort of His own Mother, the keeper of His own Body, and the only and trusty helper in the Eternal Counsels."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Great Lent

"So blessed, O brethren, is he who preserves himself well in these holy days as he should. For though it might happen that being human we sin out of infirmity or negligence, still God has given these holy days in order that, striving with heedfulness and humility of wisdom, we take care for ourselves and repent for all of our sins, and we will be cleansed of the sins we committed during the whole year. Then our souls will be delivered from their weight, and we will arrive at the Holy Day of the Resurrection cleansed, receive Communion of the Holy Mysteries uncondemned, having become new through the repentance of the Holy Fast. In spiritual rejoicing, with God's help, we will celebrate the entire Holy Pentecost season--for the Pentecost season, as the Holy Fathers say, is the repose and resurrection of the soul."

-Abba Dorotheos

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Second Sunday of Lent

From Mattins,

"If we consider faithfully and carefully what it was that Jacob did by the advice of his mother, and wherein he seemeth to have deceived his father, it will appear that (it hath an aspect in which) it is not a lie, but an allegory. If we denounce this (its mystic sense) as a lie, then must we also give the name of lies to even all parable, and to every figure devised to set forth the nature of anything, which is not to be taken in its literal sense, but in which one thing is to be understood under the name of another. And this be far from us. Whoso should do this, would bring the charge of falsehood against very many figures of speech, including that one called metaphor (in which a word is transferred from that meaning which belongeth to it, to some other) to which would, by such reasoning, be given the name of a lie. 
The deep meaning is given; but what is considered is the lie because men do not understand the way in which that signification, which is a truth, is set forth but the falsehood is plainly expressed, and believed. That we may understand this more plainly by taking some points in illustration, consider with me what Jacob did. It is certain that he covered his limbs with the skins of goats. If we consider his object in point of fact, we shall find that it was to lie, because he did this that he might be thought to be he who he was not. But if we consider this his deed in that deep typical sense which it undoubtedly possesseth, we find that by the goat-skins are represented sins, and by him who covered himself therewith Him Who bore not His own sins, but the sins of others. 
It is impossible to apply the term A " lie " to that mystic aspect of this transaction in which it was true and such an aspect there is, not only in the acts, but in the words. When Isaac said to Jacob: "Who art thou, my son " and Jacob answered " I am Esau, thy first-born, if we take this in its sense relative to the two brothers, it will be apparent that it was a lie. If, however, we look at it relatively to that for the sake of which these words and deeds were written down, we shall see that Christ is here signified in His mystic body, the Church. Concerning her, (the younger covenant,) He saith to them of the older covenant) " Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the Prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last." (Luke xiii. 28-30. Thus did the younger take away the title and inheritance from the elder, and acquire it to himself."

St. Patrick Added To The Russian Calendar!

"St. Patrick, the great enlightener of Ireland, will be officially celebrated in the Russian Orthodox Church for the first time this year on March 17/30. At its March 9 session, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox, under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, officially adopted St. Patrick and more than fifteen other pre-schism Western saints into its calendar, according to the report published on the patriarchate’s official site. 
The decision was taken after hearing a report from His Eminence Metropolitan Clement of Kaluga and Borovsk, chairman of the commission for the compilation of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Menaion, or calendar of saints, with the proposal to include several ancient saints who labored in western lands before the Great Schism of 1054.
The commission, created on September 18, 2014 by the blessing of His Holiness, had been working on compiling a list of western saints guided by the following criteria: their unblemished confession of the Orthodox faith; the circumstances in which their glorification took place; the absence of their names from polemical works against the Eastern Church and rite; and their present veneration in foreign dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church and other Local Churches. 
Also considered were the “Complete Menaion of the East” by Archbishop Sergius (Spassky), the report of St. John Maximovitch to the Holy Synod of the Russian Church Abroad in 1952, the articles of the Orthodox Encyclopedia and the Snaxarion compiled by Hiermonk Macarius of the Athonite monastery of Simenopetra. 
The Western saints added into the calendar of the Russian Orthodox Church are:
Hieromartyr Pothinus, bishop of Lyons, and those with him (June 2/15; c. 177)
Martyrs Blandina and Ponticus of Lyons (June 2/15; c. 177)
Martyr Epipodius of Lyons (April 22/May 5; c. 177)
Martyr Alexander of Lyons (April 24/May 7; c. 177)
Hieromartyr Saturninus, first bishop of Toulouse (November 29/December 12; c. 257)
Martyr Victor of Marseilles (July 21/August 3; c. 290)
St. Alban, protomartyr of Britain (June 22/July 5; c. 304)
St. Honoratus, archbishop of Arles and founder of Lerins Monastery (January 16/29; 429)
St. Germanus, bishop of Auxerre (July 31/August 13; 448)
St. Vincent of Lerins (May 24/June 6; c. 450)
St. Patrick, bishop of Armagh, and enlightener of Ireland (March 17/30; 451)
St. Lupus the Confessor, bishop of Troyes (Gaul) (July 29/August 11; 479)
St. Genevieve of Paris (January 3/16; 512)
St. Germanus, bishop of Paris (May 28/June 10; 576)
St. Procopius, abbot of Sazava in Bohemia (September 16/29; 1053) 
Also approved and recommended for Church-wide liturgical use was the texts of the service to the Synaxis of Saints of Diveevo, the service to St. Hilarion of Optina, and the troparion and kontakion to St. Adrian of Ondrusov."

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fraction Prayers (Coptic)

Fraction Prayers to the Father during the Great Lent:

O Master, Lord God the Pantocrator, who sent His Only-Begotten Son into the world; He taught us the Law and commandments written in the Holy Gospel. 
And He taught us that fasting and prayer cast out demons, when He said, "This kind cannot come out by anything, but by prayer and fasting." 
Fasting and prayer are those which raised Elijah to heaven and saved Daniel from the lions´ den. 
Fasting and prayer are those which Moses pursued until he received the Law and Commandments written with the finger of God. 
Fasting and prayer are those which the people of Nineveh pursued until God had mercy on them and forgave them their sins, and lifted His wrath away from them. 
Fasting and prayer are those which the prophets pursued, and prophesied concerning the advent of Christ many generations before His coming. 
Fasting and prayer are those which the apostles pursued, until they preached to all nations and made them Christians, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 
Fasting and prayer are those which the martyrs pursued until they shed their blood for the Name of Christ, who confessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate. 
Fasting and prayer are those which the righteous and the just and the cross-bearers pursued until they dwelt in the mountains and deserts and holes of the earth because of their great love for Christ the King. 
And we too, let us fast from all evil, in purity and righteousness, and let us proceed forth to this Holy Sacrifice and partake of it with thanksgiving, so that with a pure heart, an enlightened soul, an unashamed face, a faith unfeigned, a perfect love, and a firm hope,
we may dare with boldness, without fear, to pray to You, O God, the Holy Father, who are in the heavens, and say, "Our Father ..."

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Round Two Goes to the Indians

"By the start of the fifth ball, tens of thousands of people were in Wade's head, a billion with them in spirit. It was hard enough when he just had this pitch and this Ashwin, now he had all this too.

The ball came down and all Wade could do was lunge and hope. It took the edge, hit the pad and flew up high enough for Saha to run and dive to short leg to take the catch.

Ashwin raced to fine leg like a football striker who had won the World Cup. Half the team followed him. Saha got up and was embraced by the men around the bat. Kohli didn't go to either of them. He sprinted out to deep cover, stood in front of the crowd, and howled along with his bellowing blue army.

It had been a whole match of words, but you couldn't hear what was Kohli saying. You couldn't hear what anyone was saying. The only sound was the Indian victory roar."

-The Epic Twists of an Epic Test by Jarrod Kimber

Patient Endurance of Trials

"A humble man is never rash, hasty or perturbed, never has any hot and volatile thoughts, but at all times remains calm. Even if heaven were to fall and cleave to the earth, the humble man would not be dismayed. Not every quiet man is humble, but every humble man is quiet. There is no humble man who is not self-constrained; but you will find many who are self-constrained without being humble. This is also what the meek humble Lord meant when He said, ‘Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ [Matt 11:29]  For the humble man is always at rest, because there is nothing which can agitate or shake his mind. Just as no one can frighten a mountain, so the mind of a humble man cannot be frightened. If it be permissible and not incongruous, I should say that the humble man is not of this world. For he is not troubled and altered by sorrows, nor amazed and enthused by joys, but all his gladness and his real rejoicing are in the things of his Master. Humility is accompanied by modesty and self-collectedness: that is, chastity of the senses; a moderate voice; mean speech; self-belittlement; poor raiment; a gait that is not pompous; a gaze directed towards the earth; superabundant mercy; easily flowing tears; a solitary soul; a contrite heart; imperturbability to anger; undistributed senses; few possessions; moderation in every need; endurance; patience; fearlessness; manliness of heart born of a hatred of this temporal life; patient endurance of trials; deliberations that are ponderous, not light, extinction of thoughts; guarding of the mysteries of chastity; modesty, reverence; and above all, continually to be still and always to claim ignorance."

-St. Isaac the Syrian

Sunday, March 5, 2017

As We Progress though the Great Lent

"Vices sometimes have an appearance of a sort of pleasure, or, as the holy fathers say, they bring people ephemeral pleasure. But in the final analysis, this all turns into disasters, sorrows, and pain for people. Thus, embarking on the path of virtues means embarking upon the path that leads us to a happy life; and walking the path of sin means walking right into trials, sorrows, and misfortune. Therefore, those who over the course of these past seven days have made the decision to change their lives from sinful to virtuous have made the right decision. But those who have not made that decision, especially with regard to certain more painful vices, should make that decision over the course of Great Lent."

-H.H Patriarch Kirill

Ave Regina Caelorum

This wonderful antiphon of the Theotokos is recited during Lent at the hour of Compline in the Roman Office.

Ave regina caelorum,
ave domina angelorum:
salve radix, salve porta,
ex qua mundo lux est orta:
Gaude Virgo, gloriosa,
super omnes speciosa,
vale o valde decora,
et pro nobis Christum exora.