Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sts. Philip and James

From Mattins:
"Philip was born in the town of Bethsaida, and was one of the first of the twelve Apostles who were called by the Lord Christ. Then Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him We have found Him of Whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, did write." And so he brought him to the Lord. How familiarly he was in the company of Christ, is manifest from that which is written " There were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the Feast the same came therefore to Philip, and desired him, saying: Sir, we would see Jesus." When the Lord was in the wilderness, and was about to feed a great multitude, "He said unto Philip Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat" Philip, after that he had received the Holy Ghost, took Scythia, by lot, as the land wherein he was to preach the Gospel, and brought nearly all that people to believe in Christ. At the last he came to Hierapolis in Phrygia, and there, for Christ's Name's sake, he was fastened to a cross and stoned to death. The day was the first of May. The Christians of Hierapolis buried his body at that place, but it was afterwards brought to Rome and laid in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles, beside that of the blessed Apostle James.
"JAMES, surnamed the Just, the brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, was a Nazarite from the womb. During his whole life he never drank wine or strong drink, never ate meat, never shaved, and never took a bath. He was the only man who was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies. His raiment was always linen. So continually did he kneel in prayer, that the skin of his knees became horny, like a camel's knees. After Christ was ascended, the Apostles made James Bishop of Jerusalem and even the Prince of the Apostles gave special intelligence to him after that he was delivered from prison by an angel. When in the Council of Jerusalem certain questions were mooted touching the law and circumcision, James, following the opinion of Peter, addressed a discourse to the brethren, wherein he proved the call of the Gentiles, and commanded letters to be sent to such brethren as were absent, that they might take heed not to lay upon the Gentiles the yoke of the Law of Moses. It is of him that the Apostle Paul saith, writing to the Galatians " Other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."
"So great was James' holiness of life that men strove one with another to touch the hem of his garment. When he was ninety-six years old, and had most holily governed the Church of Jerusalem for thirty years, ever most constantly preaching Christ the Son of God, he laid down his life for the faith. He was first stoned, and afterward taken up on to a pinnacle of the Temple and cast down from thence. His legs were broken by the fall, and he was wellnigh dead, but he lifted up his hands towards heaven, and prayed to God for the salvation of his murderers, saying " Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do " As he said this, one that stood by smote him grievously upon the head with a fuller's club, and he resigned his spirit to God. He testified in the seventh year of Nero, and was buried hard by the Temple, in the place where he had fallen. He wrote one of the Seven Epistles which are called Catholic."

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Sunday of the Myrrh-bearing Women

Troparion, Tone II:
When Thou, the Deathless Life, didst go down to death, then didst Thou slay hell by the lightning flash of Thy Divinity. And when Thou didst raise the dead from the lower world, all the Powers of Heaven cried aloud: Christ our God, Giver of Life, glory to Thee.
Noble Joseph took Thy immaculate Body down from the Tree, wrapped It in a clean shroud and spices, and having embalmed It laid It in a new sepulchre. But on the third day Thou didst rise, O Lord, granting to the world great mercy.
To the myrrbearing women at the sepulchre an Angel appeared and cried: Myrrh is fit for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself a Stranger to corruption. So cry: The Lord has risen, granting to the world great mercy.

Kontakion, Tone II:
Thou didst command the Myrrbearers to rejoice, O Christ our God, Thou didst dry the tears of our first mother Eve by Thy Resurrection, and Thou didst command the Apostles to preach: The Saviour has risen from the tomb.

St. Peter of Verona

"Peter was born at Verona, in the year of our Lord 1205, of parents polluted with the Manichaean heresy, but he himself began his lifelong strife against error when he was but a little child. When he was seven years old he went to school, and was asked by his heretic uncle what he learnt there he answered that he had learnt the Christian Creed and neither his father nor his uncle were ever able to shake his constancy in the faith, either by cajolements or threats. When he was a young lad he went to Bologna to study, and there he was called by the Holy Ghost to an higher state of life, and entered the Order of Friars Preachers, at fifteen years of age.
"He was marked by great perfection as a Friar so watchful was he over the purity of his body and soul, that he never felt himself defiled by a mortal sin. He chastened his body by fasting and watching, and ennobled his soul by the contemplation of the things of God. He was constantly busied in works for furthering the salvation of souls and had a peculiar gift of grace for clearly convincing heretics. Such was his power as a preacher, that countless crowds were drawn together to hear him, and many were moved to repentance.
"The faith which was in him burnt so hotly, that he longed to seal his confession with his blood, and oftentimes he earnestly besought from God the grace to do so. It was but a little while before the heretics murdered him, that he foretold, in preaching, his own approaching death. While he was intrusted with the duties of the Holy Inquisition, he was returning from Como to Milan, when an ungodly ruffian assailed him and wounded him once and again in the head with a sword. Peter, to whom these blows were nearly fatal, began with his last breath to recite that Profession of the Faith, to which as a little child he had clung with such manly courage, but the murderer thrust the weapon into his side, and he passed away to receive a Martyr's palm in heaven. It was (the 6th day of April, in) the year of salvation 1252. In the following year, Innocent IV., seeing by how many miracles God had been pleased to glorify him, added his name to the sacred roll of Martyrs."

-Second Nocturn from Mattins  

Friday, April 28, 2017

Cherubic Hymn: Extended Melody - Χερουβικόν: Αργό Μέλος- 1st Tone

Οἱ τὰ Χερουβεὶμ μυστικῶς εἰκονίζοντες,
καὶ τῇ ζωοποιῷ Τριάδι τὸν Τρισάγιον ὕμνον προσάδοντες,
πᾶσαν τὴν βιοτικὴν ἀποθώμεθα μέριμναν.
Ὡς τὸν Βασιλέα τῶν ὅλων ὑποδεξόμενοι,
ταῖς ἀγγελικαῖς ἀοράτως δορυφορούμενον τάξεσιν.
Ἀλληλούϊα, Ἀλληλούϊα, Ἀλληλούϊα. 
Иже херувимы тайно образующе,
и Животворящей Троицѣ трисвятую пѣснь припѣвающе,
Всякое нынѣ житейское отложимъ попеченіе.
Яко да Царя всѣхъ подъимемъ,
ангельскими невидимо дориносима чинми.
We who mystically represent the Cherubim,
and who sing to the Life-Giving Trinity the thrice-holy hymn,
let us now lay aside all earthly cares
that we may receive the King of all,
escorted invisibly by the angelic orders.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Michael Giacchino - There's No Place Like Home / Prayer Request

There will never another show like "Lost".  It was not just a television program, it was an experience. An experience that delved into religious, philosophical and scientific conundrums.  Even though it was not a Catholic show per se, it had many Catholic elements that were fused in.

"It only ends once. Anything that happens before that is just progress."


If I could ask the wonderful readers of this humble blog to pray for my recovery.   I had a surgery done yesterday to repair my hiatal hernia and thus strengthening my LES muscles.  The surgery was a success however I have a month long recovery period (maybe quicker since I am young!).  I will be watching this show again in this month of recovery so I thought it was fitting to talk about it.  Also, I know of a man who found much consolation in this program when he was in the hospital looking for an organ donor.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Sacred Liturgy

"I would give my life for the smallest ceremony of Holy Church."
-St. Teresa of Avila

Monday, April 24, 2017

While Alive They Were Dead

"'The world' is the general name for all the passions. When we wish to call the passions by a common name, we call them the world. But when we wish to distinguish them by their special names, we call them passions. The passions are the following: love of riches, desire for possessions, bodily pleasure from which comes sexual passion, love of honor which gives rise to envy, lust for power, arrogance and pride of position, the craving to adorn oneself with luxurious clothes and vain ornaments, the itch for human glory which is a source of rancor and resentment, and physical fear. Where these passions cease to be active, there the world is dead…. Someone has said of the Saints that while alive they were dead; for though living in the flesh, they did not live for the flesh. See for which of these passions you are alive. Then you will know how far you are alive to the world, and how far you are dead to it.”

-St. Isaac the Syrian

Sunday, April 23, 2017

St. Thomas Sunday

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you."
When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.
Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!"
Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;
but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
-St. John 20:19-31

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Old Believers Celebrating Pascha

The venerable, ancient, and legitimate Russian tradition.  May God protect the Old Believers and bring all of their communities into communion with the Church.

The Loss of Catholic Culture

From Fr. Ray Blake's blog,

"Our loss is more than a liturgical tradition, it is a culture. Nowadays the great problem of the Church is not what we have lost but the fact that we have now very little to offer, the problem is not what has been taken but that which have freely given up and we have no alternative vision to offer."

I recommend reading the whole piece in addition to Joseph Shaw's piece on Hamish Fraser.  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Vidi Aquam

To be sung before Sunday High Masses during the Pascha season.

Vidi aquam egrediéntem de templo, a látere dextro, allelúia: et omnes ad quos pervénit aqua ista salvi facti sunt et dicent: allelúia, allelúia. 
Confitémini Dómino, quóniam bonus: quóniam in sæculum misericórdia ejus. 
P.  Glória Patri, et Fílio, et Spirítui Sancto.
S.  Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculórum. Amen. 
Vidi aquam egrediéntem de templo, a látere dextro, allelúia: et omnes ad quos pervénit aqua ista salvi facti sunt et dicent: allelúia, allelúia.

I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all they to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say, alleluia, alleluia. 
Praise the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever.  
P.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
S.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. 
I saw water flowing from the right side of the temple, alleluia; and all they to whom that water came were saved, and they shall say, alleluia, alleluia.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Day V in the Pascha Octave

From Matins, I Nocturn:

"Mary Magdalene, a woman in the city, who was a sinner, through love of the truth washed away by her tears the befoulment of her sin, and the word of the Truth was fulfilled which He spake: Her sins, which are many, are forgiven: for she loved much. Luke vii. 47. She that had remained cold while she sinned, became burning when she loved. For after that she had been to the Sepulchre, and had not found there the Body of the Lord, and had believed that It had been taken away, and had told His disciples, they came and saw, and thought it was even as the woman had said, and it is written: Then the disciples went away again unto their own home but Mary stood without at the sepulchre, weeping.
"In connection with this matter, we ought to ponder what great store of love there was in that woman's heart, who, when even His disciples were gone away, could not tear herself from the grave of the Lord. She sought Him Whom she had not found there, and as she sought, she wept, and the fire of love in her heart yearned after Him, Who she believed had been taken away. And so it came to pass that she, who had lingered to seek Him, was the only one who then saw Him, since the back-bone of a good work is endurance, and the voice of the Truth Himself hath said: He that endureth to the end shall be saved. 
"As Mary wept there, she stooped down and looked into the Sepulchre. It was but a little while and she had seen how the Sepulchre was empty, and had told that the Lord was taken away. Why then should she stoop down and look in again? But she loved Him so well, that one look was not enough; the energy of her affection constrained her to search again and again. She began by searching and not finding; but she endured in her search, and, behold, it came to pass that she found. And this was done that our own longings for Christ's presence might be taught to expand, and know that as they expand they will meet with Him to Whom they aspire."
-Pope St. Gregory the Great

Seeking the Living Among the Dead

"The angel of God asks the Myrrh-bearing women as though in astonishment: “Why do you seek the living One among the dead?” As though the perceiver of the mystery of God and God’s power wanted to say: “How could you have thought for a moment that He is the hostage of death? Do you not know that He is the principal source of life? Do you not know that all life is through Him and that not one living thing can borrow not even a drop of life from any other source? Did He not fully reveal to you His authority over life and death on earth? Who gave life to the lifeless Lazarus? Who took away the life of the barren fig tree?”

"O my brethren, let us also cease to look for the living among the dead. If there are some of us who are still seeking Christ among the dead, let them desist from this soul-destroying effort. This is the vain effort of the Jews, pagans and non-Christians. We know that the Lord and Giver of life is not in the tomb but on the Throne of Glory in the heavens. The spirit, not darkened by sin, looks up into heaven and does not see the tomb; and the spirit, darkened by sin, looks into the tomb and does not see heaven. Sin and virtue govern the spiritual vision of man and reveals to each man its own world at cross-purposes with one another. Sin overthrows the vision of the spirit to the earth and reveals to it the corruption of the world. Virtue uplifts the spirit to heaven and reveals to it the eternal world and the resurrected Christ as the King in that world.

"O my brethren, let us not seek life among creation, but from the Creator. Let us not commit an even graver sin i.e., let us not seek the Creator in the tomb of creation nor the Illuminating, Immortal One in the darkness of death.

"O Lord Jesus, Victor over death, we cry out to You: resurrect us also into life eternal from the corruption and darkness of death.

"To You be glory and thanks always. Amen."

-St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Holy Fire 2017

On Holy Saturday, God revealed his majesty once more with the descent of the Holy Fire to the His Holiness, Patriach Theophilos III.

Blessed be God!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bright Monday

Every year on Bright Monday, the Russian Greek Catholic Church that I attend offers one of the most beautiful liturgies a human can experience.  A Festal Divine Liturgy is celebrated accompanied with an outdoor procession with the recitation of the Four Gospels of the Resurrection at the four corners of the Church.

Tonight, as I listened to our holy Priest reciting the Troparion below while blessing us with the Paschal Trikirion

"Christ is risen from the dead, trampling on death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life."

I had to hold back tears at this sublime realization that Our Lord has conquered death by his own death.  My soul, which is encumbered by sin, has been redeemed by our Great God.  He entered Hades and took the Just into Paradise.  He then rose from the dead showing that death did not have the final word over Him.  He shattered the Enemy by "trampling on death by death."

At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, we then all went outside with lit candles in our hands and walked to the four corners of the Church hearing the Four Gospels.

We were also given red eggs before we left.  The story goes that St. Mary Magdalene went to the Emperor and told him that Christ had risen.  The Emperor noticed that there was someone there who had a basket of eggs.  He said that if Christ had truly risen, then He would perform a miracle by making those eggs red.  The eggs did turn red affirming the Truth of the Resurrection!

Christ is Risen!   Indeed He is Risen!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Victimae Paschali Laudes

Víctimæ pascháli laudes ímmolent Christiáni.
Agnus rédemit oves: Christus ínnocens Patri reconciliávit peccatóres.
Mors et vita duéllo conflixére mirándo: dux vitæ mórtuus regnat vivus.
Dic nobis, María, quid vidísti in via?
Sepúlcrum Christi vivéntis et glóriam vidi resurgéntis.
Angélicos testes, sudárium et vestes.
Surréxit Christus, spes mea: præcédet vos in Galilaeam.
Scimus Christum surrexísse a mórtuis vere: tu nobis, victor Rex, miserére. Amen. Allelúja.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Christ is Risen! Blessed Pascha!

Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!


From Matins:
"Dearly beloved brethren, ye have heard the deed of the holy women which had followed the Lord; how that they brought sweet spices to His sepulchre, and, now that He was dead, having loved Him while He was yet alive, they followed Him with careful tenderness still. But the deed of these holy women doth point to somewhat which must needs be done in the holy Church. And it behoveth us well to give ear to what they did, that we may afterward consider with ourselves what we must do likewise after their example. We also, who believe in Him That was dead, do come to His sepulchre bearing sweet spices, when we seek the Lord with the savour of good living, and the fragrant report of good works. Those women, when they brought their spices, saw a vision of Angels, and, in sooth, those souls whose godly desires do move them to seek the Lord with the savour of good lives, do see the countrymen of our Fatherland which is above.
"It behoveth us to mark what this meaneth, that they saw the Angel sitting on the right side. For what signifieth the left, but this life which now is? or the right, but life everlasting? Whence also it is written in the Song of Songs.  His left hand is under my head, and His right hand doth embrace me. Since, therefore, our Redeemer had passed from the corruption of this life which now is, the Angel which told that His undying life was come, sat, as became him, on the right side. They saw him clothed in a white garment, for he was herald of the joy of this our great solemnity, and the glistering whiteness of his raiment told of the brightness of this holy Festival of ours. Of ours, said I? or of his? But if we will speak the truth, we must acknowledge that it is both his and ours. The Again-rising of our Redeemer is a Festival of gladness for us, for us it biddeth know that we shall not die for ever; and for Angels also it is a festival of gladness, for it biddeth them know that we are called to fulfill their number in heaven.
"See this glad Festival then, which is both his and ours, the Angel appeared in white raiment. For as the Lord, rising again from the dead, leadeth us unto the mansions above, He repaireth the breaches of the heavenly Fatherland. But what meaneth this, that the Angel said unto the women which came to the sepulchre: Fear not? Is it not as though he had said openly: Let them fear which love not the coming of the heavenly countrymen; let them be afraid who are so laden by fleshly lusts, that they have lost all hope ever to be joined to their company. But as for you, why fear ye, who, when ye see us, see but your fellow countrymen? Hence also Matthew, writing of the guise of the Angel, saith His countenance was like lightning, and His raiment white as snow. The lightning speaketh of fear and great dread, the snow of the soft brilliancy of rejoicing."
-Pope St. Gregory the Great 

A Blessed Pascha to everyone!  Our Lenten sacrifices were not made in vain.  Let us now enjoy the fruits of the Resurrection!


The Lamentations Service of Holy Saturday. A haunting rendition of one of my favorite services of the year.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Night of the Apocalypse/Bright Saturday (Coptic)

"After the Raising of the Incense, the Third and Sixth Hours are prayed according to the rituals of that night. After the Third and Sixth Hours Prayers have been read, the church begins to read the Holy Book of Revelation. The Holy Book of Revelation is read on Night of the Apocalypse because the Holy Book of Revelation refers to the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Church. 
"In the Holy Gospel of St. John, St. John calls Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the "bridegroom" (John 3:29) and in the Holy Book of Revelation 21:9 St. John refers to the "bride" of the Lord Jesus Christ; the church...and tells St. John..."Come I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shed His blood on the cross and descended into Hades to get his bride, the saints and then opened the gates of Paradise. Now there is a bridegroom and we await the bride by reading the description of the church in the Holy Book of Revelation.
 "The story of salvation is that God the Father chose a bride for His Son, who paid for His bride, not with gold or silver, but with His Precious Blood. We are engaged to the Lord Jesus Christ; purified by His water and blood (Ephesians 5:25), wedded at the moment of His death on Great Friday. 
"All the hymns of the holy book of revelations are related to the bride of Christ: the church. These hymns call the bride to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, enumerate the number the sealed bride, the song of the bride (Alleluia), and the foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem (the bride of Christ). 
"The book of revelation is read between the Sixth and the Ninth hour since at that time the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, shed His blood and descended into Hades to restore Adam and his children to the paradise of joy. 
"The anointing of oil by the priests to the congregation before the Divine Liturgy is referred to in the Holy Book of Revelation 7:2-8, in which the servants of God must have sealed upon their foreheads. We are anointed with oil to seal us; to say that we are the bride of the Lord Jesus Christ. Following this, the Ninth Hour is prayed in preparation for the Divine Liturgy."

The Divine Liturgy 

"The Night of Apocalypse ends with the Divine Liturgy and the Holy Communion; called the "Supper of the Wedding of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9). This Divine Liturgy is unique in that we do not pray the "Prayer of Reconciliation" because the Lord Jesus Christ must trample death by His death (1 Corinthians 15) and death was not yet abolished at this point. Although we do not pray the Commemoration of the Saints on Covenant Thursday, we do pray the Commemoration of the Saints on Bright Saturday because Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has opened the gates of Paradise. 
"During Holy Communion the church prays the Eleventh Hour, chants selected Holy Psalms, and reads the prophecies of the Glorious Feast of Resurrection. 
"May we all enter into a blessed Holy Week with daily church attendance and solemn prayers and scriptural readings befitting its spiritual remembrance." 
-H.G Bishop Youssef

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tenebrae - Good Friday

"Thou hast hidden me from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity. Now let us fix our eyes upon our Head. Many martyrs have. suffered such things as He suffered, but God's hiding of His suffering servants is not so well seen in the Martyrs, as it is in the Captain of the Martyrs. And it is in Him that we best see how it fared with them. He was hidden from the secret counsel of the wicked; hidden by God, being Himself God; hidden, as touching the Manhood, by God the Son, and the very Manhood, Which is taken into God the Son; because He is the Son of man, and He is the Son of God; Son of God, as being in the form of God; Son of man, as having taken upon Him the form of a servant, Whose life no man taketh from Him, but Who layeth it down of Himself. He hath power to lay it down, and He hath power to take it again, What then was all that they which hated Him could do? They could kill the Body, but they were not able to kill the Soul. Consider this very earnestly. It had been a small thing for the Lord to preach to the Martyrs by His word, if He had not also nerved them by His example.

"We know what secret counsel was that of the wicked Jews, and what insurrection was that of the workers of iniquity. Of what iniquity were they the workers? The murder of our Lord Jesus Christ. Many good works, saith He, have I showed you for which of those works go ye about to kill Me? He had borne with all their weaknesses: He had healed all their diseases: He had preached unto them the kingdom of heaven: He had discovered to them their iniquities, that they might rather hate them, than the Physician That came to cure them. And now at last, without gratitude for all the tenderness of His healing love, like men raging in an high delirium, throwing themselves madly on the Physician, Who had come to cure them, they took counsel together how they might kill Him, as if to see if He were a Man and could die, or Something more than a man, and That would not let Himself die. In the Wisdom of Solomon we recognize their words, Let us condemn Him with a shameful death. Let us examine Him; for, by His own saying, He shall be respected. If He be the Son of God, let Him help Him.

"They whetted their tongue like a sword. The Jews cannot say: We did not murder Christ, albeit they gave Him over to Pilate His judge, that they themselves might seem free of His death. For when Pilate said unto them, Take ye Him: and kill Him, they answered, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. They could throw the blame of their sin upon a human judge: but did they deceive God, the Great Judge? In that which Pilate did, he was their accomplice, but in comparison with them, he had far the lesser sin. Pilate strove as far as he could, to deliver Him out of their hands; for the which reason also he scourged Him, and brought Him forth to them He scourged not the Lord for cruelty's sake, but in the hope that; he might so slake their wild thirst for blood: that, perchance, even they might be touched with compassion, and cease to lust for His death, when they saw What He was after the flagellation. Even this effort he made! But when Pilate saw that he could not prevail, but that rather a tumult was made, ye know how that he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying: I am innocent of the blood of this Just Person. And yet he delivered Him to be crucified! But if he were guilty who did it against his will, were they innocent; who goaded him on to it? No. Pilate gave sentence against Him. and commanded Him to be crucified. But ye, O ye Jews, ye also are His murderers! Wherewith? With your tongue, whetted like a sword. And when? But when ye cried, Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"

-Matins, Second Nocturn, St. Augustine.

Great and Holy Thursday

"When Thy glorious Disciples were enlightened at the supper by the feet washing, then the impious Judas was darkened with the disease of avarice, and he delivered Thee, the Just Judge, to the lawless judges. See, O lover of money, this man through money came to hang himself. Flee the insatiable desire which dared to do such things to the Master. O Lord, Who art good towards all, glory to Thee."

-Troparion, Tone VIII

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Great and Holy Wednesday

"I have sinned more than the harlot, O Good One, and I come to Thee with none of her showers of tears. But praying in silence, I fall down before Thee and lovingly embrace Thy immaculate feet, that as the Lord Thou mayest grant me forgiveness of sins as I cry to Thee, O Saviour: Deliver me from the mire of my evil deeds."

-Kontakion, Tone IV

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Great and Holy Tuesday

"Behold, the Bridegroom is coming in the middle of the night, and blessed is the servant whom He shall find awake and watching, but unworthy is he whom He shall find idle and careless. Beware, then, my soul, lest thou be weighed down with sleep, lest thou be given up to death and shut out of the Kingdom. But awake and cry: Holy, Holy, Holy, art Thou, O God: through the intercessions of the Forerunner, save us. (Sung three times; The third ending is: through the Mother of God, have mercy on us)."

-Troparion for today

Fr. Schmemann's explanations on the ceremonies of Holy Week.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Great and Holy Monday

"And in the morning, returning into the city, he was hungry. And seeing a certain fig tree by the way side, he came to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only, and he saith to it: May no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And immediately the fig tree withered away. And the disciples seeing it wondered, saying: How is it presently withered away?

"And Jesus answering, said to them: Amen, I say to you, if you shall have faith, and stagger not, not only this of the fig tree shall you do, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Take up and cast thyself into the sea, it shall be done. And in all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive. And when he was come into the temple, there came to him, as he was teaching, the chief priests and ancients of the people, saying: By what authority dost thou these things? and who hath given thee this authority? Jesus answering, said to them: I also will ask you one word, which if you shall tell me, I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven or from men? But they thought within themselves, saying:

"If we shall say, from heaven, he will say to us: Why then did you not believe him? But if we shall say, from men, we are afraid of the multitude: for all held John as a prophet. And answering Jesus, they said: We know not. He also said to them: Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things. But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work today in my vineyard. And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went. And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering, said: I go, Sir; and he went not.

"Which of the two did the father' s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him. Hear ye another parable. There was a man an householder, who planted a vineyard, and made a hedge round about it, and dug in it a press, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen; and went into a strange country. And when the time of the fruits drew nigh, he sent his servants to the husbandmen that they might receive the fruits thereof. And the husbandmen laying hands on his servants, beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.

"Again he sent other servants more than the former; and they did to them in like manner. And last of all he sent to them his son, saying: They will reverence my son. But the husbandmen seeing the son, said among themselves: This is the heir: come, let us kill him, and we shall have his inheritance. And taking him, they cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him. When therefore the lord of the vineyard shall come, what will he do to those husbandmen?

"They say to him: He will bring those evil men to an evil end; and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, that shall render him the fruit in due season.  Jesus saith to them: Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? By the Lord this has been done; and it is wonderful in our eyes.  Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof."

-Gospel for Bridegroom Matins, St. Matthew 21: 18-43

RIP, Richie

Today marks the two year anniversary of Richie Benaud's death.  For cricket fans, his voice was a deep consolation providing us hours on hours of cricket coverage.  The video below is of his last few minutes on the air.

May God grant him eternal rest.

"Time to say good bye.  Add to that, thank you for having me.  It's been absolutely marvelous for forty-two years.  I've loved every moment of it and it's been a privilege to go into everyone's living room throughout that time.  What's even better, it's been a great deal of fun....but not so for the batsman.  McGrath has picked him up, late in the day, he's got a beauty to Kevin Pietersen."

Fitting how his last call was the fall of a wicket which interrupted his farewell speech.  It was never about him, it was always about the action on the pitch.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sermon for Palm Sunday

Holy Week (Coptic)

Here is the Holy Week schedule for the Coptic Orthodox Church on my street.  What an incredible week we have coming up.

Let us pray that God may unite the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches with the Church of Rome soon so that we may all be able to participate fully in all of the liturgies of the Church.

Palm Sunday: 
Raising of Incensing and Palm Sunday Procession: 7:00-8:30
The Divine Liturgy: 8:30-12:30
Funeral Service office for the Congregation: 12:30-13:30
Evening Prayers of the Holy Pascha: 17:00-20:30

Daytime Prayers of the Holy Pascha: 7:00-10:30
Evening Prayers of the Holy Pascha: 18:00-21:00

Daytime Prayers of the Holy Pascha: 7:00-11:00
Evening Prayers of the Holy Pascha: 18:00-21:00

Daytime Prayers of the Holy Pascha: 7:00-10:30
Evening Prayers of the Holy Pascha: 18:00-21:00

Covenant Thursday:
Daytime Prayers of the Holy Pascha,including Matins, prayers of the 3rd, 6th, 9th hrs: 8:00-11:30
Blessing of Water and Washing of Feet: 11:00-12:30
The Divine Liturgy ended by the 11th hour: 12:30-15:00
Evening Prayers of the Holy Pascha: 17:30-21:30

Great Friday: 
Daytime Prayers of the Holy Pascha:  8:00-18:00

Apocalypse Night/Saturday:
Praises and Readings,
“The Book of Revelation”- Apocalypse: 23:00 (Friday night) - 5:00 (Saturday morning).
Divine Liturgy of Bright Saturday: 5:00-7:00


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Palm Sunday

My favorite day in the liturgical year.  Today, we get the Missa Sicca, the Procession, and then the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as we enter Jerusalem with Our Lord.


"This is the glorious mystery which ushers in the great week, the week of dolours. Holy Church would have us give this momentary consolation to our heart, and hail our Jesus as our King. She has so arranged the service of to-day, that it should express both joy and sorrow; joy, by uniting herself with the loyal hosannas of the city of David; and sorrow, by compassionating the Passion of her divine Spouse. The whole function is divided into three parts, which we will now proceed to explain.

"The first is the blessing of the palms; and we may have an idea of its importance from the solemnity used by the Church in this sacred rite. One would suppose that the holy Sacrifice has begun, and is going to be offered up in honour of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Introit, Collect, Epistle, Gradual, Gospel, even a Preface, are said, as though we were, as usual, preparing for the immolation of the spotless Lamb; but, after the triple Sanctus! Sanctus! Sanctus! the Church suspends these sacrificial formulas, and turns to the blessing of the palms. The prayers she uses for this blessing are eloquent and full of instruction; and, together with the sprinkling with holy water and the incensation, impart a virtue to these branches, which elevates them to the supernatural order, and makes them means for the sanctification of our souls and the protection of our persons and dwellings. The faithful should hold these palms in their hands during the procession, and during the reading of the Passion at Mass, and keep them in their homes as an outward expression of their faith, and as a pledge of God’s watchful love.

"It is scarcely necessary to tell our reader that the palms or olive branches, thus blessed, are carried in memory of those wherewith the people of Jerusalem strewed the road, as our Saviour made His triumphant entry; but a word on the antiquity of our ceremony will not be superfluous. It began very early in the east. It is probable that, as far as Jerusalem itself is concerned, the custom was established immediately after the ages of persecution. St. Cyril, who was bishop of that city in the fourth century, tells us that the palm-tree, from which the people cut the branches when they went out to meet our Saviour, was still to be seen in the vale of Cedron [Cateches. x. versus fin.] Such a circumstance would naturally suggest an annual commemoration of the great event. In the following century, we find this ceremony established, not only in the churches of the east, but also in the monasteries of Egypt and Syria. At the beginning of Lent, many of the holy monks obtained permission from their abbots to retire into the desert, that they might spend the sacred season in strict seclusion; but they were obliged to return to their monasteries for Palm Sunday, as we learn from the life of Saint Euthymius, written by his disciple Cyril [Act. SS. Jan. 20]. In the west, the introduction of this ceremony was more gradual; the first trace we find of it is in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, that is, at the end of the sixth, or the beginning of the seventh, century. When the faith had penetrated into the north, it was not possible to have palms or olive branches; they were supplied by branches from other trees. The beautiful prayers used in the blessing, and based on the mysteries expressed by the palm and olive trees, are still employed in the blessing of our willow, box, or other branches; and rightly, for these represent the symbolical ones which nature has denied us.

"The second of to-day’s ceremonies is the procession, which comes immediately after the blessing of the palms. It represents our Saviour’s journey to Jerusalem, and His entry into the city. To make it the more expressive, the branches that have just been blessed are held in the hand during it. With the Jews, to hold a branch in one’s hand was a sign of joy. The divine law had sanctioned this practice, as we read in the following passage from Leviticus, where God commands His people to keep the feast of tabernacles: And you shall take to you, on the first day, the fruits of the fairest tree, and branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God [Lev. xxiii. 40]. It was, therefore, to testify their delight at seeing Jesus enter within their walls, that the inhabitants, even the little children, of Jerusalem, went forth to meet Him with palms in their hands. Let us, also, go before our King, singing our hosannas to Him as the conqueror of death, and the liberator of His people.

"During the middle ages, it was the custom, in many churches, to carry the book of the holy Gospels in this procession. The Gospel contains the words of Jesus Christ, and was considered to represent Him. The procession halted at an appointed place, or station: the deacon then opened the sacred volume, and sang from it the passage which describes our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. This done, the cross which, up to this moment, was veiled, was uncovered; each of the clergy advanced towards it, venerated it, and placed at its foot a small portion of the palm he held in his hand. The procession then returned, preceded by the cross, which was left unveiled until all had re-entered the church. In England and Normandy, as far back as the eleventh century, there was practised a holy ceremony which represented, even more vividly than the one we have just been describing, the scene that was witnessed on this day at Jerusalem: the blessed Sacrament was carried in procession. The heresy of Berengarius, against the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, had been broached about that time; and the tribute of triumphant joy here shown to the sacred Host was a distant preparation for the feast and procession which were to be instituted at a later period.

"We have mentioned these different usages, as we have done others on similar occasions, in order to aid the faithful to the better understanding of the several mysteries of the liturgy. In the present instance, they will learn that, in to-day’s procession, the Church wishes us to honour Jesus Christ as though He were really among us, and were receiving the humble tribute of our loyalty. Let us lovingly go forth to meet this our King, our Saviour, who comes to visit the daughter of Sion, as the prophet has just told us. He is in our midst; it is to Him that we pay honour with our palms: let us give Him our hearts too. He comes that He may be our King; let us welcome Him as such, and fervently cry out to Him: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

"At the close of the procession a ceremony takes place, which is full of the sublimest symbolism. On returning to the church, the doors are found to be shut. The triumphant procession is stopped; but the songs of joy are continued. A hymn in honour of Christ our King is sung with its joyous chorus; and at length the subdeacon strikes the door with the staff of the cross; the door opens, and the people, preceded by the clergy, enter the church, proclaiming the praise of Him, who is our resurrection and our life.

"This ceremony is intended to represent the entry of Jesus into that Jerusalem of which the earthly one was but the figure - the Jerusalem of heaven, which has been opened for us by our Saviour. The sin of our first parents had shut it against us; but Jesus, the King of glory, opened its gates by His cross, to which every resistance yields. Let us, then, continue to follow in the footsteps of the Son of David, for He is also the Son of God, and He invites us to share His kingdom with Him. Thus, by the procession, which is commemorative of what happened on this day, the Church raises up our thoughts to the glorious mystery of the Ascension, whereby heaven was made the close of Jesus’ mission on earth. Alas! the interval between these two triumphs of our Redeemer are not all days of joy; and no sooner is our procession over, than the Church, who had laid aside for a moment the weight of her grief, falls back into sorrow and mourning.

"The third part of to-day’s service is the offering of the holy Sacrifice. The portions that are sung by the choir are expressive of the deepest desolation; and the history of our Lord’s Passion, which is now to be read by anticipation, gives to the rest of the day that character of sacred gloom, which we all know so well. For the last five or six centuries, the Church has adopted a special chant for this narrative of the holy Gospel. The historian, or the evangelist, relates the events in a tone that is at once grave and pathetic; the words of our Saviour are sung to a solemn yet sweet melody, which strikingly contrasts with the high dominant of the several other interlocutors and the Jewish populace. During the singing of the Passion, the faithful should hold their palms in their hands, and, by this emblem of triumph, protest against the insults offered to Jesus by His enemies. As we listen to each humiliation and suffering, all of which were endured out of love for us, let us offer Him our palm as to our dearest Lord and King. When should we be more adoring, than when He is most suffering?"

-Palm Sunday, Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Mass of the Presanctified

On New Liturgical Movement, Gregory DiPippo has written a brilliant piece on the Mass of the Presanctified which was the Roman Church's primary liturgical celebration on Good Friday before Pius XII's horrific changes to the liturgies of Holy Week in 1955.

"The celebrant wears black vestments as for a Requiem. The deacon and subdeacon, however, wear black folded chasubles, the traditional vestments of penitential seasons, which are not used at a Requiem; indeed, black folded chasubles are only used at this service. (Where they are not available, the deacon and subdeacon serve in albs and maniples, the deacon with a stole.) On these days, the Church wishes us to experience the Paschal mystery, not as a mere commemoration, but as something through which we ourselves live, accompanying the Savior. Good Friday is a day of deepest mourning, one that excludes the use of the vestments of joy, the dalmatic and tunicle, which at a Requiem speak of the hope of the Resurrection. On Good Friday, this hope is not in any way anticipated; we ourselves feel the desolation which Christ’s disciples experienced, the better to come to the joy of the Resurrection on Easter."
-The Theology of the Mass of the Presanctified 

Friday in Passion Week

"At that time, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together a council against Jesus, and said, What are we doing? for this man is working many signs. If we let Him alone as He is, all will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. But one of them, Caiphas, being high priest that year, said to them, You know nothing at all; nor do you reflect that it is expedient for us that one man die for the people, instead of the whole nation perishing. This, however, he said not of himself; but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was to die for the nation; and not only for the nation, but that He might gather into one the children of God who were scattered abroad. So from that day forth their plan was to put Him to death. Jesus therefore no longer went about openly among the Jews, but withdrew to the district near the desert, to a town called Ephrem; and there He stayed with His disciples."

-St. John 11:47-54

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thursday in Passion Week

"At that time, one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to dine with him; so He went into the house of the Pharisee and reclined at table. And behold, a woman in the town who was a sinner, upon learning that He was at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment; and standing behind Him at His feet, she began to bathe His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and kissed His feet, and anointed them with ointment. Now when the Pharisee, who had invited Him, saw it, he said to himself, This man, were He a prophet, would surely know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner. And Jesus answered and said to him, Simon, I have something to say to you. And he said, Master, speak. A certain money-lender had two debtors; the one owed five hundred denarii, the other fifty. As they had no means of paying, he forgave them both. Which of them, therefore, will love him more? Simon answered and said, He, I suppose, to whom he forgave more. And He said to him, You have judged rightly. And turning to the woman, He said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I came into your house; you gave Me no water for My feet; but she has bathed My feet with tears, and has wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, from the moment she entered, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint my head with oil; but she has anointed My feet with ointment. Wherefore I say to you, her sins, many as they are, shall be forgiven her, because she has loved much. But he to whom little is forgiven, loves little. And He said to her, Your sins are forgiven. And they who were at table with Him began to say within themselves, Who is this man, who even forgives sins? But He said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

-St. Luke 7:36-50

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday in Passion Week

"At that time, there took place at Jerusalem the feast of the Dedication; and it was winter. And Jesus was walking in the temple, in Solomon’s portico. The Jews therefore gathered round Him, and said to Him, How long do You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us openly. Jesus answered them, I tell you and you do not believe. The works that I do in the name of My Father, these bear witness concerning Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me. And I give them everlasting life; and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. What My Father has given Me is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch anything out of the hand of My Father. I and the Father are one. The Jews therefore took up stones to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shown you from My Father. For which of these works do you stone Me? The Jews answered Him, Not for a good work do we stone you, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man, make Yourself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said you are gods?’ If He called them gods to whom the word of God was addressed - and the Scripture cannot be broken, - do you say of Him Whom the Father has made holy and sent into the world, ‘You blaspheme,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform the works of My Father, do not believe Me. But if I do perform them, and if you are not willing to believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in the Father."

-St. John 10:22-38

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday in Passion Week

"At that time, Jesus went about in Galilee, for He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were seeking to put Him to death. Now the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was at hand. His brethren therefore said to Him, Leave here and go into Judea that Your disciples also may see the works that You do; for no one does a thing in secret if he wants to be publicly known. If You do these things, manifest yourself to the world. For not even His brethren believed in Him. Jesus therefore said to them, My time has not yet come, but your time is always at hand. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I bear witness concerning it, that its works are evil. As for you, go up to the feast, but I do not go up to this feast, for My time is not yet fulfilled. When He had said these things He stayed on in Galilee. But as soon as His brethren had gone up to the feast, then He also went up, not publicly, but as it were privately. The Jews therefore were looking for Him at the feast, and were saying, Where is He? And there was much whispered comment among the crowd concerning Him. For some were saying, He is a good man. But others were saying, No, rather He seduces the crowd. Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of Him."

-St. John 7:1-13

The Dragon

"The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon."

-St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Monday, April 3, 2017

Opening Day

“You look forward to Opening Day like a birthday party when you're a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.”
-- Joe DiMaggio

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Passion Sunday

"Everything around us urges us to mourn. The images of the saints, the very crucifix on our altar, are veiled from our sight. The Church is oppressed with grief. During the first four weeks of Lent, she compassionated her Jesus fasting in the desert; His coming sufferings and crucifixion and death are what now fill her with anguish. We read in to-day’s Gospel, that the Jews threaten to stone the Son of God as a blasphemer: but His hour is not yet come. He is obliged to flee and hide Himself. It is to express this deep humiliation, that the Church veils the cross. A God hiding Himself, that He may evade the anger of men - what a mystery! Is it weakness? Is it, that He fears death? No; we shall soon see Him going out to meet His enemies: but at present He hides Himself from them, because all that had been prophesied regarding Him has not been fulfilled. Besides, His death is not to be by stoning: He is to die upon a cross, the tree of malediction, which, from that time forward, is to be the tree of life. Let us humble ourselves, as we see the Creator of heaven and earth thus obliged to hide Himself from men, who are bent on His destruction! Let us go back, in thought, to the sad day of the first sin, when Adam and Eve bid themselves because a guilty conscience told them they were naked. Jesus has come to assure us of our being pardoned, and lo! He hides Himself, not because He is naked - He that is to the saints the garb of holiness and immortality - but because He made Himself weak, that He might make us strong. Our first parents sought to hide themselves from the sight of God; Jesus hides Himself from the eye of men. But it will not be thus for ever. The day will come when sinners, from whose anger He now flees, will pray to the mountains to fall on them and shield them from His gaze; but their prayer will not be granted, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with much power and majesty [St. Matt. xxiv. 30]."

-The Liturgical Year - Dom Prosper Gueranger

Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt

"The Life of St Mary teaches us that the values of the Church are quite different from those of the world. She went out into the desert and had nothing, no friends, no home, no possessions, no clothes and hardly any food and drink. The world looked for pleasure, the satisfaction of the senses, money and power, but St Mary was moneyless and powerless in the world. Today's Gospel confirms the choice of St Mary, for it says that those who wish to be great must be servants. This is upside down from all the ways of this world. But our Lord preached this and like Him St Mary lived this.

"Indeed, as we have already said, the Church calls St Mary 'the greatest of saints'. The use of this word 'great' may surprise. In everyday life, we use 'great' in other meanings. The world speaks of 'great politicians', 'great soldiers', great film-stars', 'great performances by sportsmen', 'a great holiday', 'a great car', 'a great amount of money'. But the Church calls St Mary 'great' and a thousand and a half years after she lived we ask for her prayers, but not for those of any politician or soldier or film-star or sportsman. Let us think more carefully before next we utter this word 'great'.

"And as this last week of Great Lent begins, let us also ponder on the words of the Mother of God, which led Mary to her salvation through repentance and her greatness: 'If you cross the Jordan, you will find true peace'. These mysterious words are today also addressed to each of us; the interpretation of their mystery is open to the souls of each of us, but only if we ask the Mother of God and St Mary to guide us. And then we shall find our own 'entry into Jerusalem'".

-Archpriest Andrew Phillips 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Season of Kohli

"The series against Australia was partly notable for his lack of runs, but he was still in everything.

"Leaving straight balls in Pune, charging over to Steven Smith to point out his DRS "brain fade" in Bengaluru, the press conference afterwards where he almost said a word, the tumble and injury in Ranchi, the mock of the Australians mocking his shoulder injury. The camera was on him when he clapped, ran drinks, or just about anytime anything ever happened in any match he played in, and then, the last press conference where he suggested with as much heat as his eyes could muster that this series had ended his friendships with the Australian players.

"This was the most remarkable season of Test cricket, and we might never see anything like it again. But, mostly, it was Kohli's season. India won four series and 10 Tests, Kohli won everything. Kohli was the batsman even when he wasn't. Kohli was the captain, even when he wasn't. Kohli was always the story."

-The Season of Kohli, and all his men by Jarrod Kimber