O Lord Thou shalt open my lips and my mouth shall declare Thy praise.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Bridegroom is Risen!

Khristos voskrese iz mertvykh,
Smertiyu smert poprav,
E sushchim vo grobekh
Zhivot darovav!

Let God arise, and his enemies be scattered, and let those that hate him flee before his face.

Christós anésti ek nekrón,
thanáto thánaton patísas,
ké tís en tís mnímasi,
zoín charisámenos!

As smoke vanishes, so let them vanish, as wax melts at the presence of fire.

Christus surrexit a mortuis,
Morte mortem calcavit,
Et entibus in sepulchris
Vitam donavit.

So shall the wicked perish at the presence of God; and let the just be glad.

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Cristo ressuscitou dos mortos,
calcando morte pela morte,
e a eles nos tumulos
outorgando vida!

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Khristos voskrese iz mertvykh,
Smertiyu smert poprav,
E sushchim vo grobekh
Zhivot darovav!

Both now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Khristos voskrese iz mertvykh,
Smertiyu smert poprav,
E sushchim vo grobekh
Zhivot darovav!

A polyphonic version of the Paschal Tropar:

Another version:

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

The Bridegroom is risen!
His sacrifice has been consummated,
atoning for the sins of His Bride,
and raising Her to the purity in which He deserves to receive Her!

In the sun hath He set His tabernacle; and He, like a bridegroom coming forth from his chamber, will rejoice like a giant to run his course.

The Bridegroom is risen!
His sacrifice has been consummated,
atoning for the sins of His Bride,
and raising Her to the purity in which He deserves to receive Her!

From the outermost border of heaven is His going forth, and His goal is unto the outermost part of heaven, and there shall no man hide himself from His heat.

The Bridegroom is risen!
His sacrifice has been consummated,
atoning for the sins of His Bride,
and raising Her to the purity in which He deserves to receive Her!

The law of the Lord is blameless, converting souls; the testimony of the Lord is trustworthy, bringing wisdom to infants.

The Bridegroom is risen!
His sacrifice has been consummated,
atoning for the sins of His Bride,
and raising Her to the purity in which He deserves to receive Her!

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

The Bridegroom is risen!
His sacrifice has been consummated,
atoning for the sins of His Bride,
and raising Her to the purity in which He deserves to receive Her!

Both now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

The Bridegroom is risen!
His sacrifice has been consummated,
atoning for the sins of His Bride,
and raising Her to the purity in which He deserves to receive Her!

Let God Arise, Let His Enemies Be Scattered!


Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!
Cristo Ressuscitou! Em Verdade Ressuscitou!
Христос Воскрес! Воістину Воскрес!
Christus ist auferstanden! Er ist wahrhaftig auferstanden!
Cristo è risorto! È veramente risorto!
¡Cristo ha resucitado! ¡En verdad ha resucitado!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Raise the Sinner from the Dead!

One of the Lessons at Jerusalem Matins this past night:

The Reading is from the Prophecy of Ezekiel. 37:1-14
"The hand of the Lord was upon me, and brought me forth in the spirit of the Lord: and set me down in the midst of a plain that was full of bones. And he led me about through them on every side: now they were very many upon the face of the plain, and they were exceeding dry. And he said to me: Son of man, dost thou think these bones shall live? And I answered: O Lord God, thou knowest. And he said to me: Prophesy concerning these bones; and say to them: Ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will send spirit into you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to grow over you, and will cover you with skin: and I will give you spirit and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord. And I prophesied as he had commanded me: and as I prophesied there was a noise, and behold a commotion: and the bones came together, each one to its joint. And I saw, and behold the sinews, and the flesh came up upon them: and the skin was stretched out over them, but there was no spirit in them. And he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, O son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus saith the Lord God: Come, spirit, from the four winds, and blow upon these slain, and let them live again. And I prophesied as he had commanded me: and the spirit came into them, and they lived: and they stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. And he said to me: Son of man: All these bones are the house of Israel: they say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost, and we are cut off. Therefore prophesy, and say to them: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I will open your graves, and will bring you out of your sepulchres, O my people: and will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall have opened your sepulchres, and shall have brought you out of your graves, O my people: And shall have put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall make you rest upon your own land: and you shall know that I the Lord have spoken, and done it, saith the Lord God."

Arise O God and raise the sinner out of her land of sin. Renew Thy Holy Spirit in her that the presence of Divine Love might be renewed in her to raise her from the death of sin in which she sleeps and decays. Renew her body and soul that she might live in the Divine Life she was created to live in and that Thou mayest receive her in the condition Thou dost deserve to receive her in that Thy Divine Love might be consummated in her.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Bridegroom Gave Up His Life

The Epitaphios, the Burial Shroud, carried in procession at Vespers tonight.

The Bridegroom has given up His life for the sake of us, His Bride, as a sacrifice to remove us from our life of sin. Let us worship and give our lives to Him in return.

Mocked for Fidelity

Let us arouse contrition in our hearts, for today the Bridegroom of souls is given a pretend wedding crown as a symbol of mockery, made out of the sins of His Bride, Her sins piercing Him like a thousand needles on His head. His scepter, His symbol of authority over Her, is become a symbol of mockery and rejection. Let us cry out to Him, repenting of our sins, in order to anoint the wounds our sins caused Him with our tears of contrition, for He, in patient submission to the Father, endures everything contrary to His nature as Bridegroom as a penance for His Bride, the Church, in His great love for mankind.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Reverence We Give the Eucharist

For us on the Gregorian Calendar, today is Great and Holy Thursday. But on the Julian calendar, it is still early in Great Lent this year. This is the Entrance at Presanctified Liturgy recently at the Cathedral of the Holy Savior in Moscow (Moscow's main cathedral) served by the Patriarch of Moscow. The discos with the Divine Mysteries is borne in with great solemnity: two ripidia (fans) and three censers-not to mention the prostrations. The chalice, as it contains only blessed wine, gets no fanfare. From 6:49 until 11:03:

This is the great reverence the Eucharist deserves.

Holy Thursday is Sacrifice

Icon of the Mystical Supper
Today Christ gives His Flesh to His Bride to give Her life. The marital sacrifice in the flesh between husband and wife is merely an icon of this Sacrifice in the Flesh between Christ the Bridegroom and His Bride, the Church. The Sacrifice offered tomorrow is made present today. His Flesh sacrificed on Calvary to the Father to give life to His Bride is made present on the Holy Table at every Divine Liturgy including, mind-bogglingly, in the past at the Mystical Supper. Holy Thursday is sacrifice, the Mystical Supper is sacrifice, and the Divine Liturgy is sacrifice because it is the Sacrifice of Calvary, that took place once at one point in time, being made simultaneously present at another point in time, space and time being distorted. An icon is a solid portal into Heaven or into another point in time making us present there and there here, but the Eucharist is the very reality of another point in time made present in our midst; no portal; the very reality in person: physical human Flesh that looks like bread and physical human Blood that looks like wine.

As a footnote, why does every depiction of the Mystical Supper have everyone on the same side of the table? It was ad orientem!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Help Us Console Thee, O Bridegroom!

Help us console Thee, O Thou who didst say, "And I waited for one that would grieve with me, but there was no one; and for them that would comfort me, but I found none." Thou art wounded by our sins and dost deserve to receive us undefiled by the world and belonging entirely to Thee, for we were created by to live in Thy love, O Incarnate Word and Creator of all. In our selfishness we fled Thy love for the ways of the world. Help us now to console Thee, for our sins have wounded Thee. Help us to give ourselves to Thee undefiled and belonging only to Thee as Thou dost deserve, O Only Bridegroom!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Go to Confession for Thy Bridegroom

Be the faithful bride who watches and waits for her bridegroom, always ready to leave with him. Don't be the unfaithful bride who grows weary and distracts herself with the world, only to be shut out on the last day because she wanted to live her own life instead of the life God was creating for her.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Make Sinners as Pure as Thee, O Theotokos

Fill us so much with Thy Son in the Divine Eucharist that we explode and become a part of Him, O Thou who didst contain He who is more spacious than the Heavens.

The Bridegroom Who Endures Rejection

In the Byzantine Rite, Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday are dedicated to the Nymphios, Christ the Bridegroom, even though Holy Monday is covered up by the Feast of the Evangelization of the Theotokos this year.

Thou didst endure that which is contrary to Thyself without ceasing to be Thyself, O Nymphios. Thou didst endure rejection without ceasing to be the Bridegroom as a sacrifice for us, Thy Bride, and by Thy wounds we are healed. We and our pleasures are mortal and pass away, but Divine Love is immortal and cannot be contained by death. Glory to Thy Holy Resurrection O Lord! May we come to share in Thy Resurrection by participating in Thy Passion, O Christ.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Behold the Bridegroom Cometh! Hosanna in the Highest!

Christ Our God, the children of the Hebrews praised Thee as the Son of David and King of the Jews when they saw Thee coming upon the foal of an ass, signifying the submission of the pagan gentiles to Thee! We, at seeing this same coming of Thee who proceedeth forth from Thy Heavenly Bridegroom chamber like the sun rising in the East, from Whom no man can hide, praise and worship Thee for the sake of Thy Sacred Passion, to which Thou dost now proceed voluntarily, suffering everything contrary to Thy nature as the Bridegroom of souls as a sacrifice for Thy Bride, the Church, to give great mercy to our souls, O Thou who lovest mankind!

Come forth, all you nations! Come forth, you peoples! Behold, the King of Heaven comes to Jerusalem, sitting on a humble colt as though upon a throne! Unbelieving and adulterous generation; come and see the one whom Isaiah foretold. For our sake He has come in the flesh. He takes the new Zion, chaste and pure as His Bride. He will crush the evil council like a vessel of clay. See how the young and innocent children gather, singing praises as at a marriage feast. Let us join them in the angels' hymn: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes, and will come again, in the Name of the Lord!

The first sticheron is mine own composition. The second is from the Praises at Matins today.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

We Sing to Thine Omnipotent Power, O Lord!

Like the Holy Penitent Mary and her sister the Holy Martha I cry unto Thee O Lord: raise Thy handmaiden the penitent from the death of sin and impurity just as Thou didst raise the Holy Lazarus who was four days dead. The laws of nature dictate that when a man shall die he shall not live again and is forever departed from the living, but when Thou dost will it, the law of nature is abolished. Just as Thou didst come forth from the Virgin without a human father like the rock proceeding forth unhewn from the mountain as Nabuchodonosor the King did see and did relate to the Holy Prophet Daniel who saw it as a sign of Thine Incarnation, just as Thou didst allow Holy Lazarus to die so that Thou couldst show Thy power to thine Apostles and to the Jews by raising a man four days dead, now likewise raise thy penitent whom Thou didst permit to fall into sin like the Holy Penitent Mary, sister of the Holy Lazarus, who anointed Thy Sacred Feet with sweetest nard and even sweeter tears to console the wounds she left in Thee by her sins, preparing Thee for burial, so that, like Holy Mary, her contrition may likewise console Thee after her life of sin lo these many years and Thy handmaiden's virginal purity may be restored in her, that Thou mayest receive her flesh and her soul in the purity that Thy Divine Majesty dost merit to receive for use in Thy plan for which her flesh was created, and Thine omnipotent power with Thy pure plan for the holy sacrifice of marriage made manifest, an icon of Thy holy life-giving Cross, a glory for believers and a stumbling block for the nations, O Thou who didst in Thine omnipotent power raise a man dead of four days and cometh now to us as King, riding the foal of an ass with great mercy and love for mankind!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pope Francis and Sexual Attraction

PF, when he was just a seminarian, was tempted by an attractive woman. He couldn't think about anything else but her for a week. NBC, in their infinite stupidity, is claiming this as "evidence" that PF will remove mandatory celibacy in the Latin Church. That suggestion is idiotic. If PF was serious, how come he has been practicing celibacy faithfully, in accordance with the tradition of his Rite, ever since? St. Augustine did sexual things a million times worse than PF and never suggested something so asinine as removing mandatory celibacy in what would be a blatant violation of the tradition of the Latin Rite.

If anything, this episode from Jorge Bergoglio's life shows us that men should not be discouraged when they are tempted by a woman (be it in person or on a lewd web site) and can't focus on anything else for several days (you know it's happened to all of you guys-don't lie). This seminarian was obsessed with a woman and couldn't focus on his prayers for a week straight and still managed to faithfully practice celibacy, become a priest, and not only that, but become the freaking pope. So if he can overcome such temptation than so can you. Man up and gain some self-control. It's been done before and you'll do it too.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pope Francis' Enthronment

Yes it is properly called an "enthronement" because he didn't wear the tiara, but still used the throne (we can't expect him to stand for his whole pontificate can we?). I didn't watch the Mass personally (I'm never getting up that ridiculously early for a Novus Ordo), but from the reports, it had none of the sacrilegious pageantry that modernists are known for, rather it was a very simple "get on with it" affair, moving through the parts of the NO Mass in as simple a style as the NO's rubrics allow. The vestments were simple but still tasteful. Matching vestments were worn by the Latin deacon. The Greek deacon wore a pretty nice sticharion and orarion with a polystavron pattern in white. Patriarch Svyatoslav (who appears in the video below with the other Easter Catholic patriarchs) wore his black/white set in the polystavron pattern he is so known for wearing. The first video shows PF praying at the confessio of St. Peter with the Eastern Catholic patriarchs and incensing the icon there. It gives a good view of everyone's vestments. The second is of the Gospel, which was chanted in Greek only with proper Byzantine ceremony, which makes the altar boys look a bit out of place in their Latin Rite vestments. The Orthodox hierarchs can be seen behind the ambon in choir dress.

UPDATE: The Greek deacon is Deacon Valter Volochen of the Eparchy of Stamford (CT, USA) in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church:

Picture from Eparchy of Stamford

UPDATE 2: The chalice was actually easy on the eyes:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Bridegroom's Hurt When He Sees Us

When we go off into the pleasures of the world and enjoy ourselves in the secular world, we are telling Christ, the Bridegroom of souls, that He isn't good enough for us and doesn't deserve to receive us and possess us. We are telling Him that we are too good for Him. He created us to live with Him in His Love for us, and we are telling Him that we can survive without Him. It's like a blender telling the electrical outlet that she can function without him. We live in our heads, leading a delusional life in the secular world, completely denying God who made us, without whom we cannot exist or remain alive. If move from that position and claim that we can live the life of the secular world while at the same time also having God, then we are hypocrites and double-tonged, for we are claiming to be joined to God and separated from God at the same time. We are two-timing God by claiming to have Him and His opposite at the same time. The only thing we can do is return to Him that made us and is the only One who can keep us alive and beg Him to make us completely pure again, such that we belong to no one but Him. He deserves to receive us belonging only to Him for He created us, and not only created us, but also sacrificed Himself on the cross to make us pure, to separate us from the world and join us to Himself. Let the repentance of St. Mary of Egypt, on this the Sunday when we commemorate her, be our guide and inspiration that we too might repent.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Praises of the Theotokos

Today is Akathist Saturday. At Matins today the Byzantine Churches chant the Akathist Hymn in praise of the Theotokos. Pray to the Theotokos for Pope Francis.

Here is the Canon that accompanies the Akathist Hymn at Matins:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Patriarch Sviatoslav on Pope Francis

Patriarch Sviatoslav meets with Cardinal Bergoglio

His Beatitude Sviatoslav, Patriarch of Kiev, is familiar with His Holiness as back when HH was Archbishop of Buenos Aires for the Latins, HB was Bishop of Buenos Aires for the Ukrainians. At the same time, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was also ordinary for Eastern Catholics in Argentina not numerous enough to have their own diocese. That means that PF knows and has respect for the Byzantine tradition. HB made this statement on the election of PF:
I would first like to say that the newly elected Pope Francis was mentored by one of our priests, Stepan Chmil who is now buried in the basilica of St. Sophia in Rome. Today’s Pope, during his time as a student of the Salesian school, awoke many hours before his classmates to concelebrate at our Divine Liturgy with Fr. Stepan. He knows our Tradition very well, as well as our Liturgy.

The last time I had an opportunity to see him was as I was preparing to leave Argentina for Ukraine. I asked him to bear witness to the process of beatifying Fr. Stepan Chmil, to which, he gladly agreed. The Holy Father very well knows not only of our Church, but also our liturgy, our rites, and our spirituality.

Apart from this, Pope Francis, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, was assigned as ordinary for Eastern Catholics, specifically those who at the time did not have members of their own hierarchy. Our Eparchy in Argentina is, let’s say, suffragan to the Archbishop’s seat of Buenos Aires. In this way, Cardinal Bergoglio, always took care of our Church in Argentina; and as a young bishop, I took my first steps in episcopal ministry under his watchful eyes and help. Because of this, I am positive that the Holy Father will be a great help to our Church, and I expect that great things await our Church with this Pope.

In regards to the personality of the new Holy Father – he is an incredibly modest person. For example, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he never relied on his own automobile, rather relying on public transportation, always in simple clothing. He mostly stands out in his enormous care for the less-fortunate, visiting the most impoverished neighborhoods. He is a person, I would say, of great pastoral foundation.

As a Jesuit, Pope Francis is an incredibly deep intellectual. I can attest to the fact that his homilies are quite short, sometimes no longer than five or six sentences, but he manages to fill them with such deep meaning, always leaving the faithful in silent contemplation upwards of five-to-seven minutes.
H/T to Ramblings of a Byzantine Catholic.

So while the outlook for the Latin Rite is rather poor, the Eastern Rites are looking pretty good.

In relation to the Latin Rite, PF is someone who has always been faithful, but ineffective at fixing problems in the Church; who supported SP, but too weak to enforce it; who had all the correct intentions in the world upon being elected, but far to intimidated to be effective in cleaning the Church.

In relation to the Eastern Rites, he had faculties before he was pope, so this is the closest to an Eastern Rite pope we've had since the early Church period (there were 3 North Africans and at least one Greek, there's no way they were all Latins). He knows the Byzantine tradition and has great respect for it, going out of his way to learn it. Patriarch Svyatoslav, the most traditional eastern primate we've had in a long time and a very outspoken opponent of latinizations (the Eastern equivalent of modernizations), considered Cardinal Bergoglio a good friend and mentor when he was still an up and coming bishop. That's nothing to shake a stick at. The three Latin bishops that Patriarch Svyatoslav is most similar to are Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Ranjith, and Bishop Schneider.

So we can see that PF is too weak to oppose the problems in the Latin Rite (hence the justified anxiety by faithful Latins), but is friends and allies with all the correct reformers in the East. As an aside, if any of you disgruntled Latins want to come over to the Byzantine Rite, where liturgies are even longer and even more profound than the Tridentine Rite and liberals are even older, far fewer in number, weaker in influence, and far less extreme (even the worst don't challenge ad orientem worship and don't support Communion in the hand or girl altar boys), than we would love to have you. In fact, if you want to get rid of liberals, it's a much easier task on the East Bank of the Tiber and we would love to have you-especially in the US. The two traditions are different in a number of ways, but are both ancient, venerable, and unchangeable traditions. Easterners have autonomy from Rome (sui iuris) when it comes to liturgy and appointing bishops-that authority being vested in the patriarch instead of Rome-so it doesn't matter what Latin Rite bishops say about you no matter how much they whine or try to bully you-they have no longer have any authority over you when you're on the East Bank of the Tiber.

At any rate, PF is not some rabid modernist the way modernists and traditionalists alike paint him up to be. He is faithful on doctrine but lacks charisma and is easily intimidated by modernists who hate him (and the modernists do oppose him, make no mistake; his lack of effectiveness in cleaning the Church-evident for years in Argentina-is what made him appeal to them). I don't believe all the doom and gloom from most Latin Rite traditionalists: PF isn't charismatic enough to change anything either positive or negative. He would have to be charismatic with bad intentions to be disastrous, but he has good intentions and lacks charisma, which is most troubling and necessitates prayers, but not complete disaster. Ineffective pope maybe, but not evil. I'm expecting a JP2-like papacy with eloquent theology, but oversimplified, uninspiring liturgies and very little in terms of changes one way or the other despite the Pontiff's best intentions. The first two we've already seen in only 24 hours. PF's faithful theology but inability to fight internal problems despite good intentions also makes for a good comparison with Paul VI. The difference is that we can expect a papacy similar to the length of John XXIII's, given PF's health and stress levels as a result of being so overwhelmed. PF is more intimidated now than B16 (who abdicated due to stress!) ever was. PF has made it clear by his statements and demeanor that he is very faithful, but too weak and overwhelmed to oppose the problems in the Church, which is troubling and needs prayers. He is not our enemy as traditionalists (both Eastern and Western), but he desperately needs our prayers to do anything for he knows he's two weak to fix the Church.

Svyateishemu vselenskomu Arhiyereyu Frantsisk, Pape Rimskomu, sotvori, Gospodi, mnogaya leta.
To Our Holy and Ecumenical Pontiff, Francis, Pope of Rome, grant O Lord, many years.

V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Franciscum.
R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. [Ps 40:3]

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Homily and Theology of Pope Francis

With a H/T to Whispers in the Loggia, here is PF's (We really need a short nickname for Pope Francis. Can his nickname be PF? Can anyone come up with a better one? He has no number until another guy takes the name Francis.) homily for the Mass to close the Conclave:
In these three readings [Isaiah 2:2-5, 1 Peter 2:4-9, Matthew 16:13-19] I see that there is something in common: it is movement. In the first reading, movement is the journey [itself]; in the second reading, movement is in the up-building of the Church. In the third, in the Gospel, the movement is in [the act of] profession: walking, building, professing.

Walking: the House of Jacob. “O house of Jacob, Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” This is the first thing God said to Abraham: “Walk in my presence and be blameless.” Walking: our life is a journey and when we stop, there is something wrong. Walking always, in the presence of the Lord, in the light of the Lord, seeking to live with that blamelessness, which God asks of Abraham, in his promise.

Building: to build the Church. There is talk of stones: stones have consistency, but [the stones spoken of are] living stones, stones anointed by the Holy Spirit. Build up the Church, the Bride of Christ, the cornerstone of which is the same Lord. With [every] movement in our lives, let us build!

Third, professing: we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ - I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.

Walking, building-constructing, professing: the thing, however, is not so easy, because in walking, in building, in professing, there are sometimes shake-ups - there are movements that are not part of the path: there are movements that pull us back.

This Gospel continues with a special situation. The same Peter who confessed Jesus Christ, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. I will follow you, but let us not speak of the Cross. This has nothing to do with it.” He says, “I’ll follow you on other ways, that do not include the Cross.” When we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly, we are bishops, priests, cardinals, Popes, but not disciples of the Lord.

I would like that all of us, after these days of grace, might have the courage - the courage - to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Cross of the Lord: to build the Church on the Blood of the Lord, which is shed on the Cross, and to profess the one glory, Christ Crucified. In this way, the Church will go forward.

My hope for all of us is that the Holy Spirit, that the prayer of Our Lady, our Mother, might grant us this grace: to walk, to build, to profess Jesus Christ Crucified. So be it.
True to what His Beatitude Svyatoslav, Patriarch of Kiev, said of him, his homily is short, but filled with rich enough theology to evoke much thought. There are various points in his homily that I would elaborate further on, especially the prophecy from Isaias-and I'm shy and quiet, so that really says something about how quiet this guy is. What HB actually said about his brevity was:
I can attest to the fact that his homilies are quite short, sometimes no longer than five or six sentences, but he manages to fill them with such deep meaning, always leaving the faithful in silent contemplation upwards of five-to-seven minutes.
(Full Statement Here)

His Holiness is very sharp and faithful on theology and doctrine. It's is the fact that he is ineffective at fixing problems in the Church and so very intimidated by his new job that should have us worried and, not condemning him, but rather praying to the Theotokos-to whom he resorted so quickly-to make him strong enough to fix the great laxity in the Church. At the same time we must pray that those of us faithful to Church teaching stop arguing with each other and complaining about how one is too traditional or not traditional enough and instead pray to the Theotokos to end the great laxity in the Church.

The Penitential Canon

This morning/last night in the Byzantine Rite at Matins we chanted the Great Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, together with the reading of the life of St. Mary of Egypt. Full Text of the Great Canon.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Conclave Begins and Black Smoke...Oremus

Let us pray for a pope who will, like Christ the Bridegroom, sacrifice himself for the sanctification of the Church, giving even his very life if need be.

Veni Creator Spiritus,
Mentes tuorum visita,
Imple superna gratia,
Quae tu creasti, pectora.

Qui diceris Paraclitus,
Altissimi donum Dei,
Fons vivus, ignis, caritas,
Et spiritalis unctio.

Tu septiformis munere,
Digitus Paternae dexterae,
Tu rite promissum Patris,
Sermone ditans guttura.

Accende lumen sensibus,
Infunde amorem cordibus,
Infirma nostri corporis
Virtute firmans perpeti.

Hostem repellas longius,
Pacemque dones protinus;
Ductore sic te praevio,
Vitemus omne noxium.

Per te sciamus da Patrem
Noscamus atque Filium;
Teque utriusque Spiritum
Credamus omni tempore.

Deo Patri sit gloria,
Et Filio, qui a mortuis
Surrexit, ac Paraclito
In saeculorum saecula.

V. Repleti sunt onmes Spiritu Sancto
R. Et coeperunt loqui.

Oremus. Súpplici, Dómine, humilitáte depóscimus : ut sacrosánctæ Románæ Ecclésiæ concédat Pontíficem illum tua imménsa pietas ; qui et pio in nos stúdio semper tibi plácitus, et tuo pópulo pro salúbri regímine sit assídue ad glóriam tui nóminis reveréndus. Per Dóminum.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lent Equals Exorcism!

Exorcism is a recurring theme in the Gospels at Divine Liturgy during Great Lent. We had one today together with a prediction of the passion (Mark 9:17-31). It is fitting that we hear much of exorcism during Great Lent as only by giving ourselves to Christ can we find freedom from everything with which the devil tempts and attacks us; from the temptation to sin, to oppression if we resist his temptations, to addiction and enslavement to sin, to outright demonic possession. Great Lent is the time to give ourselves to Christ so that we may be free from sin and the oppression of the devil.

To further expand on the subject, here is a homily from last week, when the Latin Rite had an exorcism for the Gospel:

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Alleviate the Suffering of the Dead

If only we could see what the tortures of purgatory are like, we would pray so much more fervently for the dead. The flames of purgatory, while they eventually end, are still far more intense than any suffering anyone could even theoretically face in this life. Hell is worse, if only because it goes on forever. Pray for the dead. Purgatory exists to purge venial sins. Pray for those in purgatory. Hell exists to punish mortal sins. Go to Confession.

From Matins this morning:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Resurrection is the Natural End of Sacrifice

All throughout this week of Great Lent in the Byzantine Rite we venerate the Holy Cross, following it's veneration this past Sunday. At the end of every liturgy we chant the following thrice before the cross with a prostration each time:

Krestu Tvoyemu poklanyayemsya Vladiko, i svyatoye voskreseniye Tvoye slavim.
We bow before Thy Cross O Master, and glorify Thy holy resurrection.

We bow to and accept whatever crosses Our Blessed Lord sends us so that we might share in and glorify His Holy Resurrection. If we participate in His Cross we will come to participate in His Resurrection. Resurrection is the natural end of sacrifice. If we give ourselves to God and submit to the nothingness and sacrifice He sends us, we will receive the full bounty of the Lord's goodness. It the the most counter-intuitive thing from the world's point of view, but from God's point of view, it makes perfect sense. Resurrection is the natural end of sacrifice.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

See What Christ Did For You:

Today is Mid-Lent on the Byzantine Calendar. The Latin Rite won't celebrate mid-lent until Sunday when it decks itself in rose vestments. At Vespers last night (for today) we heard the following antiphon at the end of "Lord, I have cried" about what Christ suffered for our sake:

Tone 8
Today, the Lord of glory, the Master of creation is nailed to the cross and His side is pierced. He who is the sweet drink of the church tastes gall and vinegar! The One who crowned the heavens is crowned with thorns; He is vested in a robe of mockery. The Creator of the earth is struck with human hands. He accepts scourging, spitting and buffeting, all for the sake of me, who stand condemned! He is my compassionate Deliverer and God, who saves the world from deceit!

Christ voluntarily suffered all of these things so contrary to His Nature and His comfort for our sake, for our salvation. How much have we voluntarily suffered things contrary to ourselves and our comfort for His sake, for His glory? How faithful are we to Our Divine Bridegroom out in public when people challenge Him or promote things contrary to Him? He suffered for our salvation, how much do we suffer in return for His Glory? Do we speak boldly and proudly like the martyrs? Do we leave our faith at home and practice the faith only in hiding like the cowardly apostles? Or do we betray Christ entirely by forgetting Him or lying about Him in order to please the people in the world around us like the traitor Judas?

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Renewal of Baptism during Great Lent

"Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility. Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins. Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into vigorous awareness."-St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, a classic text to read during Great Lent.

Go to Confession.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The 1812 Overture and The Holy Cross

Today is the Third Sunday of Great Lent. In the Byzantine Rite, we venerate the Holy Cross on this Sunday.

Tropar of the Holy Cross, Tone 1:
O Lord, save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance! Grant victory to faithful Christians over their adversaries, and by virtue of Thy cross, preserve Thy habitation.

Did you know that the Tropar of the Holy Cross is chanted in Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture? The piece is about Napoleon's (failed) invasion of Russia. It was composed to mark the anniversary of that victory by Russia. Let's pick up the overture at the 11:30 mark below. First we have Napoleon's invasion of Russia marked by the French National Anthem and 5 cannon shots. Then at 12:15, we have descending violins marking Napoleon's forces being annihilated by the Russian winter. Then at 12:55 we have the bells of the Cathedral of the Holy Savior in Moscow (Moscow's main cathedral; the piece was specifically written for this cathedral so that it could debut in this cathedral with the cathedral's bells serving as themselves in the piece) calling all of Russia to prayer while the Tropar of the Holy Cross is chanted (the text of the chant makes it obvious why the Russians chose to chant it at such a time). At 13:59 we have Russia's counter represented by the Russian Imperial Anthem with over twice the cannon shots (11!). In celebration of the merciless rout, at 14:31, we have the same cathedral bells ringing in thanksgiving. And you thought the 1812 Overture had nothing to do with the faith...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Haunting Thought About Small and Great Penances

The suffering the souls in purgatory undergo for the small sins that they have is far greater than even the most severe fasts and penances people undertake in this life during Great Lent to repent of great sins. Let that be an image haunting us and motivating us to repent and go to confession. Even the smallest sins causes such immense suffering in purgatory. A grave sin means it's all over-forever. Go to confession while there's still time for you know not the day nor the hour. It doesn't matter when the world is going to end, it only matters when your world is going to end. Go to confession. Confession removes all the suffering of the next life.