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

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Conversion: Both Easy and Impossible


"Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human. And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it."-1 Cor. 10:13

God never lets us be tempted beyond our abilities. That means even the worst sinner in the world, living in adultery, full of anger and empty emotional and physical pleasure, with the worst most developed ill repute and has been living this way for years on end, long removed from her pure youth is perfectly capable of leaving her sins and is not tempted beyond her most meager abilities. That is how much we are capable of repenting and returning to purity. When someone refuses to repent, it's not because she can't repent, it's because she doesn't want to. Pray for conversions. Go to confession.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Set Fire to Sinners


When you have a piece of metal that is covered in hardened dirt, residue, and every kind of stain, taking fire to the metal will make the dirt appear more black, will soften it, and it will wipe right off easily, leaving the metal polished and beautiful-and hot, unlike the coldness it had before. So too when a sinner is covered in sin, Divine Love will make the sin appear more evil than it did before (for it wasn't being compared to anything virtuous but now is), will weaken the grip of sin on the sinner, and will cause the sin to wipe right off in confession, leaving the sinner polished and beautiful-and on fire for the Love of God, unlike the moral coldness that existed before.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Pray for Women Such As This One


Today is the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman. Many women live in sin like the Samaritan woman, preferring human emotions and pleasures to Divine Love. Pray for their conversion that they might sacrifice themselves to God to accomplish the purposes of Divine Love in humility and modesty instead of living a man-made, demonically inspired life that defends its empty emotional and physical pleasures with every viciousness.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

How To: Excorcism

From Fr. Z comes this picture of St. Catherine hammering the snot out of the devil, even though it looks like it's really St. Margaret. The label in the image isn't really clear, but I'm pretty sure it says "Sca. Margarita".

Friday, April 26, 2013

Christ Being Un-Christ-like

Today's Gospel at Divine Liturgy (Jn. 8:21-30):
"At that time, Jesus said to the Jews: I go, and you shall seek me, and you shall die in your sin. Whither I go, you cannot come. The Jews therefore said: Will he kill himself, because he said: Whither I go, you cannot come? And he said to them: You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you, that you shall die in your sins. For if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin. They said therefore to him: Who art thou? Jesus said to them: The beginning, who also speak unto you.

Many things I have to speak and to judge of you. But he that sent me, is true: and the things I have heard of him, these same I speak in the world. And they understood not, that he called God his Father. Jesus therefore said to them: When you shall have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know, that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as the Father hath taught me, these things I speak: And he that sent me, is with me, and he hath not left me alone: for I do always the things that please him. When he spoke these things, many believed in him."

How can Christ be so un-Christ-like? Such unchristian elitism by Christ! Christ would never act like that! Who does He think He is judging people like that? God?

"CHRIST IS MEAN AND UNCHRISTLIKE!!!"

Admonishing sinners is a work of mercy-and the most important of all since it converts and saves souls. Converting sinners is the entire mission of the Church. God and the world are bitter enemies. It is our job to convert the world. Don't live like the world and don't let others live like the world. Pray for those who live like the world. Go to Confession and bring others with you. Pray for those who don't go to Confession.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pope Francis in Byzantine Vestments


Via Facebook comes this picture of Pope Francis as Archbishop of Buenos Aires in the vestments of a Byzantine Rite bishop in the Ukrainian Rite Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God in Buenos Aires. His vestments are an odd mix-match as he is wearing the mantle (used in choir dress), but also the stihar and zone (used at the Divine Liturgy). Using the Latin mitre instead of the Byzantine miter only complicates things. Next to him is Bishop Miguel Mykycej (in proper full vestments), the then Eparch of Buenos Aires for the Ukrainians and immediate predecessor of the current Patriarch of Kyiv, His Beatitude Svyatoslav, at that post. Judging from the rest of the clergy, this was at a Divine Liturgy and Archbishop Bergoglio seems to have mistakenly worn the mantle instead of the sakkos. This is pretty much the same as if a Latin Rite con-celebrant were to have worn the cope in place of the chasuble. Hopefully he'll serve a Divine Liturgy as pope, but I only want him to in proper vestments. If he isn't going to wear full byzantine vestments, it would be best to leave the issue alone until the next pope. Pope John XIII did an excellent job and wore full byzantine vestments, adding the fanon and substituting the papal tiara for the miter. Pope John Paul II didn't wear byzantine vestments at all, which was an embarrassing shame and inappropriate. Hopefully, PF will follow the example of the former and not the latter, but I think that PF's inability to chant (due to his tone-deafness) could make this a moot point.

Refreshing Water at Mid-Pentecost

Many hymns in the Office of Mid-Pentecost
make reference to Christ as the Living Water
that came from Heaven.

"Alien to mothers is virginity, and foreign to virgins is child-bearing: yet in thee O Theotokos both are effected. Therefore all the tribes of the earth unceasingly magnify thee."-Irmos to the Theotokos for Mid-Pentecost

Great Lent flew by this year. So has Paschaltide so far. We are already at Mid-Pentecost, the halfway-point of Pascha.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Memorial in Boston

Held last week for the victims of the bombing just a couple of days prior. They are chanting the Canon of the Akathist, this past Saturday being Akathist Saturday on the Julian Calendar. This is of course on Bolyston St. at the edge of the crime scene.


St. George and the Portuguese Monarchy

St. George, São Jorge, Svyatiy Yuri
St. George is Patron of Portugal, England, Milan, Genoa, the Cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and virtually all Christian militaries. You know the classic story of the knight in shining armor who saves the damsel in distress from a dragon? That's St. George and it's the classic and proper way to depict him. The dragon was terrorizing a particular city and a young virgin would be sacrificed to him each month to appease him. One month, the maiden chosen was Christian and prayed for deliverance. St. George was the answer. Contrary to the popular image of the "knight in shining armor", St. George was a Roman soldier, so his "shining armor" was actually the famous Roman "lorica segmentata" ("segmented breastplate") with all the trappings of a Roman soldier.

As Patron Saint of Portugal, he is honored by having his symbol of the dragon (a very old symbol of the country) sit atop one of the royal scepters and two dragons hold up the shield in the coat of arms of the Most Serene House of Bragança.

Arms of the Most Serene House of Bragança

The Scepter of the Dragon has
a dragon, the constitution,
and the crown.


While were talking about sacred symbols in the Portuguese Crown Jewels, the crown of Portugal, the Crown of João VI, has never been worn. João IV at his coronation in 1646 took off his crown and put it at the feet of a statue of Our Lady of the Conception (the title Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception didn't become popular until that dogma was defined in 1854) that was there in the Church of the Monastery of St. Mary, known as the Jeromite Monastery (Moisteiro dos Jeronimos) after the order that lived there, and proclaimed Our Lady of the Conception to be the "True Queen of Portugal". No king has worn a crown since. All subsequent kings were "acclaimed" instead of "crowned". The ceremony remained exactly the same except the placing of the crown on the sovereign's head was omitted and the crown remained at the foot of Our Lady of the Conception the entire time. So in 1817, João VI needed a new set of crown jewels with the resulting set consisting of a crown, two scepters, and a mantle. That means of course that the Crown of João VI has never been worn and has belonged exclusively to the Mother of God.

The Crown of João VI

The Acclamation of of João IV, the last day a Portuguese Sovereign ever wore a crown.
For the sake of completeness:

The Scepter of the Armillary,
topped with the
Portuguese Cross of Christ
The Royal Mantle of João VI

Now of course, the reason why João VI needed a new mantle is because João V donated his mantle to make a cape for the statue of Ecce Homo in Ponta Delgada:

The cape of João V, on the bottom
That makes a clean sweep of the Portuguese Royal Regalia having a Catholic significance of some kind.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Repent Before Things Get a Whole Lot Worse


Today in the Byzantine Rite (according to the Gregorian Calendar anyway) is the Sunday of the Paralytic. He was crippled for 38 years, the Gospel tells us. After curing him, Our Blessed Lord found him again: "Afterwards, Jesus findeth him in the temple, and saith to him: Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee." (Jn 5:14) Being crippled for 38 years was bad enough. Sin so offends God that the pain of Hell is far worse than any pain (physical or mental) that anyone could ever theoretically face in this life. As bad as being crippled for 38 years was, being punished for sin is far worse, so let us repent of our sins lest anything worse happen to us.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Three Holy Hierarchs

Not The Three Holy Hierarchs, but three holy heirarchs nonetheless. Although, Patriarch Svyatoslav and his group did venerate the relics of the Three Holy Hierarchs (St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, and St. Gregory the Theologian), which are kept in Constantinople.

His Beatitude, Svyatoslav, Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus, together with Vladika Boris, Eparch of St. Vladimir the Great of Paris, visited His All-Holiness, Bartholomew, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, with pilgrimages to the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George (where the relics of the Three Holy Hierarchs are kept) and to the Church of the Theotokos of Blachernae, where the Robe of the Theotokos is kept (to which I have particular devotion). What made that visit particularly important is that today is Akathist Saturday on the Julian Calendar (Pascha being so late this year), so His Beatitude was able to serve the Akathist of the Theotokos at her famous shrine in Blachernae.

(L-R:) H.B. Svyatoslav, H.A-H. Bartholomew, V. Boris

His Beatitude with two of the Three Holy Hierarchs

h/t to St. Elias Parish

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Marriage of Thy Son


Join us to thy Son, O Theotokos, that we might be the instruments to bring each other to Heaven. Just as thy Son sacrifices Himself to the Father to be the instrument to bring His Bride, the Church, to Heaven and gives everything of Himself to Her, even His Very Flesh, which She receives in the Holy Eucharist, Their carnal union, that filled with Him, She might become a part of Him and rest in His Heart for all Eternity, so too we give ourselves to thee O Virgin Protectress, that we might be in this same way joined to Him, and joined to Him, likewise be the instruments to bring each other to Heaven, that we might be icons in the flesh of His Divine Love.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bending Time & Space



By the merits of this sacrifice in the past, brought here into the present by these Mysteries, may we be purified of our sins and be united to Him in eternity. We do not deserve to possess so perfect a Bridegroom, but He deserves to possess us undefiled and joined to Himself in the Flesh by these Divine Mysteries.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Church's Obligation to Get Involved in Politics


"[I]t must not be forgotten that the Church has the right and duty not only to safeguard her teaching on faith and morals, but also to exercise her authority over her children by intervening in their external affairs whenever a judgment has to be made concerning the practical application of this teaching."

John XXIII
Pacem in Terris
April 11, 1963

h/t to Rorate.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Graphic Thomas

We are still in Thomas Week. Each week of Pascha has a different theme, that of the Sunday that week.

Matthias Stom, The Incredulity of St Thomas, from wiki

I love it when sacred art gets graphic.

Monday, April 8, 2013

How's that "gay rights" thing working out for you?


Modern problems aren't new. They all appear in the Bible. They still haven't won against God or His Church. Abortion is banned by the Torah. Sodom and Gomorrah were literally wiped off the map for homosexuality (only in recent years were their ruins possibly found). Homosexuality was common way back in the book of Genesis thousands of years ago and was the reason for the original rain of fire and brimstone (brimstone, btw, is sulfur in a solid state). Modern problems existed in the Bible and they still haven't won against God or His Church. How's that "gay rights" thing working out for you? What's this "progress" of which you speak?

I'm reminded of St. Paul taunting death after the Resurrection, which we are still celebrating: "O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55)

"Et ego dico tibi, quia tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam, et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam
And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

Gates are a defensive measure. Hell is on the back foot. We are attacking, and we are victorious:

Paschal Tropar, Tone 5
Khristos voskrese iz mertvykh, smertiyu smert poprav,
E sushchim vo grobekh zhivot darovav!

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

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"Explore my Wounds and Doubt no Longer"

Today has more official names than any other day of the year. It is Antipascha, Thomas Sunday, Low Sunday (last Sunday being High Sunday), Sunday in White (referencing the removal of the baptismal garments worn for a week after Baptism at Pascha), the Octave of Easter, Quasimodo Sunday (after today's Mass in the Latin Rite; the Introit begins with the phrase "Quasi modo"-and yes the hunchback is named after today, the day he was found orphaned in the story) & the Feast of Mercy (which is the only name used by Our Lord for today speaking to St. Faustina). The Byzantine Rite reads the second half of the story of St. Thomas today (i.e., the part that takes place today), the first half, which took place on Easter Sunday night, having been read on Easter Sunday night at Agape Vespers. The Latin Rite reads the whole thing today as a single passage.


The Litiya at Vespers last night:
At the Liti, Idiomel Stichera. Tone 4.
O Lord, when doors were shut you came in the unbearable blaze of your godhead and standing among your Disciples you bared your side. You showed them the scars of the wounds in your hands and feet, and banishing their dejection you cried out clearly: ‘The way you see me, my friends, I bear, not a spirit’s nature, but the flesh which I assumed’. To the doubting Disciple, ‘you were ready to handle me with dread’, he said, ‘you investigate all things, come then, do not hesitate’. But he, sensing with his hand your double being, with fear cried out in faith: ‘My Lord and my God, glory to you.’

Tone 8.
‘Touch my side with your hand, Thomas, ‘Christ says, ‘and come, handle the marks of the nails; investigate with faith and become faithful to me. Be not faithless.’ But Thomas, as he touched the Master with his finger, cried out aloud: ‘You are my Lord and my God. O Compassionate, glory to you!’

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. Both now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Tone 8. By Anatolios.
When the doors were shut and the Disciples assembled, the Saviour came where they were gathered; and standing among them he says to Thomas: ‘Come, handle me, and see the marks of the nails; stretch out your hand and touch my side, and be not faithless, but with faith proclaim my Resurrection from the dead.’

From the Canon at Matins:
Ode 6. The Irmos:
You saved the prophet from the whale, O Lover of mankind, lead me up too, I pray, from the deep of offences.

Verse: Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Troparia:
You did not leave Thomas, Master, plunged in the deep of unbelief when you stretched out your palms for investigation.

Verse: Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

The Saviour said, ‘Handle me and see that I have bones and flesh. I am not changed’.

Verse: Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

Thomas, who was not present at your first entrance, handled your side and believing acknowledged you.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

These Two Antiphons Always Make Me Laugh

He's Naked Somewhere!

From Byzantine Rite Vespers last night:

"The watchmen were instructed by the lawless Ones * to conceal Christ's Resurrection * and taking money to say that 'while we slept the corpse was stolen from the grave.' * Who ever saw, or who ever heard of a corpse being stolen? * Especially one anointed yet naked, * and with its grave-clothes left in the tomb? * Be not deceived, O ye Jews, * learn from the sayings of the Prophets, * and know that He is truly the Redeemer of the world and All-powerful."

From Matins back on Monday:

"Let the Jews tell how the soldiers lost the King they were guarding Him. * Why then did the stone not guard the rock of life? * Either let them give up the one who was buried or adore him as risen, * exclaiming together with us: * 'Glory to the multitude of Thy mercies: * O Saviour, glory be to Thee!'."

These are the antiphons from the early Church reacting to those who deny that the Resurrection is an actual historical event. The best part is that they are from the regular Resurrectional services that repeat on Sundays throughout the year (they are said one each day this week) so every few weeks we get to hear one of "Who ever heard of a body being stolen naked and the burial cloths left in the grave?" and "Either give us the Body or worship the Resurrection."

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Arise Bridegroom and Bride!


Let the earthly bridegroom and bride now give themselves to Christ the Bridegroom, who has offered the victorious sacrifice, the completed sacrifice, the sacrifice that survives death, the sacrifice that has atoned for the sins of the world. Let them sacrifice themselves to the Divine Bridegroom to be instruments to take care of each other, to be participants in this victorious sacrifice, that they might bring each other to purity and to the glory of Heaven.