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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Standing Up to the Government When the Government Sins

Feast of the Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John

Troparion, Tone 2
The memory of the righteous is celebrated with hymns of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for you, O Forerunner. You were shown in truth to be the most honorable of the prophets, for you were deemed worthy to baptize in the streams of the Jordan Him whom they foretold. Therefore, having suffered for the truth with joy, you proclaimed to those in hell God who appeared in the flesh, who takes away the sin of the world, and grants us great mercy.

Kontakion, Tone 5
The glorious beheading of the Forerunner, became an act of divine dispensation, for he preached to those in hell the coming of the Savior. Let Herodias lament, for she entreated lawless murder, loving not the law of God, nor eternal life, but that which is false and temporal.

Readings at Divine Liturgy:
Epistle: Acts §33 [13:25-33].
Gospel: Mark §24 [6:14-29].

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Major Liturgical Eye Candy!!! - Consecration of the Patriarchal Cathedral in Kyiv

This morning in Kyiv, His Beatitude Svyatoslav, Patriarch of Kyiv and All Rus, consecrated the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. There's a lot packed into that statement, as we'll see.

Here are some photos from the website of the UGCC as well as stills from the Zhyve.tv broadcast:

The first part of the dedication, the procession with the relics three times around the church to be dedicated, was done before the start of this broadcast. The broadcast started when they had just entered the Cathedral. The second part, the sealing of the relics in the Holy Table, is normally done at this time, but that was done later after the consecration of the Holy Table.

The third part, the consecration of the Holy Table, is also called the Baptism of the Holy Table, since it consists of washing the Holy Table with soap and water, then rose water and wine, and finally it is anointed with Holy Myron (Chrism). From here on out, most actions are accompanied by the chanting of various psalms with various prayers chanted in between.

The Holy Table is Blessed:

Then the (long) prayers of dedication were said, which are done kneeling:

For the washings, the bishop(s) put on white linen tunics, which after the ceremony are cut up and distributed to the faithful. With 20,000 people present at a Cathedral that holds several thousand, I wonder how many got a piece. There were many big screens outside so everyone could see.

The second washing:

Anointing with Holy Myron:

It was at this time that the relics were sealed in the Holy Table, one set in the middle and one set in each corner. Each is dipped in Holy Myron before being placed in the Holy Table:

Here is a close-up of two sets in paper envelopes at their preparation a few days ago:

The relics, all martyrs, include the Holy Apostles Peter, Paul and Andrew the First-Called, Popes Clement and Martin of Rome, who both died in Ukraine, the Holy Heiromartyr Josaphat, and two of the Blessed Ukrainian New-Martyrs, Mykola Charnetsky and Josaphat Kotsylovsky. Interesting how one Josaphat is named after the other.

Sealing the round relic-stones with wax mastic (His Beatitude sealed each of the relics and one bishop scraped the extra off each tomb):

Next the Holy Table is vested (with the vestments blessed and incensed). The bottom cloth protects the upper, precious cloth from the Myron on the surface of the Holy Table.

Then the Throne and Table of Preparation got blessed:

As His Beatitude was returning from the Table of Preparation, I spotted my local bishop, Bishop Paul Chomnycky, Eparch of Stamford (he's the one facing the camera):

The Fourth and Final part is the consecration of the Temple itself. A full incensation of the altar and iconostas is performed, except by the bishop instead of by the deacon, who normally does it. The bishop makes several laps of the church on the inside, first incensing it, then blessing it, then anointing the doorposts and columns with Myron. Here, one lap was performed with Patriarch Svyatoslav (preceded by the deacon) incensing, followed by two metropolitans, one blessing and the other anointing.

Lastly, the lights of the temple are lit, the process started by the bishop. Divine Liturgy follows, served in the normal way, except that the opening blessing ("Blessed is the Kingdom...") is not given by a priest, as is normal for a Hierarchal Divine Liturgy, but by the bishop himself.

The Gospel, with a nice shot of the Holy Table:

A nice wide shot of the Altar (with its incomplete iconostas) during the Gospel. You can see the finished marble floor, with much of it obstructed by an army of priests:

The Great Entrance:

Conclusion of the Great Entrance with a shot of the Patriarchal Throne at the back:

"The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God the Father, and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all." Note how the Trikeri and Dikeri were decorated with flowers for the occasion:

"Let us lift up our hearts."

During the preface. You can see one of two tables with chalices for Communion that were set up outside the Altar (all the bread however, was on the Holy Table itself):

With this many priests, the words of Consecration sounded as if the whole church was chanting them:

"Thine own, of Thine own, we offer to Thee, on behalf of all and for all."

Note that Patriarch Svyatoslav, who is a great lover and promoter of tradition in his own Rite, has a properly cut Lamb with commemorations on the discos. Due to the *huge* number of faithful, he did use pre-cuts however, but they were on separate discoi, all of them on the Holy Table near the main discos.


Incensation of the Divine Mysteries at the Commemoration of the Theotokos:

You remember that army of priests? and that there were 20,000 people at a Cathedral that holds only several thousand? and all the many chalices? Well, time for many of those priests to grab a chalice and a spoon, and get to work doing what they were ordained to do. Inside:

and outside. Each priest here is accompanied by a blue and white umbrella. We now get some good shots of the completed outside:

All the white inside? It *all* needs to be covered with icons. The inside decor is the part of construction that's still left. Structurally, the cathedral was finished a year or two ago and the floor installed about two weeks ago. Here, Patriarch Svyatoslav blesses the faithful with the Divine Mysteries:

Here he chants the dismissal. In the top corner of the photo you can see the artophor (ark/tabernacle). This one looks like a huge chalice:

Hopefully, I got everything. The whole dedication took a good hour and a half and the Divine Liturgy after that two hours.

Update: Added a couple more photos.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pray to God for Us, O Mother On High!

Troparion, Tone 1
In childbearing you preserved your virginity, / In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. / You were translated to life, O Mother of Life, / And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.

Kontakion, Tone 2
Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos, / Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. / For being the Mother of Life, / She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

God Can Restore You to a State of Being Pure

Purity cannot be contained by sin just like how Christ cannot be contained by death and light cannot be contained by darkness. Darkness can cover and surround light, but it cannot dissolve the light. The light will always scatter the darkness. Death can cover and surround Christ, but it cannot eliminate Him. Christ is Life itself and will always destroy death and it cannot contain Him, even if it completely swallows Him. So too, sin can cover and swallow purity, but it cannot destroy it forever. Purity always dispels sin because purity is merely the state of being joined to God and sin the state of being separated from God. Being reunited with God and perfecting your union with Him undoes sin and removes it from your past. A sinner can truly loose her purity just as Christ truly lost His life, but it can always be restored by being reunited with He who rose from the dead. Sin can struggle, like darkness and death, but it cannot win. The sinner can always be cured and restored to the state of never having sinned and never having defiled herself by simply being reunited with God because sin cannot stand God's presence and God cannot stand sin's presence. If she returns to God, she is purified there-by. Sin cannot win.

Monday, August 12, 2013

You Don't Hear People Talk Like This Anymore

From the Diary of Anne Frank:

"Love, what is love? I don't think you can really put it into words. Love is understanding someone, caring for him, sharing his joys and sorrows. This eventually includes physical love. You've shared something, given something away and received something in return, whether or not you're married, whether or not you have a baby. Losing your virtue doesn't matter, as long as you know that for as long as you live you'll have someone at your side who understands you, and who doesn't have to be shared with anyone else!"

Note the emphases. People don't talk like this anymore. She draws an equivalence between physical love and having a baby-heck, she calls it "physical love". She also talks about the idea of saving yourself for someone and continuing to belong exclusively to that person. Morality isn't found in the way people speak anymore. The way people speak is important. It's not just what you come right out and say in the way you speak, but also what is implied by the way you speak and the ideas on which your manner of speaking is based.

We can expand on that idea of exclusivity by saying that God created you for the purpose of calling you to marriage with that person. He created you to be specifically with that person and that person specifically to be with you and that your whole lives you should be saving yourselves to belong exclusively to each other at the time God appointed. Why? Because God deserves it. God deserves to have His creation function according to the plan for which He created it. It's as simple as that.

And to think, she didn't even have a Christian upbringing (obviously) and she could figure this out! Although, after trying to comment on love myself (it's ultimately the whole point of this blog), I can say that the first remark I emphasized is the most true of all in that quote. Love is ineffable because Love is God-real Love, not some sort human emotion (although emotion does mimic some properties of Love since the whole point of promoting emotional pleasure is to lead people into sin).

Saturday, August 10, 2013

To Be Holy, You Must Oppose the Crowds

Today's Gospel in the Byzantine Rite:

Mt 20:29-34
At that time, when they went out from Jericho, a great multitude followed Jesus. And behold two blind men sitting by the way side, heard that Jesus passed by, and they cried out, saying: O Lord, thou son of David, have mercy on us. And the multitude rebuked them that they should hold their peace. But they cried out the more, saying: O Lord, thou son of David, have mercy on us. And Jesus stood, and called them, and said: What will ye that I do to you? They say to him: Lord, that our eyes be opened. And Jesus having compassion on them, touched their eyes. And immediately they saw, and followed him.

To be holy and reach God, you must go against the crowds, no matter how much they hate you and condemn you for it. You must be focused only on God and ignore everything people say to you to the contrary, regardless of how intense their opposition to you gets. "If the world hate you, know ye, that it hath hated me before you."-Jn 15:18

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Sobor is starting to look good...

The Cathedral of the Resurrection in Kyiv gets it's new Holy Table ahead of it's consecration by Patriarch Svatoslav on August 18th:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Can Your Prophets Do This?

Today Christ reveals His Divinity, revealing that His preaching is not just words, but that He alone is God, He alone is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life. O ye followers of pseudo-prophets, can your pseudo-prophets do this? O ye protestants, can your founders reveal their divinity? O ye heretics, can your leaders converse freely with Moses and Elias, the Law and the Prophets? O ye followers of heathen sages, can your so-called "wise" men put on such a show of divinity? All ye followers of heresies and false wisdom, either have your leaders and founders prove their divinity or worship the Holy Lord Jesus who founded only one Church, His Bride, and gave us only one path to salvation and appears on the mount with great mercy for the world.