Sunday, April 29, 2007

On Humility, Not Despairing, and the Passions

“I shall tell you something strange, but do not be surprised by it. Should you fail to attain dispassion because of the predispositions dominating you, but at the time of your death be in the depths of humility, you will be exalted above the clouds no less than the man who is dispassionate.”

-- St. Theognostus

from the Antiochian Orthdox Diocese of Los Angeles and the West "Thoughts of the Day"

[Saint Theo-gnostus is, if not mistaken, rendered in English and Saint God-knower. Anyone with enough Greek to help me confirm that? - H]

Friday, April 27, 2007

Side Blog - Let Us Praise Famous Men

New Netherland c. 1650, from Wikipedia Commons

Please visit my new single-subject side blog:

Monday, April 23, 2007

St. George's Day

As deliverer of captives and defender of the poor, healer of the infirm and champion of kings, victorious Great Martyr George intercede with Christ our God, for our souls' salvation.

From the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Website:

George, this truly great and glorious Martyr of Christ, was born of a father from Cappadocia and a mother from Palestine. Being a military tribune, or chiliarch (that is, a commander of a thousand troops), he was illustrious in battle and highly honoured for his courage. When he learned that the Emperor Diocletian was preparing a persecution of the Christians, Saint George presented himself publicly before the Emperor and denounced him. When threats and promises could not move him from his steadfast confession, he was put to unheard-of tortures, which he endured with great bravery, overcoming them by his faith and love towards Christ. By the wondrous signs that took place in his contest, he guided many to the knowledge of the truth, including Queen Alexandra, wife of Diocletian, and was finally beheaded in 296 in Nicomedia.

His sacred remains were taken by his servant from Nicomedia to Palestine, to a town called Lydda, the homeland of his mother, and then were finally transferred to the church which was raised up in his name. (The translation of the Saint's holy relics to the church in Lydda is commemorated on November 3; Saint Alexandra the Queen, on April 21.)


I should note that some believe that there was a conflation of two emperors here and that the traditional referral to Diocletian is due to Eusebius only noting Diocletian and Maximian as the instigators of the last great persecution of Christians. However, some of the earliest manuscripts about St. George's martyrdom reflect that a 'Persian' named Dadianus (which may be a corruption of Dacian) which may actually be a reference to one of th junior emperors of the tetrarchy - Galerius (who was from Dacia as that province was demarcated under Diocletian)and Galerius was the Caesar of Asia Minor and the Balkans at that time. Eusebius does not recount for us anything about St. Alexandra, who would have been so famous a martyr herself that one would think he would have remarked on it. We may never know for sure about that part of the story, but that St. George was beheaded for confessing Christ and was an officer in the Roman Legions seems pretty well settled by all accounts. St. George is such a hugely popular saint in the Middle East and in parts of Europe that he rivals St. Nicholas for the amount of folklore about his life and times and attributions to his name.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Forty Days in the Desert (Of Lent) - Recap

As I promised one visitor and fellow voyager on the Way, I wanted to make a few notes here of what I learned from posting about fasting, esp. in the Old Testament. As the trite expression goes: your mileage may vary.


1. Fasting never comes without repentance and humbling oneself before God. Put another way, repentance and humility is the purpose of fasting and these go hand-in-hand.

2. Repentance and fasting is also connected intimately with preparation for intense prayer and, in that time of prayer, fasting, and repentance, seeking the will of God and preparing for mission.

3. Repentance and fasting and prayer is purifying to the heart (or as the Greek Fathers would say - the nous when done for proper purposes. This seems to result in 'seeing God' or 'knowing the will of God' much like Daniel seeing the Angel who touches him and who learns about the Messiah. Here I think of the Beatitudes: 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' An important caveat here . . . you don't do the 'ritual' to see visions, like some sort of shamanic vision quest. Rather, proper God-ward repentance and humility, prayer and fasting simply opens up our hearts. We should not seek visions. That would be an 'improper purpose.'

4. Finally, repentance-fasting-prayer is a God-blessed means by which we might, to our varying abilities, become as Psalm 50 (LXX) says, that 'contrite and humble heart' that God 'will not despise.' Nevertheless, we recognize as Christians that the truly contrite and humble heart was that One who took on our human nature and was willing to suffer death, even death on a cross. Thus we must take as our model in this as in all things our Lord Jesus the Christ, the Only Begotten Word become flesh.


Having posting 'what I learned' I can only say this is 'book-learnin' as my own efforts at prayer and fasting are as nothing and I struggle and fall, and gains made yesterday often seem swallowed up today. So pray for me, and take my ideas as friendly conversation.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Rest In Peace - Some thoughts about the Virginia Tech shootings

My friend Douglas Ian over at the Scrivener has posted a fine memorial to the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings which I commend to you.

At the risk of piling on to the media and conversational frenzy about this horrible crime, the whole media circus surrounding the aftermath brought to mind a similar event which touched me personally a decade ago.

In May 1998, at the age of 15, Kip Kinkel shot his father and mother to death and the next day opened fire on classmates in Springfield, Oregon, murdering two and injuring 25.

I grew up in neighboring Eugene, the county seat. I knew some friends from church camp who had attended Thurston High, the school where Kip attended and where he committed his crime. Our team played their team in sports - the usual interdistrict rivalries.

In 1997-98, I served as a bailiff and judicial clerk to a judge in the Circuit Court, my first post law school job. I took a fews days vacation in May of 1998 and on the first day of that vacation, in a hotel room, I chanced to see on the news my coworkers, Sheriff's Deputies I knew that worked the court, and massive media frenzy as young Kip Kinkel was hauled in to be initially arraigned by my judge. His case was subsequently specially assigned to my judge.

Shortly after coming back from vacation, my judge and his judicial assistant (i.e., secretary) both went on vacation. It was then that I got a fair taste of the ravening wolves of media in their frenzy to get information. Because the defense and the prosecution were less than forthcoming with what the media wanted (i.e., more information more often no matter how trivial), they set their minions to phone the judge's chambers to see if some hapless soul could be talked into giving out some tidbit of information. Whilst the others were away, I was the lucky one to get calls such as "Hello! This is [somebody] from CBS Evening News . . . [blah blah]."

In fact, there was a collateral lawsuit over information flow to the press. The judge had signed off on a stipulated agreement between the prosecution and defense to seal the returns on the warrants to search Mr. Kinkel's family house and school locker.

Search warrants are requested by the police on an affidavit of probable cause to search which generally identifies what they're looking for/hope to find in the search desire to seize. The warrant, issued by the judge, will usually direct what the police are authorized to search for and seize. When executed on, the police file a return affidavit showing what they actually seized pursuant to the warrant.

So the representatives of the State (the 'People') and the defense had agreed that it would be prejudicial to the administration of a fair trial for this guy if the speculative affidavits of what the police thought they might find were released into the all-pervasive national media covering the case.

A newspaper didn't think so, or at least argued that the law did not compel those rights and the risks involved to outweigh the rights of the media in its unsleeping quest to get information to the public. To be fair, there are good arguments on both sides, but the media seems to win this question in the US at least as to this sort of thing. This particular question was sorted out after my appointment at the court had ended but I think the newspaper had it's win and they unsealed those court files.

I thought about all of this, and how surreal the media attention can be, as I watched the "Today Show" set up and broadcasting from the Virginia Tech campus this morning, and felt sick as they hauled in a shy-looking female VT student who had the misfortune to also have been a high-school student at Columbine H.S. when those shootings occurred. I wondered if some energized 'go-getter' at the network followed a hot tip that there was such a student and figured it was such a great bit they had to chase it down and get her on camera. Perhaps she volunteered herself, but she didn't seem like the spotlight desiring type, at least for the view moments I could stomach the interview.

I remember Mr. Kinkel coming into court, a thin stripling of a kid. I think it was for his arraignment on a superseding indictment from the Grand Jury (the first arraignment on such cases comes from a DA's Information, but usually they get the Grand Jury to issue the indictment to avoid the otherwise-required probable cause hearing). It may have been for the finding that he was going to be tried as an adult. Whatever that proceeding was for, I just remember distinctly this little child whom you could've pushed over with a feather, his sad and confused eyes, and wondered how it was all possible.

Kinkel later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to several consequetive sentences, totaling 111 years without possibility of parole.

I saw other, less newsworthy murderers in the court that year. The three youths (two boys and a girl) who were involved in the robbery and beating death of the girl's Alzheimer's afflicted grandfather. The plan to 'knock him out' and get his wallet while he veged in front of the TV got out of hand and one of the boys killed him with the old man's own intricately carved wooden cane. Poor man didn't die quickly, tho' - in pain he staggered to the phone and tried to call someone as blood poured from his head. The crime scene photos showed his blood-stained fingerprints smeared across the keypad where he'd dipped his hand in his own blood from his head and then tried to dial. He let the phone down and wandered to his bed, lay down and bled to death in his bed.

Then there was the group of 'street youth' who decided to have a stomping party because they believed one of their friends who claimed that a young man who was camped down by the river had raped her. The young man was sort of a transient, maybe more like a summer hitchhiker/backpacker traveling the I-5 corridor as many do in the finer weather - a 'free soul.' Enraged at the story, the gang of kids went out in the night and invaded his camp and had a boot party on him. He was so wounded he couldn't escape and was still there when they came back several hours later to finish the job in the early morning darkness. Alas, but the girl recanted her rape story. Turns out some of the kids involved in the gang were but 'pretend' street waifs who would be dropped off by their relatively affluent parents for the weekend downtown and picked up later.

There was Compton, a Springfield methamphetamine user, who killed the 3-year-old daughter of his live-in girlfriend. The girl, whose body was found in a grave near Sweet Home in 1997, had been bound, shocked and sexually assaulted. Prosecutors involved in the case called it the worst case of child abuse they had ever seen.

These passed through our court. In our courthouse, there were others as well that year.

There was the truly evil murders by Conan Wayne Hale and Jonathan Wayne Susbauer, who were convicted of murdering Hale's ex-girlfriend, Kristal Bendele, 15; her boyfriend, Brandon Williams, 15; and a friend, Patrick Finley, 13, in 1995. Bendele and Williams were naked, their bodies piled beside a gravel road. Nearby, the body of Finley was dressed in his shorts and T-shirt, Bendele's pants and a rabbit fur coat. Hale and Susbauer blamed each other. Susbauer was sentenced to life in prison as part of a cooperation deal, I believe. There was a lot of testimony the Hale trial about the sexual nature of the crime, how Hale posed his victims with each other before he shot them. It was Brandon Williams, I think, that lay on the log landing for many, many hours before succumbing to death. I watched a little of that trial . . . Hale, unlike Kinkel, seemed malevolent even sitting at his trial.
Hale gained international attention when jail officials taped a conversation he had with a Roman Catholic priest. Catholic officials sued, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that County officials had violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the Civil Rights Act. Hale was sentenced the same month that Kinkel committed his crimes. Interestingly, I was asked to run an errand for the judge in that case: to deliver the signed and sealed death warrant for Hale to the Sheriff. A little ink sometimes is quite powerful.

But none of these had quite the media-darling impact of a multiple shooting spree at a school, like Kinkel. The national media just fell all over itself for that one.

A lot of ink is getting spilled, and will get spilled, and words spewed onto the airwaves about 'what it all means' and 'how do we avoid this happening.'

Folks - murder happens EVERY SINGLE DAY. Today/Yesterday in Baghdad around 200 people were killed in car bomb attacks. Yet our media will spend countless hours today trying to get the latest tidbit about the VT shootings, a new angle, a new spin. Today 3 Christians in Turkey were found murdered, execution style, in their bible-publishing shop. Of course we can go on and on and on and on.

What it means is that there is evil loose in this world, that we are generally fallen and not 'enlightened.' The VT shootings were a crime and great tragedy. Let us pray for the peace, salvation, and visitation of the families of the honored dead and the repose for those killed, and recovery for the wounded. Let us look at our own deeds and cry 'Lord have mercy!' There is but One who can lead us to where this does not happen, but it is a hard and narrow way.

And let's turn the TV off for a while too.

Rest in peace, fallen of Virginia Tech.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Despair not

On Not Measuring One’s Progress
In conclusion, I would like to make one more point concerning the theme of transformation. The Holy Fathers counsel us that we are not to try to measure our spiritual progress. Trying to measure our progress can lead to pride on the one hand, and to despair on the other. If we think, "I’m making great progress, I’m becoming holy," we can be sure that we are not making progress, because we are being prideful, and pride separates us from God. On the other hand, if we despair about what seems to be our lack of progress, this despair also separates us from God.

So, let God do the measuring of our progress. Let God be the judge, both of ourselves and of others.

Benjamin Franklin had the practice of counting up and recording all the good deeds he did every day. From a worldly point of view, this might seem to be a good practice; but this is not what we are to do as Orthodox Christians. We are not supposed to count up our virtues and good deeds and then congratulate ourselves, for Christ said, Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth (Matt. 6:3). In fact, we are supposed to do the opposite: we are to look at our own sins. "Grant me to see my own sins, and not to judge my brother," as we say in the Prayer of St. Ephraim. We need to accuse ourselves of our sins, but we should not judge ourselves in the sense of passing a sentence of condemnation. This is an important distinction. Godly self-accusation leads to taking responsibility for our sins so that we can repent of them, make amends when necessary, and ultimately become free of them. Self-condemnation, on the other hand, leads to despair—because, in passing final judgment on ourselves, we are playing God just as surely as when we pass final judgment on our neighbor.

Spiritual transformation, as we have seen, cannot occur without the Grace of the Holy Spirit. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit (John 3:8). Transformation by the Grace of God is imperceptible at the time that it occurs. We are being changed, but we do not know it. Therefore, we should not attempt to experience states or moments of transformation. Such an attempt can, after all, only lead to pride and delusion. It is ours only to leave behind all that separates us from God, to turn to God with our whole being, and to let God do the rest.

Spiritual transformation is only perceptible in hindsight. One day we may be able to look back and consider how things have become different. Perhaps we will notice that we are no longer enslaved to a particular passion that once held us tightly. Perhaps, although the circumstances of our lives might be even more difficult than they were in the past, we will notice that we are not reacting to them as negatively as we used to, and that we have a greater sense of trust that our lives are in God’s hands. If we notice such things, let us give thanks to God and not take credit ourselves, remembering the words of St. Diadochos: "Only the Holy Spirit can purify the nous." Then, continuing to practice inner watchfulness, let us look more deeply into ourselves, there to discover more hidden and subtle passions, which we must also put to death on the altar of sacrifice for the sake of Christ.

It is a difficult path, this path of continual re-creation into the likeness of Christ, this path of sacrifice that leads to deification. Our Lord has told us: Narrow is the gate, and difficult is the way, which leadeth unto life (Matt. 7:14). But this is the only way we can follow in order to fulfill the true designation of our existence.

Therefore, following the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, let us not be conformed to this age, let us not follow after the fashions of this world, let us not fashion ourselves according to the passions. Rather, let us be transformed, transfigured into new beings through repentance, through the healing and purification of our nous. Through this transformation, may we come to genuinely love God and our neighbor, may we be united with God through His Grace, and may we dwell forever in perfect love with Christ and His saints. Amen.

- Hieromonk Damascene from a 2005 talk


As I fall and say to myself Get up! Get up! Keep running! These words are helpful to remind me not to sink into despair, which is deadly. So I'm posting them here for my own archival purposes. The end of the week here has turned out to be hard in the despair department.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

For Kamishia's Family

I noticed a comment on an older post - my December 15 post entitled: In Unforeseen Events . . . - by Kamishia who has a son with hypotonia. I ask my regular readers to remember this family in prayer as I can attest to the dark night of struggle, worry, unbidden fears for the future, and sheer exhaustion that such trials can bring to a family. I also know what depths of joy can come of it. Here I offer a few additional things in case Kamishia passes by this way

2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.

- St. Pauls 2nd Letter to the Corinthians Ch. 1

In the Orthodox Churches we will be coming up on several deeply meaningful Sunday commemorations in preparation for the celebration of Pentecost - the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Next Sunday we commemorate the Gospel concerning Jesus post-resurrection encounter with the disciple (believing!) Thomas. We then move on to the Myrrhbearers, and the the paralytic, the Samaritan Woman (the woman at the well, John Ch. 4), and then the Blind Man (John Ch. 9). If you happen to have a chance to go to one of these services - the paralytic or blind man Sunday's esp., Kamishia, I think you will find good words for your heart if you listen carefully.


I intended to also mention that, while very trying to watch, it is also a huge gain in perspective on our little troubles to spend the time to watch My Flesh and Blood and ruminate seriously on what it means to lay down one's life for another. Some may criticize Susan Tom as doing this for herself in a weird sort of way . . . I don't see it.

Synopsis of My Flesh and Blood

[I believe many libraries have this, it may be rented, and Amazon carries it]

In any case, in all things may God be magnified!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bright Week Reading - Paschal Canon Annotated

St. John of Damascus - traditional author of the Canon of Pascha

I found this interesting annotated Paschal Canon at Archimandrite Ephrem's site. Click his link to get the PDF. He is working on translating many things from the Greek into English which heretofor have not been translated, and providing some annotated liturgical texts, relying on St. Nikodemos' notes on the liturgical texts. It would be helpful to have some knowledge of Greek, but I don't think you need to be a sophisticated Greek student to get some value out of the footnotes.

It is VERY interesting (although somewhat academic, in the best sense) to learn where these liturgical texts we sing actually derive from.

Have fun!


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tuesday of Bright Week - He is made known to them in the breaking of bread

Ἐκ τοῦ κατὰ Λουκᾶν:
12 ο δε πετρος αναστας εδραμεν επι το μνημειον και παρακυψας βλεπει τα οθονια κειμενα μονα και απηλθεν προς εαυτον θαυμαζων το γεγονος 13 και ιδου δυο εξ αυτων ησαν πορευομενοι εν αυτη τη ημερα εις κωμην απεχουσαν σταδιους εξηκοντα απο ιερουσαλημ η ονομα εμμαους 14 και αυτοι ωμιλουν προς αλληλους περι παντων των συμβεβηκοτων τουτων 15 και εγενετο εν τω ομιλειν αυτους και συζητειν και αυτος ο ιησους εγγισας συνεπορευετο αυτοις 16 οι δε οφθαλμοι αυτων εκρατουντο του μη επιγνωναι αυτον 17 ειπεν δε προς αυτους τινες οι λογοι ουτοι ους αντιβαλλετε προς αλληλους περιπατουντες και εστε σκυθρωποι 18 αποκριθεις δε ο εις ω ονομα κλεοπας ειπεν προς αυτον συ μονος παροικεις εν ιερουσαλημ και ουκ εγνως τα γενομενα εν αυτη εν ταις ημεραις ταυταις 19 και ειπεν αυτοις ποια οι δε ειπον αυτω τα περι ιησου του ναζωραιου ος εγενετο ανηρ προφητης δυνατος εν εργω και λογω εναντιον του θεου και παντος του λαου 20 οπως τε παρεδωκαν αυτον οι αρχιερεις και οι αρχοντες ημων εις κριμα θανατου και εσταυρωσαν αυτον 21 ημεις δε ηλπιζομεν οτι αυτος εστιν ο μελλων λυτρουσθαι τον ισραηλ αλλα γε συν πασιν τουτοις τριτην ταυτην ημεραν αγει σημερον αφ ου ταυτα εγενετο 22 αλλα και γυναικες τινες εξ ημων εξεστησαν ημας γενομεναι ορθριαι επι το μνημειον 23 και μη ευρουσαι το σωμα αυτου ηλθον λεγουσαι και οπτασιαν αγγελων εωρακεναι οι λεγουσιν αυτον ζην 24 και απηλθον τινες των συν ημιν επι το μνημειον και ευρον ουτως καθως και αι γυναικες ειπον αυτον δε ουκ ειδον 25 και αυτος ειπεν προς αυτους ω ανοητοι και βραδεις τη καρδια του πιστευειν επι πασιν οις ελαλησαν οι προφηται 26 ουχι ταυτα εδει παθειν τον χριστον και εισελθειν εις την δοξαν αυτου 27 και αρξαμενος απο μωσεως και απο παντων των προφητων διηρμηνευεν αυτοις εν πασαις ταις γραφαις τα περι εαυτου 28 και ηγγισαν εις την κωμην ου επορευοντο και αυτος προσεποιειτο πορρωτερω πορευεσθαι 29 και παρεβιασαντο αυτον λεγοντες μεινον μεθ ημων οτι προς εσπεραν εστιν και κεκλικεν η ημερα και εισηλθεν του μειναι συν αυτοις 30 και εγενετο εν τω κατακλιθηναι αυτον μετ αυτων λαβων τον αρτον ευλογησεν και κλασας επεδιδου αυτοις 31 αυτων δε διηνοιχθησαν οι οφθαλμοι και επεγνωσαν αυτον και αυτος αφαντος εγενετο απ αυτων 32 και ειπον προς αλληλους ουχι η καρδια ημων καιομενη ην εν ημιν ως ελαλει ημιν εν τη οδω και ως διηνοιγεν ημιν τας γραφας 33 και ανασταντες αυτη τη ωρα υπεστρεψαν εις ιερουσαλημ και ευρον συνηθροισμενους τους ενδεκα και τους συν αυτοις 34 λεγοντας οτι ηγερθη ο κυριος οντως και ωφθη σιμωνι 35 και αυτοι εξηγουντο τα εν τη οδω και ως εγνωσθη αυτοις εν τη κλασει του αρτου

This is per Luke [Chapter 24]

12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. 25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? 33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.



There is so much here to ponder - dread mysteries of the faith abound here, I think. I will ponder them without speaking much of my thoughts, but I will say that the Evangelists rarely tell us something about what Jesus said or did without it having some importance, and the focus here upon the charity of the disciples in inviting the 'stranger' to abide with them, the hearing of the word expounded, and then the breaking of the bread, at which time their eyes are opened and knowledge of the presence of the risen Christ breaks forth on them seems to me to be of the utmost importance to us.

Interestingly, the next series of verses completes the cycle in that the resurrection of the Lord is subsequently 'preached' to the 11 (v. 34) and "And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you." [v.35]. He shows them his wounds, and he takes food, and he again opens their eyes to the meaning of the scriptures (OT) concerning him.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Pascha A.D. 2007 - Christ is Risen!

Χριστός Άνέστη! Άληθώς Άνέστη!
المسيح قام! حقا قام
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling down death by death
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!

Listen (Has multiple languages incl. Greek, English, Spanish, and Arabic)
[from Greek Orthodox Archdiocese - opens in new window and requires Quicktime player]

It is the Day of Resurrection! Let us shine forth in splendor for the Festival, and embrace one another. Let us say, ‘O brethren!' even to those, who do not love us; let us forgive all things in the Resurrection, and thus, let us exclaim: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling Death by death, and bestowing life to those in the tombs". (Doxasticon of Orthros in Tone 5)

And from Handel's Messiah Part III - which begins with the Soprano singing the Air
I know that my Redeemer liveth
And that He shall stand at the latter day
Upon the earth.
And though worms destroy this body
Yet in my flesh shall I see God.
For now is Christ risen from the dead
The first fruits of them that sleep.

Listen [Opens in new window]


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Holy Saturday

In a grave they laid Thee, O my Life and my Christ,
And the armies of the angels were so amazed,
As they sang the praise of Thy submissive love.

. . .

Right is it indeed, life bestowing Lord to magnify Thee,
For upon the Cross were Thy hands outspread,
And the strength of our dread foe Thou didst destroy.

. . .

Every generation, to the grave comes bringing,
Dear Christ, its dirge of praises

Friday, April 06, 2007

Great and Holy Friday

Today He who hung the earth upon the waters
Is hung upon a tree

He who is King of the angels
Is arrayed in a crown of thorns

He who wraps the heavens in clouds
Is wrapped in the purple of mockery

He who freed Adam in the Jordan
Receives a blow on the face

The Bridegroom of the Church
Is affixed to the cross with nails

The Son of the Virgin
Is pierced by a spear

We worship Thy passion, O Christ!

Show us also Thy glorious resurrection!

-From the Ninth Hour Service of the Royal Hours of Great and Holy Friday

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Lament and a Prayer

Thy bridal chamber
I see adorned
O my Savior
And I have no wedding garment
That I may enter.

The vesture of my soul
O Giver of Light
And save me.

- Exaposteilarion for Bridegroom Matins
[icon from Orthodox Church in America's Holy Week in Icons page]

Monday, April 02, 2007

Behold The Man

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Gospel According to St. Matthew 25:6