Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy New Year!

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation. In England and the British Colonies, this was known as Lady's Day or Lady Day. Until 1752, this was New Year's Day in British Colonial America and in Great Britain.

I think we should celebrate the New Year on March 25th.

Prior article on calendars here

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Short Story

Dear reader, indulge me a bit as I have been thinking about this idea of God 'singing' which was recently suggested by Fr. Stephen Freeman. Have you ever thought that it's fairly likely that when Jesus recited the scriptures in the Synagogue, he probably chanted them? Imagine, God the Only-Begotten chanted the Old Testament lesson!

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.

And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place

and he began to chant in Hebrew - faintly at first, but with growing strength:

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor;

Many there did not understand the Hebrew, since they had grown up speaking Greek and Aramaic, and Greek was more routinely heard even for Torah, but as he chanted the words seemed to take shape and each hearer had a vision, as he listened, of some nearly inexpressible joy. Afterward, recalling the moment, one would say: "it was a vision of myself, as a child, being let out off from work in the fields for a day," and another would say, "I saw myself at the feet of One, weeping in great grief, and yet my heart was light with joy," and still another, "I cannot say, except that when I heard the music of that Voice, for a moment it seemed I would comprehend the mysteries of life - that I would hear a word like Job heard the voice out of a whirlwhind, or Moses from the fiery bush, although now it all seems agains shadowy and vague -- but I know how I felt then."

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

Then He closed the book, and gave [it] back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


"Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die.

But if a man is just and does what is lawful and right;

If he has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor's wife, nor approached a woman during her impurity;

If he has not oppressed anyone, [but] has restored to the debtor his pledge; has robbed no one by violence, [but] has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing;

If he has not exacted usury nor taken any increase, [but] has withdrawn his hand from iniquity [and] executed true judgment between man and man;

[If] he has walked in My statutes and kept My judgments faithfully-- he [is] just; he shall surely live!" Says the Lord GOD.

"If he begets a son [who is] a robber or a shedder of blood, [who] does any of these [things]

And does none of those [duties], but has eaten on the mountains Or defiled his neighbor's wife;

If he has oppressed the poor and needy, robbed by violence, not restored the pledge, lifted his eyes to the idols, [or] committed abomination;

If he has exacted usury or taken increase-- shall he then live? He shall not live! If he has done any of these abominations, he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.

[If], however, he begets a son who sees all the sins which his father has done, and considers but does not do likewise;

[Who] has not eaten on the mountains, nor lifted his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, nor defiled his neighbor's wife;

Has not oppressed anyone, nor withheld a pledge, nor robbed by violence, [but] has given his bread to the hungry and covered the naked with clothing;

[Who] has withdrawn his hand from the poor [and] not received usury or increase, but has executed My judgments And walked in My statutes-- he shall not die for the iniquity of his father; he shall surely live!

As for] his father, because he cruelly oppressed, robbed his brother by violence, And did what [is] not good among his people, behold, he shall die for his iniquity.

Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?' Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live.

The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.

Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?" says the Lord GOD, "[and] not that he should turn from his ways and live?

But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked [man] does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.

Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' Hear now, O house of Israel, is it not My way which is fair, and your ways which are not fair?

When a righteous [man] turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.

Again, when a wicked [man] turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive.

Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not fair.' O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?

"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord GOD. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?

For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord GOD. "Therefore turn and live!"

- Ezekiel 18:5-32 (NKJV)

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen.

- Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth [to be] a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.

- Romans 3:23-25