CHRISTMINSTER
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR)
1910 Falls Street, Niagara Falls, New York 14303 USA

APRIL 2015
DAY NC OC F/A OBSERVANCE
WED 1 19 F/A  
THU 2 20 F* St. Cuthbert, BC, III / St. Photini, IV
FRI 3 21   Repose of St. Benedict, I
SAT 4 22 A*  
SUN 5 23   PALM SUNDAY
MON 6 24 F/A* St. Gabriel, III
TUE 7 25   ANNUNCIATION, I
WED 8 26 F/A St. Tikhon, BC, III [Patron of Western Rite] (Unction Service)
THU 9 27 F/A Maundy Thursday / (St. Joseph of Arimathea, III)
FRI 10 28 F/A Good Friday
SAT 11 29 F/A* Holy Saturday
SUN 12 30   EASTER / (St. John Climacus, AB, IV)
MON 13 31   OCTAVE / (St. Innocent of Alaska, BC, IV)
TUE 14 1   OCTAVE
WED 15 2   OCTAVE / (St. Mary of Egypt, Penitent, IV)
THU 16 3   OCTAVE
FRI 17 4   OCTAVE / (St. Ambrose, BCD, III)
SAT 18 5   OCTAVE
SUN 19 6   LOW SUNDAY (IN ALBIS)
MON 20 7    
TUE 21 8    
WED 22 9    
THU 23 10    
FRI 24 11   St. Leo the Great, BCD, III
SAT 25 12    
SUN 26 13   EASTER II / St Justin, M, III
MON 27 14    
TUE 28 15   St. Alphege, IV
WED 29 16   St. Joseph, II
THU 30 17    

 

RANKS of Feasts:
I. Solemnity
II. Greater Feast
III. Lesser Feast
IV. Commemoration

 

Ranks I & II always have first and second Vespers; take precedence over Sundays ranked II; suspend fasting & abstinence from First Vespers through Second Vespers.

Rank III has First Vespers only and uses the psalms of the occurring feria, with proper antiphons (or antiphons from the Common).

Rank IV are commemorated only at First Vespers and Lauds, though the Mass may be of the commemorated saint(s).

See Customary for ranking of Sundays.

Abbreviations:
Ab = Abbot, Abbess K = King
AP = Apostle M = Martyr
APS = Apostles Mk = Monastic
B = Bishop MM = Martyrs
C = Confessor P = Priest, Prophet
Dc = Deacon V = Virgin
D = Doctor VV = Virgins
EV = Evangelist W = Widow
Daily Posting: March 19/April 1

My sheep hear my voice and I the Lord both know them, and they follow me. [Benedictus antiphon, Lauds, Wednesday, Passion Week]

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MERCIFULLY enlighten the hearts of thy faithful people, O God, by this fast which thou hast hallowed: and in thy loving-kindness graciously give ear to thy suppliant people unto whom thou grantest the grace of devotion. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Wednesday, Lauds, Passion Week]

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Many good works have I wrought among you: for which of these works do ye wish to kill me? [Magnificat antiphon, Vespers, Wednesday, Passion Week]

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ASSIST us mercifully, Almighty God, in these our supplications: and grant that we, to whom thou hast given a full assurance of hope in thy goodness, may receive the fruit of thy wonted loving-kindness. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Wednesday, Vespers, Passion Week]

Daily Posting: March 20/April 2

O Holy Cuthbert, be thou our protector; thou that wast the glory and honour of thy people in this world, be mindful of us now in heaven; do thou beseech God for us, that with thee we may obtain joy everlasting. [Antiphon, St. Cuthbert, March 20/April 2]

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The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with my disciples. [Benedictus antiphon, Lauds, Thursday, Passion Week]

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GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that as the dignity of human nature hath been injured through excess so by zeal for healing frugality it may be restored. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Thursday, Lauds, Passion Week]

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With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. [Magnificat antiphon, Vespers, Thursday, Passion Week]

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BE favourable to thy people, O Lord, we beseech thee: and grant that they, eschewing those things which displease thee, may be the more abundantly filled with the delights of thy commandments. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Thursday, Vespers, Passion Week]

Daily Posting: March 21/April 3
Whate'er in former days befell the prophets,
Whate'er renowned in the law eternal:
In him, the greatest monk, whose feast we honour,
All is contained.
Virtue in Moses issued forth in mercy;
Wondrous the offspring unto Abram given;
Righteous and stern, the ruling of his parent
Bride gained for Isaac.
Benedict laden loftily with virtues:
Higher were those our Patriarch had gathered,
Merits of Isaac, Abraham, and Moses
One breast containeth.
Those by the world's blows overcome he lifted,
Meekness established in the place of anger,
Peace where it was not, rest he made to well up
From midst of terror.
Praise to the Father, to the Sole-begotten,
And to thee, alway with the Twain co-equal,
Fostering Spirit; one and only Godhead
Through all the ages. Amen.
(Matins Hymn [Quidquid antiqui], Passing of our Holy Father St. Benedict, March 21/April 3]
Daily Posting: March 22/April 4

 

Thirty years among us dwelling,
His appointed time fulfilled,
Born for this, he meets his Passion,
For this he freely willed;
On the Cross the Lamb is lifted,
Where his life-blood shall be spilled.
He endured the nails, the spitting
Vinegar, and spear, and reed:
From that holy Body broken
Blood and Water forth proceed:
Earth, and stars, and sky, and ocean,
By that flood from stain are freed.
Faithful Cross, above all other
One and only noble Tree;
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peer may be:
Sweetest wood, and sweetest iron!
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.
Bend thy boughs, O Tree of glory,
Thy relaxing sinews bend:
For awhile the ancient rigour
That thy birth bestowed, suspend:
And the King of heavenly beauty
On thy bosom gently tend.
Thou alone wast counted worthy
This world's ransom to sustain;
That a shipwrecked race for ever
Might a port of refuge gain:
With the sacred Blood anointed
Of the Lamb for sinners slain.
Glory be to God, and honour
In the highest, as is meet,
To the Son and to the Father,
And the eternal Paraclete,
Whose is boundless praise and power
Through the ages infinite. Amen.
Lauds hymn - Passiontide [Lustris sex qui jam peractis]
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O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world began. [Benedictus antiphon, Lauds, Saturday, Passion Week]

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We beseech thee, O Lord, let the people dedicated unto thee advance in the spirit of godly devotion: that being disciplined by holy exercises, they may become the more pleasing unto thy Majesty as they increase in more excellent gifts. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Saturday, Lauds, Passion Week]

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Righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, because thou hast sent me. [Magnificat antiphon, Vespers, Saturday, Passion Week]

Daily Posting: March 23/April 5 - - Palm Sunday - 2015

 

The multitudes which came together for the feast day cried unto the Lord: Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. [Benedictus antiphon, Lauds, Palm Sunday]

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ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest for ever. Amen. [Collect, Palm Sunday]

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For it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee; there shall ye see me, saith the Lord. [Magnificat antiphon, Vespers, Palm Sunday]

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Lesson vii

The Lord went up to the Temple, and left the Jews behind. And this was fitting, for he was about to take up his abode in the hearts of the Gentiles. The true temple of God, wherein he is worshipped not in the deadness of the letter, but in spirit and in truth, is that temple whereof the foundations are laid, not in courses of stone, but is acts of faith. He leaveth behind him such as haste him, and getteth him to such as will love him. And so he cometh unto the Mount of Olives, that he may plant upon the heights of virtue those young olive-branches, whose mother is the Jerusalem which is above. Upon this mountain standeth he, the heavenly husbandman, that all they which he planted in the house of the Lord may be able each one to say: As for me, I am like a green olive-tree in the house of God.

Nocturn III - - - From a homily by St. Ambrose the Bishop.

Daily Posting: March 24/April 6

The Angel Gabriel came in unto Mary and said, Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. [Magnificat antiphon, first Vespers, St. Gabriel, March 24/April 6]

O God, who from among other Angels didst choose the Archangel; Gabriel to announce the mystery of the Incarnation: mercifully grant that we who celebrate his feast on earth may experience his protection from heaven. Who with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.[Collect, St. Gabriel, March 24/April 6]

The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, Mary: and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. [Magnificat antiphon, first Vespers, Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary]

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O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world began. [Benedictus antiphon, Lauds, Monday in Holy Week]

GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that we, who by reason of our weakness do falter amid so many adversities, may take heart again through the interceding Passion of thine only-begotten Son. Who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Lauds, Monday in Holy Week]

ALMIGHTY God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified; Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest for ever. Amen. [A P B Collect, Lauds, Monday in Holy Week]

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Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above. [Magnificat antiphon, Vespers, Monday in Holy Week]

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HELP us, O God of our salvation: and grant that we may with joy to the commemoration of those benefits whereby thou hast vouchsafed to redeem us. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Vespers, Monday in Holy Week]

Daily Posting: March 25/April 7

How shall this be, O Angel of God, seeing that I know not a man? Hearken, O Virgin Mary: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. [Benedictus antiphon, Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary]

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O God, who didst ordain that thy Word should take flesh of the blessed Virgin Mary, at the message of an Angel: grant that we thy suppliants, who believe her to be indeed the Mother of God, may be aided by her intercessions before thee. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest for ever. Amen. [Collect, Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary]

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The Angel Gabriel spake unto Mary, saying: Hail, thou that at full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women. [Magnificat antiphon, second Vespers, Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary]

Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them unto the end. [Benedictus antiphon, Lauds, Tuesday in Holy Week]

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Almighty, everlasting God: grant us to celebrate the mysteries of the Lord's Passion, that we may be worthy to receive thy forgiveness. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest for ever. Amen. [A P B Collect, Lauds, Tuesday in Holy Week] O Lord God, whose blessed Son, our Saviour, gave his back to the smiters and hid not his face from shame; Grant us grace to take joyfully the sufferings of th present time, in full assurance of the glory that shall be revealed. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest for ever. Amen. [A P B Collect, Lauds, Tuesday in Holy Week]

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I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again. [Magnificat antiphon, Vespers, Tuesday in Holy Week]

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Let thy merciful kindness, O God: both cleanse us from all the corruption of our old nature, and enable us to walk in newness of life. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Vespers, Tuesday in Holy Week]

Daily Posting: March 26/April 8

O Lord, we beseech thee, hear the prayers which we offer thee on the solemnity of blessed Tikhon, thy Bishop and Confessor: and by the intercession of him who worthily attained to serve thee, absolve us from all our sins. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St. Tikhon, March 26/April 8]

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Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch with me one hour? [Benedictus antiphon, Lauds, Wednesday in Holy Week]

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GRANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that we, who are continually affiicted because of our transgresslons, may be delivered by the Passion of thine only-begotten Son. Who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Lauds, Wednesday in Holy Week]

ASSIST us mercifully with thy help, O Lord God of'our salvation; that we may enter with joy upon the meditation of those mighty acts, whereby thou hast given unto us life and immortality. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [A P B Collect, Lauds, Wednesday in Holy Week]

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A maid said unto Peter, Surely thou art one of them, for thy speech bewrayeth thee. [Magnificat antiphon, Vespers, Wednesday in Holy Week]

ALMIGHTY God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross. Who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Vespers, Wednesday in Holy Week]

Daily Posting: March 27/April 9

 

Here begins the Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet.

Aleph. How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become a widow! She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!

Beth. She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears are on her cheeks; among all her lovers she hath none to comfort her: all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they are become her enemies.

Ghimel. Judah is gone into captivity, because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits.

Daleth. The ways of Sion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate; her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness.

He. Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies proper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God.

[Maundy Thursday Matins, Nocturn I, Lesson i, Chapter 1:1-14]

Daily Posting: March 28/April 10

 

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return unto the Lord thy God.

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

O my vineyard, my chosen, did I not plant thee? How then art thou turned into such bitterness as to crucify me and to release Barabbas? I fenced thee, and gathered out the stones from thee, and built a tower in the midst of thee. How then art thou turned into such bitterness as to crucify me and to release Barabbas? O my vineyard, my chosen, did I not plant thee? How then art thou turned into such bitterness as to crucify me and to release Barabbas?

Strangers are risen up against me, and tyrants seek after my soul.

They gather them together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.

They have spoken against me with a deceitful tongue. They compassed me about also with words of hatred, and fought against me without a cause.

God spared not his own Son: but delivered him up for us all.

Remember me, O Lord my God, when thou comest into thy kingdom.

(Various antiphons and responses from Good Friday Matins and Lauds.

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This is the Good Friday Passion sung in the ancient western-rite chant, in Latin, with a viewable English translation on the side.

The Passion Narrative - Part 1
The Passion Narrative - Part 2
The Passion Narrative - Part 3

Here is the text in English which you can follow:

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ According to John

Daily Posting: March 29/April 11

 

May Almighty God, who hath redeemed mankind, through the Cross and Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, set his blessing upon you: May he grant that, with a devoted mind, ye may comprehend, with all the Saints, which is the length, and breadth, and depth, and height of the meaning of the Cross: That, denying yourselves, and bearing the Cross, ye may zealously follow the example of our Redeemer in this present life, and, in the life of the world to come, may be admitted to the fellowship of the angelic host: Through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord: who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. [From the Leofric Missal]

Be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.

I believe verily to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Two antiphons from Pascha/Easter Even Matins

Daily Posting: March 30/April 12

 

Here is a recording of the Exultet -- perhaps the most jubilant of western-rite chant -- sung on Holy Saturday during the paschal vigil as the new fire is kindled and blessed, and the risen Christ saluted as the true light of the world.

EXSULTET PART 1
EXSULTET PART 2

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ALMIGHTY God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life: We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Easter Day]

And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great, alleluia. [Magnificat antiphon, Easter Day]

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I am Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, who, before the world began, and to ages of ages, live eternally. My hands which made you, were pierced with nails; for you I was scourged and crowned with thorns; I asked for water as I hung upon the Cross, and they gave be vinegar. I died, and was buried, and rose again; and, lo, I am with you always. See that it is I myself, and there is no God beside me. I am your Resurrection, I am your King: and I will raise you up at the last day. See that it is I myself, and there is no God beside me. Alleluia. [From the York Processional]

Daily Posting: March 31/April 13

 

CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD.
DEATH BY DEATH HE DOTH DOWNTREAD.
AND ON THOSE WHOM DEATH HATH SLAIN
HE BESTOWETH LIFE AGAIN.
ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA!

O God, whose blessed Son did manifest himself to his disciples in the breaking of the bread; open, we pray thee, the eyes of our faith, that we may behold thee in all thy works. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen.

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. Maximus, Bishop
Lesson v - - - - - - Sermon 3 on Easter

NOT without reason, my brethren, do we to-day read the Psalm in which the Prophet bids us exult and rejoice. For holy David invites all creatures to this day’s festival. For to-day hell is opened through the resurrection of Christ, earth is renewed through the neophytes of the church, and heaven is revealed through the Holy Spirit.

Daily Posting: April 1/14

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. Maximus, Bishop
Lesson vi - - - - - - Sermon 3 on Easter - - continued

WHEN hell is opened, it gives up its dead; when heaven is unclosed, it receives those who ascend on high. Then the thief mounts up to paradise, the bodies of the saints enter into the Holy City, the dead are turned back again into living men, and, by a kind of progress, all earthly creatures are lifted to greater heights in the resurrection of Christ.

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Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we who celebrate with reverence the Paschal feast, may be found worthy to attain to everlasting joys. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [A.P.B. Collect, Tuesday in Easter week]

Daily Posting: April 2/15

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. Maximus, Bishop
Lesson vii - - - - - - Sermon 3 on Easter - - continued

HELL gives up those who inhabit it to the realms above; earth sends those whom it buries to heaven; heaven offers those it receives to the Lord. And by one and the same operation, the Passion of the Saviour raises some from the depths, lifts some from earthly things, and places some in the heights above. For the resurrection of Christ is life to the dead, pardon to sinners, and glory to the saints. Therefore holy David invites all creatures to the festival of Christ’s resurrection. He bids us rejoice and be glad on this the day that the Lord hath made.

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A wise woman, commenting on the increasingly irrational ways of the post-Christian world, notes:

It is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe. It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it. The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ. ... Theologically this country is at present is in a state of utter chaos established in the name of religious toleration and rapidly degenerating into flight from reason and the death of hope.

Considering the events of just the past few days here in the United States, it's hard to argue with her. However, the essayist, novelist, playwright, and translator Dorothy L. Sayers wrote those words in 1949, in England, and with an eye toward the Anglican Communion, to which she belonged. But, if anything, her essay, "Creed or Chaos?" (see The Whimsical Christian: 18 Essays), is more timely than ever—a searing (and often sarcastic) indictment of a Christianity that is ignorant, sentimental, and thoroughly secularized.

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From philosopher Robert Spaemann, addressing the question of whether Christian teaching should be made comfortable and adapted for modern people, has this to say: The tendency is strong to adapt to all trends, so that the people do not run away. But one always has to look into the Gospels. The masses ran after Jesus, but then he spoke about giving His Body to eat and His Blood to drink. He did not try to make it look attractively pleasant, and the people were shocked and ran away. Jesus asked the apostles: "Do you also want to run away?" But St. Peter answered: "No, Lord, even though we did not understand you, either, but you have words of eternal life, and where else should we go?" That should be the reaction of the people.

Daily Posting: April 3/16

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. Maximus, Bishop
Lesson viii - - - - - - Sermon 3 on Easter - - continued

THEREFORE, brethren, we must all rejoice on this holy day. Let not the sense of his own sin cause any man to withdraw from the common gladness, nor the burden of his faults call him away from public worship. For the sinner aught not to despair of pardon on this day, for no small reward is his due. For if even The thief deserved Paradise, why should not the Christian merit pardon? If the Lord, when he is crucified, takes pity on the one; much more, when he rises again, will he pardon the other. And if the humiliation of his Passion procures so much for him who trusts in it, how much more will the glory of Christ's resurrection bestow upon the man who prays earnestly? For, as you yourselves know, joyous victory is wont to procure richer gains than servile captivity.

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 28:

If I am mistaken, that means that I exist. [St. Augustine]

What I feared to part with was now a joy to surrender. [St. Augustine]

Pray that, above all things, the gates of light may be opened to you; for these things cannot be perceived or understood by all, but only by the man to whom God and His Christ have imparted wisdom. [St. Justin Martyr]

Daily Posting: April 4/17

 

O God, who didst set blessed Ambrose the Bishop in thy Church as a defender of the Universal Faith and an example of apostolic fortitude, grant we beseech thee, that aided by his intercession; we may escape the dangers of error, and never be ashamed to confess thy truth. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St. Ambrose, April 4/17]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
Lesson ix - - - - - - - - - - - ch. 24

Two of Jesus' disciples went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 23 on the Gospels

You have heard, beloved brethren, that as two of the disciples were going along the way, not indeed believing in him, but yet talking about him, the Lord appeared: but he did not reveal himself in his familiar form which they would have recognized. Therefore the Lord was effecting outwardly to the eyes of the body the same thing that was taking place inwardly before the eyes of the heart. For in their inmost heart they both loved and doubted; while outwardly though the Lord was indeed present with them yet he did not show them who he was.

Daily Posting: April 5/18

 

With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, the priest-monk Father Andrew Winters, formerly attached to Holyrood Monastery in Florida, under the late Abbot David Pierce, has been canonically transferred to Christminster. He is presently on loan to an OCA parish. God grant him many years with us in the monastic life.

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.

Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 23 on the Gospels - - - continued
Lesson x

WHILE they were talking about him he presented himself to them; but while they were entertaining doubts about him he hid his recognizable form. He took up the thread of their conversation, he rebuked their dulness of understanding, and revealed to them the mysteries written in holy Scripture concerning himself: nevertheless, since he was as yet a stranger to them in their hearts, as their faith held him not, he made as though he would have gone further. Now we say, He made, and this can also mean, He fashioned. Whence those who fashion things out of clay are called craftsmen. Now he who is Very Truth does nothing by guile or craft: but he revealed himself to them in bodily form in a fashion that corresponded to the idea that they had of him in their minds.

Daily Posting: April 6/19

 

Almighty Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification; grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness, that we may always serve thee in pureness of living and truth; through the merits of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [P B Collect, Low Sunday]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 23 on the Gospels - - - continued
Lesson xi

THEY had to be tested, to see whether, even though they did not love him as God, they would yet care for him as a stranger. But since those who were walking with the Truth could not be without charity; they asked him to abide with them, as though he were a stranger. But why do we say, Asked, when it is written in the Gospel, They constrained him? We may gather from this example that strangers are not merely to be invited to abide with us, but are even to be pressed to do so.

Daily Posting: April 7/20

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 23 on the Gospels - - - continued
Lesson xii

THEREFORE they set the table and brought bread and other food: and God, whom they did not know when he was expounding the holy Scriptures to them, they did know in the breaking of bread. They were not enlightened by hearing the commandments of God, but they were enlightened by carrying them out: it is written, For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. If anyone would apprehend what he has heard, let him hasten to fulfil what he has been enabled to hear. Lo, God was not known while he was speaking, and he vouchsafed to be known when food was set before him.

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 29:

Love Holy Scripture and wisdom will love you. Love her, and she will keep you. Honor her, and she will embrace you. [St. Jerome]

Reading Scripture is like reading letters from the other world. [St. Augustine]

To be ignorant of the Scripture is not to know Christ. [St. Jerome]

Holy Scripture is sufficient for teaching. Yet it is good to exhort one another in the faith and refresh one another with our discourses. [St. Anthony of Egypt]

Daily Posting: April 8/21
Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. John Chrysostom
Lesson v

YOU will agree, dearly beloved, that all those festivals which are celebrated in our churches for the honour of God are holy and to be revered. Nevertheless, this Day of the Lord's Resurrection is to be esteemed as an outstanding festival. For while all other festivals contain within themselves only the joy of living men, this feast includes also the joy of the dead.

Daily Posting: April 9/22

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. John Chrysostom - - - continued
Lesson vi

THIS festival, therefore, is shared by those who dwell below and those who dwell above; inasmuch as the Lord, when he rose from the dead, made a festival there where he conquered death, and where he returned victor over death, Wherefore the Psalmist spake well of this very day when he said, This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Daily Posting: April 10/23

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. John Chrysostom - - - continued
Lesson vii

HE foretold, indeed, the Sunday of the Resurrection and pointed to a day of salvation and of joy, not only to dwellers above, but also to dwellers below. For when the Lord descended into the deep darkness of the underworld, there was without doubt a most glorious day, where the Saviour shed his light. Wherefore the Evangelist hath well said, The light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not. Because, in truth, although the Lord descended into darkness, it was no night to him.

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 29:

A man who is well grounded in the testimonies of Scripture is the bulwark of the Church. [St. Jerome]

The Bible is a stream wherein the elephant may swim and the lamb may wade. [Pope St. Gregory the Great]

Apply yourself diligently to the reading of the Sacred Scripture. Apply yourself, I say. For we who read the things of God need much application, lest we should say or think anything too rashly about them. [Origen]

Daily Posting: April 11/24

 

LEO was an Etruscan, and governed the Church at the time that Attila, king of the Huns, surnamed the Scourge of God, invaded Italy, captured and burned Aquileia, and made preparations for attacking Rome. Leo went to meet him, and with divinely inspired words persuaded him to withdraw. On returning to Rome Leo was received amidst universal rejoicings. A short while later, when Genseric invaded Rome he refrained from fire, shame and slaughter by reason of the same power of eloquence. When Leo perceived that the Church was attacked by numerous heresies, and in particular by the Nestorian and Eutychian heresies, he summoned the Council of Chalcedon; it was attended by six hundred and thirty bishops, and Eutyches, Dioscorus and Nestorius were condemned, the latter for the second time; Leo confirmed the decrees of the Council by his authority. He restored many holy temples, and built a monastery near the Basilica of St. Peter. After these and many other illustrious works, and after producing many holy and lucid writings, he fell asleep in the Lord on November 10, in the twenty-first year of his pontificate. [Life, St. Leo the Great, April 11/24]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. John Chrysostom - - - continued
Lesson viii

IN the horror of that night he retained the splendour of his Majesty inviolate: he shone with the brightness of his everlasting Being; wherefore the light was not overcome by the darkness, but the darkness by the light. Let us, therefore, dearly beloved, rejoice and exult in the Lord. For to-day the light of salvation is given unto us by the Lord; as saith the Psalmist thereafter, God is the Lord that hath shewed us light.

Daily Posting: April 12/25

 

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth. [Chapter at Prime during Paschaltide]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke
Lesson ix - - - - Sermon 2 on Easter

JESUS stood in the midst of his disciples, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop
Bk. 10 on Luke - - - Ch. 24. v. 37

It is extraordinary how the Lord’s natural body could pass through an impenetrable substance, being invisible in its entrance and yet visible to human eyes; it could easily be touched, and yet it is hard to think of it. Therefore the disciples were terrified and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And so the Lord, that he might show us the proof of his resurrection, said, Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. It was not by a bodiless nature, then, but by the quality of his risen body, that he passed through closed and impenetrable matter. For that which can be touched is body; that which can be handled is body.

Daily Posting: April 13/26

 

Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to the follow the blessed steps of his most holy life. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest for ever. Amen. [P B Collect, second Sunday of Easter]

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O God, who through the foolishness of the Cross didst wondrously teach thy blessed Martyr Saint Justin an excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus: grant that by his intercession, we being delivered from the deceitfulness of all false doctrine, may be firmly grounded in thy true religion. Through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest for ever. Amen. [St. Justin, Martyr, April 13/26]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop
Bk. 10 on Luke - - - Ch. 24. v. 37 - - - continued
Lesson x

WE shall rise again in the body. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. But that body will be finer, while this is thicker, since it still bears the density of its earthly stain. How should that not be a body which still bore the marks of the wounds and the scars of the nails, which the Lord offered to be handled? In so doing he not only strengthens our faith, but he also sharpens our devotion, for, rather than doing away with the wounds that he had received on our account, he preferred to bring them into heaven with him, so that he night show God the Father the price of our freedom. Thus does God the Father place him at his right hand, bearing the trophy of our salvation. Thus does he show us those Martyrs bearing the crown of their scars.

Daily Posting: April 15/28

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Ambrose, Bishop
Bk. 10 on Luke - - - Ch. 24. v. 37 - - - continued
Lesson xii

It seems to me that John as an Apostle touches on greater and higher things, while Luke relates the events in their natural aspect: the latter is wont to trace the narrative, the former summarizes. For on the one hand we cannot doubt the one who testifies of these things, who saw and bare record, and whose testimony is true: while on the other, all suspicion of carelessness or untruthfulness must be banished from one who was found worthy to be an evangelist. And therefore we must take both accounts to be true, not looking for discrepancies in the statements, nor finding differences in the characters. For while Luke says first that they did not believe, he later reveals that they did: and if we consider his first statement there is a contradiction: if we examine the later one, there is full agreement.

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ALPHEGE was born of a noble Saxon family in the year 954, and in early life renounced his worldly position and entered the monastery of Deerhurst, near Gloucester. After some years, he left the monastery for a hermit's cell near Bath, where he became so esteemed as a spiritual guide that he was given the direction of the Abbey of Bath. At the age of thirty he was consecrated Bishop of Winchester, which See he governed for twenty-two years, before being translated, against his will, to Canterbury. While holding the high office of Archbishop, he continued to practise charity towards the poor, and austerity towards himself : he did much to restore discipline in his diocese, and strove to remedy abuses. In the sixth year of his archiepiscopate Canterbury was beseiged by the Danes, and the Archbishop himself directed the efforts of the citizens to defend themselves. Daily he offered the Holy Sacrifice, and gave the Blessed Sacrament to every soldier. By treachery from within, the Danes entered the city: Alphege was taken prisoner, and kept for ransom. He refused to be ransomed with money raised by the sale of Cathedral treasure, so remained among the Danes, using the opportunity to preach to them. After seven months of captivity at Greenwich, he was brought to a banquet where he was pelted with the bones and horns of the oxen upon which his captors had feasted, and was finally killed with an axe. His body was first buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, and was later translated to Canterbury, the Danish King taking part in the ceremony.

[Legend, St. Alphege, April 15/28]

Daily Posting: April 16/29

 

And Jacob begat Joseph, the husband of Mary, or whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

The Angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David: and the virgin's name was Mary.

When Mary the mother of Jesus was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.<p/p>

Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wiling to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. [Antiphons at Vespers, St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. John
Lesson i - - - - - - - - - - Ch. 21:1-14

JESUS shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus.

Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 24 on the Gospels

THE Gospel Lesson that has been sounding in your ears, my brethren, is knocking at the door of your heart with a question. But by that knocking it is indicating the power of discrimination. It is to be asked why Peter, who was a fisherman before his conversion, returned again to his fishing afterwards: and since the Truth says, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God, why does he take up what be laid aside? But by virtue of discrimination it is readily seen that if the trade he followed before his conversion had no sin in it, then he could take it up again after his conversion without blame.

Daily Posting: April 17/30

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 24 on the Gospels - - - - continued
Lesson ii

WE know that Peter was a fisherman, while Matthew was a tax-collector; and while Peter returned to his fishing after his conversion, Matthew did not go back to his seat of custom: for it is one thing to earn a living by fishing, and quite another to lay up riches by tax-collecting. There are many trades that can scarcely or never be followed without sin. Of necessity, then, where sin is involved, a man may not return to such a trade after his conversion.

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Daily Posting: April 18/May 1

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 24 on the Gospels - - - - continued
Lesson iii

It may also be asked, why, when the disciples were toiling in the sea, after his resurrection the Lord stood on the shore, whereas before his resurrection he walked on the waves of the sea in the sight of them all. The reason for this may soon known if we look at the inner meaning. For what is meant by the sea, except this present fleeting world, in tumult with the surge of fortune and with the rolling waves of corruptible life? What does the safe shore denote, but the eternity of everlasting rest? Therefore, since the disciples were still tossed by the waves of this mortal life, they were toiling in the sea; but since our Redeemer had passed beyond the corruption of the flesh, after his resurrection he was standing on the shore.

MAY 2015
DAY NC OC F/A OBSERVANCE
FRI 1 18    
SAT 2 19    
SUN 3 20   EASTER III
MON 4 21    
TUE 5 22    
WED 6 23   St. George, M, III
THU 7 24    
FRI 8 25   St. Mark, Apostle and Evangelist, II
SAT 9 26   St. Cletus, BM, IV / (Feast of all Relics)
SUN 10 27   EASTER IV
MON 11 28    
TUE 12 29    
WED 13 30   Vigil
THU 14 1   St. Philip and James, Apostles, II
FRI 15 2   St. Athanasius, BCD, III
SAT 16 3   Finding of the Holy Cross, I
SUN 17 4   EASTER V / St. Monica, W, III
MON 18 5   Rogation Day
TUE 19 6   St. John of Damascus, BD, III / Rogation Day
WED 20 7   Vigil / Rogation Day
THU 21 8   ASCENSION DAY, I / St. Michael the Archangel, II / Sts. Idract & Dominica, MM, IV
FRI 22 9   St. Gregory Nazianzen, BCD, III / Octave
SAT 23 10   Octave
SUN 24 11   SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION / Octave
MON 25 12   Octave
TUE 26 13   Octave
WED 27 14   St. Pachomius, AB, III / Octave
THU 28 15   Octave
FRI 29 16   St. Brendan, AB, IV / Octave
SAT 30 17   Conversion of St. Augustine, IV / Octave / Vigil
SUN 31 18   PENTECOST

 

RANKS of Feasts:
I. Solemnity
II. Greater Feast
III. Lesser Feast
IV. Commemoration

 

Ranks I & II always have first and second Vespers; take precedence over Sundays ranked II; suspend fasting & abstinence from First Vespers through Second Vespers.

Rank III has First Vespers only and uses the psalms of the occurring feria, with proper antiphons (or antiphons from the Common).

Rank IV are commemorated only at First Vespers and Lauds, though the Mass may be of the commemorated saint(s).

See Customary for ranking of Sundays.

Abbreviations:
Ab = Abbot, Abbess K = King
AP = Apostle M = Martyr
APS = Apostles Mk = Monastic
B = Bishop MM = Martyrs
C = Confessor P = Priest, Prophet
Dc = Deacon V = Virgin
D = Doctor VV = Virgins
EV = Evangelist W = Widow

 

Daily Posting: April 19/May 2

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. John
Lesson i - - - - - - - - - - - - ch. 20:11-18

Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white, sitting.

Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 25 on the Gospels - - - continued

Mary Magdalene, a woman of the city, which was a sinner, washed out the stains of her sins with her tears, by her love of the Truth, and the word of Truth is fulfilled which says, Her sins are forgiven, for she loved much. She who had previously been cold through sin was afterwards aflame with love, For when she came to the sepulchre and found that the Lord's body was not there, she believed that it had been taken away, and told the disciples so: they came to the sepulchre, and saw, and believed that it was as the woman had said. It is written, Then the disciples went away again unto their own home; and then it is added, But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping.

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From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 30:

There is nothing empty and nothing idle in divine literature, but what is said is always said for some useful purpose. [Cassiodorus]

A monk who wanted to acquire a knowledge of the Scriptures ought not to spend his labor on the works of commentators, but rather to keep all the efforts of his mind and intentions of his heart set on purifying himself from carnal vices. For when these are driven out, at once the eyes of the heart, as if the veil of the passions were removed, will begin as it were naturally to gaze on the mysteries of Scripture. [St. John Cassian]

The Old Testament proclaimed the Father clearly, but the Son more darkly. The New Testament plainly revealed the Son, but only indicated the deity of the Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit lives among us and makes the manifestation of Himself more certain to us. [St. Gregory Nazianzen]

Daily Posting: April 20/May 3

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 25 on the Gospels - - - continued
Lesson ii

There is something that we should ponder here, how great a flame of love was burning the mind of the woman for she would not leave the Lord's sepulchre even when the disciples had left. She was seeking him and could not find him. As she sought, she wept, and enkindled with the fire of his love, she was aflame with longing for him whom she believed had been taken away, Whence it happened that she alone saw him, as she alone had stayed behind to seek him: for the power of good works lies in perseverance, as the voice of the Truth declares, He that perseveres to the end shall be saved.

Daily Posting: April 21/May 4

 

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them the scriptures concerning himself, alleluia. [Benedictus antiphon, Monday, third week of Easter]

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Your sorrow shall be turned into joy, alleluia: and your joy no man taketh from you, alleluia, alleluia. [Magnificat antiphon, Monday, third week of Easter]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 25 on the Gospels - - - continued
Lesson iii

As Mary wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre. Surely she had already seen that the sepulchre was empty, had already declared that the Lord had been taken away: what is the reason, then, for stooping down again, for trying to see again? But for those that love, it is not enough to look once: the power of love increases the vehemence of the search. The first time that she sought him she could in no wise find him: she persevered in seeking, and so it came about that she found him. And this happened, because longing increases when unsatisfied, and thus increased, can retain what it finds.

Daily Posting: April 22/May 5

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew
Lesson i - - - - - ch. 28. 16-20

THE eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.


Homily by St. Jerome, Priest
Commentary on Matthew - - - - - Ch. 28. v. 16

AFTER his resurrection, Jesus is seen on a mountain in Galilee, and he is worshipped there. Though the disciples doubt, yet their doubting increases our faith. He is revealed more plainly to Thomas, and shows him the spear-wound in his side and the prints of the nails in his hands. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Power is given unto him who but a little while ago was crucified, who was buried in the tomb, who lay there dead, and who afterwards rose again, Power is given unto him both in heaven and in earth: for he who has been reigning in heaven is to reign in earth as well, through the faith of the believers.

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A wise woman, commenting on the increasingly irrational ways of the post-Christian world, notes:

"It is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology. It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the universe. It is hopeless to offer Christianity as a vaguely idealistic aspiration of a simple and consoling kind; it is, on the contrary, a hard, tough, exacting, and complex doctrine, steeped in a drastic and uncompromising realism. And it is fatal to imagine that everybody knows quite well what Christianity is and needs only a little encouragement to practice it. The brutal fact is that in this Christian country not one person in a hundred has the faintest notion what the Church teaches about God or man or society or the person of Jesus Christ. ... Theologically this country is at present is in a state of utter chaos established in the name of religious toleration and rapidly degenerating into flight from reason and the death of hope."

. . . ., it's hard to argue with her. However, the essayist, novelist, playwright, and translator Dorothy L. Sayers wrote those words in 1949, in England, and with an eye toward the Anglican Communion, to which she belonged. But, if anything, her essay, "Creed or Chaos?" (see The Whimsical Christian: 18 Essays), is more timely than ever—a searing (and often sarcastic) indictment of a Christianity that is ignorant, sentimental, and thoroughly secularized.

Daily Posting: April 23/May 6

The Martyr George beareth among the Easterns the title : The Holy and Glorious Archmartyr, George the Triumphant. However, little more is known of him than the fact that he suffered death for Christ's sake at Lydda, in Palestine, perhaps about 303, in the persecution under Diocletian. Soon after this date, when peace was given to the Church under Constantine, the memory of the Martyr began to be celebrated, and churches were built under his invocation at Lydda and Constantinople. Thenceforth an extraordinary enthusiasm with regard to him grew up among the faithful, first in all parts of the East, and afterwards in the West. * Of old time, when Christian armies were about to fight, they were used to put themselves under the patronage of such Saints as George, Maurice, and Sebastian. William of Malmesbury saith that the holy Martyr-Knight George was seen assisting the Franks in the battle of Antioch, in 1098. Whence it is apparent that the Crusaders returned to England with great devotion to this Saint whom they had found to be so much venerated in the Holy Land. And at the Synod of Oxford, in 1222, his feast was decreed a lesser holy-day for England, and in 1415 the Constitution of Archbishop Chichele made it one of the chief feasts of the year. Meanwhile King Edward III had founded the Order of the Garter, whereof Saint George hath always been Patron. And just as Edward the Confessor was venerated as the Patron-Saint of England, so George was venerated as the holy Protector thereof. ★ From early times the East had revered him as the Patron of soldiers. As such, many were the marvels attached to his name, and therefore he is accounted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers ; that is Saints quick to succour in time of need by their powerful intercession in heaven. As his fame grew, it was said that he was a Christian Knight of Cappadocia, who went far and wide to the succour of the oppressed. And because he saw how the persecution of the Christians was terrifying some of the weaker brethren into apostacy, he often bore public witness to the falsity of the pagan gods and to the majesty of the one true God. The testimony of this his undefiled knightly life, whereby he encouraged and protected Christian folk during the cruel and bestial persecution of Diocletian, is made manifest in the allegory of the great, man-eating dragon which he is said to have tamed, and caused a little maiden to lead about as a meek beast, and debonnaire. For his daring witness he was apprehended, and first subjected to much cajolery to turn him from Christ. Failing which, he was beaten with clubs, and tortured with red-hot irons. Meanwhile the Saviour came often to his Knight to comfort and strengthen him. Where-from he took such courage that he withstood many other evils and torture, and finally consummated martyrdom by beheading. [Synaxarion, St. George, April 23/May 6]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Jerome, Priest
Commentary on Matthew - - - - - Ch. 28. v. 16 - - - continued
Lesson ii

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. First they teach all nations, then they wash with water those whom they have taught. For it cannot be that the body receives the sacrament of baptism, unless the mind has first received the truth of faith. Now, they baptize in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: for as these Three are one Godhead, so there may be but one gift: and the Name of the Trinity is the Name of the One God.

Daily Posting: April 24/May 7

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Jerome, Priest
Commentary on Matthew - - - - - Ch. 28. v. 16 - - - continued
Lesson iii

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. A noteworthy order: he tells the Apostles, first to teach all nations, then to initiate them by the sacrament of faith, and then, after they have received faith and baptism, to instruct them in the ways of observance. And lest we should think that the things they were told to do were few and easy, he added, All things whatsoever I have commanded you. So that all who have believed and have been baptized in the Trinity are to do all the things that have been commanded. And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. He promises that he will be with his disciples even unto the end of the world, and makes plain to them that they will always be conquerors, and that he will never leave those who believe in him.

Daily Posting: April 25/May 8
Mark, disciple and interpreter of Peter, according to what he had heard from Peter's preaching, wrote a short Gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome. Which, when Peter had heard, he approved, and authorized to be read in the Church. Then taking this Gospel which he himself had written, Mark went to Egypt, where he was the first to preach Christ at Alexandria. And he founded the Church there, with such learning and austerity of life that he drew all the followers of Christ to imitate him. Then Philo, most learned of the Jews, knowing the first days of the Church in Alexandria whilst it was still under Jewish influence, wrote a book concerning its usages, as it were in praise of his own nation. And even as Luke hath related how at Jerusalem the faithful had all things in common, so Philo hath recorded what he himself saw concerning how things were done at Alexandria under the teaching of Mark. He died in the eighth year of the reign of Nero, and was buried at Alexandria, being succeeded by Anianus. [From the Treatise on Ecclesiastical Writers by St. Jerome the Priest]
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ALMIGHTY GOD, who hast instructed thy holy Church with the heavenly doctrine of thy Evangelist Saint Mark : give us grace, that being not like children carried away with every blast of vain doctrine, we may be established in the truth of thy holy Gospel. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St. Mark the Evangelist, April 25/May 8]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. John
Lesson i - - - - - - - - Ch. 20:1-9

On the first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre.


Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 22 on the Gospels

The Gospel lesson that you have just heard, brethren, is quite clear as to the historical sense: but under these brief facts there are mysteries which we must investigate. Mary Magdalene, when it was yet dark, came unto the sepulchre. According to the historical sense, the hour is recorded: but according to the mystical interpretation, the mind of the woman who was seeking is denoted. For Mary was seeking for the Author of all things at the sepulchre, he whom she had seen dead in the flesh; and she could in no wise find him. She believed that he had been stolen away. So it was yet dark, when she came to the sepulchre. She ran quickly and told the disciples: and those disciples ran quicker than the others, who loved more than the others, namely Peter and John.

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Days of prayer, and formerly also of fasting, instituted by the Church to appease God's anger at man's transgressions, to ask protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest, known in England as "Gang Days" and "Cross Week", and in Germany as Bittage, Bittwoche, Kreuzwoche. The Rogation Days were highly esteemed in England and King Alfred's laws considered a theft committed on these days equal to one committed on Sunday or a higher Church Holy Day. Their celebration continued even to the thirteenth year of Elizabeth, 1571, when one of the ministers of the Established Church inveighed against the Rogation processions, or Gang Days, of Cross Week. The ceremonial may be found in the Council of Clovesho (Thorpe, Ancient Laws, I, 64; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, III, 564).

The Rogation Days are the 25th of April, called Major, and the three days before the feast of the Ascension, called Minor. The Major Rogation, which has no connexion with the feast of St. Mark (fixed for this date much later) seems to be of very early date and to have been introduced to counteract the ancient Robigalia, on which the heathens held processions and supplications to their gods. St. Gregory the Great (d. 604) regulated the already existing custom. The Minor Rogations were introduced by St. Mamertus, Bishop of Vienne, and were afterwards ordered by the Fifth Council of Orléans, which was held in 511, and then approved by Leo III (795-816). This is asserted by St. Gregory of Tours in "Hist. Franc.", II, 34, by St. Avitus of Vienne in his "Hom. de Rogat." (P.L., LVIII, 563), by Ado of Vienne (P.L., CXXIII, 102), and by the Roman Martyrology. Sassi, in "Archiepiscopi Mediolanenses", ascribes their introduction at an earlier date to St. Lazarus. This is also held by the Bollandist Henschen in "Acta SS.", II, Feb., 522. The liturgical celebration now consists in the procession and the Rogation Mass. For 25 April the Roman Missal gives the rubric: "If the feast of St. Mark is transferred, the procession is not transferred. In the rare case of 25 April being Easter Sunday [1886, 1943], the procession is held not on Sunday but on the Tuesday following".

The order to be observed in the procession of the Major and Minor Rogation is given in the Roman Ritual, title X, ch. iv. After the antiphon "Exurge Domine", the Litany of the Saints is chanted and each verse and response is said twice. After the verse "Sancta Maria" the procession begins to move. If necessary, the litany may be repeated, or some of the Penitential or Gradual Psalms added. For the Minor Rogations the "Ceremoniale Episcoporum", book II, ch. xxxii, notes: "Eadem serventur sed aliquid remissius". If the procession is held, the Rogation Mass is obligatory, and no notice is taken of whatever feast may occur, unless only one Mass is said, for then a commemoration is made of the feast. An exception is made in favour of the patron or titular of the church, of whom the Mass is said with a commemoration of the Rogation. The colour used in the procession and Mass is violet. The Roman Breviary gives the instruction: "All persons bound to recite the office, and who are not present at the procession, are bound to recite the Litany, nor can it be anticipated".

Daily Posting: April 26/May 9

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 22 on the Gospels - - - - continued
Lesson ii

Now, the two ran both together: but John did outrun Peter. He came first to the sepulchre, but did not dare go in. Then came Peter following him, and he did go in. What, brethren, what is the meaning of this race? Surely we are not to believe that in so subtle an account by the Evangelist there is no mystery? Far from it. For John would not have said that he arrived first and yet did not go in, had he not believed that there was a mystery in his own consternation. What is meant by John, if not the synagogue: what by Peter, if not the Church?

Daily Posting: April 27/May 10

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 22 on the Gospels - - - - continued
Lesson iii

Neither should it seem strange that the synagogue is represented by the younger man, while the Church is represented by the elder. For though the synagogue did come to worship God before the congregation of the Gentiles, yet the multitude of the Gentiles was an older congregation than the synagogue, as Paul bears witness, where he says, that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural. Therefore the Church of the Gentiles is represented by Peter, the elder man, and the synagogue of the Jews by John, the younger. They ran both together: because from the sunrise to the sunset of her day the Gentile Church did run along a way that was parallel and in common with that of the synagogue, although their perception was not parallel and in common. The synagogue came first to the sepulchre, but she did not go in: for she received the commandments of the law. and heard the prophecies of the Lord's Incarnation and Passion, but would not believe in his Death.

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 30:

Sing the psalms of David; and diligently study the Gospel, which is the completion of the other. [Anonymous (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles)]

The contents of Scripture are the outward forms of certain mysteries and the images of divine things. [Origen]

When you find in Holy Scripture anything you did not believe before, believe it without doubt. [St. Augustine]

Daily Posting: April 28/May 11

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. Leo the Great
Nocturn II - - Lesson vii - - Sermon 73 - - continued
On the Ascension of Our Lord

In the breaking of bread also, the eyes of them that sat at meat are opened: far more blessed is this revelation, showing them the glory of their nature, than was the opening of the eyes of our first parents, bringing them the realization of their guilt.

Daily Posting: April 29/May 12

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Sermon by St. Leo the Great
Nocturn II - - Lesson viii - - Sermon 73 - - continued
On the Ascension of Our Lord
Second Sunday After Easter

But among these and other miracles, when the disciples were harassed with timorous and troubled thoughts, the Lord appeared in their midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. Lest the thoughts that they were pondering in their hearts should remain (for they thought that he was a spirit, and not a real body), he rebuked these thoughts that were opposed to the truth: he presented to the eyes of these doubting men the marks of the cross that still remained in his hands and feet; and he invited them to examine them. For the prints of the nails and spear had been retained to heal the wounds of their doubting hearts: so that with no wavering faith, but with the most steadfast certainty, it should be held that the same nature which had lain in the sepulchre was to sit on the throne of God the Father.

Daily Posting: April 30/May 13

 

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. John
Lesson ix - - - - - - ch. 10

JESUS said unto the Pharisees: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 14 on the Gospels

From this Gospel Lesson, beloved brethren, you have heard what pertains to your instruction and to our peril. Behold, he who is good not through any chance gift but by his essential goodness, says, I am the good shepherd. And he gives us the pattern of his goodness that we are to imitate, The good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. He did what he counselled. He enacted what he ordered.

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From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 31:

We are not allowed to affirm what we please. We make Holy Scripture the rule and the measure of every tenet. We approve of that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings. [St. Gregory of Nyssa]

If you believe what you like in the Gospel and reject what you do not like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself. [St. Augustine]

We meet to read the books of God, if anything in the nature of the times bids us look to the future or open our eyes to the facts. In any case, with those holy words we feed our faith, we lift up our hope, we confirm our confidence. [Tertullian]

Daily Posting: May 1/14
Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 14 on the Gospels
Lesson x - - - - - - ch. 10 - - - - continued

The good shepherd gave his life for the sheep, so that he might change his body and blood into our sacrament and satisfy the sheep he had redeemed with the food of his flesh. We have been shown the way of despising death, which we are to follow: the pattern is set out, to which we are to be shaped.

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O God, who makest us glad by the yearly solemnity of thine Apostles Philip and James; grant we beseech thee, that we who rejoice in their intercessions may be taught by their example. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Sts. Philip and James, May 1/14]

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Lesson v

PHILIP was born at Bethsaida, and was one of the first of the twelve Apostles who were called by the Lord: it was from him that Nathaniel learned that the Messiah promised in the law had come, and Philip brought him to the Lord. His intimacy with Christ is shown by the fact that when certain of the Gentiles wished to see the Saviour they went to Philip; and the Lord, when he wished to feed the multitude in the wilderness, addressed Philip thus: Whence shall we buy bread. that these may eat? After he had received the Holy Ghost and had been allotted Scythia for his field for preaching the Gospel, he converted almost the entire population to the Christian faith. Finally. when he reached Hierapolis in Phrygia he was crucified and stoned for the name of Christ on May 1st. His body was buried there by the Christians, but was later translated to Rome, together with that of blessed James the ,Apostle, and entombed in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles.

Lesson vi

JAMES the brother of the Lord. surnamed the Just, never drank wine nor strong drink, abstained from flesh meat, and never cut his hair nor used ointments. He alone of the Apostles was permitted to enter the Holy of holies. He wore linen garments, and was so assiduous in prayer that his knees became hard as a camel's. After the Ascension of Christ he was made Bishop of Jerusalem: the Prince of the Apostles sent him to tell him that he had been freed from prison by an Angel.

Lesson vii

WHEN a dispute arose in the council at Jerusalem concerning the law and circumcision, James followed Peter's opinion, and in an address to the brethren approved the calling of the Gentiles, and .said that letters were to be written to the absent brethren telling them not to impose the Mosaic law on the Gentiles. The Apostle refers to him in the Epistle to the Galatians: But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James, the Lord's brother.

Lesson viii

JAMES' sanctity of life was such that men would strive with one another to try to touch the hem of his garment At the age of ninety six, when he had governed the Church for thirty years in the most holy manner, steadfastly preaching Christ the Son of God, he was stoned and then led to the highest part of the temple and cast down. His legs were broken, and as he lay half dead he raised his hands to heaven and prayed for his persecutors with these words: Forgive them, O Lord, for they know not what they do. While he was praying he received a heavy blow on the head from a fuller's club, and gave back his soul to Cod in the seventh year of Nero. He was buried near the temple, where he had been cast down. He wrote one of the seven General Epistles. [Synaxarion, Sts. Philip and James, May 1/14]
Daily Posting: May 2/15
ATHANASIUS, Bishop of Alexandria, was one of the greatest champions of the catholic religion. When he was still a deacon he checked the Arian heresy at the Council of Nicæa, and incurred such hatred from the Arians that from thenceforth they never ceased to plot against him. He was exiled, and came to Tréves in Gaul. The troubles that befell him during his banishment were amazing, while he was driven backwards and forwards over the face of the earth. As often as he was banished from his church, so often was he brought back again, by order of Pope Julius, and by the authority and decree of the Councils of Sardica and Jerusalem. Yet the Arians continued to molest him. At length, delivered by God's providence from all these troubles and dangers, he died at Alexandria during the reign of Valens. Both his life and death were graced with miracles. He wrote many godly and inspired works to the glory of the catholic Faith, and for forty six years piloted the Church at Alexandria, in the most saintly manner, through diverse vicissitudes. [Synaxarion, St. Athanasius, May 2/15]
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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 14 on the Gospels
Lesson xi - - - - - - ch. 10 - - - - continued

The first thing we must do, is to expend our external goods in loving care for his sheep: but then afterwards, if needs be, we must tender even our mortality for these same sheep. Now, from this small beginning the subsequent great sacrifice is reached. But since our life, our very being, is an incomparably greater thing than our earthly goods which we possess in an external fashion: if a man will not give his substance for his sheep, when will he ever give his life for them?


Ordination of Joseph (Burt) Weigen to the subdiaconate by Metropolitan Hilarion.
Ordination of Joseph (Burt) Weigen to the subdiaconate by Metropolitan Hilarion.
Ordination of Joseph (Burt) Weigen to the subdiaconate by Metropolitan Hilarion.
Daily Posting: May 3/16

Abbot James is pleased to announce the recent ordination of Joseph (Burt) Weigen to the subdiaconate, by Metropolitan Hilarion. Burt is officially attached to Christminster as his clergy assignment.

Lesson v

AFTER the famous victory that Constantine gained over Maxentius, when the standard of the Cross was given him from heaven, his mother Helena had a dream which made her go to Jerusalem and eagerly search for the Cross; there she caused to be overthrown the marble statue of Venus that had been set up by the Gentiles on the spot where Christ the Lord had suffered, about a hundred and eighty years previously. She did likewise at the place of the Saviour's manger and of the Resurrection, removing an image of Adonis from the former and of Jupiter from the latter.

Lesson vi

WHEN the site of the Cross had thus been cleansed, three crosses, deeply buried in the ground, were dug up, and the title of the Lord's Cross was also found near them; it was not clear to which of the three it had been fastened, but a miracle removed all doubt. For Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, after praying to God, applied each cross to a woman who was suffering from a grievous disease; the first two were of no effect, but at the touch of the third she was healed immediately.

Lesson vii

WHEN Helena had found the Cross of salvation she built a magnificent church on the site, in which she laid a part of the Cross enclosed in a silver case. She brought another part to her son Constantine; This was laid in the Church of Holy Cross in Jerusalem at Rome, built on the site of the Sessorian palace.

Lesson viii

SHE also brought her son the nails with which the most holy body of Jesus Christ had been fastened; Constantine passed a law whereby from thenceforth the cross was never to be used as an instrument of punishment. Accordingly, that which had formerly been an object of shame and derision among men began to be a thing of glory and veneration. [Finding of the Holy Cross, May 3/16]
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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschaltide.
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 14 on the Gospels
Lesson xii - - - - - - ch. 10 - - - - continued

And there are some, who, while they love their possessions more than their sheep, deservedly lose the name of shepherd: of whom it goes on to say, But he that is an hireling and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth. The man who feeds the sheep, not because he loves them deeply, but for an earthly reward, is not called a shepherd, but an hireling. That man is truly an hireling who holds the position of shepherd, but does not seek the good of souls: he delights in episcopal honours, thrives on temporal rewards, and rejoices in the deference of men.


Daily Posting: May 4/17

O GOD, the comforter of them that mourn, and the hope of them that put their trust in thee, who didst favourably accept the tears of blessed Monica for the conversion of Augustine her son : grant, we pray thee ; that at the intercession of these thy servants, we may so bewail the sins that we have committed, that we may be worthy to obtain the abundant pardon of thy grace. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St. Monica, May 4/17]

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MONICA was an example of Christian motherhood, wifely forbearance, and holy widowhood. She was doubly the mother of Saint Augustine, for she not only brought him forth to bodily life, but also travailed in penance and prayer for twenty years for his spiritual birth unto eternal life. She was born in 333, probably at Tagaste, sixty miles from Carthage, of Christian parents, by whom she was given in marriage to a pagan, Patricius by name, who was a violent and dissolute man. Him she finally won to Christianity, and also her mother-in-law, who lived with them, and had often added much to her difficulties. Augustine, the first-born son, was a brilliant but wayward lad, who after his father's death, although he had been admitted as a catechumen, began to live a most immoral life, and then embraced the Manichaean heresy. For him she stormed heaven with her prayers; she fasted ; she watched and waited ; and when she grew discouraged a bishop told her : It is not possible that the son of so many prayers and tears should perish. ★ She followed him from Carthage to Rome, and thence to Milan, where they both came under the influence of Saint Ambrose, and where Augustine was converted and baptized. Meanwhile she had always given herself to prayer and good works, specially to ministrations to Christians who were suffering for the Faith. After a life of manifest holiness, in 387, which was the year of Augustine's Baptism, she passed to God at Ostia, Italy, whither she had gone with her two sons, Navigius and Augustine, and Augustine's son Deodatus, thinking to return to Africa. To them she said : Let your mother lie here ; only remember me at the altar. Hence she was there buried, but long afterwards her holy body was translated to the Church of Saint Augustine in Rome. ★ Of her Augustine wrote : We did not think that hers was a death which it was seemly to mark with repining, or tears, or lamentations, because we knew what her life had been, her faith unfeigned, her sure and certain hope. And then, nevertheless, I remembered again what thine handmaid was used to be, her walk with thee, how godly and holy it was, and with us so gentle and long-suffering ; and that it was all gone away from me now. And I wept over her and for her. And if any man will make it blame for me, I pray him not to sneer at me, but rather (if his charity be so great) himself to weep over my sins before thee, who art a Father to all them to whom thy Christ is a Brother. [Legend, St. Monica, May 4/17]

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The Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to St. John - - - - ch. 10. 11-16

JESUS said unto the Pharisees: I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep. and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Daily Posting: May 5/18

Father Nicholas Alford, who published some years ago the SAINT AMBROSE HYMNAL for western-rite Orthodox use, has recently published a ROMAN MARTYROLOGY for Orthodox use. The book is available in both hardcover and ebook formats from Lulu at the following links:

The Martyrology is available through Lulu.com for $24.

The electronic version for $10.

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Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth, we beseech thee to pour forth thy blessing upon this land, and to give us a fruitful season; that we, constantly receiving thy bounty, may evermore give thanks unto thee in thy holy Church. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Rogation Days, fifth week after Easter]

Daily Posting: May 6/19

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 31:

The study of inspired Scripture is the chief way of finding our duty. For in it we find both instruction about conduct and the lives of blessed men delivered in writing, as some breathing images of godly living, for the imitation of their good works. [St. Basil the Great]

When those who follow heresies venture to avail themselves of the prophetic Scriptures, in the first place they will not make use of all the Scriptures, and then they will not quote them entire, nor as the body and texture of prophecy prescribe. But selecting ambiguous expressions, they wrest them to their own opinions, gathering a few expressions here and there, not looking to the sense, but making use in the mere words. [St. Clement of Alexandria]

Daily Posting: May 7/20
Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 29 on the Gospels
Lesson i

HE that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. Someone may say to himself: I do believe, so I shall be saved. And he speaks truly, if he lives his faith in his works. For this is true faith: when that which we confess with our lips we do not belie by our deeds. This is what Paul had in mind when he spoke of hypocritical believers: They profess that they know God, but in their works they deny him; and John says the same: He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar.

Daily Posting: May 8/21
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. John
Lesson ix - - - - - ch. 16

JESUS said unto his disciples: A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father.

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide.
Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop
Homily 101 on John

It is but a little while, the whole space through which the age of this world fleeteth by: as also the same Evangelist saith in his Epistle, It is the last hour. For that he has added, Because I go unto the Father, is to be referred to the former sentence, A little while, and ye shall see me no more; not to the latter where he saith, And again, a little while, and ye shall see me: for by going unto the Father, he would cause that they should not see him.

Daily Posting: May 9/22

Gregory Nazianzen, a Cappadocian nobleman, received the name, Theologian, on account of his unique knowledge of the sacred writings. Brought up with St. Basil and versed in every branch of learning, he devoted himself to the study of Holy Scripture. He was first made Bishop of Sasima, and next governed the Church in Nazianzen. He was then summoned to Constantinople to rule the Church there. He purged the state from its heresies and brought it back to the Catholic Faith. But because it was his duty to win all to the love of it, he incurred the hatred of many. Whereupon, since this led to a quarrel among the bishops, of his own free will he resigned his bishopric, taking upon himself the words of the prophet: If such a storm has been raised on my account, cast me into the sea, that you may cease to be so tossed about. He returned to Nazianzen, and since he had placed Eulalius over that Church, he betook himself wholly to prayer and the study of sacred subjects. He wrote many noble books steeped in prayer and hymns, and he was an eager champion of the consubstantiality of the Son. In the reign of Theodosius, worn out by old age, his soul took its flight to the life celestial. [Synaxarion, St. Gregory Nazianzen, May 9/22]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide
Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop
Homily 101 on John

Lesson x

And therefore it was not said in regard that he was about to die, and until he should rise again, to be withdrawn from their view; but that he was to go unto the Father, which thing he did after he was risen, when, having conversed with them forty days, he ascended into heaven. This therefore, A little while and ye shall not see me, he said to those who at that time saw him bodily, meaning that he was to go unto the Father, and they were thenceforth not to see him mortal, such as they saw him while he spake these words.

Daily Posting: May 10/23
Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide
Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop
Homily 101 on John

Lesson xi

BUT what he added, And again, a little while and ye shall see me, he promised to the whole Church: as to the whole he promised, Lo, I am with you, even unto the consummation of the world. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise: a little while, and we shall see him, where we need no more to make request, no more to put questions: because there shall be nothing left to be desired, nothing hidden to be required.

Daily Posting: May 11/24

Almighty, everlasting God: grant that we may always devote our wills to thy service, and wait upon thy Majesty with singleness of heart. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide
Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop
Homily 101 on John

Lesson xii

THIS little while seems long to us, because it is yet going on: when it shall be ended, then shall we feel how little it has been. Then let not our joy be such as the world hath, of which it is said, But the world shall rejoice; yet let us not in our travailing with this desire be without joy, sorrowful, but, as the Apostle saith, Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulations; because the very mother to whom we are likened rejoiceth more for the offspring which presently shall be, than she is sorrowful for the present grief. But of this discourse let this be the end: for in what follows there is a very difficult question, and it must not be crowded by brevity, that it may, if the Lord will, be more conveniently explained.

Daily Posting: May 12/25
Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 29 on the Gospels - - - - continued
Lesson ii

THEREFORE we should be able to recognize the truth of our faith by the examination of our lives. Thence it follows that we are truly faithful if we fulfil with our works what we promise with our words. On the day of our baptism we promised to renounce the devil and all his works, and the vain pomps of the world. Therefore let each one of you turn your eyes inward, and examine yourself; if you have kept after baptism the promise that you made beforehand, then rejoice, for you are found faithful.

Daily Posting: May 13/26
Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 29 on the Gospels - - - - continued
Lesson iii

BUT now, if any one has utterly forsaken his former promise, if he has drifted into the exercise of evil works and the desire for the pomps of the world, then let him soberly repent of his error. For the merciful Judge does not hold him to be a traitor, in spite of his former treachery, if only he will return to the truth. For Almighty God, while freely receiving our contrition, hides from his judgment the errors of our ways.

Daily Posting: May 14/27

Pachomius was born in heathenism in the Upper Thebaid of Egypt, about the years 292, and in youth was forced into military service ; whereat the kindness of certain Christians toward him and other young conscripts, determined him to become a Christian so soon as he might. Wherefore, when his military service was at an end, he sought instruction and Baptism, and became the disciple of the hermit Saint Palemon. After some years he was moved by divine inspiration to found a monastery at Tabenna and teach men to live the cenobitical life, which same was greatly blessed of God, so that it hath become the common form of the monastic life ever since followed in the Church ; for before his time only the eremitical life had found favour. At his death, to wit, about the year 346, he held rule over nine monasteries of men and two of women, wherein there lived many hundreds of dedicated souls. ★ His monasteries consisted of many buildings surrounded by a wall. Monks unto the number of forty were alloted unto one house, whereof all were wont to be of one trade, such as farmers, or carpenters, or whatsoever other craft by which they served the Lord in the monastery. Three or four houses were called a tribe, and from thirty unto forty houses made a monastery. The same was ruled by an abbot, with provosts and other officers for each house. On Saturdays and Sundays all came together in the church for Mass. On the other days their Offices and prayers were celebrated in the houses. Large monastic establishments such as these required much industry ; wherefore they had ships of their own upon the Nile to carry their produce to market and return with necessaries for the monks. But withal the life was very harsh, from their rigorous observance of fasting and holy poverty. Nor did they lie down to rest, but slept in a reclining position. ★ Pachomius was famed for his patience and discretion as well as for power of governance and discipline. All his monks he assigned to classes according to their proficiency in obedience and observance ; and each class was known by a letter of the alphabet to designate their degree, beginning with one letter which stood for those truly obedient, and ending with another letter which indicated the very troublesome. In the fifty-seventh year of his age, and the thirty-fifth of his monastic life, a plague broke out in the monastery at Tabenna, and a hundred monks died, whereof Pachomius himself went to his eternal rest. The like of his rule was not seen ever again in the East, nor in the West until the Cistercian and mendicant Orders arose in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. For he governed as superior-general over all the monasteries, with chapters general and visitors, to bind his scattered flock into the unity of one Order, which at the time of his holy death, about the year 346, is said to have comprised seven thousand monks. [Synaxarion, St. Pachomius, May 14/27]

Daily Posting: May 15/28

 

“Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to tear down.

A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good —.” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmedieval practicality.

But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post; some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is a war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes.

So, gradually and inevitably, today, tomorrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.”

— G. K. Chesterton (Heretics)

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The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark
Lesson i - - - - - Ch. 16. 14-20

JESUS appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 29 on the Gospels

AND these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. These signs do not follow us now, but should that make us any less believing? They were necessary at the time of the dawn of the Church, for it was necessary then for great numbers to be brought to believe, so that the Faith might grow, and so they were nourished by miracles. It is like planting trees: at first we continuously water them, until we find that they have taken root, and then, when the roots are firm, we cease watering; or, as Paul says. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.

Daily Posting: May 16/29

 

An article of interest: Is It Time for the Benedict Option?

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BRENDAN is reputed to have been a disciple of Saint Finian of Ireland, and later of Saint Gildas of Brittany. And he himself had for one of his disciples that holy man who is known in England as Machutus, and in France as Malo. Blessed Brendan founded several schools and monasteries, and wrote a monastic Rule which was remarkable for its austerity. ★ He was known in olden times as Brendan the Voyager because of a voyage which he is said to have made to the Land of Promise beyond the setting of the sun in the Western Seas ; which legend (celebrated by the minstrels of olden times in all the European languages as one of the greatest adventures of all ages) is interpreted by some to mean that he planted a colony of monks in the Americas. * This story doubtless encouraged Christopher Columbus and others in their efforts at discoveries in the new world, most of the earliest of which had, among less noble purposes, the making over the seas of a way for Christ's Gospel. Brendan died at the age of ninety-four, about the year 580, and is reverenced as one of the most distinguished monks and missionaries of Ireland. [Synaxarion, St. Brendan, May 16/29]

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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 29 on the Gospels - - - - continued
Lesson ii

THERE is yet greater depth 1 to be plumbed in these signs and wonders. In our own times Holy Church works spiritually each day that which in apostolic times was done bodily. For when her priests are endowed with the grace of exorcism and lay hands upon believers whose souls are vexed by evil spirits, what else are they doing but casting out devils? And when the faithful forsake their worldly conversation and sing of Divine Mysteries, and show forth the praise and power of their Maker, what else are they doing but speaking with new tongues? Others, when they bear away the malice from the hearts of their fellows, with entreaties supplemented by their own good example, do indeed take up serpents.

Daily Posting: May 17/30
YE citizens of heaven, rejoice!
Ye earthly pilgrims, raise your voice!
The sun upon his annual way
Renews our Father's feast today.
Let true affection of the heart
Sincerity to speech impart;
Nor linger ye to seek the ways
Which wisdom marks for meed of praise.
For when his earthly course was run,
The skies, with solemn benison,
Received, amongst the Saints renowned,
This Saint, whom loving mercy crowned.
Regard, O Saviour, every tear
That he, and that his mother dear,
And every sinner too, hath shed,
And this the prayer that we have pled.
And may Augustine's worthiness
Help us to come to blessedness,
That we may worship and adore
The God of pardon ever more. Amen.
[Matins hymn, Caeli cives applaudite], Conversion of St. Augustine, May 17/30]
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Readings from the Fathers during Matins in Paschal-tide
Homily by St. Gregory the Great
Homily 29 on the Gospels - - - - continued
Lesson iii

OTHERS, when they hear poisonous suggestions and are in no wise tempted to follow after evil works, are then drinking a deadly thing, but it does not hurt them. Those who run to assist their neighbour whenever they see his piety weaken, and strengthen him by the example of their own good deeds: what else are they doing but laying their hands on the sick so that they recover? Undoubtedly these are the greater miracles, since they are spiritual ones, and they are so much the greater, in that they raise up not merely the body, but the very soul.

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Do You Love Your Self?

The late Orthodox priest Fr. Thomas Hopko is remembered by Ralph C. Wood, a Baptist, in the July/August issue ofTouchstone.

In an interview in the journal In Communion(Spring 2015) Hopko recalled a TV program in which he and other clergy discussed religion. "Part of what I said was that the only way we can find ourselves is to deny ourselves. That's Christ's teaching. If you cling to yourself, you lose yourself."

A teacher of "the psychology of religion" at a seminary objected: "What you are saying is the source of the neuroses of Western society. What we need is healthy self-love and self-esteem... You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself."

Hopko: "I said that of course if we are made in the image of God it's quite self-affirming and self-hatred is an evil. But my main point was that there is no self to be be defended except the one that comes into existence by the act of love and self-emptying."

Hopko said after the program that an old rabbi called them over. "That line, you know, comes from the Torah, from Leviticus," he said, "and it cannot possibly be translated 'love your neighbor as you love yourself.' It says, 'You shall love your neighbor as being your own self.'" Hopko: "Your neighbor is your true self. You have no self in yourself." Further, after reading the Church Fathers in this light, "that's what they all say--"Your brother is your life."

But let's take this one step further. I am drawing from Donald Sheehan's introduction to his The Psalms of David: Translated from the Septuagint Greek. He cites St. Paul's "astonishing sentence": "We have the mind of Christ." (1 Cor. 2:16). "St. Paul's point ... is that we possess in ourselves the mind of Christ solely because God has given us this mind in order that we may know--in St. Paul's words--"the things freely given us by God." (2:12) "Itself a gift, the mind of Christ in us is thus the mode wherein we know God's gifts."

Sheehan writes this to introduce the Psalms of David. "My experience in praying the Psalms for over two decades has given me a tiny, fleeting glimpse of a vast and very great subject. I can put the subject this way: the Psalms disclose the mind of David in the process of becoming the mind of Christ."

We find our true self by receiving the mind of Christ, which is a gift. And "the relation of Christ to David is, in the Psalms, akenotic relationship, for just beyond the Psalms is the cross of Christ." Jesus dies on the cross with the first line of Psalm 21 (22) on His lips: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" To enter into the Psalms by prayer is to encounter the mind of Christ, reflected in the mind of David. These Psalms are God-breathed; to pray them is to be inspired and to know the mind of Christ. If you want to see your true self, look in the Mirror--of Scripture, especially the Psalms (James 1:22-25)

And Paul astonishes us once more: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." It is not, "We love him because we first loved ourselves," but, "We love him because he first loved us." We see by the Light, who is Christ.

... for Christ, Creed & Culture,

James M. Kushiner

Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James

From an email newsletter

Daily Posting: May 18/31

May Almighty God, who created all things out of nothing, grant you through the Holy Spirit remission of all your sins: And may he, who sent down the same Spirit upon His disciples, fill your hearts with His light, and kindle in them the fire of love to Himself: That being by His gift cleansed from all vices, and defended by His aid from all adversities, ye may be made a worthy temple unto Him: Which may He deign to grant, whose kingdom and dominion remaineth for ever, world without end. Amen.

[From the Egbert Pontifical]

Daily Posting: May 19/June 1

 

JUNE 2015
DAY NC OC F/A OBSERVANCE
MON 1 19   Octave, St. Dunstan, BC, III; St. Celestine, BC, IV
TUE 2 20   Octave
WED 3 21   Octave, St. Constantine, Emperor; IV; St. Collen, AB, IV
THU 4 22   Octave, RIP: Robert Polycarp Sherwood
FRI 5 23   Octave, St. Leontius of Rostov, BC, IV
SAT 6 24   Octave, St. Vincent of Lerins, MK, IV
SUN 7 25   TRINITY SUNDAY (PENTECOST I)
MON 8 26   St. Augustine of Canterbury, BC, III
TUE 9 27   St. Bede the Venerable, MK, III
WED 10 28 F/A Ember Day; St. Germain, BC, IV
THU 11 29    
FRI 12 30 F/A Ember Day
SAT 13 31 F/A* Ember Day
SUN 14 1   Corpus Christi (PENTECOST II)
MON 15 2   Sts, Marcellinus and Peter, MM, III
TUE 16 3    
WED 17 4 F/A  
THU 18 5   St Boniface (Winfrid), BM, III
FRI 19 6 F/A St. Philip the Deacon, IV
SAT 20 7   Our Lady of Glastonbury, II
SUN 21 8   ALL SAINTS OF THE BRITISH ISLES (PENTECOST III)
MON 22 9   St. Columba, AB, III
TUE 23 10 F/A* Chinese Martyrs, IV; Vigil
WED 24 11   St. Barnabas, AP, II
THU 25 12    
FRI 26 13 F/A  
SAT 27 14   St. Basil the Great, BCD, III
SUN 28 15   PENTECOST IV
MON 29 16    
TUE 30 17   St. Botolph, AB, IV

 

RANKS of Feasts:
I. Solemnity
II. Greater Feast
III. Lesser Feast
IV. Commemoration

 

Ranks I & II always have first and second Vespers; take precedence over Sundays ranked II; suspend fasting & abstinence from First Vespers through Second Vespers.

Rank III has First Vespers only and uses the psalms of the occurring feria, with proper antiphons (or antiphons from the Common).

Rank IV are commemorated only at First Vespers and Lauds, though the Mass may be of the commemorated saint(s).

See Customary for ranking of Sundays.

Abbreviations:
Ab = Abbot, Abbess K = King
AP = Apostle M = Martyr
APS = Apostles Mk = Monastic
B = Bishop MM = Martyrs
C = Confessor P = Priest, Prophet
Dc = Deacon V = Virgin
D = Doctor VV = Virgins
EV = Evangelist W = Widow

 

We occasionally receive inquiries about prayerbooks suitable for Western Orthodox Christians. We are happy to announce that the parish of Holy Cross Western-Rite Orthodox Church in Ralston, Nebraska, under its pastor, Father Victor Novak, has published an attractive and convenient prayerbook for Western-Rite Orthodox Christians. The paper bound book contains Daily Morning, Mid-Day, and Evening Prayers, Private Devotions for Mass, the Angelus, Trisagion Prayers, and an Order for the Sacrament of Confession.

Copies of THE HOLY CROSS PRAYER BOOK may be purchased in any quantity for $3.50 each (postpaid) from:

Holy Cross Orthodox Church
7545 Main Street Ralston, NE 68127 USA
Holy Cross website.
Telephone: 402 573 6558

(Check should be made out to Holy Cross, and credit cards are not accepted.)

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There appeared unto the Apostles cloven tongues like as of fire, alleluia. And the Holy Ghost rested upon each of them, alleluia, alleluia.

Daily Posting: May 20/June 2


Sermon by St. Augustine, Bishop
Sermon 267 - - - On Pentecost
Lesson v

TO-DAY is the Solemnity of the great Lord and God, and it also marks the memorial of the great grace that was poured out upon us; for it is the Solemnity of God that is being kept, so that what once took place should not perish from memory. The word Solemnity is derived from that which recurs year by year: just as a stream is said to be perpetual because it does not dry up in summer, but flows throughout the year: that is, it is perennial, yearly: so, too, is a solemnity that is celebrated repeatedly year by year.

Daily Posting: May 21/June 3


Sermon by St. Augustine, Bishop
Sermon 267 - - - On Pentecost
Lesson vi

We celebrate to-day the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Lord sent from heaven the Spirit whom he had promised on earth; for he had so promised that the Spirit should be sent from heaven. If I go not away, said the Lord, He will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. He suffered, he died, he rose again, he ascended. It remained that he should fulfil that which he had promised.

WHEN Christ our Lord had passed once more
Into the heaven he left before,
He sent a Comforter below
The Father's promise to bestow.
THE solemn time was soon to fall
Which told the number mystical;
For since the resurrection day
A week of weeks had passed away.
AT the third hour a rushing noise
Came like the tempest's sudden voice,
And mingled with the Apostles' prayer,
Proclaiming loud that God was there.
FROM out the Father's light it came,
That beautiful and kindly flame,
To kindle every Christian heart,
And fervour of the Word impart.
AS then, O Lord, thou didst fulfil
Each holy heart to do thy will,
So now do thou our sins forgive
And make the world in peace to live.
TO God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, praise be done;
May Christ the Lord upon us pour
The Spirit's gift for evermore. Amen.
Hymn at Matins, Feast of Pentecost, [Jam Christus astra ascenderat]
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Daily Posting: May 22/June 4


Sermon by St. Augustine, Bishop
Sermon 267 - - - On Pentecost
Lesson vii

WAITING for this, there were, as it is written, a hundred and twenty of his disciples, ten times the number of the Apostles. He chose twelve, and to one hundred and twenty he sent his Spirit. These, therefore, awaiting the promise, were in one room and were praying, because they already desired it with the same faith, with the same supplication, with the same spiritual longing. They were new bottles, the new wine from heaven was expected, and it came. For he who had come mightily from Bozrah had now trodden the winepress and was glorified. For we read in the Gospel, The Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Daily Posting: May 23/June 5

 

Christians, to the Paschal victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A lamb the sheep redeemeth;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconcileth sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended
In that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life who died,
Reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What thou sawest, wayfaring.
”The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus' resurrection;
Bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yea, Christ my hope is arisen:
To Galilee he goes before you.”
Christ indeed from death is risen,
Our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King,
Ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia.
[Sequence of Pentecost]
Daily Posting: May 24/June 6


Sermon by St. Augustine, Bishop
Sermon 267 - - - On Pentecost
Lesson viii

YOU have already heard of the great miracle that resulted. All there present spoke one tongue. The Holy Spirit came, they were filled, they began to speak in different languages of all peoples, which they knew not, nor had ever learned. But he who had come taught them. He entered in, he poured, they were filled. And this was the sign, whosoever had received the Holy Spirit was suddenly filled with the Spirit and spoke all manner of tongues: it was not only the hundred and twenty.

Daily Posting: May 25/June 7

 

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 32:

All men do not understand Scripture in the same sense, but diverse men diversely, this man and that man, this way and that way, expound and interpret its sayings. . . . Therefore it is necessary, in order to avoid these great windings and turnings of errors so various, that the line of expounding the prophets and Apostles be directed and drawn according to tire rule of the sense of the Catholic Church. [St. Vincent of Lerins]

Daily Posting: May 26/June 8

AUGUSTINE, first Archbishop of Canterbury and the Apostle of the English, was sent to England by St. Gregory the Great in the year 597. At that time Ethelbert was king of Kent, and his power reached to the Humber. He received Augustine kindly, and welcomed him and his companions, (who were all monks) in his own capital city of Canterbury. He was greatly astonished at the blamelessness of their lives, and at the power of the heavenly doctrine which they preached, which God confirmed with signs following. They approached the city in solemn procession, singing the Litany, and bearing the standard of the cross, and a picture of our Lord and Saviour painted on a panel. Near the city was a church built in former days in honour of St. Martin, and here the queen, who was a Christian, was wont to pray. In this church they first began to meet together, to sing, pray, celebrate Mass, preach and baptize, until the king was converted, and most of his people followed his example, but under no compulsion, for he had learned from his teachers and his own soul's physicians, that men are to be drawn, and not driven, to heaven. When Augustine was ordained Archbishop of the English and of Britain, lest any part of the Lord's vineyard should be left untended, he asked from the Apostolic See a new band of labourers, Mellitus, Justus, Paulinus and Rufinian. Gregory sent them to Augustine, and sent with them holy vessels, altar-cloths, vestments, and also relics of the holy Apostles and Martyrs. He instructed them to turn the temples of idols into places of Christian worship. Augustine toiled much for the salvation of souls, was illustrious for miracles, but more illustrious for his life. He made Mellitus Bishop of London, Justus Bishop of Rochester, and named Lawrence as his successor at Canterbury. He finished his work in peace and passed away to the life of perfect blessedness on the 26 May, 604, in the reign of Ethelbert.

Daily Posting: May 27/June 9

BEDE the Priest first saw the light at Jarrow on the borders of Britain and Scotland. Becoming a monk, he so ordered his life that, though he spent himself wholly in the study of the arts and learning, he never neglected any part of the monastic discipline. Every branch of learning he studied diligently, but most of all he loved to meditate on the holy Scriptures, so that after he had been ordained priest he set himself to explain the sacred books. In this he so clave to the teachings of the Fathers that he put forth no opinion unless it was corroborated by their judgment, even using almost their very words. Always a hater of idleness, he would pass from reading to prayer, and then back again from prayer to reading. To amend the conduct of the faithful, and to vindicate and assert the Faith, he wrote many books, which gained him such high esteem that even while he was yet living his writings were read publicly in the churches, and that was how he first came to be called, The Venerable. At last, worn out by years and hard work, he fell asleep holily in the Lord.

Daily Posting: May 28/June 10

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 32:

The exegesis of the divine oracles demands a soul cleansed and spotless; it demands also a keen intelligence, which can penetrate into the things of God and venture into the shrine of the Spirit. It needs, moreover, a tongue that can serve that intelligence and worthily interpret what it understands. [Theodoret of Cyrrhus]

You who are accustomed to take part in the divine mysteries know, when you receive the Body of the Lord, how you protect it with al1 caution and veneration lest any small part fall from it, lest anything of the consecrated gift be lost. For you believe, and correctly, that you are answerable if anything falls from there by neglect. But if you are so careful to preserve His Body, and rightly so, how do you think that there is less guilt to have neglected God’s Word than to have neglected His Body? [Origen]

Daily Posting: May 29/June 11

 

The Fall of Adam and Eve, according to the Church's teaching, had consequences not only for the human race, but for the whole created world. According to the teaching of the Apostle Paul, accepted by the Eastern Christian tradition, creation "was made subject to vanity not willingly" but as a result of the Fall of man: together with man it "groans and travails in labor pains together until now," but it awaits freedom "while we wait for the adoption, the redemption of our body" (Rom 8.20-23). Interpreting these words of the Apostle, John Chrysostom says: "What is the meaning of 'the creation was made subject to vanity?' Why, that it became corruptible. For what cause, and on what account? On account of thee, O man. For since thou hast taken a body mortal and liable to suffering, the earth too hath received a curse.... Yet it has had no wrong done it. For incorruptible will it be for thy sake again."(Homilies on Romans 14.) In other words, creation will become incorruptible as soon as man becomes incorruptible.

The teaching of the Fall, based on the third chapter of the book of Genesis and having received development on all sides in patristics, is common in all Christian confessions-Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant. However, in Christian societies of Western traditions this teaching is linked with the concept of "Original Sin" (peccatum originale), or."original guilt," coming from the Blessed Augustine. According to Augustine's teaching, Adam's sin led to the root corruption of human nature. Since the whole human race come from Adam, then Adam's sin was transmitted as an inheritance through the body, or more precisely, through fleshly copulation. Humanity was transformed, in Augustine's words, into a "mass of the condemned" (massa damnata) [Cf.: (Augustine's) The City of God 21.12.] After the Fall, "vanquished by the sin into which it fell by its volition, nature has lost liberty" and sin became "the hard necessity" for all people. [Augustine: Concerning Man's Perfection in Righteousness I (9).] Adam's fault, transmitted to all of his descendants, made them "children of wrath." They needed the Intercessor for their redemption, he who calms God's wrath, offering himself as a sacrifice for the sin of all mankind. (Augustine: On the Trinity, 13.22.)

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FROM: Alfeyev, (Metropolitan) Hilarion, Orthodox Christianity : Volume II: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church (with a foreword by His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia); Translated from the Russian by Andrew Smith. Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2012. Pages 252 - 258.

Daily Posting: May 30/June 12

Augustine, who was the most prominent theologian of the West, wrote about the mysteries of the faith in juridical terms, and this legalism has forever left an imprint on the subsequent development of Western theology. The concept of original guilt entered into the flesh and blood of Western theology: not even the theology of the Reformation could be saved from this legalistic understanding. In fact, Augustinian legalism and the and the deepest pessimism in view of fallen human nature were only intensified by theologians of the Reformation, especially by Luther and Calvin, who claimed that Original Sin its fullness deprived mankind of free will. According to Calvin, after Original Sin people were so completely depraved and incapable of good works that they consequently lost divine blessings. The Formula of Concord, incorporated in the year 1577 and the normative dogmatic book of Lutheranism, proclaims:

We believe, teach, and confess that original sin is not a slight, but so deep a corruption of human nature that nothing healthy or uncorrupt has remained in man's body or soul, in his inner or outward powers. (Formula of Concord, Epitome I.)

It is said in the extensive exposition of this formula that "because of Adam and Eve's disobedience we now find ourselves in God's disfavor" and are "the offspring of wrath." Original Sin signifies the absence of an inherited righteousness and of the divine image, according to which man was created in the beginning, and also an "incapability and uselessness toward that which comes from God." Instead of just a lost image of God in man, there occurs a "deep, depraved, repulsive, fathomless, incomprehensible, and inexpressible corruptness of all nature and all its abilities and powers, but especially the highest, fundamental abilities of the soul in the realm of understanding, feeling, and will, so that now, after the Fall, man inherits a congenital, depraved inclination and an inner impure heart, toward evil lusts and passion." (Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration I)

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Continued from: Alfeyev, (Metropolitan) Hilarion, Orthodox Christianity : Volume II: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church (with a foreword by His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia); Translated from the Russian by Andrew Smith. Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2012. Pages 252 - 258.

Daily Posting: May 31/June 13

In Orthodox tradition, based on the theological legacy of the Eastern father, the concept of Original Sin as an inheritance of guilt is alien. Better corresponding to an Orthodox understanding of the Fall is the view given above by St Maximus the Confessor, according to whom the only sin that is reprehensible is the sin that Adam committed by his own free will, that is, the sin of disobedience, whereas the consequences of sin expressed by the corruption and death of human existence are not reprehensible. Adam's descendants inherit corruption and a mortal nature, that is, the consequences of sin that are not blameworthy. In this context it is difficult and even impossible to speak of how, from the Orthodox point of view, the guilt of Adam's sin can be transmitted to other people. Every person is guilty only of one's own personal sins, those that are committed by one's own voluntary consent, and not of sins committed by parents, ancestors, or the first-made man, Adam. It is precisely the personal sin of a person that is reprehensible, and not the general sinfulness of the race of man, of which each person is a participant by virtue of being born, but for which one cannot bear personal responsibility.

The Orthodox Church does not share the extreme pessimism of Catholicism and especially Protestantism with regard to the fallen nature of man. According to the Orthodox understanding, the image of God in fallen man is occluded, but not fully eliminated: man remains in the image of God even in his sinful condition. One of the funeral hymns of the Orthodox Church says: "I am the image of your inexpressible glory even though I bear the wounds of sin." [Cf: Ware, The Orthodox Church, 224]

The Orthodox do not consider that man, in his fallen state,. has fully lost his free will and is incapable of good deeds. Basing itself on the works of the Eastern fathers, especially Maximus the Confessor, the Orthodox Church teaches that man's free will can be guided entirely to sinful acts, but not that it inevitably must be. God's kindness toward man was not lost after the Fall, just as man's striving for God was not lost. Man preserves the ability to perform good works, which are accomplished *with the help* of divine goodness, but *not exclusively* thanks to divine goodness, as the Protestants think.

Another concept alien to Orthodox tradition is the notion that after the Fall of man the relationship with God changed, that God took away his grace from man as a punishment of sin, that mankind is completely devoid of divine grace and is a mass of condemned sinners. People's attitude toward God changed, but not God's attitude toward people: God's love for the race of man remained unchanged. Amongst the ranks of the other Eastern fathers, St. Isaac the Syrian spoke about this with the greatest fervor. [Cf: See above Chapter 2.4: The Love of God.]

The difference in the approach toward the teaching of the Fall between the East and the West was affected by the way that the predestination of mankind to salvation is understood in the two Christian traditions. The proceeding point in the given question appears in the Apostle Paul's writings: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. . . . And those whom he also predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified" (Rom 8:29-30). The Blessed Augustine understood this text in the sense that God predestined some people for salvation from the beginning, but others for condemnation, while man's free will does not play any sort of role in the act of salvation. Those who are predestined to salvation are all those whom God has given faith, but if God does not give it, then man's will cannot oppose it. God teaches faith to some, but not to others: he teaches the former by his lovingkindness, but the latter do not learn of his righteous judgment. [Cf: Augustine A Treatise on the Predestination of the Saints 8 (14).] Since all people come from Adam, they received a just judgment, but this would not be some kind of reproach of God, even if not one person were delivered from condemnation. [Ibid.] In other words, if God were to save no one, it still would not be permissible to reproach him in this. If the question is why God chooses some, and not others, then it does not serve to seek the answer to this question, in view of the scriptural passage, "how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past finding out" (Rom 11:33). [Ibid.]

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Continued from: Alfeyev, (Metropolitan) Hilarion, Orthodox Christianity : Volume II: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church (with a foreword by His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia); Translated from the Russian by Andrew Smith. Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2012. Pages 252 - 258.

Daily Posting: June 1/14

Flowing from these views of Augustine is the idea that those who are not saved and cannot be saved, indeed who are not predestined to salvation, are those who do not hear the preaching of the Gospel, those who do not respond to this preaching, and unbaptized youths. Those who are saved are only those who are wittingly predestined to salvation and who by the power of predestination are vouchsafed with the gift of faith and saving grace:

Both those who have not heard the Gospel, and those who, having heard it and been changed by it for the better have not received perseverance, and those who, having heard the Gospel, have refused to come to Christ..., and those who by their tender age were unable to believe, but might be absolved from original sin by the sole laver of regeneration, and yet have not received this laver, a,d have perished in death: are not made to differ from that lump which it is plain is condemned, as all go from one into condemnation. Some are made to differ, however, not by their own merits, but by the grace of the Mediator; that is to say, they are justified freely in the blood of the second Adam. . . . We ought to understand that from that mass of perdition which originated through the first Adam, no one can be made to differ except [him] who has this gift, which whosoever has, has received by the grace of the Savior. . . Those, then, are elected, as has often been said, who are called according to the purpose, who also are predestined and foreknown. [Treatise on Rebuke and Grace 12-14]

The teaching that in fairness all people ought to be condemned and that some appear to be chosen for salvation only by God's mercy was developed by the theologians of the Reformation. The concept of a "dual predestination" became the cornerstone of the theological doctrine of Luther and Calvin. Calvin asserted that Adam "stumbled because it was decreed by God," although he also stumbled "because of his own prophecies." [Instruction in the Christian Faith 3.23.8.] Like Calvin, Luther also rejected the presence of free will in fallen man and its possibility to influence a person's salvation. Speaking on the feats of the martyrs, Luther claimed that the reason for their steadfastness was exclusively the grace of God, and not their own free will: "There is not any kind of freedom here, nor free will, it is impossible to change yourself to desire something else, so long as the spirit and grace of God are not strengthened in man. [On the Slavery of the Will.] The battle for each person's soul unfolds not within the person, but outside, between God and the devil. A person's will, like a pack animal finds itself between God's will and Satan's will: if God takes possession of the person, then she or he follows after God, but if Satan takes hold, that person follows Satan. [Ibid.] Therefore the person remains only a passive viewer of his or her own salvation or condemnation.

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Continued from: Alfeyev, (Metropolitan) Hilarion, Orthodox Christianity : Volume II: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church (with a foreword by His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia); Translated from the Russian by Andrew Smith. Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2012. Pages 252 - 258.

Daily Posting: June 2/15

Orthodox tradition, again basing itself on the theological legacy of the fathers of the Eastern Church, speaks differently of man's predestination toward salvation. From the Orthodox point of view, those who are predestined for salvation are all the people created by God; there is no one who is wittingly predestined for destruction, condemnation, or damnation. St. Symeon the New Theologian in particular speaks of this in the interpretation of Romans 8:29-30. Relating the words of the Apostle to someone who "misconstrues their own perdition" and says "what use is it for me to bear these many labors, to show an appeal for damnation, if I am not predestined by God for salvation?" Symeon writes:

Do you not hear the Savior crying out every day: "I live and do not want the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn to me and live"? Do you not hear how he says: "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand"? Perhaps he said to one: "Do not repent, because I will not accept you," but to others, to those who are predestined: "Repent, because I knew you before"? No! But every day in every church he calls out to the whole world: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Come, he says, you who are burdened with sins, to him who takes the sins of the world on himself. [Moral Oration 2.12-25.]

Every person is chosen for salvation and predestined for deification, and consequently, anyone who wishes can be acquitted and glorified. God wishes without exception, for all people to be made gods by grace:

The grace of the Holy Spirit strives to become inflamed in our souls, in order that. . . coming nearer the flame (either each one separately or, if possible, all together) they might catch fire and be radiant like gods. . . . I think that this is how it actually is, that this is precisely what God's will for us consists of. [Symeon the New Theologian Catechetical Oration 34.235-245.]

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Continued from: Alfeyev, (Metropolitan) Hilarion, Orthodox Christianity : Volume II: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church (with a foreword by His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia); Translated from the Russian by Andrew Smith. Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2012. Pages 252 - 258.

Daily Posting: June 3/16

For seven centuries before Symeon the New Theologian, and for eleven centuries before Calvin, the Eastern Christian tradition, in the person of John Chrysostom, chose its view on predestination and calling: "If all sinned, then why are some saved and others perish? Because not all want to come, even though all are saved by God's will, since all are called. [Homilies on Romans 16:5.] In other word, all are predestined and called to salvation without exception, but only those who willingly respond to God's invitation are saved; those who reject God's summons are not saved.

Salvation, according to Orthodox dogma, is the fruit of "synergy" between God and man. Man's free will plays a role of the utmost importance in this synergy, as it can be guided either to the good, or to the bad. If it is guided to evil, then it is not because God predestined it so, but because the person has made a free choice on behalf of evil. But if it is guided to the good, then this occurs because of the action of God's grace, yet again not without the participation of that very person. The battle for salvation unfolds within man, not without. The devil can influence a man by various means, but man is capable of opposing him. The will of the devil cannot destroy a person: in the final account the deciding factor of a person's fate is precisely the direction of his or her free will toward good or evil.

This does not mean that the Orthodox disparage the meaning of predestination, calling, and the action of God's grace in man's salvation. It only means that the notion of God as punisher is alien, he who in his justice should have destroyed all people after they succumbed to sin, and who saves some only by mercy. The Orthodox Church, after the Apostle Paul, believes that God "will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (I Tim 2:4). The salvation of every person is a result of God's love for the whole human race, and not a consequence of God removing his inexpressible lovingkindness from the "mass of the condemned" of these or those transgressors, to whom he grants salvation despite his own fairness.

God can save every person and wishes to save each and every person. However, he cannot save someone without the participation and accord of that person. As Maximus the Confessor emphasized, every person has the right to reject salvation. Salvation is not to be forced or coercive: those who wish to follow Christ will be saved. [Cf: Maximus the Confessor Ad Thalassium 63.] It is in man's compliance with the will of God concerning his own salvation, in the voluntary keeping of the divine commandments, and in the inclusion of that synergy about which Orthodox theology speaks.

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Continued from: Alfeyev, (Metropolitan) Hilarion, Orthodox Christianity : Volume II: Doctrine and Teaching of the Orthodox Church (with a foreword by His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia); Translated from the Russian by Andrew Smith. Yonkers, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2012. Pages 252 - 258.

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There will be no posting tomorrow.

Daily Posting: June 5/18

From the book: The Way of the Fathers: Praying with the Early Christians / by Mike Aquilina, page 33:

We all need, with one accord, to follow the guidelines of our holy Fathers, doing nothing in contention, but, unanimous in every aim of good devotion, to obey, the Lord helping us, the divine and apostolic constitutions. [ Pope St. Gregory the Great]

You and I share the same teachers of God's mysteries and spiritual fathers, who from the beginning were the founders of your Church. [St. Basil the Great]

Daily Posting: June 6/19

Quotes from the Fathers given in an Orthodox Retreat given on Saturday, March 28, 2015 by Dr. Henry Boosalis at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Hamilton, Ontario Canada.

The First Epistle of Peter: "But as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy'."

The Book of Genesis: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness ... So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him ..."

St. Silouan: "How infirm is the soul! Without God's grace we are like cattle, but with grace great is man in the sight of God."

Daily Posting: June 7/20

 

Sing, O Word, His Praises
Let us receive the light
and we will receive God!
Let us receive the light
and become disciples of the Lord!
For he promised the Father:
"I will reveal your name to my brothers.
In the midst of the congregation I will sing of you" (Ps. 22:23)
Sing, (O Word,) his praises
and reveal God, your Father, to me!
Your words will save me
and your song will teach me.
Until now I was going astray
in search of God.
But ever since you enlightened me,
Lord, you have taught me to find
him who is my God as well,
and I receive your own Father from you.
I become his heir with you,
for you have not been ashamed of your brother.
(Protrepticus XI, 113) [St. Clement of Alexandria]

Daily Posting: June 8/21

Man, your sins are forgiven.

The Lord Jesus responds to sinners. He forgave the paralytic, Matthew the publican, and his friends, because they admit that they are sick and sinners.

Daily Posting: June 9/22
COLUMBA was one of the greatest patriarchs of monasticism in Ireland, and also the Apostle of the Picts. He was born in 521, and was of royal blood. He learned from his childhood that there is nothing great, nothing worthy of esteem or pursuit, which does not advance the divine love in our souls, to which he devoted himself with entire detachment from the world, in perfect purity of heart, mind and body. He studied under the holy bishop, St. Finnian, and was later instrumental in founding a hundred monasteries in Ireland and Scotland; he composed a rule for them, which is still extant in Old Irish. He was a poet and scholar, travelling much to collect and copy manuscripts. It was through this habit that a controversy arose; his right to do so was disputed, and in anger he caused a war to take place, in which much blood was shed. In penance for the slain, Columba left Ireland for ever and with twelve companions sailed for Scotland, where, by his incessant labours, he converted many of the Northern Picts. He was given the little island of Iona, where he built a large monastery which was for several ages the chief seminary of Northern Britain, and the burial place of the kings of Scotland. He lived there until he was seventy-seven years old, beloved of all, and of such authority that it is said that neither king nor people did anything without his consent. [St. Columba, June 9/22]
Daily Posting: June 10/23

 

My word for today concerns Eusebius of Samasota, who is commemorated in the West on June 21 and in the East on June 22. A fourth-century Bishop in Syria (Samasota now lies in Turkey), Eusebius strove against the Arian heresy, suffered exiled, and ultimately died because of his witness. In 380, upon entering Dolikha in northern Syria, an Arian woman hurled a roof tile down at him; it struck him in the head and killed him.

Before he died, however, Eusebius forgave his assailant and instructed those about him to not seek her out and punish her. In this, Eusebius follows in the footsteps of other Christian martyrs, such as Stephen, who sought God's mercy upon the guilty. This powerful testimony of God's mercy is dynamically rooted in the example of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, who even in his dying agony interceded on behalf of of his executioners.

One cannot get closer to the Gospel than this, and we witnessed a stunning example of this last week in a courtroom in South Carolina, where Dylann Roof, the killer of nine black men and women during a Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston--was forgiven by survivors and relatives of the victims. There is no more important News than the Good News seen in that courtroom. It goes way beyond words. Jesus was there.

... for Christ, Creed & Culture,

From an e-mail newsletter by:

James M. Kushiner

Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James

Daily Posting: June 11/24

 

O Lord God Almighty, who didst make thine holy Apostle Barnabas with singular gifts of the Holy Spirit; leave us not, we beseech thee, destitute of thy manifold gifts, nor yet of grace to us them alway to thy honour and glory. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, who with thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth God, world without end. Amen. [Collect, St. Barnabas, June 11/24]

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From divers passages in the Acts of the Apostles and in the Writings of early Authors.

Lesson iv

JOSES, who by the Apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The Son of Consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the Apostles' feet. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples ; but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple ; but Barnabas took him, and brought him to the Apostles. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem ; and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith : and much people was added unto the Lord.

Daily Posting: June 12/25

Quotes from the Fathers given in an Orthodox Retreat given on Saturday, March 28, 2015 by Dr. Henry Boosalis at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Hamilton, Ontario Canada.

St. Gregory of Sinai: "Through trespasses, we have become akin to beasts and have lost the natural blessings given us by God, becoming as beasts instead of reasoning beings, and animals instead of divine."

The Gospel of John: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

The First Epistle of John: "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him."

There will be no postings for a few days.

Daily Posting: June 17/30

 

Quotes from the Fathers given in an Orthodox Retreat given on Saturday, March 28, 2015 by Dr. Henry Boosalis at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Hamilton, Ontario Canada.

St. Silouan: "The more perfect the love, the holier the life."

The Gospel of Matthew: "'Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?' He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets'."

The First Epistle of John: "If someone says, 'I love God', and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother ... how can he love God ...? And this commandment we have from Him; that he who loves God must love his brother also."