Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Through greed we underwent the first stripping, overcome by the bitter tasting of the fruit, and we became exiles from God. But let us turn back to repentance and, fasting from the food that gives us pleasure, let us cleanse our senses on which the enemy makes war. Let us strengthen our hearts with the hope of grace, and not with foods which brought no benefit to those who trusted in them. Our food shall be the Lamb of God, on the holy and radiant night of His Awakening: the Victim offered for us, given in communion to the disciples on the evening of the Mystery, who disperses the darkness of ignorance by the Light of His Resurrection."
~ From the Lenten Triodion, the Aposticha for Vespers on the Evening of the Sunday of the Last Judgement.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fourth's Pre-Lenten Reminder

Benjamin from The Fourth Finding Society, a fellow here-and-there blogger, has a wonderful post which I've quoted below in its entirety. Benjamin can pack a lot of conviction into very few words; this admonition to avoid the temptation of using worldly successes to gauge spiritual success is no exception.


The Prodigal Son has returned to the house of the Father. Zachaeus has come down from his tree. The Publican has
left the temple in better shape than the Pharisee (though we're not told if he himself realized it - perhaps God keeps him in the dark for his own good).

Lent teaches us that God's love needs room to work. God's love needs our
loss. Our loss leaves space for his work. Lent is an image: we lose a little food and a little drink, and (hopefully) a little money. In return the grace of prayer may be given to us. In return, the grace of the Gospel may be shine a little brighter for us. At times, however, it seems nothing is given to us. This too should be considered a blessing. The Lord Jesus kept the commandments, denied himself, served all others, and was crucified for doing so. But, he was crucified willingly. Jesus knew something about the blessed loss that brings salvation. Lent is given to us to be an icon of his way of living.

God forbid I lose what is dear to me, we think. God forbid I lose control of my life. But God does not forbid it at all: He wills it. It is terrifying, but it is saving. The fear of God and the fear of having nothing and no power have something to do with each other. For God is present in the absence of our strength. And if we only can get this teaching into our hard hearts but one or two times a year, it is better than nothing. God is not bound. He will work wonders with two mites as he'll work wonders with a king's fortune. We should remember that the greatest wonder has been worked in a broken body and shed bled. The greatest wonder has been worked in a tomb.

It is a difficult thought, but it seems we need courage to fear the Lord.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lenten Gospel Reading

It has been a busy two weeks. Thought as a bit of a breaking of the dry spell I'd post a reading plan that someone posted on an online discussion forum; by sticking to this, one will read the entirety of the four gospels during Great Lent (not counting Sundays).

Also, those of us with the OSB (and more time available for reading than I currently have) may benefit from a "Through the Bible in a Year" plan HERE. (H/T to Michael from Texas).

A Table Indicating A Way To Read The Gospels Over The Course Of The Great


MONDAY: Begin the Gospel according to St. Matthew Chapters 1-4
TUESDAY: Matthew 5-8
WEDNESDAY: Matthew 9-10)
THURSDAY: Matthew 11-12
FRIDAY: Matthew 13-14
SATURDAY: Matthew 15-17


MONDAY: Matthew 18-20
TUESDAY: Matthew 21-22
WEDNESDAY: Matthew 23-24
THURSDAY: Matthew 25-26
FRIDAY: Matthew 27-28
SATURDAY: Mark 1-2


MONDAY: Mark 3-4
TUESDAY: Mark 5-6
THURSDAY: Mark 9-10
FRIDAY: Mark 11-13
SATURDAY: Mark 14-16


MONDAY: Luke 1-2
TUESDAY: Luke 3-4
THURSDAY: Luke 7-8
FRIDAY: Luke 9-10
SATURDAY: Luke 11-12


MONDAY: Luke 13-14
TUESDAY: Luke 15-16
WEDNESDAY: Luke 17-18
THURSDAY: Luke 19-20
FRIDAY: Luke 21-22
SATURDAY: Luke 23-24


MONDAY: John 1
TUESDAY: John 2-3
FRIDAY: John 6
SATURDAY: John 7-8


MONDAY: John 9-10
TUESDAY: John 11-12

From here, the readings continue on Thursday night at the 12 Gospels of
Great and Holy Friday Matins.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Today marks the feastday of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple (Revised Julian Calendar). It's always the case with me (at least, as far as I can tell) that the verses that are sung the night before feastdays at Vespers bring out to me so much more the meaning of a particular feast. So it is today. I took off today from school to attend the festal liturgy and got to sing them an additional time as we contemplated the icon of the feast and consumed the very flesh His parents placed in the arms of aged Simeon. I wish you all a blessed feast -- Spradznikom! -- and offer the verses for your perusal.


"Simeon, tell us, Whom you bear in your arms, that you rejoice so greatly in the Temple? To Whom do you shout and cry aloud: “Now I am set free, for I have seen my Savior?” This is He Who was born of a Virgin; this is God the Word, Who came forth from God, Who, for our sakes, has taken flesh and has saved man.// Let us worship Him!"

"Simeon, receive Him Whom Moses once beheld in darkness, granting the Law on Sinai, now that He has become a Babe subject to the Law! This is He Who spoke through the Law. This is He, of Whom the Prophets spoke, Who, for our sakes, has taken flesh and has saved man.// Let us worship Him!"

"Come, let us also go to meet Christ with divine songs! Let us receive Him Whose salvation Simeon saw! This is He Whom David announced; this is He Who spoke in the Prophets, Who, for our sakes, has taken flesh and Who speaks through the Law.// Let us worship Him!"

"Let the gate of heaven be opened today, for the unoriginate Word of the Father has made a beginning in time without forsaking His divinity. As a Babe forty days old, of His own will He is brought by the Virgin, His Mother, as an offering in the Temple of the Law. The Elder receives Him in his arms, crying as a servant to his Master: “Let me depart for my eyes have seen Your salvation!”// Glory to You, O Lord, for You have come into the world to save the human race!"

"The Ancient of Days, Who gave Moses the Law on Sinai in former times, today appears as a Child. As Maker of the Law, He fulfills the Law. He is brought into the Temple according to the Law, and given over to the Elder. Simeon the righteous receives Him. Beholding the fulfillment of the divine order now brought to pass, rejoicing aloud, he cries: 'My eyes have seen the mystery hidden from the ages made manifest in these latter days, the Light that disperses the foolishness of the faithless Gentiles, and the glory of the newly-chosen Israel! Therefore let Your servant depart from the bonds of this flesh to the life filled with wonder that knows no age or end,// for You grant the world great mercy!'”

"Today He Who once gave the Law to Moses on Sinai submits Himself to the commandments of the Law, becoming, for our sakes, like us in His compassion. Now the God of purity, as a holy Child, has opened a pure womb, and, as God, He is brought as an offering to Himself, setting us free from the curse of the Law,// and granting light to our souls."

"Simeon now receives below in his earthly arms the One Whom the ministers on high entreat with trembling. He proclaims the union of God with mankind. He sees the heavenly God as mortal Man. He prepares to withdraw from earthly things, and raises his cry in joy: 'Glory to You, Lord, for You have revealed to those in darkness// the Light that knows no evening!'"

"Today Simeon takes in his arms the Lord of Glory, Whom Moses saw of old in the darkness when he received the Tablets of the Law on Mount Sinai. This is He Who speaks through the Prophets and Who is the Creator of the Law. This is He Whom David announced;// He is fearful to all, yet great and abundant in mercy."

"The holy Virgin brought the Holy One to the priest in the sacred Temple. Simeon, extending his arms, received Him with joy, and cried out: 'Now, Master, let your servant depart in peace,// according to Your word, O Lord!'"

"Today holy Simeon the Elder lifted up in his arms the Creator of heaven and earth, as he said in the Holy Spirit: 'Now I am set free, for I have seen my Savior.'"

"Today Simeon the Elder enters the Temple, rejoicing in the Spirit, to take into his arms Him Who gave the Law to Moses and Who Himself fulfilled the Law. Moses was deemed worthy to see God through darkness and as an indistinct voice. With veiled face he reproved the faithless hearts of the Hebrews; while Simeon lifted up the pre-eternal Word of the Father in bodily form, and revealed the Light of the Gentiles: the Cross and the Resurrection. And Anna the Prophetess pointed out the Savior, proclaiming Him the Deliverer of Israel. Let us cry out to Him:// 'O Christ our God, through the Theotokos, have mercy on us!'"

"Today the holy Mother who is even more exalted than the Temple, has come into the Temple, clearly showing to the world the Creator of the world and the Giver of the Law. Simeon the Elder receives Him in his arms and honors Him, crying out: 'Now let your servant depart in peace,// for I have seen You, the Savior of our souls!'"

"Search the Scriptures, just as Christ our God said in the Gospels! For in them we find Him being brought forth and wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger, and nourished with milk, receiving circumcision and held by Simeon, neither in fancy nor in fantasy but in truth appearing to the world. Let us cry aloud to Him:// 'O pre-eternal God, glory to You!'"

"The Ancient of Days, as a Child in the flesh, is brought by His Mother, the Virgin, into the Holy Temple, fulfilling the promise announced by His own Law. Receiving Him, Simeon said: 'Now let your servant depart in peace, according to Your word,// for my eyes have seen your salvation, O Lord!'"

"Adorn your bridal chamber, O Zion, and welcome Christ the King! Salute Mary, the heavenly gate, fashioned as the throne of the Cherubim! She carries the King of Glory! The Virgin is a cloud of light: she has borne in the flesh the Son begotten before the Morning Star. Simeon, taking Him in his arms, proclaimed to the peoples:// 'He is the Master of life and death; the Savior of the world!'"

"The unwedded Mother has brought into the Temple the One Who shone forth before the ages from the Father. In these latter times He was born from a Virgin womb. He gave the Law on Mount Sinai, yet He makes Himself obedient to the commandment of the Law. She has brought Him to the Priest and righteous Elder whose appointed lot it was to see Christ the Lord. Simeon, receiving Him in his arms, rejoiced greatly and cried aloud: 'This is God Who is co-eternal with the Father!// He is the Redeemer of our souls!'"

"The Theotokos Mary carried in her arms the One Who is borne aloft upon the chariot of the cherubim, and praised in song by the seraphim. The Giver of the Law, Who fulfills the commandment of the Law, was made flesh of the Unwedded One. She gave Him into the arms of the Priest and Elder. Holding the Life, he asked to be released from life, saying: 'Now, Master, let me depart to declare to Adam that I have seen the pre-eternal God and Savior of the world,// Who was made a Babe without undergoing change!'"

"He Who is borne on high by the Cherubim and praised in hymns by the Seraphim is brought today according to the Law into the holy Temple and rests in the arms of the Elder as on a throne. From Joseph He receives gifts fitting for God: a pair of doves, a symbol of the spotless Church and of the newly chosen people of the Gentiles, and two young pigeons, for He is the originator of the two Covenants, both Old and New. Simeon, now granted the fulfillment of the prophesies concerning himself, blesses the Virgin and Theotokos Mary. He foretells in figures the Passion of her Son. From Him he begs release, crying aloud: 'Now, Master, let me depart as You have promised me,// for I have seen the pre-eternal Light// and the Lord and Savior of the people who bear the name of Christ!'"

"Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, Full of Grace! From you shone the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, enlightening those who sat in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous Elder, you accepted in your arms the Redeemer of our souls, Who grants us the Resurrection!"