Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rome on Constantinople: A Pope speaks on a Patriarch

GERMANUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE: DEFENDER OF HOLY IMAGES

VATICAN CITY, 29 APR 2009 (VIS) - During his general audience this morning Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to St. Germanus of Constantinople, who "played an important role in the complex history of the battle for images during the so-called iconoclastic crisis, and was able to resist the pressure of an iconoclastic emperor, ... Leo III.

"During Germanus' patriarchate (715-730)", the Pope added, "the capital of the Byzantine empire, Constantinople, was subject to a threatening siege by the Saracens. On that occasion (717-718) a solemn procession was organised and passed through the streets carrying the image of the Mother of God ... and the relic of the Holy Cross to call upon the Most High to defend the city. In fact, Constantinople was freed from the siege".

This event convinced the patriarch "that God's intervention was to be interpreted as evident approval of the reverence people showed towards holy icons. Leo III on the other hand, who came to the throne in that year of 717, ... began ever more openly to show his conviction that the consolidation of empire had to begin by reorganising expressions of faith, with particular reference to idolatry, a risk to which, in his view, the people were exposed by their excessive veneration for icons".

The Holy Father went on: "Patriarch Germanus' appeals to Church tradition and to the real effectiveness of certain images, unanimously recognised as 'miraculous', were all to no avail. The emperor became ever more intractable in implementing his policies of reform. ... Germanus had no desire to bow to the emperor's will in matters he considered vital to orthodox faith. ... As a consequence he felt obliged to resign as patriarch, condemning himself to exile in a monastery where he died in obscurity. Nonetheless his name re-emerged at the Second Nicean Council ... of 787 where his merits were recognised".

Of Germanus' works "certain homilies on Marian themes have survived, of which some have had a profound influence on the piety of entire generations of faithful, both in the East and the West", including one which Pope Pius XII "set like a pearl in the 1950 Apostolic Constitution 'Munificentissimus Deus'", dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Benedict XVI went on to recall the "great contribution" this saint made to the Byzantine tradition in which "the rhetorical forms used in preaching, and even more so in hymns and poetical compositions, ... are as important to the celebration of the liturgy as the beauty of the sacred building in which it takes place".

The Holy Father concluded by considering three aspects in which St. Germanus still has something to say to modern man. Firstly, in the need to recognise "the visibility of God in the world and in the Church", because "God created man in His image but that image was covered with dirt and sin" and the Creator "could almost no longer see it. Thus the Son of God became man and ... in Christ, the true image of God, we too can ... learn to see ourselves as His image". If, to prevent idolatry and the danger of pagan images, God prohibited the Israelites from creating His image, yet "when He became visible in Christ through the Incarnation it became legitimate to reproduce the face of Christ. ... Holy images teach us to see God in the face of Christ, ... of the saints and of all human beings".

Secondly, Germanus shows us "the beauty and dignity of the liturgy", which must be celebrated "with an awareness of the presence of God and with a beauty and dignity that enable us to glimpse His splendour".

The third aspect is that of "love for the Church", the Pope concluded. "It may be that in the Church, as in ourselves, we see sin and other negative things, yet with the help of faith ... we can always rediscover divine beauty in the Church. In the Church, God offers Himself to us in the Eucharist, He speaks to us, ... He forgives us and He teaches us to forgive. Let us pray that God may teach us to see His presence and His beauty in the Church, to see His presence in the world".

AC/GERMANUS/... VIS 090429 (710)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wisdom for our day from St Ephraim the Syrian

53*
Lament over the scarcity of saints

My heart is pained, my soul agonizes and my inner parts are torn! Where am I to find the tears, where am I to find the contrition and the sighs to rightly mourn our orphaned state and the paucity of sanctity among us?

I see, O Master, that Thou takest Thy saints, like choice gold, from the vain world to the resting-place of life.

Like a farmer who sees his fruits well ripened and prudently hastens to gather them that they might not be the least bit spoiled, so doest Thou also, O Savior, gather Thy chosen ones who have labored righteously.

Yet we, who are slothful and weak-willed, remain hardened, and our fruits never ripen; for we have not the resolve to labor without sparing ourselves, in order to ripen the good works and rightly be gathered into the storehouse of life.

Say: woe is me, alas, O soul, and weep; for thou hast been left an orphan so young by the blameless fathers and righteous ascetics. Where are our fathers? Where are the saints? Where are the vigilant? Where are the sober? Where are the humble? Where are the meek? Where are those who vow silence? Where are the abstinent? Where are those who with a contrite heart stood before the Lord in perfect prayer, like angels of God? They have left here to join our holy God with their lamps brightly burning.

Woe is us! What times are these in which we live? Into what sea of evil have we sailed? Our fathers have entered the harbor of life, that they might not see the sorrows and seductions that overcome us because of our sins. They are crowned, yet we slumber; we sleep and indulge in selfish pleasures.

O Lord, have pity on us! Make sober our thoughts which whirl about in vain. Grant us contrition and tears, that they might shed some light on the blindness of our hearts, and we might see that way in which our fathers walked when they followed Thee. Grant us the desire and the strength to follow in this same way, so that we too with them might receive the lot of those who are saved, to the glory of Thy Name.

*From A Spiritual Psalter: or Reflections on God excerpted by Bishop Theophan the Recluse from the works of our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian.

While I would prefer to post joyous things during this Holy Season, perhaps we still need to consider our lives in the light of the urgent necessity of repentance.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Holy Anointing

Although these videos are from a Clean Monday celebration at Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, the service is the same as that traditionally offered by Byzantine and Orthodox Christians following the Typika of the Great Church (Constantinople) on Wednesday of Holy Week.






Sunday, April 05, 2009

from Monday Orthros of Holy Week



from Orthros of the Bridegroom









Unfortunately, these two beautiful examples of Byzantine Chant cannot be embedded.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5jNj57qyRM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiaT_fDX1S8

Sunday of the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem

PALM SUNDAY
Festal Tone - Festal Eothinon

ENTRANCE HYMN

Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.
The Lord is God and He has appeared to us.

O Son of God, who entered Jerusalem in great glory,
save us who sing to you: Alleluia!

TROPARIA AND KONTAKION
(HYMNS OF THE DAY AND SEASONAL HYMN)

TROPARION OF THE FEAST IN TONE ONE

O Christ God, when you raised Lazarus from the dead, before the time of your passion, you confirmed the future resurrection of all. We too, like the children of old, carry before you the symbols of your triumph and victory and cry out to you, the Conqueror of Death: Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord. (twice)

TROPARION OF THE FEAST IN TONE FOUR

O Christ God, we have been buried with you in baptism: wherefore we merited eternal life through your resurrection. We cry out to you, singing a hymn of praise: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord. (once)

KONTAKION OF THE FEAST IN TONE SIX

O Christ God, enthroned in heaven, and on earth riding upon an ass: You have accepted the praise of the angels and the hymns of the children who were crying out to you: Blessed are you who come to restore Adam.

LITURGY OF THE WORD

PROKIMENON
(RESPONSORY or GRADUAL)

Blessed be he who comes in the name of the LORD!
God is the Lord, and He has appeared to us.

Sing to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever.

THE READING FROM THE EPISTLE OF ST PAUL TO THE PHILEMON

BRETHREN: Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.

ALLELUIA

O sing to the LORD a new song, for the Lord has done wonderful works!

All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

THE READING FROM THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST JOHN

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me." When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" And Jesus found a young ass and sat upon it; as it is written, "Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on an ass's colt!" His disciples did not understand this at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that this had been written of him and had been done to him. The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead bore witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.

MEGALYNARION OF THE FEAST IN TONE FOUR

The Lord is God and he has appeared to us. Therefore let us celebrate and sing for joy. Come, let us glorify Christ, and with palms and branches, sing to him canticles of praise: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord our Saviour!

KINONIKON
(COMMUNION HYMN)

Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord.
The Lord is God and He has appeared to us.

POST-COMMUNION HYMN

O Christ God, when You raised Lazarus from the dead before the time of your passion, You confirmed the future resurrection of all. We too, like the children of old, carry before You the symbols of victory, and cry out to You O conqueror of death: Hosanna in the highest, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Saturday of St Lazarus



Saturday of Lazarus
Festal Tone - Festal Eothinon


ENTRANCE HYMN

O Son of God, who are risen from the dead,
save us who sing to you: Alleluia!

TROPARIA AND KONTAKION
(HYMNS OF THE DAY AND SEASONAL HYMN)

TROPARION OF THE FEAST IN TONE ONE
O Christ God, when you raised Lazarus from the dead, before the time of your passion, you confirmed the future resurrection of all. We too, like the children of old, carry before you the symbols of your triumph and victory and cry out to you, the Conqueror of Death: Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord. (three times)

KONTAKION OF THE FEAST IN TONE TWO
Christ, the Joy of All, Truth, Light, Life and Resurrection of the world, appeared to men on earth in His great generosity, becoming the first example of the Resurrection and granting Divine Mercy to all.

Instead of “Holy God…”

As many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia!

PROKIMENON

The lord is my light and my savior! Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the defender of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

THE READING FROM THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS

Brethren: Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, "I will never fail you nor forsake you." Hence we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?" Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

ALLELUIA

The lord reigns! He is robed in majesty!

He has established the world so that it shall never be moved!

THE READING FROM THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST JOHN

At that time: A certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it." Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go into Judea again." The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep." The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world." When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus wept. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me." When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him.

HIRMOS IN TONE EIGHT

Come, you nations of the world: Let us honor with hymns of glory the pure Mother of God who carried Divine Fire in her womb and yet was not burned. Let us magnify her with constant hymns of praise.

KINONIKON

From the mouth of sucklings and babes You have prepared a hymn. Alleluia

 
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