Saturday, April 28, 2007

Fear of Christians -- Especially "Good" Ones

This is a response to a letter to the editor in the 28 April 2007 edition of the Charleston, South Carolina, Post and Courier entitled “Good Humans”.

It puzzles me that anyone would claim offense at people defining themselves or others, as "good Christians” (or “good Muslims”, or “good Jews”, etc.) The author of the letter is quick to note that “There isn't a day we don't read about a good Christian falling from grace, stealing, lying, leading us to war and committing violent acts.” The remainder of the letter indicts Christianity for having beliefs that the author considers exclusive, and implicitly charges Christianity (or, at least, Christians) with not respecting all people.

We should remember several things in this regard.

Firstly, failure to hold to a standard does not mean the standard is deficient. A Christian “falling from grace” is no more an indictment against the values Christianity teaches than a politician taking a bribe to change a vote is an indictment against representative democracy, or an embezzler cheating the company is an indictment against the natural value of work. If the author seriously believes that we should laud “good humans” there is no reason to reject lauding “good Christians”, or “good democrats” or "good republicans” or “good grocery store workers”.

Secondly, the main thrust of the letter that Christianity is to be condemned because it promotes “a belief system that excludes millions” is a gross mischaracterization of Christian teaching. Yes, “outside the Church there is no salvation” (St Augustine); however, Christianity has always kept open the door that those who do not know Christ through no fault of their own may also find salvation. What’s more, the converse statement, “inside the Church there is salvation”, reveals no guarantee that everyone who professes to be Christian will be saved. Hypocrisy is condemned within Christianity with the same vigor as by those outside the Church who condemn it.

Thirdly, to praise someone for being a “good human” implies that there are standards to which one can measure the behavior and attitude of the human in question. From where do these standards come? What is the source of those values that we acclaim as worthy of assent? Do they not all derive from the faith of Jews and Christians throughout history; lives that bear witness to eternal values and immutable truths and that call us to account and inform our consciences?

Fourthly, the charge to be more “inclusive” is a morally relativistic double-speak for silencing the voice of faith in our public discussion of values. Faith, and the realization that there are some values in life bigger than my meager desires, confronts me with immutable truths: “thou shalt not kill”, “thou shalt not steal”, “thou shalt not bear false witness”. Society cannot continue without these and the correlative truths also taught by Faith. The “I’m okay, you’re okay” morality of the nineteen sixties has already been exposed as the irrational hedonistic “you’re okay as long as you please me” mindset that only leads to sorrow and alienation.

Those advocating politically correct pseudo-inclusiveness have lost sight of the fact that the God who is love calls us each to an experience of real love, not some immature infatuation that is ultimately self-centered, sterile and fatal. This divine love requires a mature loving response that is itself sacrificial. The paradox that the irrational relativists do not grasp is that it is only in the context of that sacrificial love that true human freedom can ever be achieved.

Instead of condemning “good Christians” because one does not agree with certain Christian beliefs, one should applaud “good Christians” as well as “good Muslims”, “good Buddhists”, and “good” people in general for contributing to the betterment of society itself. (“Good Christians” help me every day in my own struggle with hypocrisy.)

Not only do the values Christians hold strengthen our culture, they enhance our appreciation of the humanity that we all share. Society has no reason to fear Christianity for “what the soul is in the body, that Christians are in the world.” (Letter to Diognetus, circa 150 a.d.)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Study Reveals Religion's Positive Influence on Kids... Who'd Have Thunk It?

Melinda Wenner at LifeScience .com reports that a study has found that children actually benefit from the environment of faith in a family setting. In a study of more than 16,000 children, Mississippi State University sociologist John Bartkowski and his colleagues asked the parents and teachers of more than 16,000 children to rate them on self control and frequency of poor or unhappy behavior.

Kids with religious parents are better behaved and adjusted than other children, according to a new study that is the first to look at the effects of religion on young child development. ...

The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services—especially when both parents did so frequently—and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents.
Not surprisingly, secularist sociologists and others are perplexed at the findings:

But as for why religious organizations might provide more of a boost to familylife than secular organizations designed to do the same thing, that’s still somewhat of a mystery, said Annette Mahoney, a psychologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, also not involved in the research. Mahoney wondered: “Is there anything about religion and spirituality that sets it apart?”
And of course, the old canard that religion is an oppressive and stifling influence is still offered as a counter to the study's findings:

It’s also possible that the correlation between religion and child development is the other way around, he said. In other words, instead of religion having a positive effect on youth, maybe the parents of only the best behaved children feel comfortable in a religious congregation.

“There are certain expectations about children’s behavior within a religious context, particularly within religious worship services,” he said. These expectations might frustrate parents, he said, and make congregational worship “a less viable option if they feel their kids are really poorly behaved.”
The links in the article predictably point to articles arguing for evolution against the creationist views of certain Protestant groups. Another article that discusses the positive effects of religious attendance on health and life-expectancy is replete with provisos and disclaimers. Other articles in the chain of links alternately affirm and reject the power of prayer on health. And of course, the site also has the obligatory 'Shroud of Turin is a Fake' article.

It is not surprising that there should be bewilderment that faith plays a positive impact on children's lives. It seems that many in the scientific community, perhaps mainly in the sociological sciences -- including the fields of psychology and psychiatry, fail in the attempt to consider religion neutrally. Religion has become viewed as the enemy to many in these fields.

After all, religion proposes absolute truths and immutable values that require assent. In a cultural climate that sees any restrictions on hedonistic headlong plunges into the river of licentiousness as oppressive and somewhat perverted, it is natural that a study revealing a positive role for faith should seem illogical and incomprehensible.

The methods of science are not necessarily evil or wrong in and of themselves. Yet the politicalization of science too often leads to the promotion of relativistic goals and attempts to quash systems that accept the existence of real truths and values. As a parallel, consider the effect on law and jurisprudence when all reference to natural law is excised.

In any event, those of you with children can take this study as validation that you can pray in front of your children, go to and take them to church, and even let them see you walk into the confessional. It won't harm them or stunt their intellectual growth.

Who knows? Faith might actually become the foundation that gives coherence and meaning to their lives.

Who'd have thunk it?

John Allen Weighs In

Given the recent attention given to the Limbo issue here and elsewhere, and given the Motu Proprio fever infecting blogs the world over, John Allen's article in this week's National Catholic Reporter is a welcome addition to the discussion. In particular, his analysis gives further consideration to the question of whether the Holy Father is a conservative or a liberal. Note his comment in the following paragraph:

Perhaps what these two seemingly incongruent moves actually suggest is that Benedict XVI is his own man, beholden to no party or faction, and hence capable of making decisions that alternately delight and confound all the existing tribes that currently dot the Catholic landscape. They suggest that the pope is not an ideologue, and hence difficult to pin down according to partisan logic. He makes decisions based upon his judgment of the merits of a case, rather than how that decision is going to play in any given quarter.

The article is brief and insightful. Give it a read here.

Pope Benedict on Road Safety

The Vatican Information Service reports that at the end of an Angelus address on the third century theologian Origen of Alexandria (look for the complete text when it is released), the Pope made a plea for road safety. This plea concluded, "it is my hope that a conscious sense of responsibility towards others may induce drivers, especially the young, to greater prudence and respect for the highway code."

As I seem to live in an area where most drivers apparently have been schooled in the Demolition Derby method, I heartily agree.

Not wanting to seem absolutist or judgmental (this might be read by a relativist, after all), here are my Ten Suggestions of Road Safety for Careful Drivers.

I. Speed limits are there for a reason.

II. Tail-gating (driving too close behind another driver) is inherently dangerous.

III. Allowing others to merge is not a sin.

IV. Giving way for ambulances and other emergency vehicles is a virtue.

V. It's not the cell call en route; it's whatever a driver allows to so consume attention (the radio, conversation, attempting to read the fine print on the bumper sticker of the car in front, etc.) that needs to be abolished. (In other words, the one driving needs to take seriously the responsibility entailed in the act.)

VI. Headlights are good day or night, but attention to glare (and the procedure to dim the lights) is even better.

VII. Using a turn signal does not make you look stupid; leaving one on for over two miles does.

VIII. Recognizing that if you leave late you're going to end up late (one way or the other), is a revelation that not only brings calm it saves lives.

IX. Keeping your vehicle in good working order is not an unnecessary expense.

X. Don't like seat-belts? Build a bridge and get over it.

And "the answer to yesterday's bonus question":

What is the most dangerous part of a car?

The nut holding the steering wheel.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And speaking of Media Mis-Characterization...

Newsweek reveals the Holy Father to be "less conservative than his image suggests" in a report on Limbo (the spiritual state, not the dance) entitled, "Letting Go of Limbo". Yet, over at The Huffington Post the same topic is claimed as confirmation that the Pope is an "arch-conservative".

It is often humorous to observe how the media attempts to pigeonhole the Pope, the Faith and the Church into neat little Western political categories. A change that can be interpreted as abandoning a traditional belief, could mean the Pope is a liberal. Or else, the 'change' could be merely part of a master plan to infiltrate society and bring all to follow his conservative agenda.

What is truly astonishing about the Newsweek article by Matthew Philips is his perception that the Pope is somehow burning theological bridges and dismantling doctrines. Mr Philips seems to believe this even though he himself admits that "Limbo has never been official church doctrine" . Yet the tone of the article is that some significant change has occurred and therefore the Pope is not conservative.

Mr Philips is mistaken on several points (including the role of Limbo in theology and history) and thus retreats to secular political terms to conclude that the Pope is "less conservative" than thought. For him, any dynamic change in the presentation of Church teaching, or clarification that something is not really Church teaching, can only mean a leaning towards liberalism since conservatism would not admit for such a change, and therefore the Pope cannot be a true conservative.

(It is also interesting, that the Newsweek article seems to claim, almost in passing, that infant Baptism is a result of belief in limbo! It says, "For this reason, Roman Catholics have traditionally baptized their children as soon as they could after birth, and Catholic missionaries have circumnavigated the globe, emphasizing baptism as the key to salvation." And all this time I thought it was because our Lord commanded Baptism!)

While Mr Philip sees the Pope as at least a moderate, over at the Huffington Post a piece by by Jeffrey Robbins finds the Limbo issue to be confirmation that the Pope is an “arch-conservative”.

Indeed Benedict, who before he became the pope was known as an arch-conservative and the enforcer of Catholic orthodoxy, is showing yet again that he is as astute as a politician as he is precise as a theologian, for with his conservative bona fides long since established, he is now able to wrap himself in the cloak of a certain kind of compassionate conservatism.

(Note, yet another attempt to pigeonhole Church teaching into political terms!)

It is Mr Robbins's opinion that
"Benedict has effectively written off the European and American church where the "dictatorship of relativism" is most pronounced, allowing it to wither away on the vine with the hope that a new remnant of the pure and stalwart might take its place. Dan Brown styled conspiracy theories notwithstanding, this is an invitation to Opus Dei and other likeminded groups to claim the future of the Roman Catholic Church.”

("Opus Dei and other likeminded groups" are apparently outside agitators, theological terrorists, or doctrinal insurgents; not true members of the Church.)

The Holy Father is thus to be condemned as an "arch-conservative" precisely because of his challenge to relativism. Mr Robbins charges that "in his inaugural sermon as pope, Benedict famously rallied the church against what he deemed were the evils of relativism (along with liberalism and socialism)." Mr Robbins, on the other hand, believes that "the truth of our history is that the church is not, nor has it ever been, uniform, but diverse, that its teachings were not eternal, but time and culture specific...." Therefore, since his own view is true -- because it is relativistic -- and since this is equated with liberalism, the Holy Father's views must be both false and indicative of arch-conservatism.

So who is right?

Mr Philips or Mr Robbins?


The Holy Father is neither liberal nor conservative. He is a Christian.


Limbo was ever but a speculative hope that unbaptized infants would enjoy a state of natural peace and happiness somewhat if less than heaven at least far from being a punishment. And the report of the International Theological Commission notes that the Church continues to believe "there are theological and liturgical reasons to hope that infants who die without baptism may be saved and brought into eternal happiness even if there is not an explicit teaching on this question found in revelation." (The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized, available by subscription in Origins.)

Thanks to Newsweek and the Huffington Post, I can now rest easy knowing that the Pope is an arch-conservative liberal!

Weigel Reviews New Yorker Mis-Characterization of Holy Father

In the most recent issue of the Denver Catholic Register, George Weigel presents a typically succinct reveiw of a recent New Yorker article on the Holy Father. He not only clarifies the Pope's positions on a variety of topics but also gives example to the media bias that mis-characterizes so much of Church teaching. Below are the opening paragraphs of Weigel's article.

The New Yorker was once famous for the ferocity of its fact-checking and editing. No more. Any magazine whose editors give a pass to falsehoods (e.g., Catholics believe that “heaven, and possibly earth, belongs exclusively to them”), grossly tendentious mis-readings of documents (e.g., Vatican II’s Nostra Aetate taught “the dim possibility of Jewish salvation”), and factual errors (e.g., Karol Wojtyla was “one of the young theological advisers at Vatican II”) is a magazine that is not seriously edited.

Jane Kramer’s lengthy tantrum in the New Yorker’s April 2 issue, “The Pope and Islam,” is really several articles in one. It’s a wailing wall for left-leaning Vaticanisti, disgruntled Curial bureaucrats, and Italian Catholic activists unhappy with Benedict XVI’s challenge to Islam. It’s an effort — rather unsuccessful, I fear — to come to grips with the substance of the Pope’s Regensburg Lecture in September 2006. It’s yet another attempt to drive a wedge between Benedict XVI and John Paul II, along the hoary “nice Wojtyla/nasty Ratzinger” axis of pseudo-analysis. And it’s a brusque dismissal, without serious examination, of Benedict XVI’s suggestion that the first inculturation of Christianity in the world of classical rationality was providential, because it gave early Christians the intellectual tools to turn their evangelical confession of faith (“Jesus is Lord”) into doctrine and creeds, such as the Nicene Creed universally prayed by the Church.

The media generally seems to follow the relativistic multi-cultural political correctness that is the subject of my Monday book review and several earlier postings. Having been present occasionally at 'events' later reported by various elements of the media, I firmly believe their collective motto is often that of Groucho Marx: "Who are you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"

To read the whole Weigel article, check out the Denver Catholic Register. To read the New Yorker article on which he comments, click here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Feast of St George!

Troparion of St George in Tone Four

O Great Among the Saints and Glorious Martyr George, since you are a deliverer of captives and a defender of the poor, a doctor for the sick and a noble attendant to kings: intercede with Christ God, that He may save our souls.

Well-grounded Analysis of Society’s Ills in a Tidy Little Cover

The 2006 publication Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam is the kind of book that one might choose to avoid for any of several reasons.

1) It is primarily the transcription of two speeches, the first a lecture by Professor Marcello Pera to the Lateranese Pontifical University and the other an address by then-Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) to the Italian Senate. Speeches seldom translate well to the printed page.

2) Further, the subject matter might be considered somewhat esoteric: the detrimental influence of relativism on European society, and by extension on Western Society as a whole.

3) Add to this the fact that what we have in this little book is an English translation of presentations given in Italian, one by a scholar whose native language is German, and the potential for tedium rivals a Baillie translation of Hegel.

Be encouraged, then: Without Roots is both accessible and brief. Professor Pera and then-Cardinal Ratzinger speak with the eloquent clarity of great minds who can squarely perceive the reality of a problem, identify its origins and and sketch out thought-provoking and challenging solutions. The text is clear, precise and cogent. The novice will find it easy to follow the discussion and the connoisseur of philosophical argumentation will not be disappointed.

The format of the book is simple: Professor Pera's lecture is followed by then-Cardinal Ratzinger's speech. The book concludes with an exchange of letters between the Professor and the Cardinal that highlight and further clarify their positions. Generous end notes provide context and additional information for the interested reader.

For those who are following the unfolding theology of Pope Benedict XVI, Without Roots offers a basic primer in themes emerging as central to his teachings. The contrast between Pera’s views and those of the future Pope, illuminated by their juxtaposition in the book, allows the reader a better understanding of the underlying topic as a whole, as well as the differing approaches each of the two men follow in addressing the issue and the distinct solutions each offers.

Below are several snippets to whet your appetite.

Pera: The thinking that currently prevails in the West regarding the universal features of the West is that none of them has universal value. According to the proponents of these ideas, the universality of Western institutions is an illusion, because in reality they are only one particularity among many, with a dignity equal to that of others, and without any intrinsic value superior to that of others. (p 3)

Pera: My own explanation is that in the age of triumphant relativism and “silent apostasy,” belief in the true no longer exists: the mission of the true is considered fundamentalism and the very affirmation of the true creates or raises fears. (p 37)

Ratzinger: Europe is infected by a strange lack of desire for the future. Children, our future, are perceived as a threat to the present, as if they were taking something away from our lives. Children are seen as a liability rather than as a source of hope. There is a clear comparison between today’s situation and the decline of the Roman Empire. (p 66)

Ratzinger: …the more relativism becomes the generally accepted way of thinking, the more it tends toward intolerance, thereby becoming a new dogmatism. Political correctness… seeks to establish the domain of a single way of thinking and speaking. Its relativism creates the illusion that it has reached greater heights than the loftiest philosophical achievements of the past. It prescribes itself as the only way to think and speak – if, that is, one wishes to stay in fashion. Being faithful to traditional values and to the knowledge that upholds them is labeled intolerance, and relativism becomes the required norm. I think it is vital that we oppose this imposition of a new pseudo-enlightenment, which threatens freedom of thought as well as freedom of religion.(p 128)

This is a great little book and well worth an afternoon of your time. Pick it up via either or the Daughters of St Paul.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


Whosoever is a devout lover of God,
let him enjoy this beautiful bright Festival.

And whosoever is a grateful servant
let him rejoice and enter into the joy of his Lord.

And if any be weary with fasting,
let him now receive his penny.

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let him receive his due reward.

If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join the Feast.

And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt;
for he too shall sustain no loss.

And if any have delayed to the ninth hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay;
for the Lord is gracious
and receives the last even as the first.

He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour
as well as to him that toiled from the first.

Yea, to this one He gives,
and upon that one He bestows.

He accepts works,
as He greets the endeavor.

The deed he honors
and the intention he commends.

Let all then enter into the joy of our Lord.

You first and last receiving alike your reward;
you rich and poor,
rejoice together.

You sober and you slothful,
celebrate the day.

You that have kept the fast,
and you that have not,

rejoice today;
for the Table is richly laden.

Fare royally on it.

The calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry.

Partake you all of the cup of faith.
Enjoy you all the riches of His goodness.

Let no one grieve at his poverty;
for the universal Kingdom has been revealed.

Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death,
for the Death of our Saviour has set us free.

He has destroyed it by enduring it.
He spoiled Hades when he descended thereto.

He vexed it
even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he cried,
“Thou, O Hades, has been vexed by encountering Him below. ”

It is vexed;
for it is even done away with.

It is vexed;
for it is made a mockery.

It is vexed;
for it is destroyed.

It is vexed;
for it is annihilated.

It is vexed;
for it is now made captive.

It took a body,
and it discovered God.

It took earth,
and encountered Heaven.

It took what it saw
and was overcome by what it did not see.

“O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?”

Christ is risen,
and thou art annihilated.

Christ is risen,
and the evil ones are cast down.

Christ is risen,
and the Angels rejoice.

Christ is risen,
and life is liberated.

Christ is risen,
and the tomb is emptied of the dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

Hymns of the Paschal Divine Liturgy


Christ is risen from the dead, and by His death, He has trampled upon Death and has given life to those who were in the tombs.


Mary and her companions went forth before dawn. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, and heard the angel say: Why do you seek Him as a man among the dead, when He is in eternal splendor? Behold the shroud is folded. Hasten and proclaim to the world that the Lord is risen and has put death to death, for he is the Son of God, the Savior of mankind.


Though You went down to the tomb, O Immortal One, You overthrew the power of Hades, and rose victorious, O Christ God; You greeted the Ointment-bearing Women, saying: Rejoice! You gave peace to your Apostles, and to those who had fallen, resurrection.

From the Resurrection Service

Today is the day of the Resurrection! O nations, let us be joyful! For this Passover is the Passover of the Lord, in that Christ made us pass from death to life and from earth to heaven, we who sing the song of victory!

Glory to Your holy Resurrection, O Lord!

Let us purify our senses and we shall see Christ, shining in the unapproachable light of His Resurrection. We shall clearly hear Him say, “Rejoice” as we sing the song of victory.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever. Amen.

Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice. Let the whole world, visible and invisible keep the feast, for Christ is risen, our eternal joy!

Christ is risen from the dead; and by His death, He has trampled upon Death and has given life to those who were in the tombs. (3 times)

Having risen from the grave as He foretold, Jesus has granted us eternal life and great mercy.

Ode One of the Pashal Canon of Orthros

Let God arise and His enemies will scatter; and those who hate Him will flee before Him.

Our Passover, Christ the Redeemer, is revealed to us today as a noble Passover. This is a new and holy Passover, a mystical Passover, a blameless Passover, a glorious Passover, a Passover for the faithful, a Passover that opens for us the gates of Paradise, a Passover that sanctifies all believers.

As smoke vanishes, so let them vanish and melt as wax before the fire.

Come back from what you have seen, O women heralds of good tidings, and say to Zion: “Accept from us the joyful announcement of the Resurrection of Christ! O Jerusalem, rejoice, exult and leap for joy! For you have seen Christ the King coming out of the tomb as fair as a bridegroom!”

So do sinners perish before God; but let the just exult with joy before God.

When, early in the morning, the ointment-bearing women stood before the tomb of the Giver of Life, they saw an Angel sitting on the stone, and he spoke to them, saying: “Why do you seek the Living One among the dead? Why do you mourn, as if the Incorruptible One has suffered corruption? Go to His disciples and proclaim the glad tidings!”

This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice therein.

A glorious Passover has shone upon us: a Passover of the Lord, a Passover perfectly honorable. Let us embrace one another with joy! O, what a Passover, delivering from sorrow: for Christ, coming out of the tomb as from a bridal chamber, fills the women with joy by telling them to bring this happy news to the disciples.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

Today is the day of the Resurrection: let us glory in this feast and embrace one another. O brethren, let us say: “Because of the Resurrection, we forgive all things to those who hate us."” And let us all sing together:

“Christ is risen from the dead; and by His death, He has trampled upon death; and has given life to those who were in the tombs!”

Ode Nine of the Paschal Canon of Orthros

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

From the Mystery of Holy Anointing

On Wednesday of Holy Week, we celebrate the Mystery of Holy Anointing. This sacrament of healing helps prepare us for the final days of Holy Week. The service features seven sets of Scripture readings with seven prayers over the oil. In addition, prayers of forgiveness are also read. While not substituting for Holy Confession, Holy Anointing reminds us that we are each one being, body and soul, and that there is a connection between suffering and sin, although not always obvious. The Anointing for healing reminds us of our Chrismation, which brings the healing of the Holy Spirit.

By Your sacred oil, O loving God, You gave Your grace through Your Apostles to heal the wounds and illnesses of all. Therefore, with compassion sanctify and have mercy on those who now approach the oil with faith and cleanse them of all illnesses and make them worthy of Your unfading blessings.

Look down from heaven, O ineffable One, with compassion and with Your unseen hand bless our senses, O loving God. Give healing of body and soul to those who with faith hasten to Your sacred oil, and beg forgiveness of their offenses, so that with boldness they may glorify you and magnify Your power.

Through the anointing of Your mercy and the touch of Your priests. O loving God, sanctify Your servants from on high. Save their souls from sin, O Savior. Cleanse and wash them. Deliver them from evil temptations. Relieve their pain and make their ways smooth. By Your pity and compassion, take away their trials and tribulations.

From the Praises, Mystery of Holy Anointing

All sovereign Master and holy King, You chastise but do not kill. You support those who fall and raise up those who are cast down. We ask You, our God, who ease the bodily afflictions of us humans, that You may let Your mercy rest upon this oil and upon those anointed with it in Your name. May it be to them for the healing of soul and body, for cleansing and relief from all suffering, from all sickness and disease, and from all defilement of flesh and spirit. Yes, O Lord, send down from heaven Your healing power, touch the body, allay the fever, sooth the suffering, and drive away all hidden weaknesses. Become the physician of Your servants. Raise them upon from their bed of affliction and couch of woe. Restore them safe and sound to Your Church that they may please You and do Your will.

For You, our God, are merciful and can save us, and to You we give glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always and forever and ever. Amen.

Third Gospel Prayer over the Oil, Mystery of Holy Anointing

(4th Tone) O Christ, who are quick to help, manifest Your speedy visitation from on high upon Your suffering servants. Deliver them from infirmities and bitter pains; and raise them up again so that they may praise and glorify You without cease, through the prayers of the Theotokos, O You who alone are the Lover of Mankind.

(4th Tone) I have lost the very eyes of my soul, wherefore I come to You, O Christ, as did the man who had been blind from birth, and I cry out to You with repentance: “To those who stumble in darkness, You are a radiant and resplendent light.”

(3rd Tone) O Lord, as You raised the Paralytic of old, in Your divine goodness lift up my soul completely paralyzed by many sins and all kinds of wickedness, so that I may be saved and may cry out to you: “Glory to Your might, O merciful Christ!”

From the Troparia, Mystery of Holy Anointing