Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hymns and Readings for Sunday

30 December 2007
Sunday after the Nativity of our Lord

Tone Six - Eothinon Nine

Commemorating the Sts Joseph the Betrothed,
James the Brother of the Lord,
and David the King and Prophet;
the Holy Martyr Anysia;
and Holy Zoticos, Feeder of Oprhans.



The angelic powers were around Your tomb, and the guards became as dead, and Mary stood at the tomb seeking Your spotless body; then You despoiled Hades without being tried by it, and You met the Virgin O Bestower of life. O Lord who rose from the dead, glory to You.


You Nativity, O Christ our God, has shed the light of knowledge upon the world. Through it, those who had been star-worshipers, learned through a star to worship You, O Sun of Justice, and to recognize in You the One who rises and who comes from on high. O Lord, glory to You!


O Joseph, proclaim to David, the ancestor of Christ our God, the great miracles you have witnessed. You have seen the Virgin with Child, given praise with the shepherds, adored with the wise men, and an angel of the Lord has appeared to you. Intercede with Christ God that He may save our souls.


Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent Essence, and the earth presents a cave to the Inaccessible One. The Angels with the shepherds sing His glory, and the Wise men with the Star travel on their way, for to us a New Child is born, who is God from all eternity.




O save thy people, and bless thy heritage;
be thou their shepherd, and carry them for ever.

To thee, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me,
lest, if thou be silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the Pit.


TIMOTHY, MY SON: Always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry. For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.


May God be gracious to us and bless us

and make his face to shine upon us!


The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight -- " John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

(A “Megalynarion” — Hymn to the Virgin — sung after the Consecration)

It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, who are ever-blessed and all-blameless and the Mother of our God; more honored than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim: You who without stain did bear God the Word and are truly Theotokos: we magnify you.


Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens,
Praise him in the heights!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Atheists Help Build Belief

It's the Third Day of Christmas, and Canada's Michael Coren has written a nice observation on how his faith has been strengthened ... by radical atheism. A few excerpts follow to whet your whistle.

I suppose it's the greatest joke of all. Deliciously ironic as well. My Christian faith has been profoundly encouraged by those most eager to smother it. Put simply, I was helped along the road from indifference to belief by the banality of atheism. Since reaching the age of reason, I've had the usual old regulars thrown at me. Why do bad things happen to good people? Why doesn't He make Himself more obvious? Why is evil committed in the name of religion? Throw in the Inquisition, the Crusades and some lies about Papal culpability during the Holocaust and you have the standard God-hating manifesto.

The more I dealt with all this, the more I realized that the very belief being attacked was absolutely and abundantly true. More than this, the reason it was under attack in the first place was precisely because it was true.

What became apparent to me was that the opposition to faith was as unappealing and bland as faith was appealing and thrilling. I read, prayed and thought myself into faith more than 20 years ago. It was gradual but inevitable. Miracles occurred but they need not have. I do not need a miracle to remind me that water quenches my thirst. Christ was there in my life, with me and in me and around me. Atheists showed me the way. God bless the little devils.

For the whole article, go here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Hymns and Readings for the Nativity of Christ

25 December

Commemoration of Sts Adam and Eve

Festal Tone - Festal Eothinon


I will confess You with all my heart, O Lord; I will tell all your marvels.

Through the prayers…(after each verse and the Glory…Now and always…)

In the counsels of righteous men and in the assemblies, great are the works of the Lord.

They are sought in order to accomplish His will.


Blessed is the man who fears the Lord; he will establish himself firmly within His commandments

O Son of God, who was born of the Virgin, save us who sing to You: Alleluia! (After each verse)

Powerful on earth shall be his race; the descendants of the righteous ones shall be blessed.

Glory and wealth shall abide in his house, and his justice shall stand from age to age.

Glory… Now and always…

O Only Begotten Son and Word of God


The Lord has said to my Lord: Sit at my right until I make your enemies as footstool.


The Lord shall send you from Zion a scepter of power, rule in the midst of your enemies.

With You was the beginning, on the day of your might in the splendor of the holy ones.

Glory…Now and always…


From the womb before the morning star I begot you.
The Lord has sworn and He will not repent:
You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisadek.

Come let us worship…
O Son of God, who was born of the Virgin, save us who sing to You: Alleluia



Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has shed the light of knowledge upon the world. Through it, those who had been star-worshipers, learned through a star to worship You, O Sun of Justice, and to recognize in You the One who rises and who comes from on high. O Lord, glory to You!


O Little Child lying in a manger, by means of a star, Heaven has called and led to You Magi, the first-fruits of the Gentiles, astounded to behold, not scepters and thrones, but extreme poverty. What, indeed, is lower than a cave? What is humbler than swaddling clothes — and yet the splendor of your divinity shone forth in them resplendently. O Lord, glory to You!


Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent Essence, and the earth presents a cave to the Inaccessible One. The Angels with the shepherds sing His glory, and the Wise men with the Star travel on their way, for to us a New Child is born, who is God from all eternity.

(“Holy God…”)

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


All those on earth worship You and sing to You.

Sing Alleluia to God, O all the earth.


Brethren: When the time had fully come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.


I will tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, "You are my Son, today I have begotten You.

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage,
and the ends of the earth Your possession.


When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East, and have come to worship Him.’ When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.”’ Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.’ When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.


O my soul, magnify the One who is more honorable and glorious than the heavenly powers! Behold a mystery, a strange and wonderful mystery: the cave has become heaven, the Virgin a throne of the Cherubim, and the manger a noble place where Christ our God reposes. Wherefore, let us praise and exalt Him!


The Lord has sent redemption to His people:
He has established His covenant forever. Alleluia.

INSTEAD OF “We have seen the True Light”


Your Nativity, O Christ our God, has shed the light of knowledge upon the world. Through it, those who had been star-worshipers, learned through a star to worship You, O Sun of Justice, and to recognize in You the One who rises and who comes from on high. O Lord, glory to You!

Monday, December 24, 2007

From the Paramony and Great Vespers for the Nativity of our Lord

Readings for the Paramony (Vigil) of the Nativity of our Lord

Troparion of the Paramony in Tone Four

At that time, since Mary was of the house of David, she registered with the venerable Joseph in Bethlehem. She was with child, having conceived virginally. Her time was come and they could find no room in the inn, but the cave seemed a joyful palace for the Queen. Christ is born to renew the likeness that had been lost of old.


I will tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you.

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.


In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs. For to what angel did God ever say, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"? Or again, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"? And again, when he brings the first-born into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him." Of the angels he says, "Who makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire." But of the Son he says, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous sceptre is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades." And, "Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands; they will perish, but thou remainest; they will all grow old like a garment, like a mantle thou wilt roll them up, and they will be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years will never end."


The LORD says to my Lord:
"Sit at my right hand, till I make your enemies your footstool."

The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your foes!

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Luke

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrolment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!" When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Hymns and Readings for Sunday

23 DECEMBER 2007

Commemorating the Ten Holy Martyrs of Crete

Tone Five — Eothinon Eight



Let us, O faithful, praise and worship the Word, co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, born of the Virgin for our salvation, for He was pleased to be lifted in the flesh upon the cross, and to endure death, and to raise the dead by His glorious Resurrection.


Faith can accomplish great things. Through it, the Three Holy Children rejoice in the flames as if they had been in refreshing water, and Daniel, in the midst of lions is like a shepherd among his sheep. Through their intercession, O Christ God, save our souls.


Today the Virgin is on her way to the cave where she will give birth to the Eternal Word of God in an ineffable manner. Rejoice therefore, O Universe, when you hear this news, and glorify with the angels and the shepherds Him who shall appear as new Child being God from all eternity.




Blessed art Thou, O Lord, God of our fathers, and worthy of praise;
and thy Name is glorified forever.

For Thou art just in all that Thou has done to us,
and all Thy works are true and Thy ways right,and all Thy judgments are truth.


BRETHREN: By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets -- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated -- of whom the world was not worthy -- wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.


We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us,
what deeds thou didst perform in their days, in the days of old

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,
and delivers them out of all their troubles.


The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Bo'az by Rahab, and Bo'az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abidjan the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzzi'ah, and Uzzi'ah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of She-al'ti-el, and She-al'ti-el the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eli'ud, and Eli'ud the father of Elea'zar, and Elea'zar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations. Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

(Or “Megalynarion” — Hymn to the Virgin sung after the Consecration)

It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, who are ever-blessed and all-blameless and the Mother of our God; more honored than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim: You who without stain did bear God the Word and are truly Theotokos: we magnify you.


Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens,
Praise him in the heights!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Day in the Morning

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day, on Christmas Day;
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas Day in the morning.

A recent article over at First Things addressed the fact that the Virgin Mary plays little or no part in the vast majority of music associated with Christmas. It struck me that this mirrors the current secularist American "spirit" in which Christmas has become little more than a source of economic enhancement for the merchants. It has come to the point that political correctness, the product of materialistic relativism, has made it socially unacceptable to even wish someone "Merry Christmas".

Initially, Christmas was commercialized to sell seasonal products; later, the religious focus became blurred by the season (now understood as lasting from Thanksgiving to Christmas itself) as a time to indulge and attend drunken parties; and finally, in today's time the religious element itself is threatened with dissolution leaving the only focus on buying, giving, and indulging to the point of excess. Given this progression, it isn't surprising that many "Christmas songs" are devoid of any spiritual element, or else the spiritual element is largely forgotten. (How many of us know more of the carol that opens this posting than the the above printed first verse?)

Yet the charade continues. I have often railed against the secular "Christmas Season" that begins with holiday sales and ends around noon on 25 December. My famous example is that "Winter Wonderland" really has nothing to do with Christmas but is practically never heard after the twenty-fifth. Yet all of these songs and carols have become inextricably linked with Christmas in some fashion and to hear one is to think of that holiday.

Of the many Christmas Season songs played on the Radio and in the shops these days, the one that I always notice is John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”. It has everything a Christmas song should have; there are jingle bells, children singing, lush strings, and a rhythm fit for a winter sleigh ride. Although the song was written as a then-timely anti-war song protesting the American involvement in Vietnam; its melody and arrangement gave it the timeless quality to make it a classic.

Yet, Lennon’s voice, and the lyrics of the song, betrays a sadness that is quite startling. The opening words speak to a sadness that counterpoises the buoyant spirits of the arrangement.

So this is Xmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun

Lennon, of course, wanted the listener to consider that, despite the holiday, war was more than “unfinished business”, and no matter how joyful our celebrations might be we needed to remember that sadness and pain, suffering and fear, do not take holidays. Lennon hoped that by reminding the listener of the reality that the world is filled with hate and corruption might contri bute in some way to ending the war, and perhaps all wars.

However, although Lennon might sing that war can be simply stopped "if you want it", one can't help recognizing an ironic note of despair in the song, a despair that seems to see the desired goal as ultimately hopeless. (This attitude could be said to characterize much of Lennon's later years as various recollections and much of his writing reveal a man of decided intellect scarred by doubt and fear of worthlessness.)

In a way, Lennon’s sentiments in "Happy Xmas" can be seen as representative of the general melancholy many experience during “the holiday season”. Given the early starting date of the Christmas displays and ads for every conceivable product, the day itself almost can’t help seeming to be a letdown. What’s more, with all the saccharine holiday music, with emphases on mindless happiness and whimsical jollity, is it any wonder Christmas becomes a source of stress, tension and depression for many people?

A recent local production I attended included a duet sung by two young performers in which one child sang of the sadness of a life in which Santa never visited her house while the other sang of the joys of Christmas as most American children experience it. The song was from a movie, I am told, and the sad girl’s part of the song was about being poor. In an otherwise joyful and entertaining program, this number achieved the effect of giving everyone a few moments to ponder the disparity between the haves and the have nots.

The song starkly laid bare the notion that to many people Christmas is about material possessions. How could there be a happy Christmas without toys and baubles and new clothes and game players and Cd's and Ipods and new books and DVDs and all the other things we find ourselves lusting for after Thanksgiving? It is this view that mostly feeds people's pity to contribute to charities more during the "holiday season". "Toys for Tots" and other campaigns have noble motives but also feed into this "Christmas is about getting" motif.

Merchants are, as noted above, promoters of the Christmas as Capitalist Holiday mindset. From socks to jewelry, we are reminded that to really love someone we must buy that one gift that will promote instant joy and in return let them know what great people we are.

However, what the merchants, the above referenced duet, Mr Lennon’s song and too many people miss is that Christmas is not about buying, giving and receiving as it has come to be understood in today’s society. To be sure, Christmas does have a giving and receiving element, but it’s not, to use the Grinch’s words, “something bought in a store”. For no matter how wonderful the gift is, no matter how expensive, unique or personal, in the end it ages and becomes just another possession.

In its simplist terms, Christmas celebrates something that cannot be bought or sold.

Christmas celebrates the birth of a Child.

The birth of a child is a time for celebration, the gift of new life, a time of joy. For mothers, the birth of a child is a particular time of happiness coming after months of pregnancy and the pains of labor. The birth of the Christ Child recognizes that joy, and the joy of all parents, while revealing God’s love in sharing with us that newness of life that is celebrated in every birth.

In the birth of Christ we discover the solidarity that God is willing to share His life with us. He comes as a babe completely dependant on his mother. The trust Christ had in the arms of the Virgin Mary bids us to trust in God. We are reminded that no matter how much suffering we endure, how much sorrow, and how much pain; we do not go through it alone. There is One who is there to share it with us and raise us up above it. As no mother would ignore the suffering of her child, so God will stand by us. The life that comes with a new birth continues and grows, and with it love finds an ever deeper and more mature place as well.

The birth of Christ brings us to understand that our lives have worth. My life is worth something. So is yours. It’s not about how much money we earn, or our social standing. It’s not about where we’re from, or the color of our skin. It’s not about what language we speak or whether we are women or men. There is a dignity we each share just by being born, just by existing.

So as Christmas morning gives way to Christmas afternoon and evening, let us look around the house at those with us, those who love us and put up with us. Let us take a moment to realize how much each of them means to us. And for those who can’t be with us, let us visit them or give them a call. And those who live alone? Why not invite them over? They, too, add to the completeness and beauty of our lives.

By sharing the moment of Christmas we can do more than share a holiday, we can share a love that is godly and eternal. In seeing those around us as truly valuable and worthy people we can overcome the “winter blues” because we suddenly discover that we also are valuable. In this way, our celebration of Christmas will not fade with the opening of the last present; it will flourish as a blessing for others and for ourselves that will continue to grow all year.

I spoke too soon...

Unfortunately, it looks like troubles for the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem aren't over after all. The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel's High Court of Justice has frozen the recognition of Theophilos III as Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. The report gives the details and also exemplifies some of the ecclesial-political problems that plague the Orthodox Church.

The whole situation is complicated by the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, a mainly ethnic Greek order whose members exclusively choose the Patriarch for a mainly ethnic Palestinian Orthodox population.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Nativity Letter of the Patriarch of Antioch

The Patriarch of Antioch, His Beatitude Gregory III, has issued his Letter for the Feast of the Nativity for 2007. To read it, click here.

You might enjoy checking out some of his other allocutions.

A few interesting articles...

Below are links to a few interesting articles worth reading and pondering.

From MercatorNet, an article on unwed mothers.

From the same source, an article on the myth of the teenage brain.

First Things' On the Square has a nice piece on Icons.

Chiesa features a review of the recent Vatican document on Evangelisation.

Interfax has a few interesting articles here, and here, and here, and here, and finally here revealing the mind of the Russian Orthodox Church.

From the International Herald Tribune the news that Israel has finally given official recognition to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.

And finally, the Catholic News Agency reports on the continued exodus for Christians from the holy lands.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Birth of Christ - Hope and Contradiction

The Holy Father's talk at the general audience today touched on the Mystery of the Incarnation. The unity of the Pope's thought and theology is breathtaking. (I've pondered recently that while John Paul the Great was Pope for a very long time, even accounting for that, his literary theological output was voluminous and complex. Benedict, on the other hand, while only Pope for a brief time thus far has revealed a genius for compact, clear and challenging theological reflection. Witness the immediately accessible Deus Caritas Est and Spe Salvi in comparison to any one of John Paul's Encyclicals.)

The Vatican Information Service has released a summary of his talk. One can hardly wait for the whole text! Below are a couple of excerpts.

"Hoping for justice in the Christian sense means ... that we too begin to live under the eyes of the Judge, ... creating justice in our own lives. ... In this way we can open the world to the coming of the Son and prepare our hearts to welcome the Lord Who comes."

"Moreover," he added, "we have formed a view of tolerance and pluralism such that to believe that Truth has been effectively manifested appears to constitute an attack on tolerance and the freedom of man. If, however, truth is cancelled, is man not a being deprived of meaning? Do we not force ourselves and the world into a meaningless relativism?"

He continued: "How important it is, then, for us to reinforce the mystery of salvation which the celebration of Christ's Nativity brings. In Bethlehem the Light that illuminates our lives was revealed to the world; we were shown the Way that leads us to the fullness of our humanity. If we do not recognize that God was made man, what sense does it have to celebrate Christmas? We Christians must reaffirm with profound and heartfelt conviction the truth of Christ's nativity, in order to bear witness before everyone of the unique gift which brings wealth not just to us, but to everyone. "

"In these days leading up to Christmas," said Pope Benedict, "the Church prays more intensely for the realization of hopes of peace and salvation, of which the world today still has such urgent need. Let us ask God for violence to be defeated with the strength of love, for contrasts to give way to reconciliation, for the desire to dominate to be transformed into a desire for forgiveness, justice and peace. May the wishes for goodness and love that we exchange over these days reach all areas of our daily lives."

UPDATE: Zenit now has the full text online.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Strangers in their own lands

Over at De unione ecclesiarum, Peter Gilbert references an article in the British journal the Tablet on Greek Catholicism and some of the troubles Greek Catholics face. The article, by Marcus Tanner, is entitled "Outsiders in their own land". (Note that the link to the article often leads to a "log-in to read page" but occasionally takes you straight to the article. Hence, reading it from Peter Gilbert's blog may be the easier path.)

Presented here are a few excerpts (and, Lord, forgive me, a couple of my comments):

“It’s difficult to understand if you’re not from here,” the archbishop says, pointing to the nearby tower of the ruined Augustinian abbey, where Mass was first said in the fourteenth century. “We are here in Greece, we feel Greek, are Greek, but among other Greeks there is this strong identification of Greek and Orthodox. As a result, when I take part in official ceremonies, they say ‘He’s not a bishop! He is not Orthodox.’”
I have experienced this on many occasions in the US. For example, recently my wife and I met an OCA priest and his wife. We chatted briefly and went our separate ways. Later, Khourieh noted that the priest held out his hand in the manner traditional to receive a reverential kiss. She obliged as this is a custom she routinely practices with clergy (except yours truly....). She asked me if Matushka had kissed mine. No; I hadn't thought about it at the time, but she had not. Then, looking back on the conversation, I realized there had been a slight familiarity. Also, when I had approached Batushka for the embrace of peace he had stuck out his hand for a handshake. Clearly, to them I was not a priest and we were to show respect to them with no reciprocation. C'est la vie! It's a small thing, but indicative of how we "Uniates" are often treated by our separated brethren.
As the Athens-based journalist Helena Smith wrote some years ago, many Greeks “still relate to the notorious declaration of the Byzantine commander Loukas Notaras (uttered days before the sacking of Constantinople in 1453) that it would be better to see the Turkish turban in the city than a cardinal’s mitre”. That mood, stiffened by the religious dimension to the Balkan wars of the 1990s, has hardly softened at all. Smith told me: “This is still a country that is very ethnocentric, where minorities are seen as a threat to the state and where to be 100 per cent Greek you must be Orthodox.”
This is endemic to Orthodoxy. While there is much talk about the Unity of the Faith, there is a tendency for many to see their jurisdiction, and the ethnicity that grounds it, as the superior others within Orthodoxy and even more so regarding Catholics in general, and Eastern Catholic in particular.

Back in his office, the archbishop concurred. “We have got to become really Catholic, meaning universal,” he said. “We were never really considered true Greeks anyway. Now we have to be brothers to all those coming from outside. It is the future of the Church - no Greek, no Jew, but all one in Christ. That could be something to be proud of.”
This is precisely why I crossed the Tiber. There is a fullness of Catholic Faith within the Catholic Church. By this, I mean that "the Faith of the Orthodox" (as the Synodikon of Nicaea II refers to it) only attainable in union with Rome. My faith, worship, and discipline are the same as when I was an Orthodox priest, but the fullness of that Faith is more profoundly present through communion with the Pope of Rome. This may scandalize Orthodox, and in fact probably lies much behind the manifest desire of Orthodox for Eastern Catholics to cease to exist.

May our Lord bring unity to His Church and unite all Catholic and Orthodox Christians with peace, health, safety and length of days. May our Lady the Theotokos through her intercessions convict the hearts of all of us in the Churches of God whose hardness prevents that unity for which our Lord prayed. May the confidence of hope remove all prejudice, the fruits of love melt all animosity, and the Faith that saves bless us all with eternal life to the glory of God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hymns and Readings for Sunday

16 DECEMBER 2007

Commemorating the holy Prophet Haggai

Tone Four — Eothinon Seven

(theme hymns of the day and concluding seasonal hymn)


The women disciples of the Lord having heard from the angel the joyful announcement of the Resurrection, and having rejected the ancestral sentence, proudly told the Apostles: Death is despoiled, Christ God is risen, bestowing to the world great mercy.


Through faith, You have justified your ancestors, O Christ our God, and through them You have espoused in advance the Church set apart from the gentiles. The saints rejoice in glory because from the seed of these ancestors has come forth the glorious fruit who gave You birth without seed. Through their intercession, O Christ God, save our souls!


Today the Virgin is on her way to the cave where she will give birth to the Eternal Word of God in an ineffable manner. Rejoice therefore, O Universe, when you hear this news, and glorify with the angels and the shepherds Him who shall appear as new Child being God from all eternity.



Blessed art thou, O Lord, God of our fathers, and worthy of praise;
and thy name is glorified for ever.

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.


BRETHREN: When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the New Nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the Image of its Creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scyth'ian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.


Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called on his name.
They cried to the LORD, and he answered them.

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,
and delivers them out of all their troubles.


THE LORD SPOKE THIS PARABLE: A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’

(a “Megalynarion” [Hymn to the Virgin] sung after the Consecration)

It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, who are ever-blessed and all-blameless and the Mother of our God; more honored than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim: you who without stain did bear God the Word, you are truly Theotokos: we magnify you.


Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens,
Praise Him in the heights! Alleluia.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Book Review by Cardinal Ruini

Camillo Cardinal Ruini addressed the Roman Clergy recently and, amongst other things, presented a powerful review and analysis of Pope Benedict's book Jesus of Nazareth. Sandro Magister reports on the talk and includes the text of the section dealing with the Holy Father's Christological masterpiece. Below are a few excerpts.

One question that Ruini examines is the political question. What sort of social and political structure might be derived from such a seemingly apolitical lesson of Jesus as the Sermon on the Mount?

Ruini's answer – in the light of the book by Benedict XVI – is that Jesus has freed political and social structures from any pretense of sacredness and of "divine right," entrusting them instead to human freedom.
In reality, it is only by beginning with God that one can understand man, and it is only when man lives in relationship with God that his life becomes authentic: this is the meaning of the Sermon on the Mount, which delineates, in its overturning of false values, a complete picture of authentic humanity.
With the parable of the good Samaritan, however, Jesus shows us that there is no question of establishing who is or is not my neighbor: the question concerns me, I must become neighbor, so that the other - anyone else, universally - matters as much to me as I do. The relevance of the parable is obvious. If we apply it to the dimensions of globalized society, the robbed and plundered populations of Africa – and not only of Africa – concern us intimately, and demand our attention from a twofold point of view: because through the events of our history, through our lifestyle, we have contributed and still contribute to despoiling them, and because, instead of giving them God, the God who is close to us in Jesus Christ, we have brought the cynicism of a world without God.
Click over to Chiesa and read the Cardinal's whole analysis. Then, click over to Ignatius Press or Amazon and order the book. A better Christmas present for the soul and mind will be hard to find.

Incidentally, I recently bought the book on disc and have been listening during the twice daily frustration of driving -- it is truly making the "rush" hour parking experience more fruitful!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Several Interesting Articles

Joseph Bottum in today's On the Square characterizes Robert P. George's Law and Moral Purpose in the current First Things as a tour de force. This is an understatement. Take my advise, read, learn and inwardly digest (as the Anglican's used to say).

Over at MercatorNet, Thomas Lickona writes on Character-based Sex Education in a very thought provoking article. And while you're visiting MercatorNet, you might also want to read Carolyn Moynihan's Focus on sex education: eyes on Manila from back in November.

And finally, Sandro Magister, over at Chisea, writes on the School of Bologna's attempt to co opt Pope Benedict's indictment of the hermeneutics of discontinuity as actually supporting their views on the Second Vatican Council. Fascinating...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dinesh Triumphant! (up 3-0)

Everyone visiting this blog knows that I am quite impressed with Dinesh D'Souza. His clear and precise analysis is worth reading whether one agrees or not with him. Recently, I posted reference to his ongoing battle with neo-atheists ("irrational" atheists, as I am fond of calling them). Given the vitriol that has been spat at him, one could forgive him a bit of strutting while admitting that his use of logic and common sense have trounced the God-hating opposition three to nothing.

Click here to read his most recent column.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

O Virgin Pure (in Greek)

O Virgin Pure
by St. Nectarios
Plagal First Tone (Tone Five)

Refrain: O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

O Virgin pure, immaculate/ O Lady Theotokos
O Virgin Mother, Queen of all/ and fleece which is all dewy
More radiant than the rays of sun/ and higher than the heavens
Delight of virgin choruses/ superior to Angels.
Much brighten than the firmament/ and pure than the sun's light
More holy than the multitude/ of all the heav'nly armies.
O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

O Ever Virgin Mary/ of all the world, the Lady
O bride all pure, immaculate/ O Lady Panagia
O Mary bride and queen of all/ our cause of jubilation
Majestic maiden, Queen of all/ O our most holy Mother
More hon'rable than Cherubim/ beyond compare more glorious
than immaterial Seraphim/ and greater than angelic thrones.

O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

Rejoice, O son of Cherubim/ Rejoice, O hymn of angels
Rejoice, O ode of Seraphim/ the joy of the archangels
Rejoice, O peace and happiness/ the harbor of salvation
O sacred chamber of the Word/ flower of incorruption
Rejoice, delightful paradise/ of blessed life eternal
Rejoice, O wood and tree of life/ the fount of immortality

O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

I supplicate you, Lady/ now do I call upon you
And I beseech you, Queen of all/ I beg of you your favor
Majestic maiden, spotless one/ O Lady Panagia
I call upon you fervently/ O sacred, hallowed temple
Assist me and deliver me/ protect me from the enemy
And make me an inheritor/ of blessed life eternal.

O Rejoice, Bride Unwedded.

(Source and translation from: Holy Nativity Convent, Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.)

Hymns and Readings for Sunday

9 December 2007

Tone Three - Eothinon Six

Troparia and Kontakion
(Theme hymns of the day and concluding seasonal hymn)


Let all in Heaven rejoice and all on earth be glad. For the Lord has exerted power with His arm: By death He has trampled upon death and has become the first-born from the dead. He has delivered us from the bosom of Hades and has granted to the world great mercy.


Today the bonds of barrenness are loosed: God has heard the prayers of Joachim and Anna. He has promised against all hope the birth of the Maiden of God from whom the Infinite Himself is to be born as a man, He who had orders an Angel to cry out to her: “Hail, O Full of Grace! The Lord is with you!”


The mystery which was hidden from eternity and unknown to the angels has been revealed through you, O Theotokos, to those on earth; for God took flesh in a union without commixture, and willingly took up the Cross by which He elevated the first man and saved our souls from death.

(Responsory from the Psalter)

Terrible is God in his sanctuary, the God of Israel,
He gives power and strength to his people.
Blessed be God!

Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD,
O you who are of Israel's fountain!


BRETHREN: It is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married."


When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous;
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.


AT THAT TIME: He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And there was a woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years; she was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your infirmity." And he laid his hands upon her, and immediately she was made straight, and she praised God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, "There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day." Then the Lord answered him, "You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?" As he said this, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.


The Son of the Eternal Father, our Lord and our God, took flesh from the Virgin and appeared to us to bring light to those in darkness and to gather together those who were scattered. O Theotokos, worthy of all praise, we magnify you!

Today let the prophets, the chosen ones, rejoice, for their prophecies announcing the grace of God, have begun to be fulfilled in the venerable conception of the pure Mother of God who will bring forth the joy of the world.

The throne of glory has been prepared for the Lord; the gate of salvation has now been announced, the passage reserved for the Master and Creator alone. Through her, we shall attain eternal life.

With Anna, Joachim cries out: You alone have heard our voice in supplication, O Lord and Creator; in granting an end to our sterility You have given us the Root of immortality. We glorify you!

The ladder is now prepared: by it, the Lord and Creator will come down to lift up the human race. Heaven rejoices with the angels! The human race exults with all creation because of the grace of deification.

I sing of your unequaled good will, O Lady: you are my illumination, my glory and my pride, my source of wisdom, the cause of my joy, my expectation and my hope, my fortress, my rampart and my defense.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Human Dignity and Health Care Ethics

Of the several themes one could note in reviewing your host's Byzantine rambles is a concern for human dignity. The very fact of God as our creator and redeemer reveals a concrete dignity to each human being. The assault on Catholicism specifically, Christianity in general, and religion in principle, entails a denigration of humanity in weakening appreciation (and even comprehension) of human dignity. A world without God is a world adrift.

This concern is not unique to yours truly, of course; it is central to the teachings of Pope Benedict, John Paul the Great, and a host of other Christian theologians (including Orthodox, as well as Catholic) and other important thinkers. Thus, I would direct your attention to MercatorNet , which reviews Professor Margaret Somerville's book The Ethical Imagination. Michael Cook, editor of MercatorNet and reviewer of the book, notes:

Unhappily, too few people acknowledge the deep moral seriousness of bioethical debates. Compared to global warming, the obesity epidemic, and Hollywood strikes, embryos and euthanasia are also-rans. Consequently, most of us go with the flow and end up supporting the whacky views of the professionals. But Somerville somehow manages to rouse people from their bioethical slumber and stirs their consciences. So her book deserves the close attention of anyone who treasures human dignity.

What makes Professor Somerville so hard for relativists and materialists to refute is that she does not ground her views in Faith. Her reasoned and unbiased arguments in recognizing the need for objective truth are grounded in observation and analysis, not in appeals to authority.

Her first concern is to establish that our pluralistic societies need to establish common ethical principles. But her "shared ethics" is not a least common denominator, or moral relativism in mufti. It means discovering what everyone agrees is inherently wrong, not just on the basis of reason, but also of imagination, spirituality, creativity and reverence for the "secular sacred". So "shared ethics", it turns out, is basically a right-brain approach to the traditional concept of "human nature".

While there will be much that the reader can ponder or disagree with in Professor Somerville's work, it deserves a place on the bookshelf.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Human Rights Watch aids children ... but not ALL children

Recently, I posted a reference to an article from the Human Rights Watch website. I had suspicions that this site might not be exactly consistent in championing all rights. Today, I decided to check what they said related to children's rights.

Below is their statement of purpose on the topic.

The Children's Rights Division monitors human rights abuses against children around the world and works to end them. We investigate all kinds of human rights abuses against children: the use of children as soldiers; the worst forms of child labor; torture of children by police; police violence against street children; conditions in correctional institutions and orphanages; corporal punishment in schools; mistreatment of refugee and migrant children; trafficking of children for labor and prostitution; discrimination in education because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or HIV/AIDS; and physical and sexual violence against girls and boys. Children's physical and intellectual immaturity makes them particularly vulnerable to human rights violations. Their ill-treatment calls for special attention because, for the most part, children cannot speak for themselves, their opinions are seldom taken into account and they can only rarely form their own organizations to work for change.
All of this is commendable. I would not fault them for one thing they mention as a worthy of support.

However, there is a class of children who are entirely absent from their focus. These children are not only treated as property, they are routinely the victims of the ultimate in societal violence - they are murdered, executed and disposed of like garbage. For the vast majority of them, their graves are unmarked. Attempts to recognize them and prevent the barbaric treatment inflicted on them is too often met with condescension, derision, ad hominems, and even out and out aggression.

But Human Rights Watch does make reference to these forgotten children. Apparently, they either don't have rights or have rights that are trumped by the rights of the mother. The result? Abortion.

Note just a few statements from this Q&A page:

Restrictive abortion laws have a devastating impact on women’s right to life.
This ignores the fact that any abortion has a devastating impact on the child's right to life.

Where there is a lack of legal and safe abortion services and pervasive barriers to contraceptives and other reproductive health services, there will be unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions.
While unwanted pregnancies are always unfortunate, is this claim based historic fact? Not exactly.

Restrictive abortion laws affect women’s health not only by limiting their access to safe abortion services, but also in other ways. For example, the right to health is violated when women are arbitrarily denied treatment for incomplete abortions or when such treatment is given, but available pain medication is withheld.
Note the red herring "when such treatment is given, but available pain medication is withheld." While needlessly causing a woman pain is certainly immoral, what has that got to do with the question of abortion at all? But, if it must be considered, what about inflicting pain on the child that is being aborted?

Access to legal and safe abortion services is essential to the protection of women’s rights to nondiscrimination and equality. Women are in practice more likely than men to experience personal hardship as well as social disadvantage as a result of economic, career, and other life changes when they have children. Where women are compelled to continue unwanted pregnancies, such consequences forcibly put women at further disadvantage.
The counter to this problem is more compassion in society for the pregnant mother, not the murder of the impregnated child. It is the worst form of evil to claim that the solution to one person's suffering is the extermination of another.

The right to security of person, including the right to physical integrity, is central to the issue of abortion and human rights. When a pregnancy is unwanted, a legal requirement to continue the pregnancy may constitute a government intrusion on a women’s body in violation of this right.
No one has an argument with a woman, or a man, having a right to the physical integrity of their body. The issue is that the child is not the woman's body. Genetically, biologically, psychologically, the child is a different and unique person. Therefore, an abortion is government sanction for one person to decide to kill another person.

Decisions about parenthood are deeply personal, and are precisely the type of interest that privacy rights should protect. A pregnant woman’s right to privacy entitles her to decide whether or not to undergo an abortion. No women should have to make this decision under threat of legal prosecution.
This is a dubious claim. Again, if the child is a unique person, and individual human being, which it is, then the axiom that one's privacy rights end at the property line of public safety. I cannot claim a right to privacy while experimenting with dangerous materials that might explode and injure my neighbour. Similarly, I can't murder my neighbour because he can see me when I mow my lawn. The right to privacy, if admitted into the discourse at all (it is, by all accounts, a disputed concept) cannot be used to justify the killing of another human being.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee has indicated that restrictions on access to safe and legal abortion may give rise to situations that constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. These situations include forcing a pregnant woman to carry an unwanted or health-threatening pregnancy to term.
What of the cruelty to the child?

Indeed, what about the children?

From the Orations of St Gregory of Nazianus

The very Son of God, older than the ages, the Invisible, the Incomprehensible, the Incorporeal, the Beginning of beginning, the Light of light, the Fountain of Life and Immortality, the Image of the Archetype, the immovable Seal, the perfect Likeness, the Definition and Word of the Father: He it is who comes of His own Image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites Himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like. He takes to Himself all that is human, except for sin. He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; His coming to birth had to be treated with honor, virginity had to receive new honor. He comes forth as God, in the human nature He has taken, one Being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave Divinity, flesh received it.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Hymns and Readings for Sunday

Fourteenth Sunday of the Season of the Holy Cross
(Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Pentecost)
Commemorating the holy Prophet Habakkuk

Tone Two — Eothinon Five

Troparia and Kontakion
(Theme hymns of the day and concluding seasonal hymn)

Troparion of the Resurrection in Tone One
When You descended to death, O immortal Life, You destroyed Hades by the splendor of Your divinity, and when You raised the dead from below the earth, all the heavenly powers cried out to You: O Giver of Life, Christ our God, glory to You.

Kontakion of Preparation for the Nativity of Christ in Tone Three
Today the Virgin is on her way to the cave where she will give birth to the Eternal Word of God in an ineffable manner. Rejoice therefore, O Universe, when you hear this news, and glorify with the angels and the shepherds Him who shall appear as new Child being God from all eternity.

Liturgy of the Word

(Responsory from the Psalter)
The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.

The LORD has chastened me sorely,
but He has not given me over to death.

The reading from the Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians
Brethren: Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
The name of the God of Jacob protect you!

Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St Luke
At that time: As Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." And he cried, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to Him; and when he came near, He asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He said, "Lord, let me receive my sight." And Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." And immediately he received his sight and followed Him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Hirmos in Tone Six
(a “Megalynarion” [Hymn to the Virgin] sung after the Consecration)
It is truly meet to bless you, O Theotokos, who are ever-blessed and all-blameless and the Mother of our God; more honored than the Cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim: you who without stain did bear God the Word, you are truly Theotokos: we magnify you.

Communion Hymn
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens,
Praise Him in the heights! Alleluia.