Saturday, March 29, 2008

You Can't Handle the Truth

During Bright Week, called the Octave of Easter in the West, I try to spend much of my time reflecting on our Lord's great gift in the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Consequently, I typically don't engage in blogging. This follows my Lenten practice of using the blog to post edifying snippets from the wealth of Byzantine hymnody for my own and my readers' spiritual benefit. In both cases, this doesn't mean that I close myself off from the world, I simply exercise restraint in making choices for "blogosphere" comment.

However, I have concluded that I must comment on the recent unpleasantness regarding a fifteen minute film by the Dutch politician Geert Wilders entitled "Fitna". Fitna is an Arabic term roughly meaning "upheaval" and carries the connotation of social madness like "Bedlam" in the classical sense. The film warns of the dangers of Islamic extremism and the hatred of Western values, including democracy, shared by many Muslims. It has garnered near universal opprobrium in the world media and in political circles. It was denied access to Dutch television, banned from Dutch web services, condemned by everyone from European Muslim leaders to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Now, it is vanishing from the web altogether.

Not being one who closely follows all things Dutch, I first heard about the film two days ago. Curiosity led me to google it and watch it. Consequently, I find it fascinating that the film is being so universally vilified. It does have more than a few images of mutilated corpses that are not for delicate temperaments.

However, the criticisms do not seem to focus on the film per se. Rather, the film is characterized as "hate speech"; it offends Muslims; it represents a far right xenophobia; it stereotypes Muslims; and it is propaganda that did not even get the permission of several news outlets for the quotations used in the film.

But what I have not found is many refutations or actual dialogue on the film's assertions. While a local radio commentator in our area yesterday proclaimed that Muslim hatred for the United States and Great Britain solely originates in Western interventionism and has nothing to do with Islamic antithetism towards democracy, the film features Imams and Muslim laity adamantly proclaiming their hatred for democracy.

In the musical 1776, one of the Continental Congress delegates voting on whether to debate the question of American independence notes, "I never heard of an idea so dangerous that people can't talk about it. Hell, yes, I'm for debating it." It would seem that Fitna features ideas that many believe must not be spoken out loud. The questions people should be asking is "What ideas?" and "Who benefits from them not being discussed?"

Let me note: I have lived with Muslims and witnessed Muslim culture up close. I have been privileged to account many Muslims as friends. There are many very fine people who follow Islam. There is also an undercurrent within Islam that is most troubling from a Christian perspective and from a classical Western perspective. There is a vast difference between Muslim fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism of whatever stripe.

Fitna addresses issues that should concern Muslims and Christians alike. Arguments against Crusades should equally apply to Jihad. No one benefits from refusing to acknowledge or discuss the issue. Modern Western Relativism exposes itself to its own corrupt decay in the silence it enforces on too many issues. Fitna deals with one.

This link will take you the liveleak website where the film was available. God willing, the film may return. If so, remember there are several graphic images.

PS You will note various links in this post. I do not endorse views expressed in the linked sites; they are provided as examples and to expand options for interested readers to find the film.

PPS Thanks to Byzantine, Texas, a different video, guaranteed to make you smile!

UPDATE: The film FITNA may now be found here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!

Christ is risen!

A blessed Pascha to all near and far. We have journeyed through the suffering of the scourge, the pain of the crown of thorns, and the torture of the Cross. We have wept at the tomb and mourned the death of He who loved us to the end.

And yet on this glorious morning, we rejoice that we are more than triumphant. For He who was crucified is risen! Death has died and life is become immortal. Orphaned souls have now become beloved children of God the Father. Fasting is replaced by feasting. Fear and sorrow are replaced with peace and joy!

For Christ is risen! He who bore our sins and suffered in His great Love for us has triumphed over death. He is risen! And the world is renewed. He is risen! And we are all become brother and sisters in His Love. He is risen! And the darkness of Evil turns in flight before the Light of the God who is Love!

Thanks be for the glory of His three day Resurrection that has made our peace with God.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed to make this year's Holy Week celebration most beautiful and spiritually uplifting:

Deacon David
and the generosity of the staff and laity of Sacred Heart Catholic Church
and the Administrator of the Diocese of Charleston

These last few days have been some of the most moving and beautiful of this old priest's life. Thanks be to God!

Christ is risen! Truly, He is risen!

Friday, March 21, 2008

From the Menaion - 22 March


On 22 March, we commemorate the holy hieromartyr Basil, priest of the Church of Ancyra.

If the prophet said there was no soundness in his bones, what could be said of the cruel gashes the martyrs suffered without saying anything? Basil was rasped by the scrapers on the twenty-second.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

From the Menaion - 21 March


On 21 March, we commemorate our venerable father James, Bishop of Catania, Confessor.

Having suffered for your Image, O Word, James was snatched away from the shadowy images of this life. After having tasted thirst and hunger, his body was hidden in the earth on the twenty-first.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

From the Menaion - 20 March


On 20 March, we commemorate the holy fathers martyred by the Saracens at the Monastery of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified.

Because of their ascetic labors, as well as for the blood they shed, the fathers found a double crown in Heaven on March twentieth, in the presence of the Mighty One, as a reward for their twice-tested Faith.

By their holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

From the Menaion - 19 March


On 19 March, we commemorate the holy martyrs Chrysanthos and Daria.

Although they were buried alive in a pit, Chrysanthos saw Heaven, and so did Daria as well. On the nineteenth, the pit was their marriage bed, and a light in the darkness led them to their Bridegroom.

By their holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Monday, March 17, 2008

From the Menaion - 18 March


On 18 March, we commemorate our father among the saints Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem.

As in the parable, increasing the talent which the Master wished to entrust to you, O Cyril, you rose up, as on wings, on the eighteenth, to enter into the joy of your Lord, as a faithful servant.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

From the Menaion - 17 March


On 17 March, we commemorate our venerable father Alexis, the Man of God.

Man of God, you alone on earth enjoyed that illustrious title! What unprecedented honor did you receive in Heaven, surrounded with glory? On the seventeenth, Alexis set out for the other world.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Synaxarion of Palm Sunday


O Immortal Lord, You have bound Hades, slain Death, and raised up the world. Therefore, the children, carrying psalms, sing praise to You as Victor, O Christ, and they cry aloud to You this day: "Hosanna to the Son of David! No longer shall the little children be slaughtered because of Mary's Child," they say, "because You alone are Crucified for all, both young and old! No more shall the sword be drawn against us, for Your side is pierced with a lance. With great rejoicing, then, we cry out: 'Blessed are You who come to restore Adam!'"


On this day, which is Palm Sunday, we celebrate the glorious and radiant Feast of the Entrance of our Lord Jesus Christ into Jerusalem.

He who once stretched out the sky as a tent-cloth by His divine word, today is seated upon the foal of a donkey, seeking to raise mankind who had fallen and become like beasts.

Wherefore, through Your indescribable mercy, O Christ, enable us to overcome our beastly passions; and make us worthy to behold Your brilliant triumph over Death and Your wondrous and life-giving Resurrection; and have mercy on us. Amen.

From the Menaion - 16 March


On 16 March, we commemorate the holy martyr Sabinos the Egyptian.

Sabinos gave evidence of his manly courage in the yellow waters of a stagnant river. The martyr Sabinos went under the waters of the Scamander for his last bath on the sixteenth.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Palm Sunday

Festal Tone - Festal Eothinon


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

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



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


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


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




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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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

From the Menaion - 15 March


On 15 March, we commemorate the holy martyr Agapios and his companions: Paesis, Romulos, Timolaos, the two Alexanders and the two Dionysioses.

The martyr Agapios was eager to die, and thus he enjoyed the divine banquet more quickly. Paesis and three others, weaving their crowns, became fellow citizens with the angels and the saints. The two Denises struggled along with the two Alexanders, and their shared pain led to shared honor. Struck by the sword on the fifteenth, Agapios and his companions journeyed to Heaven.

By their holy prayers, O our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.

Saturday of Lazarus

Saturday of Lazarus
Festal Tone - Festal Eothinon


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


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

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

Instead of “Holy God…”

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


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

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


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


The lord reigns! He is robed in majesty!

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


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


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


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

Friday, March 14, 2008

From the Menaion - 14 March


On 14 march, we commemorate our venerable father Benedict of Nursia.

After having strictly reined in the passions, Benedict releases the reins of his life here below. Humbly ascending his ladder to Heaven on the fourteenth, he merits our praises.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

From the Menaion - 13 March


On 13 March, we celebrate the transfer of the relics of our father among the saints, Nicephoros, Patriarch of Constantinople.

O Nicephoros, the city from which you had once been banished now rejoices to receive your relics. On the thirteenth, your venerable body passes through the Bosphorus with the honors of a triumphal procession.

By his holy prayers, O our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

From the Menaion - 12 March


On 12 March, we commemorate our venerable father Theophane, the Confessor, monk of Sigria, whose body rests in Samothrace.

Theophane can now be the protector of the faithful who render honor to his peaceful end; for on the twelfth, he took leave of this passing life and entered into eternal blessedness.

On the same day, we commemorate our venerable father Gregory, Pope of Rome, the author of the "Dialogues".

From the heart of this life, the holy Pope Gregory attains the choir of angels and eternal glory.

By their holy prayers, O our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.

Faith - A Danger to Society... and Freedom from Faith?

It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith. (Emphasis added)
Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Schools Select Committee, House of Parliament, UK

Comment made in justifying the calling in of Catholic Bishops to explain why Catholic Schools should have a crucifix in every classroom and should teach chastity.

And in US news....

1 in 4 teenaged US girls have had sexually-transmitted disease: study

CHICAGO (AFP) — One in four teenaged girls in the United Sates has been infected with at least one sexually transmitted disease, according to a study released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The first study to examine the combined national prevalence of common STDs among adolescent women in the United States estimates that at least 3.2 million teens aged 14 to 19 are currently infected.

Since the study only tested for the four most common sexually transmitted diseases, it is possible that the total prevalence among US teens is greater than the study's rate of 26 percent, the authors warned.

"Today's data demonstrate the significant health risk STDs pose to millions of young women in this country every year," said Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention.

"Given that the health effects of STDs for women -- from infertility to cervical cancer -- are particularly severe, STD screening, vaccination and other prevention strategies for sexually active women are among our highest public health priorities."
Yet, chastity is frowned upon in the US, too.

Lord, have mercy!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

From the Menaion - 11 March


On 11 March, we commemorate our venerable father Sophronios, Archbishop of Jerusalem.

Having kept the Law to its smallest detail, Sophronios rises up to Heaven in glory. While his spirit rested safely, the body of Sophronios succumbed to the weight of years, and he goes down to the grave on the eleventh.

By his holy prayers, O our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.

Monday, March 10, 2008

From the Menaion - 10 March


On 10 March, we commemorate the holy martyr Codratos of Corinth and his companions: Anectos, Paul, Denis, Cyprian and Crescent.

Fro having shipwrecked the doctrines of the pagans, O Codratos, you were drowned in a stream of your own blood. Anectos and two friends submitted to the same fate: to die for God did not seem improper to them. Seeing Crescent perish under the sword, Cyprian quickly added his own death to the first. On March tenth, Codratos, like a Corinthian column, lost his capital under the two-edged sword.

By the prayers of Your saints, O Christ our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Fifth Sunday of Lent


In you, O Mother Mary, the faithful image of God shone forth, for you carried your cross and followed Christ. You taught by your deeds how to spurn the body, for it passes away and how to value the soul, for it is immortal. Wherefore you soul is forever in happiness with the angels.


Brought together by the Holy Spirit, you became a triumphant army, O illustrious forty martyrs, victorious athletes of Christ! Tried by fire and by water, you were radiantly glorified. Entreat the Most High Trinity to grant us great mercy.



Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them:
let all round about Him bring gifts to the awesome Lord.

God is renowned in Judah; in Israel, great is His Name!

(for the Forty Martyrs of Sebastea)

BRETHREN: Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? — "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.


Come, let us sing to the Lord
And shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.

Let us approach Him with praise and thanksgiving
And sing joyful songs to the Lord.


AT THAT TIME: One And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him, and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise." And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him, and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you." And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?" And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?" And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared." And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Synaxarion for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

On this day, the fifth Sunday of the Fast, we commemorate our venerable mother Mary of Egypt.

The soul leaves the flesh emaciated to the very bones. O earth, cover these bleached bones, the remains of Mary.

By her holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

From the Menaion - 9 March


On 9 March, we commemorate the Forty Martyrs of Sebastea.

O Lord, let us complete, by our broken legs, that which was lacking in Your Crucifixion long ago. We Forty suffered our passion for You on the ninth, in the icy waters at Sebastea.

By their holy prayers, O our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

From the Menaion - 8 March


On 8 March, we commemorate our venerable father Theophylactos, the Confessor, Metropolitan of Nicomedia.

Theophylactos, who was banished from his fatherland, is now further exiled from his body. On the eighth, blending his voice with that of the heavenly choirs, the saint, who was protected by God, is welcomed back into the sheepfold.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Friday, March 07, 2008

From the Menaion - 7 March


On 7 March, we commemorate the holy hieromartyr bishops of Cherson: Ephrem, Basil, Eugene, Agathodore, Capiton, Etheres and Elpidios.

Since he never bowed his head to any idol, Ephrem lost his head under the sword. Basil was dragged away by the arms of the pagans, but he cut off the arms and legs of error. Three comrades-in-arms followed the Prophet: "I bared my back to those who scourged me." Capiton, lifting up his hands in prayer to Heaven, passed to God, but his feet went first. By means of a river, O Etheres, you sailed towards God who loved you, and who had bathed you in the river of Baptism. March seventh unites in one feat the seven hierarchs, victims of the same fate.

By their holy prayers, O our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

From the Menaion - 6 March


On 6 March, we commemorate the holy martyrs of Amorion: Theodore, Constantine, Callistos, Theophilos, Bassoi, and their companions.

Six time seven were the number of the valiant athletes. On the sixth, the forty-two were beheaded.

By the prayers of Your saints, O Christ our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

From the Menaion - 5 March


On 5 March, we commemorate the holy and venerable martyr Conon of Isauria.

Conon returned his dust to the earth after being scourged as a witness who struggled in order that glory and worship be given to the Name of the Lord alone. On the fifth, the holy martyr exulted in the presence of God.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

First Things is On the Square Again!

First Things' On the Square today features a thought-provoking essay by R. R. Reno entitled The Offense of Piety. One paragraph follows to entice you to read the entire essay, which itself will certainly stimulate cogent reflection.

Christians should seek to enlist as many as possible in the cause of humanity. It is one of the central principles of Catholic theology that grace perfects rather than destroys nature. Faith fulfills rather than subverts reason. For this reason, the Catholic tradition (like most other Christian traditions) has never formulated sharp antagonisms between Christ and culture, between church and world, between revealed truths and the truths accessible by natural reason, or between men and women of goodwill and believers in Christ. As the Second Vatican Council made clear, we don’t all need to be believers in order to share and support a humane social order.
The essay is found here.

Menaion - 4 March


On 4 March, we commemorate our venerable father Gerasimos, the Jordanite.

A wild beast had the honor of serving Gerasimos, who had tamed all his passions as though they were wild beasts. On the fourth, he took flight; and thus today we are able to praise this summit of the ascetics.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Monday, March 03, 2008

From the Menaion - 3 March


On 3 March, we commemorate the holy martyrs Eutropios, Cleonicos and Basiliscos.

Blessed in imitating His final hours, Eutropios follows Christ step by step, even to His death on a cross. Hanging on a tree, the illustrious Cleonicos carries off the victory over his evil judge. Basiliscos, a captive whom we consider to be a conqueror, broke the bonds of his body, and was thus freed from two prisons. On the third day of March, for love of Christ, the Lover of Mankind, the holy martyr Eutropios ended his life on a cross.

By their holy prayers, O our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Synaxarion of the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Kontakion of John Climacos in Tone One

O wise and blessed John, you gave us your teachings as fruits ever ripe to liven the hearts of those who hear them well. Your doctrine is like as ladder that leads to heavenly and everlasting glory the souls of those who honor you, O father John our teacher.


O our father, you have become the dwelling place of God; you shine with your virtues, with faith, hope and love, as the most pure gold; you expound the divine precepts, and practiced asceticism as one who was liberated from the flesh. You acquired wisdom, courage, chastity, and humility, by which you were raised on high. Illuminated by constant prayer, you attained the tabernacles of Heaven, O father John, our teacher.


On this same day, the fourth Sunday of the Fast, we celebrate the memory of our Father John, the author of “The Ladder.”

O John, while living, you seemed dead to the body. Now that you appear dead and without breath, you live forever. You left your book, through which you ascended on high, clearly teaching the ladder of ascent to Heaven to everyone.

By the prayers of Your saints, O Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

From the Menaion - 2 March


On 2 March, we commemorate the holy hieromartyr Theodotos, Bishop of Cyrene on Cyprus.

Theodotos was covered with wounds in his struggles. Yet, in peace Christ received him. On the second day of March, O blessed one, you assured yourself of a martyr’s crown by your death, although you had to suffer long for it.

By his holy prayers, O our God, take pity on us and save us. Amen.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Fourth Sunday of Lent

For the hymns and readings for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent, go here.

From the Menaion - 1 March


On 1 March, we commemorate the holy martyred nun, Eudocia, a Samaritan.

It is not water from a well that the Samaritan martyr Eudocia presents to the Messiah. Rather, on the first day of March, at the point of a sword, streams of her blood, flowing from her neck, are offered.

By her holy prayers, O our God, have pity on us and save us. Amen.