The action of the Sun

“I always found it difficult to remain motionless and contemplate God [in the Blessed Sacrament] in the silent dry spells of my faith. Despite this, I know that one must expose the soul to the action of the Sun and not fear that one is wasting time in the chapel, even when one feels nothing. One must give the Sun time to achieve its bronzing effect. It requires a little patience.”  (King Baudouin of Belgium)

Hymn for the Purification

Since Tuesday is the Feast of the Presentation (and the Purification), I thought I would share a hymn from the Byzantine rite for this day as my “Sunday-poem”.

Today Simeon takes in his arms the Lord of glory
whom Moses saw on Sinai, in a cloud,
when he received the Tablets of the Law.

This is He whom the prophets spoke!
This is the Author of the Law!
This is He whom David long foretold, saying:
he is fearful in all things
and yet is rich in mercy beyond measure!

He who rides upon the cherubim,
hymned in songs by seraphim,
is carried now in Mary’s arms–
God’s Virgin Mother from whom He was born.

Him, Lawgiver who fulfills
the mandate of His Law,
she gives unto the aged priest
Who, clasping Life, prays to be loosed from life,
saying:
Now, O Lord, dismiss me
that I may tell to Adam
how I have seen the changeless God,
who is before all ages,
become a little child,
and Savior of the world.

“What, indeed, is lower than a cave?”

Something I wrote a couple of years ago, and still so true–and I am writing this foremost for myself!

Christmas!  Who doesn’t love this time of year?  Many people say to me of Advent and Christmas, “This is my favorite season!”  I’m sure we can all easily think of our reasons for that: lighting Advent wreaths, Christmas lights and caroling, Midnight Mass, etc.  And yet I know there are many of us who are only too aware of how little prepared we actually are for His coming, of how our weaknesses and faults, anxieties and busyness, seem to keep us from any kind of adequate preparation for this Feast.  The Prayer from the Divine Liturgy for Christmas in the Eastern Church gives hope: “O little Child lying in a manger, by means of a star, heaven has called and led to you the Magi, the first-fruits of the Gentiles, who were astounded to behold, not scepters and thrones, but extreme poverty.  What, indeed, is lower than a cave?  What is more humble than swaddling clothes?  And yet the splendor our your divinity shone forth in them resplendently.  O Lord, glory to you!”  Take heart!  We need not be afraid of the “stable” of our lives–as Fr. David May form Madonna House says: “The Child teaches us not to be afraid of the barren, winter of our wounded hearts, of our human emptiness.  For, by grace, these have become an Advent for us. . . . He awaits us there where we are most in need and most afraid: in the dark cave of our poverty.”  Yes, take heart.  At a mere opening of the door of your “stable,” Christ can shine resplendently therein!

Nativity of Mary

A short hymn in honor of the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, the Theotokos.

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Just a short hymn from the Eastern Church in honor of this day.   

          Kontakion (Tone 3)

Today the Virgin Theotokos Mary
The bridal chamber of the Heavenly Bridegroom
By the will of God is born of a barren woman,
Being prepared as the chariot of God the Word.
She was fore-ordained for this, since she is the divine gate and the true Mother of Life.

Nativity of the Theotokos

It is impossible for us to forget such splendorous beauty

The Catholic Church has more than one lung . . .

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Yesterday I took our two postulants to the Divine Liturgy at Sacred Heart Byzantine Catholic Church in Livonia.  We’re in the middle of a series of talks on ecumenism, which includes a bit about the Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with Rome.  This was their field trip.  🙂

Ukrainian Catholic Liturgy
Ukrainian Catholic Liturgy

I’ve been to this church numerous times and love the beauty, the icons, the incense,  the prayers of the Eastern Liturgies.  I have to pinch myself when I’m there to remind myself that this is our Church.  I always remember how John Paul II stressed the need for both lungs in the Church–referring to the Eastern and Western (That’s us–the Latin Church) Churches.  It calls to mind this story:

In the 10th century, the Prince of Kiev [present day Ukraine] sent ambassadors out throughout the world in search of the best religion: to the Muslims, to the Jews, the Latins, and the Greeks.  When the ambassadors that had gone to Constantinople returned and shared about their experience, the story goes that Prince Vladimir decided without any hesitation for Christianity. The ambassadors said, “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth, for assuredly on earth such beauty cannot be found anywhere else.  So we do not know what we ought to tell you; but one thing we know well: there God dwells among men who celebrate His glory in such a manner that no other religion on this earth could equal.  It is impossible for us to forget such splendorous beauty.”

There may be many of you who aren’t even aware that the Catholic Church is made up of more than just one church.  There are, I believe, 22 Eastern Churches that are in communion with Rome: the Melkite, the Maronite, etc.  Each has its own liturgy, but we can all participate in each other’s.  This is indeed part of the wonder of the Catholic Church. 

If you ever, ever have a chance to take your family to an Eastern Catholic liturgy, do so!  The one in Livonia is in English–which is, of course, a great help.  And the pastor there used to be a Latin Catholic so he’s sensitive to us not knowing what we’re doing at their liturgy.

Some helpful web sites:
Sacred Heart Byzantine Catholic Church, Livonia, MI
Byzantine Catholic Church in America
The Byzantine Liturgy

A Greek Catholic Church
A Greek Catholic Church