Tag Archives: Byzantine

Coptic and Byzantine monks meet on Athos

Oriental and Byzantine Orthodox preistsThe events in the Holy Land with Pope Francis’ pilgrimage of which an historic visit with Patriarch Bartholomew was key last week obscured in the Christian world another very significant and historic meeting between the Coptic and Byzantine monks on the monastic republic of Mount Athos.

The meeting was blessed by Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and Pope Tawadros II.

The press release and pictures.

This event needs our prayer and fraternal support in a crucial way. The separation of the Oriental and Byzantine Churches is just as painful as the separation of the Eastern and Western Churches.

Saint John Chrysostom

John ChrysostomOn the Byzantine liturgical calendar, today is the feast of John, patriarch of Constantinople, called “Chrysostom” (which is Greek for  “the golden-tongued,” in reference to his amazing gift for preaching the Word of God).

The Latin Church observes the liturgical memorial of Saint John Chrysostom on 14 September. He is revered as our holy father and for that reason he bears mention again. One of the Divine Liturgies of the Byzantine Church, the one used most days, is ascribed to him.

It is hard to overstate the importance of Saint John Chrysostom for Christians due to the intensity of his person, the force of his preaching and the reasonableness of his teaching.

The “Cherubic Hymn,” a chant, is taken his Divine Liturgy, is sung at the time of the Great Entrance. (For Latin Catholics, the Cherubic Hymn is a hymn sung at the presentation of the gifts, a text which is fixed for all but a few days of the liturgical year).

The Cherubic hymn ought to form part of our daily prayer.

We who mystically represent the Cherubim,
and who sing to the Life-Giving Trinity the thrice-holy hymn,
let us now lay aside all earthly cares
that we may receive the King of all,
escorted invisibly by the angelic orders. Alleluia

Protection of the Theotokos

Protection of the TheotokosWe have a busy liturgical day. The feast of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (the Little Flower) and the Slavic Byzantine Church honors Mary under the title the “Protection of the Theotokos.” AND we need her protection!!!

This medieval prose (i.e.,  a devotional poem for use in the liturgy) uses the sentiment of the “Ave Maria.”

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you, serene Virgin.
For lowly and great,
lion and lamb,
our savior Christ:
you have been his temple,
while still a virgin.

For the flower and rose,
the bread and the shepherd:
you queen of virgins,
a rose without a thorn,
you became their mother.

You are the royal seat of justice,
you are the mother of mercy,
from out of the depths of dregs and misery
hast seen Theophilus to grace.

The heavenly court praises you,
you the king’s mother and daughter;
O sweetest Mary,
through you the accused is forgiven.

O most pious Mary,
through you the accused is forgiven.
O most gentle Mary,
through you favor comes to the just.
For us always entreat Christ. Amen.

Hagia Sophia to be turned into a mosque?

I just came across an article on AsiaNews that’s disturbing to me: “Persistent rumors suggest Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque” (Aug 30 2013). It confirmed my worst fears that one of the greatest churches in world –after the 4 central basilicas in Rome, a few others– may be returned to the Muslims for worship.

Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was built as a Christian church, known as the great church, in 537. And, it was the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople until the Ottomans oppressed the Christians.

In 1453, Hagia Sophia along with other Christian churches, were confiscated and turned into mosques.  When Mustafa Atatürk, in 1923, founded the secular state of Turkey,Hagia Sophia mosque became a museum.

From the Muslim side, the Hagia Sophia is a symbol of Islamic conquest of Christianity and it’s in their best interest to reassert themselves by taking the museum back as a place of muslim worship. If the rumors are true, this building will be a central symbol of the caliphate that is expected to formed.

Disclaimer: I want the former cathedral returned to the Christians. The church ought to be a Christian temple. I advocate the praying of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom at what would be the central altar. If not, then I will concede Patriarch Bartholomew’s view: Hagia Sophia to remain a museum.

Some people report that in 2006 a small room was made available to the staff of the museum for Christian or Muslin prayer. In 2013, the minarets ring out the call for Islamic prayer. The camel’s nose is creeping.

God help us.

Apostles’ Fast 2013

Ss Peter and Paul coptic.jpeg

Recently on the Sunday of All Saints (26 May 2013) –the Byzantine Church observes a different feast of All Saints than do the Latin Christians– the Eparch (the Greek word for bishop) of the Melkites in the in the USA, Bishop Nicholas James Samra wrote to his people about preparing for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29. Yes, some Catholics do make preparations for other feasts!

One of the reasons I am drawing our attention to this matter is two-fold: 1.) being Catholic is more than merely following the Latin Church’s disciple — we can learn from others; and 2.) the discipline of those who belong to Christ is more than merely praying, fasting, and almsgiving for selfish reasons, that is, these spiritual activities are to break open our spiritual capacities. Remember what John Paul taught: Christians breathe with two lungs.

The liturgical feast of Ss. Peter and Paul is traditionally preceded by a period of concerted prayer and fasting. These saints –indeed, all of the apostles– are the pillars of our Church. In times past the period of fasting was significant while today it is much modified. The controlling idea is that before an important feast of the Lord, the Mother of God and some saints, the faithful are encouraged to prepare themselves to receive God’s graces in a worthy manner. We prepare by getting rid of sin and living virtuously: corporal and spiritual works of mercy are good things to do.

Bishop Nicholas recalls for us that the Monday after Sunday of All Saints the Byzantine Church begins a time of prayer and fasting leading us to the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul on 29 June.  But now the preparation is modified to 10 days by the Melkite Synod of Bishops. Fittingly, the bishop notes: “We are given this “Apostles Fast” in order to fan into flame the grace of the Holy Spirit within us and to reflect upon the hardships endured by the Apostles as they preached Divine grace and truth to the world.”

Faith needs to be connected with reality. This is the context in which God acts. Several things in our own lives can and ought to be connected with life. Bishop Nicholas indicates that one good way to extrovert our faith by having some sense human ecology on the spiritual level is remember those suffering the effects of the war in Syria. Certainly, we pray for all but special attention to be paid to the Catholics and Orthodox peoples.

Hence, the proposal is to begin our spiritual discipline on June 19. I recommend that you make a confession of sin and receive Holy Communion, pray for the Pope’s intention for June, and name the intentions. Select a charitable organization to to make a donation of funds.

Perhaps we can also use the Apostles’ Fast to pray for those living with cancer. I am thinking of my friend Jesuit Father Edward Oakes who is in need of a miracle due to his recent diagnosis of Type 4 pancreatic and liver cancer.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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