The 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.
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.
On 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
We 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.
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.