HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! — This morning whilst walking Wee Wallace The Wonder-Poodle (one cat, no dogs, no birds to startle), I prayed for my own father, and my father in-law; my grandfathers and great-grand-fathers, and forefathers before that, giving thanks for them, and praying that they were resting in peace. I’m also a Dad, of twin young men.
THE Father– self-naming in revelation– is the source of all things, and Fatherhood, the Trinity itself, all creation, all living creatures; and all human fatherhood is a shadow and pointer to that original archetype.
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, For whom all fatherhood in heaven and in earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
These are the True, the Real things.. to align with them is like a compass pointing North, a bird homing for nest or breeding ground or Winter home; to try and unmake or remake God’s Fatherhood in our own image and likeness is madness, destruction, and a huge part of our current crisis in marriage, youth, and society.
As I did the drive-through at Tim’s this AM, I asked the window-girl (whom I tease constantly in a fatherly way) what she was up to for Father’s Day. She said ruefully: “My Dad’s in Digby.” That said it all. Whatever the cause, some fathers go rogue, yet their kids still need and crave fathering and fatherly love and guiding. Some Dads are not very noble or dadly; and modern family & divorce law torture fathers in particular, making it even harder to be faithful if a marriage goes awry. As always, the kids go wanting, and suffer most.
Our clever bossy people talk of countless gender-identities and social constructs and #BanFathersDay, and are too earthly-minded to grasp that they are dealing with heavenly and eternal mysteries, great things which cannot be bent or broken by human will or evil or madness, only half-forgotten, in ways which leave broken lives and hearts amidst our ruins. Or, that those great mysteries are dealing with them. You cannot break or bend God, or his truth, only yourself.
Pray this day as well for those called to spiritual fatherhood as clergy or monks: by God’s name and grace, they can be conduits of grace to make whole what nature and life may have scarred or left wanting. Pray for their courage, leadership, and adherence to the truth in love, for we are in the midst of near-apocalyptic battles in Church and society, and the very foundations themselves are shaken.
There is a war afoot, and men and fathers and fatherly men of all kinds must set down their effing smartphones: there’s work to be done. Learn up & pass it on, love and defend the truth, follow God, and set to fixing & saving All The Things. It’s what we’re supposed to do: show up, and Get ‘Er Done, and not sit around waiting for approval, thanks, or the enemies of the good just to become good, somehow. The kids are watching, and waiting.
Sniff. I love you, and I miss you, Dad, Grampa George, and Grandpa Bill, and all my forefathers. You all helped make me who I am as a person, a man, and a father. Thank you– and God bless and keep you.
Réquiem ætérnam dona eis Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat eis. Requiéscant in pace. Amen. ~
WAS SHE A NICE NUN? I suppose if you think Whoopi Goldberg’s “Sister Act” is accurate history, or a great life-lesson.
The nun-professor (RIP in 2013) was probably a post-war vocation, and then when the Vatican II Asteroid hit and asploded all the things, she joined the revolution. Heaven on earth! Telling all the bad people how to think! The reputation & power of the older idea of a consecrated nun, whilst undermining all the things! Women clergy now!
We talked in her office one day at the theo-illogical school where she taught. She seemed astonished to meet someone who actually still believed all the things in the Creed– without smirking, mental reservations, or intellectual finger-crossing– as if I were a centaur or leprechaun or some other such legendary beast. A hard case.
“It’s a ‘symbolum‘, a symbol, a meaningful affirmation of our unity,” she said nicely. Indeed, The Apostles‘ Creed is sometimes entitled Symbol of the Apostles, is an early statement of Christian belief, likely` from Rome.
Younger me piped up. Incorrigible young twerp.
“Well, it’s that, too, but it’s also unity based on common truths, revealed by God in the Scriptures and the life of the Church by the Holy Spirit, isn’t it?”
“You need to go and read about symbolism, and not to over-emphasize ideas”, she said not quite so nicely. After all, too much of that olden-times theology taken seriously, and you might stop fighting for the revolution. ‘Heavenly minded, no earthly use’ and all that.
I don’t recall how the rest of it went, except I was puzzled, slightly mystified by the power of Latin and the ‘Symbolum” thing. You know, how the Revolution undermines and then wrecks actual beliefs, like that hidden rust eating away quietly until the floor of your car is suddenly gone, replaced by… nothing.
Come the Roman Legion, their symbols over them of Legion and Rome and Eagles and battle-honours; and within each living breast, the symbol or vow of their military promises to serve, not to run, The Senate And People Of Rome (SPQR) and all that.
You see that coming, from 200 BC until AD 400-ish, and you’d better surrender, run, prepare for a fight to the death.
Early Christian philosopher Justin Martyr (c. AD 150) wrote to Emperor Antoninus Pius:
“….And so it was said by the prophet, The breath before our face is the Lord Christ. And the power of this form is shown by your own symbols on what are called vexilla [banners] and trophies, with which all your state possessions are made, using these as the insignia of your power and government, even though you do so unwittingly. And with this form you consecrate the images of your emperors when they die, and you name them gods by inscriptions….”
These were not advertising symbols, like McDonald’s or Nintendo; nor ’empty symbolism’ like a now viciously secular university still preserving the dusty chapel built by the faith of the founders. Or something we ‘affirm’ but not too specifically. It was life and death: for Legion, and your brother beside you, and for Rome.
So the nun might have been nice (she did smile a lot), but she was not being entirely honest about the ‘symbolic’ nature of the realities affirmed by Christian Creeds of the Church. This glowing supernatural true Symbol– like flags or banners of an army, a nation, a clan– represent outwardly the inward promises and abiding truths taught in the Bible– and of God’s promises to us.
Every morning I walk the dog, and pray. For me, I say the Apostle’s Creed each morning as marching with the Lord’s Army– of angels, archangels, martyrs, saints, as the promise and rallying cry of a better country, as a spine-stiffening and soul encouraging reminder of the Real, revealed by God in His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our conquering Captain, who has led the forces of darkness captive in a triumph by his dying & rising again. It’s a battle cry, not an advertising jingle, or empty statement.
Try it, in Church, and in your devotions– say the Creed with deadly serious joy, and commitment, since we are all in a battle against evil, Satan and all his works, and the world seeking to replace God. Souls hang in the balance, including mine and yours.
Whatever happens to the West in the next generation, I beg God’s grace that I will not surrender, betray, or fail to serve in my time. Amen: may it be so. ~
The Paschal homily of St John Chrysostomos (Archbishop of Constantinople)
This sermon is read at the Paschal Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Resurrection in Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches. It was written c. AD 398. Via.
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The Paschal Sermon
IF ANY MAN be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing.
If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering.
Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: ‘Hell’, said he, ‘was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.’
It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?’
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown.
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen.
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen, and life reigns.
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
‘For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep’!
To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen! +
St. John Chrysostom (“Golden Tongue”) was born at Antioch On The Orontes in about the year AD 347, into a military family. St. John spent his early years studying under the finest philosophers and rhetoricians and was ordained a deacon in the year 381 by the bishop of Antioch Saint Meletios. In AD 386 St. John was later ordained a priest by Bishop Flavian, successor to St. Meletios. Beginning in 390, he preached a famous teaching sermon-series on the New Testament, including ninety sermons on Matthew, eighty-eight on John, and thirty-two on Romans, many of which still exist.
Over time, his fame as a holy preacher and teacher grew, and in AD 397 after the death of Archbishop Nektarios of Constantinople— successor to Sainted Gregory the Theologian— Saint John Chrysostom was called from Antioch to be the new Patriarch & Archbishop of Constantinople. His serious and outspoken reforms to purify the church actually led to conflict with the Empress and others, and thus he was banished.
Exiled in AD 404, he fell into ill health. He was moved to Pitius in Abkhazia. There, St. John, after receiving the Holy Eucharist, said, “Glory to God for everything!” He then fell asleep in the Lord on 14 September AD 407, at the age of fifty. +
“Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him.
When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the tomb.
On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”
Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.”
“It is accomplished!”, he cried from the cross. So it’s not over.. it’s just beginning.
For while the disciples weep, and His body sleeps in the cold silence of the sealed and guarded tomb, the Lord Jesus– Lord of both the dead and the living– He is already up and doing, in the spirit. The soul of Christ is amongst the dead, harvesting the first-fruits of his saving victory. Death cannot hold Him: love is stronger than death.
Long have the dead waited for the Light to arise upon them– Adam and Eve are called first, then the great saints and holy kings and prophets and faithful ones of the Old Covenant.. also John the Baptist, and the good thief on the cross. The gates of heaven are opened, and the rescued throngs pour in behind the victorious Lord. Even now, on Holy Saturday, the great Sabbath, He has begun to make all things new. (Revelation 21:5)
And He’s not done yet….
An ancient homily for Holy Saturday
Attributed to Bishop Melito of Sardis, c. AD 180
Something strange is happening — there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the Cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ Christ answered him: ‘And with thy spirit.’ He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: ‘Awake, o sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give thee light.’
I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in Hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in Me and I in you; together we form one person and cannot be separated.
For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, Whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.
See on My Face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On My back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See My hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.
I slept on the cross and a sword pierced My side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in Hell. The sword that pierced Me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.
Rise. Let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God. The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity. +
THERE ARE TWO pieces of cloth– the smaller one closely matching some marks on the larger one. They have apparently survived 17 years short of 20 centuries; not to mention invasions, Jihad and Crusades, long travel, display, trial, fires, and all the vagaries of time, history, and human frailty.
To the very first people who handed them on, these items were ritually unclean, polluted and polluting, and signs of an accursed, shameful, and unholy death, according to the Jewish Law, the Torah. That these bloody things from a gory execution and death were even handed on, passed down, and venerated in the first place is a strange, remarkable, and mysterious matter in itself.
One is essentially a large bloody rag with pin-holes in it (above); the other is a 14-foot long piece of the very finest herringbone Egyptian linen, woven for use as a Jewish burial cloth, around the time when Julius Caesar had been dead only a little over 75 years. It’s now kept in Portugal. Other ancient cloth samples have likewise survived the centuries– but these particular two still exist because they were protected and kept safe, and for what they were thought to be.
The larger cloth was always venerated down the ages, for the indistinct marks of a naked wounded man somehow imprinted as a photographic negative on the cloth itself, thought to be the image of the dead Jesus Christ. In 1898, an Italian photographer Secondo Pia was startled and surprised as he developed his photographic negatives of the longer cloth– he saw a positive image, with incredible details, leaping out at him from the images: a person, in positive, not negative.
The interest and excitement went international. Debate, discussion and study continue to this day.
Now It Is Seen Clearly
To our modern eyes, these cloths tell a tale so clearly, so contemporary, that our modern forensic science and pathology can give an exact autopsy and cause of death for the dead man who was probably once wrapped in them. The image on the larger cloth is anatomically and medically correct, down to visible bones, blood flow, nerve damage, and other signs of the horrific torture and violence done to this long-ago man.
The man revealed clearly for the first time was tall, well-muscled, and about 5’11”, 185 pounds. The best guess is that average heights in Biblical times in the Holy Land were 5′ 1″ up to as tall as 5′ 5″, so Jesus was tall for his day and age. Average adult male height in 2016 Israel is about 5′ 9″. He had a mid-shoulder short pony-tail.
Via Pia’s photo negatives, previously indistinct marks on the larger cloth were now seen clearly for the first time in 19 centuries– blood-stains, whipping injuries, a large wound on the lower right chest, skinned shoulder and knees, bruised and battered face, broken nose, swollen cheek, torn beard, blood-soaked hair and marked forehead, a dislocated left shoulder, a distended belly, and holes in both wrists and mid-foot.
Over 230 distinct whip-marks and other lacerations appear on the back and front of the body-image, from chest & shoulder to shin & calf. Most marks are typical of the ancient Roman flagrum whip, a wooden handle with three leather thongs and two lead weights per thong. This flogging alone was almost enough to kill him: it was considered so brutal and potentially deadly that no Roman Citizen was supposed to be whipped this way.
That is: these two cloths had been used on the same person, the smaller one doubled over and pinned roughly around the dead man’s head, as he hung upright on a Roman cross; the larger wrapped around him from foot to head to foot after a quick washing of the body, which was then wrapped with winding cloths, in a inclined grave bed. The larger cloth is consistent with 1st century Jewish burial customs. Crucially, the shroud-cloth shows no signs or stains of corruption and decay, no blood smears of the body being somehow being buried half-alive, or moved after it was placed in the tomb.
Despite controversy, certain attention-seeking scientists, and odd theories, a lot of serious peer-reviewed and multi-disciplinary scientific investigations over the last 40 years have been done with the larger cloth– known as The Shroud Of Turin since the 1500s. It has given up many secrets, except one: what is it?
Science can tell what it isn’t (painting, photograph, scorch, or some other artistic technique, or known natural effect), but not what the image on the cloth is, or how it was made. Since science rightly has no experimental categories or laboratory machines which render ‘evidence of God’, or ‘Jesus signs’, or ‘miraculous event’, this is as it should be.
Barrie Schwortz, raised an Orthodox Jew, educating Christians about the Turin Shroud. He created the yuge Shroud.com (see the Latebreaking News page), and he was also part of the 1977-8 STURP Research Team.
Our Abiding Doubts
Still, it’s a possible relic which which only revealed the deepest detail to us– with our tools and experiments and analysis– in our scientific, skeptical, yet spiritually modern seeking age. It’s almost like a God-given sign for OUR age. If this fact does not move you, perhaps nothing will.
To simply declare “It’s a fake! A forgery!” is not a statement of fact, nor does it answer the basic question “A fake what?” Or to argue “You only say that because you want it to be genuine!” invites the fair response “Fine… but perhaps you only say that because you want it not to be genuine!” Remember– lots of his enemies saw the miracles and results of miracles performed by Jesus. Note: these hostile eyewitnesses did not dispute that something extremely strange and unusual had happened, only what it meant, and by what power Jesus had performed such signs and wonders.
An Abiding Question
If these two relics are original and authentic, they reveal to us a snapshot of two related moments from Good Friday, Jerusalem, most likely on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33. They show us the image of a body which has been tortured, crucified and killed, but a body which did not decay, and which somehow vanished from the burial cloths leaving a very unusual image on the Shroud, by means yet unknown and undiscovered.
Jesus never offered invincible proof as to who he was and is, forcing faith and belief in him; he did no undeniable miracles before stadium mobs, nor obeyed the Devil’s suggestion that he leap from the top of the Jerusalem Temple, and drift safely to earth in plain view of the massed crowds. Evidence, likelihood, strong suggestions, a willingness to test by faith and love– only these can take us the rest of the way.
It either is as he said, or not, after all. “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe“, the Risen Jesus says to the no-longer doubting Thomas. To the eyes of faith, the Shroud & Sudarium are transformed from newspaper and internet curiousities into a love letter to our souls, written in his most precious blood.
Me? I believe it’s His, and that He was who He claimed to be: the Son of God Incarnate, the Lord.
After pondering the testimony of early eyewitnesses, archaeology and history, the possible relics like the Shroud and Sudarium, the science, the wondering and asking, we must still overcome our pride and resistance to faith, and our tendency to self-deceptive false faith, or else sheer unbelief. It’s a costly sacrifice. It’s a step of faith, from ‘believing about’, to believing IN’.
That is– not irrational faith, not crazy faith, not faith in any old whatnot, on anybody’s say-so, or faith in spite of the facts, evidence, and likelihoods– but believing in Jesus, after He has called us to seek Him, learn of Him, follow Him, then live and die in Him.
It’s all about trust and love, above all evidences or proofs– for has truly He died and really risen again from death; and ascended bodily into heaven to prepare a place for us, that we might live in union with him and all the saved and the saints.
He will only gently ask us, never force us– to believe and so live in Him, forevermore. ~
The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Thy most pure Body from the tree, wrapped it in fine linen, and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
The angel came to the myrrh-bearing women at the tomb and said: “Myrrh is fitting for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption.”
Eastern Orthodox Troparion (hymn of the day) of Good Friday
A blessed Good Friday to you all, and this article is my gift for you–
~ HERE IN BINKILAND, it’s now technically Spring, a.k.a the day before a shrieking Nor’Easter and a foot of wind-blasted snow hits us upside the head. Not a bad Winter, though.
Springwise, here’s all your astronomical details— the main point, for winter-weary Northern hemispheriacs? The days are finally going to be longer than the nights! For a bit.
For Christians in the West, it’s also Palm Sunday, and the beginning of Holy Week– the walk of suffering love by Jesus, leading to Good Friday, the silent tomb, and the breaking forth of the Kingdom of heaven, by his bodily resurrection from the grave. Easter! Lent draws to a close in a culmination that changes everything forever.
Stole ALL The Things
It is often charged against Christians that they stole all the other people’s stuff. So, Pascha (Easter) is merely a pagan fertility thing. Stole it. ‘Resurrection’ is really all Isis & Osiris, plus about spring, bunnies, eggs, and metaphorical and agricultural new life. So there, you ignorant silly thieving Christians! 😛
Or at least that’s at lest what some silly evangelical Christians, various clevers, and the darling neo-pagans playing superhero in their PJs tell us, being so much smarter, with their 19th century invented pseudo-religion– i.e., from a Christian stance, they notice that there are resonances, foretastes, ideas before Jesus came, who fulfilled them all– not just the fulfillment of Judaism, but of all spiritual longings of the ancients.
Stolen? Well, that’s only if Christianity is a lie. If Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then he’s the fulfillment and completion of what went before. If Christ is not Risen, our faith is in vain– said St. Paul himself.
Having pondered this awhile, I think it’s actually upside-down: Spring is really about Easter. The breaking forth of slumbering nature into bloom and blossom and baby birds is a symbol of the Resurrection of the Lord. The literal rising of Jesus from death is represented by the brighter, warmer, more humane foretaste of the heavenly and eternal springtime. Spring? Well, it’s all about Jesus, and heaven.
That is, ancient pagan peoples could hardly be expected to sit around worshipping and dreaming and hoping for nothing in particular, until Jesus came. He does not come to destroy, but to save, to make ALL things new, to fulfill all the hopes and longings and dreams and visions, as God would have it done.
Pagan sacrifice? One sacrifice on the cross. Contact with holy things? God walking amongst us, incarnate. The seasons of nature representing the seasons of the spirit? The Resurrection of Jesus, the new day, the eighth day of the new creation, breaking in upon our hearts, and upon a nature seeking to be reborn, and made new. Pagan fertility rites? God loves babies– when you’re married. Get to it! Holy places? Special spots set aside for churches, chapels, and locales for pilgrimage. Ancient mighty heroes of the tribe or race? The saints alive, and in glory. All through Jesus.
In Canada and the United States, we’ve had a strong tide of political silly seasons, elections, promises and lies, hubris and nemesis, surprises and shocks. The world goes round and round like a demented carousel, seeking to trap us, and hypnotize us to those fallen and deceptive rhythms that this leader or that will save us; that this pile of free things versus that pile of free things will make us happy; that there’s no other way worth mentioning.
This seems a worse kind of paganism, a hopeless Utopian misery, a rat’s maze with no exit. Now, more than ever, people need something– Someone truly real, and with us and yet lifting us upwards. We need him– or at least his blessings– but as Holy week’s roller-coaster from palms of praise to shout of hate and nails, we don’t entirely want Him. God can be like dentistry in that way.
The human heart would be supreme– can’t we be bosses, Kings and Queens of our own selves, and get all the prizes and goodies, too? Why not get our cake, and eat it, but still have it? How come we can’t be gods, just like the Serpent in The Garden promised?
Because we are not God. We are finite, fallible, foolish, doomed to death, and trapped in shortcomings. We don’t want to be all that we are, and we are what we don’t want to be. There is no good– i.e., no saving eternal life and goodness and love– in us.
God shares all good things with us: he nails himself to us. The Son drinks the cup of sin and death and hell. Love is stronger than death: Christ’s infinite life shared with us in our faith and the sacraments begins the process of making us partakers of God’s nature– into little gods and goddesses on his terms, not ours (or the Serpent’s terms).
Sharp, Like Three Nails
Holy week– the sharp focus on life and death, sin and salvation, sacrifice and selfishness, shows us there’s no such middle ground. He will die to save us, while we were yet sinners– but if Jesus is Lord, then he is Lord of all the things, all the open areas and little corners and hidden closets, too.
The sad fact about the slow deflation of the West form the inside out: simply put, supernature abhors a vacuum. Believers in Jihad and demonic slaughter are inside and crashing through our gates, seeking submission of all things to the blood-demon “Allah”– if we are spiritually dead, or dying, we have no true or lasting inspiration or reason to fight back.
It’s the question of this time, but of all times: will we rebel against our rightful King and Lord, and so be defeated by ourselves and our enemies? Behold your King, on Palm Sunday, humbly riding a donkey; on Good Friday, humbly taking up his cross and dying; on Pascha or Easter Sunday taking up his life again, and in him, all things can and shall be made new.
WELL HELL’S BELLS! Now here they are, dragging religion into holidays, and everything! What’s this world coming to?
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The Lorica (Breastplate) of Saint Patrick, also known as The Deer’s Cry, is an ancient devotional prayer, his call to arms and call to faith, his personal testament, a prayer for protection, and of the great and ringing faith of the Evangelist To The Irish.
Possibly a Romano-Scot, the teen Patricius was likely captured and enslaved from somewhere around Dumbarton, and after his escape home, later went to France and Italy to study Christianity. He felt a call to return to Ireland to evangelize the very people who had made him a slave. His family included Christian clergy, Roman legionaries, and his maternal uncle may have been St. Martin of Tours.
St Patrick – The Apostle of Ireland
Various relics– including the pastoral staff (the Bachall Iosa) belonging to St. Patrick were preserved and honoured for over 1100 years, but were burnt in Dublin as ‘dangerous Popish trash’ in 1538 by the Protestant English. Surviving are his bell, part of his jaw, and a tooth, amongst other things & places associated with him.
Though the following rendering of The Lorica is clear and poetic, I prefer the musical setting and the hymn lyrics based on the prayer by Irishwoman C.F. Alexander. I had this hymn sung as part of my ordination service into the Anglican priesthood, in 1992, on Holy Cross Day.
Can I Get An Amen?
1639 years along, The Breastplate prayer still has the power to lift my heart up unto the Lord, give me goosebumps, and inspire me to fight the good fight. I hope it does the same for you.
ALMIGHTY GOD, who in thy providence didst choose thy servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of thee: Grant us so to walk in that light, that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen.
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Lorica of Saint Patrick
I Arise Today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendour of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.