Monthly Archives: December 2015

Tradition Thursday- #49

We are almost finished with St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures. Today’s post features the 22nd, and the second to last. The topic is the Eucharist:

1 Corinthians 11:23

I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, how that the Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, etc.

1. Even of itself the teaching of the Blessed Paul is sufficient to give you a full assurance concerning those Divine Mysteries, of which having been deemed worthy, you have become of the same body and blood with Christ. For you have just heard him say distinctly, That our Lord Jesus Christ in the night in which He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it, and gave to His disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is My Body: and having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, Take, drink, this is My Blood. Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?

2. He once in Cana of Galilee, turned the water into wine, akin to blood , and is it incredible that He should have turned wine into blood? When called to a bodily marriage, He miraculously wrought that wonderful work; and on the children of the bride-chamber Matthew 9:15, shall He not much rather be acknowledged to have bestowed the fruition of His Body and Blood ?

3. Wherefore with full assurance let us partake as of the Body and Blood of Christ: for in the figure of Bread is given to you His Body, and in the figure of Wine His Blood; that you by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, may be made of the same body and the same blood with Him. For thus we come to bear Christ in us, because His Body and Blood are distributed through our members; thus it is that, according to the blessed Peter, we become partakers of the divine nature 2 Peter 1:4 .

4. Christ on a certain occasion discoursing with the Jews said, Except you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53 They not having heard His saying in a spiritual sense were offended, and went back, supposing that He was inviting them to eat flesh.

5. In the Old Testament also there was show-bread; but this, as it belonged to the Old Testament, has come to an end; but in the New Testament there is Bread of heaven, and a Cup of salvation, sanctifying soul and body; for as the Bread corresponds to our body, so is the Word appropriate to our soul.

6. Consider therefore the Bread and the Wine not as bare elements, for they are, according to the Lord’s declaration, the Body and Blood of Christ; for even though sense suggests this to you, yet let faith establish you. Judge not the matter from the taste, but from faith be fully assured without misgiving, that the Body and Blood of Christ have been vouchsafed to you.

7. Also the blessed David shall advise you the meaning of this, saying, You have prepared a table before me in the presence of them that afflict me. What he says, is to this effect: Before Your coming, the evil spirits prepared a table for men , polluted and defiled and full of devilish influence ; but since Your coming. O Lord, You have prepared a table before me. When the man says to God, You have prepared before me a table, what other does he indicate but that mystical and spiritual Table, which God has prepared for us over against, that is, contrary and in opposition to the evil spirits? And very truly; for that had communion with devils, but this, with God. You have anointed my head with oil. With oil He anointed your head upon your forehead, for the seal which you have of God; that you may be made the engraving of the signet, Holiness unto God. And your cup intoxicates me, as very strong. You see that cup here spoken of, which Jesus took in His hands, and gave thanks, and said, This is My blood, which is shed for many for the remission of sins Matthew 26:28 .

8. Therefore Solomon also, hinting at this grace, says in Ecclesiastes, Come hither, eat your bread with joy (that is, the spiritual bread; Come hither, he calls with the call to salvation and blessing), and drink your wine with a merry heart (that is, the spiritual wine); and let oil be poured out upon your head you see he alludes even to the mystic Chrism); and let your garments be always white, for the Lord is well pleased with your works Ecclesiastes 9:7-8; for before you came to Baptism, your works were vanity of vanities. But now, having put off your old garments, and put on those which are spiritually white, you must be continually robed in white: of course we mean not this, that you are always to wear white raiment; but you must be clad in the garments that are truly white and shining and spiritual, that you may say with the blessed Esaias, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with a garment of salvation, and put a robe of gladness around me Isaiah 61:10 .

9. Having learned these things, and been fully assured that the seeming bread is not bread, though sensible to taste, but the Body of Christ; and that the seeming wine is not wine, though the taste will have it so, but the Blood of Christ ; and that of this David sung of old, saying, And bread strengthens man’s heart, to make his face to shine with oil , strengthen your heart, by partaking thereof as spiritual, and make the face of your soul to shine. And so having it unveiled with a pure conscience, may you reflect as a mirror the glory of the Lord 2 Corinthians 3:18, and proceed from glory to glory, in Christ Jesus our Lord:— To whom be honour, and might, and glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

(Source)

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Selected Sunday Scriptures- #101 An Enduring Ailment

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming;
    but who can stand before jealousy?

(Proverbs 27:4)

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

(James 3:13-16)

For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations?

(1 Cor 3:3)

I have a problem with envy. It has proven a most persistent sin to eliminate from my life. Not that it has the most hold on me, but it is persistent all the same. That is not to say that I haven’t made improvements- I have. Yet I know I have a long way to go. It is an easy thing to say “count your blessings.” But it is another entirely to actually focus on what you have, and be thankful for it, rather than to look on that which is enjoyed by others.

Jesus called out the Pharisees for cleaning the outside of their bodies, while ignoring their hearts in matters of purification. I need to spend more time on that myself. As it is, I know that envy is hurting my efforts to live a spiritual life. I will ask of God the same thing that King David asked:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right spirit within me.

(Psalm 51:10)

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Saturday Saints- #97

The time has come for the letter “P” to be featured once more. This gives us our saint for today, Saint and Pope Pius I:

Pope Saint Pius I (died c. 155) is said to have been the Bishop of Rome from c. 140 to his death c. 154, according to the Annuario Pontificio. His dates are listed as 142 or 146 to 157 or 161, respectively.

Pius is believed to have been born at Aquileia, in Northern Italy, during the late 1st century. His father was called “Rufinus”, who was also said to be of Aquileia according to the Liber Pontificalis. Pius was of Illyrian origin.

According to the 2nd century Muratorian Canon and the Liberian Catalogue, that he was the brother of Hermas, author of the text known as The Shepherd of Hermas.

According to Catholic tradition, St Pius I governed the Church in the middle of the 2nd century during the reigns of the Emperors Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius. He is held to be the ninth successor of Saint Peter, who decreed that Easter should only be kept on a Sunday. Although credited with ordering the publication of the Liber Pontificalis, compilation of that document was not started before the beginning of the 6th century. He is also said to have built one of the oldest churches in Rome, Santa Pudenziana.

More can be found out about this pope at his wiki, located here.

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One Of Us

When I was considerably younger, I once wondered why it was that our Lord and Savior came among us as a child. Why so lowly and ignoble an entrance? Fortunately the Letter to the Hebrews provides an explanation:

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. 16 For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

(Hebrews 2:14-18)

It was necessary for Jesus to experience all that we have experienced- birth, life, and death- for Him to act as our High Priest and conduit and intercessor with the Father. He became one of us- all so that we might become one with Him.

Have a blessed Christmas everyone.

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Tradition Thursday- #48

We move yet another step closer to the end of the series on St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical lectures. Today’s post features the 21st lecture, which covers Chrism, or Confirmation:

1 John 2:20-28

But you have an unction from the Holy One, etc…..that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

1. Having been baptized into Christ, and put on Christ Galatians 3:27 , you have been made conformable to the Son of God; for God having foreordained us unto adoption as sons Ephesians 1:5 , made us to be conformed to the body of Christ’s glory. Philippians 3:21 Having therefore become partakers of Christ Hebrews 3:14, you are properly called Christs, and of you God said, Touch not My Christs , or anointed. Now you have been made Christs, by receiving the antitype of the Holy Ghost; and all things have been wrought in you by imitation , because you are images of Christ. He washed in the river Jordan, and having imparted of the fragrance of His Godhead to the waters, He came up from them; and the Holy Ghost in the fullness of His being lighted on Him, like resting upon like. And to you in like manner, after you had come up from the pool of the sacred streams, there was given an Unction , the anti-type of that wherewith Christ was anointed; and this is the Holy Ghost; of whom also the blessed Esaias, in his prophecy respecting Him, said in the person of the Lord, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me: He has sent Me to preach glad tidings to the poor Isaiah 61:1 .

2. For Christ was not anointed by men with oil or material ointment, but the Father having before appointed Him to be the Saviour of the whole world, anointed Him with the Holy Ghost, as Peter says, Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Ghost. Acts 10:38 David also the Prophet cried, saying, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your kingdom; You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God even Your God has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows. And as Christ was in reality crucified, and buried, and raised, and you are in Baptism accounted worthy of being crucified, buried, and raised together with Him in a likeness, so is it with the unction also. As He was anointed with an ideal oil of gladness, that is, with the Holy Ghost, called oil of gladness, because He is the author of spiritual gladness, so you were anointed with ointment, having been made partakers and fellows of Christ.

3. But beware of supposing this to be plain ointment. For as the Bread of the Eucharist, after the invocation of the Holy Ghost, is mere bread no longer , but the Body of Christ, so also this holy ointment is no more simple ointment, nor (so to say) common, after invocation, but it is Christ’s gift of grace, and, by the advent of the Holy Ghost, is made fit to impart His Divine Nature. Which ointment is symbolically applied to your forehead and your other senses ; and while your body is anointed with the visible ointment, your soul is sanctified by the Holy and life-giving Spirit.

4. And you were first anointed on the forehead, that you might be delivered from the shame, which the first man who transgressed bore about with him everywhere; and that with unveiled face ye might reflect as a mirror the glory of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 Then on your ears; that you might receive the ears which are quick to hear the Divine Mysteries, of which Esaias said, The Lord gave me also an ear to hear Isaiah 50:4; and the Lord Jesus in the Gospel, He that has ears to hear let him hear. Matthew 11:15 Then on the nostrils; that receiving the sacred ointment ye may say, We are to God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved. 2 Corinthians 2:15 Afterwards on your breast; that having put on the breast-plate of righteousness, you may stand against the wiles of the devil. For as Christ after His Baptism, and the visitation of the Holy Ghost, went forth and vanquished the adversary, so likewise ye, after Holy Baptism and the Mystical Chrism, having put on the whole armour of the Holy Ghost, are to stand against the power of the adversary, and vanquish it, saying, I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me Philippians 4:13 .

5. Having been counted worthy of this Holy Chrism, you are called Christians, verifying the name also by your new birth. For before you were deemed worthy of this grace, you had properly no right to this title, but were advancing on your way towards being Christians.

6. Moreover, you should know that in the old Scripture there lies the symbol of this Chrism. For what time Moses imparted to his brother the command of God, and made him High-priest, after bathing in water, he anointed him; and Aaron was called Christ or Anointed, evidently from the typical Chrism. So also the High-priest, in advancing Solomon to the kingdom, anointed him after he had bathed in Gihon. 1 Kings 1:39 To them however these things happened in a figure, but to you not in a figure, but in truth; because you were truly anointed by the Holy Ghost. Christ is the beginning of your salvation; for He is truly the First-fruit, and you the mass Romans 11:16; but if the First-fruit be holy, it is manifest that Its holiness will pass to the mass also.

7. Keep This unspotted: for it shall teach you all things, if it abide in you, as you have just heard declared by the blessed John, discoursing much concerning this Unction. For this holy thing is a spiritual safeguard of the body, and salvation of the soul. Of this the blessed Esaias prophesying of old time said, And on this mountain,— (now he calls the Church a mountain elsewhere also, as when he says, In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be manifest Isaiah 2:2;)— on this mountain shall the Lord make unto all nations a feast; they shall drink wine, they shall drink gladness, they shall anoint themselves with ointment. And that he may make you sure, hear what he says of this ointment as being mystical; Deliver all these things to the nations, for the counsel of the Lord is unto all nations. Having been anointed, therefore, with this holy ointment, keep it unspotted and unblemished in you, pressing forward by good works, and being made well-pleasing to the Captain of your salvation, Christ Jesus, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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Saturday Saints- #96

The Letter “O” gets its turn in the ongoing series about the saints. Today’s saint is one who lived an interesting life, to say the least, Olga of Kiev:

Saint Olga (Old Church Slavonic: Ольга, born c. 890 died 11 July 969, Kiev) was a ruler of Kievan Rus’ as regent (945–c. 963) for her son, Svyatoslav.

A few quick facts about her:

  • She was born and raised a pagan, and converted decades into her life.
  • Marriage proposals to Olga could be a risky business, both for oneself and one’s people.
  • She is the grandmother of Vladimir the Great, who Christianized the kingdom of Rus.

I would encourage my readers to learn more about her at her wiki, located here.

St. Olga of Kiev

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Tradition Thursday- #47

We are close to the end of St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechetical Lectures. Today’s post features his 20th lecture.

Romans 6:3-14

Do you not know, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into His death? etc…..for you are not under the Law, but under grace.

1. These daily introductions into the Mysteries , and new instructions, which are the announcements of new truths, are profitable to us; and most of all to you, who have been renewed from an old state to a new. Therefore, I shall necessarily lay before you the sequel of yesterday’s Lecture, that you may learn of what those things, which were done by you in the inner chamber , were symbolic.

2. As soon, then, as you entered, you put off your tunic; and this was an image of putting off the old man with his deeds. Colossians 3:9 Having stripped yourselves, you were naked; in this also imitating Christ, who was stripped naked on the Cross, and by His nakedness put off from Himself the principalities and powers, and openly triumphed over them on the tree. For since the adverse powers made their lair in your members, you may no longer wear that old garment; I do not at all mean this visible one, but the old man, which waxes corrupt in the lusts of deceit. Ephesians 4:22 May the soul which has once put him off, never again put him on, but say with the Spouse of Christ in the Song of Songs, I have put off my garment, how shall I put it on Song of Songs 5:3? O wondrous thing! You were naked in the sight of all, and were not ashamed ; for truly ye bore the likeness of the first-formed Adam, who was naked in the garden, and was not ashamed.

3. Then, when you were stripped, you were anointed with exorcised oil , from the very hairs of your head to your feet, and were made partakers of the good olive-tree, Jesus Christ. For you were cut off from the wild olive-tree , and grafted into the good one, and were made to share the fatness of the true olive-tree. The exorcised oil therefore was a symbol of the participation of the fatness of Christ, being a charm to drive away every trace of hostile influence. For as the breathing of the saints, and the invocation of the Name of God, like fiercest flame, scorch and drive out evil spirits , so also this exorcised oil receives such virtue by the invocation of God and by prayer, as not only to burn and cleanse away the traces of sins, but also to chase away all the invisible powers of the evil one.

4. After these things, you were led to the holy pool of Divine Baptism, as Christ was carried from the Cross to the Sepulchre which is before our eyes. And each of you was asked, whether he believed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and you made that saving confession, and descended three times into the water, and ascended again; here also hinting by a symbol at the three days burial of Christ. For as our Saviour passed three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, so you also in your first ascent out of the water, represented the first day of Christ in the earth, and by your descent, the night; for as he who is in the night, no longer sees, but he who is in the day, remains in the light, so in the descent, as in the night, you saw nothing, but in ascending again you were as in the day. And at the self-same moment you were both dying and being born; and that Water of salvation was at once your grave and your mother. And what Solomon spoke of others will suit you also; for he said, in that case, There is a time to bear and a time to die Ecclesiastes 3:2; but to you, in the reverse order, there was a time to die and a time to be born; and one and the same time effected both of these, and your birth went hand in hand with your death.

5. O strange and inconceivable thing! We did not really die, we were not really buried, we were not really crucified and raised again; but our imitation was in a figure, and our salvation in reality. Christ was actually crucified, and actually buried, and truly rose again; and all these things He has freely bestowed upon us, that we, sharing His sufferings by imitation, might gain salvation in reality. O surpassing loving-kindness! Christ received nails in His undefiled hands and feet, and suffered anguish; while on me without pain or toil by the fellowship of His suffering He freely bestows salvation.

6. Let no one then suppose that Baptism is merely the grace of remission of sins, or further, that of adoption; as John’s was a baptism conferring only remission of sins: whereas we know full well, that as it purges our sins, and ministers to us the gift of the Holy Ghost, so also it is the counterpart of the sufferings of Christ. For this cause Paul just now cried aloud and said, Or are you ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into His death. These words he spoke to some who were disposed to think that Baptism ministers to us the remission of sins, and adoption, but has not further the fellowship also, by representation, of Christ’s true sufferings.

7. In order therefore that we might learn, that whatsoever things Christ endured, for us and for our salvation He suffered them in reality and not in appearance, and that we also are made partakers of His sufferings, Paul cried with all exactness of truth, For if we have been planted together with the likeness of His death, we shall be also with the likeness of His resurrection. Well has he said, planted together. For since the true Vine was planted in this place, we also by partaking in the Baptism of death have been planted together with Him. And fix your mind with much attention on the words of the Apostle. He said not, For if we have been planted together with His death, but, with the likeness of His death. For in Christ’s case there was death in reality, for His soul was really separated from His body, and real burial, for His holy body was wrapt in pure linen; and everything happened really to Him; but in your case there was only a likeness of death and sufferings, whereas of salvation there was not a likeness but a reality.

8. Having been sufficiently instructed in these things, keep them, I beseech you, in your remembrance; that I also, unworthy though I be, may say of you, Now I love you , because ye always remember me, and hold fast the traditions, which I delivered unto you. And God, who has presented you as it were alive from the dead Romans 6:13, is able to grant unto you to walk in newness of life : because His is the glory and the power, now and for ever. Amen.

(Source)

This is an interesting lecture, as it reveals that the Church in Jerusalem had Catechumens strip as part of the process of baptism and entry in the Church. From what I recall, this was the case in some Churches for a few centuries, but it eventually died out- for understandable reasons, naturally. While I can understand the theological thinking why, modesty and human frailty are constant matters of concern.

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