Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Cross, The Mountain And The Key

 As I was listening to today's second reading at Mass today (Phil. 3:17~4:1), the one line that seemed to grab hold of me was: "...but our citizenship is in heaven." I almost wanted to tell the lector to stop right there, I just want to sit with that awhile. Of course I did no such thing, but I have returned to that piece of Scripture since hearing it, or perhaps I should say it has returned to me.
Yes, our citizenship is in heaven, but as Jesus shows His Apostles and each of us, we can't attain that citizenship without the cross. Jesus had His Cross; we each have our own.
Jesus' cross was always before Him. He tried to prepare His Apostles for what was soon to come. They, like me, don't always want to hear what my Lord is saying. I sometimes find myself saying to Jesus, "You can't be serious. You really want me to go through this?!"
The experience Peter, James and John had on Mt. Tabor, for them, was one of great joy and excitement; so much so that Peter wants to build some tents and stay there. As if to say, "Lord don't let this moment end. We don't have to go back down this mountain. You don't have to go to Jerusalem and go through all that awaits You there, and we won't have to watch You go through it. " Sometimes I find myself saying similar words to Our Lord. "Lord just let me stay here at Mass or here in this chapel before You in the Blessed Sacrament. If I stay here I won't have to deal with my crosses." But of course Mass ends or I do have to leave the chapel.
Just as I think Jesus gave those three Apostles the privilege of that mountaintop moment to help them bear what was to come, He gives me and each of us our own moments on the mountain. Whenever He does give them to me, I always pray: "Lord it is good that I have been here. Having been in Your Presence, may I not come down from the mountain the same way I went up, but reflect more of Your image."
When I look at my life, I can see there have been crosses and there will continue to be crosses. The mountain top moments remind me of that citizenship that God has promised me. Those moments strengthen and restore me so that I can continue to carry the crosses He gives me.
During the Last Supper, as Jesus' Cross comes closer, He tells His Apostles that He goes to prepare a place for them, that in His Father's house there are many mansions. (John 14:1~4)
That promise is for us as well, but I believe that in this life as we travel the road to our heavenly home, Jesus puts a key in each of our hands. Our key, in the form of our crosses, is different from anyone else's. It is the key to our "mansion" that Jesus has prepared for us. It is the key to that heavenly citizenship that St Paul speaks of in today's reading.
I guess it could be said that Jesus, in His Cross, had the "master key" that unlocked the gates of heaven.  However, in order to gain entrance to that particular place He has prepared for me, I need to accept that cross~shaped key He offers.
So I will continue to travel the road,  cross~key in hand, taking respite in those occasional mountain top moments.
See you on the mountain, and by God's grace, one day in heaven.

Have a Blessed Sunday!

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Chair Of St Peter and Prayers For The Holy Father

 This grandiose sculpture monument was created to enclose the wooden throne of St Peter.
The four gigantic statues of Doctors of the Church are: St. Ambrose, St. Anthanasius (left); and St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine (right).

Today the Church commemorates the Feast of the Chair of Peter, the first Pope. It reminds of the role of teacher and pastor given to Peter and his successors by Christ Himself. It is also a day to offer some special prayers for our current Pope, Benedict XVI.
In some ways I believe that his pontificate is one of the most difficult in recent history. The Church, now more than ever, seems to be under brutal attack.
Perhaps today we can pray united as Christ's Mystical Body an Our Father, Hail Mary and a Glory Be, as well as the prayer for the Pope given below, for Pope Benedict XVI.
I have also provided some links on the history and significance of this feast.

Prayer For The Pope
O Lord, we are the millions of believers, humbly kneeling at Thy feet and begging Thee to preserve, defend and save the Sovereign Pontiff for many years. He is the Father of the great fellowship of souls and our Father as well. On this day, as on every other day, he is praying for us also, and is offering unto Thee with holy fervoUr the sacred Victim of love and peace.
Wherefore, O Lord, turn Thyself toward us with eyes of pity; for we are now, as it were, forgetful of ourselves, and are praying above all for him. Do Thou unite our prayers with his and receive them into the bosom of Thine infinite mercy, as a sweet savor of active and fruitful charity, whereby the children are united in the Church to their Father. All that he asks of Thee this day, we too ask it of Thee in union with him.
whether he weeps or rejoices, whether he hopes or offers himself as a victim of charity for his people, we desire to be united with him; nay more, we desire that the cry of our hearts should be made one with his. Of Thy great mercy grant, O Lord, that not one of us may be far from his mind and his heart in the hour that he prays and offers unto Thee the Sacrifice of Thy blessed Son. At the moment when our venerable High Priest, holding in His hands the very Body of Jesus Christ, shall say to the people over the Chalice of benediction these words: "The peace of the Lord be with you always," grant, O Lord, that Thy sweet peace may come down upon our hearts and upon all the nations with new and manifest power.

Feast of the Chair of St Peter, Apostle
 St Peter's Basilica

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Faith In The Desert Of Temptation

  Temptations of Christ: Fra Angelico

Scripture tells us today that immediately after His baptism, Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1~13) The Holy Spirit may have led Jesus there, but the devil was waiting for Him. He was waiting to tempt Jesus in His faith.
As we begin Lent, we too are being led into the desert, and the devil waits for each of us as well. Our faith may be tested in any number of small or not so small ways.
In today's Gospel we read about the three ways the devil tries to tempt Jesus.
The First Temptation:
The devil knows Jesus has not eaten in 40 days and figures in His weakened state, he can get Jesus to prove He is the Son of God; turn these stones into bread. It is as if the devil is saying to Jesus, "Why do you need to go hungry? After all you are the Son of God, use Your power to make life easier and more comfortable for Yourself."  But Jesus'  reply demonstrates His faith in His Father. "Man does not live on bread alone, but from every word from the mouth of God."
For us we may hear similar things from the devil. "The world has so many ways to make your life easier and more comfortable. Why should you struggle or be inconvenienced in any way?" If we draw on the grace of our faith, we will see right through that as Jesus did, for we do live on the Bread of Life, the living Word spoken by the Father.

 Jesus Brought to a High Mountain Place: James Tissot

The Second Temptation:
The devil now shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and tells Him: "Here they are; they are Yours for the asking." I often wonder that even if Jesus had taken the devil up on that offer, he wouldn't had followed through, but rather just laugh and pride himself that he got Jesus to cave in. But Jesus being God could not do this, so His reply demonstrates His faith in His Father once again, not faith in the material idols of the world: "You shall worship the Lord, your God and Him alone shall you serve."
We are shown the luxury of idols every day in our culture. Things that will seem to make us all important, powerful and comfortable. Money, power, sex, drugs are some of the idols being worshiped today. Again, if we draw on the grace and strength of our faith in God we can easily see through these false gods and turn to the Father through Jesus with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to worship and serve God in this Blessed Trinity.

Temptation of Christ: Ary Scheffer

The Third Temptation:
The devil leads Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem and once again says to Him: "If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. After all, God promised to send His angels to save You." Jesus sees this for just what it is~blatant testing of God!
I look at my own life and often wonder how many times have I tested God in my presumptions and assumptions instead of drawing and relying on my faith and God's Providence in my life.
After all this, the devil seems to realize he's got nothing left in his arsenal and leaves Jesus, but as the Gospel says: "...for a time." Yes, the devil would return again some three years later at the final moments of Jesus' life on this earth.
Throughout our lives, if we are living and practicing our faith, we can expect to be tempted. The devil will come and he will go~ for a time, but we can never let down our guard, for he will be back.

Heavenly Father,
As we journey into the desert of Lent, strengthen our faith in You and You alone so that when the devil comes to try to lure us away from You, we will turn to You in Word and Sacrament for the grace to rely on and trust in Your love and care for each of us. Help us to see through the passing things of this world to the only thing that really matters~life in and with You through Your Son, Jesus our Lord. May His life in us and ours in Him lead us to you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Lenten Prayer To the Holy Spirit

 Christ On the Way in the Desert: Dagmar Anders

Spirit of God,
As I begin this 40 day journey through the desert of Lent, be with me and guide me. Open my heart and soul to all You wish to teach me during these holy days.
With Jesus as my model and companion, may I give glory to God through my prayer, self denial and sacrifice.
Keep me from falling into the devil's snares. As I walk this road with Jesus to and through His Passion, may it lead to closer union with You who with the Father and the Son reign one God forever.

May you all have a blessed Lent!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two Great Voices in the Church Today

I found this short clip over at Word On Fire. It is from a fund raising event that took place at the residence of Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. The event was to support Fr Robert barron's Catholicism Project. In the this clip which is just over 2 minutes, the archbishop talks about doing away with the false perception of Catholics being dour, grumpy people and show how we are or at least should be, people filled with great joy. Fr Barron expands on that with a bit about his project and reminding us of how the early Christians lived their lives.
You can read and see more about Fr Barron's project by clicking the link above.
As we begin the holy season of Lent tomorrow, let us remember that while this is a serious and solemn season, we should live it with great joy for Christ is at the heart of that joy. Through His Passion, death and resurrection, we have been given the gift of our rich faith and life in eternity with Him.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Holy Disposition of Beatitude

 Sermon of the Beatitudes: James Tissot

The following litany is based on the Beatitudes as recounted in Luke 6: 17, 20~26.

A Litany of the Beatitudes
V. Lord, have mercy.
R. Christ, have mercy.
V. Lord, have mercy. Christ hear us.
R. Christ graciously hear us.

That we may become poor in spirit so that we may one day attain God's kingdom...
Christ Jesus, bless us.
That we may hunger for You in Word and Sacrament and so always be satisfied...
Christ Jesus, bless us.
That while on this earth we may weep over our sins and sinfulness, but one day laugh in the joy of Your mercy...
Christ Jesus, bless us.
When we are hated, excluded, insulted, and denounced as evil because of You, that on that day we may rejoice and leap for joy in the knowledge that our heavenly reward will be great...
Christ Jesus, bless us.
That those who seek to be filled with the riches of this world so to laugh and be thought highly of will have a change of heart...
Christ Jesus open their hearts to You.

Let us pray:
Heavenly Father,
You have shown us the way to You through Your Son, Jesus Christ. By Your grace, may we open our hearts and minds to His teaching and follow in His ways so that we may one day arrive safely in our heavenly home where we may praise You, Father , Son and Holy Spirit for all eternity.
We ask this through Jesus Christ Your Son who lives and reigns with You, one God for ever. Amen.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Lady Of Lourdes

 I am the Immaculate Conception

This feast commemorates the appearances of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubiroux in France. While out collecting firewood with friends, Bernadette saw a lady she describes as being more lovely than she had ever seen. The Lady Bernadette saw in the hollow of the rock at Massabielle was clothed in white with a blue sash and a rosary hanging from her arm. After one of the apparitions, the Lady said to Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception." Although the young girl did not know what this meant, the Pope declared the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1854.
Countless people have made and continue to make the pilgrimage to Lourdes in faith for healing. Some receive physical healing, some receive spiritual healing.
The meditation for today in Magnificat tells the story of Zelie Martin, mother of Therese of Liseux. She had made the pilgrimage to Lourdes in the hope of being healed of her ailments. When she returned home and realized that this was not to be God's will, she prayed to Our Lady for her daughters, that Our Lady would protect and watch over them. This our Blessed Mother and Our Lord surely did for each of those young girls would enter the convent where they would devote their lives to prayer and service to Christ.
May mothers today pray  for their own children as Zelie Martin did for hers. Our Blessed Mother will receive those prayers into her maternal heart and take them to her Son who will refuse her nothing.
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

St Scholastica

St Scholastica was the twin sister of St Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order. She was born around 480 and died in 543. She and her brother were very close. After he founded the Benedictines at Monte Cassino, she founded a convent about 5 miles away. The two were even buried together. St Gregory the Great said, "death did not separate the bodies of these two whose minds were ever united in the Lord."
One of the more well known stories of Scholastica and her brother tells of their last meeting together. Scholastica had known that this would be the last time they would be together before her death and she asked Benedict to stay the night with her in conversation. He did not want to break his Benedictine rule and so refused. However, Scholastica prayed that God would somehow intervene. He did so by causing a storm that forced Benedict to stay. When he became upset with his sister for this prayer, she replied, "I asked a favor of you and you refused it. I asked God and He granted it."
It is said that upon her death, Benedict saw Scholastica's soul leave her body in the form of a dove.
St Scholastica was consecrated to God at an early age and lived a holy life. Her prayers on earth were very powerful and are more so now in heaven. She is often invoked against storms. So on this very stormy, snowy day in the northeast, I ask her intercession for all those who must be out in the storm.

O God, to show us where innocence leads, you made the soul of your virgin Saint Scholastica soar to heaven like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting. This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever. Amen.

God Says Stop And Rest

Well it is official. Today's snowstorm is an all out blizzard! Last Saturday was just a teaser in this blogger's part of the world. But I am not simply posting a weather report. While snow of this magnitude brings its inconveniences, hardships and for some even dangers, it also brings a few gifts.
It is rare that New Jersey ever comes to a stop, but in a storm like this, it almost does. I sometimes think this is God's way of saying, "You all need to just STOP! Be still , see and remember that I AM God!" Because in these conditions there really is not much you can do beyond your own front door. You have to stop and you are given the opportunity to do things you have not had a chance to do. For those with children at home, they get to spend some added time with them, for people like me who live alone, it is a chance to catch up on reading, additional prayer time, and making of some comfort foods.

My job has kept me going at a speed far to fast these days. That unfortunately can not be helped right now. However, it has been my experience that when my life seems to be going at whirlwind speeds, and I can't seem to slow down on my own, God does it for me. Usually he does it in the form of a bad cold or flu that forces me to stay home. This time it came in the form of a thick, white blanket (that continues to get thicker as I write!).
I took the pictures you see this morning. They are a gift for my friend Colleen who lives in Florida. During last weekend's mini storm she asked if I had any pictures. There wasn't much to see with that one. So Colleen, I hope you enjoy these. (they are not great, but will give you a taste of those northeastern winters you sometimes miss.)

Yes, in the pristine whiteness of the newly fallen and continuing falling snow, we can stop and know that God indeed reigns~ and sometimes He snows! (Sorry couldn't resist that one.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Peter And The Great Catch

Miraculous Draught of Fish: Alexandre~Gabriel Decamps

In the scene of today's Gospel (Luke 5:1~11) I am drawn to Peter and his reaction to Jesus' advice to cast out into the deep. His knowledge and experience of his trade tell him that there is no point in going back out there to try yet again, but yet he does it anyway. I often wonder if in those brief moments along the shore of Lake Genesareth, Jesus looked at Peter and said to Himself, "He's the one who will lead my Church." This rough and tumble, impetuous man.
Once they had returned to shore with their abundance of fish, Peter realized his sinfulness and his lack of faith. So much so he told our Lord that He should depart from him! I am sure as time went on, Peter was very glad Jesus didn't listen to him.
Jesus tells Peter and all those who left everything to follow Him that they would be catchers of men, and indeed they were.
I often find myself in Peter's position, wondering how or why our Lord wants anything to do with the likes of me. I know that He sees what I can't and He is willing to work with that if I let Him.
One of my favorite scenes depicting this Gospel passage is in the movie Jesus of Nazareth. Robert Powell was the actor who portrayed Jesus in that movie. I love the expression on his       face as he watches Peter coming in from a night of non~productive fishing yelling and screaming all the way.The actor as Jesus seems to have a look of amusement on his face and I wonder if the real Jesus had that same expression upon first encountering Peter. It is a very earthy, human scene.

For today's meditation, I thought I would leave you with that scene. YouTube is not allowing embedding for this one so follow the Jesus of Nazareth link above to get to the clip. The entire clip is seven plus minutes but the fishing scene ends after about six minutes. This is a very good visual for today's Gospel passage.
Enjoy and have a Blessed Sunday!

Note: Insert photo: Sunset on Lake Genesareth

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

St Blaise And The Fourteen Holy Helpers

Today is the feast of St Blaise who is the patron of those with throat ailments. Typically today is the day we invoke his intercession and have our throats blessed.
In doing my research for this saint, I came across a group of saints called The 14 Holy Helpers or Auxiliary Saints. St Blaise is one of the 14. These saints are invoked because of their efficacious assistance in trials and suffering. All of them, with the exception of St Giles, were martyrs.
These saints were invoked collectively on August 8th until 1969 when the Roman calendar was reformed. The Black Plague which spread through Europe during the years 1346~1349, was the main reason for invoking this group of saints. This disease was fatal and spread quickly. Many died without receiving the last sacraments. The devout Christians of this time stormed heaven and began asking the intercession of the saints. Each one of the 14 Holy Helpers assisted in some way with certain aspects of the plague.
The dates given for each saint's feast is the traditional date. However, not all of the saints appear on the Universal calendar.
Here is a list of the 14 Holy Helpers and the things for which they are invoked.

(1) St. George (April 23rd), soldier-martyr. Invoked for protection for domestic animals and against herpetic diseases. Also patron of soldiers, England, Portugal, Germany, Aragon, Genoa and Venice. He is pictured striking down a dragon.
St. George is venerated by the Eastern Church among her "great martyrs" and "standard-bearers." He belonged to the Roman army; he was arrested and, probably, beheaded under Diocletian, c. 304. The Latin Church as well as the Greek honors him as patron of armies. He is the patron of England, since 800. Many legends are attached to Saint George. The most famous is the one in The Golden Legend. There was a dragon that lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Not even armies could defeat this creature, and he terrorized flocks and the people. St. George was passing through and upon hearing about a princess was about to be eaten, he went to battle against the serpent, and killed it with one blow with his lance. Then with his great preaching, George converted the people. He distributed his reward to the poor, then left the area.

2.St. Blaise (also Blase and Blasius) (February 3rd), bishop and martyr. He is invoked against diseases of the throat. Blessing of the throats takes place on his feast day. St. Blaise is pictured with two crossed candles.
St. Blaise was a native of Sebaste in Armenia and became bishop of his native city. He had to go into hiding to escape continual persecution, but was finally arrested, atrociously tortured and put to death, under Licinius, in 316. His cult spread rapidly in both East and West, and many cures were attributed to him, notably that of a child who was suffocating through a fish bone being caught in his throat. According to legend, he was a healer of men and animals. He is invoked for all throat afflictions, and on his feast two candles are blessed with a prayer that God will free from all such afflictions and every ill all those who receive this blessing.

 3. St. Erasmus (also St. Elmo) (June 2nd), bishop and martyr. He is invoked against diseases of the stomach and intestine, protection for domestic animals and patron of sailors. He is pictured with his entrails wound around a windlass.
St. Erasmus was a bishop of Asia Minor. He fled to Mount Lebanon during the persecution of Diocletian and was miraculously fed by a raven while in hiding. Eventually he was captured and martyred at Formiae, Campagna, Italy c. 303. He is invoked for intestinal diseases, for his legend asserts that he was tortured by winding his entrails round a windlass. He is also called St. Elmo, and the static electricity on ships at seas, Saint Elmo's Fire, is named after him.

4. St. Pantaleon (July 27th), martyr. Invoked against consumption, protection for domestic animals and patron of physicians and midwives. He is pictured with his hands nailed together.
St. Pantaleon was a doctor, devoted to the spiritual and temporal welfare of his patients. He was captured and tortured extensively. He was nailed to a tree and then beheaded at Nicomedia, c. 303, under Diocletian.

5. St. Vitus (also St. Guy) (June 15th), martyr. Invoked in epilepsy, chorea ("St. Vitus' dance"), lethargy, and the bites of poisonous or mad animals and against storms. Also protection for domestic animals. Patron of dancer and actors. St. Vitus is pictured with his cross.
According to legend, St. Vitus, also called St. Guy, was a Sicilian nobleman's son, who was baptized against his father's wishes and martyred in 303 Modestus and Crescentia, Christian members of his household. He is invoked to cure epilepsy, or "St. Vitus' dance."

6. St. Christopher (also Christophorus) (July 25th), martyr. Invoked against the plague and sudden death. He is the patron of travelers, especially motorists, and is also invoked in storms. Usually pictured carrying the Child Jesus on his shoulder.
St. Christopher was martyred in Asia Minor around 250. His name, Greek for "Christ-bearer" is the origin of the legend that he was a giant who carried the Christ Child across a river. He is still considered a saint by the Church, although his feastday was removed from the General Roman Calendar due to lack of historical evidence.

7. St. Denis (also Dionysius) (October 9th), bishop and martyr. Invoked against diabolical possession and headaches. Pictured carrying his head in his hands.
St. Denis was the first bishop of Paris and was one of the six bishops sent to France in the middle of the 3rd century by Pope Fabian. He was beheaded at Catulliacum, now Saint-Denis.

8. St. Cyriacus (also Cyriac) (August 8th), deacon and martyr. Invoked against diseases of the eye and diabolical possession. Also interceded for those in temptation, especially at the time of death. He is usually pictured as vested as a deacon.
St. Cyriacus, a deacon, was martyred at Rome in 303 during the persecution of Diocletian. He was buried on the Ostian Way.

9. St. Acathius (also Acacius) (May 8th), martyr. Invoked against headaches and at the time of death's agony. He is pictured with a crown of thorns.
Achatius was a native of Cappadocia and as a youth was a centurion in the Roman army under Emperor Hadrian. He was tortured and beheaded in the persecution of Diocletian.

10. St. Eustace (also Eustachius, Eustathius) (September 20th), martyr. Invoked against fire — temporal and eternal. Patron of hunters. Patron in all kinds of difficulties, and invoked in family troubles. Pictured with a stag and hunting equipment.
Not much is known about St. Eustace (or more properly Eustathius). He was a pagan Roman general who converted after seeing a glowing cross between a stag's antlers. He and his family were martyred together by being burned inside a bronze bull.

11. St. Giles (also Aegidius) (September 1st), hermit and abbot. Invoked against the plague, panic, epilepsy, madness, and nightmares and for a good confession. Patron of cripples, beggars, and breastfeeding mothers. He is pictured in a monastic cowl with a hind (deer).
According to tradition, St. Giles was born at Athens, Greece, and was of noble extraction. After his parents died, he fled from his fatherland to avoid followers and fame. He went to France, and in a cave in a forest near the mouth of the Rhone he was able to lead the life of a hermit. Legend has a hind came everyday to his cell and furnished him with milk. One day the King's hunters chased the hind and discovered St. Giles and his secret hermitage. The hunters shot at the hind, but missed and hit Giles' leg with an arrow, which kept him crippled the rest of his life. He then consented to King Theodoric's request by building a monastery (known later as "Saint Gilles du Gard") and he became its first Abbot. He died some eight years later towards 712.
 12. St. Margaret of Antioch (July 20th), virgin and martyr. Invoked against backache. Patron for women in childbirth. She is pictured holding a dragon in chains.
Beheaded at Antioch in Pisidia c. 257. Not much is known about her. One of the legends attached to St. Margaret is that she met the devil, who was in the shape of a dragon. She was swallowed by the dragon, but then escaped safely when the cross she carried irritated the dragon's innards. This is why she is associated with pregnancy, labor, and childbirth although she was a virgin. She was one of the saints who talked to Saint Joan of Arc.

13. St. Catherine of Alexandria (also Catharine) (November 25th), virgin and martyr. Invoked against diseases of the tongue, protection against a sudden and unprovided death. Patroness of Christian philosophers, of maidens, preachers, wheelwrights, and mechanics. She is also invoked by students, orators, and barristers as "the wise counselor." She is pictured with a broken wheel.
St. Catherine was born at Alexandria and martyred under Maximinus Daia c. 310. Ancient accounts relate that when she was eighteen years old the emperor gathered together a group of philosophers to persuade her to deny Christ and worship idols. She instead convinced them of their error and converted them to Christianity. She is often pictured with a broken wheel, because she was scourged and bound to wheels on which knives were fixed, but the instrument broke. She was finally beheaded.

14.St. Barbara (December 4th), virgin and martyr. Invoked against fever, lightning, fire and sudden death. Patron of builders, artillerymen and miners. St. Barbara is pictured with a tower and ciborium with a host above it.
St. Barbara's legend was immensely popular, but all we know about her is that was martyred, probably in Asian Minor in the 3rd or 4th century. Her legend had that she was a beautiful maiden, and her father isolated her in a high tower. While there, she was tutored by philosophers, orators and poets and converted to Christianity.
Her father Dioscorus was furious and denounced her to the authorities. They ordered him to kill her. She tried to escape, but he caught her, dragged her home by her hair and then beheaded her. He was immediately struck by lightning, or according to some sources, fire from heaven.
 (Saint Information from Cross Roads Initiative.)

Prayers to The Holy Helpers

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Feast Of The Presentation Of The Lord

 The Presentation of the Lord: Fra Angelico

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace;  Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,  Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.(Luke 2:29~32)
Simeon's Moment

 The Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord today, sometimes known as Candlemas. It marks the 40th day after Christ's birth. According to Jewish law and custom, a woman who had given birth was to go through a 40 day purification period. It was on this day that Mary and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the temple.
To celebrate today's feast I have included an excerpt from a sermon by St Sophronius, a seventh century monk who was bishop and Patriarch in Jerusalem during this time. He defended the true and full humanity of Christ in his writings. I have also included some artwork and icons depicting this feast.
May the light of Christ shine through each of us in our daily lives.
 Icon of the Presentation of the Lord: St Elias Orthodox Church, Austin, TX

 The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
  ~St Sophronius: Bishop and Early Church Father

Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.
The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.

The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows;the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God.

The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendor, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendor.

Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which he prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves. As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.

By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen him present among us and have mentally received him into our arms, we are called the new Israel. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in his honor.

 James Tissot:The Presentation of  Jesus In the Temple

Closing Prayer

Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King

My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.