Monday, September 14, 2009

Byzantine Vespers at the Co-Cathedral

My wife and I attended Great Vespers for the Apodosis of the Nativity of the Theotokos at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston last Friday evening. The event was organized by the Eastern Catholic (Byzantine) communities of St. Basil's in Irving and St. John Chrysostom in Houston as part of the Call to Holiness Evangelization Conference. Bishop Nicholas, retired Auxiliary Bishop of the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of the United States, was present, as was Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston. I invited several people from the parish and local communities to attend as well. It was brilliant!

Byzantine, TX has posted some pictures. My wife and I are in one of them ;-)

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From St. Andrew of Crete (from today's Office of Readings):
We are celebrating the feast of the cross which drove away darkness and brought in the light. As we keep this feast, we are lifted up with the crucified Christ, leaving behind us earth and sin so that we may gain the things above. So great and outstanding a possession is the cross that he who wins it has won a treasure. Rightly could I call this treasure the fairest of all fair things and the costliest, in fact as well as in name, for on it and through it and for its sake the riches of salvation that had been lost were restored to us.

Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross, life itself could not have been nailed to the tree. And if life had not been nailed to it, there would be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ's side, blood and water for the world's cleansing. The legal bond of our sin would not be canceled, we should not have obtained our freedom, we should not have enjoyed the fruit of the tree of life and the gates of paradise would not stand open. Had there been no cross, death would not have been trodden underfoot, nor hell despoiled.

Therefore, the cross is something wonderfully great and honorable. It is great because through the cross the many noble acts of Christ found their consummation -- very many indeed, for both his miracles and his sufferings were fully rewarded with victory. The cross is honorable because it is both the sign of God's suffering and the trophy of his victory. It stands for his suffering because on it he freely suffered unto death. But it is also his trophy because it was the means by which the devil was wounded and death conquered; the barred gates of hell were smashed, and the cross became the one common salvation of the whole world.

The cross is called Christ's glory; it is saluted as his triumph. We recognize it as the cup he longed to drink and the climax of the sufferings he endured for our sake. As to the cross being Christ's glory, listen to his words:
Now is the Son of Man glorified, and in him God is glorified, and God will glorify him at once.
And again:
Father, glorify me with the glory I had with you before the world came to be.
And once more:
Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven: I have glorified it and will glorify it again.
Here he speaks of the glory that would accrue to him through the cross. And if you would understand that the cross is Christ's triumph, hear what he himself also said:
When I am lifted up, then I will draw all men to myself.
Now you can see that the cross is Christ's glory and triumph.

Incivility hurts pro-life message

I am unapologetically pro-life. I have participated in pro-life vigils, rallies, protests, and marches, and I will continue to be as active as I can in the pro-life movement. But I agree with John Allen, who has several good points here. Whatever your view of Sr. Carol Keehan or Fr. Tom Rosica.
One bit of gallows humor in Catholic circles is that sometimes the worst enemies of the pro-life movement are pro-lifers themselves. The point is that a handful of activists occasionally come off as so shrill, so angry and judgmental, that fair-minded people simply tune out the pro-life message.
Allen mentions some of the antics of "LifeSiteNews", a newsite that I generally avoid as I have caught them distorting facts on several occasions. I also generally avoid the bloviating of Judie Brown and the American Life League. I realize they are sincere, but when American Life League proudly takes credit for producing signs like this, it's hard to believe we can be taken seriously in this country. I'll echo John Allen in closing:
... There’s a world of difference, however, between respectful disagreement and character assassination, and some of what we’ve seen in recent days doesn’t just cross that line but obliterates it.

There’s much more I could say, but I’ll restrict myself to this: If Sr. Carol Keehan or Fr. Tom Rosica are your idea of enemies of the faith, it’s time for a reality check.

Moving forward, it’s important that influential Catholic leaders, particularly those with the greatest credibility in pro-life circles, find ways to call off the rhetorical fireworks. They don’t help the pro-life cause, and good people end up as collateral damage.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.” Pro-life activists, like everyone else, ought to remember that this principle also works in reverse.

Trinitarian attentiveness

Interesting and thoughtful post by Fr. Thomas Kocik at the New Liturgical Movement concerning the attention we pay to the Trinity in prayer (and the annoyance of bad translations).


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