John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily

Because we cannot post this enough!

tissot-the-resurrection-480x736

The Resurrection of Christ from the Tomb (James Tissot)

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?

Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!

Why are Gandalf and Leonidas British? The Curious Case of British Accents in Historical and Fantasy Films

There’s been a lot of ink, both real and digital, spilled pondering this phenomenon, so it’s unlikely my observations will add any real insights into this, but I would like to explore it a bit here.

I recently watched the entire first series of MTV’s (I know, I was surprised, too) television adaptation of Terry Brooks’ fantasy novel, The Elfstones of Shannara.  It’s a good series as far as adaptations of fantasy novels for the small screen go, with a solid cast and competent acting on all parts.  (Though I did find it a bit rushed, especially the final episode which ought to have had more time to really explore Amberle’s choice and its implications for the other characters–no spoilers here!)  What is interesting as a directorial choice here (though understandable that Brooks’ series takes place in a future post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest) is that the vast majority of the characters in the show speak with American English accents (John Rhys-Davies gets to keep his British accent as King Eventine, and Manu Bennett his New Zealand accent as Allanon).  It’s a little surreal hearing Poppy Drayton’s American accent as Amberle juxtaposed with her normal British Received Pronunciation accent.  In a world where many British actors attempting American accents sound like bad impressions of Canadians, her American accent is beautiful.

So The Shannara Chronicles puts the usual trope of fantasy characters speaking in a British accent on its head.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at other recent fantasy film and television adaptations.  HBO’s adaptation of Game of Thrones is a prime example.  George R. R. Martin is an American author writing about a fantasy universe heavily influenced by medieval Europe (spoiler here if you haven’t heard it yet, but Martin is ripping off the War of the Roses–Lannister and Stark sound an awful lot like Lancaster and York, don’t they?), but that doesn’t necessarily imply that everyone speaks like a BBC announcer.  Yet they do.  It makes a little more sense that Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings would feature British accents given that Tolkien was himself British, but again, it’s not a given (after all, Elvish is a weird spiritual child of Welsh and Finnish, and the Dwarvish Khazad is based somewhat on Hebrew).

Mytho-historical and historical films do this, too.  Troy does it (they’re Greeks, not Londoners!), 300 and its sequel do it, Gladiator does it, too.  Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf does it (sure, Beowulf is written in old English, but the real accent he would have would be Scandinavian, not British).  Kingdom of Heaven, about a bunch of French knights in the Holy Land, defaults to British accents.  And Risen‘s Romans and Judaeans all sound like they came from This Sceptered Isle.

So why are our cinematic fantasy worlds mainly populated by speakers of British English?  And why the same for characters from the historical past?  The best answer I can come up with is that the British accent is exotic enough to American or international ears while still being easily understandable.  Brian Wheeler writing for the BBC notes that British RP is “other” enough from the standard American Midland accent that it highlights the exotic and weird nature of fantasy or distant-past universes in media.  What I also figure is that, at least for American audiences, the British accent hearkens to our own country’s “antiquity” (not that 400 years is all that long).  We hear a British accent, it sounds like “old” English as we would think of it.  Of course, the RP accent isn’t all that old, either, so this is a conceit created by Hollywood more than a representation of actual history.

And this “all ancient people and fantasy characters speak British English” phenomenon seems, to me, to be recent.  In the golden age of American sword and sandal films (and later, sword and sorcery movies), you’d often find a mishmash of accents, or no attempt to create a uniform “foreign” accent at all.  Kirk Douglas’ Spartacus is a good example of this.  Laurence Olivier keeps his British accent, but Douglas and Tony Curtis don’t bother to trade in their American accents for English or even Italian ones.  The Vikings, another Douglas flick, does the same thing.  The original 1982 Conan the Barbarian also makes space for multiple accents (of course, having Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sandahl Bergman, and Max von Sydow playing major roles leads to a greater likelihood of dialectical plurality).  This kind of phenomenon might be easier to get away with with movies about ancient people, especially when dealing with Rome, because of the cosmopolitan nature of the Roman world.  But it doesn’t explain the more modern turn to giving everyone a British accent.  (The recent Rome-flick The Eagle refreshingly does not do this, but this was apparently out of a desire to make a political statement–the Romans here are cast as analogues to American troops in Iraq.)  Regardless, from the 1960s onward uniformity of accents doesn’t seem to be a real issue in movies until recent years.

The other reason I can think of for this is the tendency for actors in Hollywood’s early days to use the Trans-Atlantic accent (think Cary Grant or Grace Kelly), America’s answer to British RP.  All I can imagine is that Hollywood’s love affair with British accents might be a replacement for this.  It’s recognizable, it sounds august, and it sounds old.

So this may be why we like our fantasy characters and historical figures to speak like an Englishman on film.  Even though the British RP accent is a more recent development (the British didn’t drop their Rs until the 19th Century, so they probably sounded more like us in the United States), we like it in these films because it seems old to us.  We Americans don’t talk like our British “parents” anymore, so it’s an “older” English better suited for the seeming antiquity of historical or fantasy worlds.  I wonder if perhaps we wouldn’t be better served to just not care about accents like the Hollywood of the ’60s, since in the case of either historical or fantasy worlds nobody knows how they really would have sounded anyway.  But it may also be that the modern viewer’s imagination can’t suspend disbelief enough to allow for such a plethora of accents.  Regardless, The Shannara Chronicles  may hopefully signal a return to the older-style of fantasy or costume-drama film where multiple accents are on display.

Alcuin of York’s (c.735-804) Eclogue to his Cell

Today, my thoughts were turned toward Alcuin’s verse, which I had first read in high school at Latin camp, when two very dear friends and mentors of mine, with whom I have worked for the last several years, left the office for the last time today, having packed up their research library and sent it to California.  AT and EA, this is for you.  I am going to miss you terribly. +N+


O mea cella, mihi habitate dulcis, amata,
Semper in aeternum, o mea cella, vale.
Utique te cingit ramis resonantibus arbos,
Silvula florigeris semper onusta comis.
Prata salutiferis florebunt omnia et herbis,
Quas medici quaerit dextra salutis ope.
Flumina te cingunt florentibus undique ripis,
Retia piscator qua sua tendit ovans.
Pomiferis redolent ramis tua claustra per hortos,
Lilia cum rosulis candida, mixta rubris.
Omne genus volucrum matutinas personat odas,
Atque creatorem laudat in ore Deum.
In te personuit quondam vox alma magistri,
Quae sacro sophiae tradidit ore libros.
In te temporibus certis laus sancta tonantis
Pacificis sonuit vocibus atque animis.
Te, mea cella, modo lacrimosis plango camenis,
Atque gemens casus pectore plango tuos,
Tu subito quoniam fugisti carmina vatum,
Atque ignota manus te modo tota tenet.
Te modo nec Flaccus nec vatis Homerus habebit,
Nec pueri musas per tua tecta canunt.
Vertitur omne decus saecli sic namque repente,
Omnia mutantur ordinibus variis.
Nil manet aeternum, nihil immutabile vere est.
Obscurat sacrum nox tenebrosa diem.
Decutit et flores subito hiems frigida pulcros,
Perturbat placidum et tristior aura mare.
Qua campis cervos agitabat sacra juventus,
Incumbit fessus nunc baculo senior.
Nos miseri, cur te fugitivum, mundus, amamus?
Tu fugis a nobis semper ubique ruens.
Tu fugiens fugias, Christum nos semper amemus,
Semper amor teneat pectora nostra Dei.
Ille pios famulos diro defendat ab hoste,
Ad caelum rapiens pectora nostra, suos;
Pectore quem pariter toto laudemus, amemus;
Nostra est ille pius gloria, vita, salus.1


My cell, my dearly lovely dwelling, farewell for ever, my cell. The trees stand all round you with their murmuring branches, a copse forever laden with flower-bearing leaves. All your fields will bloom with health-bringing herbs, which the hand of the physician plucks to cure the sick. Streams with blossoming banks gird you round, and there the cheerful angler stretches his nets. Thy cloisters smell of apple-trees in the gardens, and white lilies mingle with little red roses. Every kind of bird strikes up his matins song and by his singing praises God who made him. Once the kind voice of the master was heard in you, reading the holy books with devout lips. In you from time to time the holy praise of the Almighty rose from peaceful voices and hearts. My cell, I weep for you now in tearful songs, and I groan as I bewail my misfortune; for you have suddenly fled from the poets’ songs and an unknown hand now possesses you. No longer now will Flaccus or the poet Homer or the youths come and sing under your roof. Thus suddenly does all the beauty of the earth come to an end, and all things are swept away one after another; nothing lasts for ever, nothing indeed is immutable. Dark night overwhelms even a holy day. Cold winter swiftly cuts off the beautiful flowers and a most bitter wind ruffles the calm sea. The devoted youth who once chased Stags across the fields now leans on a stick, a tired old man. Wretched that we are, why do we love you, O world, as you flee from us? You flee from us, falling all the time and on every side. Keep on fleeing if you wish. Let us love Christ always and let the love of God possess our hearts for ever. May he defend His faithful servants from the dread enemy and snatch our souls away to heaven. Let us praise and love him equally with our whole heart; in his mercy he is our glory, our life, and our salvation.2


 

1Latin text from the Medieval Latin Translation Blog (which also includes an audio recording of Alcuin’s Latin).
2English translation from the UC Davis Alcuin page.

Unearthing the World of Jesus

janfeb2016_i15_historicaljesus__600x0_q85_upscale

Synagogue at Magdala (Photo by Yadid Levy, Smithsonian Magazine)

In January, Smithsonian Magazine ran a great article on excavations at Magdala and Bethsaida that bring new evidence to light concerning the world of 1st Century  Galilee.  Below is an extract; click through the link at the bottom to read more.

+N+


 

Ariel Sabar, “Unearthing the World of Jesus”

The IAA archaeologists had mucked around on Solana’s 20 acres for a month and found little. “Almost done?” he’d ask, emerging in his clerical robes from a shipping container that served as a makeshift office. “I have a budget! I have a timetable!”

In truth, the archaeologists didn’t want to be there either. Summer temperatures had ticked into the 100s, and the site prickled with bees and mosquitoes. They’d say shalom, they assured the priest, as soon as they checked a final, remote corner of his land.

It was there, beneath a wing of the proposed guesthouse, that their picks clinked against the top of a buried wall.

Dina Avshalom-Gorni, an IAA official who oversaw digs in northern Israel, ordered all hands to this square of the excavation grid. The workers squatted in the mealy soil and dusted carefully with brushes. Soon, a series of rough-cut stone benches emerged around what looked like a sanctuary.

It can’t be, Avshalom-Gorni thought.

The Gospels say that Jesus taught and “proclaimed the good news” in synagogues “throughout all Galilee.” But despite decades of digging in the towns Jesus visited, no early first-century synagogue had ever been found.

**********

For historians, this was not a serious problem. Galilean Jews were a week’s walk from Jerusalem, close enough for regular pilgrimages to Herod the Great’s magnificent temple, Judaism’s central house of worship. Galileans, mostly poor peasants and fishermen, had neither the need nor the funds for some local spinoff. Synagogues, as we understand them today, did not appear anywhere in great numbers until several hundred years later. If there were any in Galilee in Jesus’s day, they were perhaps just ordinary houses that doubled as meeting places for local Jews. Some scholars argued that the “synagogues” in the New Testament were nothing more than anachronisms slipped in by the Gospels’ authors, who were writing outside Galilee decades after Jesus’s death.

But as Avshalom-Gorni stood at the edge of the pit, studying the arrangement of benches along the walls, she could no longer deny it: They’d found a synagogue from the time of Jesus, in the hometown of Mary Magdalene. Though big enough for just 200 people, it was, for its time and place, opulent. It had a mosaic floor; frescoes in pleasing geometries of red, yellow and blue; separate chambers for public Torah readings, private study and storage of the scrolls; a bowl outside for the ritual washing of hands.

In the center of the sanctuary, the archaeologists unearthed a mysterious stone block, the size of a toy chest, unlike anything anyone had seen before. Carved onto its faces were a seven-branched menorah, a chariot of fire and a hoard of symbols associated with the most hallowed precincts of the Jerusalem temple. The stone is already seen as one of the most important discoveries in biblical archaeology in decades. Though its imagery and function remain in the earliest stages of analysis, scholars say it could lead to new understandings of the forces that made Galilee such fertile ground for a Jewish carpenter with a world-changing message. It could help explain, in other words, how a backwater of northern Israel became the launching pad for Christianity.

But on that dusty afternoon, Solana had no way of knowing this. He was toweling off after a swim when an IAA archaeologist named Arfan Najar called his cellphone with what seemed like the worst possible news: They’d found something, and everything Solana had worked and prayed for these past five years was on hold.

“Father,” Najar told him, “you have a big, big, big problem.”

Read more: Smithsonian Magazine, Unearthing the World of Jesus

John Chrysostom’s Easter Homily

A bit late, but a great piece to read regardless! +N+


Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below.”

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!


HT: Esgetology (the link to the original Fordham Internet History Sourcebook seems to be dead)

A Poem for Good Friday: George Herbert, “The Sacrifice”

“The Sacrifice,” from The Temple, by the 17th Century Anglican poet and priest, George Herbert (1593-1633).  A beautifully moving poem for Good Friday.


 

Oh all ye, who passe by, whose eyes and minde
To worldly things are sharp, but to me blinde;
To me, who took eyes that I might you finde:

Was ever grief like mine?

The Princes of my people make a head
Against their Maker: they do wish me dead,
Who cannot wish, except I give them bread:

Was ever grief like mine?

Without me each one, who doth now me brave,
Had to this day been an Egyptian slave.
They use that power against me, which I gave:

Was ever grief like mine?

Mine own Apostle, who the bag did beare,
Though he had all I had, did not forbeare
To sell me also, and to put me there:

Was ever grief like mine?

For thirtie pence he did my death devise,
Who at three hundred did the ointment prize,
Not half so sweet as my sweet sacrifice:

Was ever grief like mine?

Therefore my soul melts, and my hearts deare treasure
Drops bloud (the onely beads) my words to measure:
O let this cup passe, if it be thy pleasure:

Was ever grief like mine?

These drops being temper’d with a sinners tears,
A Balsome are for both the Hemispheres:
Curing all wounds, but mine; all, but my fears:

Was ever grief like mine?

Yet my Disciples sleep: I cannot gain
One houre of watching; but their drowsie brain
Comforts not me, and doth my doctrine stain:

Was ever grief like mine?

Arise, arise, they come. Look how they runne.
Alas! what haste they make to be undone!
How with their lanterns do they seek the sunne!

Was ever grief like mine?

With clubs and staves they seek me, as a thief,
Who am the way of truth, the true relief;
Most true to those, who are my greatest grief:

Was ever grief like mine?

Judas, dost thou betray me with a kisse?
Canst thou finde hell about my lips? and misse
Of life, just as the gates of life and blisse?

Was ever grief like mine?

See, they lay hold on me, not with the hands
Of faith, but furie: yet at their commands
I suffer binding, who have loos’d their bands:

Was ever grief like mine?

All my Disciples flie; fear puts a barre
Betwixt my friends and me. They leave the starre,
That brought the wise men of the East from farre.

Was ever grief like mine?

Then from one ruler to another bound
They leade me; urging, that it was not sound
What I taught: Comments would the text confound

Was ever grief like mine?

The Priest and rulers all false witnesse seek
’Gainst him, who seeks not life, but is the meek
And readie Paschal Lambe of this great week:

Was ever grief like mine?

Then they accuse me of great blasphemie,
That I did thrust into the Deitie,
Who never thought that any robberie:

Was ever grief like mine?

Some said, that I the Temple to the floore
In three dayes raz’d, and raised as before.
Why, he that built the world can do much more:

Was ever grief like mine?

Then they condemne me all with that same breath,
Which I do give them daily, unto death.
Thus Adam my first breathing rendereth:

Was ever grief like mine?

They binde, and leade me unto Herod: he
Sends me to Pilate. This makes them agree;
But yet their friendship is my enmitie:

Was ever grief like mine?

Herod and all his bands do set me light,
Who teach all hands to warre, fingers to fight,
And onely am the Lord of hosts and might:

Was ever grief like mine?

Herod in judgement sits, while I do stand;
Examines me with a censorious hand:
I him obey, who all things else command:

Was ever grief like mine?

The Jews accuse me with despitefulnesse;
And vying malice with my gentlenesse,
Pick quarrels with their onely happinesse:

Was ever grief like mine?

I answer nothing, but with patience prove
If stonie hearts will melt with gentle love.
But who does hawk at eagles with a dove?

Was ever grief like mine?

My silence rather doth augment their crie;
My dove doth back into my bosome flie,
Because the raging waters still are high:

Was ever grief like mine?

Heark how they crie aloud still, Crucifie:
It is not fit he live a day, they crie,
Who cannot live lesse then eternally:

Was ever grief like mine?

Pilate a stranger holdeth off; but they,
Mine own deare people, cry, Away, away,
With noises confused frighting the day:

Was ever grief like mine?

Yet still they shout, and crie, and stop their eares,
Putting my life among their sinnes and fears,
And therefore wish my bloud on them and theirs:

Was ever grief like mine?

See how spite cankers things. These words aright
Used, and wished, are the whole worlds light:
But hony is their gall, brightnesse their night:

Was ever grief like mine?

They choose a murderer, and all agree
In him to do themselves a courtesie:
For it was their own cause who killed me:

Was ever grief like mine?

And a seditious murderer he was:
But I the Prince of peace; peace that doth passe
All understanding, more then heav’n doth glasse:

Was ever grief like mine?

Why, Cesar is their onely King, not I:
He clave the stonie rock, when they were drie;
But surely not their hearts, as I well trie:

Was ever grief like mine?

Ah! how they scourge me! yet my tendernesse
Doubles each lash: and yet their bitternesse
Windes up my grief to a mysteriousnesse.

Was ever grief like mine?

They buffet me, and box me as they list,
Who grasp the earth and heaven with my fist,
And never yet, whom I would punish, miss’d;

Was ever grief like mine?

Behold, they spit on me in scornfull wise,
Who by my spittle gave the blinde man eies,
Leaving his blindnesse to mine enemies:

Was ever grief like mine?

My face they cover, though it be divine.
As Moses face was vailed, so is mine,
Lest on their double-dark souls either shine:

Was ever grief like mine?

Servants and abjects flout me; they are wittie:
Now prophesie who strikes thee, is their dittie.
So they in me denie themselves all pitie:

Was ever grief like mine?

And now I am deliver’d unto death,
Which each one cals for so with utmost breath,
That he before me well nigh suffereth:

Was ever grief like mine?

Weep not, deare friends, since I for both have wept
When all my tears were bloud, the while you slept:
Your tears for your own fortunes should be kept:

Was ever grief like mine?

The souldiers lead me to the common hall;
There they deride me, they abuse me all:
Yet for twelve heav’nly legions I could call:

Was ever grief like mine?

Then with a scarlet robe they me aray;
Which shews my bloud to be the onely way,
And cordiall left to repair mans decay:

Was ever grief like mine?

Then on my head a crown of thorns I wear:
For these are all the grapes Sion doth bear,
Though I my vine planted and watred there:

Was ever grief like mine?

So sits the earths great curse in Adams fall
Upon my head: so I remove it all
From th’ earth unto my brows, and bear the thrall:

Was ever grief like mine?

Then with the reed they gave to me before,
They strike my head, the rock from whence all store
Of heav’nly blessings issue evermore:

Was ever grief like mine?

They bow their knees to me, and cry, Hail king:
What ever scoffes or scornfulnesse can bring,
I am the floore, the sink, where they it fling:

Was ever grief like mine?

Yet since mans scepters are as frail as reeds,
And thorny all their crowns, bloudie their weeds;
I, who am Truth, turn into truth their deeds:

Was ever grief like mine?

The souldiers also spit upon that face,
Which Angels did desire to have the grace,
And Prophets once to see, but found no place:

Was ever grief like mine?

Thus trimmed forth they bring me to the rout,
Who Crucifie him, crie with one strong shout.
God holds his peace at man, and man cries out:

Was ever grief like mine?

They leade me in once more, and putting then
Mine own clothes on, they leade me out agen.
Whom devils flie, thus is he toss’d of men:

Was ever grief like mine?

And now wearie of sport, glad to ingrosse
All spite in one, counting my life their losse,
They carrie me to my most bitter crosse:

Was ever grief like mine?

My crosse I bear my self, untill I faint:
Then Simon bears it for me by constraint,
The decreed burden of each mortall Saint:

Was ever grief like mine?

O all ye who passe by, behold and see;
Man stole the fruit, but I must climbe the tree;
The tree of life to all, but onely me:

Was ever grief like mine?

Lo, here I hang, charg’d with a world of sinne,
The greater world o’ th’ two; for that came in
By words, but this by sorrow I must win:

Was ever grief like mine?

Such sorrow, as if sinfull man could feel,
Or feel his part, he would not cease to kneel,
Till all were melted, though he were all steel:

Was ever grief like mine?

But, O my God, my God! why leav’st thou me,
The sonne, in whom thou dost delight to be?
My God, my God –

Never was grief like mine.

Shame tears my soul, my bodie many a wound;
Sharp nails pierce this, but sharper that confound;
Reproches, which are free, while I am bound.

Was ever grief like mine?

Now heal thy self, Physician; now come down,
Alas! I did so, when I left my crown
And fathers smile for you, to feel his frown:

Was ever grief like mine?

In healing not my self, there doth consist
All that salvation, which ye now resist;
Your safetie in my sicknesse doth subsist:

Was ever grief like mine?

Betwixt two theeves I spend my utmost breath,
As he that for some robberie suffereth.
Alas! what have I stollen from you? death:

Was ever grief like mine?

A king my title is, prefixt on high;
Yet by my subjects am condemn’d to die
A servile death in servile companie:

Was ever grief like mine?

They gave me vineger mingled with gall,
But more with malice: yet, when they did call,
With Manna, Angels food, I fed them all:

Was ever grief like mine?

They part my garments, and by lot dispose
My coat, the type of love, which once cur’d those
Who sought for help, never malicious foes:

Was ever grief like mine?

Nay, after death their spite shall further go;
For they will pierce my side, I full well know;
That as sinne came, so Sacraments might flow:

Was ever grief like mine?

But now I die; now all is finished.
My wo, mans weal: and now I bow my head.
Onely let others say, when I am dead,

Never was grief like mine.


HT: Gene Edward Veith

 

 

St. John Chrysostom on Speaking in Anger

stchrysostomeudoxia

“St. John Chrysostom preaching before the Empress Eudoxia,” Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921)

Considering the state the world is in today (if it’s ever not in this state), I was lead recently back to this selection from Chrysostom’s seventeenth homily on Acts 7:35, where he discusses Stephen’s manner of delivery during his speech before the Pharisees and religious authorities (prior to being stoned).  Chrysostom’s words are a good reminder for us all about how we ought to act when speaking hard truths or speaking publicly.

Such is the boldness of speech of a man bearing the Cross. Let us then also imitate this: though it be not a time of war, yet it is always the time for boldness of speech. For, “I spake,” says one, “in Thy testimonies before kings, and was not ashamed.” (Ps. cxix. 46.) If we chance to be among heathens, let us thus stop their mouths. without wrath, without harshness. (Comp. Hom. in 1 Cor. iv. §6; xxxiii. §4, 5; Col. xi. §2.) For if we do it with wrath, it no longer seems to be the boldness (of one who is confident of his cause,) but passion: but if with gentleness, this is boldness indeed. For in one and the same thing success and failure cannot possibly go together. The boldness is a success: the anger is a failure. Therefore, if we are to have boldness, we must be clean from wrath that none may impute our words to that. No matter how just your words may be, when you speak with anger, you ruin all: no matter how boldly you speak, how fairly reprove, or what not. See this man, how free from passion as he discourses to them! For he did not abuse them: he did but remind them of the words of the Prophets. For, to show you that it was not anger, at the very moment he was suffering evil at their hands, he prayed, saying, “Lay not to their charge this sin.” So far was he from speaking these words in anger; no, he spake in grief and sorrow for their sakes. As indeed this is why it speaks of his appearance, that “they saw his face as it had been the face of an angel,” on purpose that they might believe. Let us then be clean from wrath. The Holy Spirit dwelleth not where wrath is: cursed is the wrathful. It cannot be that aught wholesome should approach, where wrath goes forth. For as in a storm at sea, great is the tumult, loud the clamor, and then would be no time for lessons of wisdom (φιλοσοφεἵν): so neither in wrath. If the soul is to be in a condition either to say, or to be disciplined to, aught of philosophy, it must first be in the haven. Seest thou not how, when we wish to converse on matters of serious import, we look out for places free from noise, where all is stillness, all calm, that we may not be put out and discomposed? But if noise from without discomposes, much more disturbance from within. Whether one pray, to no purpose does he pray “with wrath and disputings:” (1 Tim. ii. 8) whether he speak, he will only make himself ridiculous: whether he hold his peace, so again it will be even then: whether he eat, he is hurt even then: whether he drink, or whether he drink not; whether he sit, or stand, or walk; whether he sleep: for even in their dreams such fancies haunt them. For what is there in such men that is not disagreeable? Eyes unsightly, mouth distorted, limbs agitated and swollen, tongue foul and sparing no man, mind distraught, gestures uncomely: much to disgust. Mark the eyes of demoniacs, and those of drunkards and madmen; in what do they differ from each other? Is not the whole madness? For what though it be but for the moment? The madman too is possessed for the moment: but what is worse than this? And they are not ashamed at that excuse; “I knew not (saith one) what I said.” And how came it that thou didst not know this, thou the rational man, thou that hast the gift of reason, on purpose that thou mayest not act the part of the creatures without reason, just like a wild horse, hurried away by rage and passion? In truth, the very excuse is criminal. For thou oughtest to have known what thou saidst. “It was the passion,” say you, “that spoke the words, not I.” How should it be that? For passion has no power, except it get it from you. You might as well say, “It was my hand that inflicted the wounds, not I.” What occasion, think you, most needs wrath? would you not say, war and battle? But even then, if anything is done with wrath, the whole is spoiled and undone.

Reproduced from St. John Chrysostom 1889. “Homily XVII on Acts VII.35,” in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Series 1, Vol. 11.  Edited by Philip Schaff.  Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans. Christian Classics Ethereal Library: 207-208.

Johann Gerhard, “Prayer for the Denial of Self” – Meditations on Divine Mercy

A friend shared this prayer from Gerhard on Facebook, and it’s beautiful.  It is definitely appropriate given this season of Lent.

p00490

The King of Nineveh sets aside his crown and takes up sackcloth and ashes (Jonah 3:4-8).

O JESUS CHRIST, Son of the living God, in Your Word You exclaim: “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). I beg You through Your most holy death and crucifixion to perfect in me the denial of self that You require. I know it is easier to forsake all creationthan to deny self. I humbly beg You to accomplish in me that which of myself I do not know how to achieve. May the desires of my own will be stilled within me so I am able to hear Your divine admonition. May the weed of self-love be rooted out of my heart so the sweetest plants of divine love may grow within me. May I die totally to myself and my lusts so I may live totally for You and Your will. My will is changeable and erratic,fickle and unstable. Grant that I subject my will to Yours and that I cling unflinchingly to You, the only changeless and continuous good. Divine power increases in us only when natural powers fail. Only when our own will has been put to death are our works done in God (John 3:21). Only when we are brought to nothing and disappear do we truly exist in and live in God (Acts 17:28). O true Life, put to death my will so I may begin trulyto live in You. Anything in us that commends us to God and makes uspleasing to Him must descend from God Himself. Thus everything goodmust be ascribed to God alone, and that which is His must be left to Him.Whatever shines and gleams in us proceeds from God, who is the eternal and unchangeable light that lightens the inborn darkness of our minds. Thus may our light so shine before people, not that we are glorified butthat God is glorified (Matthew 5:16). Kindle in my heart, O Christ, the true light, the light of true understanding. Work in my heart, O Christ, the true glory of the Father, the denial of my own honor and glory. It is better for me to be nothing in You and receive Your everything than to be something in and of myself and have nothing. Where I am not, there I am happier. My weakness longs to be strengthened by Your might. My nothingness reaches for Your strength. May Your holy will be done on the earth of my flesh so Your heavenly kingdom may come in my soul(Matthew 6:10). Put to death in me the love and honor of self so thecoming of Your kingdom may not be hindered. If our consummate good is that we love God, then absolute evil must be for us to love ourselves. If the free giving of one’s self is a stipulation of true good, self-love is a great evil because it selfishly arrogates that which is its own and which belongs to others. If all glory is owed to God alone, then honoring one’s self is the greatest theft. Such an act ascribes to itself things that really belong to another. Extinguish my habitual desire for self-love and honor, O Christ,the one who is blessed for eternity.

AMEN.

from Johann Gerhard, Meditations on Divine Mercy. Translated by Matthew C. Harrison. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2003.