{    Cnytr   }

{Wednesday, April 29, 2009  }

.:{Apologies for blogging this ...}:.

... but I cannot help myself.

I was recently the subject of a bit of art produced by my friend Sarah McMenomy. She remembered a photo of me from when I was 19 and produced the above. (Re: the heavenly nature of the image, I feel compelled to say I let the artist do her work. I suppose this is the faithful representing the Cherubim and singing the thrice-holy hymn, laying aside all cares of life...)

The following is the ensuing gchat conversation:

SarahMc: okay so
SarahMc: you like it?
SarahMc: I can change stuff if you want
Lauren: ummmm
Lauren: okay make it ...
Lauren: make there be a space battle going on in the background!!!
Lauren: and I want a robotic hand
Lauren: annnnddd
Lauren: ummmmmm
Lauren: I want a kitty riding a roomba
on my shoulder
Lauren: and my parakeet on my other shoulder
Lauren: anddddddd
Lauren: the wings should be made of smurfs


I know. Look, ye bloggians, and despair.
posted by Lauren, 2:39 PM | link | 5 comments

{Tuesday, April 28, 2009  }

.:{Light Blogging Week}:.

Chalice, Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church; icon of Christ the Bridegroom in the background

I apologize for the late blogging as of late. Life here in DC has picked up a little, and I've been performing with choir, working late, attending funerals, and trying to sleep in an 80-degree-at-night-and-as-yet-A/C-less apartment.

In my absence, I recommend this page of Eastern Catholic Podcasts, calling special attention to Light of the East podcast from Fr. Thomas Loya of Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Parish. Fr. Loya holds two degrees and is an expert in Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, and lectures regularly upon it.

The podcasts are available on iTunes for download, or you may listen to them on the parish website here. I recommend broadcasts 235-238; the most recent (239) is a tad dry since the guest was the main focus of the show; however I recommend listening at least to the end of it to hear Father Saji Mukkoot pray in Malankara.

I also highly recommend the choir's Theosis CD. If you feel so inclined, give a donation to the parish and pick up a copy of that BEAUTIFUL Eastern chant.

I will return to blogging More Cool Stuff as soon as I am able.
posted by Lauren, 6:54 PM | link | 1 comments

{Sunday, April 26, 2009  }

.:{Thomas on Thomas, on Thomas Sunday}:.

Plagas sicut Thomas, non intueor,
Deum tamen meum te confiteor:
Fac me tibi semper magis credere,
In te spem habere, te diligere.

My Lord and my God!
posted by Lauren, 2:04 AM | link | 0 comments

.:{Thomas Sunday}:.

O amazing wonder! Unbelief has engendered firm faith for Thomas, who said ‘Unless I see, I will not believe’, having handled the side, acknowledged as God incarnate the same Son of God: he recognised that he had suffered in the flesh; he proclaimed the risen God and he cried in shining tones ‘My Lord and my God, glory to you’.

Verse. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem. Praise your God, O Sion.

O amazing wonder! The grass which touched the fire is safe: for Thomas having put his hand into the fiery side of Jesus Christ, God, was not burned up by his handling; for he fervently changed the doubt of his soul into true faith. He cried from the depths of his soul ‘You are my Master and my God, you who have been raised from the dead, glory to you.'

Verse. For he mastered the bolts of your gates.

O amazing wonder! John leaned on the breast of the Word, but Thomas was found worthy to handle his side. But the former with awe drew thence the depths of Theology, the divine dispensation; the latter was found worthy to initiate us, for he clearly provided proofs of your Rising, as he cried out ‘My Lord and my God, glory to you’.


O lover of mankind, great and immeasurable is the multitude of your mercies; for you endured being struck by the Jews, handled by the Apostle and investigated by those who reject you. How did you become incarnate? How were you crucified, you who are sinless? But make us understand, as you did Thomas, so that he cried to you ‘My Lord and my God, glory to you’.


He tasted gall, healing the tasting of old; but now with honeycomb Christ gives the Forefather a share in illumination and his sweet participation.

You rejoice as you are searched; because for this, O Lover of mankind, you invited Thomas, offering your side to the disbelieving world, confirming, O Christ, your Rising on the third day.

The Twin, drawing wealth, O Benefactor, from the inviolate treasure of your side pierced by the lance, has filled the whole world with wisdom and knowledge.

Your all-blest tongue is hymned, O Twin, for, being filled with grace from the touch, it was the first to devoutly proclaim Jesus the Giver of life to be God and Lord.


Who then preserved the Disciple’s palm unmelted when it approached the fiery side of the Lord? Who gave it daring, and gave it strength to handle bone of flame? Only that side which was handled; for had not the side given the power, how could a hand of clay have handled wounds which had shaken things above and things below? This grace was given Thomas, to handle it and to cry out to Christ, ‘You are my Lord and my God’.


It is first and mistress of days, this light-bringing day, on which it is fitting for God’s new people to rejoice, for with trembling it bears the type of the age to come, as it completes the Eight. O highly exalted, our God and the God of our fathers.

Thomas the Twin, who alone was bold, and brought blessing by his faithless faith, banished misty ignorance in all the ends of the earth by his believing unbelief; while for himself he wove a crown as he wisely said, ‘You are our God, O highly exalted, our God and the God of our fathers; blessed are you’.

Not in vain did Thomas doubt your Rising, not in vain declare, but he hastened, O Christ, to show to all the nations that it was undoubted; and so having through unbelief come to belief he taught them all to say, ‘You are our God, O highly exalted, our God and the God of our fathers; blessed are you’.

Fearfully placing his hand, O Christ, in your life-bearing side, trembling he felt the double force, O Saviour, of the two natures united without confusion in you, and with faith he cried, ‘You are our God, O highly exalted, our God and the God of our fathers; blessed are you’.

From the Vespers/Matin texts of Antipascha/Thomas Sunday

Dearly beloved brethren, what is it in this passage which particularly claimeth our attention? Think ye that it was by accident that this chosen Apostle was not with them when Jesus came? or, when he came, heard? or, when he heard, doubted? or, when he doubted, felt? or, when he had felt, believed? All these things were not accidental, but Providential. It was a wonderful provision of Divine mercy, that this incredulous disciple, by thrusting his fingers into the bodily Wounds of his Master, should apply a remedy to the spiritual wounds of unbelief in our souls. The doubts of Thomas have done us more good than the faith of all the disciples that believed. While he feeleth his way to faith, our minds are freed from doubt, and settled in faith.

Even as the Lord before his birth willed that Mary should be espoused, and yet never lose her virginity, so, after his Resurrection, he willed that his disciple should doubt, and yet not lose his faith. For, even as the espoused husband was the keeper of the virginity of the Mother, so was the disciple who doubted and felt, the witness of the truth of the Resurrection. He felt, and cried out : My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him : Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed. When the Apostle Paul saith Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, he plainly meaneth that faith is the evidence of things that cannot be seen. When they are seen, there remaineth not faith, but knowledge.

Thomas, then, seeth, and believeth. Why is it said to him : Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed? The truth is, he saw one thing, and so believed another. To mortal man it is not given to see God. He therefore saw only the Manhood, and yet had faith in the Godhead : My Lord and my God. This he said, seeing and believing, seeing Perfect Man, and yet believing in Perfect God, whom he could not see. O what a comfort are the words which follow! Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. These words are specially meant for us, who have not seen even the Flesh, and who yet do believe. They are specially meant for us if we believe and do not, by our lives, give the lie to our belief. He only hath a saving faith, whose faith beareth fruit.

Pope Gregory, Homilia 26 in Evang., post med.
posted by Lauren, 1:23 AM | link | 0 comments

{Wednesday, April 22, 2009  }


Prayers are appreciated for a pre-the seminarian friend of mine, Chip, whose mother (Csilla) was killed by a drunk driver last evening.

His father was in the hospital, but seems to have nothing worse than some bruises to show for it (deo gratias). His mother, however, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected 60 feet from the car.

I know myself and a lot of his friends had just seen and been with his mom over Easter, and over the diaconate ordinations this past weekend. It's quite a shock to everyone, especially Chip's sister. Chip is holding up well so far despite this tragic loss. Let's keep him and his family in our prayers.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace, Amen.
posted by Lauren, 3:24 PM | link | 1 comments

{Monday, April 20, 2009  }

.:{Anecdote from Cnytr's Thomas Sunday}:.

This afternoon at the Ukrainian [Greek] Catholic parish I sometimes attend, there was after today's Thomas Sunday liturgy, a Sviachene or parish Easter dinner. Said dinner involved the blessing (and consuming) of the foods abstained from during Great Lent, including eggs, butter, cheese, and meat, as well as dairy (there was sour cream and borscht!), sweets, et cetera.

I was additionally very pleased to be sitting at table with some of the more musical seminarians from the local Ukrainian Catholic seminary, who began a chorus of "Christos voskrese" (Christ is risen). I whipped out my camera and captured at least a bit of the lovely traditional Ukrainian harmony.

I've made it into a little movie, with the traditional Slavonic (NOT Ukrainian) words and a Roman transliteration.

Moments of spontaneous song in other languages with funny alphabets make this blogger VERY VERY happy!

Хрїстосъ воскресе изъ мертвыхъ
Смертїю смерть поправъ,
И сѹщымъ во гробѣхъ
животъ даровавъ!

"Christos voskrese iz mertvykh,
Smertiyu smert poprav,
E sushchim vo grobekh
Zhivot darovav!"

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs giving life!
posted by Lauren, 12:39 AM | link | 0 comments

{Sunday, April 19, 2009  }

.:{This post brought to you by the letter ж}:.

The name of the character "ж" means "bug" (or more specifically "beetle"). The sound it makes is a soft voiced g sound, as in the word "mirage", or "si" in "visual".

The voiced character of the letter makes it sound like ... a bug.

Also, it looks like a bug, too, especially a squashed one.

This was a letter I found intimidating because I could never remember what the heck kind of sound it makes. I was informed of the above this afternoon. And now I will never forget, because I will see the text crawling with bugs. EWW!
posted by Lauren, 10:29 PM | link | 3 comments

.:{Christos Voskrese! The King of Glory Enters!}:.

Interior/Christos Pantokrator Dome, St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, Washington, DC

A blessed Pascha to all those on an older calendar, and to all the Orthodox.

Last night I attended Matins and 1/4 of the Holy Saturday Liturgy at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in DC (an ecumenical visit where no communion was received, mind you ... and I got strange looks for wearing a veil, as I had no headscarf available).

The combination of the two -- a very solemn matins, in which every light was extinguished in the church, and before which there was the reading of the Acts of the Apostles in every possible language -- and the joyous liturgy and the first (of many) "Christos voskres!" quite effective. Perhaps more commentary on this later.

One thing I found AMAZING between the two was the entrance into the church. The Metropolitan banged on the doors with the cross, and shouted "Who is the King of Glory?" to which someone within the church SHOUTED back, "Christ is the King of Glory!" A second time ... *BANG BANG BANG* "Who is the king of Glory?" "Christ is the King of Glory!" ... *BANG BANG BANG* "WHO IS THE KING OF GLORY?" "CHRIST IS THE KING OF GLORY!"

...and the doors were opened, and the bells rang, and every light in the church was turned on, and our baptismal candles were lit, and the choir (since congregational singing is discouraged in the Russian Orthodox -- oops) sang "Christos voskres" -- Christ is risen from the dead, trampling death by death, and to those in the tombs giving life!

And amazing and glorious moment, recalling Ps 24 -- Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates!. The two Youtube clips below demonstrate:

St. Elias Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton, Ontario:

St. Mary's Antiochene Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA:

A blessed Pascha to all. And God bless those who can stand without sitting from 11:15 Matins until the end of Divine Liturgy at 4:00am. Although having previously badmouthed pews a little bit, I begin to see their advantage. Moreso had I been wearing heels.

Apologies for the less-informative-than-normal and slightly effusive post. Perhaps these first impressions will be interesting to the Catholics. More research is to be done (as ever!), having very little familiarity with the differences between Eastern Catholicism and Orthodoxy.
posted by Lauren, 6:02 PM | link | 6 comments

{Friday, April 17, 2009  }

.:{Russian Orthodox Confession in the Open}:.

Vorutka, Russia
The penitent's head is covered by a stole.

No matter how much the Irish monks borrowed from Eastern monasticism, I am eternally grateful for their novel idea of closed confessionals.

From National Geographic.

Update: Commenter Rightwingprof adds,

It's not nearly as bad as it looks. There is a chanter chanting the Psalms throughout confessions, so nothing is overheard. It is Byzantine custom to confess in front of the icon of Christ Pantocrator, Slavic custom in front of the Gospels and the Cross.

Confessionals wouldn't work. We have no anonymous sacraments. You are addressed, "The servant (or handmaiden) of God, NAME" during absolution, just as you are when you partake of Holy Communion.

Catholic converts are initially disconcerted, but rapidly adjust. Orthodox confession is a very different thing from Catholic confession, with an emphasis on healing rather than penance.
posted by Lauren, 7:44 AM | link | 5 comments

{Thursday, April 16, 2009  }

.:{Dunquin, Ireland}:.

Medieval crucifixion from a nearby ruined church integrated into a retaining structure.

I'm going to randomly guess that this depiction is 15th century.

The ruins of the Medieval church, now an active graveyard.

The interior of the modern church, still in active use.

Dunquin is the most Westerly point of Ireand, and probably of Western Europe.
posted by Lauren, 6:58 AM | link | 0 comments

.:{Lake Abhainn an Scáil}:.

Pictured here is lake Abhainn an Scáil, or Annascaul, meaning Lake of Shadows in Irish. Peaceful and tranquil in its own right, it is also home to a hidden mass rock where, it is said, only the hands of the priest can reveal where the implements for holy mass are hidden within it.

Furthermore, it is the focus of a local legend featuring Scáil Ní Mhúirnáin and the hero Cúchulainn of the famous Cattle Raid of Cooley. Scáil was a beautiful young maiden whose long, black hair made the ravens look brown by comparison. She lived near the lake, happy and blithe, without care or concern for human, much less male companionship. In her solitude, she often used to bathe in the nearby lake, unafraid of being seen on account of the surrounding mountains which enclosed the lake nearly entirely. Thus in peace she would continue this Diana-like pastime, until one day a giant stumbled across her otherwise hidden bower and, seeing her bathing naked, began hurling obscenities at her. Fortuitously, however, Cúchulainn happened to be passing nearby on the other side of the mountains on the opposite shore of the lake from the giant. Hearing the giant's voice, he discovered this dreadful scene and immediately flew to the aid of the maiden Scáil.

And thus began the great war of words between Cúchulainn and the giant: in prose, in verse, unflattering, lewd, couplets and quatrains, insults in every way epic. Insult upon insult was hurled from mountaintop to mountaintop. But the giant was no match for the great hero, who won the battle even as he won the maiden's affections. Overcome with rage, the giant began to hurling stones, and Cúchulainn responded in kind. They threw pieces of the mountains at each other for a week, until a glancing blow from one of the stones drew a cry from Cúchulainn. When Scáil (who had escaped) heard the cry, she feared Cúchulainn dead, and threw herself to her death into the lake, which now bears her name in tribute.

(The obligatory I was here! photo)
posted by Lauren, 1:00 AM | link | 0 comments

{Wednesday, April 15, 2009  }

.:{Bright Monday}:.

St. Innocent Cathedral,
Russian Orthodox Diocese of Alaska

The week after Easter in the East is known as "Bright Week". Among other things, fasting is forbidden (even considered sinful!), and the Holy Doors of the iconostasis are open (as pictured above). I attended Bright Monday Divine Liturgy recently, and was most pleased with the subdeacon's reflection. With his permission, I'm posting it here.

Today, as many of you may know, is Bright Monday. Only one day ago, Jesus Christ shattered the grip of death and sin by His glorious Resurrection from the dead, granting life to all peoples of the world, past, present, and future. We have completed the Great Fast in faith and humility, witnessed to the Passion and Death of Christ during the services of Holy Week, and have experienced the joyful Resurrection on Easter Sunday. So what of it now? We have all done our duty to complete our requirements as good Catholic Christians by going to liturgy on Easter Sunday, rejoicing in festive celebration, eating all of the foods that were blessed for Easter - so what is it that makes this "Bright Week", as it is called, special? Why is this week important for all of us?

In the days of old, great feasts were often celebrated not for a few hours on one day, but instead were spread out over several days. Only essential functions for the governing of society were conducted; everyone was expected to partake and rejoice in the celebration of a feast. Easter is no exception - it is the greatest of all feasts, the feast of all feasts. Bright week is the continuation of the Paschal Feast, the continued joyful celebration of Christ's victory over death and His wondrous resurrection. It is the continued witness and testimony of the Good News of Christ's resurrection, the opening of the doors of the Kingdom of God by Christ, the light who illumines and brightens the whole world.

Already, as you can see, the Royal Doors of the iconostas remain wide open - they were opened yesterday at the Resurrection Matins and will remain open from now until Thomas Sunday, symbolizing the opening of the doors of the Kingdom of God for all of us by Christ's Resurrection and victory over death. The church is fully lit with light, unlike during the dark, muted, and gloomy appearance of the Church during the weekly lenten services of the liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts, matins, and vespers, for the Risen Christ is the Light who illumines the whole world. Christ has indeed risen from the dead, and we, as Christians, as loyal followers of Christ, loudly and boldly proclaim the good news of the Resurrection to all of the world.

Bright Week is a testament to the Eternal Light of Jesus Christ, and we, as Christians illuminated by Christ's light, are too called to be witnesses who will testify to the Glory of God. We already testify to the Glory of God when we all sing "Christ is risen from the Dead, conquering death by death, and to those in the tombs, He granted life." We testify to Christ's glorious resurrection when we greet each other with the customary greeting "Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen!" from Easter Sunday through Ascension Thursday. Through our prayers and our actions, we testify to the resurrection of Christ and his glorious and ineffable light, illumined in the same Holy Spirit that many others before us have done. In a like manner, we see in today's gospel that John the Baptist was also one who loudly proclaimed the good news of Christ. While he did not proclaim the Resurrection, he did give witness to Christ to the people of his time, preaching the word of God and fearlessly baptizing the people. Now his bold witness obviously gathered the attention of both everyday citizen and religious authority alike - why would this be?

In today's world, the priests and Levites could be likened to the clergy and officials of the church; the Pharisees can be likened to lawyers, who were interested in matters of Mosaic Law. What John was doing bothered them, because here is a apparent wild, homeless, and uneducated man, who was drawing people to him due to his fearless preaching, delivering the message heralding the arrival of the Messiah, the anointed one who would save the Israelites, God's chosen people. Not knowing the true nature of John, or of God for that matter, the authorities questioned him - "Who are you?"; "Are you Elijah?"; "Are you the prophet?" John says no to all these questions. He is not the messiah, he is not Elijah or any other prophet. Instead, he is the one foretold by Isaiah the prophet who is to announce the coming of the Lord. John is witnessing to the arrival of Jesus Christ, preparing the people for His arrival. He is NOT the promised saviour or prophet foretold by the earlier prophecies of the Israelite ancestors. In other words, John is testifying to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Again, John is not the saviour - salvation will not come through him, but will only come through the one he is foretelling. A disturbing answer indeed for the priests, Levites, and Pharisees, who will eventually seek Jesus's death on the cross, and a bright message of hope to those who truly believe in God's power! Thus John was one who was a true witness of Jesus Christ.

Just as John was a witness to the coming of Jesus, so too were the apostles, whom we heard of in today's epistle. They were not saviors, but instead were witnesses to Jesus, heralds of Christ's Resurrection and bearer of the Good News that death has been conquered. We have heard of the selection of Matthias as one of the twelve apostles to replace Judas Iscariot in today's epistle. Their selection of Matthias as the new apostle in place of Judas Iscariot was not one based on favors, but rather was one who accompanied the apostles from the start and would bear testimony to Christ. Now, just as Matthias was selected to testify to Christ's message and resurrection, so too are we all selected to bear the good news of the Resurrection and the gospel of Christ to the world. As such, during this Bright Week, illumined by the light of Christ and full of joy at the news of Christ's victory over death, let us all joyfully proclaim the good news of the Resurrection to everyone, not just by our words, but by our good acts and deeds, not for our own benefit or gain, but rather for the glory of God in the highest, just as John the Baptist and all the apostles and saints have done.
posted by Lauren, 8:15 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Britain's Got Talent}:.

I've never really been a fan of any reality TV show. I've never watched American Idol (except to see Neil Diamond on it), I've sporadically followed So You Think You Can Dance (TRUE talent on that show) and it used to be ballroom homework to watch Dancing with the Stars, but other than that ... No Thank You.

But I have to say, Britain's Got Talent intrigues me a little, especially given the moments below. It also amazes me the attitudes with which people approach the hidden gems like Paul Potts and Susan Boyle -- you can see a mascara-ed young lady sneering in the audience before Susan sings. It's dreadful the arrogance with which people approach such shows.

As I say ... moments like these really shows that beauty is more than skin deep. I also like very much how very shy Paul is able to really blossom in his performance. I love very much to see shy people encouraged.

Susan Boyle sing I Dreamed a Dream (wont' allow embedding)

Paul Potts sings Nessun Dorma
posted by Lauren, 12:54 PM | link | 1 comments

.:{Icon of Pontius Pilate's Wife Claudia Procla}:.

She is here pictured with St. Nestor the martyr.
posted by Lauren, 11:24 AM | link | 0 comments

.:{Gallarus Oratory}:.

The only extant intact (perfect) example of its kind, dating from the 7th or 8th century.

Without heels ... I'm about as tall as an Irish monk.
posted by Lauren, 8:19 AM | link | 1 comments

.:{St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Ventry, Ireland}:.

Slowly and bit by bit, the interesting things from Ireland will now be posted on Cnytr, beginning with this painting, behind the altar in Naoimh Caitriona (St. Catherine's) in Ventry, Ireland on the Dingle peninsula. The name of the church is interesting in itself, as the devotion to St. Catherine of Alexandria is not normally a likely one for the time, being completely foreign geographically speaking -- a much more common cultus in, say, Italy, or farther East. Legend has it that St. Catherine is actually buried in Ventry. It would seem that one day, a wooden box washed up upon the shore here. One man tried to lift it and could not, two men tried and could not ... it took seven men to lift the relics of the saint. She was buried and honored every year, and the Irish pray to her for her patronage and celebrate her feast day with much to-do.

The painting behind the altar also reflects a terribly interesting tradition. Those who have seen The Passion of the Christ are aware of the sympathetic treatment that Pilate is given. This actually comes from an Eastern tradition (Coptic, specifically) that honors Pilate and his wife Claudia as martyrs, as they were have said to have been penitent for their role in the crucifixion of Christ, repented after Pilate's eventual dismissal, and were martyred for their Christian faith. At least four influential fathers of the Church make reference to this (including Augustine [in sermon #201, I'm told, but have not checked]), plus Eusebius; in two places, Justin Martyr's First Apology refers to the Acts of Pontius Pilate:

And again in other words, through another prophet, He says, "They pierced My hands and My feet, and for My vesture they cast lots." And indeed David, the king and prophet, who uttered these things, suffered none of them; but Jesus Christ stretched forth His hands, being crucified by the Jews speaking against Him, and denying that He was the Christ. And as the prophet spoke, they tormented Him, and set Him on the judgment-seat, and said, Judge us. And the expression, "They pierced my hands and my feet," was used in reference to the nails of the cross which were fixed in His hands and feet. And after He was crucified they cast lots upon His vesture, and they that crucified Him parted it among them. And that these things did happen, you can ascertain from the Acts of Pontius Pilate.

The Acta reference here are no longer extant (we have a fifth century forgery), but were obviously well-known in the second century, and was said to have contained evidence of Pilate's contrition.

In Tertullian's own Apology, he makes explicit reference to Pilate's conversion:

But the Jews were so exasperated by His teaching, by which their rulers and chiefs were convicted of the truth, chiefly because so many turned aside to Him, that at last they brought Him before Pontius Pilate, at that time Roman governor of Syria; and, by the violence of their outcries against Him, extorted a sentence giving Him up to them to be crucified. [...] But, lo, on the third day there a was a sudden shock of earthquake, and the stone which sealed the sepulchre was rolled away, and the guard fled off in terror: without a single disciple near, the grave was found empty of all but the clothes of the buried One. But nevertheless, the leaders of the Jews, whom it nearly concerned both to spread abroad a lie, and keep back a people tributary and submissive to them from the faith, gave it out that the body of Christ had been stolen by His followers. For the Lord, you see, did not go forth into the public gaze, lest the wicked should be delivered from their error; that faith also, destined to a great reward, might hold its ground in difficulty. But He spent forty days with some of His disciples down in Galilee, a region of Judea, instructing them in the doctrines they were to teach to others. Thereafter, having given them commission to preach the gospel through the world, He was encompassed with a cloud and taken up to heaven,— a fact more certain far than the assertions of your Proculi concerning Romulus. All these things Pilate did to Christ; and now in fact a Christian in his own convictions, he sent word of Him to the reigning Cæsar, who was at the time Tiberius. Yes, and the Cæsars too would have believed on Christ, if either the Cæsars had not been necessary for the world, or if Christians could have been Cæsars.

The painting behind the altar here depicts this moment of concern and of remorse. Pilate was, in fact, said to be so distressed over his role in the death of Christ, that his wife Claudia (who had, as you recall, originally wanted Pilate to have nothing to do with Christ, on account of her dream; for this many Eastern Orthodox revere her as a saint) prayed for him, and then came to him to comfort him, whereupon the rooster that had been cooked in the pot for dinner leapt out, fully alive and feathered, and cried, "Mac na hOige slan!" which, in Irish, means "The Son of the Virgin is Safe".

This is, of course, what the rooster says whenever he crows now, too.

The connection between Ireland and the East is academically tenuous, although obviously some connection exists. It's a connection I find most fascinating, especially for things like this.

St. Catherine's Church
Ventry, Ireland
posted by Lauren, 7:42 AM | link | 0 comments

{Tuesday, April 14, 2009  }

.:{I sometimes have dreams like this}:.

Stella Artois Ice Skating Priests

Stella Artois Ice Sk..
Watch the ad...

And evidently one of those guys is the director of the Decalogue, about which I have previously blogged (or, well, one of the Decalogue, anyway, Decalogue 6; Klata was evidently in Decalogue 1).

HT: Father Z
posted by Lauren, 10:38 AM | link | 0 comments

.:{I wish they had instructions for this when I was a kid...}:.

...I totally would have built it.

Church Unveils Lego Jesus Statue for Easter

HT: Co-worker who doesn't read this blog.
posted by Lauren, 10:37 AM | link | 0 comments

{Monday, April 13, 2009  }

.:{Why Christ the Gardener? A Quickie Response}:.

In a comment on the previous post, reader Embrethiliel asks,

I get that St. Mary thought Jesus was the gardener, but I have to wonder why the Jesus in this painting seems deliberately disguised as a gardener. (At least that's what I'm guessing from the shovel and the hat!) Does it mean something deep that I'm totally missing?

I started a response in the comments section, but it got long enough that I thought it might be good to expand into a sort of post. It wants some more research (I'm pretty sure something has been written on this somewhere, and I'm nearly certain the church Fathers wrote about the non-recognition of Christ after the Resurrection but before the Ascension), but I thought I could throw some thoughts out there for your consideration.

The painting sort of puts you in Mary Magdalene's place, doesn't it? The observer sees the painting and also mistakes Christ for the gardener. One might very well think, "Hey, what's this painting of a gardener doing in a chur-- OH WAIT!" Mary is also depicted in modern (for the time) dress. It brings the observer into the scene of the painting, in much the same way Fra Angelico (who also has a fresco of this scene, with a hoe over Christ's shoulder) does by painting St. Dominic, St. Peter Martyr etc at scenes in the life of Christ.

Plus, I think it's a pretty cute detail. It may simply be a way to depict Mary Magdalene's "mistake". Her mistake itself, though, is an excellent detail in the story. She comes, perfectly pathetically, searching for the body of Christ. And then -- a case of mistaken identity! The reader or listener is aware that the gardener is Christ, but not Mary herself. And when she finally does recognize him, her exclamation of "Rabboni!" punctuates her joy. This cry highlights poignancy of the moment of recognition. There's a lot of lovely stuff going on in just this scene (oh! don't even get me started on the "Noli mi tangere"!), which itself is quite theatrical; it's easy to see the attraction for painters of this era to try to convey it on canvas ... though it would have been difficult for them to do so. This Coreggio painting emphasizes Mary's reaction to Christ; here, the gardening tools are at his feet, much less emphatically positioned:

Additionally, there's still something of the messianic secret (loosely speaking) of Christ after the Resurrection. It's practically Shakespearean how Christ goes hither and yon "in disguise", almost ... though only to those without the eyes of the full faith. There are few times when Christ comes in full glory, announcing himself as when he does to Thomas. More often then he is unrecognized to the apostles, as on the road to Emmaeus. Come to think of it, I'm nearly sure the Church Fathers wrote on this.

So the "disguise" of the gardener, I would say, not only draws one into the scene of the painting, it tells us something about ourselves, it tells us something about Christ, and about Mary.

The Lame Answer might say something about the "disguise" simply as an identifier of that detail in the story. And it's true, quite a few images of Christ have him carrying some tools. But it doesn't explain images like the above, or like Durer's:

I also wanted to try to bring in something about the "Gardener of Life" (Mary, in the Byzantine Akathistos hymn, is called the Gardener of the Gardener of Life, but that would probably be far too much of a stretch. Certainly, though, inasmuch as that is True, it could be posited about the painting, although not imputed to authorial intention).
posted by Lauren, 11:59 AM | link | 4 comments

{Sunday, April 12, 2009  }

.:{Exsultet at the Dominican House}:.

Dominican House of Studies, Washington, DC
posted by Lauren, 8:44 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Christ the Gardener}:.

from S. Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome

hen the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rab-bo'ni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Mary Mag'dalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (Jn 20:8-18)
posted by Lauren, 8:35 PM | link | 2 comments

.:{A Walk on the Caelian Hill}:.

I know this guy, and I didn't know he made this video. I shall have to tease him mercilessly for it.

No, it's good, watch it.
posted by Lauren, 7:01 PM | link | 1 comments

.:{The Holiest Thing You May Hear All Day}:.

I made this appropriate to the day by adding a bunch of Anastasis (Resurrection) icons.

It sounds strange at first to the Western ear, but the beauty of the thing -- words and music -- can really grow on one.
posted by Lauren, 6:57 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Christus surrexit}:.

One of the Cnytr's favorite things ever is going to Rome, even going to Rome during the craziness of Holy Week and Easter when most sane people are getting outta Dodge. In fact, Cnytr notes with some regret that this is the first Easter in about three years that she has not been in Rome, cavorting with her seminarian buddies, church-hopping on Holy Thursday, and getting soaked (as last year) in St. Peter's square. (As this clip shows, it was miserably, miserably rainy last year. There was no refuge, even for those with umbrellas.)

However, the rain, the crowds, the pushy, elbowy old nuns who seem to cut in line EVERYwhere ... all of it is worth it for the one moment pictured above (sorry about the terrible picture ... it's a difficult one to find).

The icon you see is normally reserved in the chapel above the Scala Sancta, the holy steps Christ walked up to judgment before Pilate (brought to Rome from the Holy Land for the veneration of the faithful who traditionally climb up them on their knees. It is not as easy as it sounds). On Easter Sunday morning, it is brought to the Vatican for the Papal Mass. After the procession, the Pope goes to the icon of Christ (which is closed), and opens it. When he has seen the icon, the choir sings, Christ is risen and has appeared to Simon Peter, alleluia!

(Heard but not seen here.)

Christ is Risen! Christos Aneste! Христос Воскрес! Alleluia!

A blessed and happy Easter/Pascha to all!

Buona Pasqua a tutti!
posted by Lauren, 9:33 AM | link | 2 comments

.:{Easter Vigil with the Dominicans}:.

Before the Gospel
Dominican House of Studies,
Washington, DC
posted by Lauren, 9:26 AM | link | 0 comments

.:{Good Friday Chanted Gospel with Dominicans}:.

Jesus is arrested:

Peter denies Christ:

"Woman, behold your son" and Christ's death upon the cross:

St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish,
Charlottesville, VA
posted by Lauren, 9:13 AM | link | 2 comments

{Saturday, April 11, 2009  }

.:{Dominicans on Good Friday}:.

St. Thomas Aquinas, University Parish
Charlottesville, VA
posted by Lauren, 4:33 PM | link | 0 comments

{Friday, April 10, 2009  }

.:{Holy Thursday Procession: St. Mary's, Mother of God}:.

Altar of Repose,
St. Mary's, Mother of God,
Washington, DC
posted by Lauren, 9:58 AM | link | 0 comments

.:{Altar of Repose: St. Joseph's on Capitol Hill}:.

Washington, DC
posted by Lauren, 9:56 AM | link | 0 comments

.:{Altar of Repose: St. Cyril's}:.

Washington, DC
posted by Lauren, 9:55 AM | link | 2 comments

{Wednesday, April 08, 2009  }

.:{Judas Iscariot on Spy Wednesday in the West and in the East}:.

Today is "Spy Wednesday", and it is the closest the Judas Iscariot will ever get to being on the Roman calendar. In today's Gospel at Mass, we hear from Matthew's gospel of how Judas approaches the chief priests and seeks to hand Jesus over to them. In the next "scene", the Last Supper, Judas is subtly identified by Christ, in a beautiful and tragic "It is you who have said so."

While this scene is heartbreaking and displays the evil in the disciple, it is not given in full context. The scene seems to happen in isolation. We can only guess Judas' motives if we know nothing else.

Very interestingly, the Gospel from today's Byzantine Liturgy of the Presanctified gifts (also Matthew) overlaps with today's Roman gospel in the two pivotal verses of Judas going to the priests and receiving his 30 pieces of silver. But the gospel begins in Bethany, with the anointing of Jesus feet by the sinful woman:

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he sat at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for a large sum, and given to the poor." But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

I find this fascinating, and most appropriate given its Lenten context.

What is quite striking are the traditional Stichera chanted just before the Gospel, of which the latter two are given here:

Strong is the love of the Lord for us; eternally will His truth endure

O the misery of Judas! * When he saw the harlot kiss Your feet, he shamefully plotted to betray You with a kiss. * When he saw her loose her hair, he was bound a prisoner by fury; * instead of the fragrance of myrrh he bore the stench of evil. * Envy knows not how to seek for what is good. * O the misery of Judas! ** O Lord, preserve our souls from falling like him.

Glory to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and ever. Amen.

Though despised and rejected because of her wicked life, * the sinful woman found acceptance through repentance, * when she came to You, bearing myrrh, and cried aloud: * Harlot though I am, cast me not out, O Son of the Virgin; despise not my tears, O joy of the angels; * receive me in repentance, O Lord, ** and in Your goodness accept me, a sinner.

Not only does the gospel give us the "GOOD IDEA/BAD IDEA" of Lenten repentance, but the Stichera develop by placing in contrast the two figures of the sinful and evil Judas and the sinful but repentant woman, united by the common action of the kiss. Judas' imitation of this loving gesture in the garden of Gethsemane becomes even more hollow and parodic, a maudlin gesture, hollow and void of love, a premeditated mockery. The spontaneous kiss of the repentant woman, humble, loving, tender and genuine, exudes humility as she venerates the body of Christ and, in other gospels, dries the feet of Christ with her hair. Hair is not very absorbent ... such a gesture would only venerate Christ at the expense of her own vanity. One would expect this strange and wild action of an unknown woman to be the maudlin mockery, like the figure of a prostitute in a Greek play. But here the gospels stand the two characters on their heads, to one's damnation and the other's salvation.

posted by Lauren, 9:11 PM | link | 4 comments

{Tuesday, April 07, 2009  }

.:{Holy Week}:.

“Now the powers of heaven are serving invisibly with us. For behold, the King of Glory now enters as the mystical sacrifice, perfect and complete: solemnly is now brought forth. Let us all approach, full of faith and love; let us draw near and become partakers of everlasting life. Alleluia! Alleluia! Allelulia!”
posted by Lauren, 2:39 PM | link | 0 comments

{Monday, April 06, 2009  }

.:{Patron Saint Against Arm Pain}:.

In case you had ever spent feverish nights wondering, oh wondering who could be patron saint against arm pain was, fear not! Cnytr is here to ease your troubled mind.

The individual in question is St. Amalberga or St. Amelia of Temse, a 7th/8th century Belgian saint whose feast day is July 10th, and has incredibly confused hagiography, evidently sharing the same name and same feast day with another saint who died a century earlier and was of Maubeuge. Additionally there is another St. Amalberga who died in the 12th century, but whose feast day falls elsewhere in the Roman calendar.

Our Amalberga/Amelia in question, however, was evidently she was an old flame of Charlemagne's (or Charles Martel) -- he fell in love with her beauty, and pursued her for seven years, though she refused to marry him on account of her desire to take the veil. Once she threw herself at the foot of an altar, and he tried so strenuously to remove her that he broke her arm, which was miraculously cured later. Charlemagne/Charles Martel then fell ill. When he repented of his pursuit and gave up (but not before hunting her down to her monastery and trying to woo her with a tremendous bear he had killed in the forest whilst hunting near her convent), he was cured of his illness.

A decree of Charles the Bald on 1 April speaks of the translation of her relics.

She is depicted on the back of a sturgeon, as she is reputed to have once crossed the Schelde (or the Escant) on the back of a fish. Sometimes she is also depicted on the shoulders of a king laying sprawled on the ground.

The Dictionary of Saintly Women, out-of-print and good for these random, obscure saints too often brushed under the rug with St. Valentinius et cetera, says the following:

One day she wanted to cross the Escant, but found no boat. An immense sturgeon offered to take her across on his back, and landed her safely on the other side, in memory of which the fishermen of the place yearly offer a sturgeon at the chapel of St. Amelberga on her day, July 10. It is even said that no sturgeon is ever seen in those waters except on that day, when one always presents itself. She died in a good old age at Bilsen, and was taken to Temsche to be buried. A number of sturgeons escorted the boat up the river. Twice in her life sho fed the people during famine on the flesh of large fish which appeared opportunely in the river.

The sieve that she holds in her hand is perhaps a pun on the name of her estate, and denotes that she was the possessor of the lands of Temsche, in French Tamise (iamis, a sieve). But a legend has been found to account for it otherwise.

The people of Temsche complained to her that they had only one well, and that was in a field, the owner of which gave them a great deal of trouble. She went to the well with a sieve, which she filled with water and carried to another field, where she set it down. Thenceforth there was an abundant supply of water in that place, bat the old well dried up. A little chapel stands near her well, and pilgrims resort to both for miraculous cures.

She is the patron of farmers, fishermen, young people struggling to stay faithful to Christ, and those with fevers, bruises and arm pain.

You're welcome.

Moral of the story: Giant bear skins are slightly less romantic than the customary flowers, chocolates and jewelry. Perhaps he was trying to make do, as the teddy bear had not yet been invented.

posted by Lauren, 11:50 AM | link | 1 comments

.:{Christ the Bridegroom}:.

This week in the Eastern Church is known not only as Holy Week, but Great and Holy Week. This morning's Matins is called "Bridegroom Matins", for the central icon used in the service, and for the Troparion of the Bridegoom which is chanted whilst the icon (above) is processed into the dark church:

Behold the bridegroom comes at midnight: blessed is the servant whom he shall find awake. But he whom he shall find neglectful is verily unworthy. Beware, therefore, O my soul, that you do not fall into a deep slumber and be delivered to death and locked out of the kingdom. Watch instead and cry aloud: Holy, holy, holy art thou, O God, through the protection of the heavenly Hosts, have mercy on us.

The Matins is celebrated the first three days of Holy Week. Today the readings of this Matins focus on Joseph as a prototype of Christ (as Christ, too, was betrayed, sold into the slavery of death, and feeds us as in a famine when we come to him), and also the barren fig tree which Christ curses, signifying those who have been through Great Lent and have heard the words of the Gospel but have refused to bear fruit:

Let us, O brethren, fear the penalty of the fig tree, withered for its fruitlessness; and let us bear fruits worthy of repentance to Christ who grants us the great mercy.

The fact that the icon above is called "The Icon" or "O Nymphios" is very striking. The west more commonly knows this image of Christ as the "Ecce Homo" or the "Man of Sorrows", so that we might "look upon him who we pierced". In the East, what is focused on in this icon is Christ's voluntary offering of himself, his willingly undergoing his passion because he loves mankind. Therefore, "as a husband is to his wife so is Jesus Christ to His Church. His Crucifixion is His marital vow and His mockery and beating His wedding feast."
posted by Lauren, 7:00 AM | link | 5 comments

{Thursday, April 02, 2009  }

.:{Icon and Book Service website}:.

Glikofilousa (Sweet Kissing) Mother of God

Please visit the Icon and Book service website (mentioned below), or visit the store, located on 12th and Quincy (with the big icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help out front) in person. A veritable feast for the eyes and ears, that's Cnytr's guarantee.
posted by Lauren, 5:02 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{A little-known cultus of St. Anthony}:.

Dedicated to the Patron Saint of Bacon

A cultus never approved, probably on account of it's conflicting with the veneration of the Transfiguration of Our Lord as the protector of pork processors (note: that link NOT A JOKE).

Side note: Clever butchering (cough) of the symbology/hagiography of St. Anthony, Abbot.

HT: Tom at Disputations.
posted by Lauren, 12:37 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Br. Ursus -- Cutest Dominican Ever}:.

An April 1st post from GodzDogz.


This is a BRILLIANT idea.

I think my own Aloysius Bear might be just about to enter the Dominican Order ... eyes sewing machine and black and white fabric

"I get up at 7.43 every morning for Lauds. This is always a great challenge, especially in winter. Before joining the order, I used to hibernate for 6 months of the year, so it has taken me quite a while to adapt to getting up every day. It’s one of the sacrifices I have to make, but I receive many consolations. As it says in psalm 118 ‘Your promise is sweeter to my taste than honey in the mouth.’ As someone who very much loves honey, I find this imagery delightful, and it’s also very true.

"I’m currently studying philosophy and theology and I’m enjoying it very much. It’s really giving me the confidence to preach the Gospel. I’ve still got a lot to learn. In preaching classes, I’m constantly being reminded to speak up, but I find this very difficult without sounding like I'm growling. Still, the brothers are very encouraging.

"It’s taken a little while getting use to the Dominican habit, but it’s actually very comfortable. I do tend to get a few stares when I wander around Oxford , and occasionally I get people shouting out comments like ‘Super Ted.’ But the Dominican habit has become an important part of my identity and I think it’s an important eschatological sign.
posted by Lauren, 12:21 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Man of Sorrows}:.

From somebody's Flickr stream:

Christ as Man of Sorrows (Swiss about 1650)
Christ is shown standing in the sepulchre, surrounded by the instruments of His Passion. In front of the tomb kneels a Dominican nun, probably the donor. The Inscription translates as "I am his faithful bride" Swiss glass like German glass is often very rich in its enamel primary colours. In spite of its mid C17 date the piece looks back to an earlier age untouched by the emerging baroque or mannerist styles prevalent in grander schemes. V&A C.240-1934
posted by Lauren, 11:42 AM | link | 0 comments

.:{Useful Phrases for the Ukrainian Catholic, and Others}:.

Notes on the Cyrillic Alphabet:

- This alphabet is entirely made up, and traceable to Sts. Cyril and Methodius. Given the origins of other alphabets and scripts (i.e. UNKNOWN), that's pretty cool.
- That being said, the alphabet looks like Greek: А, В, Г, Е, І, K, M, H, O, П, R, C, T, У, Ф and Х are all letters recognizable to Greek-speakers and Westerners with some background in Math.
- Fortunately for those pronouncing this alphabet, it is unlike modern Greek, which has two diphthongs and at least three or four letters, formerly pronounced DIFFERENTLY in ancient Greek, all making the sound "ee" sound. Disapproving stare over glasses.

Keeping that in mind, and pretending И is actually an Eta ( η in miniscule) and gamma makes an "H" sound, we have the following useful phrases:

Ukrainian: Господи, помилуй
Pronounced: Hos-po-de, po-mee-luy
English: Lord, have mercy.

PRIEST: For this holy church and for all who enter it with faith, reverence, and the fear of God, let us pray to the Lord.
PEOPLE: Lord, have mercy.

Ukrainian: Тобі Господи
Pronounced: To-bee, Hos-po-de
English: To you, O Lord.

PRIEST: Remembering our most holy, most pure, most-blessed and glorious Lady, the Mother of God and ever-Virgin Mary, with all the saints, let us commend ourselves and one another, and our whole life, to Christ, our God.
PEOPLE: To You, O Lord.

Ukrainian: Слава Тобі, Господи, Слава Тобі
Pronounced: Sla-va to-bee, Hos-po-de, sla-va to-bee
English: Glory to you, O Lord, glory to you!

PRIEST: The reading of the Holy Gospel according to N.
PEOPLE: Glory be to You, O Lord, glory be to You.

Ukrainian: І з духом твоїм
Pronounced: Um, I forget, but that 3-lookin' thing is pronounced like a Z...
English: And with your spirit.

PRIEST: And may the mercies of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, be with all of you.
PEOPLE: And with your spirit.

Ukrainian: Подай, Господи
Pronounced: ... aside from "Hospode", I forget again ... quickly losing grasp on Ukrainian ...
English: Grant this, O Lord.

PRIEST: For an angel of peace, a faithful guide, a guardian of our souls and bodies, let us beseech the Lord.
PEOPLE: Grant it, O Lord.

Other useful phrases in Ukrainian

Ukrainian: Я не розумію
Pronounced: Ja ne roz-umi-ju
English: I don't understand.

Ukrainian: Ви не могли б розмовляти повільніше
Pronounced: ...Looks complicated, don't it?
English: Please speak more slowly.

Ukrainian: Цей пан платить за все
Pronounced: sej pan pla-tee-t za ve
English: This gentleman will pay for everything.

Ukrainian: Моє судно на повітряній подушці наповнене вуграми
Pronounced: (click here)
English: My hovercraft is full of eels.

posted by Lauren, 10:59 AM | link | 4 comments

.:{John Paul II, We (Still) Love You}:.

Lauren (age 16) and Parents with Pope John Paul II, July 2001

Today is four years since the death of our dear Pope John Paul II. I had a number of posts back in Papal April of that year about the goings-on. It still surprises me how emotional his passing was -- and still is -- for young Catholics. I feel now, as I did then, that losing JPII was like losing a member of the family.

I remember that day very well. I was in my fourth semester at the University of Dallas (my first semester from returning from Rome, whereupon I saw the Pope quite often, relatively speaking). The TVs were on in Hagar, blaring speculation. The whole campus seemed on edge. It was a Saturday morning, and I returned to my room to tidy it up a bit, when suddenly the UD bells began tolling. It was an odd time, like 2:11 or something, and so I was confused as to why the bells were ringing. Then suddenly the thought gripped me like a cold, iron fist -- could it be ... ?

I checked my computer.

It was.

I prayed the Requiem aeternam. I called my family. I think my mother cried.

It was very sad.

But, praise God, though we miss him, we are pleased to have him caring for us still. Perhaps indeed he will be santo subito. "John Paul the Great" in death as in life.

O Blessed Trinity
We thank You for having graced the Church
with Pope John Paul II
and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care,
the glory of the cross of Christ,
and the splendor of the Holy Spirit,
to shine through him.
Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary,
he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd,
and has shown us that holiness
is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life
and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.
Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will,
the graces we implore,
hoping that he will soon be numbered
among your saints.

So tell me, readers, if you will: where were you on that day? What do you remember?

posted by Lauren, 10:39 AM | link | 0 comments

{Wednesday, April 01, 2009  }

.:{St. Joseph the Betrothed Dome in Chicago, IL}:.

Interior of the main dome of St. Joseph the Betrothed Ukrainian Byzantine-Catholic Church, Chicago, Illinois.

Or, click here for the original image.

Update: More photos found in a flickr stream:
Exterior of the Church in snow
Dome and chandelier
Dome and some other details
I don't know what these are called

Information on the church according to this site:

The St. Joseph The Betrothed is an Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Chicago. Built in 1956, it is most known for its ultra-modern thirteen gold domed roof symbolizing the twelve apostles and Jesus Christ as the largest center dome. The interior of the church is completely adorned with byzantine style icons (frescoes). Unfortunately the iconographer was deported back to his homeland before he was able to write the names of all the saints as prescribed by iconographic traditions.
posted by Lauren, 4:23 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{More on the Icon Below}:.

If I had taken two seconds to Google a little more before posting the below, I would have found that the tradition of portraying St. Joseph as "the Betrothed" is a very traditional Eastern one. There is an Akathist Hymn to St. Joseph, and a Church in Wheaton, IL dedicated to "St. Joseph the Betrothed".

For the Eastern Church, the feast of St. Joseph falls the Sunday after Christmas. This Orthodox website says erroneously:

What must be kept in mind is that the Roman Catholic devotions to Saint Joseph are of much, much more recent origins -- in fact, the feast of "Saint Joseph the Worker," widely celebrated in Roman Catholic circles on 1 May, was only added to the Roman calendar in the early 20th century! The emphasis on Saint Joseph being a carpenter is of little importance for Orthodox; rather, he is revered for being the betrothed of the Virgin Mary and the human guardian of the Christ child. While Orthodox Christians do not deny that he had been a carpenter, his worldly occupation is completely secondary to his role as the betrothed.

As shown above, the Italian (Sicilian) dedication to St. Joseph is a Medieval one, although it is quite true St. Joseph's feast day was expanded to include not only March 19th but also May 1st in the 19th century, in response to the same movements which produced Rerum Novarum.

This Orthodox website contains many interesting snippets from early writers concerning Joseph, and also contains this lovely tidbit:

In many icons of the Nativity, Joseph is shown being tempted by the Devil, who is depicted as an old man with furled wings, to break off his betrothal, and resisting that temptation.

Also according to tradition and the Protoevangelion of James (c. 150 AD and one of the earliest surviving document attesting the veneration of Mary by stating her perpetual virginity and her status as the New Eve), the betrothal story of Joseph and Mary goes like this:

And Mary was in the temple of the Lord as if she were a dove that dwelt there, and she received food from the hand of an angel. And when she was twelve years old there was held a council of the priests, saying: Behold, Mary has reached the age of twelve years in the temple of the Lord. What then shall we do with her, lest perchance she defile the sanctuary of the Lord? And they said to the high priest: Thou standest by the altar of the Lord; go in, and pray concerning her; and whatever the Lord shall manifest unto you, that also will we do. And the high priest went in, taking the robe with the twelve bells into the holy of holies; and he prayed concerning her. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying unto him: Zacharias, Zacharias, go out and assemble the widowers of the people, and let them bring each his rod; and to whomsoever the Lord shall show a sign, his wife shall she be. And the heralds went out through all the circuit of Judæa, and the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and all ran.

And Joseph, throwing away his axe, went out to meet them; and when they had assembled, they went away to the high priest, taking with them their rods. And he, taking the rods of all of them, entered into the temple, and prayed; and having ended his prayer, he took the rods and came out, and gave them to them: but there was no sign in them, and Joseph took his rod last; and, behold, a dove came out of the rod, and flew upon Joseph's head. And the priest said to Joseph, You have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the virgin of the Lord. But Joseph refused, saying: I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. I am afraid lest I become a laughing-stock to the sons of Israel. And the priest said to Joseph: Fear the Lord your God, and remember what the Lord did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah; how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up on account of their contradiction. And now fear, O Joseph, lest the same things happen in your house. And Joseph was afraid, and took her into his keeping.

As we know, this is a scene Fra Angelico painted. Thus, while this tradition is not as well-known in the West, it was nonetheless known in Florence in the 15th century, at least a little.

And now, some Eastern rite hymns to St. Joseph:

Troparion - Tone 2
Proclaim the wonder, O Joseph,
to David, the ancestor of God:
you saw a Virgin great with Child,
you gave glory with the shepherds,
you worshipped with the Magi,
you received the news from the angel.
Pray to Christ God to save our souls!

Kontakion - Tone 3
Today godly David is filled with joy;
Joseph and James offer praise.
The glorious crown of their kinship with Christ
fills them with great joy.
They sing praises to the One ineffably born on earth,
and they cry out: "O Compassionate One,
save those who honor You!"
posted by Lauren, 3:54 PM | link | 0 comments

.:{Joseph the Betrothed}:.

Today in Lauren's adventures in the Eastern Church, most of her lunch break was spent in the Icon and Book Service on Quincy street drooling over books, vestments, icons, various liturgical paraphernalia and music. That place is very dangerous to Lauren, who has a better-paying job than she did upon her discovery of the place when she first arrived in Washington in 2005, and she does not feel bad spending money on a place that supports a Monastery.

However, while I dropped an obscene amount of money on books and music this afternoon (being recently in love with Slavic musical settings of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom), I could not bring myself to buy an icon. Which is tragic, because the moment I saw the above icon -- called "Joseph the Betrothed" -- I decided it must be purchased-by-me.

As I stood there, heart heavy and arms full of books, my phone rang. It was my mother. Upon hearing that I was in the famed Icon and Book store, she requested an icon of St. Joseph for my nephew and godson, Joseph Evan.

It was Divine Providence.

And so, behold, the icon of St. Joseph the Betrothed which I have just purchased on behalf of my mother for my godson.

I have never seen an icon of St. Joseph as the betrothed of Our Lady. I find this fascinating. It would be even more fascinating if he were holding the flowering staff (not simply a lily of purity), though I wonder if that is a Western tradition more than Eastern.
posted by Lauren, 3:28 PM | link | 0 comments