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Thursday, April 9, 2020

 “A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin. The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” (Prov 21: 4-5)

     Throughout our Lenten journey, for almost six weeks now, we have had a reading at weekday-Vespers from the most “practical” book of the Bible, Proverbs. These readings, (including the one quoted above, which was read this Tuesday), offer me practical, “how to” bits of ancient wisdom, on wise and healthy living. We have these readings specifically during Lent, because Lent is, among other things, a time of both physical and spiritual renewal; of healthy work-habits, eating-habits, praying-habits, resting-habits, and healthy “plan-making” for all this, on a daily basis. And I’m finding them particu...

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

 “…Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.’ Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” (Jn 11: 11-16)

     The above-quoted conversation happens “today” (in liturgical time), and two days after Jesus was informed that His friend, Lazarus, had fallen ill back in Bethany. So, “today” Lazarus dies, and four days from now, on Saturday, the Lord will raise hi...

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

 “Rejoice, O un-wedded (without-a-bridegoom) Bride! / Χαίρε, Νύμφη Α-νύμφευτε. / Радуйся, Невесто не-невестная.” (Refrain, Akathist-Hymn of the Theotokos)

     In this Akathist-Hymn, we praise the Theotokos not only for who/what she “is“ and “has,“ but also for what she is “not,“ i.e.,“wedded,“ and what she does “not“ have, which is a spouse or bridegroom. Hence we praise her as “Α-νύμφευτε,” or one “without a bridegroom” (without a “νυμφίος“).

     Is this cause for celebration, the fact that the Most-Holy Theotokos had “no bridegroom,” in the usual sense, in her specific vocation, of bringing our Lord into the world? Yes, apparently so, as this particular fact is praised repeatedly, in the refrain of the Akathist-Hymn. Because it was hard to be alone, as the only (human) parent...

Monday, April 6, 2020

 “Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it he said, ‘This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go into Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?’” (Jn 11: 1-8)

     On this final, sixth week of Lent,...

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

 “Who has wrought and done these things? He has called her (αὐτὴν) who called her (αὐτὴν) from the beginning of generations; I God, the first and to all futurity, I am (ἐγώ εἰμι). The nations saw, and feared; the ends of the earth drew near, and came together, each one judging for his neighbor and that to assist his brother: and one will say, The artificer has become strong, and the coppersmith that smites with the hammer, and forges also: sometimes he will say, It is a piece well joined: they have fastened them with nails; they will fix them, and they shall not be moved. But you, Israel, are my servant Jacob, and he whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraam, whom I have loved: whom I have taken hold of from the ends of the earth, and from the high places of it I have called you, and said to...

Monday, March 30, 2020

 “The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I will give to you and to your descendants for ever. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your descendants also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.’ So Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the Lord.” (Gen 13: 14-18)

     This is our Church’s reading from Genesis at Vespers today, on Monday of the fifth week of Lent, in 2020. That fact alone is mind-blowing, indicating to me that the re...

Friday, March 27, 2020

 “Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down, and ther...

Thursday, March 26, 2020

 “Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard; and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.’” (Gen 9: 20-25)

     Noah did not know that wine would make him drunk, because he was the first to make and drink wine, and to experience its effects. Nor did Noah’s sons know why their father, t...

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

 “…And Mary said to the angel, ‘How shall this be, since I have no husband?’ And the angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Lk 1: 34-38)

     The “mystery” or “sacrament” of the Virgin Birth, that is, of the Most Holy Virgin’s “vocation,” raises an understandable, human question: “How shall this be…?” It is similar to the question(s) raised by Nicode...

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

 “Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Be...

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