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Saturday, January 28, 2006

The First Antiphon

The first antiphon from the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom (Psalm 102) is amazing. The song of praise of the infinite mercy of God is the perfect way to introduce the Liturgy and prepare to enter into the holiness of what is about to take place. I love it.

Bless the Lord, 0 my soul: Blessed art Thou, O Lord!

Bless the Lord, 0 my soul,
and all that is within me bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, 0 my soul,
and forget not all that He hath done for thee.
Who is gracious unto all thine iniquities,
Who healeth all thine infirmities.
Who redeemeth thy life from corruption,
Who crowneth thee with mercy and compassion.
Who fulfilleth thy desire with good things;
thy youth shall be renewed as the eagle's.
The Lord performeth deeds of mercy,
and executeth judgment for all them that are wronged.

He hath made His ways known unto Moses,
unto the sons of Israel the things that He hath willed.
Compassionate and merciful is the Lord,
long-suffering and plenteous in mercy;
not unto the end will He be angered,
neither unto eternity will He be wroth.
Not according to our iniquities hath He dealt with us,
neither according to our sins hath He rewarded us.
For according to the height of heaven from the earth,
the Lord hath made His mercy to prevail over them that fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far hath He removed our iniquities from us.
Like as a father hath compassion upon his sons,
so hath the Lord had compassion upon them that fear Him;
for He knoweth whereof we are made,
He hath remembered that we are dust.
As for man, his days are as the grass;
as a flower of the field, so shall he blossom forth.
For when the wind is passed over it, then it shall be gone,
and no longer will it know the place thereof.
But the mercy of the Lord is from eternity, even unto eternity,
upon them that fear Him.
And His righteousness is upon sons of sons,
upon them that keep His testament
and remember His commandments to do them.
The Lord in heaven hath prepared His throne,
and His kingdom ruleth over all.
Bless the Lord, all ye His angels,
mighty in strength, that perform His word, to hear the voice of His words.
Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts,
His ministers that do His will.
Bless the Lord, all ye His works,
in every place of His dominion.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
and all that is within me bless his holy name:
Blessed art Thou, O Lord!

Orthodoxy for Beginners

Fr Gregory Hallam of the Antioch Abouna blog has recently comiled what I think is a very good introduction to the basics of Orthodoxy, leading naturally into exploring questions in more depth.

Thank you for this, Father.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I'm not entirely sure what's going on here, but I just took this from the ROCOR home page. One has to wonder what the bishop in the middle is thinking.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

St Edward, King and Martyr


Celebrating the newly manifest commemoration of the holy King Edward, who shone forth of old in the virtues and suffered undeservedly, and bowing down before his precious relics in gladness we cry out: Wondrous art Thou in Thy Saint, O God!


Thou didst shine forth in the land of Wessex as a pious King and radiant Martyr. For when the enemies of godly order fell upon thee, thou didst bear the wounds and blows, and to thy Saviour thou didst speedily depart. But now thou workest a multitude of miracles for them that call upon thee: Rejoice, O holy King and Martyr Edward, intercessor for our land!

A hagiography of St Edward is linked to from the title of this post, and his relics may be venerated at the Church Abroad's monastery at Brookwood.

Thanks to Leetle M for suggesting continuing the lives of Saints of the British Isles. In related news, Credo has today posted this about St Wulfstan.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


When Jesus had been baptised, just as he came up from the water, suddenly, the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.' - Matthew 3: 16-17

In just under an hour's time, I'll be setting off for Vespers for the Eve of Theophany, complete with the Blessing of the Waters. This is, of course, new to me, and the Baptism of Christ never really received much theological focus in my past church experience. I'm really looking forward to it.

I do love the Trinitarian depth to this feast, and had never really thought about it before until recently, but it is the first time in our entire salvation history that we receive such an explicit revelation of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It seems to me to be a deeper revelation of the Truth of the creation, in which the eternal natures of the three Persons are revealed, as well as their relationship with the created order: the generative Father, source of all that is, the eternal Word of God, at whose coming all things came into being by the power of thje Spirit of God, the sustaining breath on which the Word travelled, and which continues in creation and most fully in the Church today. How amazing!

In the Western Rite, tomorrow is Epiphany, which is a celebration of the manifestation of Christ to us, the Gentiles, in the persons of the Magi. This is followed by a series of Sundays in which different aspects of the revelation of God to his people are focused on. This coming Sunday is the Baptism of Christ, with many of the same themes as Theophany in the Eastern Rite. There is a focus on Christ's first miracle at the wedding at Cana, his healing miracles and the Transfiguration on the holy mount.

I love this time of the liturgical year. What a blessing we have!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Our Ladye in English Piety

In spite of reformation iconoclasm, the Mother of God is still remembered in popular tradition in England. It was not for nothing that England was formerly known as "Our Ladye's Dowry", the equivalent of the Russian title, "The House of the Mother of God", which was given to Russia in the days before the revolution. We are left today with the beautiful names of the Feasts; Lady Day for the Annunciation, Our Lady in Harvest for the Dormition, and Our Lady in December for the Conception of the Mother of God.

The ladybird is, in fact, "Our Lady's bird", and nearly a dozen flowers are named after the Mother of God, for example, Our Lady's Smock (Cardamine pratensis), and the marigold is, in fact, "Mary's Gold". How appropriate it would be to use such flowers to decorate icons of the Mother of God on her various Feast days! Indeed, one wonders if such a practice might not be the utlimate origin of the names themselves. As far back as the eight century, the Venerable Bede made the Madonna Lily, also called the Mary Lily, the emblem of the Dormition of the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, likening the white petals to her spotless body and the golden antlers to her soul glowing with heavenly light. To this day the saying that a bride must wear something blue at her wedding goes back to the liturgical blue, worn on the Feasts of the Mother of God. if a bride wears something blue, she is in fact asking for the blessing of the Mother of God on her marriage.

The terrible tragedy is that the reverence of old for the Mother of God has so degenrated in modern speech. The real meaning of the corrupted swear-word "bloody" is "By Our Lady": it is, therefore, a blasphemy.

From the chapter Fragments of Orthodoxy in English Popular Tradition in Fr Andrew Phillips' book, Orthodox Christianity and the English Tradition.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

15st 10lbs

You will remember that I commented on a previous post about a week ago to say that my scale had finally arrived and I weighed 15st 10lbs. Well I have weighed myself today and I weigh 15st 10lbs. Net loss = 0. I consider this a great success. :-)

I explain. I have decided to weigh myself once per week, at roughly the same time of day, and under the same circumstances (before breakfast, &c.). I started dieting on Wednesday but didn't weigh myself until Thursday, when I weighed 15st 10lbs. Knowing that Nativity weekend was coming up, I broke my once-per-week rule and weighed myself on Saturday morning, to find that I had lost a pound, and was 15st 9lbs. Saturday and Sunday happened, about which we shall not speak ;-) and on Monday morning I weighed 16 st - a gain of 5lbs! One week on from my first weighing, I weighed myself again today to find that I am back down to 15st 10lbs, which means that, while my net loss is nil (due to the weekend), I have managed to lose 5lbs over the course of the past week.

With this in mind, and the knowledge that Christmass is now past and gone, I know that this is something that I can certainly do. I'd definitely like to lose at least a stone between now and my baptism.

Thanks to all for your prayers and for your e-mails and messages of encouragement and advice. They really have helped.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Happy Christmass!



Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath shined upon the world the light of knowledge; for thereby, they that worshipped the stars were taught by a star to worship thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know thee, the Dayspring from on high. O Lord, glory be to thee!

Sunday, January 01, 2006


As many as have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. Alleluia!

Blessed be God!

I am to be received into the Holy Orthodox Church by the grace of God in the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation, on Sunday, the 19th of February.

I'm rather nervous, and yet overjoyed at the same time. I'll post more in the not-too-distant future when I've had a little more time for it to sink in.