17 March 2015

Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart

By Saint Gregory of Narek, Doctor of the Church


The voice of a sighing heart, its sobs and mournful cries,
I offer up to you, O Seer of Secrets,
placing the fruits of my wavering mind
as a savory sacrifice on the fire of my grieving soul
to be delivered to you in the censer of my will.

Compassionate Lord, breathe in
this offering and look more favorably on it
than upon a more sumptuous sacrifice
offered with rich smoke. Please find
this simple string of words acceptable.
Do not turn in disdain.

May this unsolicited gift reach you,
this sacrifice of words
from the deep mystery-filled chamber
of my feelings, consumed in flames
fueled by whatever grace I may have within me.

As I pray, do not let these
pleas annoy you, Almighty,
like the raised hands of Jacob,
whose irreverence was rebuked
by Isaiah, nor let them seem like the impudence
of Babylon criticized in the 72nd Psalm.

But let these words be acceptable
as were the fragrant offerings
in the tabernacle at Shiloh
raised again by David on his return from captivity
as the resting place for the ark of the covenant,
a symbol for the restoration of my lost soul.


Because your stern judgment
echoes mightily in the valley of retribution,
contradictory impulses in my soul
brace for battle like clashing mobs.
Crowds of thoughts strike each other, sword
against armor, evil against good,
ensnaring me for death, as in other times,
when your grace had not rescued me –
that grace of Christ, which Paul,
chosen among the apostles,
taught was greater than the law of Moses.

For as the Scripture says, “The day
of the Lord is upon us,”
and in the narrow valley of Jehoshaphat
on the banks of the Kidron,
those small battle grounds
foreshadow on earth
victory in the life to come.
Thus, the kingdom of God in a visible form
has come already, charging me
on truthful testimony with wrongs
graver than those of the Edomites,
Philistines and other barbarians –
wrongs that brought down the hand of God.
And whereas their sentences were measured in years,
my transgressions will be punished without term.
As the prophet and the parable-teller warned,
the dungeon and shackles
are already at my threshold to show me
here and now my eternal disgrace.

Only you can work the miracle
to make life possible for a soul
so imperiled by doubt,
O Atoner for all, exalted beyond saying
in your boundless glory on high
forever and ever.

SOURCE: ArmenianHouse.org

06 March 2015

2015 Red Mass of the Holy Spirit -Tallahassee

6 MARCH 2015. All the bishops of Florida's Church gathered this week in Tallahassee to celebrate the 40th annual Red Mass of the Holy Spirit.

In the global Church the Red Mass is an 800-year old tradition, through which the guidance of the Holy Spirit is prayerfully sought to be poured out upon the persons within the government and the legal profession in the carrying out of their duties for the benefit of society. In Florida, the Red Mass has been celebrated now for forty years during the opening weeks of Florida's annual Legislative Session.

Archbishop Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, was the principal celebrant. This year's homilist was Bishop Peter Baldacchino, Auxiliary Bishop of Miami.

Below are a few snipets from Bishop Baldacchino's homily, which spoke candidly and eloquently of the need for humility and sense of service, in following Christ, by all in government and the practice of law:

With Christ there comes about a reversal of values.

Christ Jesus embodies what service really means. [However,] He was not saying that we should never come first.

[But,] [w]hoever wishes to be great among you should be servants.

It is power that gives authority. But, service gives much more.

All human values, particularly those that we Americans can experience in our nation: justice, freedom, liberty, are important instruments that enable us to live in a world that can make of a human person what he or she is meant to be. However, these instruments in themselves can never be sufficient to achieve true human happiness. They are not an end in themselves.
[In seeking] social justice, the end should be the "other," not directed at ourselves.

Our society needs to be renewed. This renewal needs to begin with our conversation in humility [to Christ Jesus].
The full text of the Bishop Baldacchino's homily can be read here.