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Archive for June, 2008

The following patristic works are available for both streaming and download at the links below:

St. Bede the Venerable, “Sermon on All Saints’ Day”
“The Martyrdom of St. Ignatius of Antioch”
St. John Chrysostom, Homily 5 on Matthew
St. John of Damascus, On Holy Images
St. John of Damascus, Sermon I On the Dormition
St. Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians
The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp
The Martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas
St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise III: On the Lapsed
St. Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise IV: On the “Our Father”

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Troparion of All Saints Tone 4

Adorned in the blood of Thy Martyrs throughout all the world as in purple and fine linen, Thy Church, through them, doth cry unto Thee, O Christ God: Send down thy compassions upon Thy people; grant peace to thy habitation, and great mercy to our souls.

 

Kontakion of All Saints Tone 4

To Thee, the Planter of creation, the world doth offer the God-bearing Martyrs as the first-fruits of nature. By their supplications, preserve Thy Church in deep peace, through the Theotokos, O Greatly Merciful One.

St. Bede’s Sermon on All Saints (mp3 streaming; Internet Archive download page here)

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Troparion of St Alban Tone 4
Thy holy martyr Alban in his struggle/ has gained the crown of life, O Christ our God;/ for strengthened by Thee and with a pure heart/ he spoke boldly before wordly judges,/ giving up his sacred head to Thee, the Judge of all.

From Bede: Ecclesiastical History of England:

THE PASSION OF ST. ALBAN AND HIS COMPANIONS, WHO AT THAT TIME SHED THEIR BLOOD FOR OUR LORD. [A.D. 305.]

AT that time suffered St. Alban, of whom the priest Fortunatus, in the Praise of Virgins, where he makes mention of the blessed martyrs that came to the Lord from all parts of the world, says ?

In Britain’s isle was holy Alban born.

This Alban, being yet a pagan, at the time when the cruelties of wicked princes were raging against Christians, gave entertainment in his house to a certain clergyman, flying from the persecutors. This man he observed to be engaged in continual prayer and watching day and night; when on a sudden the Divine grace shining on him, he began to imitate the example of faith and piety which was set before him, and being gradually instructed by his wholesome admonitions, he cast off the darkness of idolatry, and became a Christian in all sincerity of heart. The aforesaid clergyman having been some days entertained by him, it came to the ears of the wicked prince, that this holy confessor of Christ, whose time of martyrdom had not yet come, was concealed at Alban’s house. Whereupon he sent some soldiers to make a strict search after him. When they came to the martyr’s house, St. Alban immediately presented himself to the soldiers, instead of his guest and master, in the habit or long coat which he wore, and was led bound before the judge.

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Lord, help me to find a way to find my way to something like this:


The Team Hoyt Website

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Horses and Chariots

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses,
but we will call upon the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 19[20]:8 )

We are hybrid creatures: at once beings of dust and ashes and persons capable of luminosity. From the moment the human hand reached out to fulfill the thought-intention and grasped the knowledge it wanted, we have been drawn away from light to the earth. It is no wonder that St. Paul writes, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV). We have it on good authority that these things–joy, prayer and gratitude–can free the person from the gravity of fallenness; that these are among the primary engines which drive us heavenward and bring down to us the light to illumine our single eye. This is why we have the testimonies of light-bearing men and women, such as St. Seraphim of Sarov, as to the necessity of the remembrance of the name of Jesus every moment of the day and the acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

But, I can certainly testify from personal experience, the pull of the gravity of fallenness and sin is relentless and does not let us go. Failure to always practice joy, to work moment-by-moment prayer, and to say “Thank you” in every circumstance will result not simply in the halt of forward progress, but in regression.

I cannot say with certainty, but it seems to me that there are some human pursuits, not evil in themselves, but that do have an inescapable earthbound pull. We engage in certain of these sorts of human pursuits with something like necessity, with an orientation of serpentine wisdom, but must somehow not be captured by the mortal pull, but retain a substantial dovish innocence. I have not been able to achieve this in my own daily living. Horses and chariots are something like necessities in certain circumstances, but when one begins to trust in these earthly things one accelerates one’s downward trajectory. Dovish innocence is eclipsed by serpentine wisdom, we forget to work joy, to work prayer, to work gratitude.

Thankfully, none of this is dependent, in the ultimate sense, on us. We are required to act. We will put the bridle on the horses, and grease the chariot axles. But we have no control over anything but our own choices and actions. We forget that so easily, thinking that success is dependent upon our horsemanship or chariotry–or that of those on whom we depend for these matters. But no matter our expertise, horses will founder on uneven ground, chariot axles will inexplicably break. We may find ourselves unable to provide the fodder for horses or to keep up the chariot. Worse, we may find ourselves trusting in these chariots and horses in such ways that we succumb to baser actions and words.

But we may escape these things if we do that which is the will of God for us in Christ: to work joy all the time, to work prayer every moment, and to embrace absolutely every event and every human act we encounter with gratitude. All these labors turn us out from ourselves. All these labors are incarnations of our trust in God’s providence. All these labors are the synergies between ourselves and our heavenly Father in freeing us from the gravity of sin and enlightening us with the radiance of Tabor. And none of these labors culminate in instant results. All these labors require patience, which is to say the willingness to keep working these things, and to keep working them, and to keep working them. Wheat is not harvested the day after its planting. And when it is harvested it is ground, it is planted and dies, it gives up what it is for a transformation over which it has no control. Nor does it control the increase from planting to harvest.

Such things require of us trust. We are always exercising trust. The question is: in what or whom is that trust? Trust in God and his providence is a most difficult choice and an even more difficult act, and a near-impossible way to live. And yet it is to what we are called. That life will be sustained, it seems to me, by always working joy, always praying, and greeting every event and action with gratitude.

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For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“ My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:3-13 NKJV)

Why, then, is it strange if God tries noble spirits with severity? No proof of virtue is ever mild. If we are lashed and torn by Fortune, let us bear it; it is not cruelty but a struggle, and the oftener we engage in it, the stronger we shall be.

Seneca, De Providentia, 12

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV)

Nothing befalls anyone that he is not fitted by nature to bear.

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, V.18

Given my present circumstances, I am in need of some manful and hardy consolation. I’ve had enough of the commonly thereapeutic. There comes a tipping point when the therapeutic becomes the pathetic, where self-care (as it’s called in the nomenclature) becomes self-pity. I need much less navel-gazing and living in my head, and much more action. Give me The Quiet Man over Dan in Real Life, St. Antony over Joel Osteen.

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Troparion of St Cyril of the White Lake Tone 1
O Father Cyril, uprooting the thorns of passions/ thou didst blossom as a lily in David’s wilderness,/ where thou didst gather a multitude of disciples/ and guide them as a father in the fear of God./ Glory to Him Who has strengthened thee; glory to Him Who has crowned thee;/ glory to Him Who through thee works healings for all.

Kontakion of St Cyril of the White Lake Tone 8
Thou didst scorn all ways and thoughts which dragged thee down/ and didst rejoice to yearn for the heavenward course./ With the Saints before the Trinity pray that thy flock may be preserved;/ for as we celebrate thy repose we cry to thee:/ Rejoice, O blessed Father Cyril.

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