Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Feast of St. George


Today is the feast of St. George, martyr. George, along with Christopher, was one of the fourteen "Auxiliary" or "Helper Saints", those saints whose prayers were most effective on behalf of humanity. George is the patron saint of several countries, including England, Canada, Ethiopia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Malta, Palestine, and Portugal. At one time there was some doubt about his existence but most historians believe he did exist, although the stories about him are obviously apocryphal. What we do know is that he was born the late third century to a Christian family in Cappadocia. His father was an officer in the Roman army and his mother was from Lydda, a city in Palestine. George's father died when he was very young and he returned with his mother to Lydda where he received his education. He followed in his father's footsteps and became a Roman soldier. He was a good soldier and rapidly rose through the ranks. By his late twenties he gained the rank of Tribunus or Tribune (an elected office), and then Comes, or Count (Companion of the Emperor). He earned the rank Comes while stationed in Nicomedia as a member of the personal guard of the Emperor Diocletian. In the year 303, Diocletian initiated a persecution of Christians throughout the Roman empire, a persecution which was continued by Galerius during his own reign as Emperor (305-311 C.E.). Diocletian's decree stated that those who denied Christ would receive royal honors while those who
refused to deny Christ would be executed. When Comes George received these orders, he "came out" as a Christian, even mocking those who were deluded enough to worship idols. George's refusal to follow orders and his criticism of the royal decree enraged Diocletian, who ordered George's arrest, torture, and execution. After being whipped and tortured on a wheel of swords, George was decapitated on April 23, 303 C.E. Tradition states that the Empress Alexandra and a pagan priest, Athanasius, both witnessed George's martyrdom and were converted by his example, which resulted in their martyrdom, too. George's body was eventually returned to Lydda where his tomb became a place of pilgrimage
and many miracles were attributed to his relics. He was canonized by Pope Gelasius I in 494. The Crusaders returned to Europe with the story of St. George and the Dragon. As far as I can tell, the original references to St. George and dragons have their roots in the Passion of St. George, in which the main antagonist, the governor Dadianus, is also referred to as "the dragon" and "the evil dragon of the abyss" several times in the story. The story of St. George was elaborated in The Golden Legend a collection of the lives of the saints from the Medieval era which is not historically accurate but full of great stories. I'm going to re-tell the story of St. George's martyrdom according to The Passion of St. George. WARNING: LONG STORY FOLLOWS!

Long ago, the governors of the world began a persecution against the Church. They arrested many priests and bishops and dragged them to the altars of idols and tried to force them to offer sacrifice to devils. The governor Dadianus, who had acquired dominion over the four corners of the earth, sent a decree throughout the world stating: "A rumor has come to my ears that He to whom Mary gave birth is the God who alone is to be worshipped and that Apollo and Poseidon and Hermes and Astarte and Zeus and Uranus and Herakles and Scamandros and all the other gods are not to be worshipped at all, only this Jesus. Therefore I call all the governors of the world to come to me to learn the decision of my power in this matter. We will be putting this rumor to rest!" So the seventy governors of the world and their entourages came before Dadianus. Dadianus demanded that all the instruments of the torture chamber be brought before the governors: the brazen bed, the bone smashing choppers, the iron rods, the wheels with knives fixed to them, the wooden horses, the iron gloves, the wooden gloves, the tongue-slitting knives, the tools for pulling out teeth, the iron bone-borers, the sharp saws, and all other implements of Cruel Torture (they forgot the Water Boards). And Dadianus swore an oath, saying: "Anyone who refuses to worship the gods will be tortured and killed. I will break in the towers of their hearts, I will smash their heads, I will cut out their brains with sharp knives, I will saw off their shin bones, I will tear open their bodies and I will cut their limbs from their bodies." This frightened everyone, of course, and even those who had considered becoming martyrs had second thoughts, and a whole three years went by without anyone daring to say "I am a Christian."

A young tribune from Cappadocia named George had come to the city to be made a count, but when he saw the governors worshipping idols he decided to become a soldier for Jesus the Christ and resigned his commission, sold all he had and gave the proceeds to the poor, and then came before the governors and said "I will only worship the One God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!" Dadianus said, "Everyone must sacrifice to Apollo, the saviour of the world, and to the gods, or they will be punished. Who are you and where do you come from?" George said, "The chief name I bear is 'Christian,' I am a Cappadocian by birth and was a soldier in a famous company. I performed my duties as tribune satisfactorily in Palestine. Who are the gods you would force me to worship, O king?" Dadianus replied, "Apollo and Poseidon." George responded, "I will speak for the righteous ones and against your dead gods, not for your sake, O Evil Dragon, or for the sake of your fellow governors, but for the sake of all the people here present who need to hear the truth. Whom would you have me honor, O king; Peter, the chosen one of the Apostles, or Apollo, who corrupts the whole world? Elijah the Tishbite who was an angel on the earth and was taken up to the gates of heaven, or Scamandros the sorcerer who led people astray and committed adultery with Demeter? Tell me, O king, to which of these would you give judgment: Samuel, who prayed to God and obeyed his commandments, or to Poseidon the destroyer of the ships of the sea? Shall I honor Antaeus and Herakles, or the martyrs and prophets who wear crowns? Would you give judgment to Jezebel the slayer of prophets, or to Mary the Virgin Mother of my Lord, Jesus, Christ? Be ashamed, O king, for the things which you worship are not gods but deaf idols!"

Well, this was not what Dadianus wanted to hear, and, true to his word, he demanded that George be arrested. He commanded that George be hung on the wooden horse and tortured until his "bowels flowed out upon the ground." Then the soldiers laid him out and beat him with leather whips until the flesh of his body was torn in shreds, then they sprinkled salt upon his wounds. THEN they excoriated his body with hair sacks until his blood ran like water, but George was patient under these sufferings.

That night the Lord appeared to George and said, "Be strong and of good cheer, beloved George, for I will give you the strength to bear all these sufferings. I have made you lord over these seventy governors, and what ever you say shall happen to them. Look: you will die three times and I will raise you up again, but after the fourth time I myself will come upon a cloud and take you away to a place I have prepared for you. So be strong and do not be afraid for I am with you." Then Jesus embraced George and he and the angels returned to heaven.

The next morning Dadianus demanded that George be brought before him. George was singing "O God make speed to save us; O Lord make haste to help us!" He looked at the governor and said, "Governor, my Lord, Jesus Christ, and I have come before you and your stone Apollo." The soldiers didn't like his attitude and grabbed George, whipped him with leather straps and threw him back into prison. Dadianus could see that he had a challenge on his hands, so he put out a call for a sorcerer strong enough to fight George. A sorcerer named Athanasius came and answered the call and said, "O king, live forever! There is nothing I am not able to do!" As proof, he had an ox brought before him. He whispered a few words into the ears of the ox, and the ox was split in two! Scales were brought in and the parts of the ox weighed, and they were exactly equal in weight. Dadianus called for George and said, "George, you must vanquish Athanasius or he will vanquish you. You must kill him or he will kill you." George said to Athanasius, "Hurry brother, and do what ever you plan to do to me, because I see grace drawing near to you." Athanasius had an interesting technique: he took a cup, washed his face over it,
invoked the names of demons over the cup and handed it to George to drink. George drank from the cup and nothing happened. Athanasius said to Dadianus, "Let me try again, and if I fail, I will become a Christian." He took another cup, washed his face over it, and invoked the name of demons even more evil than the first, gave the cup to George, who drank it without anything evil taking place (well, it probably didn't taste very good). Athanasius said, "George, you have the cross of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came into the world to save sinners; have mercy on my soul and give me the seal of Christ." When Dadianus heard that, he had Athanasius taken out and martyred, and threw George back in prison. This would become a pattern for the next few days.

The next morning George was brought before Dadianus. The governor had a huge wheel equipped with sharp nails and stakes. The upper part of it was like the edge of a knife while the bottom part was like a sharp two-edged sword. George looked at the wheel and thought, "Well, I'm not coming out of this alive!" Then he thought, "George, why did you let that fear enter your mind? Remember what Jesus said, that he is with you!" He looked up towards heaven and prayed one of those long prayers which are actually sermons for which the saints in these stories are famous. As soon as he finished his prayer and said "amen!" the soldiers threw him on the wheel, which went straight to work and broke his body into ten pieces. Dadianus turned to the governors and said, "Remember, guys, there is no god other than our gods: Apollo and Hermes and Zeus and Athene and Scamandros and Hephaistos and Herakles and Poseidon, from whose hands kings receive power. Where is the God of George? Where is this Jesus? Why hasn't he come and delivered him from my hands?" And he commanded that George's bones be taken outside of the city and thrown into a dry pit so that the Christians couldn't find them and build a martyrium over the spot, therefore attaching the guilt of the murder on the governors' hands. It was time for dinner and the seventy governors all gathered to eat. While they were in the banquet hall there was a great earthquake and the sky became dark and storms were on the sea. The archangel Michael blew his trumpet, and the Lord Jesus appeared on his Chariot of Cherubim and stood at the edge of the pit. Jesus sent Michael down into the pit, where Michael reassembled George's body. Jesus took George by the hand and filled him with life. He then embraced George and returned to heaven with his holy angels.
George went straight to the banquet hall and stood before the governors. "Do you know who I am?" he asked. Dadianus said, "I don't know. Who are you, then?" He responded, "I am George whom you had slain yesterday because you despise my God, the God who could destroy you in a moment!" Dadianus looked at George and said, "You aren't George; you are his ghost or shade or something." But general Anatolius, who knew George, said, "This really is George, who has risen from the dead!" He and his entire company, some three thousand and nine men,
(and one woman from the multitude) were converted and believed in Christ. Of course, they did not make any points Dadianus, who had them all martyred. Then, angry that his dinner had been disturbed and that he had been shamed with George returning from the dead, he had George tied to an iron bed, poured molten lead down his throat, drove sixty nails into his head into the bed. THEN he had a great stone chiseled out to fit over his head, fastened it with lead, and rolled him from a high place, which severed his bones one from another. George bore these tortures with fortitude. Dadianus had the soldiers remove the stone, hang George upside down with a large stone tied to him, and then had a huge fire lit under him. THEN they threw him into a bronze bull full of nails which revolved and crushed his body but didn't kill him. The evening's dinner theatre being finished, George was tossed back into prison while Dadianus decided what to do next.

That night Jesus and the angels appeared once again to George. Jesus reminded George that he had already died once and that Jesus had raised him, and that he was to die two more times and Jesus would raise him two more times, but the fourth time Jesus would come and take him to the place he made for him. He told George that the governors would torture him for seven years, but to be strong and of good cheer. Then he and the angels returned to heaven. George, of course, was inspired by the Lord's visit.

The next morning George was brought before the governors again. A governor named Magnentius said, "George my boy, we governors need a sign which will prove that your God is the true God" (I guess George's resurrection wasn't enough!). He continued, "If you are able to do what we ask, we will all believe and become Christians." George asked what he wanted him to do. Magnentius said, "You see we have seventy thrones here, all with wooden legs; some made of the wood of fruit trees and others from trees with leaves. If you can cause the legs to bud, those from fruit trees with fruit and the others with leaves, we will believe you."
So George got down on his knees and prayed one of those long prayers for which he was getting known. When he said "Amen," the chair legs began to bear fruit and leaves. Magnentius, being a jerk, said, "Herakles is a great god! He can manifest his power in dry wood!" George said, "How can you compare this blind and dumb idol Herakles with the God who made the heavens and the earth, who created all that exists and could destroy you in a moment?" Then Dadianus appeared and said, "Okay George, I've got it worked out; I know how I will destroy you!" And he had George sawed in two with a great saw(!). Well, George died instantly. Then, being the extremist he was, Dadianus had George's body thrown into a cauldron full of hot, molten lead, pitch, bitumen, and animal fat and had it all heated to a high heat until it all melted together, including George's body. Then he had his soldiers break the cauldron into pieces and the pieces taken outside the city and buried
so that the Christians couldn't find any remains and build a martyrium. While the soldiers were walking away there was a great trembling in the air and an earthquake and Jesus and the angels came down from heaven and stood over the place where the cauldron was buried. Jesus said to the angel Zalathiel "Bring up the cauldron." Zalathiel laid the cauldron pieces on the ground and Jesus said, "O George, my chosen one, arise! For I am he that raised up Lazarus from the dead, and now I command you to arise and come forth from the cauldron and stand upon your feet, for I am the Lord your God!" And immediately George arose as if he had suffered no pain at all, and Jesus said, "George, be strong and of good cheer. There will be great joy in heaven because of your contest. Remember, I am with you. You're going to die two more times!" And Jesus and the angels returned to heaven.

George headed back to town and went about the city teaching about Jesus, and he even performed quite a few miracles, which we can discuss another time, as this is going on and on. Of course, once Dadianus heard George was alive again AND that he was teaching and performing miracles, he had George arrested and flogged without mercy until his flesh was in pieces AND had a fire lit under him AND placed vessels of fire on his head and THEN hung him over iron pots of fire until he died. THEN he had his attendants take what was left of George's body to Mount Siris where the birds would devour his flesh. As the attendants were walking down from the mountain, there was thunder and lightening and the whole mountain shook, and Jesus and the holy angels came on a cloud, and Jesus said, "O excellent and chosen one, rise up from where you lie!" George rose up, dusted himself off, and chased after the attendants saying, "Hey, wait for me and I'll go back with you!" When the attendants saw George coming up behind them, they were astounded and fell to their knees and asked for forgiveness and for the seal of Christ. George baptized them all, and when they came before the governor they all said, "We are Christians!" to which Dadianus responded by having them all tortured and killed. Once again, Dadianus had George arrested. George decided to trick Dadianus and the governors, and he told them that, after being killed three times and tortured for the past seven years, he would finally do what they wanted.
They said, "We want you to worship Apollo and Herakles." George said, "Okay, I will." Dadianus was overjoyed and kissed George and brought him back to the palace and introduced George to his wife, Alexandra, the Queen. Then he went off and left the two alone (?!?). George spent time talking with her and converted her. Then George asked to be taken to the idol of Apollo. He challenged the demon which inhabited the idol. The demon made the idol get up off its pedestal and walk down the steps to confront George. They had a bit of a theological tiff, and then George stamped the ground with his foot and the abyss opened up and the idol and demon were cast into the pit.

When Dadianus heard that George had converted the Queen, and had destroyed the idol of Apollo, he had George condemned to death once again (novel idea!). George came rejoicing to site of his impending execution. The seventy governors and their entourages were gathered there to watch. George said to the soldiers who were holding him, "Brothers, let me pray for the seventy governors who have tortured me for the past seven years." George looked into heaven and said, "O God, who sent fire from heaven to Elijah to devour the prophets of Baal, I pray that you will send the same fire and devour these governors and those around them that none will be left alive. Thine is the glory for ever and ever, Amen." And fire came from heaven and burned up the seventy governors AND all their armies and attendants, the entire entourage, some five thousand people! Then George prayed that his name would heal all those inflicted by unclean spirits. When he was finished with his prayer, the Lord Jesus and the holy angels appeared to him and said, "Come up now into heaven and rest yourself in the dwelling which I have prepared for you in the kingdom of my Father. O excellent George, I will fulfill every thing which you have requested and many other things even greater than these." Then George said to the executioners, "Come and do what you have been commanded to do" and he stretched out his neck and they chopped off his head, and water and milk flowed forth (which is pretty weird!). And Jesus took George's soul and embraced it and took it up to heaven.

So, there you go! That's the story of the Passion of St. George, somewhat abbreviated, as you don't have all day to be reading blogs!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Feast of the Resurrection


Luke 24:1-10

On Sunday, at daybreak, they made their way to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went inside they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

And so, while they were still uncertain about what to do, two figures in dazzling clothing suddenly appeared and stood beside them. Out of sheer fright they prostrated themselves on the ground; the men said to them, "Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here---he was raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee: 'The son of Adam is destined to be turned over to heathen, to be crucified, and on the third day to rise.'" Then they recalled what he had said.

And returning from the tomb, they related everything to the eleven and to everybody else. The group included Mary of Magdala and Joanna and Mary the mother of James, and the rest of the women companions. They related their story to the apostles.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Great Vigil of Easter


Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
This sermon was written by St. John Chrysostom, the Patriarch or Arch-bishop of Constantinople in the fifth century. He gave this sermon at Hagia Sophia, the great cathedral of Constantinople at the Easter Vigil in the year 400. This is the sermon I gave tonight (in español) at the Great Vigil of Easter

Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!
Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!
If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their due reward;
If any have come after the third hour,
let him with gratitude join in the Feast!
And he that arrived after the sixth hour,
let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss.
And if any delayed until the ninth hour,
let him not hesitate; but let him come too.
And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour,
as well as to him that toiled from the first.
To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows.
He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor.
The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!
First and last alike receive your reward;
rich and poor, rejoice together!
Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,
rejoice today for the Table is richly laden!
Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one.
Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith.
Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Let no one grieve at his poverty,
for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again;
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
He has destroyed it by enduring it.

He destroyed Hades when He descended into it.
He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh.
Isaiah foretold this when he said,
"You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.
It was in an uproar because it is mocked.
It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed.
It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.
It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.
Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hades, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!
Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever.
Amen!

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Holy Saturday


O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 27:57-66
When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb. The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, "After three days I will rise again.'
Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, "He has been raised from the dead,' and the last deception would be worse than the first."
Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone.


Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday Viernes Santo


FIRST STATION
Jesus is condemned to death


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council, held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. And they all condemned him and said, "He deserves to die." When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. Then he handed Jesus over to them to be crucified.

V. God did not spare his own Son:
R. But delivered him up for us all.

Let us pray:

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.



SEGUNDA ESTACIÓN
Jesús toma su cruz


Te adoramos, oh Cristo, y te bendecimos:
Que por tu santa cruz has redimido al mundo.

Jesús salió, cargando su cruz, al lugar llamado de la Calavera, y en hebreo, Gólgota. Y aunque era Hijo, por lo que padeció aprendió obediencia. Como cordero fue llevado al matadero; y como oveja delante de sus trasquiladores, enmudeció, y no abrió su boca. El Cordero que fue inmolado es digno de tomar el poder, las riquezas, la sabiduría, la fortaleza, la honra, la gloria, la alabanza.

V. El Señor cargó en él el pecado de todos:
R. Por las transgresiones de mi pueblo fue muerto.

Oremos:

Dios todopoderoso, cuyo amado Hijo sufrió voluntariamente la agonía y el oprobio de la cruz por nuestra redención: Danos valor para tomar nuestra cruz y seguirle; quien vive y reina por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.

Santo Dios,
Santo Poderoso,
Santo Inmortal,
Ten piedad de nosotros.



THIRD STATION
Jesus falls the first time


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped; but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and was born in human likeness. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name. Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our Maker, for he is the Lord our God.

V. Surely he has borne our griefs:
R. And carried our sorrows.

Let us pray:

O God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.



CUARTA ESTACIÓN
Jesús encuentra a su afligida madre


Te adoramos, oh Cristo, y te bendecimos:
Que por tu santa cruz has redimido al mundo.

¿A quién te haré semejante, hija de Jerusalén? ¿A quién te compararé para consolarte, oh virgen hija de Sión? Porque grande como el mar es tu quebrantamiento. Bienaventurados los que lloran, porque ellos recibirán consolación. El Señor será tu luz eterna, y tus días de duelo terminarán.

V. Una espada traspasará tu misma alma:
R. Y llenará tu corazón de amargo dolor.

Oremos:

Oh Dios, que quisiste que en la pasión de tu Hijo una espada de aflicción traspasara el alma de la bendita Virgen María, su madre: Concede misericordiosamente que tu Iglesia, habiendo participado con ella en su pasión, sea hecha digna de participar en el gozo de su resurrección; quien vive y reina por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.

Santo Dios,
Santo Poderoso,
Santo Inmortal,
Ten piedad de nosotros.



FIFTH STATION
The Cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

As they led Jesus away, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross to carry it behind Jesus. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

V. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me:
R. Cannot be my disciple.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be served but to serve: Bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of others; that with wisdom, patience, and courage, they may minister in his Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy; for the love of him who laid down his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.



SEXTA ESTACIÓN
Una mujer enjuga el rostro de Jesús


Te adoramos, oh Cristo, y te bendecimos:
Que por tu santa cruz has redimido al mundo.

Lo hemos visto sin belleza ni esplendor, su aspecto no era nada atrayente; fue despreciado y rebajado. Era un hombre lleno de dolor, acostumbrado al sufrimiento. Lo despreciamos como a alguien que no merece ser visto, no lo tuvimos en cuenta y sin embargo él estaba cansado con nuestros sufrimientos, estaba soportando nuestros propios dolores. Mas él fue herido por nuestras rebeliones, molido por nuestros pecados; el castigo de nuestra paz cayó sobre él, y por su llaga hemos sido sanados.

V. Restáuranos, oh Señor Dios de los ejércitos:
R. Muestra la luz de tu rostro, y seremos salvos.

Oremos:

Oh Dios, que antes de la pasión de tu unigénito Hijo, revelaste su gloria en el monte santo: Concede que, al contemplar por fe la luz de su rostro, seamos fortalecidos para llevar nuestra cruz y ser transformados a su imagen de gloria en gloria; por Jesucristo nuestro Señor. Amén.

Santo Dios,
Santo Poderoso,
Santo Inmortal,
Ten piedad de nosotros.



SEVENTH STATION
Jesus falls a second time


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. For the transgression of my people was he stricken.

V. But as for me, I am a worm and no man:
R. Scorned by all and despised by the people.

Let us pray:

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.



OCTAVA ESTACIÓN
Jesús encuentra a las mujeres de Jerusalén


Te adoramos, oh Cristo, y te bendecimos:
Que por tu santa cruz has redimido al mundo.

Y seguía a Jesús gran multitud del pueblo, entre ellos mujeres que lloraban y se lamentaban por él. Pero Jesús, vuelto hacia ellas, les dijo: "Hijas de Jerusalén, no lloren por mí, sino lloren por ustedes mismas y por sus hijos".

V. Los que sembraron con lágrimas:
R. Con regocijo segarán.

Oremos:

Enseña a tu Iglesia, oh Señor, a llorar por los pecados de que es culpable, y a arrepentirse y olvidarlos; para que, por medio de tu gracia indulgente, el resultado de nuestras iniquidades no recaiga sobre nuestros hijos ni los hijos de nuestros hijos; por Jesucristo nuestro Señor. Amén.

Santo Dios,
Santo Poderoso,
Santo Inmortal,
Ten piedad de nosotros.



NINTH STATION
Jesus falls a third time


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light. He has besieged me and enveloped me with bitterness and tribulation; he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. Though I call and cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has made my teeth grind on gravel, and made me cower in ashes. "Remember, O Lord, my affliction and bitterness, the wormwood and the gall!"

V. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter:
R. And like a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he opened not his mouth.

Let us pray:

O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.



DÉCIMA ESTACIÓN
Jesús es despojado de sus vestiduras


Te adoramos, oh Cristo, y te bendecimos:
Que por tu santa cruz has redimido al mundo.

Cuando llegaron a un lugar llamado Gólgota, que significa de la Calavera, le dieron a beber vinagre mezclado con hiel; pero después de haberlo probado, no quiso beberlo. Y repartieron entre sí sus vestiduras, echando suertes. Esto fue para que se cumpliese la Escritura, que dice: "Repartieron entre sí mis vestiduras, y sobre mi ropa echaron suertes".

V. Hiel me dieron a comer:
V. Y cuando tuve sed me dieron a beber vinagre.

Oremos:

Señor Dios, cuyo bendito Hijo nuestro Salvador entregó su cuerpo a los azotes y su rostro al esputo: Otórganos tu gracia para soportar gozosamente los sufrimientos de esta vida temporal, confiados en la gloria que ha de ser revelada; por Jesucristo nuestro Señor. Amén.

Santo Dios,
Santo Poderoso,
Santo Inmortal,
Ten piedad de nosotros.



ELEVENTH STATION
Jesus is nailed to the Cross


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

When they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him; and with him they crucified two criminals, one on the right, the other on the left, and Jesus between them. And the scripture was fulfilled which says, "He was numbered with the transgressors."

V. They pierce my hands and my feet:
R. They stare and gloat over me.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace: So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.



DUODÉCIMA ESTACIÓN
Jesús muere en la cruz


Te adoramos, oh Cristo, y te bendecimos:
Que por tu santa cruz has redimido al mundo.

Cuando vio Jesús a su madre, y al discípulo a quien él amaba, que estaba presente, dijo a su madre: "Mujer, he ahí tu hijo". Después dijo al discípulo: "He ahí tu madre". Cuando Jesús hubo tomado el vinagre, dijo: "Consumado es". Y entonces clamando a gran voz dijo: "Padre, en tus manos encomiendo mi espíritu". Y habiendo inclinado la cabeza, entregó el espíritu.

V. Por nosotros Cristo se hizo obediente hasta la muerte:
R. Y muerte de cruz.

Oremos:

Oh Dios, que por nuestra redención entregaste a tu unigénito Hijo a muerte de cruz, y por su resurrección gloriosa nos libraste del poder de nuestro enemigo: Concédenos morir diariamente al pecado, de tal manera que vivamos siempre con él, en el gozo de su resurrección; quien vive y reina ahora y por siempre. Amén.

Santo Dios,
Santo Poderoso,
Santo Inmortal,
Ten piedad de nosotros.



THIRTEENTH STATION
The body of Jesus is placed in the arms of his mother


We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:
Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

All you who pass by, behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow. My eyes are spent with weeping; my soul is in tumult; my heart is poured out in grief because of the downfall of my people. "Do not call me Naomi (which means Pleasant), call me Mara (which means Bitter); for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me."

V. Her tears run down her cheeks:
R. And she has none to comfort her.

Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, by your death you took away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you and wake up in your likeness; for your tender mercies' sake. Amen.

Holy God,
Holy and Mighty,
Holy Immortal One,
Have mercy upon us.



DÉCIMACUARTA ESTACIÓN
Jesús es puesto en la tumba


Te adoramos, oh Cristo, y te bendecimos:
Que por tu santa cruz has redimido al mundo.

Cuando llegó la noche, vino un hombre rico de Arimatea, llamado José, quien también era un discípulo de Jesús. Este fue a Pilato y pidió el cuerpo de Jesús. Entonces Pilato mandó que se le diese. Y tomando José el cuerpo, lo envolvió en una sábana limpia, y lo puso en su sepulcro nuevo, que había labrado en la peña; y rodó una gran piedra a la entrada del sepulcro.

V. No me abandonarás en el sepulcro:
R. Ni permitirás que tu Santo vea corrupción.

Oremos:

Oh Dios, tu bendito Hijo fue puesto en la tumba en un huerto, y descansó en el día del sábado: Concede que nosotros, los que hemos sido sepultados con él en las aguas del bautismo, encontremos nuestro perfecto descanso en su eterno y glorioso reino; donde él vive y reina por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.

Santo Dios,
Santo Poderoso,
Santo Inmortal,
Ten piedad de nosotros.


Oh Salvador del mundo, que por tu cruz y preciosa sangre nos has redimido:
Sálvanos y ayúdanos, humildemente te suplicamos, oh Señor.

Oremos:

Te damos gracias, Padre celestial, porque nos has librado del dominio del pecado y de la muerte y nos has traído al reino de tu Hijo; y te rogamos que, así como por su muerte nos ha hecho volver a la vida, por su amor nos exalte a los gozos eternos; quien vive y reina contigo, en la unidad del Espíritu Santo, un solo Dios, ahora y por siempre. Amén.

To Christ our Lord who loves us, and washed us in his own blood, and made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


John 13:1-5
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus answered, "You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you." For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, "Not all of you are clean."

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday at the Episcopal Churches of All Saints' and Cristo Rey in Watsonville, California.

Our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves visited us for Palm Sunday. We had a bilingual service, ¡and the Passion was bilingual, también! AND, as usual, we had an incredible lunch afterwards. A great time was had by all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Feast of the Annunciation of our Lord


Today is the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord, the commemoration of the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to a young Jewish girl in Palestine some two thousand years ago. This feast has been celebrated since the fifth century, and it is one of the few feasts which are important enough that the fast of Lent is actually suspended for the day. Some see this feast as Mariological, that is, that it has to do primarily with the Blessed Virgin, but I see it as Christological, I believe that it has more to do with the Christ, the Incarnation.

The reading we heard this morning from the Hebrew scriptures is a very interesting reading, as it can be understood on two levels, and both have to do with prophecy. We can read the meaning of this text in its original historical situation which is described in the second Book of Kings. The nation of Syria had entered into an alliance with the northern kingdom of Israel against the southern kingdom of Judah, of which Ahaz was king. Both Syria and Israel had laid siege to the city of Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah offered Ahaz a sign that everything would eventually work out and be successful, but Ahaz refused the sign, probably because he didn't want Isaiah's advice. Isaiah was a prophet who always spoke the word given to him by God' he didn't care whether Ahaz wanted to hear it or not. The sign Isaiah gave Ahaz was: A young woman will conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. In this context, it is probable that the young woman was the wife of Ahaz, and the son to be born is Hezekiah, the future king of Judah. The sign, then, concerned the continuation of the dynasty of David, a sign that God was still with God's people.

The second meaning is that of Matthew and is the meaning which we, as Christians, recognize. We read this as a prophecy of the coming of the Messiah, and we see the young woman as Mary, and the son as Jesus. When the author of Matthew's gospel quoted Isaiah's prophecy, he was not using the actual Hebrew text but using a translation we call the Septuagint which is a translation from the original Hebrew into Greek, which is the language of the Christian scriptures or New Testament. In the Septuagint the word for young woman was translated as παρθενους, which means "virgin." Now, it's quite probable that Isaiah was only thinking of the immediate future when he made his prediction to Ahaz, but since he as a prophet, and the Spirit of God was upon him, the Holy Spirit was speaking through him and this prophecy did have to do with the birth of Hezekiah but also had to do with the birth of the Incarnation. The genealogies of both Matthew and Luke serve to tell us that the birth of Jesus was also a continuation of the Davidic dynasty, and Jesus truly was Emmanuel, "God with us." The Holy Spirit, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, was giving hope to Ahaz and hope to the entire world.

The reading from the Gospel of Luke is the story of the Annunciation, and it is a story that we usually only hear during Advent, and people outside of the Liturgical tradition only think of this story during Christmas. The Bible contains several annunciation stories: there are annunciation stories about the birth of Isaac, about the birth of Samson, the birth of Samuel, and, of course, the birth of John the Baptizer. The purpose of an annunciation story is to acquaint the reader or those listening to the story with the role that the person about to be born will play in salvation history. The purpose is to give us a foreshadowing, in a way, of what will happen, of how important this person's life will be; it is not to serve as an accurate historical narrative. In the other annunciation stories I mentioned, the situation was that a child was to be born to a couple who were either barren and unable to have children, or, in the case of Abram and Sara, a couple who were well past child-bearing age, so the angel was announcing a miraculous birth. But the situation in today's story is quite different: this annunciation is to a young woman of child-bearing age, but she is a woman without a husband, which, as we all know, does not prevent one from having a child. The emphasis in this story is not on a miraculous birth, but on the creative act of the Holy Spirit in bringing about the conception in the womb of this young girl so that the Incarnation, God in Flesh, could come and live among us, so that Emmanuel, God-with-us, could be born in a simple stable with beasts of burden. The Archangel Gabriel came to this young, frightened girl, and informed her that she had been chosen above all others to be the Θεοτοκυς, the God-bearer. Gabriel told her that she would become pregnant, that she would have a son, that his name would be Jesus, and that he would be called Holy and the Son of God. When Mary asked how this could be since she did not have a husband, Gabriel explained the process to her, and also told her that although this may sound strange, her cousin Elizabeth was with child because with God nothing is impossible. And Mary, the one we call Blessed above all women, said, "You see before you the Lord's servant; let it happen to me as you have said." And with her agreement, and with her obedience to God's will, the salvation of the world was able to take place. It is said that "God made us without us, God redeemed us without us, but God cannot save us without us." Mary represented all of humanity when she said "yes" to God's plan, and we have been saved because a human being allowed God to dwell in her womb for nine months.

Mary answered "yes" to God's call, just as Abraham had answered "yes" to God's call. When Abraham answered God's call, he became the father of a mighty nation, the nation of Israel. When Mary answered God's call, she became the mother of the faithful, of God's people, the Λαος, the People of God' she became the mother of the New Israel. Her response to Gabriel, "You see before you the Lord's servant; let it happen to me as you have said," expresses the same faith as that expressed in the prayer her son, Jesus, taught us to say: Your will be done on earth as in heaven. The Annunciation is an event outside of history, because it is the direct intervention of God in human affairs, it is the actual insertion of God into human affairs, because God took on a human body and lived and laughed and ate and drank and slept and woke and experienced all the joys and trials which make up this life, this human existence.

The Feast of the Annunciation takes place on March 25th because it is supposed to be exactly nine months before the birth of Jesus. You mothers know that it is actually quite rare that someone is born exactly nine months after conception; some babies are early and some are late, and it is quite probable that Jesus was not born on December 25. St. Clement of Alexandria was sure that Jesus was born on May 20. But I think that it is appropriate that the Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated during Lent, because the Lenten season points towards the purpose of the Incarnation: to live as one of us, to be arrested and executed, to be buried and then on the third day be resurrected so that death would be conquered, that humanity would be redeemed and given the gift of eternal life. Lent points us towards the arrest, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and the Annunciation points us towards the birth by which the Incarnation came to live among us.

Today we celebrate the Archangel's message to a young girl. Today we celebrate the young girl's obedience to God's will. Today we celebrate the life which told us of the Good News of forgiveness of sins and the coming of God's Reign.

Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord, that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought to the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever Amen.

I See You!

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