quod pro nobis traditum est

Saturday, September 29, 2007

service of angels

St. Michael and All Angels

These are Your ministers,
these are Your own,
Lord God of Sabaoth,
nearest Your throne;
These are Your messengers,
these whom You send,
Helping Your helpless ones,
Helper and Friend.

- Joseph the Hymnographer,
tr. John Mason Neale

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Your heavenly Father

"Note the acceleration of images: just when the lilies are decked out, he no longer calls them lilies but 'grass of the field.' He then points further to their vulnerable condition by saying 'which are here today.' Then he does not merely say 'and not tomorrow' but rather more callously 'cast into the oven.' These creatures are not merely 'clothed' but 'so clothed" in this way as to be later brought to nothing. Do you see how Jesus everywhere abounds in amplifications and intensifications? And he does so in order to press his points home. So then he adds, 'Will he not much more clothe you?' The force of the emphasis is on 'you' to indicate covertly how great is the value set upon your personal existence and the concern God shows for you in particular. It is as though he were saying, 'You, to whom he gave a soul, for whom he fashioned a body, for whose sake he made everything in creation, for whose sake he sent prophets, and gave the law, and wrought those innumerable good works, and for whose sake he gave up his only begotten Son."

- Chrysostom, Matthew, Homily 22.1 (Cited in ACCS 1a, Matthew 1-13, 145)

Ember Days

In the Western tradition today along with Friday and Saturday of this week are Ember Days following the Feast of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14). The Ember Days are the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday following the Feast of St. Lucia (Dec. 13), Ash Wednesday, Whitsunday and the Feast of the Holy Cross.

These days have roots in Roman agricultural tradition and were later adapted for use in the Church. There is record of their observance in the Church in Rome in the 5th century. From there the observance spread to England, Gaul, Germany, Spain and beyond. The Eastern Church does not observe these days.

In early tradition the ordination of priests and deacons took place at Easter. In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius permitted such ordinations to also take place on the Saturdays of Ember week.

The Catholic Encyclopedia states, "The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy."

Although I am not familiar with the nature of, or to what degree, the observances of Ember Days are practiced today, it is not hard to see that these observances are beneficial reminders of God's mercy in providing for the body. In the Lutheran tradition we repeat, "All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him." (SC, Art. I)

And then there are God's abundantly merciful gifts confessed in the Second and Third Articles of the Apostles' Creed . . .

Friday, September 14, 2007

Marriage, not "now"?

Marriage is "old-fashioned," it's all about "now" not "until death do us part." This is, in so many words, the answer given by an actress when asked on an entertainment show why she and her live-in husband(?) of seven years have not tied the knot.

Nothing surprising in attitude and practice here. But why must we be so dogmatic about what's "now?" Is the past really passé? And, what about the future? Let's not talk about marriage or commitment . . .