Archive for April, 2011

On the manner of one of Christ’s healings

His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, reflecting on the means by which the Lord healed a deaf man, writes,

. . .  Jesus takes the ‘man who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech’ and ‘he put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue’ (Mark 7:33). This therapeutic technique is reminiscent of similar occurences very familiar to people in New Testament times. As different commentators hold, however, Mark’s description has special points, such as Jesus’ prayer and sigh (7:34). thus, the scene is solemn while Jesus’ sigh, expressive of his love  for a suffering human being, fills the air with the reality of God’s mercy and affection. We should include that the specific therapeutic technique based on touch is applied to a deaf man, i.e., to a person who could understand the language of touch but not the sound of  words. Thus, it turns out that this is a further expression of understanding and affection, Here, the miraculous healing authority of Jesus is expressed in direct relation to special human needs.

Authority and Passion: Christological Aspects of the Gospel According to Mark, Demetrios Trakatellis, Archbishop of America. translated from the Greek by George K. Duvall and Harry Vulopas. Boston, Massachusetts: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1987, reprinted 2001, Page 45.

From the Publisher: http://store.holycrossbookstore.com/auandpachaso.html 

His Eminence Archbishop Demitrios: http://goarch.org/archbishop/demetrios 

Advertisements

Christ is risen!

“Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.  But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! (St. Luke 24:1-6a)

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  . . . . then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22, 54b)

But for you who fear my name the Sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in [His] wings, You shall go forth leaping like calves from the stall.” (Malachi 4:2)

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing for joy. (Isaiah 35:5-6a)

The Orthodox Church has now entered into the Paschal Season, in which we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, as well as our own, for Christ’s resurrection brings for us our resurrection. Our Lord has defeated death by death. As He arose with a transformed body with which He could both eat fish and enter through closed doors, we will one day rise with new bodies, with capabilities beyond our present ability to conceive. Glory to Thee, our God, Glory to Thee!

“It is the day of the Resurrection! Let us adorn ourselves with the splendor of the festival and embrace one another! And let us say, O brethren, even unto those who hate us: ‘Let us forgive all things at the Resurrection, and thus let us cry out: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!’”

from http://www.monachos.net/content/patristics/patristictexts/157-ephrem-paschal-hymn Paschal Hymn, by St. Ephrem the Syrian

I fall in adoration at your feet, Lord!
I thank you, God of goodness;
God of holiness, I invoke you,
on my knees, in your sight.

For me, an unworthy sinner,
you have willed to undergo the death of the cross,
setting me free from the bonds of evil.

What shall I offer in return for your generosity?

Glory to you, friend of men!
Glory to you, most merciful!
Glory to you, most patient!
Glory to you who forgive sin!
Glory to you who have come to save us!
Glory to you who have been made man in the womb of a Virgin!
Glory to you who have been bound!
Glory to you who have been scourged!
Glory to you who have been derided!
Glory to you who have been nailed to the cross!
Glory to you, laid in a sepulchre, but risen again!
Glory to you who have preached the Gospel to men and have been believed!
Glory to you who have ascended to heaven!
Glory to you, seated at the right hand of the Father and who will return with him, in majesty, among the angels, to judge those who have disregarded your passion!

The powers of heaven will be shaken;
all the angels and archangels, the cherubim and seraphim
will appear in fear and trembling before Your glory;

the foundations of the earth will quake
and all that has life will cry out before Your majesty.

In that hour let your hand draw me beneath Your wings,
and save me from the terrible fire, from the gnashing of teeth,
from the outer darkness and from despair without end.
That I may sing to Your glory:

Glory to Him who through His merciful goodness has designed to redeem this sinner.

through the Cross, joy . . .

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

In the Orthodox Church, Holy Thursday evening is really Friday morning- anticipated. There are twelve passion gospel readings; after the fifth gospel reading- by which time all  is dark- a Cross and an icon of Christ crucified, with arms open wide, is carried in procession through the sanctuary and attached to the solea in the front of the sanctuary. And there Christ is “nailed” to the Cross, for us.

And with us, for we are nailed to the Cross with Him.

Having participated in Christ’s sufferings together, in heart, mind, and body- a call to do so in all of our life- we leave, quietly, reflectively. It is the end of a day, but not the end of the Story.  . . . .

Just as disability is not the end of anyone’s story.

“Through the Cross joy has come into all the world!

Entry into Jerusalem

 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:  
 
“Tell the daughter of Zion,‘ Behold, your King is coming to you, Lowly, and sitting on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
 
Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”

Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, Yes. Have you never read,

‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise’?” (St. Matthew 21:1-16)

The Orthodox Christian Gospel reading for Palm Sunday stops at verse 11. But it is extended here for consideration of this:

Just as the poor widow, in giving her two mites, (which are roughly equivalent to pennies) gave more than all those who simply gave out of their abundance, (their “overflow,” so to speak) the praises of those who are the more simple among us, whether children or not, who are not eloquent, intelligent, prominent, or influential – as well as those whose voices would not make them candidates for a choir- are treasured by our Lord in a way that conventional human reckonings do not fathom. The Lord sees the heart.  

Microfinance for Russian Orphans

The Russian Orphans Opportunity Fund (ROOF) is seeking someone with expertise in microfinance to help them provide opportunities for Russian orphans, that they may lead productive lives rather than live out their lives in institutions, which, tragically, happens often. Such investments would also benefit the communities in which the orphanages are located, and would enhance the relationship between the community and the orphanges, building bonds between them. Here is the call from their website:   http://www.roofnet.org/node/94 

One of the orphanages in which they work, Belskoye Ustye, is a “psycho-neurological internat.” This a institutional structure which is a holdover from the Soviet Era. ROOF began working there in 2000, and there have been great strides, but there is much left to do in terms of providing the orphans there with opportunities for full lives. From the website: http://www.roofnet.org/bu 

Pictures http://www.roofnet.org/photopic 

ROOF Home Page http://www.roofnet.org/

St. Dymphna †620

 St. Dympha is a pre-schism Western Saint from Ireland who is a patron of mental illness, nervous diseases, incest victims, runaways. She was the daughter of a pagan chieftain who decided, after his wife died, he would marry his daughter, Dymphna. A devout Christian, refused, and fled, all the way to Belgium. But her father pursued her there, and repeated his demand. Again she refused, and he killed her.

 For more on St. Dymphna, see http://www.domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19980501/SAINTS/STDYMPHN.HTM

For another account of her life, as it impacts the world today, accompanied by a wonderful icon of her by Fr. William McNichols, see http://puffin.creighton.edu/jesuit/andre/dymphna.html 

http://saints.sqpn.com/saint-dymphna/  

A Brief Story of St. Dymphna, Patron of Victims of Nervous Disorders* 

ISLE OF SAINTS has long been a title popularly given to the island evangelized by St. Patrick, which nestles in the blue waters of the Atlantic. And appropriately it is so called for the names of the Irish saints would more than fill the Church’s calendar. Yet it is to be regretted that Catholics for the most part are entirely unfamiliar with so many of these glorious saints, yes, even ignorant of their very names. One such forgotten or unknown saint, who, on account of her spotless virtue and glorious martyrdom, is sometimes referred to as the “Lily of Fire,” is St. Dymphna. True, the records of the life and martyrdom of this holy virgin are for the most part meager and unsatisfactory, but sufficient is known regarding the principal faces of her life and of her many well-authenticated miracles to attest to an exalted sanctity. 

St. Dymphna was born in the 7th century, when Ireland was almost universally Catholic. Yet, strange to say, her father, a petty king of Oriel, was still a pagan. <!–[if !vml]–><!–[endif]–>Her mother, a descendant of a noble family, was, on the other hand, a devout Christian., who was remarkable both for her piety and her great beauty. Dymphna was, like her mother, a paragon of beauty, and a most sweet and winning child, the “jewel” of her home. Every affection and attention was lavished upon her from birth. Heaven, too, favored the child with special graces. Dymphna was early placed under the care and tutelage of a pious Christian woman, who prepared her for baptism, which was conferred by the saintly priest Father Gerebran. The latter seems to have been a member of the household, and later taught little Dymphna her letters along with the truths of religion. Dymphna was a bright and eager pupil, and advanced rapidly in wisdom and grace. When still very young, Dymphna, like so many other nobel Irish maidens before and after her, being filled with fervor and love for Jesus Christ, chose Him for her Divine Spouse and consecrated her virginity to Him and to His Blessed Mother by a vow of chastity. 

It was not long, however, until an unexpected cloud overshadowed the happy childhood of the beautiful girl. She lost her good mother by death. Many were the secret tears she shed over this bereavement, but at the same time she found great comfort in the Divine Faith which, though she was still of a tender age, already had taken deep root. 

Dymphna’s father, too, greatly mourned his deceased wife and for a long time continued prostrate with grief. At length he was persuaded by his counselors to seek solace in a second marriage. So he commissioned certain ones of his court to seek out for him a lady who would be like his first spouse in beauty and character. After visiting many countries in vain, the messengers returned saying that they could find none so charming and amiable as his own lovely daughter, Dymphna. Giving ear to their base suggestion, the king conceived the evil design of marrying Dymphna. With persuasive and flattering words he manifested his purpose to her. Dymphna, as may be expected, was greatly horrified at the suggestion, and asked for a period of forty days to consider the proposal. She immediately betook herself to Father Gerebran, who advised her to flee from her native country, and since the danger was imminent, he urged her to make no delay. 

With all speed, therefore, she set out for the continent, accompanied by Father Gerebran, the court jester and his wife. After a favorable passage, they arrived on the coast near the present city of Antwerp. Having stopped for a short rest, they resumed their journey and came to a little village named Gheel. Here they were hospitably received and began to make plans for establishing their future abode at this place. 

The king, in the meantime, having discovered Dymphna’s flight, was fearfully angry, and immediately set out with his followers in search of the fugitives. After some time, they were traced to Belgium and their place of refuge was located. At first, Dymphna’s father tried to persuade her to return with him, but Father Gerebran sternly rebuked him for his wicked intentions, whereupon he gave orders that Father Gerebran should be put to death. Without delay, his wicked retainers laid violent hands upon the priest and struck him on the neck with a sword. With one blow of the steel, the head was severed from the shoulders and another glorious martyr went to join the illustrious heroes of Christ’s kingdom. 

Further attempts on the part of Dymphna’s father to induce her to return with him proved fruitless. With undaunted courage she spurned his enticing promises and scorned his cruel threats. Infuriated by her resistance, the father drew a dagger from his belt and he himself struck off the head of his child. Recommending her soul to the mercy of God, the holy virgin fell prostrate at the feet of her insanely raving father. Thus the glorious crown of martyrdom was accorded to St. Dymphna in the fifteenth year of her age, on the fifteenth day of May, between 620 and 640. The day of her death has been assigned as her feastday. 

The records of Dymphna’s life and death say that the bodies of the two martyred saints lay on the ground for quite some time after their death, until the inhabitants of Gheel removed them to a cave, which was the customary manner of interment in that part of the world at the time of the martyrdoms. But after several years had elapsed, the villagers, recalling their holy deaths, decided to give the bodies a more suitable burial. When the workmen removed the heap of black earth at the cave’s entrance, great was their astonishment to find two most beautiful tombs, whiter than snow, which were carved from stone, as if by angel hands. When the coffin of St. Dymphna was opened there was found lying on her breast a red tile bearing the inscription: 

“Here lies the holy virgin and martyr, Dymphna.” 

The remains of the saint were placed in a small church. Later necessity obliged the erection of the magnificent “Church of St. Dymphna,” which now stands on the site where the bodies were first buried. St. Dymphna’s relics repose there in a beautiful golden reliquary. 

Miracles and cures began to occur in continually increasing numbers. Gradually St. Dymphna’s fame as patroness of victims of nervous diseases and mental disorders was spread from country to country. More and more mentally afflicted persons were brought to the shrine by relatives and friends, many coming in pilgrimages from far-distant places. Novenas were made, and St. Dymphna’s relic was applied to the patients. The remarkable cures reported caused confidence in the saint to grow daily. At first the patients were lodged in a small annex built onto the church. Then gradually it came about that the patients were place in the homes of the families living in Gheel. From this beginning Gheel developed into a town world-famed for its care of the insane and mentally afflicted. An institution, called the “Infirmary of St. Elizabeth,” which was conducted by the Sisters of St. Augustine was later built for the hospital care of the patients. Most of the latter, after some time spent in the institution, are placed in one or other of the families of Gheel, where they lead a comparatively normal life. Every home in Gheel is proud to welcome to its inmost family circle such patients as are ready to return to the environment of family life. Generations of experience have given to the people of Gheel an intimate and tender skill in dealing with their charges, and their remarkable spirit of charity and Christlike love for these afflicted members of society gives to our modern-day world, so prone to put its whole reliance on science and to forge the principles of true Christian charity, a lesson the practice of which would do much to restore certain types of mentally afflicted individuals to an almost normal outlook on life. 

Renowned psychiatrists are in full agreement with this statement, and testify that a surprisingly large number of patients could leave mental institutions if they could be assured of a sympathetic reception in the world, such as the people of Gheel take pride in showing. In fact, psychiatrists state that institutions can help certain cases only to a given extent, and when that point is reached, they must have help from persons outside the institution if the progress made in the institution is to have fruition. Gheel is the living confirmation of this statement and an exemplar of the Gospel teachings on charity. 

Blessed Herman †1054

Another profile of a pre-schism western Saint who is counted among the intercessors for those with disabilities is Blessed Herman the Disabled.

Here is a poem about him, by William Hart Hurlbut, M.D.:

I am least among the low,
I am weak and I am slow;
I can neither walk nor stand,
Nor hold a spoon in my own hand.

Like a body bound in chain,
I am on a rack of pain,
But He is God who made me so,
that His mercy I should know.

Brothers do not weep for me!
Christ, the Lord, has set me free.
All my sorrows he will bless;
Pain is not unhappiness.

From my window I look down
To the streets of yonder town,
Where the people come and go,
Reap the harvest that they sow.

Like a field of wheat and tares,
Some are lost in worldly cares;
There are hearts as black as coal,
There are cripples of the soul.

Brothers do not weep for me!
In his mercy I am free.
I can neither sow nor spin,
Yet, I am fed and clothed in Him.

I have been the donkey’s tail,
Slower than a slug or snail;
You my brothers have been kind,
Never let me lag behind.

I have been most rich in friends,
You have been my feet and hands;
All the good that I could do,
I have done because of you.

Oh my brothers, can’t you see?
You have been as Christ for me.
And in my need I know I, too,
Have become as Christ for you!

I have lived for forty years
In this wilderness of tears;
But these trials can’t compare
With the glory we will share.

I have had a voice to sing,
To rejoice in everything;
Now Love’s sweet eternal song
Breaks the darkness with the dawn.

Brother’s do not weep for me!
Christ, the Lord, has set me free.
Oh my friends, remember this:
Pain is not unhappiness.

discovered in  Father Benedict J Groeschel book, Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones, by the producers of the weblog Unborn Word of the Day: http://unbornwordoftheday.com/2007/10/02/blessed-herman-a-poem/

 “Blessed Herman: (died 1054). Apparently afflicted with cleft palate, spina bifida, and cerebral palsy, Herman was born in Swabia, into the house of Althausen. Shocked that their son was nearly helpless due to the huge number of physical disabilities that were obvious at his birth, his parents gave him into the care of the abbey of Reichenau where he lived for forty years.  Becoming a monk himself, Herman used his brilliant mind to write a long, unfinished poem of deadly sins and a mathematical-astronomical treatise as well as two well known anthems to Our Lady, “Alma Redemptoris Mater” and “Salve Regina.”
from the website
  http://www.penitents.org/prolifeprayer.html#Patron_Saints_of_Children_with_Disabilities
See also http://catholicexchange.com/2009/09/25/97066/ & http://www.irondequoitcatholic.org/index.php/Bl/HermannTheDisabled & http://unbornwordoftheday.com/2007/09/24/another-pro-life-saint-good-we-need-him/

And here are profiles of the two famous western hymns he wrote:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salve_Regina & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alma_Redemptoris_Mater (by Blessed Herman)


Archives

Blog Stats

  • 112,680 hits
April 2011
S M T W T F S
« Mar   May »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930

%d bloggers like this: