The Orthodox Western Rite in San Francisco

I’m a member of the OCA. We don’t have a Western Rite. In point of fact, we’ve been kinda opposed to it.  But I love it.  I’m so pleased with it that were a parish to form in San Francisco, I’d be hella supportive. The why of that is complex. I was Chrismated into the ER, I love Russian style chanting and I think our ER Holy Week is head-over-heels awesome.  I can chant our services well, I enjoy serving and I can  – with the help of our expert choir director and his “idiot books” as they are called – navigate our complex services.  
I miss, however, the simplicity of Low Mass, the starkness of Stations of the Cross, the richness of the daily office.  In the light of that last item, I am also a Novice Oblate of the Order of St Benedict, and I use a WR Daily Office as posted on a domain ironically called “Eastern Rite”.   I admit I’d like a WR parish with no pews… but the organ doesn’t scare me if it’s done right.  A “concert mass” isn’t a bad thing if it furthers devotion. The Rosary doesn’t need “Creative visualization” in order to “work”.  
As St John of San Francisco pointed out, the West was orthodox a long time before it wasn’t – and, unlike the East, the West never fell into heresy: which is why Maximus the Confessor took refuge with the Pope when the entire eastern Church fell away from the Faith.  The Western Liturgy is missing some of the “Correctives” added to the ER, because we never needed them in the West. Additionally, the “didactic hymnody” of the East is missing in the West because preaching the full faith was never outlawed here (at least not yet).
I’m not one of these people who imagines that the Western Rite is “better suited” to evangelizing Westerners. Most of the people I know couldn’t tell High Mass from Divine Liturgy or Deviled Eggs.  The unchurched, however, need missionaries and need priests.  There are enough ER communities in SF – some ROCOR Parishes are only blocks from each other.  What there are not: more than only and exactly one traditionalist WR anything.  What could hurt?
Let us pray to Pope St Gregory the great that someone will send us a new Augustine or a new Patrick. Let us pray that someone will send a new Cyril and Methodius.  Let us beg for a new St Innocent.  Let someone learn the language and reach out to us.
So if anyone is in SF and wants to pray the daily office, get with me: I do it almost daily.
And if any missionaries out there want to evangelize in SF, you should let me know. I’d love to help.

O God, who carest for Thy people with mercy and rulest them in love, through the intercession of Pope Saint Gregory, call, we pray thee, more labourers to the fields of San Francisco, white for harvest, that the flourishing of a holy flock may become the eternal joy of the shepherds; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, ever, world without end. Amen

Paschal Hours

Christ is Risen!

In the Eastern tradition, regular hourly prayers are suspended through bright week (from Pascha until the following Saturday). During that time the following Paschal Hours are read for all the “minor” hours – The midnight office, Prime, Terce, Sext and None and Compline – during the day (Matins, Vespers are also in special format). Another interesting tradition is that no psalms are read: because they are viewed as all prophecy that is now fulfilled.

If you wish, I think these prayers would make a wonderful addition for Easter Week, as well as throughout the 50 days. Most of the prayers are repeated – traditionally when prayers are repeated thrice (Such as the prayer “Holy God, Holy Mighty”) the sign of the cross is made at the beginning of each prayer. I’ve also marked the sign of the cross (+) at places where it is traditionally made in the Eastern Rite. Note the tones – if you are familiar with Orthodox Chant, these can be chanted, if not, just read ‘em!

+Through the prayers of our holy fathers and mothers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us. Amen.

+Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life.(3x)

+Having beheld the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only Sinless One. We worship your cross, O Christ, and your holy Resurrection we praise and glorify; for you are our God, and we know no other besides you, and we call upon your name. O come, all you faithful, let us worship Christ’s holy Resurrection, for behold, through the Cross joy has come to all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, we hymn His Resurrection; for, having endured crucifixion, He has destroyed death by death. (3x)

The Hypakoe, eighth tone:
Before the dawn, the women came with Mary, and found the stone rolled away from the tomb, and heard from the angel: why do you seek He who lives in everlasting light here among the dead, as though He were a mortal? Behold the grave-clothes. Go quickly and proclaim to the world that the Lord is risen and has slain death. For He is the Son of God Who saves all.

The Kontakion, eighth tone:
Though you descended into the grave, O Immortal One, you destroyed the power of Hell. And you rose as victor, O Christ God, calling to the myrrh-bearing women: Rejoice! And giving peace unto your apostles: you grant resurrection to the fallen.

And these Troparia, eighth tone:
You were in the grave bodily, but in Hell with your soul as God: in Paradise with the thief, and on the throne with the Father and the Spirit. You fill all things, O Christ the Inexpressible.

+Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Your tomb is shown to be life-giving and more beautiful than Paradise, and truly more resplendent than any royal palace, O Christ, the source of our resurrection!

Both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

O sanctified and divine tabernacle of the Most High, rejoice! For through you, O Theotokos, joy is given to those who cry: Blessed are you among women, O all-pure Lady.

Lord, have mercy (40x).

+Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

+More honourable than the Cherubim, more glorious than the Seraphim, who without corruption gave birth to God the Word, True Theotokos, we magnify you.

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, for the sake of the prayers of your most pure Mother, of our holy and God-bearing fathers and mothers, and all the saints, have mercy on us. Amen.

[For Compline add this prayer:

Blessed are you, Master almighty, who have given light to the day by the light of the sun and made the night bright with rays of fire, who have granted us to pass through the length of the day and draw near to the beginnings of the night. Hearken to our entreaty and that of all your people, and forgive all of us our sins voluntary and involuntary and send down the multitude of your mercy and acts of compassion upon your inheritance. Wall us about with your holy Angels. Arm us with the weapons of your justice. Surround us with the rampart of your truth. Guard us with your power. Deliver us from every calamity and every assault of the adversary. Grant us that the present evening with the coming night may be perfect, holy, peaceful, sinless, without stumbling, and dreamless and likewise all the days of our life; at the prayers of the holy Mother of God and of all the Saints who have been well pleasing to you since time began. Amen. ]

+Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and on those in the tombs bestowing life.(3x)

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

+May Christ our true God, Who rose from the dead, trampling down death by death bestowing life on those in the tombs, through the intercessions of His most Pure Mother, and of all the saints have mercy on us and save us, for He is good and the Lover of All.

My Song is Love Unknown

My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?
He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.
Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.
Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.
They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they save,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.
Text; Samuel Crossman 1664

The Holy Mystery


From the Church of the Frescoes, near Valle Crucis, NC 

 On this day we commemorate the Institution of the Eucharist, the beginning of the on-going mystery of Christ in His Body, the Church. It all ties together now: the Body of Christ, present, feeding us who are Christ, active, serving Christ who is you, in the world.

This is not a symbol, not a recreation, not a memory game: this is Christ and so we sing:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand. 

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food. 

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away. 

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Let us die with him

Singing Matins and Vespers for Holy Monday we offer this verse:

As th Ge Lord was coming to his voluntary passion,
he said to his Apostles on the road,
‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of man will be betrayed,
as it is written of him’.

Come then, let us too, with minds made pure,
journey with him,
and let us be crucified with him,
and for his sake become dead
to the pleasures of life,
that we may live with him
and hear him as he cries,

‘I am no longer going up
to the earthly Jerusalem to suffer,
but to my Father and your Father,
and to my God and your God.
And I shall raise you up with me
to the Jerusalem above,
in the kingdom of heaven’.

(Lauds of Monday & again during “Lord I Call” at Vespers)

That’s when it dawns on me that Holy Week is not primarily about a commemoration of the Passion and Death of the Messiah. Besides we have that event every time we break bread together in his name.  Holy week is, at heart, an initiatory rite.  It is about making us ready to die, in our selves, in order to be ready to participate in his Resurrection.  Naturally this is so: it is the time for baptisms.  But it is not only the newly illuminated that participate in Holy Week, it is all of us.

And like Confession is a little refresher in on the Baptism, Holy Week is a reminder of the death of self-will, the sacrifice of ego, the end of self-love that is required to really love God and our Neighbor. Only when the ego dies can we realize the Neighbor is us.  And God.

Daily Office 16 – 30 April

The Daily Offices for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon. The readings are as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate, unofficially supplemented with other devotional material taken from the Breviary and the Psalter. Each MP/EP link will take you to a complete office, needing only the daily Psalter or, for MP, the Martyrology link.

  1.  Wednesday in Holy Week – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  2.  Maundy Thursday (Anicetus, PM) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  3.  Good Friday – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  4.  Holy Saturday – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  5.  Sunday of the Resurrection – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  6.  Monday in Easter 8va – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  7.  Tuesday in Easter 8va – (Ss Soter and Caius Mm) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  8.  Wednesday in Easter 8va – (George, M) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  9.  Thursday in Easter 8va – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  10.  Friday within Easter 8va – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  11.  Saturday in Easter 8va – (Ss Cletus and Marcellinus Mm) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  12.  Octave of Easter Low Sunday – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  13.  St Mark the Evangelist (xfer) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  14.  Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  15.  Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.