Friday, February 24, 2012

EDITOR’s NOTE:  I will be traveling out of the country until March 3, and will not have regular access to a computer.  As a result, the daily postings may be incomplete or missing.  Sorry for any inconvenience.


The Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian

O Lord and Master of my life, keep from me the spirit of indifference and discouragement, lust of power and idle chatter.

Instead, grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humble-mindedness, patience, and love.
O Lord and King, grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and not to judge my brother; for You are blessed now and ever and forever.


Friday after Ash Wednesday

Is 58:1-9a
Thus says the Lord GOD:

Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
"Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?"

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 51:3-4, 5-6ab, 18-19

R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

For I acknowledge my offense,
and my sin is before me always:
"Against you only have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight."

R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

For you are not pleased with sacrifices;
should I offer a burnt offering, you would not accept it.
My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;
a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

R. A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.

Mt 9:14-15
The disciples of John approached Jesus and said,
"Why do we and the Pharisees fast much,
but your disciples do not fast?"
Jesus answered them,

"Can the wedding guests mourn
as long as the bridegroom is with them?
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them,
and then they will fast."


February 24

St. Tarasius  (730 – 806)

 St. Tarasius was subject of the Byzantine Empire. He was raised to the highest honors in the Empire as Consul, and later became first secretary to the Emperor Constantine and his mother, Irene. 

When being elected Patriarch of Constantinople, he consented to accept the dignity offered to him only on condition that a General Council should be summoned to resolve the disputes concerning the veneration of sacred images, for Constantinople had been separated from the Holy See on account of the war between the Emperors. The Council was held in the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople in 786; it met again the following year at Nice and its decrees were approved by the Pope. The holy Patriarch incurred the enmity of the Emperor by his persistent refusal to sanction his divorce from his lawful wife. He witnessed the death of Constantine, which was occasioned by his own mother; he beheld the reign and the downfall of Irene and usurpation of Nicephorus. 

St. Tarasius' whole life in the Episcopacy was one of penance and prayer, and of hard labor to reform his clergy and people. He occupied the See of Constantinople twenty-one years and two months. His charity toward the poor was one of the characteristic virtues of his life. He visited in person, all the houses and hospitals in Constantinople, so that no indigent person might be overlooked in the distribution of alms. This saintly Bishop 
was called to his eternal reward in the year 806.


O Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 99 (100)

Come, today, and listen to his voice: do not harden your hearts.

– Come, today, and listen to his voice: do not harden your hearts.

Rejoice in the Lord, all the earth,
and serve him with joy.
Exult as you enter his presence.

– Come, today, and listen to his voice: do not harden your hearts.

Know that the Lord is God.
He made us and we are his
– his people, the sheep of his flock.

– Come, today, and listen to his voice: do not harden your hearts.

Cry out his praises as you enter his gates,
fill his courtyards with songs.
Proclaim him and bless his name;
for the Lord is our delight.
His mercy lasts for ever,
his faithfulness through all the ages.

– Come, today, and listen to his voice: do not harden your hearts.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

– Come, today, and listen to his voice: do not harden your hearts.


The fast, as taught by holy lore,
We keep in solemn course once more:
The fast to all men known, and bound
In forty days of yearly round.
More sparing therefore let us make
The words we speak, the food we take,
Our sleep and pleasure. Closer barred
Be every sense in holy guard.
Avoid the evil thoughts that roll
Like waters o’er the heedless soul;
Nor let the foe occasion find
Our souls in slavery to bind.
Thy grace have we offended sore,
By sins, O God, which we deplore;
But pour upon us from on high,
O pardoning One, thy clemency.
Remember thou, though frail we be,
That yet thine handiwork are we;
Nor let the honor of thy name
Be by another put to shame.
Forgive the sin that we have wrought;
Increase the good that we have sought;
That we at length, our wanderings o’er,
May please thee here and evermore.
Blest Three in One, and One in Three,
Almighty God, we pray to thee,
That this our fast of forty days
May work our profit and thy praise.

Psalm 77 (78)
The history of salvation: the Lord's goodness, his people's infidelity

Our fathers have told us of the might of the Lord and the marvellous deeds he has done.

Listen, my people, to my teaching;
open your ears to the words of my mouth.
I shall open my mouth in explanation,
I shall tell of the secrets of the past.
All that we have heard and know –
all that our fathers told us –
we shall not hide it from their descendants,
but will tell to a new generation
the praise of the Lord, and his power,
and the wonders that he worked.
He set up a covenant with Jacob,
he gave a law to Israel;
he commanded our ancestors to pass it on to their children,
so that the next generation would know it,
the children yet to be born.
They shall rise up and tell the story to their children,
so that they put their trust in God,
so that they do not forget the works of God,
so that they keep his commandments;
so that they do not become like their fathers,
rebellious and troublesome,
a generation of fickle hearts,
of souls unfaithful to God.
The sons of Ephraim, the bowmen,
fled when it came to battle;
they did not keep their covenant with God,
they refused to follow his law.
They forgot his deeds
and the wonders he had shown them.
In front of their ancestors he had worked his wonders,
in the land of Egypt, in the plains of Tanis.
He divided the sea and led them across,
he held back the waters as if in a bag.
He led them in a cloud by day;
and through the night, in the light of fire.
He split the rock in the desert
and gave them water as if from bottomless depths.
He brought forth streams from the rock
and made the waters flow down in rivers.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Our fathers have told us of the might of the Lord and the marvellous deeds he has done.

Psalm 77 (78)

The sons of Israel ate manna and drank spiritual drink from the rock which followed them.

Still they insisted on sinning against him,
they stirred up the wrath of the Most High in the desert.
They put God to the test in their hearts,
asking for food, their desire.
They spoke out against God, saying
“Can God lay a table in the wilderness?”
He struck the rock, and the waters poured out,
and the streams were full to overflowing;
“But can he give us bread?
Can he give meat to his people?”
The Lord heard all this, and he flared up in anger.
Fire blazed against Jacob,
his wrath rose up against Israel.
All this, because they had no faith in God,
they had no trust in his saving power.
He commanded the clouds nevertheless,
and opened the doors of the heavens.
Manna rained down for them to eat:
he gave them the bread of heaven.
Men ate the food of angels;
he gave them provisions in abundance.
In heaven he stirred up the east wind,
he brought the south wind, by his power:
he rained meat on them as if it were dust,
winged birds, like the sands of the sea,
to fall in the middle of their camp,
all around their tents.
They ate and were full to bursting,
and so he gave them their desire.
In the middle of their enjoyment,
when the food was still in their mouths,
the wrath of God rose up against them,
and slew the healthiest among them,
and laid low the flower of Israel.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

The sons of Israel ate manna and drank spiritual drink from the rock which followed them.

Psalm 77 (78)

They remembered that God was their helper and their redeemer.

All this – and still they sinned,
still they had no faith in his wonders.
He made their days vanish in a breath,
their years in a headlong rush.
Whenever he was killing them, they sought him,
repented and came back to him at dawn:
they remembered that God is their helper,
that God, the Most High, is their saviour;
but their speech to him was only flattery:
they lied to him with their tongues,
their hearts were dishonest towards him,
they did not keep his covenant.
But the Lord is merciful:
he forgives sin, he does not destroy.
Always he turned aside his anger,
held back from unleashing all his wrath.
He remembered that they were flesh –
a breath, that goes and does not return.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

They remembered that God was their helper and their redeemer.

Turn back to the Lord your God,
– because he is tenderness and compassion.

Exodus 2:1-22

There was a man of the tribe of Levi who had taken a woman of Levi as his wife. She conceived and gave birth to a son and, seeing what a fine child he was, she kept him hidden for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him; coating it with bitumen and pitch, she put the child inside and laid it among the reeds at the river’s edge. His sister stood some distance away to see what would happen to him.

Now Pharaoh’s daughter went down to bathe in the river, and the girls attending her were walking along by the riverside. Among the reeds she noticed the basket, and she sent her maid to fetch it. She opened it and looked, and saw a baby boy, crying; and she was sorry for him. ‘This is a child of one of the Hebrews’ she said. Then the child’s sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and find you a nurse among the Hebrew women to suckle the child for you?’ ‘Yes, go,’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her; and the girl went off to find the baby’s own mother. To her the daughter of Pharaoh said, ‘Take this child away and suckle it for me. I will see you are paid.’ So the woman took the child and suckled it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter who treated him like a son; she named him Moses because, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’

Moses, a man by now, set out at this time to visit his countrymen, and he saw what a hard life they were having; and he saw an Egyptian strike a Hebrew, one of his countrymen. Looking round he could see no one in sight, so he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. On the following day he came back, and there were two Hebrews, fighting. He said to the man who was in the wrong, ‘What do you mean by hitting your fellow countryman?’ ‘And who appointed you’ the man retorted, ‘to be prince over us, and judge? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Moses was frightened. ‘Clearly that business has come to light’ he thought. When Pharaoh heard of the matter he would have killed Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and made for the land of Midian. And he sat down beside a well.

Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s sheep. Shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses came to their defence and watered their sheep for them. When they returned to their father Reuel, he said to them, ‘You are back early today!’ ‘An Egyptian protected us from the shepherds;’ they said ‘yes, and he drew water for us and watered the flock.’ ‘And where is he?’ he asked his daughters. ‘Why did you leave the man there? Ask him to eat with us.’ So Moses settled with this man, who gave him his daughter Zipporah in marriage. She gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom because, he said, ‘I am a stranger in a foreign land.’


It was by faith that Moses,
when he grew to manhood,
refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to be ill-treated in company with God’s people rather than to enjoy for a time the pleasures of sin,
because he had his eyes fixed on God’s reward.

He reckoned that to suffer scorn for the Messiah was worth far more than all the treasures of Egypt;
it was by faith that he left Egypt,
because he had his eyes fixed on God’s reward.

A homily of Pseudo-Chrysostom

Prayer is the light of the soul

The highest good is prayer and conversation with God, because it means that we are in God’s company and in union with him. When light enters our bodily eyes our eyesight is sharpened; when a soul is intent on God, God’s inextinguishable light shines into it and makes it bright and clear. I am talking, of course, of prayer that comes from the heart and not from routine: not the prayer that is assigned to particular days or particular moments in time, but the prayer that happens continuously by day and by night.

Indeed the soul should not only turn to God at times of explicit prayer. Whatever we are engaged in, whether it is care for the poor, or some other duty, or some act of generosity, we should remember God and long for God. The love of God will be as salt is to food, making our actions into a perfect dish to set before the Lord of all things. Then it is right that we should receive the fruits of our labours, overflowing onto us through all eternity, if we have been offering them to him throughout our lives.

Prayer is the light of the soul, true knowledge of God, a mediator between God and men. Prayer lifts the soul into the heavens where it hugs God in an indescribable embrace. The soul seeks the milk of God like a baby crying for the breast. It fulfils its own vows and receives in exchange gifts better than anything that can be seen or imagined.

Prayer is a go-between linking us to God. It gives joy to the soul and calms its emotions. I warn you, though: do not imagine that prayer is simply words. Prayer is the desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not given by man but brought about by God’s grace. As St Paul says: For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf in a way that could never be put into words.

If God gives to someone the gift of such prayer, it is a gift of imperishable riches, a heavenly food that satisfies the spirit. Whoever tastes that food catches fire and his soul burns for ever with desire for the Lord.

To begin on this path, start by adorning your house with modesty and humility. Make it shine brightly with the light of justice. Decorate it with the gold leaf of good works, with the jewels of faithfulness and greatness of heart. Finally, to make the house perfect, raise a gable above it all, a gable of prayer. Thus you will have prepared a pure and sparkling house for the Lord. Receive the Lord into this royal and splendid dwelling — in other words: receive, by his grace, his image into the temple of your soul.


Will you still be forgetful of us,
through the long years leave us forsaken?
Bring us back,
and let us find our home.

save us,
or we perish.
Bring us back,
and let us find our home.

Let us pray.

Give us the grace, Lord,
to continue the works of penitence we have begun;
so that the Lenten observance we have taken upon ourselves
may be accomplished in sincerity of heart.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

Let us bless the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.

Thursday, February 23, 2012



God of all creation,
you gave your bishop Polycarp the privilege of being counted among the saints who gave their lives in faithful witness to the gospel.

May his prayers give us the courage to share with him the cup of suffering and to rise to eternal glory.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.


Thursday after Ash Wednesday

Dt 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:

"Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Responsorial Psalm 
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 And 6

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.

R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Lk 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples:

"The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected
by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised."

Then he said to all,

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself
and take up his cross daily and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
What profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?"