On Humility and the Power of the Holy Spirit

I’ve actually been meaning to sit down and write this reflection for almost a year now, but have not gotten around to it until today for whatever reason. Last May it dawned on me that I was coming up on the tenth anniversary of one of the most profound experiences I have had in my Christian life.

It would have been toward the end of May of 2003, at the very end of my senior year of high school. My family was out of town because of my cousin’s wedding, but I stayed home because I had to work that weekend. It was my first job I ever held, working as a buss boy in a local French restaurant. Working in any type of service job, whether restaurant or retail, you end up seeing a lot of the best and the worst in people. It is often very draining.

This particular weekend, I showed up to work and was busily going about my work, trying as always to approach my work as something done unto the Lord, keeping in mind St. Paul’s admonition in Colossians 3: 23-24: “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.” I found oftentimes, people would leave their trays and their tables a complete mess with napkins, butter and jelly containers, creamer and sweetener packets left in a heaping mess all over the place. I had gotten into the habit of wadding all of these things up and putting them in the glasses as I had seen others do to try and clear up space so I could consolidate as much as possible onto one tray and make fewer trips. I was genuinely seeking to do the best work I could and took pride in it.

Being a buss boy, I had to work closely with the dish washer. He was a generally kindly man from one of the countries – Senegal, I believe – which had formerly been the colony of French West Africa. He was a Muslim probably somewhere in his 40s or 50s at the time. This particular morning he decided to scold me for putting the napkins in the glasses, and I took offense, as I was working hard and trying to do my best. He went to the manager on duty, who was also the owner, and the owner told me to do it the way the dishwasher wanted. I was unhappy at being rebuked, and went about my work silently fuming for a few hours. The dishwasher and I would not speak to one another.

I kept praying “Lord, you see I’m trying to do a good job. Why did he have to go and get the owner to tell me to do it differently?” Gradually, I kept hearing this still, small voice in my heart repeating Jesus’s words:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5: 23-26)

I began to argue back “But I didn’t do anything wrong! You want me to apologize?” The repetition of our Lord’s words became more and more insistent. Finally, after about three hours of arguing with the Lord, I sat the tray in my hand down in frustration on the table and said to the Lord “You really want me to go and apologize?! But I didn’t do anything wrong!!!” To this, I felt the Lord respond in my heart “Do you love Me enough to do it?” At that point, I felt deflated and saw my pride. “Alright, Lord.”

So I went sheepishly into the kitchen and said to the dish washer something to this effect as I don’t remember my words exactly: “Hey I’m sorry I got mad. I was really trying to do a good job, but I should have listened to you and not gotten angry. I’m a Christian, and that’s not how the Lord wants me to act.” This African man teared up, took me in his arms and gave me a big hug and said “You are good boy!” And he started telling me about how he was working in the States as he had been for several years to support his family back in Africa, and that he took pride in his work and tried to do a good job. The reason he had taken me to task over the glasses was because he was concerned about sanitation and that the dishwasher would not get them clean enough, leaving paper residue. Then he took out his wallet and showed me pictures of his kids.

I don’t know how else to describe it other than that in that moment of reconciliation, I felt the Holy Spirit come down in power on me. I felt a tremendous outpouring of the divine Love, a deep warmth which must be very much akin to how John Wesley talked of his heart being “strangely warmed.” Somehow, in that simple exchange, I was completely and overwhelmingly immersed in the infinite love of God and consumed by it. I also saw that it wasn’t a matter of either one of us being right and the other wrong. Indeed we had both sincerely been trying to do our best. But reconciliation was needed.

The whole rest of that weekend, my outlook was completely transformed. I was looking on everyone as if he or she was Christ Himself and if they asked me for something, I took it as Jesus asking me for it- and I mean it quite literally that I took it as a request from Christ. I was looking on everyone with a supernatural love that did not come from me. Even the most difficult customers I looked on as if they were Christ, and only once or twice did I feel a flash of irritation with anyone. I was even doing my work much more quickly and efficiently. And the point I absolutely must emphasize is that none of it came from me, it was completely the action of divine grace working in me.

I have to admit, there was the part of me that was frightened to be so completely consumed by the Holy Spirit. That weekend was one of the most profound experiences of my life. Would that I lived every day like that.

Come down, O Love Divine!
Seek Thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with Thine own ardor glowing.
O Comforter, draw near;
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing!

O let it freely burn
Till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming!
And let Thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight
And clothe me round the while my path illuming!

Let holy charity
Mine outward vesture be
And lowliness become mine inner clothing,
True lowliness of heart
Which takes the humbler part
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong
With which the soul will long
Shall far outpass the power of human telling!
For none can guess its grace
Till he become a place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes His dwelling.

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Prayer to the Life-Giving Cross

So here are translations I have attempted of the Prayer to the Life-Giving Cross from the Russian Orthodox tradition into Latin, Hebrew and Greek. I am particularly uncertain of the Greek, since it is least familiar to me:

Exsurgat Deus, et dissipentur inimici Eius, et fugiant qui oderunt Eum a facie Eius. Sicut deficit fumus deficiant; sicut fluit cera a facie ignis sic pereant daemonia a facie amantum Dei qui se signant a Signo Crucis et gaudio dicunt: Gaude, O Crux pretiosissima et vivificans Domini! Nam exturbas daemonia per Domini Christi Iesu potentiam Qui crucifixus est in te, descendit ad inferos et diaboli potentiam calcavit, et nobis te Eius Crucem donavit ut omnem adversarium exturbemus. O Crux pretiosissima et vivificans Domini! Adiuva me simul cum Sanctissima Domina Virgine Deipara omnibusque Sanctis in saeculum. Amen.

יָקוּם אֱלֹהִים יָפוּצוּ אוֹיְבָיו וְיָנוּסוּ מְשַׂנְאָיו מִפָּנָיו׃ כְּהִנְדֹף עָשָׁן תִּנְדֹּף כְּהִמֵּס דּוֹנַג מִפְּנֵי־אֵשׁ יֹאבְדוּ שֵׁדִים מִפְּנֵי הָאוֹהָבִים אֶת אֱלֹהִים שֶׁמִצְטַלְבִים בְּסִימָן הַצְּלָב וּשֶׁאוֹמְרִים בְּשִׂחָה “עֲלוֹץ צְלָב הַיָּקָר וְהַמַּעֲנִיק־חָיִּים הָאָדוֹן, כִּי אַתָּה מַרְחִיק אֶת הַשֵּׁדִים בְּכוֹחַ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ אֲדוֹנֵנוּ אֲשֶׁר נִצְלַב עֲלֵיךָ, שֶׁיָרַד לִשְׁאוֹל וְרָמַס אֶת כּוֹחַ הַשָּׂטָן, וּשֶׁנָתַן לָנוּ אוֹתְךָ,צְלָבוֹ, כָּךְ שֶׁנַרְחִיק אֶת כֹּל אוֹיֵב.” צְלָב הַיָּקָר בְּיוֹתֵר וְהַמַּעֲנִיק־חָיִּים שֶׁל הָאָדוֹן! עֲזוֹר לִי בְּיַחַד עִם הַגְּבִירָה הַבְּתוּלָה וְהַיּוֹלֶדֶת־אֵל הַקְּדוֹשָׁה וְגַם עִם כֹּל הַקְּדוֹשִׁים, לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד. אָמֵן

Ἀναστήτω ὁ Θεὸς καὶ διασκορπισθήτωσαν οἱ ἐχθροὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ φυγέτωσαν οἱ μισοῦντες αὐτὸν ἀπὸ  προσώπου αὐτοῦ. Ὡς ἐκλείτει καπνὸς, ἐκλιπέτωσαν· ὡς τήκεται κηρὸς ἀπὸ προσώπου πυρὸς, οὕτως ἀπόλοιν τὰ δαιμόνια ἀπὸ προσώπου τῶν φιλοῦντων Θεὸν οἳ ἑαυτοὺς ὑπογράφουσιν τῷ Σῆματι τοῦ Σταυροῦ καὶ λέγουσιν τῇ χαρᾷ· Χαῖρε, Σταυρὲ ὁ πολύτιμος καὶ ζωοποιὸς τοῦ Κύριου! Συ γαρ ἀπελαύνεις τὰ δαιμόνια τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τοῦ ἡμῶν Κύριου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ὃς ἐσταυρώθη ἐπὶ σε, κατέβη εἰς ἅδην  καὶ τοῦ διάβολου δύναμιν κατεπατήσεν καὶ ἔδω σε τὸν αὐτοῦ Σταυρὸν ἡμῖν ἵνα ἀπελαύνωμεν πάντα ἐχθρὸν. Σταυρὲ ὁ πολύτιμος καὶ ζωοποιὸς τοῦ Κύριου ὠφέλει με σὺν τῇ Ἁγίᾳ Κύριᾳ Παρθένῳ Θεοτόκῳ τὲ σὺν πᾶσι τῶν Ἁγίων εἰς τοὺς αἰώνας. Ἀμὴν.

Here is the English text with which I am familiar and from which I translated:

Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered and let them who hate Him flee from before His Face. As smoke vanisheth, so let them vanish; as wax melteth before the flame, so let the demons perish from before the face of them that love God who sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross and say with gladness: Rejoice, most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord! For thou drivest away the demons by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ Who was crucified on thee, descended into hell and trampled down the power of the devil, and gave us thee, His Cross, for the driving away of every adversary. O most precious and life-giving Cross of the Lord! Help me together with the Holy Lady Virgin Theotokos and with all the Saints unto the ages. Amen.

Russian Icon of the Crucifixion

Russian Icon of the Crucifixion

Posted in Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy, Latin, Linguistics, Prayer and Devotion, עברית | Leave a comment

Hymn About The Finding Of Jesus In The Temple

I was looking for a hymn about this incident from Scripture the other day and could not find one, so I decided to compose one myself:

Three days missing, in the Temple,Giotto Finding Jesus In the Temple
Jesus Christ at last is found,
Asking questions to the teachers
With a wisdom which astounds.

He comes unto His Father’s House,
God and Man – a Child of twelve –
Speaking with great understanding
Unto the amazèd crowd.

Holy Mary and Saint Joseph
Now at length do here arrive,
Having for their Son been searching
These three days most desperately.

Mary asks her Son, astonished,
With heart wond’ring and perplexed,
“Why didst Thou treat us in this way?
Sorely have our hearts been vexed!”

Kindly looking on His Mother,
Jesus Christ now makes reply,
“Didst thou not know to seek Me here,
Where my Father doth abide?”

Thence He goes with them most humbly
To their home at Nazareth –
God obeying earthly parents,
Thus fulfilling righteousness.

Yet doth Mary treasure these things,
Pond’ring them within her heart.
Let us too think on this myst’ry:
Our God takes the humblest part!

Glory be to God the Father,
And unto His only Son,
And unto the Holy Spirit,
Only God, blest Three in One!

Words: Noah Townsend, Copyright 2013.
Tune: Sussex” English melody, adapt Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1906.

Posted in Christianity, Hymnody, Jesus Christ, New Testament, Sacred Scripture | Leave a comment

Another Hymn for Holy Saturday

I ended up writing a second hymn on Holy Saturday after I posted the first one, and I forgot to post on here until now. It is a versified form of the Eastern Orthodox Aposticha for Holy Saturday:

Lo! From the Mighty Tree of Life
Saint Joseph took Thee down.
Thee, Lord of Life, all cold in death,
He in fine linens wound;
He bathed Thee in sweet, costly myrrh;
Embraced Thee in His pain.
The Arimathean cried out,
His heart with love aflame:
Refrain:
Glory to Thy Condescension,
O Thou Great Lover of Mankind!

To see Thee placed within the tomb
Caused all Hell’s powers to quake;
Brought down its reign, and smashed its gates;
All its bars Thou didst break!
Forth from their tombs the dead did come,
Casting off death’s dark chains;
Lost Adam, now, in joy renewed,
In gratitude exclaimed:
Refrain.

By Thine own will, Thy flesh went down
Into the lowly tomb;
O Mighty, Boundless, Infinite,
In sepulchre enclosed!
Drained are the palaces of Hell
By Thy great Sabbath rest;
Death’s dark chambers Thou hast shut up!
In joy we then confess:
Refrain.

Words: Greek Aposticha for Holy Saturday, versified by Noah Townsend, copyright 2013.
Tune:Stonypath” Charles MacPherson, 1916.

Here is the original Greek text:

Ἀπόστιχα

Στιχηρὰ Αὐτόμελα

Ἦχος β’

Ὅτε ἐκ τοῦ ξύλου σε νεκρόν, ὁ Ἀριμαθαίας καθεῖλε, τὴν τῶν ἁπάντων ζωήν, σμύρνῃ καὶ σινδόνι σε Χριστὲ ἐκήδευσε, καὶ τῷ πόθῳ ἠπείγετο, καρδία, καὶ χείλη, σῶμα τὸ ἀκήρατον, σοῦ περιπτύξασθαι, ὅμως συστελλόμενος φόβῳ, χαίρων ἀνεβόα σοι· Δόξα, τῇ συγκαταβάσει σου Φιλάνθρωπε.

Στίχ. Ὁ Κύριος ἐβασίλευσεν, εὐπρέπειαν ἐνεδύσατο.

Ὅτε ἐν τῷ τάφῳ τῷ καινῷ, ὑπὲρ τοῦ παντὸς κατετέθης, ὁ Λυτρωτὴς τοῦ παντός, ᾍδης ὁ παγγέλαστος, ἰδών σε ἔπτηξεν, οἱ μοχλοὶ συνετρίβησαν, ἐθλάσθησαν πύλαι, μνήματα ἠνοίχθησαν, νεκροὶ ἀνίσταντο· τότε ὁ Ἀδὰμ εὐχαρίστως, χαίρων ἀνεβόα σοι· Δόξα, τῇ συγκαταβάσει σου Φιλάνθρωπε.

Στίχ. Καὶ γὰρ ἐστερέωσε τὴν Οἰκουμένην, ἥτις οὐ σαλευθήσεται.

Ὅτε ἐν τῷ τάφῳ σαρκικῶς, θέλων συνεκλείσθης ὁ φύσει, τῇ τῆς Θεότητος, μένων ἀπερίγραπτος, καὶ ἀδιόριστος, τὰ θανάτου ἀπέκλεισας, ταμεῖα καὶ ᾍδου, ἅπαντα ἐκένωσας, Χριστὲ βασίλεια, τότε καὶ τὸ Σάββατον τοῦτο, θείας εὐλογίας καὶ δόξης, καὶ τῆς σῆς λαμπρότητος ἠξίωσας.

Στίχ. τῷ οἴκῳ σου πρέπει ἁγίασμα, Κύριε εἰς μακρότητα ἡμερῶν.

Ὅτε αἱ δυνάμεις σε Χριστέ, πλάνον ὑπ’ ἀνόμων ἑώρων, συκοφαντούμενον, ἔφριττον τὴν ἄφατον, μακροθυμίαν σου, καὶ τὸν λίθον τοῦ μνήματος, χερσὶ σφραγισθέντα, αἷς σου τὴν ἀκήρατον, πλευρὰν ἑλόγχευσαν, ὅμως τῇ ἡμῶν σωτηρίᾳ, χαίρουσαι ἐβόων σοι· Δόξα, τῇ συγκαταβάσει σου, Φιλάνθρωπε.

Posted in Christianity, Eastern Orthodoxy, Hymnody, Liturgy | Leave a comment

A Hymn For Holy Saturday

The Entombment of Christ by Garafalo, 16th Century

The Entombment of Christ by Garafalo, 16th Century

I was reflecting on today, Holy Saturday, the Great Sabbath on which our Lord rested in the tomb after His Passion. Also, this and Good Friday are the only two days of the year where the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not offered. So, I ended up writing this hymn- the first one I have written in months as a matter of fact. I also tried my hand at writing the melody for it. Unfortunately, I do not seem to be able to upload the MIDI file I created:

O Great and Holy Sabbath
On which the Lord did rest
From those His mightiest labours
On Calvary All-blest!
Upon this day all-holy,
Within a lowly tomb,
Is laid the Lord Almighty,
Who made earth, sun and moon!

Amazed stands all creation
To see the awesome sight:
Her Lord and her Creator
Asleep ‘midst those who died!
O Sabbath rest most awful!
When for our ransom’s sake,
Christ did sleep the sleep of death,
And earth and heav’n did quake.

Yet not in vain doth Christ rest
On this great Sabbath day,
For a new, eighth day cometh,
On which we hear Him say:
“Behold! I make all things new!
Yea! I have vanquished death!
So all who in truth love me,
Come! Enter ye My Rest!”

On this day Thy Church Holy
Her solemn watch doth keep;
Thy Holy Rest She enters
With faith and hope most deep!
Thy Sacrifice Most Holy,
Which daily She presents,
This day doth cease, as, with Thee
She rests in reverence.

Yea! As on that first Sabbath,
Thou dost rest from Thy work.
This day is brought back Adam
To Thy Communion, Lord!
We pray Thee, Gentle Saviour,
By this Thy Sabbath rest,
And by Thy Precious Blood outpoured,
We e’er in Thee may rest!

Words: Noah Townsend, Copyright 2013.
Tune: “Sabbatum Magnum” Noah Townsend, 2013.

Posted in Christianity, Hymnody, Liturgy | Leave a comment

On Reverence for the Divine Name

Over the past few months, I have noticed a growing sensitivity on my part to the frequency with which people – including otherwise devout Christians – will take the Lord’s Name in vain. I think it started when I caught myself doing it once or twice- something I was raised never to do. This showed me that there was something terribly wrong with my inner spiritual life that I would break that commandment. I began to take note of how I spoke, and began to see that in fact my violation of the second commandment was far more frequent than I had thought, because I had developed over the years the habit of saying “My Lord” or “Dear Lord” where other people would say “My God” as it seemed less crass. However, anyone familiar with Hebrew language and Jewish custom, as well at the conventions for translating the Old Testament into English, know that in most instances the translation “Lord” is in fact following the Jewish tradition of saying “Adonai” (Lord) or “HaShem” (The Name) whenever one encounters the proper Divine Name יהוה( which is often speculated to be pronounced “Yahweh”). So in fact, I was more directly taking the Lord’s Name in vain than if I were saying “Oh my God.”

The funny thing is, I have noticed that people over the years who know I am a devout Christian tend to apologize if they accidently use a profanity in front of me. I tend to shrug and say that it’s nothing I haven’t heard – or on occasion used myself – before, and there’s no real need to apologize. However, people will frequently throw out sayings such as “God!” or “Jesus Christ!” as expletives without giving it a second thought. Moreover, I have noticed the tendency to use “God” or “Jesus” or “Lord” in sentences as filler words like they would “Ummm” or “like” or “yeah.” In reality, I have come to see that these are far more troubling than the use of profanity, because these are blasphemy. That may be at first glance hard to grasp, but I have been giving it some thought which I will present here, now.

In Exodus chapter 20, God gives His Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The first two (in Protestant tradition, first three) of which are:

1) I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for youself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing mercy to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

2) You shall not take the Name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold Him guiltless who takes His Name in vain.

The very first commandment prohibits idolatry and demands worship of the LORD alone, for He is the one who brought Israel out of Egypt. I think it is very significant that after prohibiting idolatry, the LORD goes on to prohibit taking His Name “in vain.”

But what does this mean? The Hebrew might also be translated “You shall not take up the Name of the Lord your God for vanity.” The word “vain, vanity” is the Hebrew word “שוא” – pronounced “shav.” Shav means “emptiness, worthlessness, nothingness” in addition to “vain”, which clarifies the meaning. It means to take up His Name worthlessly, with an empty purpose. But why so?

As we have noted above with the first commandment, He is the Lord who brought them out of Egypt with a powerful hand. The people of Israel received these commandments at the foot of Mt. Sinai, which was rumbling and trembling at the Presence of God. Scripture tells us elsewhere that the cherubim and seraphim of heaven worship this great God constantly, with veiled faces and downcast eyes at the radiance of His glory. (Isaiah 6) Indeed, when Moses asks God later in Exodus to see His Face, God tells Him that none can see His Face and live. (Exodus 33) Psalm 91 tells us of the Lord’s faithfulness and protection for the one who knows Him and loves His Name: “Because he clings to me in love, I will deliver Him; I will protect him, because He knows my Name. When He calls to me, I will answer Him; I will be with him in trouble, I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” In the New Testament, we are shown that the Name of Jesus holds the same weight, because “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) He is a powerful and mighty God, whom we must reverence. And also, as we begin to see with Psalm 91 – and above all in the person of Jesus Christ – He is a loving and faithful God who loves us with a love beyond all understanding, and will deliver us from every distress if we turn to Him. In this light, why would one wish to use the Name of so great a Love as an expletive or filler in a sentence?

In the Old Testament we see the consequences of sinning against so great a Love. The prophets’ writings are full of God’s grief against a people who sinned against so great a love. Particularly poignant is the book of Hosea, where God shows himself as a faithful and loving husband to a people who are like an adulteress and prostitute, rejecting His love and cheating on Him. Jeremiah ties all of this in closely with taking the Name of the Lord in vain:

“Behold, you who trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Ba’al and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My Name, and say “We are delivered!” – only to go on doing all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My Name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I Myself have seen it, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 7:8-11)

In response to God’s punishment for these actions, the Jews who returned from the Exile to Babylon made staunch efforts not to commit these sins again. In Maccabees and the New Testament we read of zealous Jews who defied the pagan overlords who would attempt to have them worship false gods again. The Pharisaic movement began as a lay movement to bring the precepts of God’s Law into the every day life of God’s people. The practice of not even daring to pronounce the Divine Name developed, substituting it for Adonai or HaShem. We see evidence of this practice in Jesus’ trial in the Gospel of Mark where God is referred to as “the Blessed One” and “the Power”. Indeed, the Name was pronounced only by the High Priest once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). One has to admit, this reverence for all things pertaining to God, especially His Name, in light of a society today where there is nothing sacred and the Name of God is treated as an expletive or filler, has something that rings profoundly true. Indeed, I picked up the practice of substituting the Divine Name with HaShem from an Orthodox Jewish friend a few years ago.

However, we should be cautious with this extreme as well. I noticed within myself about a year ago that this point of Jewish piety had become so ingrained into me that when I was at Mass and the priest who was preaching pronounced the Name “Yahweh,” I flinched and initially found myself shocked that he had pronounced the Divine Name. This caused me to reflect, because he had done nothing wrong – he was clearly a man of great love and reverence for the Lord and his speaking the Name was born out of that. This was in fact part of the error of the Pharisees, that they became locked into their piety and ended up missing the whole Point of the Law to which they were devoted when He came among them. As our Lord cautioned: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach but they do not practice. They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.” (Matthew 23: 2-4) This can itself become a way of taking God’s Name in vain, just as much as when we thoughtlessly use it as filler in a sentence.

Reverence for the Divine Name requires reverence for all things pertaining to God, including all those made in His Image. So often in our society, we Christians lament the lack of reverence for the things of God. And yet, how much do we consider how we show reverence for Him ourselves? Do we take His Name in vain? Has “O my God” or some other verbal blasphemy made its way into our speech without our realizing it? But at the same time, are we showing reverence for God and His Name by how we conduct ourselves and treat one another? As with all things in the Christian life, I think there needs to be prayerful reflection and seeking to find the narrow way of which our blessed Lord spoke. We must really look at ourselves. Thoughtlessly and irreverently invoking the Name of God is quite seriously blasphemy and we need to examine the way we speak as Christians. St. Paul tells us in Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” At the same time, one who is innocent in regards the literal meaning of the second commandment, while blissfully unaware of his own hardness of heart and his irreverence for God in how he loves his neighbor – unto the least of whom he did it he did it unto Christ – is equally blasphemous. The sin of the self-righteous Pharisee, ignorant of his own sins but vigilant concerning the sins of others is a temptation to which we are all subject.

I think that if we are to truly turn around the irreverence for God and all that pertains to Him that we see everywhere, we need to start with ourselves- how we speak, how we use His Name, and how we show reverence for that Name which is our Salvation by our actions in loving our neighbor. It is not an either-or situation. However, the main point with which I have concerned myself here in this writing is more the underscoring of the literal reverence for the Name of God and of Jesus Christ which the second commandment requires and how that is essential and inseparable from the deeper meanings of that commandment. Blasphemy against the Name of God and of Jesus Christ is a serious matter, and not to be treated as a non-issue. We must show reverence for God by how we speak of Him and use His Name. If His people won’t, who will?

*All Biblical texts quoted come from the Revised Standard Version: Second Catholic Edition*

Posted in Christianity, Jesus Christ, Jewish Customs, Judaism, Linguistics, New Testament, Old Testament, Reflections, Sacred Scripture, The Ten Commandments, עברית | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

So in the spirit of the season and the spirit of nerdiness, I ended up translating all 8 verses of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” into Latin this week. So, without further ado…

Confortet Deus vos gentes;
Nolite timere!
Nam natus est Iesus Christus
Pro nobis hodie,
Ut salvat nos de Satana
Quem nos servabamus!
Cantilena:
Evangelizo vobis gaudium!
Gaudium!
Evangelizo vobis gaudium!

In Bethlehem in Iudaea
Tunc natus est Infans;
Ponitus in praesepio,
Clemens Deus Amans!
In magna reverentia
Conspexit Maria.
Cantilena.

De caeleste Patre venit
Beatus angelus,
Qui ad pastores gaudium
Annuntiavit tunc:
Quia in Bethlehem natus
Est Dei Filius!
Cantilena.

Angelus Domini dixit
“Nolite timere!
Hodie natus Salvator
De pura Virgine,
Ut liberet confidentes
Eius de Satana!”
Cantilena.

Pastores oves liquerunt
In magno gaudio,
Et cucurrerunt cantantes:
“Gloria Domino!”
Venerunt tunc in Bethlehem
Invenire Iesum.
Cantilena.

Invenerunt in Bethlehem
Pannis involutum,
Ponitum in praesepio,
Redemptorem, Iesum,
Et Matrem Dei orantem,
Beatam Mariam!
Cantilena.

Laudate ergo Dominum,
Vos omnes in aula!
Conplectete caritate
Et in clementia!
Christi Natalis gratiam
Dei initiat!
Cantilena.

Ideo dominum casae
Deus benedicat,
Ut multas Nativitates
Futuras videat!
Eius quoque familiae
Ubique hodie:
Cantilena finalis:
Deus mittat vobis annum bonum,
Annum bonum,
Deus mittat vobis annum bonum!

Note: The meter is the same as the English version, so it is to be sung with the classic tune.

Posted in Christianity, Hymnody, Latin, Linguistics | Leave a comment