St. Symeon the New Theologian
Sunday, October 12, 2014, 12:00 PM

st symeon the new theologian 207x300 St. Symeon the New TheologianBy what boundless mercy, my Savior,
have you allowed me to become a member of your body?
Me, the unclean, the defiled, the prodigal.
How is it that you have clothed me
in the brilliant garment,
radiant with the splendor of immortality,
that turns all my members into light?
Your body, immaculate and divine,
is all radiant with the fire of your divinity,
with which it is ineffably joined and combined.
This is the gift you have given me, my God:
that this mortal and shabby frame
has become one with your immaculate body
and that my blood has mingled
with your blood.
I know, too,
that I have been made one with your divinity
and have become your own most pure body,
a brilliant member, transparently lucid,
luminous and holy.
I see the beauty of it all, I can gaze on the radiance.
I have become a reflection of the light of your grace.

St. Symeon the New Theologian (949 – 1032)
Excerpt from A Neglected Masterpiece of the Christian Mystical Tradition by Father John A. McGuckin:

The Byzantine saint and poet Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022) is one of the Christian world’s greatest mystics, if such a term can properly be used of ancient writers. It is here applied for the sake of convenience, and for the purpose of unveiling the author, as it were, who is not only a visionary of the highest order within the Eastern Orthodox tradition, but equally one of the Christian world’s most lyrical and rhapsodic writers. It is a startling fact that it is only in recent years that his works have become available in English translation, and a sadder one that his name is still largely unknown to a wider public who would otherwise undoubtedly be interested in a spirituality suffused with light and hope and one of the most profound senses of the mercy and compassion of God. The situation of neglect is comparable to finding something of the quality of the works of San Juan de la Cruz still awaiting an edition.

Amazon’s St. Symeon page with works translated into English:
St. Symeon

Lagniappe – Dawn Rodgers & Eric Wyse
Sunday, October 12, 2014, 7:00 AM

This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it! ~ Psalm 118:24

Wonderful Merciful Savior

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and friend
Who would have thought that a lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we hopelessly lost the way (more…)

Sacred Music – Part Three
Saturday, October 11, 2014, 9:00 AM

Third of four episodes of the BBC’s series on Sacred Music.
Byrd & Tallis: Singing the Lord’s song in a strange land

Mere Links 10.10.14
Friday, October 10, 2014, 10:00 AM

Mercy and Marriage at the Synod
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Since I haven’t written anything new lately on the debate over communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, the highest-profile (or at least most divisive) issue likely to be discussed at the synod of bishops that began meeting this week in Rome, I thought that I should link back to a few of my posts on the subject.

Why do so many liberals despise Christianity?
Damon Linker, The Week

Liberals increasingly want to enforce a comprehensive, uniformly secular vision of the human good. And they see alternative visions of the good as increasingly intolerable.

The Defense of Marriage Isn’t Over
Ryan T. Anderson, Public Discourse

Monday’s action from the Supreme Court is a setback for sound constitutional self-government and for a healthy marriage culture. So where do we go from here?

Is It Fair To Criticize Missionary Doctors?
Aaron Earls, The Federalist

An atheist provides yet another unintentional compliment to doctors who serve in Christ’s name.

Mere Links 10.09.14
Thursday, October 9, 2014, 10:00 AM

Christians cannot strategize and argue their way into renewed prominence
Michael Brendan Dougherty , The Week

The decline of Christianity will be reversed by attraction. The heart moves first, and then the head follows it.

The preacher refusing to give up the keys to a Yangon church

A recent Magazine article reported on the dwindling number of Armenians in Myanmar, also known as Burma. As Jonah Fisher reports from Yangon, the head of the Armenian Church has been to meet the local congregation and has made some changes.

Once Saul, Always Saul
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

The Bible does not explain why the name of Saul, the early persecutor of Christians, was changed to Paul, but also the Bible does not discourage speculation on the point. Undiscouraged, then, let us speculate.

Anthony Kennedy Halts the Latest Gay-Marriage Advance
Russell Berman, The Atlantic

The Supreme Court justice temporarily blocked an appeals court ruling striking down same-sex-marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada.

Fields of Faith Day
Thursday, October 9, 2014, 8:52 AM

Yesterday, October 8, 2014, was “Fields of Faith” day, in which students and teachers participated in an annual, student-organized, and student-led gathering at school athletic fields at the end of their school day.  At the Fields of Faith, students read the Holy Bible together, heard Christian testimonies, worshipped together, and prayed for one another.  A school athletic field is used because it provides a neutral place where an entire community can come together.  First organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2004, it is beautiful to see many young people boldly proclaim their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  You can watch a promotional video here.  Hundreds of Fields of Faith events took place throughout the United States.  For information on the rallies near you, please go to

Since the first Field of Faith, however, some government school officials have sought to unconstitutionally keep teachers and students from sharing about and participating in the event.  This was usually done under the pretense that schools were prohibited from holding such events by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution.  In actual fact, the opposite is true.  Student groups have the constitutionally protected freedom to participate in Fields of Faith prayer and worship activities, and to inform their fellow students about the event to the same extent that other student groups are allowed to promote, participate, and use school facilities for other types of activities and events.  Importantly, coaches, teachers, and yes, even school administrators can participate in the event as private citizens.  Alliance Defending Freedom (“ADF”), a major civil liberties law organization with thousands of allied attorneys throughout the United States, has published a legal memorandum to support the rights of students to gather for such an event.  (It is also an excellent summation of the constitutional rights of religious students beyond Fields of Faith.)  The law memorandum is available here.  The ADF memorandum states in part:

The Supreme Court has squarely stated that a student’s free speech rights apply ”when [they are] in the cafeteria, or on the playing field, or on the campus during the authorized hours.” . . . This includes prayer: “nothing in the Constitution as interpreted by this Court prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the schoolday.”

The memorandum also notes that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that “religious speech is protected by the First Amendment and may not be singled out for discrimination.”  It is truly astounding to me that so many government school administrators and teachers do not understand these simple and well-established principles of American jurisprudence. ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco recently stated, “Christians don’t abandon their constitutional freedoms at the schoolhouse gate.  Their freedom to peacefully express their beliefs extends to after-school events, and that certainly includes activities like those at Fields of Faith.”

Let us join together to pray for the powerful witness of so many young people who gather to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.  For there is no legitimate basis for government school officials to prohibit or impede students and teachers from engaging in the activities for Fields of Faith.  Students, may God bless you and your schools richly.  I sure would have liked this event when I was in school.

Mere Links 10.08.14
Wednesday, October 8, 2014, 10:00 AM

Divine Acquisition
Meara Sharma interviews Anthony Pinn, Guernica

The scholar of African-American religion on black megachurches and the marketability of the American Dream.

How the Russian Orthodox Church answers Putin’s prayers in Ukraine
Gabriela Baczynska and Tom Heneghan, Reuters

Under Putin, the ROC gets support from the state and powerful oligarchs allied to the Kremlin, while Moscow benefits from its public blessing. A recent poll showed 75 percent of Russians approve of the ROC and more than half value its close ties with the state.

Pope Francis: Vatican begins landmark synod to discuss family life
James Reynolds, BBC

Pope Francis has opened a gathering of more than 200 senior Roman Catholic bishops by urging them not to impose what he called “intolerable moral burdens” on believers.

Why you should care about a Muslim inmate’s beard
Emily Hardman, CNN

I’m not a Muslim. I’ve never been imprisoned. And I don’t want to grow a beard. But I’m defending the rights of someone who is and does.

Mere Links 10.07.14
Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 10:00 AM

Pagans and Christians
Ross Douthat, New York Times

Occasionally in the debates about Christianity’s weakened position in American culture, you’ll hear traditionalists and conservatives analogize the Christian situation, now or soon, to the environment the faith faced in its earliest centuries, as an embattled minority in a hostile pagan empire.

The Political God is the Buffoon King
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, Preachers Institute

The account of Esther commences with an emperor and his empire. This emperor’s original-Persian-name was Xsayarsa.

Same-Sex Marriage and the Supreme Court: What Now for the Church?
Russell Moore, Moore to the Point

The Supreme Court has declined to take up appeals from states in which the courts have found same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right. This paves the way for same-sex marriage in many, perhaps most, places in the United States. Many Christians may be unaware of how momentous this is, since the denial of cases doesn’t come with quite the shock and awe of a ruling handed down. The effect though is wide-ranging. So what should our response be as the church of Jesus Christ?

Denying Review, Justices Clear Way for Gay Marriage in 5 States
Adam Liptak, New York Times

The Supreme Court on Monday denied review in all five pending same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for such marriages to proceed in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Mere Links 10.06.14
Monday, October 6, 2014, 10:00 AM

Where Have All The Irish Priests Gone?
Greg Daly, Aleteia

As the number of clergy in Ireland continues to fall, practical priests look to build a culture of vocation.

When Jews are bigoted against Conservative Christians
Dennis Prager, Jewish Journal

Over the last 20 years, I have probably spent as much time with Evangelical Christians as with fellow Jews — in private settings, speaking at churches, on listener cruises, in my home and in their homes. I have come to admire and in many cases love these people.

Guardian angels exist, pope says

Pope Francis said on Thursday that guardian angels exist and people who listen to their advice are less likely to make the wrong decisions. Read more:

The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week

We no longer talk of “unfit” children, but we’ll still destroy them in the name of quality of life.

Feast of St. Francis
Sunday, October 5, 2014, 7:00 AM

Seigneur, je vous en prie

~Francis Poulenc (1948)

Lord, I beg Thee, let the burning and gentle force of Thy love pervade my soul
and withdraw it from all that is beneath Heaven,
that I might die through love of Thy love,
since Thou didst deign to die through love of my love.

For the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

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