Monday, 23 December 2013

Nativity Phromion prayer

 Glory and thanksgiving, splendour and praise and never-ceasing good exaltation continually, at all times and in all seasons, may we be worthy to raise to to the eternal Child who was conceived in the womb. He is the maker, who dwelt in the bosom! He is His creator, and shined forth from the residence He is His builder. The Good one to whom is due glory, honour and exaltation in this holy feast and all the days of our lives for ever.Glory and thanksgiving, splendour and praise and never-ceasing good exaltation continually, at all times and in all seasons, may we be worthy to raise to to the eternal Child who was conceived in the womb. He is the maker, who dwelt in the bosom! He is His creator, and shined forth from the residence He is His builder. The Good one to whom is due glory, honour and exaltation in this holy feast and all the days of our lives for ever.

Through the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all

Monday, 16 December 2013

Madrosho of St Ephrem on St John the Baptist

Brethren turn your ears and hear with discernment, the reputation of John, the key which opened two doors in the day of his birth: the mouth of his father and the womb of his mother. The angel sealed his mouth, and no human open the seal until John came to life and opened it upon his birth

In the Altar, the angel came down and declared to your father; as the branch of olive, was brought to Noah by the dove; I am coming to you bearing good news to your birth giver. Your name in secret I made known to him and said: John his name must be called, for his parents will live for to give him birth and bring him up.

The shining of the angels again John you became and for this your Lord named you the messenger of his words; a spiritual name was anticipated and enunciated to you and He sent you before his glorious Son, with the stars, angels, Mages and shepherds; a voice came to us by the one who was born from Mary.

The desert was beloved to you, because no sin in it; the desert is separate and distant from all evils. Therefore in the desert your soul resided to not hinder you the sins of the world; even not the food of the world your mouth ate. Honey and Locust became your nourishment o righteous.

Phenqito of the Syrian Catholic Church: Vol II, The Birth of John the Baptist , (Madrosho of St Ephrem the doctor of the Church)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

The use of force in the Syrian conflict

Christians seem to be the most targeted group in any situation arising in the predominantly Mohametan Middle East. The Mohametans usually accuse us of being crusaders or western sympathisers. All sides of the conflict seem to blame Christians if they are ever to experience a degree of strategic loss and seem to blame Christians on joining the other side. As one can see, the Christians of the middle east always seem to be caught in the web of any conflict.

In Iraq the situation has reached a level so bad that all Christians began to migrate to the village of Qaraqosh, eventually forming a Christian Armed force for solely the protection of Churches and the Christian community. As far as I'm aware, these Christian armed forces have not taken any political sides, but have simply been set up (by volunteers I think) in order to maintain the small degree of religious liberty that has not been stripped away from Christians in Iraq.


Similarly this situation of violence is what has been experienced by Christians in Syria. Recently an Antiochian Greek Orthodox prelate in Syria stated every young Christian in a position to do so should take up arms to protect Syria, churches, and convents this comment I believe is consistent with Christian virtue. The key here is "protection", the use of force here is sacrifice on behalf of the community. This is a very noble thing to do. Let us never forget what the Gospel of John (15:13) says
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Let us also not forget that Our Lord himself used force to remove merchants from the temple



Unfortunately this comment by the Antiochian Greek Orthodox prelate (Lukas El Khoury) have been reprimanded by Syrian Catholic Archbishop Jacques Behnan Hindo. I am not so much taking sides, but rather am quite sad that the Christian leadership is not representing a united front in this situation. I feel that the Syrian Catholic Archbishop has not exactly understood what his Greek Orthodox counterpart said. And that El Khoury may have said his statement without consultation. Hindo seemed to suggest that El Khoury was advocating for reckless and aggressive violence.
Hindo says:
As men of the Church, we cannot incite Christians to take up arms and to take part in the conflict.
 It is a sad situation that Christian leadership is not showing a united front, especially in a situation that greatly desires and needs it. Please pray for the Christian leadership in Syria.

source

Through the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God bless you all.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Jibbi

The jibbi is a clothing garment often worn by Priests (of the Syriac Tradition) on top of their soutane. See below for examples of Patriarch Younan (of the Syrian Catholic Church) and Patriarch Iwas (of the Syrian Orthodox Church) wearing their jibbis on top of their Soutanas:

Patriarchs Orthodox and Catholic with Jibbi

Patriarchs Orthodox and Catholic with Jibbi
To demonstrate the difference between a prelate with a jibbi on and without a jibbi on I have attached a picture of Patriarch Younan without a Jibbi and Patriarh Rai with a Jibbi on.

Patriarch Younan left (without Jibbi) and Patriarch Rai right (with Jibbi)


As you can see, the Syriac jibbi is not like the Byzantine outer-soutane where it closes all the way to the bottom. The Syriac jibbi only closes on the top.

Melkite Patriarch (far left) wearing a Byzantine outer-soutane, while the Maronite Patriarch (middle) and Syriac Catholic Patriarch (far  right) wearing Syriac Jibbis (that open up in the bottom).


There are also some bishops (like Bishop Flavien Joseph) who do not even button up the jibbi on the top but simply wear it open. Below is a picture of an old Maronite Bishop wearing the jibbi using this practice and of Bishop Flavien Joseph.

Old Maronite Bishop wearing his Jibbi open

Bishop Flavien Joseph wearing his jibbi open

The jibbi itself not only serves as a clothing garment for Priests and Bishops it serves as a liturgical vestment. That is, if the jibbi is worn (closed on top), the priest may wear a stole (on top of it) and administer certain sacraments. Below is an example of a Patriarch Younan wearing a jibbi with a stole.

Patriarch Younan with a jibbi and a stole
There are however a few problems that have been arising with the use of the jibbi. As I have stated previously, the jibbi must be worn on top of a soutane. There are many Priests (atleast in the diaspora) who seem to think that it is OK to wear a jibbi on top of suits. I do not think this is because of malice or laziness (although it might be), but because of a lack of education and knowledge. See below for an example of how a jibbi looks like when worn on top of a suit pants and shirt.

On the left, a priest with a jibbi on top of suit pants and shirt. On the right Bishop Antione-Charbel Tarabay wearing a jibbi properly.


Through the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all.


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

UPDATED: The occupation of Malula

Previous Post

The rumours appear to be true. The Christian Post has reported that anti-Bashar rebels have clashed with pro-Bashar force in Maalula.

Armed rebels have forcibly entered the city and St Thecla monastery. Kidnapping 12 female religious.

Please pray that peace may prevail.

Through the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you all.

BREAKING NEWS: The occupation of Malula

There are rumours that one of the few Syriac-Speaking cities in the world in Syria has been occupied by terrorist groups.

Jayish Al Nisra has attacked the ancient Christian city and its Churches. Placing its flags on top of the ancient Churches in the great city.

There are also rumours from other sources than the nuns have been kidnapped.

Please pray that this is just a rumour and I will keep you all updated as soon as I here anything else.

UPDATE

Through the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God Bless you All.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Sunday of the Visitation of Maryam to Elishba'

Today is the feast of the Visitation of Maryam (Mary) to Elishba' (Elizabeth) in the calendar of the West Syrian Rite.

The gospel reading today is Luke 1:39 - 57. The story, in summary, is the event where Mary visits Elizabeth, and the baby (John the Baptist) inside of Elizabeth leaps with joy at the arrival of Mary and Jesus. The exclamation that Elizabeth makes here is And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Now there are many today who deny calling Mary the Mother of God or Birth-Giver of God or Theotokos or even Mother of Christ our God. Why? they seem to argue that it is unbiblical. However, it is clear from every mention of Lord in the New Testament gospels and the Book of Luke (at least) that "Lord" always explicitly refers to God. I will now divert to Tim Staples who explains the complicated Greek regarding this passage and the connection to Christ's divinity (I can't articulate it as eloquently as he can).


What is further interesting is the was the way "Lord" was used in the Peshitta translation of the bible:

ܐܰܝܡܶܟ݁ܳܐ ܠܺܝ ܗܳܕ݂ܶܐ ܕ݁ܶܐܡܶܗ ܕ݁ܡܳܪܝ ܬ݁ܺܐܬ݂ܶܐ ܠܘܳܬ݂ܝ "
Translation: How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
As I have mentioned previously, in the Peshitta word Moryo appears quite often. Is is often translated as Lord, but infact should be translated as Lord-YHWH as it is a combination of the word Mor and the first letters of God's name YHWH. The word Moryo (in the Peshitta) can be used to refer to both God the Father and Jesus Christ

What is interesting in the quoted bible passage in the Peshita version (when Elizabeth says Mother of my Lord) is that Moryo was not used, but only Mor. That is, not Lord-YHWH, but only Lord.

The explanation for this could be anything:
  1. EDIT: That the word Mor can be used to refer to God just like Moryo such as in the Old Testament (This suggestion was give to me by a reader. It seems the most obvious). 
  2. That there was a fear that the passage may be interpreted in a heterodox fashion (Mary as the mother of the Trinity).
  3. That the translators were heterodox and/or heretics.
  4. Or simply that it was an oversight.
I am not sure, but I thought I would raise it with you all and see if there are any explanations on this.

Nevertheless, the original Greek clearly shows that Mary is the Mother of the Lord, hence the Mother of God, or the Birth-Giver of God.

Through the prayers of the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God bless you all.