Tag Archives: Christian

Come, Holy Spirit

On this Solemnity of Pentecost we conclude the fifty days of Eastertide and commemorate the pouring forth of the Holy Spirit who sent the Apostles on mission to proclaim the Gospel. On this Solemnity let us unite our hearts in prayer.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray.
O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus, reple tuorum corda fidelium: et tui amoris in eis ignem accende.
V. Emitte Spiritum tuum, et creabuntur.
R. Et renovabis faciem terrae.
Oremus.
Deus, qui corda fidelium Sancti Spiritus illustratione docuisti: da nobis in eodem Spiritu recta sapere; et de eius semper consolatione gaudere. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum.

Istanbul-125152

Mosaic from Hagia Sophia, Istanbul.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” ~John 14:16-17

Veni, Sancte Spiritus,
et emitte caelitus
lucis tuae radium.

Veni, pater pauperum,
veni, dator munerum,
veni, lumen cordium.

Consolator optime,
dulcis hospes animae,
dulce refrigerium.

In labore requies,
in aestu temperies,
in fletu solatium.

O lux beatissima,
reple cordis intima
tuorum fidelium.

Sine tuo numine,
nihil est in homine,
nihil est innoxium.

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Da tuis fidelibus,
in te confidentibus,
sacrum septenarium.

Da virtutis meritum,
da salutis exitum,
da perenne gaudium.

Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.

Come, father of the poor,
come, giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Without your grace,
there is nothing in us,
nothing that is not harmful.

Cleanse that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,
fire that which is chilled,
correct what goes astray.

Give to your faithful,
those who trust in you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Grant the reward of virtue,
grant the deliverance of salvation,
grant eternal joy.

Trevi Fountain to be Red This Friday for Martyrs

To highlight today’s Christian Martyrs, Rome’s Trevi Fountain will turn red, apparently at 8 pm Rome time, or 2 pm Eastern. There is a webcam of the Trevi Fountain here.

Nina Shea writes in First Things,  “Tomorrow, on April 29th, Rome’s white marble Trevi Fountain—its swirling waters and the charging baroque statues of Oceanus, his sea shell chariot and attendant tritons and horses—will all be turned blood red in a campaign to raise awareness about modern day Christian martyrs. The popular fountain is decidedly not Christian-themed and historically seems to have inspired only frivolity. The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need and a coalition of other Catholic Italian non-governmental organizations that are co-sponsoring this performance art are counting on this unlikely juxtaposition. They hope that the coin tossing, selfie-taking throngs of tourists, as the frivolous Western public at large, will be given pause, if only briefly, to contemplate the surging pattern of mass murder of Christians purely for reasons of faith, largely by Islamists.”

More from Crux:  “On April 29, the Trevi Fountain, one of the most popular and emblematic tourist spots in Rome, will be dyed red in recognition of all Christians who even today give their life for the faith. The event is being organized by Aid to the Church in Need and seeks to ‘call attention to the drama of anti-Christian persecution.'”

Turkey Expropriates Some Churches

“Last month, Turkey’s Islamist government passed a law regarding the “urgent expropriation of the Sur district” of the Diyarbakir province, taking control of 82 percent of the region’s properties, including all of the area’s Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches. The government said that the move was necessary to rebuild and restore the area’s historic center.” Read more about Turkey’s actions at the Clarion Project.

Copts, Keeping the Faith in Egypt

‘But what we discovered was that the story of the persecution and perserverence of the Egyptian Coptic Christians actually was much deeper and longer than the modern era.’ Read the rest at Coptic Christians: Keeping Their Faith in Egypt.

Also, this short film yields some insight into how the ancient Christian faith flourished in Egypt and yielded such great fruit that shapes our faith today.

Killings in Nigeria

Extremist Muslim herdsmen have slaughtered close to 500 Christian farmers in central Nigeria in a series of ongoing attacks over the last month. The attackers are reportedly still hiding out in the villages, making it too dangerous for survivors to return and bury the dead. “We have corpses littered in the field like a war fought in the Roman Empire by Emperor Nero,” said Steven Enada, a development advocate campaigning against the killing, speaking to Morning Star News.’

Merry Christmas

May our incarnate Lord bestow his many blessings upon you and your family on this Christmastime.

During this Christmas may we keep in our prayers in a special way our persecuted brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

I also share with you this beautiful Arabic Christmas hymn.

This Christmas I pray in hope that one day the Middle East, the birthplace of Our Savior, may be at peace and that Christians be an important part of the future of the Middle East. May the Lord once again reign in human hearts that seek the good of their brethren: Muslim, Jew, and Christian.

Buda and Pest

April 1 I decided to explore the Buda side of the city so my morning began with a walk over the Chain Bridge which spans the Danube linking Buda and Pest.

The bridge opened in 1849 and at the time was one of the largest bridges in the world.

As I looked up to the left, the Buda castle drew my attention. This complex dates back to the 13th century and was home to the kings from 1247. On September 11, 1526 the Muslims invaded and occupied Hungary until 1686 when the Christians were able to liberate the city from Muslim occupation. The palace suffered much destruction during those years as the Hungarian people struggled to secure the freedom of their city.

Then I began my climb to Saint Matthias Church whose walls have witnessed the coronation of many kings.

Today it is an impressive Neo-Gothic structure of the late 19th century although the original church was from 1255 when it was built next to Trinity Square.
Trinity Square

The 19th-century restoration uncovered some of the original elements.

A few more capitals from the original church.

The signage in this chapel was entitled: The noonday bell. The fresco commemorates an event in 1456. Three years after the fall of Constantinople, the Hungarians had to stand alone in face of Islamic aggression. Pope Callixtus III ordered the bells to be rung every day at noon to invite everyone to pray through the intercession of the Virgin Mary for victory against aggression. And the Sultan’s army was defeated near Belgrade.

In 1541 the city of Buda fell victim to Islamic aggression and the city was occupied by them until 1686. The Muslims turned the church into a mosque. They whitewashed the church and devoided it of furnishings. Once again the Hungarians secured the freedom of their city in 1686. Then the Soviets used it as a canteen during the time of Soviet occupation. With all this in mind the church has become for me a sign of that exceptional Hungarian spirit to risk it all for freedom.
Budapest01-043419      

    Budapest01-050810   Budapest01-061030

 

I began my descent to walk back to the Pest side of the city and enjoyed such subtle touches as this mailbox.

And wonderful food stalls both colorful and delicious.

As I wandered around Pest I was drawn into this church.

The beautiful interior of this Franciscan church has a interesting history that witnesses to that exceptional spirit of the Hungarian people to continue to seek freedom even in the darkest of moments. From the signage I learned that the church was built in the Gothic style in 1250 then on September 23, 1526 the Muslims burnt the church, put the brothers to the sword and turned it into a mosque. On that day the first Hungarian poet, Father Andrad Vasurhelye was put to the sword. The brothers returned in 1686 but then were outlawed by the Communists for 40 years. Then on September 1, 1990 they returned again.

All of these churches and their history gives me pause to think how precious freedom is and how people will endure and perserve not only for decades but centuries to secure freedom. The words of Pope Saint John Paul to the Hungarians are taking on an even greater significance.

“Be mindful of the blessings that freedom, which you have definitively secured, means for your future. Cherish it and make good use of your liberty.”

The opera house from the 19th century is a thing of beauty.

Budapest01-125336    Budapest01-125145    Budapest01-130304

That evening while I was listening to the Passion of John by Bach at the Opera House, surrounded by such beauty as I pondered the mystery of the suffering of Our Lord, my thoughts were on what I had seen during the day which witnessed how much these people have suffered for freedom in recent memory.

Walking home I turned around and noticed the beauty of the opera house

And the beauty of the Basilica recently restored which witnesses to the spirit of the Hungarian people.

Living Stones, Praying within Hewn Living Stone

My driver, Alex and local tour guide invited me to attend morning prayer with them at Golgotha chapel in the church complex I toured the day before. The Ethiopians do not follow the Gregorian calendar when setting the dates of feasts. Today was the Solemnity of the Annunciation in our calendar but in their calendar it was the Feast of Mary: Promise of Mercy. The Ethiopians have a deep veneration of the Virgin Mary.

 

 

As we approached the complex it was so different. This morning the dusty hillside was covered in white.

We entered through this tunnel that gives access to the church.

There was an excitement in the air however I keep saying to my guide: “Do not lose me.” There was a crush of people; however everyone was respectful.

We were working our way to the chapel to the church where there were continual prayers being offered and chanted in different locations.

The sound of these ancient chants was mesmerizing and I was caught in prayer even though I understood no word. The ancient chants of the church whether they are Greek, Ethiopic or Latin move my soul.

The priest came towards me with the cross and was not sure if he should extend it to me for veneration. My driver spoke to him and with a smile he extended the cross for me to venerate. He then returned with a book wrapped in silk on his head. I asked what is that. My local guide said: The Miracles of Mary and he is taking them to be read to the people outside. So we followed him.

The priest read followed by energetic preaching then all of a sudden we turned our attention away from the preacher. Once again I asked: What are we doing? to which he responded we are facing east because we are praying and we always pray facing the east, ad orientem. That made my spirit soar. To pray ad orientem as the early Christians prayed.

Priests are everywhere extending the cross for veneration.

Then I saw people with bowls of ash which I found out was the ash from the incense burnt at morning Mass from which people impose ashes on their foreheads.

Notice that my local guide on the right has ashes on his forehead.

We then began a 40-minute drive to Yemrehanna Kristos. This is different in that it is not hewn out of rock but rather built more than 60 years earlier than the churches of Lalibela. My guide pointed out that in many ways this church which is an excellent example of late Aksumite style, is the blueprint for Lalibela.

Some tracery of saints on the exterior.

The windows alternate between marble and wood with multiple cross designs: Greek, Latin, Maltese, Saint Andrew, which teach the people there are Christians outside Ethiopia.

The priest proudly displayed the church cross.

On our return we began the exploration of what is called the southeastern cluster.

My guide pointed out the the thin sloping path of hewn rock is the path to heaven. If you can walk without falling it means you have no sin. I asked, have you tried this, to which responded with a smiled: as a boy.

I decided not to try.

 

We entered the church of Bet Gabriel and Rafael.

The original door is of olive wood.

Going through a series of dark tunnels we emerged at Bet Merkurios. In fact it is pitch black. My guide said keep your right hand on the wall and left on the ceiling. He called it the descent into hell to which I responded: a people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. [Is. 9:2] Perhaps this was the most delightful in that every facet of architecture led to theological discussion.

This is so faded but these are beautiful 16th century paintings on canvas.

Our journey through tunnels continued until we reached Bet Emanuel which is a finely carved church.

Notice the rock on the left. This is the rock from which the church was hewn.

More steps…

And more tunnels!

To reach Bet Abba Libanos. Notice from this side view only floor and roof remain attached to the rock.

My guide pointed out the angel eyes on the corner of the capital

We climbed out of the complex to see Golgotha.

And Transfiguration. Remember the whole complex was designed to be a place to pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

We made our way to Bet Giyorgis, the masterpiece of rock hewn churches. The structure is a perfect Greek cross with no internal pillars as my guide pointed out. I was awestruck.

We began our journey this way to the church.

This is a view of saint George church from a hill. This gives a good perspective of how the church was hewn from the rock.

My guide said the church is like Noah’s ark with three stories.

Notice he said the trench symbolizes the flight of the dove and the rock in the corner of Mount Ararat where the ark came to rest. I told him when I am in Turkey I will send him a picture of Mount Ararat.

The grass is floating over holy water. On the final fast day of Lent the priest will bring you a piece of grass like this and you tie it around your head.

My guide invited me to come back because there are many more churches and monasteries to discover. Late in the evening I said goodbye to two traveling companions who have been with me a through the Middle East and the Holy Land. They have found their final resting place. And then to my multiple pairs of socks are worn out.

I must admit I am worn out a bit too. However coming home to Ethiopia 40 years later has been for me a journey that will only lead to further journeys to Ethiopia to discover our rich Christian heritage.

I am flying on to Budapest for Holy Week and then on to Vienna to spend Easter with my family. After that I will continue on to Romania to explore the painted monasteries and churches and then on to the Silk Road in Central Asia.