Monday, April 30, 2018

"The Jews"

"He's mad about conspiracy theories."

"Too much time on his hands."

"A lack of industry."

"He's probably somewhere on the Spectrum, so go a bit easy on him."

"Full of odd ideas about the Jews controlling the banks."

"Well, they do."

"What?" I inquired amid coffee after the Divine Liturgy, my conversants being visitors from an unnamed setting.

"Really? I had no idea!"

"Yes, they created the Federal Reserve in 1917, or something like that, to control the banks. The Rothschilds control 80% of the world's banks. But the Russians and Putin, who's a great Christian man, threw the Rothschilds out of Russia, so at least there is one Christian nation out there."

"You know," I trolled, "the Rothschilds got the Pacelli family into the Vatican."

They were not phased.

"And the Jews really invented Communism just so they'd have control over both conservative and modern governments. It's really ingenious."

"Who, pray tell," I asked, "are 'The Jews'?"

What followed was indiscernable, "paranoid style" clap trap so very typically of disempowered groups convinced of the self-evident goodness of their own ideas and so who can only explain the failure of those ideas with conspiracy and shadow. Who, I repeat, are "the Jews" in the context of this conversation? Can the Rabbi in Dallas put me in touch with the London or Neapolitan Rothschilds? I would like to join the New World Order; it sounds more lucrative than my current profession.

This sort of ignorant nonsense—Ignorance and Want being Charles Dickens' two great crimes—greatly hinders real and significant engagement that needs to take place with the Jewish diaspora. The systemic attempt by Hitler's Germany to exterminate ethnic Jews remains the most vivid and remarkable cruelty of the media age. Unfortunately, a lingering consequence of the "Final Solution" is that countries and cultures are more disposed to produce policy based on lasting guilt than on prudence.

The creation of a Jewish state had long been considered before World War II and after the War the Allied powers gave the Zionist pipe-dream of occupying the Palestinian coastline an eventuation in reality. Of all Great Britain's mistakes following the collapse of its Empire, and there were many, this was the greatest: to locate an ethnic and religious minority, who had not lived in that land since the days of Tiberius, in a hotbed of religious turmoil just as that place was entering modernity and putting off the hijab. Between the various players in the Middle East this writer is unconvinced there are any good guys, just lesser degrees of bad guys. Would it be terrible still without that 1947 United Nations decision? Yes. Would it be less bad? Absolutely.

James Meyer de Rothschild, Order of St George
And then there is the lasting identity that comes from what transpired in Germany during the Austrian corporal's reign. Jewish culture is not the only one which has made its victimhood from genocide a central element to its modern culture, but it certainly has done so to a point unprecedented by contrast with similarly suffering ethnic parties. No one who doubts what Hitler did will escape the label "Holocaust denier"; such a person can expect to lose his job, his livelihood, and any place in polite society. Meanwhile the European Union did not recognize the Holodomor—Stalin's deliberate starvation of Ukraine which resulted in comparable deaths to the Holocaust—until 2008; the United States has yet to recognize the event officially, although there have been commemorative events. Perhaps most alarmingly governments have been slow to recognize the Armenian genocide outside of Western Europe. Like what transpired in Germany, an ambitious government sought an orderly extermination of what it viewed as a potentially subversive minority; the Turks were just as evil as the Nazis, if less effective. Armenian immigrants in America have made recognition of the deplorable genocide a desiderium that hews them to their native culture. The younger, second generation Armenians are less enamored with the cause and find the cultural identification around genocide understandable if a bit morbid.

Which brings us back to post-Liturgy coffee hour. One could reasonably ascribe some of the Church's current malaise to post-War guilt; one only need listen to the Polish and German popes comments about 1944 Germany and the Vatican's resolute post-Conciliar optimism to see a Church racked with guilt over the idea that they contributed to a world which made the Austrian corporal possible. But if "the Jews" and Rothschilds are wholesale to blame for current woes perhaps such conspiracy theorists would better suited by ignoring the Federal Reserve and instead looking into that loan James Rothschild gave Gregory XVI.

Or maybe we should get out of coffee hour and talk to others about God rather than reflect within our own porous fortress.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Montini's Exile

"It is also well-known that Giovanni Battista Montini was exiled from the Curia to the See of Milan by Pius XII, without being made a Cardinal, the first Archbishop of Milan not be made a Cardinal either upon appointment or shortly thereafter since 1893."
This remark, taken from the comments in a NLM post on Montini's desire for absolution without admission of liturgical guilt, repeats a common myth in traditionalist circles about the relationship between Papa Pacelli and Paulo VI. At face value it certainly follows the popular narrative that portrays Eugenio Pacelli as a charismatic, arch-conservative pope—and occasionally an organic reformer of the liturgy while defending against "antiquarian" archaeology; by contrast, Msgr. Montini is liberal, loose-thinking and given to the whims of the times, and held in suspicion by his employer. It follows that Pius XII, fearing the Secretariat of State's rising influence in the Vatican's liberal faction, exiled him to the industrial city of Milan to prevent him from being made his successor. After all, he deprived Montini of the red hat, did he not?

It all makes sense. Only it doesn't....

Some basic facts debunk the basic theory before the more particular circumstances can be judged. First, Pacelli sent Montini to Milan in 1954. The pope did not hold a consistory after 1952 due to his ailing health. Indeed, the conclave that elected John XXIII had fewer electors (53) than the one which selected his predecessor (62). John held several consistories in his short reign to amend this seeming disparity.

Moreover, Giovanni Battista Montini was never Vatican Secretariat of State. Pius appointed Cardinal Maglione as his Secretariat of State throughout the Second World War, after which the cardinal died and his duties were absorbed directly by the papacy until Papa Pacelli's death in 1958. Msgr. Montini acted as an assistant in fulfilling these duties, wherein he supposedly had furtive negotiations with Communists and incited the pope's ire and condemnation to exile. Does one exile a monsignor from an under-secretary role by making him an archbishop? Does one punish a priest by making him archbishop of the diocese that produced the prior pope? If Pius wanted to exile Montini he could have sent the university chaplain and left-wing agitator to any number of tiny village dioceses in Italy. One does not punish a minor bureaucrat by making him papabile.

At a closer view Pius XII and Paul VI were extraordinarily alike. Both came from influential families—Pius coming from "black nobility" which increased its wealth in banking and Paul coming from Giorgio Montini, a luminary in the Christian Democrats movement. Neither went to a seminary to do anything other than study Canon Law for a few years and fulfill a legal requirement; otherwise their clerical educations were undertaken by their cardinatial mentors (Rampolla and Pacelli respectively). Both worked in the Secretariat of State office, although Pacelli had more significant field work than Montini, who made one embassy to Poland before being recalled to Pius' side. Both displayed an optimistic willingness to cooperate with post-War political institutions erected by democratic powers; Pius XII was called the "chaplain to NATO" more than once while Paul VI told the United Nations that the edifice it built must never fall.

Above all, both embraced liturgical tinkering at an historically unprecedented level. Pius XII hired Annibale Bugnini after reading his reform-minded article in a liturgical journal and gave Bugnini carte blanche to restore Holy Week to a form that never existed, a reform less radical than Paul VI's only in that it ruined only one week of the year. Paul, after gathering university students around his altars and saying Mass in the streets of Rome with progressive students, re-hired Pius's fixer after John XXIII fired him and let him wreak havoc on the other 51 weeks of the year. Other than the scale of destruction, perhaps the only real difference between the two popes is that Paul VI showed severe regret and cognitive dissonance later in life.

What, then, do we make of the 1954 "exile" to Milan? There are several possibilities. Perhaps Pius grew tired of Montini's antics, like saying Mass surrounded by a crowd of teenagers, and wanted him to rethink his ways. Perhaps Pius knew he was getting too old to function and that giving his protege a papabile see would guarantee him the chance to become his eventual successor. Or maybe they butted heads and Pius needed space from his friend all the while remembering that Montini was his friend.

Sometimes becoming a bishop can be demotion. It may well have happened to Robert Barron, who now instead of forming priests in the mold of Cardinal George now gives the odd sermon at someone else's cathedral in Los Angeles. But then again Father Barron was not made an instant candidate for the papacy.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Paschaltide Resume

A blessed feast of Saint Mark, founder of the Alexandrian Church, to all. Throughout the year my favorite Mattins is that from the Common of Virgin Martyrs, but the Paschaltide Mattins from the Common of Apostles and Evangelists is a close second.

With the continued proliferation of old rite Holy Week celebrations accelerated by the Ecclesia Dei indult (did everyone with an indult send pictures to New Liturgical Movement or are liberties being taken?) it might be a good time to ask readers or Facebook linkers whether they know of any communities that implemented the old liturgy this year and how it was received. I would be particularly interested if readers could comment on:

  1. How those unfamiliar with the pre-1962 changes were able to adapt to the old rites
  2. Whether they were practiced at the old times, the Paul VI, or the head-scratching 1962 times (Holy Saturday Vespers at 1:30AM on Sunday morning?)
  3. What would have made the implementation easier to facilitate from the perspective of both clergy and laity
Weren't choirs happy to sing Palestrina's Sicut cervus in its proper place?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Ave Verus Sonus

While looking for something else I stumbled upon this little gem, a setting of Ave Verum Corpus by Geoffrey Burgon. It is really little more than a vocal overlay of the hymn's words onto his main theme for the 1981 serialization of Brideshead Revisited, yet it somehow works quite well. I'm not keen to hear this after the elevation at Mass, but it makes a pleasant and thoughtful listen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Orthodox Orders

"Women....." -St John Chrysostom
"The divine law excluded women from this ministry, but they forcibly push themselves in, and, since they can do nothing personally, they do everything by proxy. They have got such power that they appoint and dismiss priests at will."

So writes Saint John Chrysostom in chapter nine of his third book on the priesthood. The Golden Mouth's books on the priesthood focused a Lenten book reading between myself, another Catholic, and some Orthodox friends with varying views towards Latin Catholicism. Saint John wrote his dialogues, if they can even be called that, on the priesthood after he and his friend, Basil, were elected bishops of their respective cities and John deceived Basil into receiving while fleeing the same fate. After some face-saving protestations, the Saint lays down the timorous duties of a "priest," by which he really means a bishop.

Priest is a word which has numerous meanings in ancient times. The one-time Patriarch of Antioch and Constantinople meant it as a bishop, which the older Pontificale Romanum preserves in calling the episcopacy the "second order of priesthood." In the time of Saint Cyprian of Carthage some meant it merely to denote those who sat on the bishop's council for the administration of the local church, whether that person was ordained or not (cf. Allen Brent's introduction to the S. Vladimir Press books). And, of course, it meant men who were ordained to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice in places where the bishop could not be present, which it almost universally meant by the time of Nicaea and which it still means today.

It was in giving this context to the term "priest" that I adduced the above quote and presumed aloud that we were all in perfect agreement on its meaning. One Orthodox conversant asked how broadly I would like to apply the idea that women cannot enter the priesthood. In turn yours truly suggested that if women cannot inherently enter one stage of Holy Orders then how could they logically enter any. Then the real tumult turned.

"I guess it goes back to the energies versus essence debate."

"No," I replied. "No, it doesn't really."

"I guess if you're going to call them 'Sacraments' instead of 'Mysteries' then you really need to reduce them to something simple that you can count."

"How would you have us understand the effects of Ordination? Is the Church's blessing and laying of hands in any ministry to be understand as a kind of Holy Order?"

"Yes! That is exactly what it is!"

"What of deaconesses?"

"Yes, they're ordained, just like an abbot or abbess, or a male deacon. Their roles are just different."

"But you don't think a woman could become a priest? There have been deaconesses, but the extent of their roles outside of Baptism is highly debated."

"They can be Sacramental deaconesses, but they cannot be bishops. We don't know yet if they cannot be priests. Orthodoxy must not be afraid of this question."

Initially this remark reminded me of Church World Mission by Alexander Schmemann, wherein the priest condones the idea that any encounter with God could be a Sacrament, a holy thing wherein God touches someone by His grace. The problem comes in assuming this must always be the case.

Deaconesses are a tricky matter. They certainly existed in most of Christendom up to and including the fourth century, but they never seem to have been very common in the city of Rome. In northern Italy and places under Byzantine influence they assisted in the full-immersion Baptism of female catechumens; at the Hagia Sophia they were permitted to take Communion at the altar; then again so was the Emperor, who was also allowed to perform certain incensations. In Armenia the order has died and been revived in several stages throughout history, including quite recently; the Armenian Apostolic Church permits them to read the Gospel at Mass, but I do not know if this has always been the case. Wikipedia declares them fully Sacramental and our Orthodox interlocutor declares anything hierarchically blessed a Sacrament, so why can we Latins not simply accept that women once upon a time had a separate-but-equal place in Holy Orders? Should they again?

Then again perhaps a blessing for work and the bestowal of a place doing something for the Apostles' successors is not always the same thing, even if it often is. Separate-but-equal ministries sound fine until you realize that the Church has the power to make or unmake these offices. The priesthood in the modern sense is an extension of the priesthood Christ gave the Apostles to be used only when the Apostles' successors are not presents; this came about some time after the Apostles invented the diaconate before our eyes in Acts. In the lifetime of some readers Paul VI eliminated three traditional Orders in the Latin Church: porter, exorcist, and subdeacon. If the power to create Orders for the Apostles' ministry rests with the Church then the Church has the power to confer them as it sees fit. Women cannot be divinely barred from one step of a created Order while admissible to another. If the Church can give women a fully Sacramental (or "Mysterious", if our book club friend is to be believed) place, why can she not have a higher rung at a later point?

This cannot be chalked up to Church discipline or tradition. There is no inherent reason why a married man with twenty children cannot be a bishop. It is a matter of strongly corroborated tradition and experience that he ought not be, but if he receives the laying of hands then he will become a bishop according to all Churches, East and West. No Apostolic Church, however, believes laying hands on a lady is anything other than an invitation to a bar fight or accusations of "micro aggression." If Providence has decided she cannot take the fullness of the Apostolic role there is no reason to think she could only have a particular part of it, the unique tradition of the Armenians not withstanding.

Then again cosmetic surgical procedures and adoption can aid some in embracing delusions of maternity, but it will not make men into mothers.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Dubious End of the Dubia

The word on the street is that the dubia of Cdls. Brandmüller, Burke, et al. has finally reached its termination with a traditional definition of the immorality of receiving Communion whilst in the midst of adultery by a small, toothless conference in Rome. This “whimper” ending of the dubia process is disappointing but unsurprising. An old mentor of mine once encouraged me to pray for Joseph Ratzinger upon his election to the papacy because he was “more of an academic than a man of action,” and that goes double for Raymond Leo Burke, a man more comfortable in a law library than the public square.

This is not to suggest that the cardinal lacks a spine, merely that he is better at standing still in the midst of a hurricane than he is at wielding a weapon against the enemy. The fruitless exercise of the dubia by the ever-dwindling association of cardinals ended in frustration and confusion, and perhaps it has left the situation worse than when it began.

Meanwhile, the Francismachine continues to bulldoze apace. Cdl. Raymond “Lion” Burke lacks the resolve of his middle-namesake, favoring public respect and a show of obedience to the direct opposition of this Satanic undermining of marital life.
How can any one enter into the house of the strong, and rifle his goods, unless he first bind the strong? and then he will rifle his house. He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.
The Vatican’s offenses against matrimony are accumulative and disastrous for the salvation of men. We traditionalists have been looking to the dubia cardinals as modern-day Bishop Turpins—the celebrated warrior-bishop of La Chanson de Roland—but they are in the final analysis mere clerics in the reductive sense of the word: clerks worried more about an imbalance in the books than about the evil at the root of the problem.

One day we may get the reforming clergy we need, but Brandmüller and Burke have quietly retreated from the field while their soldiers still fight. They may continue to grant interviews until the day they die, but talk is only talk.
From the other part is the Archbishop Turpin,
He pricks his horse and mounts upon a hill;
Calling the Franks, sermon to them begins:
“My lords barons, Charles left us here for this;
He is our King, well may we die for him:
To Christendom good service offering.
Battle you’ll have, you all are bound to it,
For with your eyes you see the Sarrazins.
Pray for God’s grace, confessing Him your sins!
For your souls’ health, I’ll absolution give
So, though you die, blest martyrs shall you live,
Thrones you shall win in the great Paradis.”
The Franks dismount, upon the ground are lit.
That Archbishop God’s Benediction gives,
For their penance, good blows to strike he bids. (lxxxix)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ready for Another?

"Nothing gets you over the last one like the next one," or so goes common advice after the termination of a serious relationship. We Americans recently dwindled down our long-term relationship with Iraq and are looking to move into a new Middle Eastern residence. Did we find a new beau in Syria? Or will it just be—I pray—a one night stand.

The joint bombing of Syria has the distinct flavor of Bill Clinton's 1998 bombing of an abandoned factory in Iraq during his impeachment for using his office to cover up his infelicitous soiree with Monica Lewinsky. Or perhaps this is the influence of John Bolton, the UN ambassador under the most recent Bush? Neo-conservatism shares with its socialist ancestor the belief that all contemporary problems could be solved if only other cultures would embrace our post-Roosevelt federal system and be "free." Apparently Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq did not sufficiently convince Western leadership otherwise. It is a long discredited idea, but, like witchcraft and democracy, it tells a comforting lie: that we can do something about everything we do not like.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Liturgy & Bad Language

During the transitory years of youth, which seem to have a languor of isolation and distance from the harshness of parents' bothersome lives, children are rarely distinguished from each other based on ability. That comes with high school or university education. Until then anyone at a school may be much more or less capable than any other pupil. In the menagerie of third grade or eighth grade perhaps a less bookish student calls a more bookish student a "smarty pants" for using a polysyllabic word. In high school well placed use of a verb, other than some conjugation of "to be," is met with a similarly derisive animadversion of "showing off." By college one walks a tight rope between good writing and "purple prose."

The right use of the right words expresses a thought, an idea in dimension and depth that simple descriptions and synonyms cannot relate. It is much the same difference between reading Shakespeare's plays on the page for years and finally finding the time to see Hamlet on stage in a proper theater, when "To be or not to be" ceases to be the words of a student in a tweed jacket and becomes the reflection of a suicidal depressive. The art of real wordsmithing so enchants that imitators come flocking in, hoping to learn the art while replicating the works of the originals like Sorbonne students who copy pieces in the Louvre. The inevitable outcome is something flat, two dimensional. It is better than modern art, or language, to be sure, but it leaves the lingering feeling of fakery, of not quite being the "real deal." Essays in the New Yorker possess greater literary quality than their brotherly hit pieces in the New York Times, but inevitably they are both meant to convey the same narrow, drivel on the left that the Wall Street Journal peddles on the right.

And yet we need good language. Bad language—"they" used to say—reflected a poor education, and it does. Ignored, and more worthy of concern, is the lasting influence of bad language on each succeeding generation. Thoughts come to inquisitive minds only to be thwarted by an inability to get them out, or at least to get them out well, much like a young commis chef in a fine restaurant who knows a sauce is off, but does not know how the sauce is made or how to add acidity. Basic feelings like "good," "bad," "happy," and "angry" become the only expressions of complex personal ideas. Either someone satisfies himself with a lesser word choice or he learns an unspoken lesson not to go down that hole in the future. A good chef would tell his commis what to change; a bad one may just tell him to add some salt and move on.

For all of living memory Christianity's language of liturgy has become every bit as dulled down, minced, and made "bad" as spoken language. Liturgy is the language of Christianity because it is the greatest prayer of Christianity and a Christian, the pagan Romans said, is one who prays. The fullness of the Church's liturgical tradition provides for every breadth of desire of the soul, the need for the Transcendent, the urgency of repentance, the wish to suffer with Christ and rejoice with the Apostles, to ruminate alone, or to make peace with one's neighbor; in a phrase, it moves any which way the Spirit wills.

This year at Tenebrae I remembered something Laszo Dobszay wrote in his Bugnini Liturgy, namely that the traditional Holy Week services did not recall any one point in Christ's Passion, but rather that each day the entire Passion, albeit with different points of emphasis. The Mandatum brings the faithful to the upper room and the Mass, with its interpolations in the Canon, point to the institution of Holy Eucharist as Our Lord entered into His suffering. What is Tenebrae if not a glimpse into Gethsemane?
Amicus meus osculi me trádidit signo: Quem osculátus fúero, ipse est, tenete eum: hoc malum fecit signum, qui per ósculum adimplévit homicidium. Infelix prætermísit prétium sánguinis, et in fine láqueo se suspéndit. Bonum erat ei, si natus non fuísset homo ille. Infelix prætermísit prétium sánguinis, et in fine láqueo se suspéndit.
Losing parts of the liturgy such as this constitute a reduction in liturgical language that exceeds whatever may be recovered in textual restorations. In the case of Tenebrae, the Church visits Christ during His agony in the garden by sharing his impending sense of suffering, by putting words of innocence and accusations of betrayal into the responses, and in leaving the temple in utter blackness. The reduction of this aspect of the Passion, both by moving the time of the service in the 1955 reform and the elimination of the Office altogether the following decade, does not ignore these aspects of the Passion as much as, like reduced language, it fails to articulate them properly. Instead the faithful are treated to a narrated text on Good Friday, read from three separate ambos, that most clueless people in the pews liken to a play that replaces the Gospel.

Likewise, the compression of the Roman liturgy into the Mass and nothing but the texts of Mass assume that people will find all the inspiration they need in the relevant readings from the revised lectionary, lessons that will be read in the course of a minute or two. At some points of the year the dramatic ceremonies imposed on the Mass form a unique spiritual vocabulary for articulating those seasonal mysteries, however, throughout most of the year the Mass serves the purpose of solemnizing a feast. The Mass was never meant to be the solitary means of entering into the Divine mysteries.

In spoken languages certain features or even entire languages themselves obsolesce while new characteristics or families of speech replace them. The withering of Latin, for instance, as a poetic language in post-Renaissance England made room for Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser, and the rest of the Anglophonic tradition. The same has held true of the liturgy traditionally: readings, feasts, musical styles, or urban practices fall out of use over the course of centuries because piety has headed in a new direction. What has transpired in the last century is something altogether different. Much like the "bad language" in our vernacular, our prayer language has devolved to the point where we can say very little and think only in the most crude, obvious of terms. The desire for the fuller spiritual language of the past comes with the accompanying "purple prose" stigma of written tongues, yet there is no telling a full story without it. "Chirpy" polyphony from Monteverdi is part of that purple prose, but Victoria's setting of the aforementioned Amicus meus is a weave of language for the spirit akin to what the Bard did for the stage.

Generations of bad language have left us in an atomistic society with little to say about anything save ourselves. It would be hard to deny that the current state of the liturgy is much the same affair. And yet is not the old liturgy the re-education we need?

As an aside, my new laptop has arrived so technology troubles should be over and blogging should return to normal.... I hope.....

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Christ is Risen!

"If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived thereof. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

"And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

"Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

"O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen."

A blessed Pascha to all!