Eastern Christianity: Ancient, Venerable and Catholic


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Enter The Jesus Prayer:

way of the pilgrim

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner – The Jesus Prayer

Repeating with reverence The Jesus Prayer is an Eastern Christian tradition.  I first came across the Jesus Prayer from reading a spiritual book, The Way of the Pilgrim, the author whom has never been identified, but I am sure he is a saint. The pilgrim begins his journey through Siberia reciting the Jesus Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

The author repeats this prayer thousands of times a day as he travels to small towns with little clothing or food. He carries only one book, the Philokalia, a collection of writings of saints from the 4th to 15th centuries. Saint Paul’s instruction to “pray without ceasing” is practiced literally in The Way of a Pilgrim:

“Everything drew me to love and thank God: people, trees, plants, and animals. I saw them all as my kinfolk; I found in all of them the magic of the name of Jesus”.

An adapted Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on my soul.”

Even St. Basil the Great had a Jesus Prayer variation, “Accept Immortal King, my repentance, that of a sinner, and turn towards me and hear my words.”

The Jesus Prayer relates well to the Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016. 

The Three Holy Hierarchs


The Three Holy Hierarchs. Author unknown.

The Three Holy Hierarchs; St. Basil the Great,  St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Theologian, are giants in Eastern Christianity. Saint Gregory the Theologian is known for purity and profundity of his language, St. Basil for his understanding of the Holy Spirit and Saint Chrysostom for his elegant homilies. They all lived in the east, near Cappadocia (Turkey) at the same time in the 4th century.

Folklore has it that each of the three holy Hierarchs appeared in a vision to Saint John Mauropus, the Metropolitan of Euchaïta. “As you see, the three of us are with God and no discord or rivalry divides us…If they (people) honor us thus as being with and in God, we give them our word that we will intercede for their salvation in our common prayer.”

All three Eastern Church Fathers have their feast day in January. In the Roman Catholic west, they are Doctors of the Church.

St. Basil the Great

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St. Basil the Great, Holy Trinity Chapel, Jenkintown Pennsylvania

St. Basil the Great is a powerhouse in Eastern Christianity. In Basil’s family of ten siblings, five became saints as well as his grandmother, St. Macrina and his mother, St. Emellia.

“Examine the actions of each day, advance in virtue, that you may become a companion of the angels.” – St. Basil the Great (adapted)

Basil went to Egypt and learned from ascetic hermits, who lived in caves, in the monastic way of life.  Basil returned to his home in Cappadocia living as a monk in a small community, dividing his time between prayer, meditation on the bible and manual labor. Basil believed that when one is living with others in a monastery, the grace bestowed on each individual becomes the common possession of the group.

One bit of advice by St. Basil on monasticism that can apply to religious and secular:

Prayers are recited early in morning so your first movements are for God. “I remembered God and was delighted.” Psalm 77

Basil Family basil-mary-macrina-mother-gregory1The Basilian Family (l-r) Basil; Macrina the Younger; Mother of God; Macrina the Elder; Gregory of Nyssa. From St. Basil’s “Pillar of Fire” Faith, The Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great. Jesus, Lover of Humanity Province, Love of Knowledge and Wisdom. Basilian Spirituality Center. @basilcenter

An academia priest from Temple University told our congregation that St. Basil created the Glory Be to The Father prayer, one of the most widely said prayers in history. Many people are unaware that Basil created this prayer.

Pope Francis has always identified with Basil’s teachings. St. Basil was recently quoted by Pope Francis in the LaudatoSi encyclical,“If the world has a beginning … we must inquire who gave it this beginning, who was its Creator”.

basil #LaudatoSi- If the world has a beginning..we must inquire who gave it this beginning, who was its Creator."“Silence is the beginning of purifying the soul.” This Saint Basil the Great icon is an original, written by the famous Georgian iconographer Niko Chocheli from the former Soviet Union, in St. Basil the Great Church Chapel, Kimberton PA.

Basil wrote On The Holy Spirit, defining the Holy Trinity as One God in Three Persons, a complex theology topic even today.

“It is impossible to recognize Christ, image of the invisible God, unless the Spirit enlightens you.” – St. Basil

Well after his death, the Council of Chalcedon described Basil as “the great Basil, minister of grace who has expounded the truth to the whole earth”, thereby giving him the name Basil the Great!

ephram the poet

St. Ephraim the Syrian was a clairvoyant who actually met St. Basil. In a vision he saw a pillar of flame to heaven and a voice, “Such is the Great Basil!” Ephraim is also “The greatest poet of the patristic age and perhaps the only theologian/poet to rank beside Dante” – per Murray.

“Do nothing at all unless you begin with prayer.”

Here is what St. Basil had to say:

“To you will I pray, O Lord: In the morning you will hear my voice, I will stand before you and will see”

“Intimacy with the Lord is achieved by cheerful readiness to do the will of God.”

“With the words of Scripture we feed our faith, we lift up our hope, we confirm our confidence.”

St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom, from inside the Hagia Sophia, Turkey, pictured at right.

St. John Chrysostom prayers are used extensively in the Eastern Byzantine Catholic and Orthodox churches liturgy, showing the respect he garners. Also, St. Basil’s words are used in the Divine Liturgy ten times throughout the year, but most of the year it is St. John’s.

“I am not worthy Lord, for you to come under my roof, yet you wish to dwell in me” – St. John Chrysostom

St. John took Matthew 8:8 “But the centurion replied to Him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed” and added his own beautiful prayer, “Lord my God, I know that I am not worthy, nor sufficient, that you should come under the roof of the house of my soul, for it is entirely desolate and in ruins, and you do not have a worthy place in me to lay your head. But as you humbled yourself from on high for our sake, do likewise also for my unworthiness.”


His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, meeting with Pope Francis in Rome.

In addition to one of the Three Holy Hierarchs in the east, in the west, St. John Chrysostom is among the 33 “Doctors of the Church,” and remembered especially for his extensive and profound teachings on the subject of the Holy Eucharist. Along with St. Joseph, he was named co-patron of the Second Vatican Council by Pope Saint John XXIII a major event.

“Prayer is a place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of happiness.” St. John

St. Gregory the Theologian

St. Gregory the Theologian

St. Gregory the Theologian

“Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we might be rich” – Gregory the Theologian

St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who is called the Theologian, was born in Nazianzus in Cappodocia in 325 A D. He was the Archbishop of Constantinople.

Becoming or imitating Christ is the basis for theosis, an Eastern Christian theology concept.  Saint Peter wrote in the bible that we are called “to become partakers of the Divine nature.” St Basil also described man as the creature who has received the order to become a god.

After his baptism at age 30, Gregory the Theologian joined his friend Basil in a newly founded monastery. He and Basil fought Aryanism, which denied the divine nature of Jesus Christ. They also defined the Trinity in their great sermons.

The Three Holy Hierarchs are the great intercessors for us in Heaven.

“Let us become as Christ is, since Christ became as we are; let us become gods for his sake, since he became man for our sake.” – St. Gregory the Theologian

Mystical Energy from God: “Be Attentive”


The eastern rite Eucharist host is shown above the chalice. The host is square compared to a round host in the Latin Roman Catholic rite.

The Eastern Church believes the mystical life is all around us, and asks us to “be attentive” to God’s word. During the Divine Liturgy the religious and faithful say “Be Attentive” as a common prayer phrase into mystical participation cumulating with the Eucharist.

IC XC NIKA Original

The IC XC NIKA is stamped into every prosphoron (loaf of altar bread). The IC XC abbreviation (in both Greek and Slavonic) is the name, “Jesus Christ”.

NIKA is a Greek verb that means “conquers”, or more closely related to “is victorious”.

As we receive the Holy Eucharist, we are invited to share in his victory, we receive the victory itself into our bodies and souls, and we become victors, conquerors, insofar as we do the will of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. Do you not believe that you too are a conqueror? St Paul takes us even further: “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). – Abbot Joseph, Mt. Tabor Monastery

The victory that we celebrate is that of Jesus Christ over the world, the flesh, and the devil, over sin and death. For Him to conquer evil was essential to his mission, so much so that St John could even say: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1John 3:8). – Abbot Joseph, Mt. Tabor Monastery

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St. Gregory of Nyssa, Holy Trinity Chapel

St. Gregory of Nyssa is one of the great contributors to the mystical tradition in Christian spirituality and monasticism. The word became incarnate “so that by becoming as we are, he might make us as he is”, said Gregory of Nyssa.

John Chrysostom prayer, “Receive me today, Son of God, as a partaker of your mystical Supper.”

“It is Gods body that deifies and nourishes me; it deifies the spirit & nourishes the mind mystically.” – St. John Chrysostom

Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton were among the Roman Catholics who loved the Eastern Byzantine liturgy.

Irene Chrysovalantou

St. Irene Chrysovalantou, granted the gift of clairvoyance. She knew thoughts of all she saw. Holy Trinity Chapel.

When Byzantine theologians describe the reality of the love of God, they always turn to expressions of admiration, amazement, awe and wonder. To define this love is to limit it. It must remain unlimited, boundless, indefinable, unexplainable. The explainable has only limited value and transient interest. The true is always wondrous.

Prayer is the elevation of the intelligence to God, not in order to learn about God but to discover God; not to know about Him but to know Him, to experience God in one’s own life.

– From Introduction to the Byzantine Rite by Archbishop Joseph Raya.

Theosis: Becoming Like God


The Resurrection: Beating Death on the Cross. Holy Trinity Chapel.

We glorify You and fall down before You, for You arose from the tomb, our only God. I will recount Your wonders.

The teaching of deification or theosis in Eastern Orthodoxy and much of Eastern Catholicism refers to the attainment of likeness of God, union with God or reconciliation with God. Theosis is a goal of Eastern Orthodox Christians, as according to the Bible, we are ‘made in the image and likeness of God.’ It is possible for man to become like God, to become deified, to become god by grace. – Millet and Reynolds


Ladder of Divine Ascent icon St. Catherine’s Monastery Egypt, 12th century. Monks ascending the ladder to Jesus, led by S. John Climacus. Theosis is the mystery where He makes divinity our own.

St Irenaeus, in his famous phrase, “if the Word has been made man, it is so that men may be made gods.”

“As it [the Holy Spirit] regenerates you, it changes you from corruptible to incorruptible, from mortal to immortal, from sons of men into sons of God and gods by adoption and grace.” – Symeon the New Theologian (10th century)

John Paul II B

St. John Paul II said Catholics should be familiar with “the venerable and ancient tradition of the Eastern Churches”.


St. John Paul II said,

“…the teaching of the Cappadocian Fathers on divinization (which) passed into the tradition of all the Eastern Churches and is part of their common heritage.

This can be summarized in the thought already expressed by Saint Irenaeus at the end of the second century: God passed into man so that man might pass over to God.

This theology of divinization remains one of the achievements particularly dear to Eastern Christian thought.” – St. John Paul II

The fundamental vocation and goal of each and every person is to share in the life of God. We have been created by God to live in fellowship with Him. The descent of God in the Person of Jesus Christ has made possible the human ascent to the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit. Orthodoxy believes that each Christian is involved in a movement toward God which is known as theosis or deification. – Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald

Theosis describes the spiritual pilgrimage in which each person becomes ever more perfect, ever more holy, ever more united with God. It is not a static relationship, nor does it take place only after death. On the contrary, theosis is a movement of love toward God which begins for each Christian with the rites of Baptism and which continues throughout this life, as well as the life which is to come.

Salvation means liberation from sin, death, and evil. Redemption means our repossession by God. In Orthodoxy, both salvation and redemption are within the context of theosis. This rich vision of Christian life was expressed well by Saint Peter when he wrote in the early pages of his second Epistle that we are called “to become partakers of the Divine nature.” It was also affirmed by Saint Basil the Great when he described man as the creature who has received the order to become a god. -Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald

Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane

Jesus frequently went to Gethsemane with His disciples to pray (John 18:2). Holy Trinity Chapel.

The Orthodox Church understands theosis as a union with the energies of God and not with the essence of God which always remains hidden and unknown. However, the experience of the Church testifies that this is a true union with God. It is also one which is not pantheistic, because in this union the divine and the human retain their unique characteristics. In this sense, Orthodoxy believes that human life reaches its fulfillment only when it becomes divine.  –  The Orthodox Church: An Introduction by Rev. Thomas Fitzgerald

Special Veneration to Our Mother of God

mary at Immaculate concept large He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Mary with the prophets and Christ Enthroned over the last Supper. Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia PA. Photo credit: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.

The Mother of God has an exalted place of honor in Byzantine devotion. She participates in the very life of God as the human medium, by which God is communicated to man through the Incarnation.

theotokos basil center
Theotokos or “God bearer” Mary, Mother of God. Basil Center, Jenkintown PA.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee!

theotokos holy trinity chapelTheotokos with child. We see the Holy Virgin as a lamp of living light, shining upon those living in darkness- Mother of God by C. Douchwat. Holy Trinity Chapel.

mary theotokos best htc

Virgin Hodegetria, Mother of God. We magnify you, the true Theotokos, your incorruptibly gave birth to God the Word. Holy Trinity Chapel.

Virgin Pammakaristos

Virgin Pammakaristos pointing to Christ Child; mosaic mid 11th century. Patriarchal Church of St. George, Istanbul.

nativity 1

Dormition of the Theotokos, Holy Trinity Chapel.

In the Dormition of the Theotokos,  Jesus is standing in center with a small child representing the Soul of Mary. Holy Trinity Chapel, Basil Center, Jenkintown PA. When leaving an Eastern Catholic Church, the Dormition of Mary is usually the last icon viewed.

Theotokos, in your death you did not forsake the world. You are the Mother of Life. Pray for us, Mary.

Soul of MARY

Above, a closeup of Dormition of Mary icon, with Jesus holding the Soul of Mary. From Holy Trinity Chapel.

The Feast of the Dormition (falling asleep) is a major feast in the Byzantine Tradition that commemorates the falling asleep ( natural death) of Mary,  Mother of God.

Mother of God Theotokos of Pochayiv
Mother of God Icon at Our Lady of Pochayiv Grotto, Basil Center. Original in Pochayiv Lavra monastery, Ukraine since 1597. On grounds near Holy Trinity Chapel.

Icons: “Channel of Divine Grace”

our lady of the sign

Our Lady of the Sign. “The Lord will give you a sign. The virgin will be with child and give birth to a son. Is 7:14.  Holy Trinity Chapel.

“What the Gospels explains by means of words, the iconographer shows by means of his works.” Saint Basil the Great

Iconography has been used for centuries as a means of communicating theology with the use of images. Especially in the early days of the church, when many could not read, this was extremely beneficial.

Veneration of icons is a common Byzantine practice, respect being paid not to the painting itself but to the person it represents. Some icons are believed to be the means of obtaining miracles, and people pray in front of them for healing or other assistance.

Icons are considered ‘windows into heaven.’

jesus at HTC

Christ the Teacher icon. O God, we pray that the whole creation will in all things be restored to your Son, the King of the Universe. Holy Trinity Chapel.

An image, says St. Thomas Aquinas, connotes three simultaneous qualities: likeness to prototype, derivation from it, and similarity of species with it. Likeness alone is not enough … The underlying idea of the icon is the manifestation of the hidden.

Metropolitan Seraphim explains the role of the icon in prayer this way:

“If you stand before the Redeemer’s icon or that of the Mother of God, stand as if you were before the Lord Jesus Christ Himself or before the Blessed Virgin Mary. Keep your intelligence without any representation, for there is a great difference between standing before the Lord in His very presence and representing Him to the imagination. In the latter case, attention is not given to prayer directly, but is held by traditional impressions which only skim the surface of our consciousness.”

eucharist st paul and JesusThe Eucharist icon. Jesus with St. Paul. Holy Trinity Chapel.

st. peter and jesus HTCEucharist icon. Jesus with St. Peter. Holy Trinity Chapel.

with Jesus; “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

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The Pantocrator, Christ blessing his people with New Testament in left hand. Holy Trinity Chapel.

original Old Trinity

Original Holy Trinity icon written by Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev (b.1360), also called The Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah. One of the most recognizable icons in the world.

The three angels portrayed are sharing together at the table. When a circle is superimposed over the icon, Rublev portrays each figure as equal, no one is more important than the other.

rublev Holy Trinity immaculate conception

The Holy Trinity” mosaic icon.  Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia PA. Photo credit: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception

The persons of the Holy Trinity: the Holy Spirit is on the right, the Son in the middle, and the Father on the left.

Macrina the Younger sister of St. Basil. Holy Trinity Chapel.

In the Life of Macrina, by  St. Gregory of Nyssa, Macrina says “Lord, from your sacrifice, true life begins when present life finishes.” –

The icon, then, is not only an aesthetical entity. It is the result of the faith and prayer of the Church. It is the life of the Church lived in Christ. A saving truth is not communicated by the word alone but by the fact of awakening vital forces of life, through the presentation of beauty. Because God loved us, He turned to us a visible face, a human face, in Christ. He turned to us the face of the absolute beauty which is not different from the fullness of God and the fullness of being. The icon carries with it the love of this beauty, and the beauty of this love.

– from Byzantine Daily Worship by Archbishop Joseph Raya & Baron José de Vinck, Alleluia Press, Allendale, NJ. Adapted for use by Father J. Michael Venditti. Eparchy of Passaic NJ.


pantocrator 1

Pantocrator, “Ruler of All” Christ blessing his people located on ceiling of the Holy Trinity Chapel in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.

“Christ,” says St. Paul, “is the icon of the invisible God” (Col. 2:7).

The icon, therefore, is not a picture. The icon is not a painted representation meant to teach. The icon is a grace and a life. It is a life that penetrates and purifies and elevates. From the icon emanates a virtue that inspires the faithful with hope and gives him consolation. St. John of Damascus calls it a “channel of divine grace,” seeming to bestow on the icon an almost sacramental character. In another sense, one can say the icon’s relationship to the faithful is similar, though certainly not equal to, that of Holy Scripture. It may be for this reason that, in the vocabulary of the Byzantine Tradition, an icon is not “painted” but “written.”

– Eparchy of Passaic (NJ)

"Old Testament Trinity" Three angels with Abraham and Sarah

“Old Testament Trinity” Three angels with Abraham and Sarah. Holy Trinity Chapel.

“Old Testament Trinity” icon is based on Genesis 18:1-15. The story is commonly known as the hospitality of Abraham. When Abraham talks to them, they respond as one (“they said”), the one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.



Cappadocian Fathers: Basil “the man of action”, Gregory of Nazianzus “the orator” and Gregory of Nyssa “the thinker”.


top of dome pantocratorThe Pantocrator icon written on ceiling of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.

The Transfiguration of our Lord, celebrated August 6

Transfiguration Icon. Here You were transfigured in glory on Mount Tabor, O Christ; You showed Your disciples Your glory.

Mt Tabor Mount_of_transfiguration

Aerial view of the Church of Transfiguration at the summit of Mount Tabor, which is divided into Eastern Orthodox (northeast) and Roman Catholic (southeast) areas.

Eastern Christianity Architecture

st. michael 4
Eastern christian architecture at St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church in Baltimore Md. is easily recognizable with its multiple onion domes.

outside cathedral

Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia PA with its massive golden dome and new bell tower (on right). The exterior of the cathedral was modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and a stone from the tomb of St. Peter the Apostle was incorporated into the cornerstone. St. John Paul II visited this Cathedral on October 4th, 1979. Photo credit: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception

haggue sopia ?

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

bell tower

Bell Tower outside the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.  Photo credit: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception


Details of an Eastern Orthodox Church. Note the Templon is also called the Iconostasis.

The Narthex or entrance to the church symbolizes this world, the nave or pews represents the Church. Across the front of the church is the Iconostasis wall that separates the nave or pews from the sanctuary or altar, which symbolizes the Kingdom of God on Earth. No layman is permitted inside the Sanctuary.

overview of immaculate conception cathedralNarthex. Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia PA. 11/15 Eastern Catholic Church in the Ukrainian Byzantine rite.

On the Holy Table in the Sanctuary are placed the Book of Gospels and the Holy Gifts during the Divine Liturgy, and in the center of the table stands the tabernacle (artopohorion) containing the reserved Eucharist.

dome of cathedral overview photo
The cupola or inside the dome symbolizes the sky and in an Orthodox tradition, at the top, inside the dome, is Christ the Pantocrator, the Ruler of All. Depicted below him, around the dome, are the central act of worship, the Divine Liturgy; the Twelve Apostles; and major prophets and other figures of the Old Testament.


iconostansis cathedralIconostatis at Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia PA.
The central doors or Royal Doors of the iconostatis are shown open.  The Iconostatis represents the natural boundary between God and man; earth and Heaven.

main door of Iconostasis

The closed Royal Doors of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception showing the gospel writers flanked by Jesus on the right and Mary with the child Jesus on the left. Only religious walk through these doors.

iconstansis immaculate conceptionPhoto credit: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception

More on the Iconostasis: Next to Mary, the shorter icon is Archangel Michael one one of the side doors or deacon doors. On the far left is St. Nicholas.  Next to the Jesus icon, is also a deacon door shown as St. Stephen and on the far right is St. John the Baptist.

Above are the Great feasts of the Church and the round icons atop the iconostasis are the Old Testament Prophets. The apostles are the rectangular icons. At the center top are the icons of Last Supper and Christ Enthroned.

liturgy behind the iconastastis
Divine liturgy in the sanctuary, behind the Iconostatis as viewed from the narthex. Photo credit: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception

The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is the one most commonly celebrated liturgies throughout the year. The longer Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is celebrated ten times a year.
note altar positionHis Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Philadelphia, PA celebrating Divine Liturgy on November 15, 2015. He is the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Photo: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.

Inside the sanctuary located behind an icon screen, represents Heaven, the dwelling place of God. As shown, the Royal Doors are open showing the altar and tabernacle inside the sanctuary. Note His Beatitude is talking outside the sanctuary, closest to the congregation (representing earth).

Holy Archangel Michael Byzantine Catholic ChurchHoly Archangel Michael Byzantine Catholic Church, Mount Claire PA. In communion with the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, NJ. Photo credit: Holy Archangel Michael Byzantine Church.

Most of the Eastern Catholic parishes on the east coast of the United States are small parishes with 400-500 parishioners, yet closely knit, vibrant and conveniently located in towns of all sizes. Holy Archangel Michael Byzantine Catholic Church is one of these churches. There are roughly 37 parishes in the Pennsylvania area of the Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church and close to 40 parishes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey within the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

Catholic priests with bi-ritual faculties, can celebrate the Holy Eucharist in two different traditions: the Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Catholic Byzantine tradition and the Mass in the Latin tradition. Fr. Mitch Pacwa of EWTN is bi-ritual and Fr. James Badeaux pastor at Holy Archangel Michael Byzantine Church above also has bi-ritual faculties.

There is a healing liturgy at Holy Archangel Michael Byzantine Catholic Church that has been effective, from first hand accounts, of healings; from divine gifts received that place an ailment into remission; to miracles for a complete cure.

Traditions of Eastern Christianity

Receiving the Eucharist; Divine Liturgy

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Communion served in Eastern rite tradition. When receiving the Eucharist in an Eastern Catholic Ruthenian Church, the priest will say your name, and if he doesn’t know it, he will ask your name. The Eucharist is served on a communion spoon. Photo credit: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.

“I think what people find is a very rich liturgy that’s very focused on the mystical dimension of the Eucharist.” – Father Kevin Kennedy, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Russian Catholic Church, San Francisco CA.
altar surrounded by apostles
“Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” – Jesus (John 6:53). Altar in sanctuary at Holy Trinity Chapel surrounded by Jesus, two Archangels and the Apostles.

Pascha Feast Day
resurrection beating death on teh crossThe Resurrection Icon.  Pascha or Easter is the most important feast in the Byzantine liturgical year. It celebrates the resurrection of our Lord and his victory over the power of death. Note: Behind Christ is written: IC XC (Jesus Christ). Holy Trinity Chapel.

More Prominent Eastern Saints

St. Andrew (left) was the first called of the Apostles and brother of Peter and plays an important part in the Byzantine Catholic Church. Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Russia, Ukraine and Scotland. St. Andrew evangelized the region known as Byzantium.

Brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius (rt), “Apostles to the Slavs” (Ukrainian) are the Patron Saints of Europe and play an important part in the founding of the Eastern Byzantine Church. The followers of these Byzantine Greek missionaries converted the Ruthenian people, creating the modern day Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Church.

There are many eastern saints, some with their feast days are shown in calendar here.

Sign of the Cross

sign of the cross eastern rite

Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics place great emphasis on the sign of the Cross. The Eastern Catholics make the sign of the Cross in the same way as the Orthodox, forehead to chest, then from right to left, with the thumb, index and middle fingers joined in honor of the Trinity. The other two fingers are pressed to the palm, in honor of Christ’s two natures, divine and human, in one Person.

In most parishes, no one will kneel during the sanctification of the gifts. There are other parishes where some will kneel and some will stand. Some parishes have no kneelers in the pews at all. This could be based on the first Christians who stood in the great churches of the time and would read the icons since many did not read or write.


St. Nicholas of Myra (left) or Holy Father Nicholas plays a prominent role in Eastern Christianity from the Latin Rites.

The famous Icon of the Nativity (right) showing Christ born into a stone coffin, a sarcophagus, a symbol of His death. His mother is lying next to him, dressed in red.

In some Eastern Churches, Christmas is celebrated on January 7th instead of December 25th. This is because Byzantine Catholic churches follow the Julian calendar in which Christmas falls 13 days after that of the Gregorian calendar.


The Old Testament prophets play a special role in Eastern Christianity. Their books are read and icons viewed as a critical voice to listeners. Icons share a mystical look into the soul of a prophet.


Prophetess Anna, a seer, speaking with foreknowledge on God’s behalf. “She joyfully told of the child” – Luke. She was very old and spent all her time worshiping God by fasting and praying at the temple. Holy Trinity Chapel.

“Upon seeing the baby Jesus, Anna praised God; in the community seeking deliverance for Jerusalem.”

king david
“Kings of distant lands will come” Psalms 72. King David prophesied foreign kings bringing gifts to the Messiah. Holy Trinity Chapel.

prophet moses
“A Star Will Come out of Bethlehem” – Numbers 24:17 predicts where the Messiah will be born. Holy Trinity Chapel.

prophet Isaiah_(Michelangelo)
Prophet Isaiah (Michaelangelo). Prophet Isaiah foretold: “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel.” Isaiah 7:14


St. John the Baptist icon created by The Monks of Tabor, California.

He laid his hands upon Him as the prophets foretold, showing himself to be the forerunner of the Word of God.

Weekly Cycle of Dedications

From the Weekly Cycle one can see the emphasis on prayer and dedication of Eastern Catholics:
– Sunday dedicated to Christ’s Resurrection
– Monday to Angels and Archangels
– Tuesday to the Prophets
– Wednesday to St. John the Forerunner (Baptist)
– Thursday honors Holy Apostles and Hierarchs
– Friday is The Cross and Crucification
– Saturday to All Saints and Theotokos (Mother of God) and all faithful departed

Angels and Archangels

michael the archangel

Mondays dedicated to Angels and Archangels. Archangel Michael, Holy Trinity Chapel.

Archangel Michael: O leader of the heavenly armies, we beseech you to encircle us with your protection.

“At that time there shall arise Michael, the great prince, guardian of your people.” Daniel 12:1

archangel 2 Mondays dedicated to Angels and Archangels. Archangel Gabriel at Holy Trinity Chapel.

Archangel Gabriel, watch over us as we bow low, deliver us from trouble, O Prince of the Heavenly Armies.

Gabriel was rapt in amazement, the splendor of her purity, O Mother of God, I am lost – “Hail O Woman full of grace!”

Eastern Catholics and the Pope in Rome

Pope Francis in Philadelphia 2015. (lt) St. Peters Dome designed by Michelangelo. (rt)

Eastern Catholics are in union with the Pope in Rome. They share with Roman Catholics the same basic faith and the same mysteries (sacraments) and adhere to the Creed, although the Divine Liturgy follows many of the traditions of the Orthodox churches.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav ShevchukArchbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in communion with Rome.

mitresHis Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk on left with the mitre of Eastern Byzantine bishop flanked on left by Archbishop Stefan Soroka of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.  Auxiliary Bishop Most Reverend John J. McIntyre is in background with the white mitre of the Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop. New Church Bell Tower blessing, November 2015. Photo credit: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.

The Eastern Catholic door is open to all Roman Catholics as a means to get closer to God. The Divine Liturgy in the Eastern Catholic rites is accepted by Rome and the Pope for Sunday obligation and encourage by Pope Francis.

ukrainian cathedral doors wide open

Photo credit: Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Incense and music are used throughout an Eastern Christian liturgy service. The epistle reading are sung usually by a cantor from the congregation. The priest can sing the gospel and many parts of the Divine Liturgy.

Byzantine Chant from St. Andrew, Kontakion the Great Canon (in English) by Fr. Apostolos Hill. St. Andrew was born in the Syrian city of Damascus. 


Fasting is an important discipline in the Christian East. Major portions of the Liturgical cycle are taken up by periods of fasting. In the Byzantine tradition observed by Greek Catholics or Byzantine Catholics (and Orthodox Christians) the Great Lent also known as the Great Fast is a major fast lasting for 40 days.

Attempts at Reunion: Eastern Orthodox with the West

pope and Archbishop of Constantinople

Pope Francis hopes to reunite the Roman Catholic Church with the Eastern Orthodox Church and is seen here with Archbishop of Constantinople,  Patriarch Bartholomew in Rome.

There is a separate dialogue between Pope Francis and the six Oriental Orthodox Churches of the Coptic, Armenian, Syriac, Indian, Ethiopian, and Eritrean tradition. These churches did not accept the council of Chalcedon in 5th century that professed Jesus was one person with two natures, a human and divine.

A meeting in Cuba in February 2016 between Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church and Pope Francis  is the first of its kind in a 1,000 years. In November 2014, Pope Francis told Kirill: “I’ll go wherever you want. You call me and I’ll go.”



Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill exchanged a joint declaration on religious unity at the Jose Marti International airport in Havana Feb. 12, 2016. (Gregorio Borgia / AP)

There have been tensions between the two religions due to the Eastern Catholic resurgence in Russian states. John L Allen perspective:

 Russian Orthodox leaders still routinely exude hostility.

They insist that Eastern Catholic churches, which follow Orthodox traditions but are in communion with the pope, are a Trojan horse to siphon off their faithful. They complain about Catholic encroachment on their “canonical territory” in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, although they show no inhibitions about opening up shop in Western Europe and Latin America.

…Roughly half the members of the Russian Orthodox Church are in Ukraine, and if they break away, it would be a major political and financial blow for Moscow.

Many Ukrainians recall the way criticism of the Soviets was stifled in Rome for decades as part of a policy of Ostpolitik, and, to be frank, some see Friday’s joint declaration as cut from the same cloth.


coptic church fromnileCoptic Orthodox Church in Egypt

“Christians of the East and West must give common witness so that, strengthened by the Spirit of the risen Christ, they may disseminate the message of salvation to the entire world.” – Pope Francis

Likewise, Saint Pope John Paul II urged that the Catholic Church “breathe with two lungs” — East and West alike — rather than with only one Western, or Latin, lung. He underscored his point in 1985 by naming Saints Cyril and Methodius, whose feast day is celebrated Feb. 14, as co-patrons of Europe alongside St. Benedict of Nursia.

“The goal would be that we could all be celebrating the same Eucharist together and commemorating the pope in Rome and all of the Orthodox vanguards and Catholic bishops together and that we could be what we were for the first thousand years in the history of Christianity, an undivided faith. Different, but in communion with each other” – Fr Kennedy Our Lady of Fatima Russian Catholic Church, San Francisco CA.

When Pope John Paul II met the Catholic Bishops of Ukraine in the year 2001, he used the analogy of two lungs in the human body to represent the Western and Eastern elements of Christianity. Using Pope John Paul II’s analogy, the left lung represents the Latin Rite, and the right lung represents the Eastern Churches. (Note: The Eastern Churches include all of the Eastern Rites in union with Rome, and the separated Orthodox Churches.) Since the Great Schism of 1054, the separation of the Orthodox Churches from Rome has made the Mystical Body of Christ (the Church) breath with one lung for many centuries, instead of two. –  Nicholas Kovacs, O.F.S.

Politics of Unrest

ukrainian martyrs

Ukrainian Martyrs: thousands of Eastern Catholics perished under communist rule 1918-1980 from The Treasury of Faith Museum, Philadelphia PA.

Russian rebel occupation in 2014 of Eastern Ukraine and hostilities resulting in 9,500 deaths and 20,000 injuries, as of this writing. It affects Ukraine’s roughly 6 million Ukrainian Greek Catholics and also those in Orthodox Church.

The Branches of Eastern Christianity

Eastern Christianity consists of four main church families: (a) the Eastern Orthodox Church, which recognize the Patriarch of Constantinople; (b) the Oriental Orthodox churches; (c) the Assyrian Church of the East;  and (d) the Eastern Catholic churches, which are in communion with the Church of Rome and the Pope.

branches of christianity


1. The Eastern Orthodox Church also called Orthodox Church – 300 million members

The churches in Rome and Constantinople separated in an event known as the East–West Schism of 1054. In Rome, the church became the Roman Catholic Church (red line) and in Constantinople the church became the Eastern Orthodox Church (blue line).

Christians of the Eastern Churches call themselves Orthodox, examples are the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Constatinople. They are not in communion with Rome.

While Eastern Orthodox Christians have much in common with Eastern Catholics, they’re still in schism, split off from the Pope and therefore not Catholic. Each Orthodox Church has a bishop, with a territory over which he governs. There is no central command like a pope.

2. Oriental Orthodox Churches – 86 million members
The Assyrians and Orientals left the Orthodox Church in the years following the Council of Ephesus (431) and the Council of Chalcedon (451), in their refusal to accept those councils’ Christological definitions, which were based on St. Basil’s discovery and writings.

3. Assyrian Church of the East – .6 million members
Headquarters in Erbil in Northern Iraq.

4. The Eastern Catholic Churches – 19 million members
Within Eastern Christianity are the Eastern Catholics that have their roots in the Orthodox East, with twenty three Eastern Churches in communion with Rome. They are autonomous self governing Eastern Catholic Churches. As an example, the Byzantine Catholic tradition is one of these and includes the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia as early shown. Byzantine Catholic Churches include Ukrainian, Ruthenians, Melkites, Coptics and others. The Byzantine Ukrainian rite, the largest of the eastern catholic churches has 4.5 million members or 26% of all Eastern Catholics.

The Pantocrator, “Ruler of All”, Christ blessing his people with New Testament in left hand
The Pantocrator “Ruler of All” Christ blessing his people with New Testament in left hand, seated on a holy chair in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.


Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia

The Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great

Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Passaic (NJ)

Society of St. John Chrysostom Western Region

Greek Orthodox Church of America

Mystagogy Blog of John Sanidopoulos

Sheptytsky Institute St. Paul University, Ottawa

Eastern Orthodoxy Through Western Eyes by Donald Fairbairn

Cardinal Dolan interviews His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church




St. John Neumann: From Manhattan to Buffalo NY to Philadelphia PA


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Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral 1811, Manhattan, NYC

St. John Neumann was ordained in June 1836 at Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC.

Father Neumann celebrated his First Mass on Sunday, June 26. He wrote home, “Now, my dearest Jesus, I have obtained that for which my soul yearned. What I have always believed so far away, You have now given me.”

Neumann chapel 1833The Neumann Chapel, Buffalo NY.

Just 16 days after his arrival in Manhattan, John was ordained a priest and sent to rural Buffalo.

Father John established himself in a small log parish house. He hardly ever lit a fire and often lived on only bread and water.

st peter and paul williamsville ny
Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church, Williamsville NY. (today)

While in Williamsville New York, Father Neumann started the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul, which is in existence today (above). He also taught school four hours a day and used his knowledge of botany to make medicines from local herbs.

Village of Williamsville NY (Buffalo) today, where John Neumann was a priest.

He was assigned to the Buffalo, New York region which was a boomtown in the mid and late 1830s with commerce on the Erie Canal and stagecoach routes.

creek ny_williamsville
Creek in Williamsville NY that John Neumann would have surely saw.

The Sisters of Mercy were instrumental in working with Father Neumann while in the Williamsville New York region.

Glenn Falls Creek today, by Michael Frank Jr.

Father Neumann made rounds to attend to the sacramental life of about 400 families. A journal entry shows John’s concern for the German immigrants: “They have not received any schooling. They speak German poorly, and English just as poorly. The will soon have to work, and there will be no thought of religious instruction.” This thinking was the start of the Catholic Parochial school system.

IMG_2305Redemptorist seal at The National Shrine of St. John Neumann, located at St. Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Father John joined the Redemptorist order and continued his missionary work until he was elected bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. Bishop Neumann was in attendance for Pope Pius IX’s proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

DSC_0183Saint John Nepomucene Neumann.

cross at st john the evangelist at st johns church phila
Cross at St. John the Evangelist Church, Philadelphia,

Bishop Neumann took up residence at St. John the Evangelist parish in downtown Philadelphia.

Also in the 1850’s a young Katharine Drexel received First Holy Communion at St. Johns the Evangelist Church. She later became founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, and a saint, St. Katharine Drexel!

DSC_0212Parish of St. Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia. The upper church is where St. John worshiped in Philadelphia.

pulpit used by JN
Pulpit where St. John Neumann preached. Parish of St. Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia.

DSC_0142Lower church is the National Shrine of Saint John Neumann.

Under the altar are the remains of St. John Neumann in a glass reliquary.

DSC_0158St. John Neumann body incorrupt, (face with mask).

Bishop Neumann passed away in Philadelphia while doing errands on January 5, 1860. St. John collapsed and died due to a stroke, a few blocks from Logan Street, where he was building the Basilica of St. Peter and Paul, the regional Church that stands today. He is a patron of immigrants and of sick children.

Memorial of St. John Neumann, Bishop is January 5.

A man must always be ready, for death comes when and where God wills it.

– Saint John Neumann

The Word Became Flesh – God’s Message in the Gospel of John


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jesus climbing mountain
Jesus climbing mountain.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” –  John 1:1-4

the word became fleshJesus on mountain from Gospel of John, Lumo Project.

“All things came to be through Him, and without Him, nothing came to be.”

jesus face eyes closedJesus eyes closed from Gospel of John, Lumo Project.

“What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the the light of the human race.”

Jerusalem Skyline Photo

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

In the Beginning was the Word, excerpt from Gospel of John movie, Lumo Project.

Above verse: John 1:1-18
Verse in Lumo video: John 1:1-18@lumoproject

John the Baptist with Jesus at the Jordan River, from The Lumo Project


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john the baptist in waterJohn the Baptist in river Jordan, near Bethany.

“A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” – Gospel of John

john the baptist  and JesusJohn the Baptist baptizing Jesus.

The video below with bible verse narrative brings to life the baptism of Jesus by John in a creative interpretive way. This video is an excerpt from the movie Gospel of John by the Lumo Project, not to be confused with another Gospel of John movie widely available on the internet, but not as good.  The entire Lumo version of the movie is available on Netflix and iTunes.

Excerpt from Gospel of John by the Lumo Project.

Looking forward to the next movie in this series, which is the Gospel of Luke, being released in 2016 (Easter).

Video credit – @TheLumoProject

Video Bible verse –  John 1:6-34

6 Insights in Designing a Spiritual Website


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designing a spiriutal website pablo

Designing a website, whether a church, a spiritual center or shrine, requires a strategic framework that begins with Discovery.

I. Conduct a Discovery

Up front discovery will prevent any miscues later in the design process. The current situation is analyzed as part of Discovery. Several key Discovery questions for decision makers are:

  • Who is the Audience?
    The starting point, is it local or international or both. Is it a Christian audience or non religious. By understanding your audience, it will aid in designing an effective website.
  • What do we want people to learn?
    Often religious website owners want the audience to learn “who we are”. This could range from the parish mission, a religious order, or religious affiliations and institutions.
  • What do we want people to do? What is actionable?
    For many, it is a desire for visitors to the website to be active in events, be active in commenting on the website and in some cases become active financially, if they are capable. Another area for many religious organizations is to reach their students, both current or new students to get their interest. Actionable items can allow visitors to sign up for an on-line event or an in-person event. Also, actionable items can be to get email addresses to send future correspondence.
  • What is the Message?
    The message needs to be front and center throughout the website. It can include praying, healing and a life giving spiritual life. The website designed correctly can be innovative and stand out to show how the organization is different from other similar organizations.

II. Create Several Spiritual Models

A spiritual model is a conceptual look at the future website. Emphasis and priorities are placed for topics like education, religious orders, saints, liturgy and good works. A review by key decision makers will show how they view and prioritize the key components of their organization. Creating several spiritual models will aid in the discussion and decision making process.

III. Understand the Technology Options

Web site design technologies have changed in the last several years. Today, templates or themes are used extensively by web developers to expedite the creation and deployment of a website. These Content Management Systems (CMS) become your website that is stored on a third party hosting service.

  • Open Sourced Content Management Systems
    WordPress is a leader in the open sourced Content Management Systems (CMS), used by 25% of all websites. Open source software can be freely used, changed, and shared by anyone. Gone are the days of development from scratch. By starting with a working template that has been tested and streamlined with user friendly features, the setup customization can begin immediately. Other CMS’s are Joomla, Drupal and Rainmaker.
    There are literally thousands of templates with which to choose, many can be adapted to a religious theme.The WordPress architecture allows plug-ins for flexible designs. As new functionality is requested, it can be added with the appropriate plug-in; like a ecommerce or event reservation and payment system. In this way the website stays fresh and up to date as you grow in functionality.
  • Propriety Content Management Systems
    Another type of website builder are the propriety content management systems, like WIX, Squarespace, Weebly and Go Daddy. They are inexpensive software tools but have some limitations in terms of design, functionality, file access, and ability to customize.  They don’t use plug-in architecture as in the open source systems. For the somewhat simple website application, propriety software can be effective, especially if you are looking at a minimum number of pages of introductory or placeholder content. Note: There are several church web site vendors with customized propriety software offerings. Contact me for this listing.
  • Ecommerce Solutions
    Ecommerce offers shopping cart experience for selling products on-line through websites. Self hosted or open source solutions can be fully integrated into a website. For example, WOOCommerce is a customizable software package integrated with the WordPress core.  Shopify on the other hand, is a hosted propriety system that guarantees high availability and reliability but is limited to personal customizations. Shopify in this example of an ecommerce platform acts as separate system outside of the WordPress CMS.
  • Hosting Services
    Hosting companies offer space on their servers or even your own dedicated server if you’re willing to pay for it. Factors like uptime, reliability, customer service and site speed play into which company to use. Several WordPress centric hosting companies are Blue Host and Site Ground. Other hosting companies are listed below in a performance chart.list-of-fastest-hosting-companies

IV. Capture High Level Requirements

Capturing high level requirements will address scope of the project and areas of design concentration or in the case of an existing site, redesign efforts. A church or religious website may have some or all of the following requirements:

  • be available in a variety of digital formats
  • upfront vocations section
  • prayer intentions feature
  • an events calendar
  • provide a donation button
  • live streaming of events
  • on-line retail store (shopping cart) for selling of books, cards, gifts
  • email sign-up feature
  • support of digital newsletter
  • social media integration with content streams
  • support liturgical music
  • on-line event registration
  • provide saints writings, graphics, poetry, icons, expert opinions
  • time driven blog
  • user friendly, easy to maneuver, well organized
  • recognize affiliated institutions
  • SEO with strong domain name
  • enhance our site, to be wherever our followers are.
    TIS India created this infographic on the latest website design trends.
    In a redesign of an existing website, the task becomes to dismantle the existing website and rebuild and reorganize content on the new platform. Depending on the old platform, it may be feasible to auto migrate some of the content from the current website to the new site. The effort to create new content may be easier than moving existing content.

V. Use a Risk Free Approach

The best way to reduce risk is creating a live demo website for private viewing and evaluation. The live demo shows the look and feel with recognizable content. If there is an existing site involved, this site continues operating during this period. Once the new website design is accepted, the remaining content is loaded and it can then go live for public consumption.


VI. Determine Post Go Live Support

There are two forms of support of a live website; technical maintenance support and operational support. Technical maintenance revolve around the web hosting service and includes updating themes and plug-ins, updating the CMS version, backups and site security. Operational support involves loading approved content, monitoring activity and small theme fixes.

Post go live strategies are dependent on the desire, resource availability and technical prowess of the website owners.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s Connection with Pope Francis


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Age24 thereseSt. Thérèse of Lisieux (Jan 2, 1873 – Sept 30, 1897) Feast day is October 1, 2015.

Saint Thérèse said that she would spend her time in heaven doing good on earth. Also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face and the “Little Flower”. She lived to be 24 years old. Pope John Paul II proclaimed Thérèse of Lisieux a Doctor of the Church in October 1997, the year of the 100th anniversary of her death, making her the youngest and most contemporary of all Doctors of the Church. 

St. Thérèse on flowers:
“Great deeds are forbidden me. I cannot preach the Gospel nor shed my blood – but what does it matter? Others toil instead of me, and I, a little child, keep close by the throne of God and I love for those who fight. Love proves itself in deeds. I will scatter flowers, perfuming the Divine Throne, and I will sweetly sing my hymn of love. These flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least of actions for love.”

therese before deathThérèse of Lisieux, a Professed Discalced Carmelite Nun at the Monastery of Lisieux.

St. Thérèse on being a saint:
“I always wanted to become a saint…Instead of being discouraged, I told myself that God would not make me wish for something impossible…I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight. It is your arms, Jesus, which are the elevator to carry me to heaven. So there is no need for me to grow up. In fact, just the opposite: I must become less and less.”

Martin familyLois Martin, a watchmaker, Zelie Martin a lacemaker and St. Therese in middle.

The canonization of Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux will take place on Mission Sunday, October 18, 2015, during the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

theresa parents reliquaryThe Martin Family Reliquary at The Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia. Photo credit: Fluer Nabert.

St. Thérèse, Louis and Zellie relics:

Shown above are the three individual reliquaries, housing the relics of Therese, Louis and Zellie. This is the first family reliquary for veneration and procession. The reliquary of St. Thérèse, Doctor of the Church is placed highest. Louis and Zellie reliquary are united by wedding rings. The two white lilies are for the parents and the rose is for St. Thérèse.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has entrusted the relics of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin and St. Thérèse to the Philadelphia Carmelite Monastery. The latest news from the Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia: “Pilgrims are welcome to venerate the reliquary in the chapel Monday – Friday 9:00 am to 12 noon and Sunday 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. You may confide your intentions to these soon-to-be-saints.”

Pope Francis in Philadelphia, September 26, 2015. Photo by Will Yurman.

The Papal Connection:

Pope Francis has a strong devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux while as a Cardinal and now as Pope. Using a quote from St. Thérèse, Pope Francis calls us to “not miss out on a kind word, a smile, or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.”

Pope Francis has said he received signs from St. Therese while asking for her intercession, in 2010, while still a Cardinal. He told reporters he received a white rose from a man while greeting pilgrims, who said, “you don’t understand anything: this is the sign that you are waiting for.”  The man was never seen again.

Pope Francis has carried forward the devotion to St. Thérèse. From October 4 through 25, the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family will be held at the Vatican. This synod will mark the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops. The theme of this 2015 synod is “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.”

The parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux will be canonized by Pope Francis on October 18, 2015 at the Vatican during the synod. Louis Martin (1823-1894) and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin (1831-1877) are the first married couple with children to be canonized in the same ceremony.

Pope Francis has also said, while reflecting on St. Therese’s words, “he (Jesus) does not care if you’re big, or you’re small.” What interests him is “if you are filled with the love of Jesus.”

St. Therese on nature:
“Nature seemed to share in my bitter sadness, for during these days, the sun did not shine and the rain poured down in torrents.  I have noticed in all the serious circumstances of my life that nature always reflected the image of my soul.  On days filled with tears the heavens cried along with me; on days of joy the sun sent forth its joyful rays in profusion, and the blue skies were not obscured by a single cloud.”

monstary wall
The walled Philadelphia Carmel Monastery with the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in the background. St. Thérèse lived in a similar Carmelite Monastery in Lisieux France.

The Discalced Carmelite Monastery of Philadelphia were the originators of devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux in the United States. It was founded in 1902, less than five years after St. Thérèse died

St. Thérèse on Blessed Virgin Mary:
“How I love the Blessed Virgin! She is represented as unapproachable, rather ought she to be shown as imitable. She is more Mother than Queen! I have heard it said that all the Saints are eclipsed by her radiant brightness as the Sun at rising makes the stars disappear. How strange that seems! A Mother eclipsing the glory of her children! I think quite the contrary, I believe that she will immensely increase the splendor of the elect. The Virgin Mary! How simple does her life appear to me!”

mary with Jesus and scapular final
Blessed Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus.
Carmelite Monastery, Philadelphia Carmel in Pennsylvania.

Bishop Robert Barron on St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Martin Family

“I am not dying; I am entering into life,” wrote Thérèse of Lisieux a few weeks before her death in Carmel on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24.

At the time of her death, Therese knew no more than 50 people, having lived in a cloistered, contemplative convent. As she studied and prayed the science of love from her own experiences, her wisdom blossomed.

I wanted Carmel as soon as I learned of it; I find that all the aspirations of my heart are fulfilled in this Order. – Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

best view of chapel
Chapel of the Holy Spirit after Our Lady of Mount Carmel Feast Day Mass in 2014.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux on the Science of Love:

“I desire only this science of love…I understand so well that it is only love which makes us acceptable to God that this love is the only good ambition. Jesus deigned to show me the road that leads to Divine Furnace [of God’s love] and this road is the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in it’s Father’s arms.”

partitionShe is with us still.

St. John Paul II on St. Therese:

Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face is the youngest of all the “Doctors of the Church”, but her ardent spiritual journey shows such maturity, and the insights of faith expressed in her writings are so vast and profound that they deserve a place among the great spiritual masters.

Padre Pio’s Connection with Pope Francis and Pennsylvania


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campusBarto, Pennsylvania. Campus of The National Centre for Padre Pio. San Giovanni Rotondo replica on right.

Padre Pio was famous for bilocation.  He appeared in others dreams, by voice, by his presence, fragrance and bilocating in physical form.  Near Barto, Pennsylvania, Padre Pio bilocated into Vera Calandra’s life, asking her to come to Italy quickly (he was to die several months later) and see him, as her daughter’s health was deteriorating.  It was 1968 and doctors had surgically removed the child’s bladder, but after seeing Padre Pio in Rome, the child miraculously received a new bladder.

This became another of the known miracles attributed to Padre Pio, but not the miracle used for beatification or canonization. Later in life, Ms. Calandra went on to build The National Centre for Padre Pio in Barto Pennsylvania, a true devotion to the saint.

jesus joseph and maryJesus, Mary and Joseph, the original Holy Family at the National Centre for Padre Pio in Barto, PA.

With the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in session, it’s nice to remember Jesus was also in a family, being one of us. Here is a segment of the World Meeting of Families Prayer:

May the example of the Holy Family,
with the aid of your Holy Spirit,
guide all families, especially those most troubled,
to be homes of communion and prayer
and to always seek your truth and live in your love.
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

See, the Holy Family icon by Neilson Carlin of Kennett Square, PA.

obama-popePope Francis with President Obama, Sept 23, 2015. Photo by Reuters.

The Connection: Pope Francis, St. Francis of Assisi, Padre Pio.

Although a Jesuit, Pope Francis has a strong devotion to St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, as evident by taking the saints name.

Pope Francis has visited and prayed at the site of the original San Damiano Cross in Santa Chiarra (St.Clare) Church in Assisi, Italy.

Padre Pio, a Capuchin Franciscan is intimately familiar with St. Francis, and like Pope Francis, has also prayed at the San Damiano Cross.
san damiano cross
Here is the San Damiano Cross (in Barto, PA) that St. Francis of Assisi was praying, when asked by God to rebuild the Church. This Cross and St. Francis of Assisi is another connection between Pope Francis and Padre Pio. See the symbolism of the San Damiano Cross. 

Pope Francis visited the USA and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, roughly 50 miles from the National Centre of Padre Pio in Barto, Pennsylvania, where the miracle that made Padre Pio a saint originated.

Pope Francis will have the Jubilee of Mercy in 2016, to highlight the Catholic Church’s “mission to be a witness of mercy.” Jubilee for Padre Pio’s Prayer Group will take place Feb. 13, 2016, as the body of Padre Pio will be exposed in St. Peter’s Basilica Feb. 8-14, at Pope Francis’ request.

painting in Our Lady of Grace ChapelPainting in Our Lady of Grace Chapel, Barto PA.

Padre Pio celebrated his final Mass the day before he died, on September 22, 1968. He is and will always remain a Capuchin Franciscan. Like St. Francis, Padre Pio was a stigmatic, he had on his hands, feet and side the wounds of Christ, starting in 1910 and ending a few months before his death. He performed thousands of miracles and could read the hearts of those who went to his confessional. Padre Pio’s feast day is September 23.

pio roomA replica of Padre Pio’s residence in Italy. A humble life. From the Saint Pio of Pietrelcina Museum, Barto, PA.

maryPadre Pio’s strong devotion and love to the Blessed Virgin Mary during his lifetime and continues in Heaven.

“No matter how great the trial…never lose heart. Have recourse, with more childlike trust, to Jesus who will never be able to resist bestowing on you some little solace and comfort.” Padre Pio’s Words of Hope

padre pio painting
Painting of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Padre Pio Spiritual Center.

On June 25, 1950, Padre Pio was seen attending to the death of a fellow monk in Milwaukee. When asked about it he said, “If Christ multiplied the loaves and fishes, why cannot he multiply me?”

DSC_0177Replica of San Giovanni Rotondo at the National Centre for Padre Pio in Barto PA, about 50 miles from Philadelphia Pa.

“Go Ahead! Courage! In the spiritual life, one who does not go forward goes backward.” – Padre Pio

Padre Pio met Pope John Paul II before he was pope in 1947 and prophesied his rise to Pope after hearing his confession.

pio churchChurch at The National Center of Padre Pio. On right side of altar is Padre Pio. Due to Church infighting, no Mass is offered on the premises. They do have rosary prayers and Stations of the Cross.

Our Lady of Grace Chapel
Replica of Our Lady of Grace Chapel that Padre Pio prayed in each day. It is modeled after a 16th Century Capuchin Franciscan Friary Chapel.

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.” – Padre Pio

hands in prayer“Hands of Padre Pio”, stained glass, National Centre of Padre Pio.

Have courage and do not fear the assaults of the Devil. Remember this forever; it is a healthy sign if the devil shouts and roars around your conscience, since this shows that he is not inside your will.

He’s with us now.

Padre Pio:

If the people of the world could only see the beauty of ones soul when it is in the grace of God, all sinners and unbelievers of this world would be instantly converted.

St. Thomas of Villanova: Augustinian, Educator and Carer of the Poor


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St. Thomas of Villanova Church on the campus of Villanova University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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St. Thomas of Villanova:

Charity is not just giving, rather removing the need of those who receive charity and liberating them from it when possible.

thomas in front of bild 2

St. Thomas of Villanova, an Archbishop, educator and carer of the poor. The patron saint of Villanova University, shown in the plaza in front of St. Thomas of Villanova Monastary. He lived from 1488-1555. His feast day is September 22nd.

st. thomas of villa statue detail

Details depicts Thomas dressed as a bishop with crozier and mitre, giving alms to poor children.

If you want God to hear your prayers, hear the voice of the poor. If you wish God to anticipate your wants, provide those of the needy without waiting for them to ask you. Especially anticipate the needs of those who are ashamed to beg. To make them ask for alms is to make them buy it.”   – St. Thomas of Villanova

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St. Thomas attended Arts and Theology at the University of Alcala de Henares and eventually became a university professor. He decided to leave the university setting and entered an Augustinian monastery.


Later in life St. Thomas received mystical encounters with God, having ecstatic visions during Mass. He sucumbed a heart condition in 1555 at the end of Mass. He is said to have died on the floor rather than in his bed, which he insisted on offering to a poor man who had come to his house.

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He was a great preacher and Emperor Charles V, upon hearing him preach, exclaimed, “This monsignor can move even the stones!”


He also had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, whose heart he compared to the burning bush that is never consumed. He was canonized by Pope Alexander VII on November 1, 1658.

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Villanova University’s crest reflects the school’s Catholic roots and symbolically commemorates the seal of St. Augustine, whose order founded Villanova in 1842.

Seven key elements are represented:

1. Motto: Villanova’s motto, “Veritas (truth), Unitas (unity), Caritas (charity)” is highlighted on the crest, with each term enclosed in a rectangular box.

2. Book: A large book in the center of the crest represents St. Augustine’s commitment to learning as well as his study of Scripture when making his famous conversion to Christianity.

3. Cincture: On top of the book, a cincture or cord with tassels depicts part of the clothing worn by friars in the Order of St. Augustine.

4. Flaming Heart: St. Augustine’s quest to know God meant that he needed to pursue his goal with all his heart. The flaming heart also characterizes Augustine’s commitment to love one’s neighbor.

5. Crosier: The crosier, or staff, on the Villanova crest marks St. Augustine’s role in the church as the Bishop of Hippo.

6. Crosses and Laurel Wreath: Crosses, a symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection, show the importance of St. Augustine’s conversion. The laurel wreath marks his victory through learning and knowledge.


7. Fide of the University: On the official university seal, the outer rim states in Latin “Villanova University in the State of Pennsylvania.”


The Bible tells us that the poor, the downtrodden, the oppressed, the needy, and the hungry and thirsty were the Lord’s favorites.Why, then, should they not be our favorites as well?” – St. Thomas of Villanova


St. Augustine statue with his own heart set on fire with the love for Christ. The friars of his religious order founded Villanova University, where they administer today.
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Another Augustinian, St. Rita of Cascia, shown here at one of the courtyards in the St. Augustine Center for Liberal Arts at Villanova University.


This door is always open as St. Thomas of Villanova would want it.

4 Tools for a Spiritual Social Media Campaign


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a spiritual social media campaign1

A spiritual or religious Social Media Campaign is an effective way to create a new digital presence or expand an existing presence to enlighten and inspire others to get closer to God. A Social Media Campaign is a concentrated effort, usually 90 days, to create one or more social media platforms and takeover all content creation, follower management and maintenance. It’s an effective way to gain traction in this space quickly and effectively.

Yet, Social Media Campaigns takes organization and discipline. Tools for planning and releasing posts followed by analytics are necessary for conducting a successful Social Media Campaign for a religious organization.

There are two parts to creating and scheduling a series of social media posts; first, a manual Schedule Table for planning and capturing ideas and second; an Automated Scheduling Tool for releasing posts.

Tool 1- Schedule Table

schedule social media campaign 1
Example of a manual Schedule Table.

Although technically not a software tool, a Schedule Table is a planning tool for managing work-in-progress content creation for social media posts. In religious circles, content release is typically based on the liturgical calendar. Many religious organizations offer programs and events also based on a calendar.

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Religious Calendar from Give us this Day, Daily Prayer for Todays Catholic

The Schedule Table worksheet captures post research, photos, and documented sources during and after a Social Media Campaign. The Schedule Table is a simple table within a pages or word document (or excel), created as a placeholder for future tweet releases by day and month, including feast days, saint days and religious themes. It does not require the exact time within the day for release, since the Automated Scheduling Tool takes care of that, but it should have the correct day of the sent and planned posts. The Schedule Table also acts as a backup repository to the Automated Scheduling Tool.

Tool 2 – Automated Scheduling Tool: ManageFlitter

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Creating a post in the Automated Scheduling Tool, ManageFlitter.

From the planning Schedule Table, content is then populated in the ManageFlitter scheduling tool, both photo and text. The tool is a core component to a Social Media Campaign. In this case, the Power Post feature of the tool schedules future posts for auto releases inter-day on Twitter. The PRO version of ManageFlitter, which is a paid subscription, manages multiple posts per day, both weeks or months in advance, whereas the free version allows only one post per day. Since a social media campaign is a concentrated media effort within a given time frame, there should be a minimum of 3- 5 tweets per day.

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ManageFlitter simplified example of pending posts ready for auto- release.

Several ManageFlitter features include:

  • Unfollow, which shows the people who you’ve followed who don’t follow you back or inactive users,
  • Search to find people or groups of people by region or keyword;
  • CopyFollowers, allowing a user to filter and copy another person’s followers; and Find those who follow you but you donʼt follow them back.

Reuse of a post is a key feature of ManageFlitter. This can maximize social media effectiveness, if one ascribes to Guy Kawasaki’s rule of reposting the same content multiple times over several platforms.

Other popular social media scheduling tools are: Buffer and HootSuite.

Tool 3 – Analytics: Twitter Analytics

In 2014, Twitter allowed a basic twitter account to use their premium analytics tool. The Twitter Analytics feature shows engagement rate by tweet, top tweets and trends. For a startup twitter account, knowing which type of post generated higher than average activity is valuable data, since you can then alter the nature, timing and type of future posts.

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This graph shows follower growth from inception of a new platform for a clients social media campaign conducted in the Summer of 2015. From Audience Insights by Twitter.

Other analytics tools are: SumAll, Buffer and HootSuite.

Tool 4 – Image Design Tool: Pablo by Buffer

Pablo by Buffer example of imported photo with text overlay title and subtitle.

With emphasis on graphics in social media, an image design tool can provide an interesting array of visuals. Pablo by Buffer is an image design tool. Pablo allows text overlays onto an imported photo or a stock photo. A recent Buffer study showed an image post on Twitter increases retweets by 28% and favorites by 36%.  Once mastered, an image can be created in less than 30 seconds.

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Pablo allows more than 140 characters on photo overlay, so the actual tweet can be a shortened reference to the photo.

Other image design tools are: Canva a simplified PhotoShop tool and PicMonkey, a free on-line photo editor.


A Spiritual Social Media Campaign is a concentrated effort at creating and releasing high quality themed posts for a religious organization. Tools used with a disciplined methodology are essential in planning and executing a Spiritual Social Media Campaign. The four tools: Schedule Table, Automated Scheduling, Analytics and Image Design, and the methodology described, can be used to assure a successful Spiritual Social Media Campaign, “All for the greater glory of God.”

Norbertines “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom” for World Meeting of Families 2015


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Norbertine bells at Daylesford Abbey, Paoli, Pennsylvania.

Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom is the hymn created for the World Meeting of Families (WWM2015) in Philadelphia this September.

Hymn lyrics were penned by Norbertine canon regular Andrew D. Ciferni, O.Praem., and music composition by Normand Gouin, the former music director at Daylesford Abbey. The Norbertines praise God in psalms, hymns and chants in their daily Mass, morning and noon prayers and vespers. Sacred sounds of word and tone have resonated in the Norbertine culture for centuries.

Liberty Bell in Philadelphia PA (1751)

Biblical verse on the Liberty Bell, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10).

Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom

I. The first verse of the hymn is an invitation to prayer.

Sound the bell of holy freedom; call all nations of the earth.
Sons and daughters of one Father, sent to spread God’s saving Word.
Come, and gather, as one fam’ly at the table of the Lord.

Saint John Paul II hands of prayer. (From upcoming Franklin Institute exhibit Vatican Splendors.)

II. The second verse is about the family history of Jesus from David.

David branch from root of Jesse, Mary that vine’s flow’ring rose.
She brought forth for us the Savior as the angel did propose;
Overshadowed by the Spirit, by her “yes” new life arose.

Holy Family with two Angels, Bologna Italy, 16th century.

This painting and the bronze cast of Saint John Paul II hands are from the upcoming Franklin Institute exhibit Vatican Splendors on display September 2015 to February 2016, direct from the Vatican.

III. The third verse is about St. Joseph and Mary.

Blessed Joseph, spouse of Mary, teacher of your God and Lord,
You did shelter and provide for wondrous child by kings adored.
Open to God’s Word in dreaming saved your child from Herod’s sword.

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Holy Family icon for WMF2015 by Neilson Carlin of Kennett Square, PA

IV. The fourth verse is about Jesus’ youth in Nazareth and the wedding at Cana.

Jesus, youth in low’ly Naz’reth, faithful son, and loving child,
Guest and host at Cana’s wedding, finest wine you did provide.
You, our rock and you our shelter, keep us ever by your side.

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The Wedding at Cana.

V. The fifth verse is about Mary’s sorrow at the cross and all mothers sorrow shared.

At the cross a grieving mother, on the cross, her only son,
With all mothers and their children, Blessed Mary, you are one.
In our joys, and in our sorrows may we do as you have done.

Our Lady of Sorrows.

VI. Closing verse

Sound the bell of holy freedom; call all fam’lies of the world
To be fed by love incarnate; to proclaim God’s holy Word;
Through the love of Christ our brother, in the Spirit make us one.

Eucharist stained glass window behind altarIn the line, “To be fed by love incarnate”, the hymn references the Eucharist.
Photo: Old St. Joseph’s Church, Philadelphia PA.

Hymn credits:
Text: Andrew D. Ciferni, O.Praem.,  St. Norbert College; Daylesford Abbey
Tune: PHILADELPHIA, 8 7 8 7 8 7:Normand Gouin; College of Holy Cross

Pope Francis twitter detailPope Francis will makes his first Papal visit to the USA for the WMF2015.

The Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom hymn will be heard throughout the Pope’s visit in Philadelphia. As St. Augustine said, “They who sing, pray twice.”

Pope Francis Visit 2015 to the USA:

September 23/23, 2015 – Pope Francis Visits Washington. Canonization Mass at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception / White House meeting / Senate speech

September 25, 2015 – Pope Francis Visits New York. United Nations/ St. Patrick’s Cathedral /Ground Zero

September 26, 2015 – Pope Francis Visits Philadelphia. Children’s Hospital / Youth Prison/Festival of Families at Benjamin Franklin Parkway /Prayer Vigil for World Meeting of Families

September 26, 2015 – World Meeting of Families

World Meeting of Families

Influencer: Mary, Undoer of Knots
. This is the baroque painting by Johann Schmidtner from 1700, housed at St. Peter am Perlach, in Augsburg, Bavaria, Germany.

Mary, Undoer of Knots is Pope Francis’s favorite Marian devotion.

St. Irenaeus said,

Eve, by her disobedience, tied the knot of disgrace for the human race; whereas Mary, by her obedience, undid it.

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Influencer: St. Gianna Molla
(Oct 14, 1922, – April 28, 1962). Eating lunch with her children in Magenta, Italy.

St. Gianna Molla is Patron Saint of WMF2015. St. Gianna once said:

Let us love the Cross and let us remember that we are not alone in carrying it. God is helping us. And in God who is comforting us, as St. Paul says, we can do anything.

Influencer: Saint John Paul II, also a Patron Saint for WMF2015.

Per Saint John Paul II :

As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”
“Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial.

Saint John Paul II at The National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.

St. John Paul II was the last pope to visit Philadelphia in 1979.

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“… in the Spirit make us one.” Quote from closing line of the WMF2015 hymn, Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom.

Bach’s Easter Oratorio, BWV 249 by Gardiner


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Johann Sebastian Bach: Easter Oratorio, BWV 249

1 Sinfonia
2 Adagio
3 Aria. Kommt, eilet und laufet
4 Recitativo. O kalter Männer Sinn
5 Aria. Seele, deine Spezereien
6 Recitativo. Hier ist die Gruft
7 Aria. Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer
8 Recitativo. Indessen seufzen wir
9 Aria. Saget, saget mir geschwinde
10 Recitativo. Wir sind erfreut
11 Chorus. Preis und Dank

Hannah Morrison, soprano
Meg Bragle, mezzo-soprano
Nicholas Mulroy, tenor
Peter Harvey, bass

Monteverdi Choir English Baroque Soloists

John Eliot Gardiner, conductor London, Proms 2013

Lyrics – BWV 249 – The Easter Oratorio – first performed on 1 April 1725.

Cantata for the First day of Easter
1. Sinfonia 1.Sinfonia
2. Arie (Duett) T B
Kommt, eilet und laufet, ihr flüchtigen Füße,
Erreichet die Höhle, die Jesum bedeckt!
Lachen und Scherzen
Begleitet die Herzen,
Denn unser Heil ist auferweckt.
2.Aria (Duett) T B
Come, hurry and run, you speedy feet,
reach the cavern which conceals Jesus!
Laughter and merriment
accompanies our hearts,
since our Savior is risen again.
3. Rezitativ (Maria Magdalena [A], Maria Jacobi [S], Petrus [T], Johannes [B])Maria Magdalena
O kalter Männer Sinn!
Wo ist die Liebe hin,
Die ihr dem Heiland schuldig seid?Maria Jacobi
Ein schwaches Weib muß euch beschämen!Petrus
Ach, ein betrübtes GrämenJohannes
Und banges HerzeleidPeter, Johannes
Hat mit gesalzen Tränen
Und wehmutsvollem Sehnen
Ihm eine Salbung zugedacht.Maria Jacobi, Maria Magdalena
Die ihr, wie wir, umsonst gemacht.
3. Recitative (Mary Magdalene [A], Mary Jacobi [S], Peter [T], John [B])Mary Magdalene
O cold hearts of men!
Where has your love gone,
that you owe to the Savior?Mary Jacobi
A weak woman must put you to shame!Peter
Alas, a troubled grievingJohn
and anxious heartachePeter, John
along with salty tears
and woeful longing
were intended as a salve for Him.Mary Jacobi, Mary Magdalene
Which you, like us, prepared in vain.
4. Arie S
Seele, deine Spezereien
Sollen nicht mehr Myrrhen sein.
Denn allein
Mit Lorbeerkranze prangen,
Stillt dein ängstliches Verlangen.
4. Aria S
O soul, your spices
need no longer be myrrh.
For only
crowning with the laurel wreath
will quiet your anxious longing.
5. Rezitativ (Petrus [T], Johannes [B], Maria Magdalena [A])Petrus
Hier ist die GruftJohannes
Und hier der Stein,
Der solche zugedeckt.
Wo aber wird mein Heiland sein?Maria Magdalena
Er ist vom Tode auferweckt!
Wir trafen einen Engel an,
Der hat uns solches kundgetan.Petrus
Hier seh ich mit Vergnügen
Das Schweißtuch abgewickelt liegen.
5. Recitative (Peter [T], John [B], Mary Magdalene [A])Peter
Here is the graveJohn
and here the stone
which sealed it.
Where, however, can my Savior be?Mary Magdalene
He is risen from the dead!
We encountered an angel
who gave us these tidings.Peter
Here I behold, with pleasure,
His shroud lying tossed aside.
6. Arie T
Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer,
Nur ein Schlummer,
Jesu, durch dein Schweißtuch sein.
Ja, das wird mich dort erfrischen
Und die Zähren meiner Pein
Von den Wangen tröstlich wischen.
6. Aria T
Gentle shall my death-throes be,
only a slumber,
Jesus, because of your shroud.
Indeed, it will refresh me there,
and the tears of my suffering
it will tenderly wipe from my cheeks.
7. Rezitativ und Arioso (Duett) S A
Indessen seufzen wir
Mit brennender Begier:Ach, könnt es doch nur bald geschehen,
Den Heiland selbst zu sehen!
7. Recitative (Duet) S A
Meanwhile we sigh
with burning desire:Ah, could it only happen soon,
to see the Savior ourselves!
8. Arie A
Saget, saget mir geschwinde,
Saget, wo ich Jesum finde,
Welchen meine Seele liebt!
Komm doch, komm, umfasse mich;
Denn mein Herz ist ohne dich
Ganz verwaiset und betrübt.
8. Aria A
Tell me, tell me quickly,
say where I can find Jesus,
whom my soul loves!
O come, come, embrace me;
for without You my heart is
completely orphaned and wretched.
9. Rezitativ B
Wir sind erfreut,
Daß unser Jesus wieder lebt,
Und unser Herz,
So erst in Traurigkeit zerflossen und geschwebt,
Vergißt den Schmerz
Und sinnt auf Freudenlieder;
Denn unser Heiland lebet wieder.
9. Recitative B
We are delighted
that our Jesus lives again,
and our hearts,
which first dissolved and floated in grief,
forget the pain
and imagine songs of joy;
for our Savior lives again.
10. Chor
Preis und Dank
Bleibe, Herr, dein Lobgesang.
Höll und Teufel sind bezwungen,
Ihre Pforten sind zerstört.
Jauchzet, ihr erlösten Zungen,
Daß man es im Himmel hört.
Eröffnet, ihr Himmel, die prächtigen Bogen,
Der Löwe von Juda kommt siegend gezogen!
10. Chorus
Praise and thanks
remain, Lord, your hymn of praise.
Hell and devil are conquered,
its gates are destroyed.
Rejoice, you rescued tongues,
so that you are heard in heaven.
Open, o heavens, your magnificent drawbridges,
the Lion of Judah approaches in triumph!
Possibly Picander
Translation by Pamela Dellal