02 June 2013

Byzantine Reflections Part I

In the next few weeks, I will be offering reflections upon each part in the Byzantine Liturgy....

Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever. Amen!

In these words, are the opening of the Byzantine Liturgy. Is it not interesting the word Kingdom is used. Especially when we remember the words of Jesus saying that His Kingdom was "not of this world" (cf Jn 18, 36). 

So, what in the world could this possibly be? 

a. The first should be rather obvious, an affirmation of our belief in the Trinity. One God, 3 Persons. It is one of the central mysteries of our Faith. In the Roman Church last week was Trinity Sunday. (Sometimes called heresy Sunday because of all the possible things that could go wrong in trying to explain the Trinity)....The Trinity is supposed to be mysterious. Without Mystery we have nothing really to call us out of ourselves. There is this idea that mystery is something horrible, but mystery gives the mind something to pursue. 

b. As you'll often hear, that we're supposed to bring the Kingdom of Christ to Earth....That we're supposed to be the leaven or the salt of the earth (cf Matt 5, 13; 13, 33) It is us the laity that are supposed to bring Christ to all that we meet, and in all that we do. (And we've been doing a rather lousy job at this (myself included)...(I have been inviting people to the Byzantine Liturgy though)....the Church (none of this invisible body of believers stuff) is the Kingdom of Christ on Earth, She is the New Israel...and all man made things will have the gates of hell prevail against them. It is Christ who is the Holy One, and He allows us to participate in His Divine Life through the Church, blessed be the Kingdom indeed :D.

In peace let us pray to the Lord, Lord Have Mercy

The ejaculation, Lord Have Mercy is repeated many times in the Byzantine Liturgy...but what I want to focus on is the first half, In peace let us pray to the Lord.

In worldly vocabulary, there is often a use of the word peace as an emotion, or just the absence of violence and disagreements. While these are elements of peace, really it would be improper to say this is all that the word peace means....as the Catechism tells us (emphasis mine)

Paragraph 2304: Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is "the tranquillity of order."98 Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.99 

Paragraph 2305 Earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ, the messianic "Prince of Peace."100 By the blood of his Cross, "in his own person he killed the hostility,"101 he reconciled men with God and made his Church the sacrament of the unity of the human race and of its union with God. "He is our peace."102 He has declared: "Blessed are the peacemakers."103

Christ is our Peace, from which all things will flow. We always pray in the Name of Christ...thus in peace let us pray to the Lord, we pray in the Name of Jesus...
, Peace Himself.

We beg for His Mercy, because we are sinners and without His grace we cannot do anything. The Byzantine Liturgy constantly reminds the Faithful of this fact...that we must be reliant on the Grace of God in order to carry out His Mission to the whole world.

The Litany of Peace, is the outline for how to go about bringing True peace to the world....we'll talk more about that next week :)....

Protect us, save us, have mercy on us and preserve us, O God, by Your grace.

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