Shepherds Tending Other Shepherds

32597329347_8f227c14d2_kClergy Govenie, April 4-6, 2019
St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Chicago, IL

On the 4th week of Great Lent leading up to the Sunday of Saint John of the Ladder, over 20 priests and 2 deacons from across the diocese gathered in Des Plaines, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, for the annual Lenten Govenie with our father and chief Shepherd, Metropolitan Joseph. A govenie is a special kind of retreat that includes divine services, spiritual talks, and leads up to confession with a celebration the Holy Eucharist. At the conclusion of this year’s govenie, His Eminence pronounced, “This is so far my favorite govenie.” Continue reading

Spring Cleaning for the Soul

198065.pForgiveness Sunday

It always comes as a bit of a shock that morphs quickly into mild panic when we hear,  Let us set out with joy upon the season of the fast and prepare ourselves for spiritual combat. Let us purify our soul and cleanse our flesh; as we fast from food let us abstain also from every passion. (From Lord I Have Cried verses, Sunday of Forgiveness)

I think to myself, “Great Lent is already here? I barely just finished my Christmas ham, and my taxes aren’t done.” Lent seems at first like the last and most recent thing on a very long to-do list, another obligation in a never-ending stream of necessary tasks. Continue reading

Today is the Day

Sunday of the Last Judgment (Meatfare)
I Corinthians 8:8-9:2
Matthew 25:31-46

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In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Glory be to Jesus Christ. Glory forever. Dear beloved in the Lord, we stand this morning knocking on the doors of Great and Holy Lent. For many of us, this is not only an auspicious time, but one we anticipate a great deal: the solemn, quiet darkness of Pre-sanctified Liturgies, the engaging, spiritual community of multiple retreats, and the bold, loving consolation of a heavenly father who, like the earthly father in last Sunday’s parable, waits for our return home from wandering in the wilderness of sin. So many things to look forward to— they all should help us to understand the terrifying image shown to us in this morning’s Gospel. For the Lord of glory will indeed come again to judge the living and the dead and this knowledge should bring us to repentance. Continue reading

Best of the Best 2018

survey-resultsDrum roll please… The results are in for the 2018: Best of the Best in all the respective media categories. Please see below and also the archives for previous years. Happy viewing and reading everyone, and as always, we would love to know what you think in the comment section below.  Separate reviews are linked on the underlined titles. Enjoy! Continue reading

Our Common King of Peace

27690099366_64cf72ef82_bDecember 25/January 7, 2018
Nativity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the Flesh
A.K.A. Old School Christmas

O Come, Thou king of David bind
In one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be thyself our king of peace.

The wise men are by far my favorite characters in the Nativity narrative. From the East they arrive at the auspicious moment and place, guided by the help of a single prophecy and a single bright star. The Jews, the Lord’s own people by contrast, had centuries worth of prophecies, volumes of laws, and a revealed faith that should have prepared them for the greatest moment of human history: God come in the flesh. Yet when that moment arrived, “… his own received him not,” and the winning touchdown, the 49-yard field goal, and the extra point all went to some exotic, pagan kings that paid attention to the heavens. In that moment of the Magi’s visitation, all reason for one nation’s elite condescension over all the others came to an end and the universal Kingdom was revealed. Continue reading

12 Days of Christmas Recording

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I am so excited to report that we are releasing previews of our full CD of the 12 Days of Christmas in the Byzantine chant style.

Like the group on Facebook, and until the 12th day on January 5, receive a new preview from the CD: https://www.facebook.com/BostonByzantineChoir/

Here is a list of the  previews which have already been released:

I recommend especially the one about Caesar Augustus. Very rich historically, theologically, and musically. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

In Defense of Christmas Trees

31657782822_84d1ed5f32_oIn this time of the year, as the days wane more and more and darkness swallows up the light of the sun, we Christians in the northern hemisphere dream of the time of turning. The turning, or “yule” as it was called by our Saxon/Germanic ancestors, marked the time when the sun would end its long descent into the South and begin to climb north again. The Pagan Romans celebrated this as the Feast of the Invincible Sun, Sol Invictus, on or close to December 25th. The Church baptized this great celestial event by celebrating in its place an event of cosmic proportion: viz. The Advent of the Son of Righteousness whose coming in the flesh heralds the salvation of the whole universe. And this yuletide turning brings with it two great and ancient symbols of life and hope: trees that are evergreen and lights upon them that overcome the night. Continue reading