As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Good Friday Reproaches

Good Friday Reproaches: Basic Information

The Reproaches (Improperia), are often chanted by a priest during the Good Friday service as the people are venerating the Cross. In this haunting and poignant poem-like chant of very ancient origin, Christ himself "reproaches" us, making us more deeply aware of how our sinfulness and hardness of heart caused such agony for our sinless and loving Savior. A modern translation of the some of the Reproaches, originally in Latin follows:

My people, What have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you out of Egypt; but you led your Savior to the Cross.
For forty years I led you safely through the desert,
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to the land of plenty; But you led your Savior to the Cross.
O, My people! What have I done to you that you should testify against me?

Holy God. Holy God. Holy Mighty One. Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us.

Three times during Holy Week the Passion is read -- on Passion Sunday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday. By very ancient tradition, three clergy read the three principal parts from the sanctuary: Jesus (always read by a priest), Narrator, and all the other individual parts. The people also have a role in this -- we are those who condemn the Lord to death. Hearing our own voices say "Away with Him! Crucify him!" heightens our consciousness of our complicity by our personal sinfulness in causing His death.

Good Friday Reproaches: Song

My people, what have I done to you?
Why, why have you forsaken Me?

I led you out of Egypt, 'cross desert sand.
For forty years I fed you manna with My hand.
I led you safely to the promised land,
And you prepare a cross for Me.
- The St. Louis Jesuits

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The Good Friday Reproaches: Poem

O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I hurt you? Answer me.

I led you out of Egypt,
From slavery I set you free.
I brought you into a land of promise:
You have prepared a cross for me.

I led you as a shepherd,
I brought you dryshod through the sea;
I fed you manna in the desert
You have prepared a cross for me.

I fought for you in battles,
I won you strength and victory;
Gave you a royal crown and sceptre:
You have prepared a cross for me.

I planted you, my vineyard,
And cared for you most tenderly;
Looked for abundant fruit and found none:
Only the cross you made for me.

Then listen to my pleading
And do not turn away from me.
You are my people: will you reject me?
For you I suffer bitterly.
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Good Friday Reproaches: Liturgy

ADORATION OF THE CROSS

As the crucifix is brought into the church, the following is said three times:

P. Behold, the life-giving cross on which was hung the salvation of the whole world.

C. Oh, come, let us worship him.

After the crucifix is placed on the altar, the people are seated.
A period of silence follows.

P. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.

C. By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

P. May God be merciful to us and bless us, show us the light of his countenance, and come to us.

C. Let your ways be known upon the earth, your saving health among all nations.

P. Let all the people praise you, O God; let all the people praise you.

C. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. By your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.

P. O my people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me! I led you out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom, but you have led your Savior to the cross.

C. Holy is God! Holy and strong! Holy immortal One, have mercy on us.

P. For forty years, I led you safely through the desert. I fed you with manna from heaven and brought you to a land of plenty, but you have led your Savior to the cross.

C. Holy is God! Holy and strong! Holy immortal One, have mercy on us.

P. What more could I have done for you? I planted you as my fairest vine, but you yielded only bitterness; when I was thirsty, you gave me vinegar to drink, and you pierced your Savior's side with a spear.

C. Holy is God! Holy and strong! Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

P. For your sake, I scourged Egypt and its first-born sons, and you have handed me over to be scourged. I led you from slavery to freedom and drowned your captors in the sea, but you have handed me over to your high priests. I opened the sea before you, but you opened my side with a spear.

C. Holy is God! Holy and strong! Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

P. I led your way in a pillar of cloud, but you led me to Pilate's court. I bore you up with manna in the desert, but you struck me down and scourged me. I gave you saving water from the rock, but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.

C. Holy is God! Holy and strong! Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

P. For you I struck down the kings of Canaan, but you struck my head with a reed. I gave you a royal scepter, but you gave me a crown of thorns. I raised you to a height of majesty, but you raised me high on a cross.

C. Holy is God! Holy and strong! Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

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Good Friday Reproaches: Modern

11

THE PROCLAMATION OF THE CROSS (sections 12--18) may be used after part C.

12

A wooden cross may be brought into the church and placed in the sight of the people.

13

Appropriate devotions follow which may include any or all of the following, or other suitable hymns or anthems.

14

ANTHEM 1

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise you for your mighty resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross
joy has come into our world.

God be gracious to us and bless us:
and make his face shine upon us,
Let your ways be made known on earth:
your liberating power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God:
let all the peoples praise you.

We glory in your cross, O Lord,
and praise you for your mighty resurrection;
for by virtue of your cross
joy has come into our world.

15

ANTHEM 2


My people, what wrong have I done to you?
What good have I not done for you?
Listen to me.

1

I am your Creator, Lord of the universe;
I have entrusted this world to you,
but you have created the means to destroy it.


My people, what wrong have I done to you?
What good have I not done for you?
Listen to me.

2

I made you in my image,
but you have degraded body and spirit
and marred the image of your God.
You have deserted me and turned your backs on me.


My people, what wrong have I done to you?
What good have I not done for you?
Listen to me.

3

I filled the earth with all that you need,
so that you might serve and care for one another,
as I have cared for you;
but you have cared only to serve your own wealth and power.


Holy God,
holy and strong,
holy and immortal,
have mercy upon us.


My people, what wrong have I done to you?
What good have I not done for you?
Listen to me.

4

I made my children of one blood
to live in families rejoicing in one another;
but you have embittered the races
and divided the nations.


My people, what wrong have I done to you?
What good have I not done for you?
Listen to me.

5

I commanded you to love your neighbour as yourself,
to love and forgive even your enemies;
but you have made vengeance your rule
and hate your guide.


My people, what wrong have I done to you?
What good have I not done for you?
Listen to me.

6

In the fullness of time I sent you my Son,
that in him you might know me,
and through him find life and peace;
but you put him to death on the cross.


Holy God,
holy and strong,
holy and immortal,
have mercy upon us.


My people, what wrong have I done to you?
What good have I not done for you?
Listen to me.

7

Through the living Christ, I called you into my Church
to be my servants to the world,
but you have grasped at privilege
and forgotten my will.


My people, what wrong have I done to you?
What good have I not done for you?
Listen to me.

8

I have given you a heavenly gift
and a share in the Holy Spirit;
I have given you the spiritual energies
of the age to come;
but you have turned away
and crucified the Son of God afresh.


My people, what wrong have I done to you?
What good have I not done for you?
Listen to me.

9

I have consecrated you in the truth;
I have made you to be one
in the unity of the Father and the Son,
by the power of the Spirit;
but you have divided my Church
and shrouded my truth.


Holy God,
holy and strong,
holy and immortal,
have mercy upon us.

Turn again, my people, listen to me.

Let your bearing to one another
arise out of your life in ChristJesus.
He humbled himself
and in obedience accepted the death of the cross.
But I have bestowed on him
the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus,
every knee should bow
and every tongue confess,
Jesus Christ is Lord.

Turn again, my people, listen to me.


Father, hear our prayer and forgive us.

Unstop our ears
that we may receive the gospel of the cross.
Lighten our eyes
that we may see your glory
in the face of your Son.
Penetrate our minds
that your truth may make us whole.
Irradiate our hearts with your love
that we may love one another for Christ's sake.

Father, forgive us.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

The Two Trees

And so it was that, when God made a home for man, He caused two trees to grow there. The first was but a shrub, a stem with few scant leaves and no fruit. The name of this tree was Life. Yet it had two other hidden names. These were Love and Obedience. These names were not revealed to the man.

The second tree was created in full bloom, laden with ripened fruit, and its name was Knowledge. Yet it had other names as well. These were Death and Ease.

For many years after the Fall the first tree languished. Yet, when Noah began to build the ark, the tree began to grow and, of all the vegetation that existed before the great flood, it alone survived intact.

Again, it grew as Abraham left his home for Canaan and willingly offered his son as a sacrifice.

Still more when Moses led the people of God from captivity to the Promised Land.

Later, when King Josiah of Judah tore down the high places, it grew.

Bit by bit, year by year, century by century it grew until the fullness of time came to pass. In those days, the final fruit developed. As a young maid responded, "Yes," to an angel, a flower blossomed and Eternity entered her womb.

On the night when Eternity was birthed, the flower became fruit and dropped to Earth. And the fruit was the most beautiful that had ever been seen by the eyes of men. Thus, men hid their faces from it, and sought to destroy it by destroying eternity.

Yet, on the day when Eternity was nailed to the first tree, the fruit vanished, as if it had never been. But the second tree also withered and died, though tended more vigorously through the centuries than the first.

On the third day, Eternity walked the Earth again. And the seed of the fruit was planted in those who followed Him.

Thus it has been ever since.
In each man is planted both trees.
In ease, he may pluck the fruit of Knowledge,
but only taste Death.
Or he may, by Obedience,
tend the tree of Life, of Love,
and taste the fruit thereof.

1 Sam. 15:22
To obey is better than sacrifice
Jhn 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

St. Bernard's Homily on the Holy Guardian Angels

4kb jpg image of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux from an illuminated capital "He hath given his angels charge over thee." O wonderful bounty and truly great love of charity! Who? For whom? Wherefore? What has He commanded? Let us study closely, brethren, and let us diligently commit to our memory this great mandate. Who is it that commands? Whose angels are they? Whose mandates do they fulfill? Whose will do they obey? In answer, "He hath given his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." And they do not hesitate even to life thee up in their hands.

So the Supreme Majesty has given charge to the angels. Yes, He has given charge to His own angels. Think of it! To those sublime beings, who cling to Him so joyfully and intimately, to His very own He has given charge over you! Who are you? "What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?" As if man were not rottenness, and the son of man a worm! Now why, do you think, he Has given them charge over thee? -- To guard thee!

With what great reverence should you treat this word! What devotion should you proffer it; what great confidence should you place in it. Reverence because of their presence; devotion because of their benevolence; confidence because of their solicitude. Walk carefully, in all thy ways, as one with whom the angels are present as He has given them charge. In every lodging, at every corner, have reverence for thy Angel. Do not dare to do in his presence what you would not dare to do if I were there. Or do you doubt that he is present whom you do not behold? What if you should hear him? What if you should touch him? What if you should scent him? Remember that the presence of something is not proved only by the sight of things.

In this, therefore, brethren, let us affectionately love His angels as one day our future coheirs; meanwhile, however, as counselors and defenders appointed by the Father and placed over us. Why should we fear under such guardians? Those who keep us in all our ways can neither be overcome nor be deceived, much less deceive. They are faithful; they are prudent; they are powerful; why do we tremble? Let us only follow them, let us remain close to them, and in the protection of the God of heaven let us abide. As often, therefore, as a most serious temptation is perceived to weigh upon you and an excessive trial is threatening, call to your guard, your leader, your helper in your needs, in your tribulation; cry to him and say: "Lord, save us; we perish!"

Monday, October 02, 2006

Prayer of St. Isaac

I beg and beseech you, Lord:
grant to all who have gone astray a true knowledge of you,
so that each and every one may come to know your glory.
In the case of those who have passed from this word
lacking a virtuous life and having had no faith,
be an advocate for them, Lord,
for the sake of the body which you took from them,
so that from the single united body of the world
we may offer up praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
in the kingdom of heaven, an unending source of eternal delight.