Thursday, January 29, 2009

Juniper ( died 1258)

Not much is known about Juniper before he joined the Franciscan friars in 1210. He was received and mentored in the order by St. Francis himself. "Would to God, my brothers, I had a whole forest of such Junipers," Saint Francis would often say of Juniper.

Francis sent him to establish communities in Gualdo Tadino and Viterbo. When St. Clare was dying, Juniper consoled her. He was devoted to the passion of Jesus and was known for his simplicity.

Several stories about Juniper in the Little Flowers of St. Francis (Fioretti di San Francesco) illustrate his generosity and simplicity. Perhaps the most famous of these is the tale of the pig's feet.

Once Juniper was taking care of a sick man who had a craving to eat pig’s feet. This helpful friar went to a nearby field, captured a pig and cut off one foot, and then served this meal to the sick man. The owner of the pig was furious and immediately went to Juniper’s superior. When Juniper saw his mistake, he apologized profusely. He also ended up talking this angry man into donating the rest of the pig to the friars!

He died in 1258 and is buried at Ara Coeli Church in Rome.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom

By 400 the simple way of celebrating communion used by the earliest Christians became more and more developed and complex. In time each city had its own way of offering the Holy Eucharist. Eventually as the church became more centralized communion became more standardized. The Divine Liturgy most frequently used today in the Orthodox Church is called the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. It follows the traditions of the city of Constantinople, where St. John Chrysostom (+407A.D.) served as Patriarch.

Here is a link to the Divine Liurgy of St John Chrysotom in it's entirety as used by the Orthodox church.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Crysostom (347–407)

The western church celibrates sept. 13th, the eastern church January 27th.

John's was raised by a very pius mother after the death of his father. He was well educated. He studied rhetoric under Libanius, one of the most famous orators of his day. John was a monk, preacher and priest in Syria for more than a dozen years. While there he developed a stomach ailment that troubled him the rest of his life.
He is famous for eloquence in public speaking and his denunciation of abuse of authority in the Church and in the Roman Empire of the time. His sermons were always on point, explained the Scriptures with clarity, and sometimes went on for hours. He reluctantly became bishop of Constantinople in 398, a move that involved him in imperial politics.

He criticical of the rich for not sharing their wealth. Fought to reform the clergy. Prevented the sale of ecclesiastical offices, called for fidelity in marriage, and encouraged the practice of justice and charity.

His pionted preaching eventually caused nobles and bishops to work to remove him from his diocese. He was twice exiled from his diocese. He was eventually banished to Pythius, and died on the way.

He is most noted as the Archbishop and Patriarch of Constantinople. He revised the Greek Liturgy. After his death he was named Chrysostom, which comes from the Greek Χρυσόστομος, "golden-mouthed.

His writings deserve special mention. He harmonized the liturgical life of the Church by revising the prayers and rubrics of the Divine Liturgy. To this day, the Orthodox Church typically celebrates the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom. This same community also read his Paschal Homily at Easter.
The Orthodox Church counts him among the Three Holy Hierarchs together with Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian.

Monday, January 26, 2009


The word comes from the Classical Greek word λειτουργία (leitourgia) meaning "public work".
Repetitive formal rites are natural and common in all human activity such as organized sports or social clubs like the cub scouts.

A liturgy inform of public worship practiced by a religious group, according to their particular traditions can range from an elaborate formal ritual such as the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy and Catholic Mass, to the simplicity of the Quaker "liturgy of Silence" or a daily activity such as the
Muslim salat, Jewish shacharit and the Christan "Liturgy of the Hours" (better known as the daily office).

Therefore liturgy is a communal response to the sacred through activity reflecting praise, thanksgiving, supplication, or repentance. Ritualization may be associated with life events such as birth, coming of age, marriage, and death.

Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used (whether recommended or prescribed) by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis.

The church use of the term comes from its frequent and historic use in the Greek text of the New Testament (eg Acts 13:2). It referred to a public and deliberate, well-defined ceremony. It is often translated as "minister" or "worship" in English language Bibles.

Often in Christianity a distinction is made between "liturgical" and "non-liturgical" churches based on the complexity or age of the tradition, but this confuses the universality of public worship. In fact even the simple "order of service" in a Baptist church is liturgical.

Simply, the term "the liturgy" refers to a standardized order of events observed during a religious service, be it a sacramental service or a service of public prayer.
Graphic: Duccio's LastSupper

complied from several sources

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Desert Wisdom (1)

There were two monks who committed a very serious sin when they went to the village to sell their wares. But they were wise enough not to let the devil trick them into discouragement and so they came back to the desert and went to the Abba to confess their sins. To ease them into their conversion, they were asked to go and live on their own for one month on bread and water, to pray and do penance. When the time was over, Abba himself came over to reunite them with the disciples. However he was very surprised because one came out grim, downcast, pale while the other was radiant, buoyant and brisk. "What did you meditate upon?" Abba asked. The sad monk answered : "I thought constantly on the punishment which I merit and the justice of God". The happy monk answered : "Well, I used to remind myself constantly the mercy of God and the love which Jesus Christ had for the sinner." Both of them were joyfully accepted back in the community but Abba remarked on the wisdom of the brother who kept his mind fixed on the compassion of God.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Desert Definitions

The Abba--the spiritual father was considered the source of wisdom and life by his or her followers. An Abba (or amma) did not function as an instructor but as an example. Therefore, the sayings of the Abba were tied to certain circumstances; they were not lectures. Their manner of life was to be studied and imitated in close proximity, if only on certain occasions.
Simplicity of life--The desert monastics stressed living in a humble, uncomplicated manner, owning little or nothing. They chose simple work, such as rope making, to support themselves, ate poor food, lived in stone and mud huts, and wore rough single garments.

Economy of words--The desert monastics stressed using few, if any, words, finding in much speech spiritual danger.

Spiritual warfare--The desert life was a place to go and confront one's own moral failings, especially patterns and habits of sin. Accounts of demonic encounters were considered a normal part of the monastic life.

Solitude--A life spent alone with God in prayer and contemplation was the ideal for the desert life. The eremetic (hermit) life was more common in Lower Egypt, while the cenobitic practice of a gathered communty was more common in Upper Egypt. At Nitria and Scetis, they gathered together in skete (larva) cells living near each other. "Sit in your cell and it will teach you everything."

Austerity--The monastic life was to be one of going with as little as possible--as little food, as little sleep, as little wealth, and so on. Not all desert monks practiced the same infamous extremes of the Syrian stylites--going about naked, living on columns, refusing to remove vermin from their persons.

Fasting--One meal per day was considered sufficient. Fasting was considered a way of breaking the control of one's bodily appetites.

Charity--The practice of charity included simple acts of hospitality, going without if others were in need, and a continual practice of forgiving and seeking forgiveness.

Prayer--Contemplative prayer and the chanting of the psalms were at the center of their manner of life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Desert Fathers

The desert Fathers and Mothers were the first Christian monks, originally fleeing the persecution of Rome and later the world it self. They inhabited the wilderness living in asceticism and solitude in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. This was an non ecclesiastical grass roots movement and these were ordinary Christians who chose to renounce the world and live lives of celibacy, fasting, vigil, prayer, and poverty in simple response to the gospel.

Paul of Thebes is often credited with being the first hermit monk to go to the desert to establish the ascetic tradition that gave birth to Christian  monastic  contemplative practice.

Small informal communities began developing, until the monk Pachomius of Thebaid seeing the need for a more formal structure, established a monastery with rules and organization. His regulations included discipline, obedience, manual labor, silence, fasting, and long periods of prayer — some historians view the rules as being inspired by Pachomius' experiences as a Roman soldier. 

How-ever  it was Anthony of Egypt also known as Anthony the great who became the arch-typical model of the desert Fathers and mothers overseeing colonies of hermits.

 Three main types of monasticism developed in Egypt around the Desert Fathers. One was the austere life of the hermit, as practiced by Anthony and his followers. The second was the  cenobitic life, or formal communities of monks and nuns formed by Pachomius. The third was a semi-hermetic lifestyle seen mostly in  west of the Nile, begun by Saint Ammun. These were small groups (two to six) of monks and nuns with a common spiritual elder — these separate groups would join together in larger gatherings to worship on Saturdays and Sundays. It is this third form of monasticism that was responsible for most of the sayings that were compiled as the  Apophthegmata Patrum  better known as the  Sayings of the Desert Fathers

The early  monastics drew a sizable followings to their way of life through  their simple austere commitment and to knowing God and a reputation for holiness and wisdom,  These spiritual father (abba) or mother (amma) were often appealed to for spiritual guidance and counsel by both their disciples and those out side these communities.This model became part of the foundation for the Celtic concept of Anam cara or soul Friend.

 The Sayings of the Desert Fathers,  included 1,202 sayings attributed to twenty-seven abbas and three ammas. The greatest number of sayings are attributed to Abba "Poemen," Greek for "shepherd." Because of the wide disparity of dates for the sayings attributed to Abba Poemen, some scholars believe that "Poemen" was a generic name for a combination of different unnamed Abbas

First recorded in the 4th century the  Sayings—consist of spiritual advice, anecdotes, parables, and reflections on life— which latter influenced the rule of St. Benedict, set the pattern for Western monasticism, and have inspired centuries of poetry, opera, and art.

Photo: The beautiful Wadi Qelt in the Jordan Valley

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Anthony of Egypt (251–356)

Also known as Anthony the Abbot, Anthony the Great, Anthony of the Desert, Anthony the Anchorite, Abba Antonius (Ἀβᾶς Ἀντώνιος), and Father of All Monks,

The title "Father of Monasticism" is misleading, as Christian monasticism was already being practiced in the deserts of Egypt. Ascetics commonly retired to isolated locations on the outskirts of cities. Anthony is notable for being one of the first ascetics to attempt living in the desert proper, completely cut off from civilization.

Although he held no titles or position, his holiness marked him as one whose wisdom commanded respect. When the Synod of Nicea was convened Anthony was invited to participate. His eloquent defense of the Orthodox doctrine concerning the person of Jesus Christ was instrumental in weakening the position of Arianism. His witness led to the eventual and complete elimination of Arianism.

Anthony founded hermitical monasticism. This involved a number of recluses being under the direction of a teacher — "abba," in Jewish meaning "father," and living individually, either in huts or caves, committing themselves to prayer, fasting and labor. When a number of these caves or huts came under the authority of one abba, it was called a cloister.

Prior to Anthony another type of monasticism had taken root. Ascetics gathered together into one community, performed compatible tasks according to their individual strength and abilities, shared common meals and submitted themselves to the same rules. These communities were called monasteries
Most of what is known about the life of St. Anthony comes from the Life of Anthony, written by Athanasius of Alexandria in 360. By 374, his Bio was translated into Latin by Evagrius of Antioch. The Latin translation helped the Life become one of the best known works of literature in the Christian world, a status it would hold through the Middle Ages. In addition to the Life several surviving homilies and epistles of varying authenticity provide some additional autobiographical detail.

compiled from several sources

Living Water from an Ancient Well: Thumb nail lives of the saints Anthony of Egypt Bio

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Hymn for Epiphany (2)

Songs of Thankfulness and Praise

Songs of thankfulness and praise, Jesus, Lord, to Thee we raise, Manifested by the star To the sages from afar; Branch of royal David’s stem In Thy birth at Bethlehem; Anthems be to Thee addressed, God in man made manifest.

Manifest at Jordan’s stream, Prophet, Priest, and King supreme; And at Cana, wedding guest, In Thy Godhead manifest; Manifest in power divine, Changing water into wine; Anthems be to Thee addressed, God in man made manifest.

Manifest in making whole Palsied limbs and fainting soul; Manifest in valiant fight, Quelling all the devil’s might; Manifest in gracious will, Ever bringing good from ill; Anthems be to Thee addressed, God in man made manifest.

Sun and moon shall darkened be,
Stars shall fall, the heavens shall flee, Christ will then like lightning shine, All will see His glorious sign: All will then the trumpet hear; All will see the Judge appear; Thou by all wilt be confessed, God in man made manifest.

Grant us grace to see Thee, Lord,
Mirrored in Thy holy Word; May we imitate Thee now, And be pure, as pure art Thou; That we like to Thee may be At Thy great Epiphany; And may praise Thee, ever blest, God in man made manifest.

Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885)

Stanza Four by F. Bland Tucker (1895-1984)

for more on C.Wordsworth

Graphic: Giotto's wedding at Cana

Monday, January 5, 2009


The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." St. John 1.14

Epiphany: the original 12 days of Christmas.

Epiphany is the twelfth day of Christmas, and the Eve of the Feast of the Epiphany. For at least fifteen hundred years Christians have celebrated the manifestation, or showing forth of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. The Eternal Word of God made flesh.

The Season of Epiphany begins on the eve of Epiphany, 6 January, and ends on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.

For more back ground and history link to Epiphany on the Living water Blog.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Day (2)

'Wine that maketh glad the heart of man; and oil to make him a cheerful countenance, and bread to strengthen man's heart'