Thursday, January 30, 2014

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.

living water reprint from 2009

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Juniper ( ?-1258 )

The servant of God Juniper, best known as Brother Juniper called "the renowned Jester of the Lord," was one of the original followers of St. Francis of Assisi . Not much is known about Juniper before he joined the friars. In 1210, he was received into the Order of Friars Minor by St. Francis himself. "Would to God, my brothers, that I had a whole forest of such Juniper "

Link to Living Water From an Ancient Well's Thumb nail lives of the saints Bio for St Juniper

grphic: a scene from  Roberto Rossini's Flowers of Saint Francis

Monday, January 27, 2014

John Chryostom (347 - 407)

John Chryostom was raised by his very pius widowed mother after the death of his father. He was well educated and studied rhetoric under Libanius, one of the most famous orators of the day. John was a monk, preacher and priest in Syria for more than twelve years. early on he developed a stomach ailment that troubled him the rest of his life.

He was famous for his eloquence in public speaking and the denunciation of the abuse of authority in the both the Church and the Roman Empire. His sermons were always precise,  and delivered with clarity. Sometimes  he went on for hours. He reluctantly became bishop of Constantinople in 398, a move that involved him in imperial politics.

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

His pointed preaching eventually caused nobles and bishops to work to remove him from his diocese. He was exiled twice and  eventually banished to Pythius, dieing  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.

The western church commemorates John Chryostom on  September the. 13th, and the eastern church January 27th.

revised from an earlier living water article

Sunday, January 26, 2014

John Cassian (360-435)

Conferences of John Cassian offer the modern Christian a glimpse into the lives of second and third century Christian monastics. It documents the thoughts, wisdom  and practices of  the Desert Fathers and Mothers who took Jesus' instructions to take up our own cross, and renounce possessions literally. The Conferences of John Cassian is a template of the monastic way of life where the theology of denying self and practicing presence is implemented in to daily living. Cassian's work was highly respected by his contemporaries, as well as those who went on to have enormous influence on the monastic movement. St. Benedict referenced Cassian's work while writing The Rule of St. Benedict, which went on to be the rule of life for countless Benedictine monks.

Link to an on line Copy of John Cassian's "Conferences"

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Selkirk Grace

Although the "Selkirk Grace" is attributed to Robert Burns, a version of this stanza was known in the 17th century as the Galloway Grace or the Covenanters' Grace and was said in Lallans (the Lowland Scots dialect). It is this version (version (1) below) which is usually used at Burns Suppers. Traditionally, Burns is said to have delivered an extempore version in Standard English at a dinner given by the Earl of Selkirk

   Selkirk Grace (1)
Some hae meat and canna eat,
   And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
   Sae let the Lord be thankit.

   Selkirk Grace (2)
Some have meat and cannot eat,
   Some cannot eat that want it;
But we have meat and we can eat,
   So let the Lord be thankit.

Henry Suso (1300 - 1366)

Suso and his friend Johannes Tauler were students of Meirter Ekhart. The three form the nucleus of the Rhineland school of mysticism. As a lyric poet and troubadour of divine wisdom, Suso explored with psychological intensity the spiritual truths of Eckhart’s mystical philosophy. His devotional works were extremely popular in the later Middle ages.

His father belonged to the noble family of Berg; his mother, a holy woman from whom he took his name, to a family of Sus (or Süs). When thirteen years of age he entered the Dominican convent at Constance, where he made his preparatory, philosophical, and theological  studies.

From 1324 to 1327 he took a supplementary course in theology in the Dominican studium generale at Cologne, where he sat at the feet of Eckhart von Hochheim, "the Master", and probably at the side of Tauler, both celebrated mystics. Returning to Constance, he was appointed to the office of lector, from which he seems to have been removed some time between 1329 and 1334. In the latter year he began his apostolic career. About 1343 he was elected prior of a convent, probably at Disenhoffn. Five years later he was sent from Constance to Ulm where he remained until his death.

Suso's life as a mystic began in his eighteenth year, when giving up his careless habits of the five preceding years, he made himself "the Servant of the Eternal Wisdom", which he identified with the Divine essence and, in a concrete form, with the personal Eternal Wisdom made man. Henceforth a burning love for the Eternal Wisdom dominated his thoughts and controlled his actions. He had frequent visions and ecstasies, practiced severe austerities (which he prudently moderated in maturer years), and bore with rare patience corporal afflictions, bitter persecutions, and grievous calumnies.

He became foremost among the friends of god in the work of restoring religious observance in the cloisters. His influence was especially strong in many convents of women, particularly in the Dominican convent of Katherintel , a famous nursery of mysticism in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. There lived the mystic Eliszebeth Stagel, who turned some of his Latin into German, collected and preserved most of his extant letters, and drew from him the history of his life which he himself afterwards developed and published.

In the world he was esteemed as a preacher, and was heard in the cities and towns of Switzerland,  and the Netherlands.  His apostolate, however, was not with the masses, but rather with individuals of all classes who were drawn to him by his singularly attractive personality, and to whom he became a personal director in the spiritual life.

It has often been incorrectly said that he established among the Friends of God a society which he called the Brotherhood of the Eternal Wisdom. The so-called Rule of the Brotherhood of the Eternal Wisdom is but a free translation of a chapter of his Horologium Sapientiae, and did not make its appearance until the fifteenth century.

compiled from several sources

Friday, January 24, 2014

Desert Wisdom

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.

living water reprint from 2009

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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 community 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.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Anthony of Egypt ( 251-356 )

Living Water from an Ancient Well Thumbnail Bio of Anthony of Egypt

 A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, "Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it." So, he did. The old man said, "Shoot another," and he did so. Then the old man said, "Shoot yet again," and the hunter replied "If I bend my bow so much I will break it." Then the old man said to him, "It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs." When he heard these words the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Whay is Liturgy

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 in the form 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.


Monday, January 6, 2014

An Epiphany Hymn


   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)

Graphic: Giotto's wedding at Cana

a living water reprint from 2009

Sunday, January 5, 2014


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

The original 12 days of Christmas, run from Christmas eve to Epiphany Eve.   Commemorated on January 6 in the liturgical cycle Epiphany Eve marks the end of the Christmas season, and  the beginning of the  Season of Epiphany, which ends on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.   Also known as "Three Kings Day" and "Twelfth Day," the Feast of the Epiphany. celebrates the manifestation or revealing  of God in the form of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. 

The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation". For at least fifteen hundred years Christians have celebrated "the showing forth of the glory of God in Jesus Christ. in  many different cultural and denominational traditions.  

In Western Christianity  the   visit of the  Magi or wise men  marks Christ's revealing himself to the gentiles. In Eastern Christianity, Epiphany puts the emphasis on the baptism of Jesus by John, with Christ revealing himself to the world as God's own Son.  Some  traditions  commemorate Jesus' miracle of turning the water in to wine as  signifying the manifestation of Christ's divinity..

 Readings for the feast of the Epiphany: Is 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; and Matthew 2:1-12

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

Saturday, January 4, 2014

John O'Donahue (1958-2008 )

A Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where
there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
may they bring you all the blessing, challenges, truth,
and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam ċara.

in Memory of John O'Donnahue


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Blessing of the New Year

This poem, meant to be repeated the first thing on the first day of the year, comes from throughout the Scottish Highlands in many different versions.

God, bless to me the new day,
Never vouchsafed to me before;
It is to bless your own presence
You have given me this time, O God.

Bless to my eye,
May my eye bless all it sees;
I will bless my neighbor,
May my neighbor bless me.

God, give me a clean heart,
Let me not from sight of your eye;
Bless to me my family,
And bless to me my means.

Ancient Celtic prayer collected by Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912), published in Carmina Gadelica (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1992). These are prayers, hymns, and incantations collected in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the 19th century.