Archive for April, 2009

AGAIN, again, and again

The latest issue of AGAIN was in my mailbox when I stumbled up my steps at 2:00 Tuesday morning. Fr. Michael Gillis was once again kind enough to include a couple of pieces from me, both an edited-down version of my review of Cappella Romana’s recording of Kontakion on the Nativity of Christ, as well as my choir schools essay, somewhat revised and updated. Plus, the letter to the editor regarding the use of “Holy Strong” in the Trisagion was run, as well as a slightly edited version of my response.

This has been a nice, fruitful run of luck, and while I don’t have anything further for Fr. Michael to try to make readable at the moment, perhaps I will after my trip to Greece. At any rate, I very much appreciate his being willing to work with a writer like me. It has been a blessing, and perhaps his willingness to run my trifles will open some doors down the road — time will tell.

Joe McKamey, larger than death

O God who, by the Passion of Thy Christ, our Lord, hast loosened the bonds of death, that heritage of the first sin to which all men of later times did succeed: make us so conformed to Him that, as we must needs have borne the likeness of earthly nature, so we may by sanctification bear the likeness of heavenly grace. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen. Good Friday, Mass of the Presanctified (Roman Rite, Extraordinary Form).

We got up at 4am on Thursday, 9 April to leave for the airport at 5am (God bless you, Laura Willms) to catch a 7am flight. We arrived in Seattle at 10:30am, picked up the rental car, dropped things off at Megan’s mom and stepdad’s house, had lunch, and then headed off to Poulsbo.

The last time I had seen Joe was back in August. He was suffering from a bit of jaundice, and he got tired a bit more easily than he otherwise would, but he was still largely the same large man who played drums with abandon, hated to have people touch his truck, and toasted our wedding as Vito Corleone. Megan’s stories and pictures from her trips out to the Northwest over the last charted his decline for me to some extent, but this was the first time I had actually seen him with my own eyes.

He lay in a hospital bed in his and Donna’s bedroom, and he really was just sleeping. Donna, Megan’s stepmother, said that the last time he had been lucid was Sunday. Every so often, he would appear to open his eyes for a half-second, or grunt like he was trying to respond to something you said, but such moments were fleeting. Physically, he was a shell, much shrunken and withered from what I remembered — a sixty-two year old man who could believably have passed for eighty-two or even ninety-two. Still, he was peaceful, it was clear he wasn’t in any pain, and if it makes any sense, it also seemed clear that he was in the room with us, he just was mostly no longer located in the body. He was tied to it, yes, maybe we could say even held back by it, but he was already mostly gone. The dimmer switch was already pretty much all the way down; it just hadn’t clicked off yet. The only reliable reaction he gave was when water was sponged over his lips; it’s hard to say if that was reflex or not.

We spent a couple of hours with him, as well as talking to Donna. It was clear that it wasn’t going to be long; in my heart of hearts I was going to be very surprised if he made it another day. Before we left, Megan told him, “Dad, I know you’re going to do whatever you damn well please anyway, but you have to hold on till tomorrow, because all of your kids are going to be here.”

Thus saith the Lord: In their affliction they will rise early to Me: Come, and let us return to the Lord, for He hath taken us, and He will heal us, He will strike, and He will cure us. He will revive us after two days: on the third day He will raise us up and we shall live in His sight. We shall know and we shall follow on, that we may know the Lord. Hosea 6:1-3, read on Good Friday, Mass of the Presanctified (Roman Rite, Extraordinary From)

We headed back to Megan’s mom’s house, where we were planning on staying that night. Teague, Megan’s older brother, arrived. We settled down with a nice Trappist ale for what was intended to be an evening of familial reflection.

Then we had to take me to the emergency room.

The really short version is that I smacked my head but good on the very sharp corner of a kitchen cabinet while trying to get around a couple of people who had no reason to be concerned about the height of said kitchen cabinets. I managed to hit it at just the right angle and just the right speed, and within a couple of seconds I had a perfectly-formed Y-shaped gash on the very top of my head, and I was bleeding like a stuck pig. My experience with head injuries is that they’re gushers for a minute or so and then you’re done; well, this didn’t happen. I just kept bleeding, and within a couple of minutes I was also getting pretty foggy and confused. Everybody still had the Natasha Richardson tragedy in mind, so it was off to the emergency room we went. It was a reasonably short trip to the ER, two hours, and all they wound up doing was, literally, gluing me shut. This meant I had a glob of pharmaceutical superglue (“Dermabond“) in the middle of my hair for the next few days and had to shave my head to get it out, but that was okay.

We got back to Megan’s mom’s house, and setting down at 12:45am after what had been nearly 24 hours on the go (taking into account the three hour time difference between Seattle and Bloomington), we crawled into bed.

At about 1:50am, the phone rang. In the still, small hours of Western Good Friday, Joe was gone. Donna was up at one in the morning listening to him breathe as she had been for the last several nights, and eventually his breath took on an irregular rhythm for a few seconds; then, as quickly as his breathing had changed, it simply stopped.

He hadn’t waited for his kids to gather around him. Megan said later, “I think he wanted it to just be he and Donna.” I think she’s probably right.

O my God, I shall cry by day, and Thou wilt not hear: and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in me. Psalm 21:2, read on Good Friday, Mass of the Presanctified (Roman Rite, Extraordinary From)

The next twelve hours or so were absolutely extraordinary. We all headed over immediately, and eventually all of the aunts and uncles (save a couple of who had to come in from out of town) and several of the cousins also were there. There were tears, there were full-body-wracking sobs, there was cursing, there were screams that were some of the most primal I have ever heard, there was constant cradling and kissing of Joe’s too-small head and hands, there were brave faces that withered over time, there were irreverent jokes. Megan and I sang “Eternal Memory” at Joe’s side.

And, inevitably, this being a McKamey family gathering, people started cooking, drinking coffee, and talking. This was a very, very, very good thing.

The hospice folks came to pick up Joe a bit after noon. We all realized that this truly would be the last time we would see even his shell on this side of the veil, and everybody desperately gave to Joe whatever they had left to give him. They tell the family to be someplace else while they take away the body; I think that’s probably pretty wise.

The rest of the final day that Joe McKamey had begun alive was pretty subdued. We ate, we drank Scotch (18 year old Glenlivet, which I bought because I thought 18 year old Macallan would be a bit excessive), we talked.

Eventually we slept.

Saturday morning Donna said through tears that it was harder. “Yesterday was just a continuation of the last day of his life,” she cried. “Today he’s just not here at all.” She was right; it was the first time we had all woken up to a new, permanent reality. Megan’s two year old niece Sacha asked, “Where’s gampa Joe?” “In heaven,” Donna told her gamely, but Sacha kept asking, not understanding.

Megan and I found an absolutely delightful and welcoming little OCA mission about five minutes from Joe and Donna’s house, St. Elizabeth’s Orthodox Mission. It’s a storefront right in a well-traveled area in the middle of town, right next door to something called The Storehouse Church; I wonder if their neighbors have any idea what to do with them. Anyway, besides wanting to attend services, Megan was going to make kollyva for the family Easter dinner the next day, and wanted to know if the priest would be willing to bless it.

Of course, the priest, Fr. Christopher Swanson, said, without so much as raising an eyebrow. Bring it tomorrow morning after Liturgy and we’ll do a memorial for him.

Sunday morning we went with Donna to 8am Easter Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Bremerton. The homily was precisely what was needed, with the priest starting off with the question, “Why do we visit the graves of those we love?” One thing that was a little puzzling, however — I was under the impression that Catholics said “Christ is risen!” “The Lord is risen indeed!” on Easter, and when I greeted a couple of people with “Christ is risen!” I got blank stares. Oh well. We were there for Donna, and she found in the Body and Blood the comfort she was seeking that morning.

After Mass, Megan put the finishing touches on the kollyva and we headed to St. Elizabeth’s for what at that point was the last third or so of the Palm Sunday Divine Liturgy. It was absolutely pouring outside, so there was no procession with the palms, but the people were nothing short of amazingly gracious when it was time to do the panakhida for Joe — the full choir sang, they wept with us, they embraced us as their own. Fr. Christopher was also kind enough to bless a prosphora loaf at the altar for Joe. Thank you, St. Elizabeth’s, for showing us what Christian community and family actually is.

Back at Donna’s, Easter dinner was served. A place for Joe was set at the table, with a photo of him on his plate. For our part, we served the kollyva, the little prosphora loaf, as well as a half-dozen Easter eggs which I had dyed with onion skins.

The rest of the evening consisted of me packing. Joe was being buried Monday, the next morning, but the actual funeral Mass would not be until the following Saturday. Our tickets had been booked to come back Monday evening; we decided that Megan would stay through the following Sunday and I would go home as planned after the burial. For several reasons, it wasn’t what we wanted to do, but for several additional reasons, it was really the only way we could split the baby — no matter what we did there was going to be heartbreaking sacrifice involved. That things had been scheduled the way they had was more than a little perplexing, but one thing which is crystal clear to me after witnessing this is that there is absolutely no way that the person making the decisions will be able to please or accommodate everybody. Donna and Megan assured me that being there for everything up to that point, as well as for the burial, was everything that truly mattered, and with St. Elizabeth’s just right around the corner, Megan wasn’t going to have to miss out on all of Holy Week. Donna’s aim, ultimately, was to have the burial be the “real funeral” for the family, and the funeral Mass be the public memorial, and I think that’s probably about as fair as it can get.

Ἅγιος ὁ Θεός.

Sanctus Deus.

Ἅγιος Ἰσχυρός.

Sanctus Fortis.

Ἅγιος Ἀθάνατος, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.

Sanctus Immortalis, miserere nobis. Good Friday, Mass of the Presanctified (Roman Rite, Extraordinary Form).

Monday morning, Donna was bustling around, saying, “You know the moment in The Lion in Winter where Peter O’Toole breaks through the ice in the wash basin, splashes the freezing water over his face, and says, ‘It’s going to be a jungle of a day’? Well, that’s today.”

Present at the burial were all of Joe’s kids, grandkids, brothers and sisters (even those from out of town), his mother, his wife, several nieces and nephews, and spouses of the same. Fr. Seamus Laverty of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Tacoma, who had baptized Donna and reconciled Joe to the Catholic Church back in 2002, and who had served Joe Last Rites and his final Holy Communion a couple of weeks earlier, presided over the burial. Megan, as Joe had asked, read 1 Thess 4:13-18:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Fr. Seamus, both per the custom at St. Patrick’s and at Donna’s request, sang “An Irish Blessing” in a simple, clear voice, and it was as fitting and moving a goodbye as we could have wanted.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Through tears, we all paid our last respects. Donna put shells and dirt from their property on the casket. Megan put flowers. Ian placed one of his CDs on the casket saying, “I know the music’s better where you are now, Dad, but this is for you.” Others just touched the casket, silently wishing him farewell.

And then he was lowered into the earth.

We adore Thy Cross, O Lord: and we praise and glorify Thy holy Resurrection: for behold by the wood of the Cross joy has come into the whole world.

May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may He cause the light of His countenance to shine upon us, and have mercy on us. Good Friday, Mass of the Presanctified (Roman Rite, Extraordinary Form).

“It’s so hard to imagine him fitting into so small a box,” Megan said. “It doesn’t seem big enough, even for how he ended, let alone what he was like before he was sick.”

“No,” I said, knowing exactly what she meant. “I think Joe was larger than death.”

We were able to spend an hour or so at a family gathering afterwards, and it was good to catch up with some members of Megan’s extended family whom we don’t get to see very often. All too soon, however, it was time to get me to the airport. (I do apologize for not getting any further north on the east side of the water than the airport — circumstances just did not allow. I hope to get out there again late summer or thereabouts with Greece pictures.)

Joe McKamey passed away at 1:45am on Good Friday 2009. He reposed peacefully, painlessly and unmedicated, naturally, at home and in his own bedroom, in the presence of his wife. He was at peace with his God and those whom he loved. His children were all able to mourn with his body, and to see him to his rest.

We should all be so fortunate.

Let us pray:
Upon Thy people who with devout hearts have recalled the Passion and Death of Thy Son, we beseech Thee, O Lord, may plentiful blessing descend: may gentleness be used with us, and consolation given us, may our faith increase in holiness, our redemption for ever made firm. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray:
Almighty and merciful God, who hast restored us by the Passion and Death of Thy Christ: preserve within us the work of Thy mercy; that by our entering into this mystery we may ever live devoutly. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray:
Be mindful of Thy mercies, O Lord, and hallow with eternal protection us Thy servants, for whom Christ Thy Son established through His Blood this mystery of the Pasch. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Good Friday, Mass of the Presanctified (Roman Rite, Extraordinary Form).

A postscript: This morning, in my prayers, for the first time I prayed for Joe among the departed instead of among the living as I have done for years, particularly in the last several months. For the very first time, I understood with my soul as well as my head the argument from Tradition about why we pray for the dead — it is because it is our fervent hope, and our strong belief, that they are not dead but alive in, and with, Christ. I have understood the hope before now — but it is only thanks to Joe that I understand the belief.

With the spirits of the righteous made perfect give rest to the soul of Thy servant, O Saviour; and preserve it in that life of blessedness which is with Thee, O Thou who lovest mankind.

In the place of Thy rest, O Lord, where all Thy Saints repose, give rest also to the soul of Thy servant; for Thou only lovest mankind.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Thou art our God who descended into Hell, and loosed the bonds of those who were there; Thyself give rest also to the soul of Thy servant.

Both now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

O Virgin, alone pure and immaculate, who without corruption didst bring forth God, intercede for the salvation of his soul. — from the Trisagion Prayers for the Departed, Byzantine Rite

On Good Friday (Western observance): Memory eternal, Joe McKamey

There are days where virtually everything is different at the end of it. Today was one of those days. Joe McKamey passed away this morning at approximately 1:45am Pacific Standard Time in the presence of his wife, Donna. We were there by about 3:15am. It was a remarkable morning/mourning on several levels. Its occurrence on Good Friday has a particular resonance for Megan’s family as Catholics which will be pondered for some time to come.

Memory eternal, Joe. Thank you for being such a wonderful dad to all your kids, and for helping to bring such a wonderful daughter into the world as Megan.

More when things calm down.

“His name was Spiro. My children got very close to this lamb.”

Oh. my. Lord.

(Hat tip to Fr. Joseph Huneycutt and thanks to Anna Pougas.)

Kollyva and homebrewing

Back in January, I tried homebrewing for the first time. It went well; “Presentation Pale Ale,” named for its bottling date (2 February), was a hit.

I’m doing it again. This time around, if I keep naming it based on when I bottle it, it will be “Paschal Pale”. Should be enjoying it on or around 24 May. I’ll start another batch when I get home from Greece, in time for Oktoberfest.

When I was boiling the grain this time, I wondered — could I make kollyva from it, rather than just throwing it out? I tried one or two of the boiled grains when it was done, and it seemed edible enough.

Any Orthodox homebrewers out there ever tried this? Any homebrewers in general ever figured out something to do with the boiled grain rather than just throwing it out?

He’s just sleeping

He’s just sleeping most of the time right now, Megan’s stepmother told her. He’s not in any pain. He’s comfortable.

But he stopped taking food two days ago. Yesterday he started refusing water. It’s really just a matter of days — less than a week.

So we will go out there within the next day or so, as soon as we can figure everything out.

He’s just sleeping most of the time. For some reason that’s an image I’m having trouble getting out of my head and which is making me weep.

Please pray for Joe McKamey.

Philotheos Kokkinos and the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council

According to Archimandrite Ephrem (Lash), both in his article “Byzantine Hymns of Hate” in the book Byzantine Orthodoxies (ed. Fr. Andrew Louth and Augustine Casiday) as well as on his website of liturgical texts, the hymnody for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council is by Philotheos Kokkinos, a 14th century Patriarch of Constantinople. The Greek text, as Fr. Ephrem says in “Hymns of Hate,” notes in the rubrics the presence of “Philotheos” as an acrostic in in the Theotokia of the Canon at Matins.

So why aren’t these texts contained in the critical edition of his poetic works, which appears to contain all the rest of his hymnody? Where can I find this Petroula Kourtesidos to ask?

Metropolitan Jonah: “There is an American Orthodox church. Leave it alone.”

Pan Orthodox Sermon by His Beatitude Metropolitan Jonah at St. Seraphim Orthodox Cathedral

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Well. Right or wrong, God bless Metropolitan Jonah, who has the saint’s utter lack of fear when it comes to saying what he believes God has called him to say.
So, is he right? Is he wrong? Hard to say. I suspect some people are going to find these remarks disrespectful, and I am not unsympathetic to that point of view, but I also think the reality is that prophetic words which need to be said tend to rub somebody the wrong way no matter what. That’s not to say the people who feel disrespected are wrong.
All I can say is, whether he is right or wrong, I hope people are listening. Not just the “right people,” whomever we might imagine them to be — I hope everybody is listening. Only if everybody is listening will these prophetic words have the value they need to have.
(Among the people I hope are listening is His Grace Bishop MARK. I think he and Metropolitan Jonah would be an utterly devastating team.)
(Second tip of the hat of the day to Rod Dreher.)

Notes from a Common-place Book: “this is the formerly hothouse flower of American Orthodoxy beginning to take root in American soil”

In the midst of all the nasty discussion going on about what Orthodoxy in America isn’t and whose fault it is, I find this refreshing:

It is not that these things don’t concern me. They do. But it is like fretting about the budget deficit, there is little enough you and I can do about it, and in the meantime, life goes on. We never really “solve” anything, but we do muddle through, somehow. By focusing on these larger concerns, if we are not careful, we may miss the real news here. In my view, this is the formerly hothouse flower of American Orthodoxy beginning to take root in American soil, and–slowly–taking on an indigenous nature. Admittedly, we are still well under the radar screen. Our numbers are small, and will probably remain so. But Orthodoxy is patient, and takes a long view of things. The Church is digging in for the long haul. Evangelism is on-going. The webs of connectedness between far-flung parishes, missions and monasteries are in place. I can’t speak for other parts of the country, but it seems that the South is one of the most receptive regions of the country. Several bloggers I follow (religiously, in fact) have commented recently on the course of Orthodoxy in the South.

The whole post is worth a read. The idea of the South being perhaps the best cultural fit for Orthodox Christianity in this country is not exactly new, but a parallel idea is that an indigenous expression of the Faith is perhaps best thought of, at least in the United States, by region rather than America as a whole. In other words, does “culturally American” mean the same thing in, say, Boston as it does in Memphis? In Bloomington as in Seattle? (I can answer that one — no.)

Anyway — food for thought. (I give a gentlemanly tip of my straw hat to Rod Dreher.)

Exercises in translating liturgical Greek: “With these blessed powers…”

I’ve been getting something of a double-dose of the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil this Great Lent; our priest has decided to follow the practice of doing a Saturday of Souls Divine Liturgy every Saturday of the fast, and he has done so with St. Basil’s.

He serves the Saturday liturgies without a deacon, so all of the prayers wind up being read aloud, more or less sequentially, and he told us on the first Saturday of Souls to use the opportunity to contemplate their content, that, as he put it, the story of our salvation is told very beautifully in those prayers.

With that in mind, and knowing that I needed to start preparing for a diagnostic exam in Greek this fall (also in Latin, but never mind that now), I thought that a very appropriate way to contemplate the content of St. Basil’s was to do my own translation of part of it — in particular the long prayer starting just after the Thrice Holy (the Sanctus, if my giving the Latin name of a section helps) and leading into the Words of Institution. I also decided that, in order to maximize the educational utility, I would pretty much look up everything, even words I knew, and force myself to get to know alternate definitions. For verbs I didn’t know, I would write down their principal parts. As much as possible, I would also analyze syntax and make sure I wasn’t just divining meaning based on familiarity with an English version. To that end, I would refer only to an English version (in this case, that printed in the Liturgikon published by the Antiochian Archdiocese) if I got absolutely and totally lost.

First I had to come up with a text; I’m going to look for an Ieratikon when I go to Greece (along with so many other things — one thing I’d be really curious to see is a textbook for Ancient Greek written in Modern Greek), but in the meantime, some digging produced this site as a source. I copied the text to a Word document, blew it up to 14pt, triple spaced it, printed it off, and armed with my good friends Hardy, Gerald, Henry George, Robert, Frederick, Walter, William, and Felix, off I went.

Just so we’re clear: this isn’t a critical edition or a translation intended for scholarly or literary use. At best this is a working document, intended primarily as an exercise for my own benefit, but in the spirit of the other Greek resources I’ve provided, if there is a way it can benefit other people, then terrific. Just know ahead of time that “Well, Richard Barrett says this…” is not likely to to win any arguments.

So, on this last Sunday of Great Lent on which the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil is offered, here’s the Greek text:

Μετὰ τούτων τῶν μακαρίων Δυνάμεων, Δέσποτα φιλάνθρωπε, καὶ ἡμεῖς οἱ ἁμαρτωλοὶ βοῶμεν καὶ λέγομεν· Ἅγιος εἶ, ὡς ἀληθῶς, καὶ πανάγιος, καὶ οὐκ ἔστι μέτρον τῇ  μεγαλοπρεπείᾳ τῆς ἁγιωσύνης σου, καὶ ὅσιος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔργοις σου, ὅτι ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ κρίσει ἀληθινῇ πάντα ἐπήγασες ἡμῖν· πλάσας γὰρ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, χοῦν λαβὼν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς, καὶ εἰκόνι τῇ  σῇ, ὁ Θεός, τιμήσας, τέθεικας αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ Παραδείσῳ τῆς τρυφῆς, ἀθανασίαν ζωῆς, καὶ ἀπόλαυσιν αἰωνίων ἀγαθῶν, ἐν τῇ τηρήσει τῶν ἐντολῶν σου, ἐπαγγειλάμενος αὐτῷ, ἀλλὰ παρακούσαντα σοῦ τοῦ ἀληθινοῦ Θεοῦ, τοῦ κτίσαντος αὐτόν, καὶ τῇ  ἀπάτῃ τοῦ ὄφεως ὑπαχθέντα, νεκρωθέντα τε τοῖς οἰκείοις αὐτοῦ παραπτώμασιν, ἐξωρίσας αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ δικαιοκρισίᾳ σου, ὁ Θεός, ἐκ τοῦ Παραδείσου εἰς τὸν κόσμον τοῦτον, καὶ ἀπέστρεψας εἰς τὴν  γῆν ἐξ ἧς ἐλήφθη, οἰκονομῶν αὐτῷ τὴν  ἐκ παλιγγενεσίας σωτηρίαν, τὴν  ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ Χριστῷ σου· οὐ γὰρ ἀπεστράφης τὸ πλάσμα σου εἰς τέλος, ὃ ἐποίησας, ἀγαθέ, οὐδὲ ἐπελάθου ἔργου χειρῶν σου, ἀλλ’ ἐπεσκέψω πολυτρόπως, διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους σου. Προφήτας ἐξαπέστειλας, ἐποίησας δυνάμεις διὰ τῶν Ἁγίων σου, τῶν καθ’ ἑκάστὴν  γενεὰν εὐαρεστησάντων σοι, ἐλάλησας ἡμῖν διὰ στόματος τῶν δούλων σου τῶν Προφητῶν, προκαταγγέλλων ἡμῖν τὴν  μέλλουσαν ἔσεσθαι σωτηρίαν, νόμον ἔδωκας εἰς βοήθειαν, Ἀγγέλους ἐπέστησας φύλακας. Ὅτε δὲ ἦλθε τὰ πλήρωμα τῶν καιρῶν, ἐλάλησας ἡμῖν ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ Υἱῷ σου, δι’ οὗ καὶ τοὺς αἰῶνας ἐποίησας, ὅς, ὢν ἀπάγαυσμα τῆς δόξης σου, καὶ χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεώς σου, φέρων τε τὰ πάντα τῷ ῥήματι τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα σοὶ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρί, ἀλλά, Θεὸς ὢν προαιώνιος, ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ὤφθη, καὶ τοῖς   ἀνθρώποις συνανεστράφη, καὶ ἐκ Παρθένου ἁγίας σαρκωθείς, ἐκένωσεν ἑαυτόν, μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, σύμμορφος γενόμενος τῷ σώματι τῆς ταπεινώσεως ἡμῶν, ἵνα ἡμᾶς συμμόρφους ποιήσῃ τῆς εἰκόνος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ. Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ δι’ ἀνθρώπου ἡ ἁμαρτία εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸν κόσμον, καὶ διὰ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ὁ θάνατος, ηὐδόκησεν ὁ μονογενής σου Υἱός, ὁ ὢν ἐν τοῖς κόλποις σοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Πατρός, γενόμενος ἐκ γυναικός, τῆς ἁγίας Θεοτόκου καὶ ἀειπαρθένου Μαρίας, γενόμενος ὑπὸ νόμον, κατακρῖναι τὴν  ἁμαρτίαν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα οἱ ἐν τῷ Ἀδὰμ ἀποθνήσκοντες, ζωοποιηθῶσιν ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ Χριστῷ σου, καὶ ἐμπολιτευσάμενος τῷ κόσμω τούτῳ, δοὺς προστάγματα σωτηρίας, ἀποστήσας ἡμᾶς τῆς πλάνης τῶν εἰδώλων, προσήγαγε τῇ  ἐπιγνώσει σοῦ τοῦ ἀληθινοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Πατρός, κτησάμενος ἡμᾶς ἑαυτῶ λαὸν περιούσιον, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, καὶ καθαρίσας ἐν ὕδατι, καὶ ἁγιάσας τῷ Πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ, ἔδωκεν ἑαυτόν ἀντάλλαγμα τῷ θανάτῳ, ἐν ᾧ κατειχόμεθᾳ, πεπραμένοι ὑπὸ τὴν  ἁμαρτίαν, καὶ κατελθὼν διὰ τοῦ Σταυροῦ εἰς τόν, ᾍδην, ἵνα πληρώσῃ ἑαυτοῦ τὰ πάντα, ἔλυσε τάς ὀδύνας τοῦ θανάτου, καὶ ἀναστὰς τῇ  τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ὁδοποιήσας πάσῃ σαρκὶ τὴν  ἐκ νεκρῶν Ἀνάστασιν, καθότι οὐκ ἦν δυνατὸν κρατεῖσθαι ὑπὸ τῆς φθορᾶς τὸν ἀρχηγόν τῆς ζωῆς, ἐγένετο ἀπαρχὴ τῶν κεκοιμημένων, πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, ἵνα ἦ αὐτὸς τὰ πάντα ἐν πᾶσι πρωτεύων·  καὶ ἀνελθὼν εἰς τοὺς οὐρανούς, ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τῆς μεγαλωσύνης σου ἐν ὑψηλοῖς, ὃς καὶ ἥξει, ἀποδοῦναι ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ. Κατέλιπε δὲ ἡμῖν ὑπομνήματα τοῦ σωτηρίου αὐτοῦ πάθους ταῦτα, ἃ προτεθείκαμεν ἐνώπιόν σου, κατὰ τὰς αὐτοῦ ἐντολάς. Μέλλων γὰρ ἐξιέναι ἐπὶ τὸν ἑκούσιον, καὶ ἀοίδιμον καὶ ζωοποιὸν αὐτοῦ θάνατον, τῇ  νυκτί, ᾗ παρεδίδου ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ τῆς τοῦ κόσμου ζωῆς, λαβὼν ἄρτον ἐπὶ τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀχράντων χειρῶν, καὶ ἀναδείξας σοὶ τῷ Θεῷ καὶ Πατρί, εὐχαριστήσας, εὐλογήσας, ἁγιάσας, κλάσας.

Ἔδωκε τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ Μαθηταῖς καὶ Ἀποστόλοις, εἰπών·  Λάβετε, φάγετε. Tοῦτό μού ἐστι τὸ Σῶμα, τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν κλώμενον εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. Ἀμήν.

Ὁμοίως καὶ τὸ ποτήριον ἐκ τοῦ γεννήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου λαβών, κεράσας, εὐχαριστήσας, εὐλογήσας, ἁγιάσας.

Ἔδωκε τοῖς   ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ Μαθηταῖς καὶ Ἀποστόλοις, εἰπών· Πίετε ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες. Τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ Αἷμα μου, το τῆς Καινῆς Διαθήκης, τὸ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν καὶ πολλῶν ἐκχυνόμενον εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. Ἀμήν.

Τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν  ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν· ὁσάκις γὰρ ἂν ἐσθίητε τὸν Ἄρτον τοῦτον, καὶ τὸ Ποτήριον τοῦτο πίνητε, τὸν ἐμὸν θάνατον καταγγέλλετε, τὴν  ἐμὴν Ἀνάστασιν ὁμολογεῖτε. Μεμνημένοι οὖν, Δέσποτα, καὶ ἡμεῖς τῶν σωτηρίων αὐτοῦ Παθημάτων, τοῦ ζωοποιοῦ Σταυροῦ, τῆς τριημέρου Ταφῆς, τῆς ἐκ νεκρῶν Ἀναστάσεως, τῆς εἰς οὐρανοὺς Ἀνόδου, τῆς ἐκ δεξιῶν σοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ καὶ Πατρὸς Καθέδρας, καὶ τῆς ἐνδόξου καὶ φοβερᾶς δευτέρας αὐτοῦ Παρουσίας.

Τὰ Σὰ ἐκ τῶν  Σῶν, σοὶ προσφέρομεν κατὰ πάντα, καὶ διὰ πάντα.

And here is my intentionally literal, uncleaned-up, unpoetic translation:

With these blessed powers, benevolent Master, even we the sinners cry out and say: Holy are you, so truly, and all-holy, and there is no measure for the majesty of your holiness, and devout are you in all your works, so that in true justice and judgment you built all things for us: for forming man, taking dust from the earth, and to your image, God, honoring, placing him in the Paradise of delight, immortality of life, and for enjoyment of good ages, in the observance of your commands, promising to him, but (man), ignoring you, the true God, having created him, and by the deception of the serpent being led away, being put to death with his kinsmen by means of his own transgressions, (you), banishing him in your just verdict from the Paradise into this world, and returned him unto the earth from which he was taken, planning for him the salvation of regeneration in your Christ himself: for you were not turned away from your handiwork unto the end, (your handiwork) which you made, O good (one), neither did you forget the work of your hands, but you looked after him in many ways, through the affection of your mercy. You sent prophets, you performed deeds of power through your saints, (the saints) well-pleasing to you according to each generation, you spoke to us through the mouth of your servants the prophets, (the ones) foretelling to us the salvation about to come, you gave the law unto (our) aid, you appointed angels (as) sentinels. And when the fullness of the times came, you spoke to us in your Son himself, through whom you formed even the ages, who, being (the) effulgence of your glory, and (the) outward appearance of your essence, and bearing all things by means of the word of his power, did not consider it robbery to be equal to you, the God and Father, but, God being pre-eternal, was seen on the earth and associated with men, and was enfleshed from the holy Virgin, emptied himself, taking the outward appearance of a slave, being made of the same form in body as our humble station, in order that he might make us of the same form as the image of his glory. For since through man sin entered into the world and through sin death (entered the world), your only-begotten Son, who being in your bosom, the God and Father, born from woman, (namely) the holy God-bearer and ever-virgin Mary, born under the law, consented to pass sentence on the sin in his flesh in order that the dead in Adam might be made alive in your Christ himself, and becoming a citizen in this world, giving orders of salvation, absolving us of the error of the idols, he drew near in the knowledge of you the true God and Father, procuring us for himself (as) a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and cleansed in water and consecrated to the Holy Spirit, he gave himself in exchange for death, in which we were confined, having been sold under sin, and going down through the Cross into Hades in order that he might fulfill all things of himself, he destroyed the distresses of death, and rising on the third day, and making a path for all flesh (of) the resurrection from the dead, because the originator of life was not able to be seized by corruption, he became the first portion of them having fallen asleep, first-born from the dead, in order that he might be first, all things in all things. And going up into the heavens, he sat on the right hand of your majesty in the heights, who even will come to recompense for each according to his works. And he left behind for us these remembrances of his salvific suffering, which we have set forth before you, according to his commandments. For, being about to go to his voluntary, famed, and life-giving death, on the night in which he was handing himself over on behalf of the life of the world, taking bread in his holy and undefiled hands, and showing forth to you the God and Father, giving thanks, blessing, consecrating, breaking:

He gave to his holy Disciples and Apostles, saying: Take, eat. This is my Body, which is broken on behalf of you unto forgiveness of sins. Amen (Let it be).

In the same way, taking the cup of the fruit of the vine, mingling, giving thanks, blessing, consecrating:

He gave to his holy Disciples and Apostles, saying: Drink out of this, everybody. This is my Blood, which is of the New Covenent, which, on behalf of you and many, (is) poured out unto forgiveness of sins. Amen (Let it be).

Do this unto me for remembrance: for as often as you are eating this Bread, and drinking this Cup, you proclaim my death, you profess my resurrection. Remembering then, Master, his salvific Sufferings, his life-giving Cross, his three-day Burial, his Resurrection from the dead, his Ascension into the heavens, his sitting at the right hand of the God and Father, and his glorious and fearful second Advent:

We offer to you Your (things) of Your (things), on behalf of all (things) and through all (things).


In general, this text is an exercise in tracking participles. As you can see from the English, it’s really hard to figure out what goes with what when you don’t have inflection (that is, agreement in gender, number, and case) to tell you. It also demonstrates very clearly the Greek preference for participles over finite verbs, and how, in a cleaned-up English translation, participles would need to be re-spun into finite verbs that have relative pronouns as their subjects and objects in order to aid understanding. (I would do that here, except that I still have the voice of my first Greek teacher in my head telling me, “Translate what it says, not what you think it means” and “That’s an English problem, not a Greek problem”.)

There are three words in this text which you won’t find in BDAG, and then there are some variants with which BDAG won’t help much, either. σαρκωθείς, as I noted earlier, is found in Sophocles; ἀοίδιμον and ἀχράντων you will find in the “Middle Liddell”. Also, κρίσει, despite looking like an Attic dual, is a dative singular, thus identical in meaning to κρίσῃ. Similarly,  ἀπάγαυσμα is the same as ἀπαύγασμα, which is how the word is spelled in Hebrews 1:3. I don’t know enough to be certain if these are just common Byzantine variants or what; that’s my assumption, but somebody who actually knows what they are doing with Byzantine Greek hopefully can chime in here.

φιλάνθρωπε — translating this as “philanthropic” seemed to me to a) be a cop-out b) not really have the meaning in English that it does in Greek. Translating it as “man-loving” would be literally correct, but also not quite have the right connotation in English. BDAG gives “benevolent” as a possibility, so I went with it.

καὶ ὅσιος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔργοις σου — in this entire, very long, sentence, if we see a nominative masculine singular noun, adjective, or participle, and we can’t otherwise figure out how to make sense of it, we can see if it makes any sense if we pick up the εἶ from the beginning, adding “are you”. That works here, giving us “and devout are you in all your works” instead of the less-clear “and devout in all your works”. Since there’s only one thing something nominative, masculine, and singular could possibly agree with here, it makes sense anyway, but this helps to solve “the English problem”.

νεκρωθέντα τε τοῖς οἰκείοις αὐτοῦ παραπτώμασιν — I have yet to see an English transation which picks up τε τοῖς οἰκείοις at all, and I’m not sure why this is. I have taken it as a dative of accompaniment.

Ἀγγέλους ἐπέστησας φύλακας — the Antiochian translation says “thou didst appoint guardian angels,” which gets across the meaning, but φύλακας is properly a noun rather than an adjective, and given that it is separated from Ἀγγέλους, I have taken this as a double accusative — to appoint somebody (as) something. The translation on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website also reads it this way.

καὶ κατελθὼν διὰ τοῦ Σταυροῦ εἰς τόν, ᾍδην, ἵνα πληρώσῃ ἑαυτοῦ τὰ πάντα, ἔλυσε τάς ὀδύνας τοῦ θανάτου, καὶ ἀναστὰς τῇ  τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ, καὶ ὁδοποιήσας πάσῃ σαρκὶ τὴν  ἐκ νεκρῶν Ἀνάστασιν — this is very interesting, because the text doesn’t use a dative of means to describe how Christ descends into Hades, but rather uses διὰ + gen., which literally means “through”, similar to Latin via. I assume this is so that there is poetic resonance with ὁδοποιήσας πάσῃ σαρκὶ τὴν  ἐκ νεκρῶν Ἀνάστασιν, “making a path for all flesh (of) the Resurrection from the dead”. Do note that, as with the Paschal apolytikion, it is not “from the dead” as from death as a stateνεκρῶν here is plural. Christ is risen from the place where all the dead people are.

ἀοίδιμον — the Antiochian and GOArch translation uses “ever-memorable”; the word is not to be found in either BDAG or Sophocles, but Liddell & Scott gives “sung of, famous in song or story”. I have thus gone with “famed” as something which is equivalent in meaning but doesn’t weigh down the translation.

τῇ  νυκτί, ᾗ παρεδίδου ἑαυτὸν — παρεδίδου is imperfect indicative active, meaning that Christ was handing himself over on a progressive and/or repeated basis. This is interesting; it suggests that during the whole night he was having to yield himself up, not just when he allowed himself to be arrested.

Tοῦτό μού ἐστι τὸ Σῶμα…Τοῦτό ἐστι τὸ Αἷμα μου — 1 Cor 11:24. Ah, the big doctrinal question — and it depends on what your definition of “is” is, doesn’t it? Given that I belong to a Communion which proclaims the Real Presence in the Eucharist, my definition of “is” should be obvious, but besides that, I will point out that given that Greek doesn’t require the verb “to be” to express a predicate, the presence of the verb “to be” as well as a demonstrative pronoun come across very much as, “No, really, I’m serious, this actually is my Body and Blood.” Yes, fine, go ahead and trot out John 10:9, ἐγὼ εἰμι ἡ θύρα, but that fits in with the very specific Old Testament reference of “I AM”. There’s no corresponding “THERE IS” so far as I know.

Τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν  ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν· ὁσάκις γὰρ ἂν ἐσθίητε τὸν Ἄρτον τοῦτον, καὶ τὸ Ποτήριον τοῦτο πίνητε — ποιεῖτε is a present imperative; that is, rather than “do this once,” which would be an aorist imperative, it’s more like “be doing this continuously”. Additionally, the syntax of ἐσθίητε and πίνητε is that is present to show progressive/repeated aspect, subjunctive because it is in a present general temporal clause, showing simultaneous action (I think — I am assuming that ὁσάκις ἂν works the same way as ὅταν, a supposition which I believe to be backed up by Smythe’s Greek Grammar, 2383.A). This is simply a quote of 1 Cor 11:25-6, but given that the Greek makes very clear that the eating of this bread and drinking of this cup takes place on a continuous basis, it is unclear to me how one might argue that the celebration of the Eucharist as an ongoing liturgical act is unscriptural.

Μεμνημένοι — BDAG gives μέμνημαι as the perfect indicative active principal part of μιμνῄσκομαι, but also notes that is present in meaning. Thus, I translate it here as “remembering” (as the GOArch translation does) instead of “having remembered” (as the Antiochian translation does).

I invite questions, corrections, discussion, or feedback otherwise.

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