Cosmas and Damian

The Feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian

Two great saints of the East are celebrated today.  The physicians Cosmas and Damian.  The tradition that comes down to us records that they were twin brothers born in Arabia and were martyred by beheading in Syria during the great persecution of Diocletian on September 27, 303.  The ancient tradition also records that they were physicians and healers who accepted no money for their services and used their care of the sick as a prime way of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  A church was raised up over their burial site in Syria in the city of Cyrus by the emperor Justinian himself in the sixth century.  These twins were of high repute in the ancient Church as there was a church built for them in both Constantinople and in Rome while their names were inserted into the Roman Canon (now called Eucharistic Prayer I) of the Mass sometime around the fall of the Western Empire where they remain today.

Nine centuries after their martyrdom Saint Francis of Assisi would experience his call in the San Damiano church, named after one of the brothers.  Many of us keep the San Damiano crucifix in our homes perhaps without realizing the ancient roots of this thing

Saints Cosmas and Damian pray for the suffering Church in this world and for the tormented land of Syria where you were crowned with victory.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and for their salvation and for the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

America enters the Syrian civil war

The Feast of Saint Pius of Petrelcina (Padre Pio)

The United States of America and five Arab countries launched a wide ranging series of air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria from Aleppo to the Iraq border last night.  So the question now before us are as follows: has the United States recovered from the confusion it has suffered since its exit from Iraq in 2011?  Will, in six months time, the names of the Islamic State and the erstwhile successor of Muhammad the Caliph Ibrahim a.k.a. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi be relegated to mere historical oddities and footnotes.  Will Syria, the Middle East, and the world enjoy greater peace and prosperity as a result of this action?  We shall see.

syriastrike

The red circles indicate strike locations last night as reported by the US Department of Defense (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/world/middleeast/us-isis-syria.html?_r=0)

Only the Lord of history knows the answer to these questions.  Though I can say that in my life I have seen one or two US military operations begin with all sorts of flash and flare and high sounding promises and then descend into the muck and mud of chaos and confusion.  I remember watching live on television as ‘shock and awe’ descended on Baghdad on the night of March 21, 2003 with the high explosive power and pinpoint accuracy of American cruise missiles and satellite guided bombs that would obliterate one building and leave the structure standing next to it without a scratch.  One would have said that night that no one could ever stand up to United States’ military might and its awe inspiring technological supremacy.  Yet it was men who devised primitive explosives and hid them inside of donkey carcasses on the side of the road who unraveled all of the American plans for Iraq.

There is not much really to tell at this point.  The coming days and weeks will give us the answers, all in due time.  The advance of  the Islamic State toward the Syrian/Turkish border over the last week has sent a tidal wave of humanity across that border.  This undoubtedly helped to provoke the American attack on Syria.  The world today is not the same as the world of 2003 or the world of 1991 when the United States crushed Saddam Hussein’s army in southern Iraq and pushed it out of Kuwait.  Russia today strongly condemned the US action in Syria and as that country is making its presence felt more mightily in the international arena than at any time in the last thirty years its opinion can no longer just be ignored.

So after all the massive explosions and high flown rhetoric on television are done with the world still will have a mess on its hands.  An we shall see where that leads us.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

Meanwhile the Islamic State advances…

While presidents and prime ministers dither in Washington, London, Baghdad, Paris name your capital the Islamic State staged another advance and captured twenty one Kurdish villages in northern Syria along the Turkish border during the last forty eight hours.  The low casualty count among the Kurdish forces protecting the area, seven reported killed, is a likely indicator that whoever was supposed to be defending these villages simply ran away.

The rather confused Western response since June to the menace of the Islamic State is strange since the group/state (whatever they are) could easily have been defeated then and probably still could be now by a fraction of the power that the United States military is capable of bringing to bear.  But instead worry and doubt and confusion cloud the eyes of American and European leaders and their publics.  If one looks at history, especially Biblical history, one finds that at moments of great historical change a certain blindness overtakes those who are accounted powerful.  All of the sudden they just are not capable of doing what on paper they should be able to do with great ease.  It just isn’t in them anymore.  Strange, isn’t it?  Are we at one of those historical moments?  Time will tell.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.  And join the Rosary Confraternity!

The Vexilla Regis in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

The great ancient Latin hymn Vexilla Regis that exults in the Cross as the banner of Christ the King sung in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by the Magnificat Custody Choir at the close of the prayer service conducted by the Holy Father Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew:

 

 

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

The Pope and the Patriarch Part 2

The Holy Father Pope Francis met today with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew at the Papal Nuncio’s residence in Jerusalem.  The two then proceeded together and conducted a public prayer service at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, site of our Lord’s crucifixion, death, burial, and Resurrection.  The Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Constantinople both gave eloquent discourses on the need for unity, with the Patriarch giving a moving description that, (to paraphrase) no matter how much power the secular authorities think they have to shape the fortunes of man, history is ultimately and forever subject to the will of God.  He spoke as well of how the reunification of the ancient Church in the East and West in communion would be truly a “resurrection from the dead.”  The Holy Father prudently pointed out that divisions still remain, and that the role of the Bishop of Rome and the exercise of his “special ministry” would have to be agreed upon.  This remains an incredibly hopeful event.  This meeting of the heads of the Eastern and Western churches, along with the representatives of the ancient Oriental Orthodox churches, at the site of the empty tomb and together singing the praises of our Lord’s Resurrection is nothing to be sneezed at.  Deo gratias!

Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew embracing in the courtyard of the Church of the Sepulcher in Jerusalem on May 25, 2014 (Vatican Radio)

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Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and for the restoration of their ancient status as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome; for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

The World is Changing Part 2

Sorry for the long absence.  Imagine sitting in your house in a quiet town on a nice warm day in late spring and watching this:

 

 

From the village of Volnovakha, 12 miles south of Donetsk in the east of Ukraine.  Six months ago a scene like that would have seemed absurd to those sitting there watching it in the east of Ukraine and even six weeks ago it would have seemed highly unlikely.  The world can change and it can happen fast; history is replete with examples of human beings going to bed in one world so to speak and waking up in another that operates by far different rules.  Do not be attached to this world and all of its charms.  Do not love this world.  And never fall into the trap of worshiping this world.  The world that we live in, our so called advanced Western societies, our presently ludicrous way of life; it could all be gone tomorrow and very likely will be gone some day in the not too distant future.  Viglate et orate!  Pray and keep watch!

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome and for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.

The World Is Changing

The world is changing.  Russia’s annexation of Crimea is the first time since 1945 that the armies of a major world power have crossed an international border and seized territory with the intent of keeping that territory for itself.  A revolution in world affairs has just occurred; the passing shadow of this world that we have known for the entire life span of most of the people reading these words has ended.  Many are still putting their heads in the sand about this fact but doubtless it will not be too many more days, weeks, or months (I very much doubt that it will be years) before that is no longer an option.  The Western world’s morality sunk into the toilet two generations ago and is now flushing itself into the sewer, so it would be ridiculous to think that they could keep up their geopolitical domination of the planet in their present moral state.  The world is changing so we must pray.  Pray the Rosary every day.

Pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary on Monday for the See of Constantinople, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday for the See of Antioch, the Glorious Mysteries on Wednesday for the See of Jerusalem, the Luminous Mysteries on Thursday for the See of Alexandria, and the Sorrowful Mysteries on Friday for the See of Carthage; for their liberty and their salvation and the restoration of their ancient position as pillars of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church in communion with the See of Peter in Rome and for the conversion of the Jewish people and the conversion of the Muslim peoples.