Category Archives: Saints

Akathist Hymn to the Martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus

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Kontakion 1

 Our Heavenly Father, we are not worthy of Thy holy martyrs who gladly endured torture rather than denounce Jesus Christ. Even so, lest the suffering of Christ Himself be in vain, we assemble as Christians and we praise Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina who lived in Antioch and who, with Saint Theoctistus, were martyred in Nicomedia in the year 304. Let us therefore bow our heads in veneration of those who sacrificed their lives for the sake of Jesus Christ, saying:

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Ikos 1

 Saint Cyprian, thou wert a pagan priest, having been a pupil of evil devices since a child and in accordance with thine upbringing. Thou wert able to call forth demons, cast spells, and inflict diseases. Thou even taughtest others how to do the same, spreading the ways of evil and devastating the lives of many. Mercifully, thou wert to be called forth to serve the True God as a true priest. We likewise ask for mercy that any deviances from our spiritual path might be straightened:

Have mercy, for many people today are deceived by evil practices of witchcraft and sorcery.

Have mercy, for the devil useth tricks and disguises to entrap and dominate both the ungodly and the Christian.

Have mercy, for Jesus Christ kneweth that the devil desired the downfall of the holy Apostle Peter.

Have mercy, for the enemy of mankind despised Saint Peter’s dedication to the Only Son of God.

Have mercy, for the holy Apostle Paul warned the Ephesians that we struggle against wicked principalities.

Have mercy, for the devil trieth to sway individuals and also entire communities for his evil purposes.

Have mercy, for Saint John Chrysostom said that Satan grieveth when a person is delivered from sin.

Have mercy, for only the repentant can enter the Kingdom of Heaven and enjoy eternal life.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 2

Saint Justina, thou wert also brought up in a pagan household, but thou becamest a Christian and then converted thy parents to the True Church. Young in years but strong in faith, thou didst devote thyself to a life of prayer. Thou didst continually crucify thine impure passions and desires, and lived virtuously for the sake of thy Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thine home became a sanctuary of unceasing worship, and everyone in it said: Alleluia!

Ikos 2

May the young find motivation in thy priorities, Saint Justina, and may the old find renewal in thy zeal. Like the Prophetess Anna, thou didst set aside all earthly matters and fervently prayed to God. Like Saint John the Forerunner, thou wert a messenger of the glad news within the wilderness of thy family. Thou art truly worthy of emulation, and we therefore offer thee these praises:

Have mercy, new convert to Christianity and a blessing to thy mother.

Have mercy, young follower of Jesus Christ and a revelation to thy father.

Have mercy, first in thine household to hear the Gospel and first to be martyred.

Have mercy, first in thy family to make the Sign of the Cross and first to repel the demons.

Have mercy, Christian in the city of Antioch and stranger to places of temptation.

Have mercy, worshipper in the Church of Christ and foreigner to temples of idols.

Have mercy, eager recipient of the glad news and deaf mute to evil murmurings.

Have mercy, golden vessel of the virtues and brick wall to unbefitting influences.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 3

In thy dedication to a life of prayer, Saint Justina, thou didst refuse a marriage proposal from a conceited young man who was attracted to thy beauty and the excellence of thy character. He deemed thee suitable to become his bride, not understanding that thine honorable conduct resulted from thy conversion to Christianity. It was the True Bridegroom of the True Faith Who had transformed thee into a fragrant flower of blessings. Therefore, in faithfulness to God’s calling, thou didst say: Alleluia!

Ikos 3

Everything is to be done according to the will of God and for the glory of God. Whether to marry or to live in solitary prayer: it is not a personal preference, but the calling of God upon His people and the distribution of His gifts. Let us thank God for sending us holy examples from all walks of life, as we bring forth praises to Saint Justina who was martyred for truth and because of love:

Have mercy, for the faithful continue to preserve thy memory from one generation to the next.

Have mercy, for the persecuted arise to sainthood from every manner of Christian living.

Have mercy, for a pure heart is the acceptable habitat of God’s love.

Have mercy, for God showeth no bias toward the social status of persons.

Have mercy, for the gifts of God are diverse and in accordance with His Wisdom and mercy.

Have mercy, for the martyrs prove that all Christians are to be righteous and faithful.

Have mercy, for abundant reward is given to all who do the will of God.

Have mercy, for Heaven awaiteth those who glorify Him here on earth.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 4

Saint Justina, the menacing young man insisted upon taking thee for his wife. Furious and spiteful, he went to a warlock and paid for a spell to be cast upon thee. That warlock was Saint Cyprian, who was renowned throughout Antioch for his knowledge of sorcery and his actual contact with the devil and hordes of demons. Thou wert to encounter vicious attacks, Saint Justina, but through prayer and fasting thou wouldst continue to say: Alleluia!

Ikos 4

Summoned by the sorcerer Cyprian, the forces of evil began attacking thee. The demons took on various disguises, and tried in different ways to distract thee from prayer and deposit thee into the arms of a scoundrel. Saint Justina, thou didst not surrender to any repressed desires or entertain romantic fantasies in thy mind, but made the Sign of the Cross upon each attack. Thou remainedst loyal to God’s calling and, as such, thou wert a formidable warrior in the face of terrible and cunning demons. For this reason, we reverently bring praises to you:

Have mercy, for we are surrounded by false images of pleasure and power in every facet of our daily living.

Have mercy, for we are admonished by foolish experts to be tolerant of moral deviations and all manner of evil.

Have mercy, for there are some who rewrite the Scriptures to suit their evil and unholy inclinations.

Have mercy, for there are others who dismiss the holy fathers and mothers in order to scatter and not to gather.

Have mercy, that our instinct may always be to rely upon God for help.

Have mercy, that our response may always be repentance and prayer.

Have mercy, that our purpose may always be to please God and serve Him.

Have mercy, that our disposition may always be humble and meek.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 5

Although thou wert the object of obsession and the target of attack, thou didst overcome all evil by making the Sign of the Cross. This sent the pagan priest Cyprian into a violent rage. He summoned the demons for more attacks – this time, attacking thy parents and relatives, as well as friends and neighbors. He afflicted them with diseases, including their animals, causing sorrow and lamentation. Saint Justina, thou wert also stricken horribly ill, but thou turnedst to the Psalms for comfort, and said: Alleluia!

Ikos 5

Finally, the entire city was afflicted with a plague. The people became angry with thee, Saint Justina, and demanded that thou shoudst marry the young man and satisfy his carnal desires. However, thou neither internalized their blame nor rejected their needs, but thou toldest them that the God of the Christians is sovereign over all the earth. Saint Justina, thou didst pray with all thy being, and the city was miraculously delivered from its misery. Many people then became Christians, for everyone saw the defeat of the sorcerer and the victory of prayer. It is therefore fitting that we sing praises to God’s wonderful saint:

Have mercy, for during all suffering thou didst remain centered in thy life of unceasing prayer.

Have mercy, for during all hardship thou didst never waver in thy dedication to Christ.

Have mercy, for while calamity invaded the city, thou didst remain focused on the authority of God.

Have mercy, for while destruction fell upon all living things, thou didst never succumb to Satan.

Have mercy, for thou leddest the people to the True God by thy powerful prayers.

Have mercy, for thou didst turn their grief into celebration.

Have mercy, for thou rosest from thy bed of sickness by thy faith.

Have mercy, for thou didst receive grace in every circumstance.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 6

Saint Cyprian, through the marvelous powers of the God of the Christians, and therefore through Saint Justina, thou wert able to observe and experience the inferiority of the devil and his devices. Yes, Saint Cyprian, thou thyself hadst been greatly deceived and cheated by the enemy of mankind. Upon the depletion of thy sorcery, thou didst criticize Satan to his face for his inability to win the spiritual war against Saint Justina. This was a turning point in thy life, for thou wouldst soon hasten to the True God, and thou wouldst say: Alleluia!

Ikos 6

Thou hadst lost all credibility in Antioch, and now the devil was enraged over thy confrontation of his fear of Jesus Christ and Saint Justina. The devil therefore leaped forward and tried to strangle thee to death. In desperation, and yet with clarity and conviction, thou didst cry out, “O God of Justina, make haste to help me.” The devil cowered, and thou madest the Sign of the Cross. The devil then retreated into darkness, and thou gavest thanks unto God for thy deliverance. Saint Cyprian, we also thank God for thee, and we offer these praises:

Have mercy, defeated in battle by the holy Saint Justina and triumphant over the forces of evil.

Have mercy, scorned by the city of Antioch and uplifted from the domain of darkness.

Have mercy, attacked by the enemy of mankind and delivered by the God of Saint Justina.

Have mercy, exhausted of evil curses and invigorated by the Sign of the Cross.

Have mercy, that we give no opening to Satan.

Have mercy, that we never have recourse to evil enchantments.

Have mercy, that we learn from the saints and martyrs.

Have mercy, that we trust only in the True God.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 7

In thy state of profound repentance, Saint Cyprian, thou didst gather up all thy books of sorcery and asked the bishop to burn them and to baptize you into the True Church. Although thou mettest with distrust, thine heartfelt weeping over thy sins convinced the bishop of thy sincerity. Thou were baptized, then ordained a true priest of the True God, and later becamest a bishop. Meanwhile, Saint Justina had entered a monastery. It was thy great honor to ordain her a deaconess, and then thou didst appoint her the abbess. In all things thou didst continually praise God, and said: Alleluia!

Ikos 7

Saint Cyprian, thy wondrous conversion and holy demeanor attracted many pagans to the Faith. Seeing these amazing events take place, the devil became envious. He provoked other pagans to falsely accuse thee and Saint Justina of misleading the people and subverting the government, and they demanded that both of you be executed. Yet, you continued to worship the God of the Christians, and we who are Christians therefore bring our supplications to you:

Have mercy, for the devil wageth war against Christians to this day.

Have mercy, for the evil one also trieth to obstruct the conversion of souls.

Have mercy, for there are devious people who manipulate our weaknesses.

Have mercy, for there are profane books and divers arts which entice the unguarded.

Have mercy, for the lust for power is in defiance of the sovereignty of God.

Have mercy, for the desire for fame is in opposition to the Christian virtues.

Have mercy, for we need to be reminded of our upward calling.

Have mercy, for we wish to be found holy in the sight of God.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 8

The governor of Antioch ordered Bishop Cyprian and Abbess Justina to be tortured. In their refusal to denounce Jesus Christ, the governor finally decided to kill them by plunging them into a cauldron of boiling water. The saints prayed fervently and, miraculously, were not harmed. A pagan priest arrogantly thought that he also could be submerged into the water without harm. Calling upon a pagan god to protect him, he hurled himself into the cauldron and was scalded to death. In wonderment at this vivid contrast between truth and falsehood, we all say: Alleluia!

Ikos 8

The governor of Antioch was stunned at the victory of Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina, and filled with fear over the failure of the pagan priest. He therefore senteth the saints to the governor of Nicomedia for the completion of their punishment. After years of interacting with each other, they were now to be martyred together. These true servants of Jesus Christ were then beheaded by the sword. Let us therefore lift our voices to Heaven where they dwell eternally:

Have mercy, martyrs of Nicomedia and citizens of Heaven.

Have mercy, knowers of truth and habitats of love.

Have mercy, resented by demons and venerated by the Church.

Have mercy, despised by pagans and admired by Christians.

Have mercy, united in Christ and fruitful in service.

Have mercy, joined in worship and generous in blessings.

Have mercy, members of the Body and bearers of the Cross.

Have mercy, friends of the saints and teachers of mankind.

Have mercy, holy martyrs Cyprian, Justina, and Theoctistus: for your love is undying.

Kontakion 9

There was a soldier, Theoctistus, who looked on as Saint Cyprian and Saint Justina were being tortured. Moved by their faithfulness and called forth by the True God, Theoctistus declared himself a Christian and was straightway martyred with them. Their bodies were left unattended for six days. Then, some unidentified Christians collected the bodies and transported them to Rome for burial. A kindly Roman woman called Rufina gave the three martyrs a proper Christian funeral. People then obtained healings at their gravesites, and we today also pray to be delivered from evil and strengthened in faith. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Closing Verse

Let us declare ourselves Christians: receiving the blessings, facing the consequences, and always trusting in the True God to lead us to spiritual victory.

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Praying for the Saints

calledtoholinessAs we conclude this Hallowmastide Triduum, a time when we’ve prayed with and for the dead, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the Communion of Saints, and the tripartite Church.

The earthly Church – called the Church Militant, is connected with two other assemblies: the Church Triumphant, and the Church Suffering. We on earth are Militant because we struggle against the evils of the archons in the world. The Church Triumphant consists of the liberated spirits in the Fullness (Pleroma), those blessed souls traditionally referred to as saints. Finally, the Church Suffering is made up of those souls and spirits who are neither in earthly embodiment, nor in the freedom of the Fullness, but in the purgatorial immaterial realms. Joined together, these three assemblies make up what is known as the Communion of Saints.

Today being All Souls’ Day, we devote the holy day particularly to praying for the dead. Yesterday, of course, we honored all the saints, both known and unknown. It occurred to me that while we often talk about praying to the saints – which in practice is really praying with the saints – we never talk much about praying for the saints.

This may strike some as strange – perhaps even wrong: praying for the saints. Why would saints need our prayers? As I often say, prayer is not bound by space and time. God applies our prayers exactly when and where they are needed. And so if we remember this, praying for the saints seems just as appropriate as praying for the dead – especially when you consider that some of the dead we may have prayed for today could actually be unrecognized saints who are not publicly known or venerated by the Church Militant.

By praying for the saints, our prayers may be strengthening the martyr 500 years ago, as he’s marched to his death for his faith. They may be providing grace to the young 3rd century consecrated virgin, whose pagan father wished to marry off for political and/or financial reasons. They may be offering courage the saint who, centuries ago, struggled with his faith or experienced a “dark night of the soul”. We never know how our prayers are used, but as three parts of One Church, we should all do our best to pray for each other. This is why, in my tradition, we hold annual Requiem Masses for the Holy Cathar Martyrs, as well as for the Holy Templar Martyrs. We pray for them, not only in whatever state of existence they may be in now, but also for their final moments of earthly life.

Hallowmastide, my favorite time of year, is perhaps the best time to emphasize the reality of the Communion of Saints. We are all part of the same Church – interior, invisible, secret, and universal; one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. It is important to pray for the departed, no matter who they are; and it is particularly important that just as we ask the saints to pray for us, we also have the piety and love to pray for them.

Blessed All Souls’ Day everyone!

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Hallowtide Triduum: Hallowe’en is Not the Devil’s Birthday

Evelyn_De_Morgan_-_Angel_of_DeathHallowtide is right around the corner, commencing with Hallowe’en on Saturday, All Saints’ Day on Sunday, and All Souls’ Day on Monday! As such, let’s take a look at the Hallowmas Triduum, beginning with the ever popular (and rather spooky) Hallowe’en.

Nowadays, many Christians (mainly of the fundamentalist/evangelical variety) view Hallowe’en as a satanic or pagan holiday, and encourage “Real True Christians” to avoid it altogether. And while it’s true that many of the secular customs associated with the holiday are rooted in European pagan and folk traditions, the truth is that Hallowe’en is just as firmly rooted in pious Christian tradition as any other holy day.

Hallowe’en” of course comes from “All Hallows’ Even” or “Eve”, which eventually got shortened to Hallow E’en. It is the eve of All Hallows’ Day, commencing at Vespers on the evening of October 31st. “Hallow” is an archaic English word meaning “holy” or “saint”, therefore it may also be called All Saints’ Eve. According to tradition, a day actually begins at sunset prior to the day we would recognize on the calendar. Major Holy Days (and Sundays) are assigned two Vespers offices — so, for example, Vespers I for Assumption Day would be prayed around sunset on August 14th, and Vespers II would be prayed at sunset on the 15th: both beginning and concluding the Holy Day. In the case of Hallowe’en, Christians would gather to pray in honor of the Saints, particularly for those who were not known or publically venerated by the Church with their own individual feast day. Prayers and Masses would continue into the next day, and even today, the Catholic Church recognizes the Solemnity of All Saints as a Holy Day of Obligation.

You might ask, how did All Saints’ Day end up on November 1? It was originally celebrated in honor of all the holy martyrs, known and unknown, on May 13. On this day, in 609 or 610 AD, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon of Rome to the Blessed Virgin Mary and all martyrs, and ordered an anniversary of the dedication. All Saints Day was eventually moved to November 1 during the reign of Pope Gregory III (731-741) to celebrate the foundation of the an oratory of St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs, confessors, or all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”, and the May 13th date feast suppressed.

This happened to fall on the Celtic holiday of Samhain (pronounced Sow-en), which had a similar theme to the Roman festival of Lemuria (when restless spirits were propitiated and the dead were honored), but the Celtic holiday was also a harvest festival. Even after conversion to Christianity, the Celtic customs remained popular. The belief that the dead could return on this night to haunt the living lead to the practice of carving jack-o-lanterns (originally out of turnips) and wearing costumes to trick the spirits into leaving the living alone. But the practice of praying still continued, both in Church and in the streets, and this is where the origin of trick-or-treating originated.

Christians would bake soul cakes in honor of the dead in Britain and Ireland throughout the Middle Ages, usually filled with allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, raisins, or currants. Before baking, these were marked with the sign of the cross to signify that they were alms. Children, widows, and beggars would go out “soulling”, that is ritually begging for cakes door to door, and reciting prayers for the dead. Each cake given represented a prayer.

All these traditions were brought over to America by Irish immigrants, and thus Hallowe’en became a popular holiday in the U.S.

In traditions that do not recognize the Saints, All Saints’ Day is generally ignored. If it is celebrated, it often celebrates all Christians — the living and the dead. These traditions also generally do not believe the praying for the dead is efficaceous, and therefore the following Holy Day dedicated to All Souls gets tossed out.

While All Saints’ Day and its Eve are dedicated to all the saints, both known and unknown, All Souls’ Day on November 2nd is focused on praying for the departed. We pray for the repose of our loved ones: the friends, family, mentors, and clergy who have passed on but are never forgotten. We also pray for those forgotten souls who have no one to pray for them. We visit cemeteries, leaving flowers and candles; and, hopefully, we remember our own mortality so that we can make the best of our lives here on earth.

Yes, I personally love all things spooky, and it’s fun to dress up for Hallowe’en. But for me, and many Christians Gnostic or otherwise, this three-day period is an important triduum in which we the Church Militant have the opportunity to pray with and for the Church Triumphant and the Church Suffering. As I always like to say, prayer is not limited by space and time, and the prayers we say today may be assisting a martyr as they’re lead to their death centuries in the past, or aiding someone on their death bed who has no one to be with them as they depart from this world and on to the next. We may not know how God chooses to apply our prayers, but we can be confident that through His mercy, our prayers are always effacaceous!

At this Hallowmas Triduum, I’d ask you to do four things: honor your patron saint or saints; honor in particular all the unknown saints; pray for your departed loved ones; and most importantly, say a prayer for all the forgotten souls who have no one to pray for them. You may use the following prayer, or improvise your own:

O merciful God, take pity on those souls who have no particular friends and intercessors to recommend them to Thee, who, either through negligence or through length of time are forgotten by their friends and by all. Remember them, O Lord, and remember Thine own mercy, when others forget to appeal to it. Let not one soul ever be parted from Thee; may they find repose in the Eternal Fullness, and may light perpetual shine upon them. Amen.

(The artwork is “The Angel of Death” by Evelyn De Morgan)

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Little Office of the Blessed Sophia

Little Office of the Blessed Sophia

If any of you are on Facebook, here’s the official Facebook page (because everything needs a Facebook page!) for The Little Office of the Blessed Sophia. Feel free to like it and share it, and check back often for updates. The Little Office should, God willing, be released this month. I also hope to make the page a place to share biographies of the saints commemorated in the Office, as well as various other Gnostic topics of interest.

https://www.facebook.com/LittleOfficeOfTheBlessedSophia

In imitation of the Divine Office and the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, this book of hours contains a daily cycle of prayer specifically for Gnostics, in honor of the Most Holy Sophia. Centered around the Odes of Solomon, rather than the Psalms of David, the five offices in this book also include various other prayers, canticles, hymns, and readings from scripture. Additionally, there are commemorations for over 100 feast days of saints, along with other major holy days. It’s my hope that this book will be something others can carry with them, and that it will aid them in their prayer lives.

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Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

 

Chaplet of St. John the Baptist

John_baptist_angel_of_desert

Today, being the commemoration of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, I thought it would be appropriate to share his chaplet. Little has been changed to this Catholic chaplet; however, as St. John is a particularly important figure to Gnostics – especially the Mandaeans – I thought this might be a good devotion for today.

The Chaplet of St. John the Baptist consists of 7 groups of 5 beads, with a larger bead separating each group. Hanging from this circle are 3 beads, and a St. John medal, usually depicting the Baptism of Christ in the Jordan.

1. On the medal, say:

℣. Incline unto my aid, O God;
℟. O Lord, make hast to help me.

℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
℟. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

2. On the first 3 beads after the medal, say:

I. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.” (Isaiah 40:1)
II. “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” (Isaiah 40:3)
III. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great day of the Lord: and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:5-6)

3. On the central medal, pray the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79):

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath come to His people and set them free;
And hath raised up a mighty salvation for us: in the house of His servant David;
As He spake by the mouth of His holy Prophets: which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies: and from the hand of all that hate us.
To perform the mercy promised to our forefathers: and to remember His holy Covenant;
To perform the oath which He swore to our forefather Abraham: that He would give us;
That we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies: might serve Him without fear;
In holiness and righteousness before Him: all the days of our life.
And thou, Child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Most High:
for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto His people: for the forgiveness of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God: whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death:
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

4. The First Mystery is announced (see below), followed by the Our Father:

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

5. For each group of five beads, say:

I. “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2)

II. “There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” (Mark 1:7-8)

III. “Behold, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29)

IV. “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. (John 3:29)

V. “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for each of the Mysteries.

7. Back on the central medal, say the closing prayer:

O Lord Christ, whose way was prepared by St. John the Baptist, grant that through his intercession, our hearts may be prepared for Thee. May he teach us to rejoice in Thy presence, and guide us to true repentance and humility, that we may become Thy true friends and disciples. Grant that we, like St. John, may be faithful witnesses to Thee and share Thy glory forever in the Fullness. Amen.

Mysteries of the Chaplet of St. John the Baptist

1. The Visitation: “And Elizabeth spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:42-44)

2. The Birth of John the Baptist: “Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. (Luke 1:57-58)

3. The Preaching of John: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:6-9)

4. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan: “Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me: The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’” (John 1:32-33)

5. St. John Sends the First Disciples to Jesus: “When the men were come unto him, they said, ‘John Baptist hath sent us unto Thee, saying, Art Thou He that should come, or look we for another?” (Luke 7:20)

6. The Temptation of St. John the Baptist: “Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, ‘What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written: Behold, I send my messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.’” (Matthew 11:7-10)

7. The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist: “And Salome came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, ‘I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist.’ And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her. And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison.” (Mark 6:25-26)

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Blessing of the Wine of St. John

ImageSt. John the Apostle is the disciple “whom Jesus loved”.  It is an old custom to drink of “St. John’s Love” by blessing wine on his feast day, December 27th.  According to legend St. John drank a glass of poisoned wine without suffering harm because he had blessed it before he drank. The wine is also a symbol of the great love of Christ that filled St. John’s heart with loyalty, courage, and enthusiasm for his Master; he alone of all the apostles was privileged to rest his head upon the breast of Christ and hear the beat of His heart.  As we drink this wine, may we too open our ears to the heart of the Logos, the beat of which resounds throughout the universe.

 St. John’s wine, blessed by a priest or sprinkled with holy water by the father of the family, is served with the main meal. In Europe, even the children receive a little sip of it after the main course of the dinner. The wine is then poured into glasses and passed around to the family and guests. As each glass is given, the leader says:  “I drink thee the love of St. John.”

The response to this is:  “I thank thee for the love of St. John.”

To begin the wine blessing, start by reciting Psalm 22 (23), followed by the Our Father and versicles.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

℣.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
℟.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Our Father, etc.

℣.  Our help is in the name of the Lord.
℟.  Who hath made heaven and earth.
℣.  The Lord be with you.
℟.  And with thy spirit.

Then the leader says the following prayer over the wine:

Let us pray.  Graciously bless and sanctify, O Lord God, this wine with Thy right hand, and grant that by the merits of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist, all who believe in Thee and partake of this wine may be blessed and protected. And as Saint John drank poison from a cup and was unharmed, so may all those who this day drink of this cup in his honor be preserved from all poisoning and from any harms whatever, and as they offer themselves to Thee in body and soul, may they be free from every fault. Through Christ our Lord.  ℟.  Amen.

Then the leader says:

 Bless +, O Lord, this drink which Thou hast created, that it may be a salutary remedy for all who partake of it, and grant that all who taste of it may, by invoking Thy holy name, receive health of both body and soul. Through Christ our Lord.  ℟.  Amen

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Commemoration of Giordano Bruno

On 17 February 1600, Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake during the Roman Catholic Inquisition, on charges of heresy.  He was found guilty of pantheism, a belief in the plurality of worlds, metempsychosis, and various other theories and beliefs considered contrary to the Catholic faith.  He, among many “heretics” persecuted by the exoteric church throughout history, kept the flame of the Gnosis alive by always seeking the Truth.  In honor of his most unfortunate death, here are some quotes from his writings, for your meditation on this somber day.

“Time is the father of truth, its mother is our mind.” –The Ash Wednesday Supper (1584)

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.” -quoted in Life and Teachings of Giordano Bruno (1913)

“The Divine Light is always in man, presenting itself to the senses and to the comprehension, but man rejects it.” -quoted in Life and Teachings of Giordano Bruno, (1913)

“They dispute not in order to find or even to seek Truth, but for victory, and to appear the more learned and strenuous upholders of a contrary opinion. Such persons should be avoided by all who have not a good breastplate of patience.” –On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1584)

“God is infinite, so His universe must be too. Thus is the excellence of God magnified and the greatness of His kingdom made manifest; He is glorified not in one, but in countless suns; not in a single earth, a single world, but in a thousand thousand, I say in an infinity of worlds.” –On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1584)

“We delight in one knowable thing, which comprehends all that is knowable; in one apprehensible, which draws together all that can be apprehended; in a single being that includes all, above all in the one which is itself the all.” –Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)

“I cleave the heavens and soar to the infinite.
And while I rise from my own globe to others
And penetrate ever further through the eternal field,
That which others saw from afar, I leave far behind me.”
On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (1584)

“Unless you make yourself equal to God, you cannot understand God: for the like is not intelligible save to the like. Make yourself grow to a greatness beyond measure, by a bound free yourself from the body; raise yourself above all time, become Eternity; then you will understand God. Believe that nothing is impossible for you, think yourself immortal and capable of understanding all, all arts, all sciences, the nature of every living being. Mount higher than the highest height; descend lower than the lowest depth. Draw into yourself all sensations of everything created, fire and water, dry and moist, imagining that you are everywhere, on earth, in the sea, in the sky, that you are not yet born, in the maternal womb, adolescent, old, dead, beyond death. If you embrace in your thought all things at once, times, places, substances, qualities, quantities, you may understand God. ” -quoted in Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1999)

“All things are in the Universe, and the universe is in all things: we in it, and it in us; in this way everything concurs in a perfect unity.” –Cause, Principle, and Unity (1584)

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