An Irish Welcome

Céad Míle Fáilte friend and rover ...
Wherever you come from and whosoever you may be.
That's an Irish greeting and it means

you are welcome
a thousand times over.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We honour your birth, O Christ!

I have a friend from my youth who has developed into a rare theological talent; one not just of the intellect but from his heart. Today, he posted the following note on his Facebook page. The thoughts are entirely his own and inspired by the Holy Spirit ... too perfect not to share on this Eve of the Nativity. Forgive me for those of you who are not aware of the Greek language.

The Mystery of the Incarnation

The following is an hymn from the Ninth Hour for the Feast of the Nativity:

Σήμερον γεννᾶται ἐκ Παρθένου, ὁ δρακὶ τὴν πᾶσαν ἔχων κτίσιν.
Ῥάκει καθάπερ βροτὸς σπαργανοῦται, ὁ τῇ οὐσίᾳ ἀναφής.
Θεὸς ἐν φάτνῃ ἀνακλίνεται, ὁ στερεώσας τοὺς οὐρανούς πάλαι κατ' ἀρχάς.
Ἐκ μαζῶν γάλα τρέφεται, ὁ ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Μάννα ὀμβρίσας τῷ Λαῷ.
Μάγους προσκαλεῖται, ὁ Νυμφίος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας.
Δῶρα τούτων αἴρει, ὁ Υἱὸς τῆς Παρθένου.
Προσκυνοῦμέν σου τὴν Γένναν Χριστέ.
Δεῖξον ἡμῖν καὶ τὰ θεῖά σου Θεοφάνεια.
It is linked closely to the 15th Antiphon of Holy Friday Matins (sung on Holy Thursday evening) and again during the Ninth Hour of Holy Friday.

Σήμερον κρεμᾶται ἐπὶ ξύλου, ὁ ἐν ὕδασι τὴν γῆν κρεμάσας.
Στέφανον ἐξ ἀκανθῶν περιτίθεται, ὁ τῶν Ἀγγέλων Βασιλεύς.
Ψευδῆ πορφύραν περιβάλλεται, ὁ περιβάλλων τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐν νεφέλαις.
Ῥάπισμα κατεδέξατο, ὁ ἐν Ἰορδάνῃ ἐλευθερώσας τὸν Ἀδάμ.
Ἥλοις προσηλώθη, ὁ Νυμφίος τῆς Ἐκκλησίας.
Λόγχῃ ἐκεντήθη, ὁ Υἱὸς τῆς Παρθένου.
Προσκυνοῦμέν σου τὰ Πάθη Χριστέ.
Δεῖξον ἡμῖν, καὶ τὴν ἔνδοξόν σου Ἀνάστασιν.
These similarities are not coincidental. The icon of the Feast of the Nativity is linked to, and combined with the icons of the Passion. Christ is depicted in a cave - just as He was placed in the cave for His burial. (Here one can also add the Virgin womb and birth and the corresponding newly hewn tomb into which no-one was ever buried.) Christ is wrapped in swaddling clothes - as a corpse and His Halo has the sign of the Cross.

As He gave His Body as food "for the life of the world" (John 6:51), He is laid in a manger as food. The whole mystery of the Incarnation therefore can only be grasped through the Cross, burial, and resurrection.

We honour your birth O Christ!


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