Monday, June 2, 2008

The Αἴτησις - III

Today is a public holiday - Foundation Day, commemorating the establishment of the Swan River Colony in 1829 by Lt-Governor James Stirling; he himself instituted the keeping the anniversary, as a means to unite settlers and natives, masters and servants! The Parmelia, carrying Stirling and another 67 first settlers, sighted the coast on this day. However, Captain Charles Fremantle had claimed what is now Western Australia for King George IV of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on the 25th of April (now ANZAC Day), while Stirling proclaimed the colony in an official ceremony on the 11th of June. Nowadays, the State has two million inhabitants...

Today, for me, has been a lazy day again: I regard a long weekend as a chance to keep a triduum devoted to sacred leisure! I must get on and say the rest of the Office - only Lauds, Prime, and Terce, so far... at least I made it to Confession, always a blessing.

The good parishioners of the Latin Mass community have been busy with a working bee at our new-church-to-be, St Anne's, earlier on; I dropped by in the afternoon, and did some small jobs for Fr Rowe, and ended up feeding him some dinner here at my place, since I don't live far from St Anne's. There still remains a lot of work to do: the sanctuary isn't far off, but the high altar still needs to be installed, and so much else must be done.

But now for more about the Litany of Supplication (Αἴτησις): it appears, from the Apostolic Constitutions, and more proximately from the homilies of St John Chrysostom on the second Epistle to the Corinthians, that the petitions of this synapte were originally prayed by the catechumens immediately before their dismissal, hence the prayer for angelic aid (which otherwise seems inappropriate to the time of the Liturgy, when the faithful remain in God's presence and protection, offering up and receiving the Sacrifice of Christ) -

St John Chrysostom, Homilies on II Corinthians, Homily 2, 10 (commenting on II Cor. i, 10-11)

... After all this [the preceding petitions of the special Litany for the Catechumens], he [the deacon] bids them [the catechumens] stand up during what follows. For having before cast them to the ground, when they have asked what they have asked and have been filled with confidence, now the word given raises them up, and bids them during what follows engage for themselves also in supplication to God. For part we say ourselves, and part we permit them to say, now opening unto them the door of prayer, (exactly as we first teach children [what to say], and then bid them say it of themselves,) saying, “Pray ye, Catechumens, for the angel of peace;” for there is an angel that punishes, as when He says, “A band of evil angels,” [Psalm 78:49] there is that destroys. Wherefore we bid them ask for the angel of peace, teaching them to seek that which is the bond of all good things, peace; so that they may be delivered from all fightings, all wars, all seditions. “That all that is before you may be peaceful;” for even if a thing be burdensome, if a man have peace, it is light. Wherefore Christ also said, “My peace I give unto you” [John 14:27] for the devil has no weapon so strong as fighting, and enmity, and war. “Pray that this day and all the days of your life be full of peace.” Do you see how he again insists that the whole life be passed in virtue? “That your ends be Christian;” [“For] your highest good, the honorable and the expedient[”]; for what is not honorable is not expedient either. For our idea of the nature of expediency is different from that of the many. “Commend yourselves to the living God and to His Christ;” for as yet we trust them not to pray for others, but it is sufficient to be able to pray for themselves. ...

Apostolic Constitutions VIII, 6:

[After the faithful pray for them, the deacon exclaims:] …Rise up, you catechumens, beg for yourselves the peace of God through His Christ, a peaceable day, and free from sin, and the like for the whole time of your life, and your Christian ends of it; a compassionate and merciful God; and the forgiveness of your transgressions. Dedicate yourselves to the only unbegotten God, through His Christ. ...

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