Lenten Reflection – 27 February 2018 – Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent, Year B and the Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

Lenten Reflection – 27 February 2018 – Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent, Year B and the Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

Isaiah 1:10, 16-20, Psalms 50:8-9, 16-17, 21, 23, Matthew 23:1-12

Isaiah 1:10 – Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
Psalm 50:8-9 – I do not reprove you for your sacrifices;
your burnt offerings are continually before me.
I will accept no bull from your house,
nor he-goat from your folds.
Matthew 23:2-3 – “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice…
All their actions are done to be seen by others, for they broaden their CLERICAL COLLARS and lengthen their CHASUBLES.”tuesday of the second week - 27 feb 2018

God often works by shocking us (otherwise we should drift into comfortable complacency).   Today’s readings are very shocking indeed.
First of all you have Isaiah calling the religious leaders of his time and place “rulers of Sodom” and his compatriots, ‘peoples of Gomorrah” and as they digest this he bellows at them:  “Wash! Make yourselves clean!” and reminds them – that is us of course, of how much they have got wrong and how much they have still to put right.
But there is hope, nevertheless, ‘come now, let us reason together’, says God disarmingly.

And the Psalm today offers another shock.   Suddenly, it is the sacrificial system that is thrown into doubt.   God is apparently bored by all these sacrifices – unless they are accompanied by internal reform, they are of not value.   And this Lent, the same applies to all of us, of course!

Finally, the Gospel brings yet another shock, as Jesus lays into the Pharisees and scribes. Now, we must be beware of nodding wisely as we listen and saying ‘quite right Jesus, they had it coming to them’, for the scribes and the Pharisees are you and me, anyone who exercises any kind of Christian leadership and so ‘I have translated the word ‘phylactery’ as ‘clerical collar’ and ‘hem’ as ‘chasuble’.   For all these criticisms can be laid against us all and this Lent we need to look closely at this fact!   (Fr Nicholas King S.J. – Daily Meditations for Lent)

Our task, by contrast, is to ‘humble ourselves’ as Jesus did in the awfulness of the Cross and from that plight it is possible for God to rescue us.

Sometimes we need to be reminded of our failings in order to start that turn back toward God. Many of us are unaware that we are in the pig pen like the prodigal before he realised his state and sought his father’s house.

Where in my life could I be more humble?
Where do I seek recognition, honour or positions of power, perhaps to the detriment of my neighbour?
Has power gone to my head?


“We can only find our happiness on earth in loving God and we can only love Him in prayer to Him.   We see that Jesus Christ, to encourage us often to have recourse to Him through prayer, promises never to refuse us anything if we pray for it as we should.   But there is no need to go looking for elaborate and roundabout ways of showing you that we should pray often, for you have only to open your catechism and you will see there that the duty of every good Christian is to pray morning and evening and often during the day — that is to say, always….

Which of us, my dear brethren, could, without tears of compassion, listen to those poor Christians who dare to say that they have not time to pray?   You have not the time!   Poor blind creatures, which is the more precious action:  to strive to please God and to save your soul, or to go out to feed your animals in the stable or to call your children or your servants in order to send them out to till the earth or to tidy up the stable?   Dear God!   How blind man is! …. You have not the time!   But tell me, ungrateful creatures, if God had called you to die that night, would you have exerted yourselves?   If He had sent you three or four months of illness, would you have exerted yourselves?   Go away, you miserable creatures;  you deserve to have God abandon you in your blindness and leave you thus to perish.   We find that it is too much to give Him a few minutes to thank Him for the graces which He is giving us at every instant! ….

You must get on with your work, you say.

That, my dear people, is where you are greatly mistaken.  You have no other work to do except to please God and to save your souls.   All the rest is not your work.   If you do not do it, others will, but if you lose your soul, who will save it?”

St John Vianney (1786-1859)

And now, my heavy laden soul,
what will you do?
You call with your lips and voice to
God most high,
God, who cares only for deeds and
is not taken in by words.
You, my soul, with a heart always turned toward Egypt,
how can I describe you?

Am I
a Sodom, to be punished likewise with destruction, 
or the prosecutor of Ninevah, who was struck dumb? 

Am I
more cowardly and barbarous than the
queen of the south, 
lower than Canaan, 
more stubborn than Amalek,
incurable as the city of idols, 
a relic left behind from the rebellion of Israel,
a reminder of the broken covenant of Judah, 
more reproachable than Tyre, 
more shunned than Zidon, 
more immoral than Galilee,
more unpardonable than faithless Capernaum,
maligned like Korazin, 
slandered like Bethsaida? 

Or am I
immodest as Ephraim as he grayed,
or a dove, whose gentleness seems due to
feeblemindedness and not to inner calm, 
or an evil serpent born of lion’s cubs,
or the serpent’s egg filled with decay,
or like the last blow against Jerusalem?

Or am I
in the words of our Lord
and the sayings of the prophets,
an abandoned tabernacle about to collapse,
the unlatched doors of the stronghold,
my speaking edifice stained again,
having given up my rightful inheritance,
my home built by God,
as Moses, David and Jeremiah prophesied?  
My thinking body now consumed by disease,
afflicted with carping counsel, rehabilitated by the law,
anointed with the clay of mildness,
incapable of finding my own salvation,
torn away from the maker’s hand,
expelled as just punishment
by order of the Almighty, to an unholy place,
rejected, exiled, greatly shunned, nothing spared,
having buried my gift in the ground, 
like the one chastised in the Gospel by
losing his inheritance.

But you, God,
Lord of souls and all flesh,
in the words of one divinely graced, 
You are long-suffering and abounding in mercy.
In the voice of blessed Jonah,
grant that I finish to Your delight
this book of prayers, now begun.
And having sown these words with tears
and set forth on this journey toward the dwellings You have prepared,
may I return joyfully in the time of harvest
with the bounty of atonement,
with sheaves of goodness and the fruits of delight.

St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Churchbut you God - st gregory of narek - 27 feb 2018


Thought for the Day – 27 February – The Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church and Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent, Year B 2018

Thought for the Day – 27 February – The Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church and Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent, Year B 2018

We welcome you, St Gregory of Narek, as our newest Doctor of the Universal Church, with gratitude and joy!
Gregory’s Book of Lamentations was the source of consolation and guidance for generations in times of immense suffering. His monastery survived for a thousand years but was destroyed by the Turks during the genocide.
Armenians lost Narek but they still have the book they call by that name “Narek”, in his honour and many Armenians have traditionally slept with a copy of the work under their pillows.
The words of Gregory, too, are consonant with Pope Francis’ call on all Catholics to reach out to God in our brokenness with humble and contrite hearts.
Perhaps we should allow St Gregory to help us through our Lenten journey this year?
As Gregory wrote in the Lamentations, “Hear the prayers of my embattled heart for mercy, when I cry out to you, ‘Lord,’ in my time of need.”

St Gregory of Narek- Doctor of the Universal Church, pray for us!st-gregory-of-narek-pray-for-us-27 feb march 2018.3

All you Holy Martyrs and Saints of Armenia, pray for us!armenian-martyrs-ico-pray-for-us-27 feb 2017


Quote of the Day – 27 February – The Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

Quote of the Day – 27 February – The Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

“You found me,
a sinner,
lost in darkness
crying like
the psalmist in prayer,
and because of
Your willing care
you were called Shepherd,
for not only
did You care
but You sought,
not only did You find,
O worker of miracles
but with the goodness
of Your love,
a love that
defies description,
You rescued me,
lifting me upon
Your shoulders,
to set me down alongside
Your heavenly army,
the heirs to
Your fatherly legacy. ”

St Gregory of Narek (Book of Lamentations)you found me a sinner - st gregory of narek - 27 feb 2018


One Minute Reflection – 27 February – The Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

One Minute Reflection – 27 February – The Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken…“…Matthew 12:36.

REFLECTION – “But so that I do not become tedious and long-winded, let me compress my words, words I say echoing the blessed David in his inspired voice, “I seek you with all my heart.”…St Gregory of Narekbut so that i do not become tedious - st gregory of narek - 27 feb 2018

PRAYER – God of goodness, teach us Your ways.   Do not let us waste a moment in futile and worthless words and deeds but help us to seek and to find You.   Grant that by the prayers of St Gregory, we may follow the steps of Your Son, so that we may be found worthy to stand with him and with all the saints, praising You with our hearts and words, gregory of narek pray for us - 27 feb 2018

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, MORNING Prayers, PRAYERS of the SAINTS

Our Morning Offering – 27 February – The Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

Our Morning Offering – 27 February – The Memorial of St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

I Long Not so Much for the Gifts as for the Giver
By St Gregory of Narek (950-1003)

I long not so much for the gifts
as for the Giver.
I yearn not so much for the glory
as the Glorified.
I burn not so much with the desire for life
as in memory of the Giver of Life.
I sigh not so much with the rapture of splendour
as with the heartfelt fervour for its Maker.
I seek not so much for rest
as for the Face of our Comforter.
I pine not so much for the bridal feast
as for the distress of the Groom,
through whose strength I wait with certain
expectation believing with unwavering hope
that in spite of the weight of my transgressions
I shall be saved by the Lord’s mighty hand and
that I will not only receive remission of sins
but that I will see the Lord Himself
in His mercy and compassion.l long not so much for the gift but for the giver - st gregory of narek - 27 feb 2018

Posted in DOCTORS of the Church, ON the SAINTS, SAINT of the DAY

Saint of Day – 27 February – St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

Saint of Day – 27 February – St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church – Armenian monk, poet, mystical philosopher, theologian, writer and saint of the Armenian Apostolic Church and Catholic Church, born into a family of writers.   Based in the monastery of Narek (Narekavank), he was “Armenia’s first great poet”and as “the watchful angel in human form”.header - st gregory of narek

Born circa 950 to a family of scholarly churchmen, St Gregory entered Narek Monastery on the south-east shore of Lake Van at a young age.   Shortly before the first millennium of Christianity, Narek Monastery was a thriving centre of learning.   These were the relatively quiet, creative times before the Turkic and Mongol invasions that changed Armenian life forever.   Armenia was experiencing a renaissance in literature, painting, architecture and theology, of which St Gregory was a leading figure.   The Prayer Book is the work of his mature years.  He called it his last testament:  “its letters like my body, its message like my soul.”    His best-known writings include a commentary on the Song of Songs and his “Book of Lamentations,” more commonly known as “Narek.”   St Gregory left this world in 1003 but his voice continues to speak to us for all earthly time.

st gregory of narek portrait

Pope Francis named the tenth century Armenian monk, St Gregory Narek, the 36th Doctor of the Church on 21 Feb 2015.   I love the writing of St Gregory!   He’s a poet to the core and demonstrated amply, like the Hebrew prophets, that beauty is the truest form of divine discourse.  Many of his theological and mystical-ascetical works are written as a colloquy — a dialogue with God — as was St Augustine’s autobiography, the Confessions. Theological colloquy offers such a deep insight into the nature of theological discourse which must always be, in the first instance, a dialogue with the revealing God Himself. God reveals to us not mere data for speculative consideration but Himself for consummating union.

And, true to Pope Francis’ pastoral style, this doctor is chosen from the “margins” of the suffering church. (Incidentally, in 2012 Pope Benedict named a “marginal” medieval woman as Doctor of the Church, the twelfth century Abbess Saint Hildegard of Bingen.  A genius.   Sadly, so little fuss was made subsequently.

The Armenian Apostolic Church (great documentary here), that traces its origins back to the first century, has a rich monastic, liturgical and theological tradition and a rich history of saints and culture.   But Armenian Christians also have a long history of oppression, climaxing in the horrors of the “Armenian Holocaust” genocide of 1915, carried out by the Ottoman Turks who slaughtered more than one million Armenian Christians.

The Armenian Divine Liturgy is magnificent in its poetry, sense of mystery, and theological depth. One of the most cherished hymns of the Liturgy is called Khorhoort Khoreen, “O Mystery Deep.” (Dr Tom Neal)

O Mystery deep, inscrutable, without beginning.   Thou hast decked Thy supernatural realm as a chamber unto the light unapproachable and hast adorned with splendid glory the ranks of Thy fiery spirits.

lovely - st gregory of narek artwork

St Gregory has shown up a couple of times in Magisterial writings.   The Catechism of the Catholic Church, for instance, contains a reference to him:

Medieval piety in the West developed the prayer of the rosary as a popular substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours. In the East, the litany called the Akathistos and the Paraclesis remained closer to the choral office in the Byzantine churches, while the Armenian, Coptic, and Syriac traditions preferred popular hymns and songs to the Mother of God. But in the Ave Maria, the theotokia, the hymns of St Ephrem or St Gregory of Narek, the tradition of prayer is basically the same. (§2678)

St Pope John Paul II also referred to him in his encyclical, Redemptoris Mater:

In his panegyric of the Theotokos, Saint Gregory of Narek, one of the outstanding glories of Armenia, with powerful poetic inspiration ponders the different aspects of the mystery of the Incarnation, and each of them is for him an occasion to sing and extol the extraordinary dignity and magnificent beauty of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Word made flesh.

st gregory of narek mosaic

With the formation of the Armenian Catholic Church St Gregory received his first liturgical veneration within the Catholic Church.   He has not been officially canonised by the pope.   Some have speculated that the declaration of Gregory as a Doctor of the Church might have served as an equipollent canonization (see more on this below). Others have simply stated that the recognition of the Armenian liturgy and liturgical calendar by the Catholic Church served as a confirmation of the cultus of saints in that rite.   Though it appears that he was placed in the Roman Martyrology, prior to the declaration on 12 April 2015.

St. Gregory’s proclamation as a Doctor of the Church was commemorated by the Vatican City state with a postage stamp issued 2 September 2015.Minifoglio

Equipollent or equivalent canonisation

It should be noted that when Pope Benedict XVI declared St. Hildegard von Bingen as a Doctor of Church he used the process of equipollent or equivalent canonisation, as she also had not been formally canonised.   Even St Albert the Great was canonised in this fashion when he was declared a doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI.   Pope Benedict used this process of canonisation a few other times and Pope Francis has also done so.

‘When there is strong devotion among the faithful toward holy men and women who have not been canonised, the Pope can choose to authorise their veneration as saints without going through that whole process. … This is often done when the saints lived so long ago that fulfilling all the requirements of canonisation would be exceedingly difficult.’

Posted in SAINT of the DAY

Memorials of the Saints – 27 February

St Abundius of Rome
St Alexander of Rome
St Alnoth
St Anne Line
St Antigonus of Rome
St Baldomerus of Saint Just
St Basilios of Constantinople
St Comgan
St Emmanuel of Cremona
St Fortunatus of Rome
St Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows/Gabriel Possenti
St Gregory of Narek (950-1003) – Doctor of the Church

St Herefrith of Lindsey
St Honorina
St John of Gorze
Bl Josep Tous Soler
St Luke of Messina
Bl Maria Caridad Brader
Bl Mark Barkworth
St Procopius of Decapolis
Bl Roger Filcock
St Thalilaeus
Bl William Richardson

Martyrs of Alexandria: –
Besas of Alexandria
Cronion Eunus
Julian of Alexandria