Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Paschal Canon in Syriac

The Syriac version of Saint John of Damascus' Paschal Canon below is on the basis of Sinai Syriac 71 (ca. 11th century), ff. 186r-189v. I have compared it with Sinai Syriac 4 (ca. 12th century), 51v- 55v and Sinai Syriac 77 (1237 AD), ff. 65v-70r. Variant readings from the latter two manuscripts are given in footnotes below the jump. Because they were written in red and are mostly illegible in the scan, I've left out the rubrics as well as the kontakion between odes 6 and 7. As is typical, the translation is very free. A good English translation from the Greek, with extensive notes can be found here in pdf. 

In both Sinai Syriac 71 and 4, the Paschal Troparion is abbreviated, but the full text is given in ms 77, f. 65r:



ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܡ ܡܢ ܒܝܬ ܡܝ̈ܬܐ ܘܒܡܘܬܗ ܕܫܗ ܠܡܘܬܐ ܘܩܛܠܗ ܘܠܡܝ̈ܬܐ ܕܒܓܘ ܩܒܪܐ ܝܗܒ ܚܝ̈ܐ ܘܐܩܝܡ ܐܢܘܢ


Translated literally, it reads:

Christ rose from the dead. By death He trampled death and killed it. To the dead in the tombs He gave life and raised them.



The Paschal Canon of Saint John of Damascus:


ܝܘܡܐ ܗܘ ܕܩܝܡܬܐ ܬܘ ܟܠ ܥܡ̈ܡܐ[1] ܢܦܪܓ[2] ܒܚܓܐ ܦܨܚܐ ܗܘ ܓܝܪ ܕܡܪܝܐ ܦܨܚܐ ܡܢ ܡܘܬܐ ܓܝܪ ܠܘܬ ܚܝ̈ܐ ܘܡܢ ܐܪܥܐ ܠܗ̇ ܠܫܡܝܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܐܠܗܐ ܠܟܘܠܢ ܒܢܘܚܡܗ ܐܥܒܪ ܟܕ ܫܘܒܚܐ ܕܙܟܘܬܐ ܡܝܒܒܝܢܢ܀


ܢܬܕܟܐ ܒܪ̈ܓܫܐ ܘܒܗܘܢܐ[3] ܘܢܬܒܩܐ ܒܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܢܘܗܪܐ ܠܐܡܬܩܪܒܢܐ ܕܩܝܡܬܐ ܡܛܠܩܬ ܠܚܒܠܐ ܕܡܨܡܚ ܗܕܝܪܐܝܬ ܘܫܠܡܐ[4] ܥܡܟܘܢ ܡܙܥܩ ܒܚܕܘܬܐ ܓܠܝܐܝܬ ܢܫܡܥ ܟܕ ܫܘܒܚܐ ܕܙܟܘܬܐ ܡܝܒܒܝܢ܀

ܫܡܝܐ ܕܠܥܠ ܥܡ ܟܠ ܕܒܗܘܢ ܙܕܩܐܝܬ ܢܚܕܘܢ ܬܪܘܙ ܕܝܢ[5] ܐܪܥܐ ܕܠܬܚܬ ܢܥܕܥܕ ܬܘܒ[6] ܥܠܡܐ ܘܢܚܓܐ ܡܬܚܙܝܢܐ ܐܟܚܕܐ ܥܡ ܠܐܡܬܚܙܝܢܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܓܝܪ ܩܡ ܘܐܬܢܚܡ ܙܟܘܬܐ ܫܪܝܪܬܐ ܕܠܥܠܡ܀

ܬܘ ܡܗܝ̈ܡܢܐ ܢܫܬܐ ܫܩܝܐ ܚܕܬܐ ܕܠܘ ܡܢ ܟܐܦܐ ܒܬܕܡܘܪܬܐ ܪܕܐ ܠܐܡܦܪܝܢܝܬܐ[7] ܐܠܐ ܡܥܝܢܐ ܕܠܐ ܚܒܠܐ ܕܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ ܐܬܡܛܪܬ ܥܠܝܢ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܕܒܗ ܟܘܠܢ ܡܬܥܫܢܝܢܢ܀

ܗܫܐ ܟܘܠܐ ܐܬܡܠܝ ܚܕܘܬܐ ܫܡܝܐ ܘܐܪܥܐ ܐܟܚܕܐ ܘܐܦ ܗܠܝܢ ܕܬܚܝܬ ܐܪܥܐ ܢܥܕܥܕ ܕܝܢ ܥܠܡܐ ܘܢܚܓܐ ܒܝܘܡ ܩܝܡܬܗ ܡܫܒܚܬܐ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܕܒܗ̇ ܟܘܠܢ[8] ܡܬܥܫܢܝܢܢ܀

ܐܬܡܠ ܥܡܟ ܡܨܛܠܒ ܗܘܝܬ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܘܐܟܚܕܐ ܩ̇ܐܡ ܐܢܐ ܝܘܡܢܐ ܒܩܝܡܬܐ ܕܝܠܟ ܥܡܟ ܡܬܩܒܪ ܗܘܝܬ ܐܬܡܠ ܐܫܘܢܝ ܡܪܝ ܕܐܦ ܥܡܟ ܐܫܬܒܚ ܒܡܠܟܘܬܟ ܫܡܝܢܝܬܐ܀

ܥܠ ܡܛܪܬܐ ܐܠܗܝܬܐ ܗܘ̇ ܡܡܠܠ ܟܗ̈ܢܝܬܐ ܚܒܩܘܩ ܢܩܘܡ ܗܫܐ ܥܡܢ ܘܢܚܘܐ ܠܢ ܡܠܐܟܐ ܡܥܛܦ ܢܘܗܪܐ ܕܬܩܝܦܐܝܬ ܡܙܥܩ ܟܕ ܐܡ̇ܪ ܝܘܡܢܐ ܦܘܪܩܢܐ ܠܟܠܗ ܥܠܡܐ ܡܛܠ ܕܩܡ ܠܗ ܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܓܢܒܪ ܥ̈ܠܡܐ܀

ܕܟܪܐ ܡ̇ܢ ܐܝܟ[9] ܐܝܢܐ ܕܦ̇ܬܚ ܡܪܒܥܐ ܗܘ̇[10] ܒܬܘܠܝܐ ܕܐܡܗ ܐܬܚܘܝ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܘܐܝܟ ܐܪܥܢܐ ܡܬܐܟܠܢܐ ܐܡܪܐ ܐܬܟܢܝ ܕܠܐ ܡܘܡ ܕܝܢ ܐܟܡܢ[11] ܕܠܐ ܛܥܡܗ̇ ܠܚܛܝܬܐ ܗܘ̇ ܦܨܚܐ ܚܝܐ ܕܝܠܢ ܘܐܝܟ ܐܠܗܐ ܫܪܝܪܐ 
 ܡܫܡܠܝܐ ܬܘܒ ܡܬܐܡܪ܀

 ܐܝܟ ܐܡܪܐ ܒܪ ܫܢܬܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܟܠܝܠܐ ܕܨܒܬܢ ܗܘ̇ ܕܡܒܪܟ ܟܠܝܠ ܫܢܬܐ ܒܪ̈ܚܡܘܗܝ ܨܒܝܢܐܝܬ ܐܬܕܒܚ ܚܠܦ ܟܠܗ ܥܠܡܐ ܦܨܚܐ ܚܝܐ ܘܡܕܟܝܢܐ ܘܬܘܒ ܡܢܕܪܝܫ ܒܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ ܐܠܗܝܬܐ ܡܢ ܓܘ ܩܒܪܐ ܐܬܢܚܡ ܫܡܫܐ ܕܙܕܝܩܘܬܐ܀

ܗܘ̇ ܐܒܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ[12] ܕܘܝܕ ܩܕܡ ܩܐܒܘܬܐ ܛܠܠܝܬܐ ܪܩ̇ܕ ܟܕ ܕ̇ܐܨ ܚܢܢ ܕܝܢ ܡܗܝ̈ܡܢܐ ܥܡܐ ܡܩܕܫܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ ܟܕ ܠܡܦܩܢܐ ܕܫܘܕܥܐ ܕܪ̈ܐܙܐ ܚܙܝܢܢ ܬܘ ܢܚܕܐ ܐܠܗܐܝܬ ܡܛܠ ܕܩܡ ܠܗ ܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܓܢܒܪ ܥ̈ܠܡܐ܀

ܡܗܝ̈ܡܢܐ ܢܩܕܡ ܒܫܦܪܐ ܥܡܝܩܐ ܘܚܠܦ ܗܪ̈ܘܡܐ ܬܫܒ̈ܚܬܐ ܪܘܚ̈ܢܝܬܐ ܠܡܪܢ ܢܩܪܒ ܘܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܢܚܙܐ ܒܗܘܢܐ ܫܡܫܐ ܪܒܐ ܕܙܕܝܩܘܬܐ ܕܚ̈ܝܐ ܚ̈ܕܬܐ ܡܕܢܚ ܥܠ ܥܠܡܐ܀

ܬܘ ܢܬܩܪܒ ܫܩ̈ܝܠܝ ܠܡܦ̈ܝܕܐ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܕܢܦܩ ܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ ܐܝܟ[13] ܕܠܚܬܢܐ[14] ܡܢ ܒܝܬ ܓܢܘܢܐ ܘܢܥܕܥܕ ܐܠܗܐܝܬ ܥܡ ܬܓ̈ܡܐ ܪ̈ܚܡܝ ܥ̈ܐܕܐ ܕܠܥܠ ܦܨܚܐ ܦܪܘܩܝܐ ܕܐܠܗܢ[15]܀

 ܪ̈ܚܡܐ ܫܦ̈ܝܥܐ ܠܟ ܕܠܐܡܬܬܟ̈ܝܠܝܢ ܡܝ̈ܬܐ ܕܐܚܝ̈ܕܝܢ ܒܐܣܘܪ̈ܐ ܩܫ̈ܝܐ ܕܫܝܘܠ ܟܕ ܚܙܘ ܒܐܬܪܗܘܢ ܠܘܬ ܢܘܗܪܐ ܐܣܬܪܗܒܘ ܗܘܘ ܒܪܓܠܐ ܕܡܩܝܙܐ ܘܢܩܫܘ ܟܦܐ ܦܨܚܐ ܕܠܥܠܡ܀

ܢܚܬܬ ܒܢܦܫܐ ܠܥܘܡ̈ܩܐ ܕܬܚ̈ܬܝܬܗ̇ ܕܐܪܥܐ ܘܬܒܪܬ ܣܘܟܪ̈ܐ ܐܦ ܡܘܟ̈ܠܐ ܐܚ̈ܘܕܝܗܘܢ ܕܡܢ ܥܠܡ ܕܐܣܝܪ̈ܐ[16] ܕܫܝܘܠ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܘܠܬ̈ܠܬܐ ܝܘ̈ܡܝܢ ܐܝܟ ܕܡܢ ܡܥ̈ܝ ܢܘܢܐ ܝܘܢܢ ܐܬܩܝ̣ܡܬ[17] ܡܢ ܓܘ ܩܒܪܐ܀

ܟܕ ܡܫܘ̈ܙܒܐ ܢܛܪܬ ܠܚܬܡ̈ܐ ܕܩܒܪܐ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܩܡܬ ܒܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ ܡܢ ܓܘܗ ܐܢܬ ܕܠܛܒ̈ܥܐ ܕܒܬܘܠܬܐ ܠܐ ܐܟܝܬ ܒܡܘܠܕܟ ܕܗܘܐ ܒܬܕܡܘܪܬܐ ܘܦܬܚܬ ܠܢ ܒܝܕ ܢܘܚܡܟ ܬܪ̈ܥܐ ܫܒܝ̈ܚܐ ܕܦܪܕܝܣܐ܀

ܦܪܘܩܝ ܕܝܠܝ ܗܘ̇ ܦܨܚܐ ܚܝܐ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܐܩܛܝܠܐ[18] ܐܝܟ ܐܠܗܐ ܨܒܝܢܐܝܬ ܟܕ ܩܪܒܬ ܢܦܫܟ ܠܐܠܗܐ ܐܒܐ ܐܟܚܕܐ ܐܩܝܡܬܝܗܝ ܠܟܠܗ ܓܢܣܗ ܕܐܕܡ ܟܕ ܐܬܢܚܡܬ ܡܢ ܩܒܪܐ܀

ܗܘ̇ ܕܒܙܒܢ ܫܘܙܒ[19] ܒܐܬܘܢܐ ܠܛ̈ܠܝܐ ܟܕ ܨܒ̣ܐ ܘܗܘܐ ܒܪܢܫܐ ܚܫ[20] ܐܝܟ ܡܝܘܬܐ ܘܒܝܕ ܚܫܗ ܠܡ̈ܝܘܬܐ ܦܐܝܘܬܐ[21] ܐܠܒܫ[22] ܕܠܐܡܬܚܒܠܢܘܬܐ[23] ܗܘ̇ ܟܝܬ ܕܒܠܚܘܕܘܗܝ ܡܒܪܟܐ ܘܡܥܠܝ ܒܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ ܐܠܗܐ ܕܐܒܗ̈ܬܢ܀

ܢܫ̈ܐ ܒܨܦܪܐ ܟܕ ܛܥܝ̈ܢܢ ܗܪ̈ܘܡܐ ܒܬܪܟ ܪ̈ܗܛܝ ܗ̈ܘܝ ܦܪܘܩܢ ܠܗܘ̇ ܕܝܢ ܕܐܝܟ ܡܝܬܐ ܒܕܡܥ̈ܐ ܒܥ̈ܝܢ ܗܘ̈ܝ ܐܦ ܒܟ̈ܝܢ ܗ̈ܦܟܝ ܣܓ̈ܕܝ ܟܕ ܚܕ̈ܝܢ ܐܝܟ ܕܠܐܗܐ ܚܝܐ ܘܦܨܚܐ ܬܘܒ ܪܐܙܢܝܐ ܠܬܠܡ̈ܝܕܐ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܣܒ̈ܪܝ ܗܘ̈ܝ ܟܕ ܚܕ̈ܝܢ܀

ܡܝܬܘܬܗ ܕܡܘܬܐ ܡܥܕܥܕܝܢܢ ܝܘܡܢܐ ܣܬܘܪܝܗ̇[24] ܕܫܝܘܠ ܕܘܝܬܐ ܘܪܝܫܝܬܐ[25] ܚܕܬܐ ܕܕܘܒܪ[26] ܚܝ̈ܐ ܕܠܐ ܣܟܐ ܘܟܕ ܕܝ̈ܨܝܢܢ ܕܝܢ ܢܫܒܚܘܗܝ ܠܥܠܬܐ ܕܗܠܝܢ ܟܠܗܝܢ ܗܘ̇[27] ܕܒܠܚܘܕܘܗܝ ܡܒܪܟܐ ܘܡܥܠܝ[28]܀

ܡܐ ܒܫܪܪܐ ܟܗܢܝ ܒܟܠ ܘܥܐܕܐܢܝܐ[29] ܠܠܝܐ ܗܢܐ ܡܐܚܝܢܐ ܘܡܨܡܚܢܐ ܕܢܘܗܪܐ ܕܝܘܡܐ ܡܥܛܦ ܟܠ[30] ܡܒܪܩܘܬܐ ܕܡܩܕܡ ܡܫܘܕܥ ܠܩܝܡܬܐ ܡܫܒܚܬܐ ܕܒܗ̇ ܗܘ̣ ܢܘܗܪܐ ܕܠܐ ܙܒܢܐ ܠܬܠܡܝ̈ܕܐ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܬܗܪܐ ܡܣܬܒܪ ܗܘܐ܀

ܗܢܘ ܝܘܡܐ ܩܪܝܐ ܘܩܕܝܫܐ ܘܡܥܒܕ ܚܝ̈ܐ ܚܕ ܒܫܒܐ ܡܠܝ[31] ܟܠ ܫܘܦܪ̈ܝܢ ܡܠܟܐ ܘܡܪܐ ܕܟܠ ܝܘܡ̈ܬܐ ܥܕܥܐܕܐ ܕܥܕܥ̈ܐܕܐ ܘܚܓܐ ܐܝܬܘܗܝ ܕܟܠ ܚܓ̈ܝܢ ܕܦܘܪܩܢܐ ܕܓܢܣܢ ܕܒܗ ܗܘ̣ ܡܒܪ̈ܟܝܢܢ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡܝܢ܀

ܬܘ ܗܫ ܕܠܝܠܕܐ ܕܓܦܬܐ ܚܕܬܐ ܢܫܬܐ ܒܚܕܘܬܐ ܐܠܗܝܬܐ ܒܝܘܡܐ ܝܕܥܐ ܕܥܕܥܐܕܐ ܕܩܝܡܬܐ ܡܫܒܚܬܐ ܕܒܡܟܘܬܗ ܕܡܫܝܚܐ ܢܫܬܘܐ ܟܕ ܕܝ̈ܨܝܢܢ ܘܡܒܪ̈ܟܝܢܢ ܠܗ ܠܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡܝܢ[32]܀

ܐܪܝܡܝ ܥܝ̈ܢܝܟܝ ܠܚܕܪ̈ܝܟܝ ܥܕܬܐ ܨܗܝܘܢ ܘܚܙܝ ܗܐ ܓܝܪ ܐܬܝ̈ܢ ܠܟܝ ܒܫܘܒܚܐ ܢܗܝܪ̈ܐ ܡܨܡܚ̈ܝ ܒܐܠܗܐ ܡܢ ܡܕܢܚܐ ܘܡܢ ܡܥܪܒܐ ܘܡܢ ܓܪܒܝܐ ܐܦ ܡܢ ܝܡܐ ܬܘܒ ܒܢ̈ܝܐ ܥܡܝ̈ܕܐ ܕܒܟܝ ܢܒܪ̈ܟܘܢ ܠܦܪܘܩܗܘܢ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡܝܢ܀

ܐܒܐ ܐܚܝܕ ܟܠ ܘܒܪܐ ܝ̣ܚܝܕܝܐ ܘܪܘܚܩܘܕܫܐ ܟܝܢܐ ܕܒ̈ܬܠܬܐ ܩܢܘ̈ܡܐ ܡܬܝܚܕ ܠܥܠ ܡܢ ܪܥܝܢܐ ܡܥܠܝ ܒܗ̇ ܒܐܘܣܝܐ ܘܡܥܠܝ ܬܘܒ ܒܐܠܗܘܬܐ ܒܟ ܥܡܝ̈ܕܝܢܢ ܘܠܟ ܒܠܚܘܕܝܟ ܡܒܪ̈ܟܝܢܢ ܒܟܠܙܒܢ ܘܠܥܠܡ 
ܥܠܡܝܢ[33]܀

ܩܘܡܝ ܐܢܗܪܝ ܩܘܡܝ ܐܢܗܪܝ ܥܕܬܐ ܐܘܪܫܠܡ ܗܝ̇ ܚܕܬܐ ܗܐ ܓܝܪ ܬܫܒܘܚܬܗ ܕܡܪܝܐ ܥܠܝܟܝ ܫܒܝܚܐܝܬ ܗܫ ܕܢܚܬ ܚܕܝ[34] ܘܪܘܙܝ ܘܐܬܦܨܚܝ ܨܗܝܘܢ ܫܒܝܚܬܐ ܐܢܬܝ ܕܝܢ ܕܟܝܬܐ ܚܕܝ ܝܠܕܬ ܐܠܗܐ ܒܩܝܡܬܗ ܕܝܠܕܟܝ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܣܒܪܢ܀

ܐܘ ܠܒܪܬ ܩܠܐ ܫܒܝܚܬܐ ܚܠܝܬܐ ܟܝܬ ܐܦ ܐܠܗܝܬܐ ܥܡܢ ܓܝܪ ܫܪܝܪܐܝܬ ܐܫܬܘܕܝܬ ܕܬܗܘܐ ܟܠܝܘܡ ܥܕܡܐ ܠܫܘܠܡܗ ܕܥܠܡܐ ܐܘ[35] ܡܫܝܚܐ ܕܠܗ ܚܢܢ ܡܗܝ̈ܡܢܐ ܐܝܟ ܐܘܩܝܢܐ ܕܣܒܪܐ ܟܕ ܐܚܝܕܝܢܢ ܟܘܠܢ[36] ܡܘܪ̈ܒܝܢܢ܀

ܐܘ ܦܨܚܐ ܗܘ̇ ܪܒܐ ܘܟܗܢܝ ܒܟܠ ܡܫܝܚܐ ܡܐܚܝܢܢ ܐܘ ܡܠܬܐ ܘܚܟܡܬܐ ܘܨܡܚܐ ܘܚܝܠܐ ܕܐܠܗܐ ܐܒܐ ܐܫܘܐ ܠܢ ܡܪܝܐ ܕܝܬܝܪ ܓܠܝܐܝܬ ܒܦܨܚܟ ܢܫܬܘ ܐܦ ܒܝܘܡܐ ܗܘ̇ ܕܠܐ ܪܡܫܐ ܒܡܠܟܘܬܐ ܕܝܠܟ ܫܡܝܢܝܬܐ܀

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Met. Georges Khodr: Who Shall I Be at Pascha?

Arabic original here. My translation is rather inadequate to the beauty of this piece.


Who Shall I Be at Pascha?

How should I conduct myself at Pascha? If the word means passing over, then there's nothing left for me except to leave everything to meet Christ. There is nothing in the feast except for Christ. There is nothing in Christianity except Christ. Everything else is just a way to talk about Him. It is an expression of Him. Once I was asked what I would keep from this world if I was stranded on a desert island. I answered, "The Sermon on the Mount from Matthew and the Gospel of John." You know, Lord, that we Orthodox read the entire Gospel in our homes during Holy Week because the Gospel is You.

How should I conduct myself at Pascha? I try to become the Gospel, to become the word so that people may read me and live. Christianity is faces that are illumined in order to give light. This is the living Pascha. It is what causes me to pass through people to the Father's face. How should I live? "I do not live, it is Christ who lives in me." Christianity is not a religious system. It is love-- that is, clinging to Christ such that you forget your own face in order to see His face and the whole world in His face. If we are people of Pascha, then we are in a state of constantly going beyond ourselves and the world in order to become Him and for Him to become us. It is not a matter of systems and it is not a matter of theoretical principles. Everything is His face, until all faces pass away or we read Him traced upon them.

How should I conduct myself? I should forget myself until I see Him and Him alone in me, until I see myself overlooking all existence. How should I conduct myself? I should place Him before my eyes and see Him as the existence that makes everything else superfluous for me. I do not converse with Him-- I encounter Him. Your face, O Lord, Your face is my desire until the moon passes away.

I am passing, Lord, until I meet You. Do not let me be distracted: "Let Your face shine upon your servant" so  that I may be of Your light. Take me to You so that I may know You. Do not leave me to the desolation of this world. Do not leave me as prey for the beasts. Come, and in your coming I will come into being. If you come to me, I will complete my path to your face, O Lord. If I see you, Your face will become the world. Nothing is of use to me except for Your face. It itself is Pascha. Let no face distract me from You. Fix my eyes upon You. Every day I desire Your face, Lord. I am content with it as life for me. Train me to see You as everything in this age and in the age to come, and I will understand that You are existence. Teach me to leave everything so that I may see You. If I reach You, then You guide me. I become a person of Pascha in You. If I arrive at You, then my way has ended.

There is nothing after Christ and nothing other than Christ. If you are not an extension of Him or an expression of Him, then you are nothing. At Pascha, I become Him or I am nothing. If I have loved Him, then I grow through Him and I  grow in Him. I do not want anything in His place because He is everything. All the saints are in Him and unto Him and if you look at their faces, do not look for them.  Search for the face of Jesus traced upon them.

How should I conduct myself at Pascha? My only affair with my soul is to bring it to the Lord. With Him it comes into existence. The Father is the beginning and the end and in Him the Christ of history pours forth. I am nothing if I do not become a person of Pascha, one who looks to the Father, the end point.

I am nothing if the Lord has not brought me to the face of His Father and this will not happen unless I have become the place of Pascha, the point of passing from myself to the Father through Christ Jesus.




Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Today is Hung upon the Tree" in Syriac

The Syriac text below, is taken from Sinai Syriac 77, ff. 54v-55r. This manuscript was copied at Sinai by Shem'on bar Ma'la bar Abu Fadl from the town of Maaloula, who finished it on July 5, 1237. 




ܝܘܡܢܐ ܐܬܬܠܝ ܒܩܝܣܐ ܕܨܠܝܒܐ ܗܘ̇ ܕܬܠܹܐ ܠܐܪܥܐ ܥܠ ܡ̈ܝܐ.
ܟܠܝܠܐ ܚܣܕܐ ܕܡ̣ܢ ܟܘܒ̈ܐ ܐܬܬܣܝ̣ܡ ܗܘܐ ܒܪܝܫܗ̣ ܕܗܘ̇ ܡ̇ܠܟܐ ܓܢܝܙܐ ܕܡ̈ܠܐܟܐ.
ܘܢܚ̈ܬܐ ܕܐܪ̈ܓܘܢܐ ܒܒܙܚܐ ܐܬܥܛܦ ܗܘܐ ܗܘ̇ ܡ̇ܪܐ ܕܡܟ̇ܣܐ ܫܡܝܐ ܒܥ̈ܢܢܐ.
ܫܘܩܦ ܦܟܐ ܘܪܘܩܐ ܩ̇ܒ̣ܠ ܗܘ̇ ܕܒܝܘܪܕܢܢ ܢܗܪܐ ܚܪܪ ܠܐܕܡ ܡ̣ܢ ܥܒܕܘܬܐ.
ܩܘܒܥ ܨܨ̈ܐ ܣܝܒܪ ܗܘ̇ ܪܥܝܐ ܡܪܐ ܕܬܫܒܘܚܬܐ.
ܘܐܦ ܕܩܝܪܘܬ ܪܘܡܚܐ ܐܡܪܐ ܕܚ̈ܝܐ ܒܪܗ̇ ܕܒܬܘܠܬܐ.
ܣ̈ܓܕܝܢܢ ܠܚ̈ܫܝܟ ܕܚܠܦܝܢ ܡܫܝܚܐ.
ܚ̇ܘܢ ܒܪ̈ܚܡܝܟ ܠܩܝܡܬܟ ܩܕܝܫܬܐ ܘܡܫܒܚܬܐ.


As is common with many Syriac versions of Greek hymns the translation is not entirely literal in order to fit the Greek meter. The Syriac reads:

Today is hung on the wood of the cross He who hanged the earth on the water.

A shameful crown of thorns was placed upon the head of the invisible King of angels.

ܑHe was mockingly wrapped in robes of purple, the Lord who hides the heavens with clouds.

He received a blow on the cheek and spit, He who in the River Jordan freed Adam from slavery.

He endured the driving of nails, the Shepherd, Lord of Praise.

Also the spear's stab, the Lamb of Life, Son of the Virgin.

We worship Your sufferings for our sake, Christ.

Show us in Your mercy Your praised and holy resurrection.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Met. Elias (Audi)'s Sermon for Palm Sunday

Arabic original here.




Audi at the Palm Sunday Liturgy: I Want a President who  Loves Lebanon, without Hatred or Malice in His Heart

Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Beirut and its Dependencies, Elias Audi, presided at the liturgy for Palm Sunday at the Cathedral of Saint George in Nejmeh Square in the presence of a large crowd of the faithful who carried palm and olive branches and children.

After the Gospel, Audi gave a sermon in which he said, "Beloved, next Sunday we shall see the Lord rising from the dead after having suffered excruciatingly, having suffered unto death. Today, however, we see Jesus coming into Jerusalem as the people welcome Him as a king and as the Son of God, the Christ whom they awaited. But this king did not come on a horse or a chariot, but rather on a donkey, in order to teach Christians who follow Him that power does not come from any authority other than the authority of humility, meekness, love and brokenness. [...]"

He continued, "Talk has been focusing lately on who will be the next president of the Republic and who they will place in this position or that. However, I have not once heard an official emphasizing that you must be a true citizen. That is you must love your country first and your brother first, and afterward seek positions. I want those who address our children to build them up with morals and to teach them how to be good citizens. The nation is not a nation except through its citizens. This is why in Lebanon we need schools that teach citizenship. Then there will be no need for talking about sectarianism because the citizen will become a brother to every citizen. We have not yet cast our robes before God, before Jesus who became incarnate for our salvation."

He said, "They often ask me, 'Why do you not speak?' My reply: I am not a politician. I am a man of religion who teaches the teachings of Christ who did not talk about politics. Why don't we go back to the book that inspires us on how to talk, how to behave, and how to be Christians in the image of Christ? We hear a lot of talk and speeches about politics, but we have not heard a single speech about morals or citizenship. [...]"

He added, "I was recently asked, 'Who do you want to be president of the Republic?' I said: I want a president who loves Lebanon. I want him to be peaceful, a man of peace, without hatred or malice in his heart, but rather as the Apostle Paul said, I want him to be pure, just, faithful to his nation, someone who loves people. And I want all his helpers to be like this. Beloved, if you are truly Christians then Jesus is your king. If you follow Him, then you will not even fear death because the apostles who followed Him did not fear death. A few days ago we heard that a brother priest [i.e. Fr Frans van der Lugt] been killed. He knew he  was in danger but he did not leave his monastery, his parish and those he cared for. When we sense danger we flee. [...]"

He concluded, "We must thank God for all the graces that he has given us and continues to give us, even as we ask Him to preserve Lebanon and to grant its children the grace of thankfulness for all things, the grace of love, citizenship, giving, of reognizing the other and respecting his freedom and dignity."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Met. Georges Khodr: From Death to Resurrection

 Arabic original here.


From Death to Resurrection

Today everyone flocked to see Jesus who raised Lazarus from the dead. A plot had been hatched against the Teacher because the Jews could not bear for it to be said that Jesus had raised someone from the dead and because they could not bear for the new Teacher to appear with power. But He wanted to complete His path and His path was to death, since it was necessary for Him to be sacrificed for our sins and out of love for us. This love of His led Him to the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus lived the most beautiful love story because His love was completely pure and it was great. He did not seek for Himself, but rather He sought for others. Jesus is the only person who has lived for the sake of others, while each of us lives for his own desire, great or small.

He entered Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and those sent to her, since He had to die in the heart of His country. He had to be killed by the "pious" or those considered to be so because the tragedy is that Jesus was killed by the Law, by the Law of Moses, or He was killed by those zealous for the Law because they reckoned that He had violated the Sabbath and did not keep to the ways that they had manufactured for themselves to prove their devotion to their Judaism.

Jesus knew that the plot that had been hatched over three years had to be implemented in Jerusalem. He went from Galilee to Judea, passing through Bethany where He raised His friend Lazarus, by this showing that He Himself was able to rise. Yesterday He inaugurated His resurrection with a miracle that signaled to the world that He would rise. He signaled to people that they would all rise, and not only on the last day, because He said to Martha when she affirmed that her brother would rise on the last day, that He was not talking about Judgment Day but rather about an immediate resurrection: "I am the I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25).

They instigated against Jesus at the beginning of His preaching life, at the outset of the three years He spent among people. They instigated against Him because He healed the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. The plot started because He loved and because people did not love Him. They  did not accept for there to appear among them a person who loves until the end, a person in whom there is no treachery and no deception, who is wholly pure for the sake of God and others.

However, before that He had to die because love kills. He had to descend into the pit of death, to the lowest abysses of death. He had to taste death out of love for the dying, so that no longer would anyone die but rather all of us will live through our faith in Him and our love for Him and Him alone. Then each one of us rises from his sin, rises from his stumbling, rises from his death.

He could have entered Jerusalem riding on a horse, like kings and great men, but He said in the Gospel, "Those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:42-44). Jesus wanted to become a servant, even as He was King of Kings and Lord of heaven and earth. He rode upon a donkey and entered in the manner of the humble into the city of the proud. He touched a beast in order to release us from beastliness. He touched an animal so that nothing animal would remain in man. He entered the city after some little ones and some of His sincere friends greeted Him. He knew that the rest of the people would be bought and bribed and would call for Him to be killed. He entered and the children were joyful because they are pure but the leaders of the people wanted to implement their plot. He entered into the temple, His Father's temple, into the heart of Jerusalem and there he saw money-changers and people selling doves trading in money, and He cleansed the temple of them. As we enter into Holy Week, let us remember that the Lord touched a small donkey so that there would be nothing animalistic left in us, so that sin would be erased and we might become pure. If we follow this path, without a doubt we will arrive there. And if we do not follow it, we have no true feast. The only thing left for us is pagan revelry.

Fr Georges Massouh on the Attack on Kasab

Arabic original here.


Escaping the Captivity of "Minorities"

The events that occurred in the Syrian city of Kasab along the Turkish border have brought back to the forefront the issue of religious "minorities". The Armenians who were targeted with attacks alongside other Syrian citizens roused feelings of solidarity with them among their fellow Armenians scattered all over the world, just as it evoked feelings of fear and anxiety about a repeat of the massacres that Turkey perpetrated against their grandparents at the beginning of last century.

Christians refuse to be treated as "minorities" since they have been striving, from before the fall of the Ottoman Empire until this very moment, to live full citizenship on the basis of equality with their Muslim partners. They have done everything in their power to destroy the dividing wall erected by the system of dhimmitude between Muslims and other "subjects" of the Islamic state. We can state that this effort of theirs has manifested itself in the demand for the separation of religion and state.

At the time when France, the colonialist state, divided Syria into four states: the State of Damascus and the State of Aleppo with Sunni majorities, the Alawite State and the Druze State, Christians were scattered over all four states and did not possess their own entity. This indicates the Christians' profound commitment to a single, united Syria and so they did not demand their own state which would be like a second "Israel" in Arab lands.

In the Middle East, the concept of "minorities" is not a Christian invention. It was imposed upon them that they be "minorities." From its inception, the Islamic state has divided society into two groups: Muslims, who have all the privileges and "dhimmis". If dividing society up according to religious affiliation is something natural and acceptable in ancient times, in the East and in the West, it our own era it has become something repugnant and unacceptable, contrary to the times and indeed, contrary to nature.

Christians have longed and continue to long to escape from the captivity of "minorities". They desire freedom from the bonds of narrow sectarian affiliation. However, the general situation has not helped them to break out of this captivity. Neither did the Islamic state allow them to be free, nor were the dictatorial military regimes faithful in applying true secularism, nor do the plans now proposed bring them any hope of emancipation. Instead, they bring frustration since they promise to return them to medieval systems that lag far behind what they long for.

Some frown upon the solidarity that Christians have for their fellow Christians in Syria each time they are subject to attacks, considering it to be a type of malicious sectarianism. At the  very same time, however, they opt for sectarian choices and condone support for their brothers in religion with weapons and money. If only they would have solidarity with every victim, every displaced person,  and everyone whose person and livelihood has been assaulted.

Armenians in Syria are Syrian citizens. They are not a "colony" as  they have been described by some television stations. They do not want to be "subjects" of the sultan once more. What the Ottoman sultan and his secular Ataturkist heirs did to the children of their church is still engraved in the depth of their consciousness and their living memory.

During the first half of the 20th century, Northern Syria likewise witnessed the annihilation of the Christian presence in most of its Turkish regions. The Orthodox were expelled from Antioch and the Sanjak of Alexandretta, which colonialist France gifted to her ally Ataturk. Syriac Christians were expelled from Diyarbakr, Mardin and other ancient Syriac cities... And so you wonder why Christians are haunted with fear and anxiety about the future?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fr Georges Massouh: Silence about Sin is a Sin

 Arabic original here.

Silence about Sin is a Sin

There is something worse than someone who commits sin. Someone who is content with sin, who regards it as something normal or natural is worse than someone who commits sin. All of us have fallen and fall into sin's trap, but we realize that by committing sin we are doing something contrary to the logic of what we believe in, so we must judge it and not fall into searching for ways to justify it or for something that will cause us to remain silent about someone who is committing it.

Saint Ambrose of Milan (d. 397) says, "One who is silent about injustice is a partner in injustice." We can say the same thing, substituting sin for injustice-- One who is silent about sin is a partner-- indeed, is implicated-- with those committing it.

If silence about sin is a sin, what of those who defend it? What about those who raise their voice in Christ's name to defend it? Indeed, it is incumbent upon us according to the tradition of the Church to love the sinner and hate the sin. But in no sense does our loving the sinner mean that we surpass his sin and turn a blind eye to its enormity. Our love for him means that we strive with all the power we have been granted and that we pray for him, for him to return to the right path and to walk in the path of repentance.

Butrus al-Bustani, in his dictionary Muhit al-Muhit quoting the Kulliyat of Abu al-Baqa', defines the word "apology" (عذر ) as follows: "An apology is when a person tries to erase his sins by saying 'I didn't do it' or 'I did it for such-and-such a reason' or 'I did it and will not again'. This third one is repentance." There are three kinds of apologies, then,  and not all of them are praiseworthy- only one is. An apology can be when a person who did something denies having done it, and this is bald-faced lying. An apology can justifying a great sin by minimizing it for churchly, patriotic or general human reasons and motivations. This is fleeing from facing the naked truth. An apology can also be repentance in the sense of openly confessing it and promising not to commit it again. This apology is perfect and praiseworthy. All repentance is an apology, but not every apology is repentance.

The author of al-Muhit says, "He apologized ( اعتذر ) for what he had done and by his action he demonstrated his apology. He justified himself." Apology can have the sense of self-justification. That is, creating justifications for having harmed others to the point of denying responsibility. Apologizing can also include lofty and noble arguments for doing something despicable and outrageous, and this is the greatest hypocrisy and blasphemy. It is blasphemy for someone to say that good is pure evil and  that evil is pure good or to attribute to God doing evil and to the devil doing good.

In Christianity, there is no apology except in the sense of repentance and not going back to commit what has been pardoned. In Christianity there is no apology that does not lead to reform. "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:23-24). Standing at the altar-- that is, at the liturgy-- is an occasion for reform and repentance, not for confrontation and for excusing sins and mistakes. Christ's bema is not a pulpit for self-worship, but rather as the Apostle Peter when Christ performed the miracle of the wonderous catch before him and he cried out, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" (Luke 5:8). Peter benefited from the Lord's presence before him and he was not pleased with himself. Rather, he revealed how much of a sinner he was and repented, and this was the purpose of the miracle. The liturgy, which is an act of standing in Christ's presence, is an occasion for taking account of oneself, not for self-admiration for sins and offenses that have been committed.

In Christianity, there is not apologizing but rather compunction. The act of compunction, according to Bustani, means "regretting, sorrowing, repenting... doing something and then having revulsion at it." The Apostle Peter, after denying that he knew Christ and then revealing his sin "wept bitterly" (Luke 22:26). The pre-Islamic poet Labid almost matches the Gospel when he says, "One who has wept for a full moment has apologized." Peter did not try to justify what he did by saying that he was afraid that the Jews would seize him and that he would meet the same fate as his Teacher Christ the Lord. Rather, he was sorrowful and he regretted with all his heart. He confessed with conviction that he had sinned and he would never again deny Him.

Christ opened a new covenant between God and man, consisting of a new life based on continual repentance. One who has not expressed revulsion at the evils committed by his own hands has not yet seen repentance and has not become a child of the new covenant.