Aphrahat on Confession

I translated a chunk of this ancient homily on confession by one of the Fathers of the Church of the East named Mar Aphrahat, not knowing there was already a full English translation from almost a century ago. It was fun to do though, and this piece illustrates a handful of important points: 1. There […]

You Should be Ashamed of Yourself

I have nothing against self-esteem if you like that kind of thing, but there’s nothing to get you out of bed in the morning like a solid guilt trip. The liturgical season the Chaldean Church is in right now is all about repentance (and that’s a good name for it if you ask me, rather […]

In Defense of Aramaic

The language of the Chaldean and Assyrian people is colloquially called “Surath” but technically named Neo-Aramaic by linguists. Two families of regional dialects closely related to each another are, at least in English usage, called Chaldean and Assyrian. I am one of a growing number of Chaldean priests who do not know Arabic, but I […]

I’m on a TV Show and I Hate it

Somebody had a horrible idea for some of us priests to do a discussion panel show to catechize/entertain/annoy people during the quarantine. I hate it and I hate cameras, and this is my life now. Here’s the first six episodes, in backwards order because we get slightly less awkward as it goes on:

Ancient Easter Homily

This is a selection and translation from the “Teaching of the Resurrection,” or Easter Homily, by Mar Jacob of Sarug: A blessed joyfulness moves me today, in which I repeat the words of the prophet: “this is the day the Lord has made! Come, let us rejoice and be glad in it!” This is the […]

Saturday of Light – Petitions

This day, liturgically, is one more for silence than for words, but it does seem fitting to pray these petitions. This is a video of the first two verses, sung by my bishop, Mar Emanuel Shaleta, and myself: Let us all stand composed, in contrition and diligence, let us implore and say: Lord, have mercy […]

Passion Friday Meditations

The three Madrashe for Passion Friday are independent pieces of hymnody, but follow a general thread. The first picks up on Christ’s command to Peter, James, and John to stay awake with him in the garden. Recounting the dramatic events of Christ’s passion, each verse ends with the question, “who can go to sleep?” The […]

Passover Thursday Meditation

The aspect of the Passover Lamb image discussed in this Madrasha is the contrast between rational and irrational. The sacrifice of animals was irrational in two ways: the animal itself was unable to speak, but the sacrifice was irrational in that it could not accomplish the forgiveness or salvation it attempted. This failure of the […]

Wednesday of Holy Week Meditation

The sequence of Madrashe during Holy Week is reasonable: Monday establishes Christ as the fulfillment of all symbols in the Old Testament beginning from Eden. Tuesday introduces the Passover Lamb as a theme, as well as the notion of Old Testament symbols being shadows of realities fulfilled by Christ. Wednesday presents the Passover Lamb theme […]

Tuesday of Holy Week Meditation

Tuesday’s Madrasha focuses on the Passover lamb of Exodus and Christ as the new Lamb of God. This is a common theme in Christian literature, but this early piece (again, these hymns are attributed to Ephrem) takes a unique approach. Rather than comparison, we have contrast. Verse 1 ends with a proposed question, whether the […]