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 […]

Monday of Holy Week Meditation (a Masterpiece)

This is one of the great masterpieces of the Hudhra, exemplifying the best aspects of Aramaic as a language, combining Scripture and theology, salvation history, symbolism and poetry. As such, it’s one of the most difficult and frustrating things I’ve ever translated. It’s so compact that, on average, I need 3 English words to translate […]

Palm Sunday Meditations

There are two Madrashe for today. The first recounts Christ’s commands to the apostles to prepare for his entry to Jerusalem, focusing on his humility and gentleness. Instead of a king entering in military splendor and glory, in the might of arms, he comes humbly on a donkey. The second Madrasha focuses on King David, […]