Old Oligarch's Painted Stoa

Past Posts of Note
Substantative, in chronological order
The Sunday obligation and illness: question, research & my answer

Denial of personhood: Dei Filius & Terri Schiavo

On Modesty 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Differing with Dulles 1 & 2 on pro-abort politicians

Mad About Manuals 1 & 2

Absinthe recherches early, required reading, 2, 3, 4.

First time at an abortuary

The Maundy

TPOTC impact & analysis and more

Contraception reflections 1, 2

Meiwes, propheta, übermensch

Headship Loggerheads 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5

Matrix: Revolutions

Matrix: Reloaded
1, 2 & 3

Terrorist Attack Preparations, and follow-ups 1 & 2 & 3


Casuistry of Drinking

Review of Auto Focus

Parish Review 1

The Power of Shame

Biblical Hermeneutics

Ayoob on Guns

Against the Ordination of Women

Two Cents on Braveheart


Thematic Meditations

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Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/23/2003 02:47:00 AM | link

IN HONOR OF OUR LORD'S PASSION, I share with you a paper I wrote on the most moving hymn of all Triduum, the Improperia or "Reproaches." The Improperia are traditionally sung during the Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday. You need Acrobat Reader to view the paper. Since it is heavily formatted, it does not present well in HTML. Because Geocities does not allow off-site linking, you must right-click the link, use "Save target as" to save it to your machine, and view it locally.

If you would like to skip the 15 pages of analysis and only read my conclusions, which serve as a nice abstract, they are below. Of course, reading them before reading the entire paper gives away the goods ahead of time:

From what we have discussed, we are now in a position to provide a general outline of the textual origins and liturgical implementation of the Improperia. . . . The overall tone of the Improperia is that of a prophetic reproach of the people for their infidelity to the Lord in spite of all the Lord’s good deeds, as we see in Old Testament sources such as Micah 6:3-8. This tradition develops in Jewish literature in specific connection with the Passover through the Dayenu, an antiphonal hymn of praise from the Haggadah. The Dayenu develops the list of God’s saving deeds into something close to the form which we find in the first half of the verses of the early Latin Improperia. The next stage of development of the Improperia was accomplished by Melito of Sardis. Melito -- through his familiarity with Jewish language, customs and sacred literature -- is able to render a stunning inversion of the normally joyful Passover hymn of praise for the purpose of calling Christians to repentance on Good Friday. Every act of God’s goodness for which one would normally give thanks is met with a reproach from the Crucified Lord in Melito’s Peri Pascha. This dramatic strategy relentlessly keeps the audience focused on the ingratitude and sin of the people of God, in which they play a part.

The poetic structure of the Peri Pascha is naturally suggestive of the verses of a troparion if one decided to adapt Melito’s homily for regular liturgical use in the Good Friday liturgy, the main elements of which developed out of Cyril of Jerusalem’s practices only a little more than a century later. Because the Trisagion normally preceded communion on regular liturgical days, and because the Veneration of the Cross now took the place of the Eucharistic prayer in the Good Friday liturgy, it would be natural to look to the Trisagion as a refrain for the trope verses of the Improperia. This would further resonate with the heavily Greek rhetorical and dramatic character of Melito’s style. Like a Euripidean drama where the players can give no justification for their hubris, the congregation is speechless when confronted with the Lord’s demand: "Responde Mihi." The penitential effect is stultifying, and the congregation approaches the Cross to venerate it in silence. In the manner of a Greek chorus, the choir intones the Hagios ho Theos -- not an answer to the divine question "Quid feci tibi?" but the only thing one has left to say to the crucified Lord: an absolute confession of His holiness, and by contrast, a silent and contrite admission of one’s sin.

The Peri Pascha can be reliably dated to the late second century. The relics of the True Cross were discovered in the early fourth century, and by the late fourth century we have Egeria’s record of the basic structure of the Good Friday liturgy as practiced in Jerusalem, but without mention of the Improperia. Therefore we can estimate that the textual development of the Improperia outlined above became united with the Good Friday liturgy some time in the fifth century. This date accords with G. G. Willis’ observation that the basic Western liturgical sequence of events for Good Friday probably arose in the fifth century and was fixed by the sixth.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/18/2003 02:57:00 PM | link

A Catholic version of the Nigerian E-mail Scam!
(Particularly sick since it preys on stupid pastors of churches and invokes the Lord's name several times...)

My Lordship/Friend,

Calvary greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am former Mrs Charity Danjuma, now Mrs Charity Okhai, a widow to Late Mr Danjuma Chris, I am 72years old, I am now a new Christian convert, suffering from long time cancer of the breast. From all indications, my condition is really deteriorating and is quite obvious that I may not live more than six months, because the cancer stage has gotten to a very severe stage.

My late husband was killed during the Gulf war, and during the period of our marriage we had a son who was also killed in a cold blood during the Gulf war. My late husband was very wealthy and after his death, I inherited all his business and wealth. My personal
physician told me that I may not live for more than six months and I am so scared about this. So, I now decided to divide part of this wealth, by contributing to the development of evangelism in Africa, America, Europe and Asian Countries.

This mission which will no doubt be tasking had made me to recently relocated to Nigeria, Africa where I live presently. I selected your church after visiting the website for this purpose and prayed over it, I am willing to donate the sum of $6,000,000.00 Million
US Dollars to your Church/Ministry for the development of evangelism and also as aids for the less privileged around you.

Please note that, this fund is lying in a Security Company in Holland and the company has branches, therefore my lawyer will file an immediate application for the transfer of the money in the name of your ministry. Please, do not reply me if you have the intention of using this fund for personal use other than enhancement of evangelism.

Lastly, I want you/your ministry to be praying for me as regards my entire life and my health because I have come to find out since my spiritual birth lately that wealth acquisition without Jesus Christ in one's life is vanity upon vanity. If you have to die says the
Lord, keep fit and I will give you the crown of life.

May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the sweet fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

I await your urgent reply.

Yours in Christ
Mrs Charity Okhai.
Christ Live Church,
Bodija, Ibadan, Nigeria.

"To her [Mary] I entrust you,
that the New Woman,
Mother of the Church and of the New Humanity,
may be your inspiration in the discovery
of a new feminine identity in the Gospel perspective."

- John Paul II, Sept. 4, 1988

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/12/2003 09:58:00 PM | link

Happy Blogoversary to me!

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/12/2003 09:58:00 PM | link

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/11/2003 10:13:00 AM | link

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/11/2003 09:58:00 AM | link

I know, I know, I know. I am very, very bad. I haven't blogged diddly-do in forever. I am sorry to all my faithful readers.

I've had to pull together five 75-minute lectures on the Holy Week section of the Gospels from scratch. Well, not from scratch. From a half dozen Medieval and modern commentators. And now, I'm sick. If I make it one more class, I get an Easter break.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/10/2003 10:29:00 PM | link

Kenny sends an entry in the "Invent a caption for a Lencz icon" contest:

""Yo, yo, yo . . . Crips in the hizzouse!"

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/04/2003 09:59:00 PM | link

How many hogshead of seed do you need to cover a rood of field? How much would that weigh in butcher's stones, and how many florins would you have to pay to get it? Take a walk down English measurement lane.

After all, everyone knows the only purpose of the metric system is to force us to do long, tiresome conversions on the calculator. And is a hectare or cubic deciliter or decaday really any more "rational" a unit at the end of the day?

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/04/2003 09:37:00 PM | link

Ut oh. Salmagundi has stumbled onto Robert Lencz. Sadly, I've seen his work before. If the world were running as it should, this man should be automatically whipped senseless for selling pictures of Jesus with animal horns and a desparate need of pants. (Click at your own risk.) I have half a mind to find this guy and kick his ass as a public service. The icon looks more like Prince after a cocaine bender.

I suggest that we invent captions for the other entertaining "icons" on his website. Like so:

"Hey Merlin, what's that on the end of your wand?"

Somebody should arrest this guy before he starts touching boys. My icon request: St. Jamiroquai of the Space Cowboys. After all, he's already sainted Martin Luther King (and everyone else on the site, including Harvey Milk). Ok, after two days without sleep, I am going to bed...after some Wolfenstein.

Posted by Old Oligarch on 4/04/2003 12:04:00 AM | link


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