Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Soldier's Prayer for the Fallen

From Cabarfeidh

A Soldier's Prayer for the Fallen
"The Mansions of the Lord"

From the film 'We were Soldiers' - click here for the song, courtesy of the West Point Glee Club

To fallen soldiers let us sing
Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing
Our broken brothers let us bring
To the Mansions of the Lord
No more bleeding, no more fight
No prayers pleading through the night
Just divine embrace, eternal light
In the Mansions of the Lord
Where no mothers cry and no children weep
We will stand and guard though the angels sleep
Through the ages safely keep
The Mansions of the Lord

Monday, May 30, 2005

The Story of Sgt. MacKenzie

Seaforth Highlanders
Gaelic motto CUIDICH'N RIGH (Help the King)

I have wanted to watch "We Were Soldiers" for some time, and finally got the chance. It is a great movie that shows what our soldiers in Vietnam were like, at least before they started drafting dope smoking hippies because LBJ could bring himself to do what needed to be done to win the war, and could bring himself to bring our troops out if he wasn't going to win the war. Our soldiers never lost a single battle in Vietnam, including the Tet offensive, and it was only due to the traitors like John Kerry that South Vietnam was abandon to her enemies.

In this movie there was a song that sounded like the Scottish version of English, the tongue of my Whiteford ancestors. I looked up the words I could make out, and found an interesting story along with the lyrics of the song. It seems fitting to post this as we remember the bravery of our soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for love of kin and country:

The Story of Sgt. MacKenzie

Charles Stuart MacKenzie was a Sergeant in the Seaforth Highlanders.

He went to fight in France during World War One and was shot in the shoulder, the military sent him home to Scotland for treatment, where the surgeon wanted to amputate his arm. He immediately refused, stating that he had to get back to his men.

During his time in hospital he was asked what it was like to kill 'the hun' (as the Germans where called then). He replied what a waste of a fine body of men. On the steps of the hospital, the last picture of him was taken in his uniform. This picture hung in his home above the fireplace.

On his return to battle, he and his men were engaged in fixed bayonet combat. To the best of my knowledge, and taken from reports of the returning soldiers - one of his close friends fell, badly wounded. Charles stood his ground and fought until he was overcome and died from bayonet wounds.

On that day, my Great Grandmother and my Grandmother where sitting at the fire when the picture fell from the wall. My Great Grandmother looked, and said to my Grandmother "oh, my bonnie Charlie's dead." Sure enough a few days passed, then the local policeman brought the news - that Sgt. Charles Stuart MacKenzie had been killed in action.

This same picture now hangs above my fireplace. A few years back my wife Christine died of cancer, and in my grief I looked at his picture to ask what gave him the strength to go on. It was then, in my mind, that I saw him lying on the field and wondered what his final thoughts were. The words and music just appeared into my head.

I believe the men and woman like yourself who are prepared to stand their ground for their family - for their friends - and for their country; deserve to be remembered, respected and honoured. Sgt. MacKenzie, is my very small tribute to them.

After Sgt. Mackenzie was first released on our Tried and True CD Album in 2000, a copy of the song made it's way to the hands of Hollywood director, Randall Wallace and actor Mel Gibson. Immediately they both agreed that Sgt. MacKenzie should feature prominently in their upcoming movie "We Were Soldiers."

The rest, as they say - is history !

Joe Kilna MacKenzie

Click here for a web page with the audio of the first part of this song, as it was used in the movie, "We were Soldiers".


Scots Tongue

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

When they come a wull staun ma groon
Staun ma groon al nae be afraid

Thoughts awe hame tak awa ma fear
Sweat an bluid hide ma veil awe tears

Ains a year say a prayer faur me
Close yir een an remember me

Nair mair shall a see the sun
For a fell tae a Germans gun

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

English Translation

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

When they come I will stand my ground
Stand my ground I'll not be afraid

Thoughts of home take away my fear
Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears

Once a year say a prayer for me
Close your eyes and remember me

Never more shall I see the sun
For I fell to a Germans gun

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Where before many more have gone

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Da Vinci Code

Fr. Joseph Huneycutt has finished his series of posts on the Da Vinci code.

It is a testimony to the ignorance of the average person these days that such a steaming pile of... nonsense is at all taken seriously by people. The book is absolutely worthless in terms of history. No historian of any merit could support the basic contentions of this book.

This book makes outrageous historical claims, and then provides nothing but the wildest speculation to support it, and makes assertions of fact that are demonstrably, and objectively false (such as the assertion that Christ was thought to be just a prophet prior to the council of Nicea).

What is disappointing is that Ron Howard is going to make a movie version. What is even more disappointing is that Tom Hanks is going to star in it. Tom Hanks is an ostensibly Greek Orthodox Christian... but apparently only in the "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" sense of "Well, honey, now I'm Greek too." It's a shame... Up until now, he has been one of my favorite actors. Unless they do a total re-write in the screen play, this will be another "Last Temptation of Christ." I refuse to watch a Martin Scorsese film to this day. I will hate having to add Ron Howard and Tom Hanks to my private boycott list.

Let's hope the spirit of Aunt Bee will haunt Ron Howard, and he will have a change of heart.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Evidence of the Resurrection

Last night I had occassion to watch 20/20's segment on the Resurrection of Christ. It allowed conservative scholars more time than is typical of such programs, and so I was happy to see that, but they allowed liberal scholars to make some truly stupid arguments that went unanswered. The one I was most struck by was some liberals who argued that the origin of the Resurrection faith of the Apostles was simply visions that they had, which they believed to be real. As proof of this, one made the argument that earliest recorded resurrection accounts are found in the epistles of St. Paul, and they speak only of people having such visions.

This is what this scholar was referring to:

"Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas [St. Peter], then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time" (1st Corinthians 15:1-8).

St. Paul was himself a notorious opponent of Christians, who had a vision of Christ on the road to Damascus and went from being the chief foe of Christianity to being its greatest advocate. His encounter was indeed a vision. However, when 500 people see someone at once, that is not a vision... that is a very real encounter with a real, physical person. And St. Paul says that most of those witnesses were still living. Were this not so, it could have easily been disproven by those Jews who rejected Christ, and who actively opposed the work of the Apostles. Furthermore, the Apostles died horrible deaths (with the exception of the Apostle John) rather than renounce their faith. Had their faith been merely based on fond memories of a dead Rabbi, combined with wishful thinking, at least some of them would have cracked... but none did.

The fact that such scholars can make the arguments that they do, when the evidence they point to so clearly does not support their claims is a testimony to the fact that many people simply choose to reject evidence for reasons that have nothing to do with the merits of the evidence, rather than to take the evidence seriously.

As St. John put it:

"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

See this article that lays out the evidence in favor of the Resurrection of Christ.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Russians Celebrate Easter

Russians Celebrate Orthodox Easter

From Associated Press

MOSCOW — Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II wished health and happiness to millions of Orthodox Christians on Sunday as believers marked Easter, the holiest day in the Orthodox calendar.

"Let the joy of the Easter holiday touch every heart. Let this joy give you strength and courage to withstand all hardships and troubles," the patriarch said in his address, parts of which were broadcast on Russian television.

Orthodox churches use a different calendar than the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches, which celebrated Easter on March 27.

At the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a massive church near the Kremlin that was destroyed by Stalin and rebuilt with a golden dome, thousands gathered for midnight Mass, including President Vladimir V. Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Y. Fradkov.

Earlier in the evening, organizers put on a laser show that painted the church's white exterior with images of icons and famous church frescoes.

The Russian Orthodox Church, all but banned under Communist rule in the former Soviet Union, has experienced a major resurgence since 1991, with an estimated two-thirds of Russia's 144 million people believed to be observant.

In his Easter greetings, Putin said Russia was undergoing a spiritual revival.

"On this festive spring day, I'd like to point to the growing positive influence of the Russian Orthodox Church and other traditional Christian confessions on molding the spiritual and moral climate in Russian society," he said.


THE PASCHAL MESSAGE of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia to the Archpastors, Pastors, Monastics and All Faithful Children of the Russian Orthodox Church

'Therefore we were buried with Him
through baptism into death,
that just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,
even so we also should walk
in the newness of life.'

Rom 6:4

Beloved in the Risen Christ your graces the archpastors, the whole priestly, diaconal and monastic order, God-loving children of our Holy Orthodox Church. In greeting each of you with the Paschal kiss, I say to you these words of joy, replete with ineffable joy:


It is the greatest of feasts that we today celebrate; it is the finest of solemnities that we mark. The radiant joy of Paschal, which glows in our hearts, warms us amidst earthly cares, inspires us to a life of good and grants to us the foretaste of our own future resurrection.

The Lord opens to all the gracious fount of this joy and today does not ask at which hour he or she has come to accomplish his or her deed. He knows His faithful ones who have laboured from the first hour, yet He knows too that those who have come at the eleventh hour have perhaps overcome the most difficult part of the path. And there is no deed more pleasing to God than to bring this holy joy to those who do not know it, to those whose soul has yet not been illumined by the incorruptible light of Christ's Passover. And this light-bearing, transfiguring, life-giving joy will cast aside the stones from the tombs in which their souls have been sealed.

In singing the exultant Paschal hymns to the One Who has risen from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Cor 15:20), we sense too within ourselves the miracle of being resurrected alongside Him: we are no longer dead spiritually, yet alive through the grace of God which has redeemed us from sin and death and has made us to be a new creation in Christ.

The miracle is accomplished by the love of the Risen Saviour who has vanquished death by His sacrifice on the Cross. For the salvation of humanity, which renounced God' plan, the Author of life descended into hell, humbled Himself unto death, even death upon the Cross, and granted to us the New Passover - the mystical transition from death to life, from darkness to light, from the world to the eternal Kingdom of God. And this transition is revealed to us already in this temporary life if we in these earthly wanderings through prayer and the humble acceptance of the will of God, through charitable deeds and ministry to our neighbours, unite ourselves to Christ.

In being liberated from the captivity of sin, with all our strength striving for the radiant light of Christ, we render our life all the more beautiful, for we increase in our souls eternal riches. As Scripture says, 'lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also' (Mt 6:20-21).

The revelation that 'God is love' (1 Jn 4:8) is the greatest gift to mankind of the Incarnate Son of God. Love transfigures, purifies and sanctifies all that is around us. And we, in following the Saviour's commandment on sacrificial, self-denying love towards people, are made a part of Divine love which, kindled in our hearts, fills our whole life with unextinguished Paschal joy. It is then that the apostle's words come true for us: 'Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God' (1 Jn 4:7).

Let us then travel along the way of salvation diligently and unswervingly. Yes, this way is always thorny and narrow. And it is not by chance than many around us in the world have abandoned this way, dimming their spiritual eyes by striving for power and fame, comfort and the acquisition of worldly goods, unbridled consumerism and endless trivial entertainments. The Church knows this road will lead the human race down a blind alley and will never make the human race happy. Yet the way of Christ, the way of bearing one's cross and the way of resurrection, lead us to the light which radiates forth from the Life-Giving Tomb of the Lord. To live in this light is to vanquish all sorrow and sadness, to possess the fullness of peace and joy.

My beloved ones! Let us, as the apostle exhorts us, 'walk in a renewed life'. Let us reject enmity and confrontation, sinful ways and weakness of the soul. With every day and hour of our life let us fulfill Christ's commandment: 'Let your light so shone before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven' (Mt 5:16).

There are in our midst many people who feel keenly the need for help and care. These are our elderly citizens, the victims of wars, crime and natural disasters, all those who suffer from disease, poverty, loneliness, homelessness and who have no parents. Let us bring to each one of them as a Paschal gift our active love, our modest contribution and labours of charity.

'The day of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ', writes St. John Chrysostom, 'is the foundation of peace, the beginning of reconciliation, the cessation of hateful actions, the destruction of death, the defeat of the devil'. May Christ's Passover bring peace where blood is shed and where hatred is kindled. May all people of the world extend towards each other the hand of brotherhood and working together for the common good. I assure everyone that the Russian Orthodox Church will labour in the name of the blessed reconciliation and the harmony of the whole human race. It is in this ministry that we remain as always open to joint labours with the state and the many and varied social forces, with peoples of different faiths and convictions.

In a few days time we will solemnly mark the sixtieth anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War. In those difficult days, on the borderline between life and death, the holy Orthodox faith was awakened in the soul of the people with renewed strength. For many of our compatriots this became the beginning of a new life in Christ. Then too the radiant Feats of Christ's Passover came in May just before the people's holiday of the Great Victory. Christ our Saviour blessed with peace those who turned towards Him (Ps 28:11).

Beloved in the Lord archpastors, pastors and children of the Church, on this radiant and holy day I cordially congratulate you all on the feast of the Bright Resurrection of Christ. It is now, when the hearts of Orthodox Christians are filled with Paschal joy, that I hasten to share this joy with all of our brothers and sisters, both Orthodox and Christians of other confessions, with each human being, both neighbour and afar.

Again and again I beseech all ministers, monks and nuns and laity of our Holy Church to strive for perfection in faith and good deeds 'that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory, and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.' (1 Pet 4:11).





2005 A.D.


For more photos of Orthodox Easter Celebrations, see this page.