Symeon the New Theologian: The revelation of His divinity becomes a judgment for those to whom it is revealed Saturday, Aug 1 2015 

St.-Symeon-the-New-TheologianIt is not called Day of the Lord as being the last of these present days, nor because it is on this day that He is going to come again in the same way that we say for feast days of the present time.

[…] Neither is it called Day of Judgment because it is on this day that judgment is going to take place, since the day when this occurs is not other than the Lord who will come on it, but it is called this because He Himself, the God and Master of all, will at that time shine with the glory of His own divinity.

[…] And He alone will be at once “Day” and God. He Who is now invisible to all and dwells in light will then be revealed to all as He is, and will fill all things with His light, and will be without evening, without end, a day of everlasting joy, but absolutely unapproachable and unseen for those who, like me, are lazy and sinners.

Because this did not happen while they yet lived, because they lacked zeal to see the light of His glory and, through purification, to have Him completely indwelling in themselves, He will also naturally be unapproachable for them in the future.

[…] The revelation of His divinity becomes in fact a judgment for those to whom it is revealed. No flesh could have endured the glory of His divinity as manifested naked of its joining and inexpressible union with the God-man. All creation would instead have been utterly destroyed both in body and soul, since at that time all were possessed by unbelief.

For the divinity, which is to say the grace of the all-Holy Spirit, has never appeared to anyone who is without faith; and, if it were to appear by some paradox among men, it would show itself as fearful and dreadful, as not illumining but burning, not as giving life but as punishing dreadfully.

And this is clear from the things which the blessed Paul, the vessel of election suffered. In the encounter with the radiance of the unapproachable light which flashed around him like lightning, his vision was wounded, and rather than being illumined he was darkened. He could not see, and lost even his natural faculty of sight.

These things happened to him who would later become the great teacher of Christ’s Church! That man who was so great, the same man who later said: ‘The God Who said “Let light shine out of darkness” has shone in our hearts,’ and a little later: ‘We have this treasure’ — i.e., of illumination — ‘in our hearts’ could not at that time see even the least glimmer of the light.

Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022 AD): Tenth Ethical Discourse @ Eclectic Orthodoxy.

Augustine of Hippo: “The way of the ungodly shall perish” Friday, Jul 31 2015 

St Augustine of AfricaOn Psalm 1.

“The ungodly are not so, they are not so, but are like the dust which the wind casteth forth from the face of the earth” (ver. 4).

“The earth” is here to be taken as that stedfastness in God, with a view to which it is said, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, yea, I have a goodly heritage” (Ps. 15:5-6).

With a view to this it is said, “Wait on the Lord and keep His ways, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the earth” (Ps. 36:34).

With a view to this it is also said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

A comparison too is derived hence, for as this visible earth supports and contains the outer man, so that earth invisible the inner man.

“From the face of which earth the wind casteth forth the ungodly,” that is, pride, in that it puffs him up.

On his guard against this he, who was inebriated by the richness of the house of the Lord, and drunken of the torrent stream of its pleasures, says, “Let not the foot of pride come against me” (Ps. 35:11).

From this earth pride cast forth him who said, “I will place my seat in the north, and I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13-14).

From the face of the earth it cast forth him also who, after that he had consented and tasted of the forbidden tree that he might be as God, hid himself from the Face of God (Gen. 3:8).

[…] “For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous” (ver. 6).

As it is said, medicine knows health, but knows not disease, and yet disease is recognised by the art of medicine.

In like manner can it be said that “the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous,” but the way of the ungodly He knoweth not.

Not that the Lord is ignorant of anything, and yet He says to sinners, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).  “But the way of the ungodly shall perish” is the same as if it were said, the way of the ungodly the Lord knoweth not.

We can express this more plainly by saying that not to be known of the Lord means the same as to perish, and to be known of the Lord means the same as to abide.

Thus to be belongs to God’s knowing, but not to be to His not knowing. For the Lord says, “I Am that I Am,” and, “I Am hath sent me” (Ex. 3:14).

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Exposition of the Book of Psalms, Psalm 1, 4,6 (slightly adapted).  

Silouan the Athonite: The sweetness of the Holy Spirit regenerates the entire man Thursday, Jul 30 2015 

Silouan the AthoniteThis is true freedom – to be in God.

And I did not know this before.

Until I was seven and twenty I simply believed that God was, but I did not know Him;

but when my soul knew Him by the Holy Spirit I was consumed with longing for Him, and now day and night I seek Him with burning heart.

The Lord wants us to love one another: in this – in love towards God and our fellow-man – lies freedom.

In this lie both freedom and equality.  With society as it is graduated on this earth, there can be no equality; but that is of no importance to the soul.

Not everyone can be an emperor or a prince; not everyone can be a patriarch or an abbot, or a leader; but in every walk of life we can love God and be pleasing to Him, and only this is important.

And the man who loves God most in this world will have the most glory in the Kingdom.

He who loves most will the most strongly yearn and reach for God, and be closest to Him.

Each will be glorified according to the measure of his life. And I have discovered that love varies in strength.

When a man fears God lest he grieve Him in some way – that is the first degree of love.

He who keeps his mind pure of intrusive thoughts knows the second degree of love, which is greater than the first.

The third and still greater kind of love is when a man is sensible of grace in his soul.

The fourth and perfect kind of love for God exists when a man possesses the grace of the Holy Spirit both in soul and body.

The body is then hallowed, and after death the earthly remains become relics.  This is what happened in the case of the holy Martyrs and Prophets and venerable Fathers.

[…] The sweetness of the Holy Spirit regenerates the entire man and teaches him to love God to the utmost.

In the fulness of her love for God, the soul has no contact with the world; though a man live on earth among other men, in his love for God he forgets everything that is of this world.

But our trouble is that through the pride of our mind we do not continue in this grace, and so grace forsakes us, and the soul seeks it, weeping and sobbing and saying, “My soul longs for the Lord.’

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan, Wisdom From Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938, by Archimandrite Sophrony, trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY 1974) @ Kandylaki.

Irenaeus of Lyons: “Those who do understand shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and many of the righteous as the stars forever and ever” Wednesday, Jul 29 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonIf anyone reads the Scriptures with attention, he will find in them an account of Christ, and a foreshadowing of the new calling.

For Christ is the treasure which was hid in the field (Matt. 13:44), that is, in this world – for “the field is the world” (Matt. 13:38).

But the treasure hid in the Scriptures is Christ, since He was pointed out by means of types and parables.

Hence His human nature could not be understood, prior to the consummation of those things which had been predicted, that is, the advent of Christ.

And therefore it was said to Daniel the prophet:

“Shut up the words, and seal the book even to the time of consummation, until many learn, and knowledge be completed. For at that time, when the dispersion shall be accomplished, they shall know all these things” (Dan. 12:4, 7).

Jeremiah also says, “In the last days they shall understand these things” (Jer. 23:20).

For every prophecy, before its fulfilment, is to men full of enigmas and ambiguities. But when the time has arrived, and the prediction has come to pass, then the prophecies have a clear and certain exposition.

[…] When…the law is read to the Jews, it is like a fable; for they do not possess the explanation of all things pertaining to the advent of the Son of God, which took place in human nature.

But when it is read by the Christians, it is a treasure, hid indeed in a field, but brought to light by the Cross of Christ, and explained.

It enriches the understanding of men, showing forth the wisdom of God and declaring His dispensations with regard to man.

It forms the kingdom of Christ beforehand, preaching by anticipation the inheritance of the holy Jerusalem,

It proclaims beforehand that the man who loves God shall arrive at such excellency as even to see God, and hear His word, and from the hearing of His discourse be glorified to such an extent, that others cannot behold the glory of his countenance, as was said by Daniel:

“Those who do understand, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and many of the righteous as the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).

Thus, then, I have shown it to be, if any one read the Scriptures.

For thus it was that the Lord discoursed with the disciples after His resurrection from the dead, proving to them from the Scriptures themselves “that Christ must suffer, and enter into His glory, and that remission of sins should be preached in His name throughout all the world” (Luke 24: 26, 47).

And the disciple will be perfected, and rendered like the householder, “who bringeth forth from his treasure things new and old” (Matt. 13:52).

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 4,26,1 (slightly adapted)

Basil the Great: “Praise the Lord with harp; sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings” Monday, Jul 27 2015 

St-Basil-the-Great[Following on from here….]

‘Praise becometh the upright’ (Psalm 32:1).

As a crooked foot does not fit into a straight sandal, so neither is the praise of God suited to perverted hearts.

[…] Let us earnestly endeavor, therefore, to flee every crooked and tortuous act, and let us keep our mind and the judgment of our soul as straight as a rule, in order that the praise of the Lord may be permitted to us since we are upright.

[…]  For, ‘the Lord our God is righteous, and his countenance hath beheld righteousness’ (Ps. 91:16; 10:18).

If two rulers are compared with each other, their straightness is in agreement with each other, but, if a distorted piece of wood is compared with a ruler, the crooked one will be found at variance with the straight.

Since, therefore, the praise of God is righteous, there is need of a righteous heart, in order that the praise may be fitting and adapted to it.

But, if ‘no one can say “Jesus is Lord,” except in the Holy Spirit’ (1 Cor. 10:3), how would you give praise, since you do not have the right spirit in your heart?

‘Give praise to the Lord on the harp; sing to him with the psaltery, the instrument of ten strings’ (Ps. 32:2).

First, it is necessary to praise the Lord on the harp; that is, to render harmoniously the actions of the body.

Since, indeed, we sinned in the body, ‘when we yielded our members as slaves of sin, unto lawlessness’ (Rom. 6:19), let us give praise with our body, using the same instrument for the destruction of sin.

Have you reviled? Bless. Have you defrauded? Make restitution. Have you been intoxicated? Fast. Have you made false pretensions? Be humble.

Have you been envious? Console. Have you murdered? Bear witness, or afflict your body with the equivalent of martyrdom through confession.

And then, after confession you are worthy to play for God on the ten-stringed psaltery.

For, it is necessary, first, to correct the actions of our body, so that we perform them harmoniously with the divine Word and thus mount up to the contemplation of things intellectual.

Perhaps, the mind, which seeks things above, is called a psaltery because the structure of this instrument has its resonance from above.

The works of the body, therefore, give praise to God as if from below; but the mysteries, which are proclaimed through the mind, have their origin from above, as if the mind was resonant through the Spirit.

He, therefore, who observes all the precepts and makes, as it were, harmony and symphony from them, he, I say, plays for God on a ten-stringed psaltery, because there are ten principal precepts, written according to the first teaching of the Law.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 18 (on Psalm 32[33]), 1-2,  from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 228-230.

Aphrahat the Persian: Whatsoever is written is written well, but I have not attained to the understanding of it Saturday, Jul 25 2015 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatEveryone who reads the sacred scriptures, both former and latter, in both covenants, and reads with persuasion, will learn and teach.

But if he strives about anything that he does not understand, his mind does not receive teaching.

But if he finds words that are too difficult for him, and he does not understand their force, let him say thus:

“Whatsoever is written is written well, but I have not attained to the understanding of it.”

And if he shall ask about the matters that are too hard for him of wise and discerning men who inquire into doctrine, then, when ten wise men shall speak to him in ten different ways about one matter, let him accept that which pleases him.

And if any please not him, let him not scorn the sages; for the word of God is like a pearl, that has a beautiful appearance on whatever side you turn it.

And remember, O disciple, what David said, From all my teachers have I learned (Psalm 118:99).

And the Apostle said: Thou readest every Scripture that is in the Spirit of God.  And prove everything; hold fast that which is good; and flee from every evil thing (1 Thess. 5:21-22; 2 Tim. 3:16).

For if the days of a man should be many as all the days of the world from Adam to the end of the ages, and he should sit and meditate upon the Holy Scriptures, he would not comprehend all the force of the depth of the words.

And man cannot rise up to the wisdom of God; as I have written in the tenth discourse.

But, however, the words of all speakers who do not take from the great treasure, are accursed and to be despised.  For the image of the king (on his coin) is received wherever it goes; but (the coin) in which there is base metal, is rejected and is not received.

[…] I also according to my insignificance have written these things, a man sprung from Adam, and fashioned by the hands of God, a disciple of the Holy Scriptures.

For our Lord said: Every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and for him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matt. 7:8).

And the prophet said: I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh in the last days, and they shall prophesy. (Joel 2:28).

Therefore whoever shall read anything that I have written above, let him read with persuasion, and pray for the author as a brother of the Body, that, through the petition of all the Church of God, his sins may be forgiven.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 22 – On Death and the Latter Times (26). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

John Cassian: These four kinds of supplication the Lord Himself by His own example vouchsafed to originate for us Thursday, Jul 23 2015 

Sf-IoanCasianContinued from here….

These four kinds of supplication the Lord Himself by His own example vouchsafed to originate for us, so that in this too He might fulfil that which was said of Him: “which Jesus began both to do and to teach” (Acts 1:1).

For He made use of the class of supplication when He said: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”;

or this which is chanted in His Person in the Psalm: “My God, My God, look upon Me, why hast Thou forsaken me” (Matt. 26:39; Ps. 21:2) and others like it.

It is prayer where He says: “I have magnified Thee upon the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do”;

and this: “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself that they also may be sanctified in the truth” (John 17:4, 19).

It is intercession when He says: “Father, those Whom Thou hast given me, I will that they also may be with Me that they may see My glory which Thou hast given Me”;

or when He says: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (John 17:24; Luke 23:34).

It is thanksgiving when He says: “I confess to Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight”;

or when He says: “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. But I knew that Thou hearest Me always” (Matt. 11:25-26; John 11:41-42).

But though our Lord made a distinction between these four kinds of prayers as to be offered separately and one by one according to the scheme which we know of, yet that they can all be embraced in a perfect prayer at one and the same time He showed by His own example in that prayer which at the close of S. John’s gospel we read that He offered up with such fulness.

[…] And the Apostle also in his Epistle to the Philippians has expressed the same meaning, by putting these four kinds of prayers in a slightly different order, and has shown that they ought sometimes to be offered together in the fervour of a single prayer, saying as follows:

“But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). And by this he wanted us especially to understand that in prayer and supplication thanksgiving ought to be mingled with our requests.

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 9, 17.

John of Kronstadt: “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him” Wednesday, Jul 22 2015 

john_kronstadtBegin to fulfil the commandments relating to small things, and you will come to fulfil the commandments relating to great things.

Small things everywhere lead to great ones.

Begin by fulfilling the commandment of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, or the tenth commandment relating to evil thoughts and desires, and you will eventually learn to fulfil all the commandments.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).

[…] Take the trouble to spend only one single day according to God’s commandments, and you will see yourself, you will feel by your own heart, how good it is to fulfil God’s will (and God’s will in relation to us is our life, our eternal blessedness).

Love God with all your heart at least as much as you love your father, your mother, and your benefactors. Value with all your strength His love and His benefits to you. Go over them mentally in your heart.

Think how He gave you existence and with it all good things, how endlessly long He bears with your sins, how endlessly He forgives you them for the sake of your hearty repentance…, what blessedness He has promised you in eternity, if you are faithful to Him.

Enumerate besides His mercies, which are endlessly great and manifold.

Furthermore, love every man as yourself – that is, do not wish him anything that you would not wish for yourself. Think, feel for him just as you would think and feel for your own self.

Do not wish to see in him anything that you do not wish to see in yourself. Do not let your memory keep in it any evil caused to you by others, in the same way as you would wish that the evil done by yourself should be forgotten by others.

Do not intentionally imagine either in yourself or in another anything guilty or impure. Believe others to be as well-intentioned as yourself, in general, if you do not see clearly that they are evilly disposed.

Do unto them as you would to yourself, or even do not do unto them as you would not do unto yourself, and then you will see what you will obtain in your heart – what peace, what blessedness!

You will be in paradise before reaching it – that is, before the paradise in heaven you will be in the paradise on earth.

“The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), says the Lord. “He that dwelleth in love,” teaches the Apostle, “dwelleth in God and God in him” (1 John 4:16).

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ, part 1, pp.33-35.

Athanasius of Alexandria: The renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning Tuesday, Jul 21 2015 

AthanasiusIn what precedes we have drawn out…a sufficient account of the error of the heathen concerning idols,

—and of the worship of idols, and how they originally came to be invented;

—how, namely, out of wickedness men devised for themselves the worshipping of idols.

And we have by God’s grace noted also of the divinity of the Word of the Father,

—and of His universal Providence and power,

—and that the Good Father through Him orders all things,

—and all things are moved by Him, and in Him are quickened.

Come now, true lover of Christ, let us follow up the faith of our religion (τῆς εὐσεβείας – cf. 1 Tim. 3:16), and set forth also what relates to the Word’s becoming Man, and to His divine appearing amongst us…in order that, all the more for the seeming low estate of the Word, your piety toward Him may be increased and multiplied.

For the more He is mocked among the unbelieving, the more witness does He give of His own Godhead. He not only Himself demonstrates as possible what men mistake, thinking impossible, but what men deride as unseemly, this by His own goodness He clothes with seemliness.

And what men, in their conceit of wisdom, laugh at as merely human, He by His own power demonstrates to be divine, subduing the pretensions of idols by His supposed humiliation—by the Cross—and invisibly winning over to recognise His divinity and power those who mock and disbelieve.

But to treat this subject it is necessary to recall what has been previously said, in order that you may neither fail to know the cause of the bodily appearing of the Word of the Father, so high and so great, nor think it a consequence of His own nature that the Saviour has worn a body.

Rather, being incorporeal by nature, and being Word from the beginning, He has yet of the loving-kindness and goodness of His own Father been manifested to us in a human body for our salvation.

It is, then, proper for us to begin the treatment of this subject by speaking of the creation of the universe, and of God its Artificer, that so it may be duly perceived that the renewal of creation has been the work of the self-same Word that made it at the beginning.

For it will appear not inconsonant for the Father to have wrought its salvation in Him by Whose means He made it.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 1 (slightly adapted).

Gregory of Nyssa: Our whole nature, extending from the first to the last, is one image of Him Who Is Saturday, Jul 18 2015 

Gregory_of_NyssaLet us now resume our consideration of the Divine word, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).

[…] In what does the greatness of man consist, according to the doctrine of the Church?

Not in his likeness to the created world, but in his being in the image of the nature of the Creator.

[…] What is it then which we understand concerning these matters?

In saying that “God created man” the text indicates, by the indefinite character of the term, all mankind.

For was not Adam here named together with the creation, as the history tells us in what follows?

Yet the name given to the man created is not the particular, but the general name.

Thus we are led by the employment of the general name of our nature to some such view as this—that in the Divine foreknowledge and power all humanity is included in the first creation.

For it is fitting for God not to regard any of the things made by Him as indeterminate, but that each existing thing should have some limit and measure prescribed by the wisdom of its Maker.

Any particular man is limited by his bodily dimensions, and the peculiar size which is conjoined with the superficies of his body is the measure of his separate existence.

So also I think that the entire plenitude of humanity was included by the God of all, by His power of foreknowledge, as it were in one body, and that this is what the text teaches us which says, “God created man, in the image of God created He him.”

For the image is not in part of our nature, nor is the grace in any one of the things found in that nature, but this power extends equally to all the race.

And a sign of this is that mind is implanted alike in all: for all have the power of understanding and deliberating, and of all else whereby the Divine nature finds its image in that which was made according to it.

The man that was manifested at the first creation of the world, and he that shall be after the consummation of all, are alike: they equally bear in themselves the Divine image.

For this reason the whole race was spoken of as one man, namely, that to God’s power nothing is either past or future, but even that which we expect is comprehended, equally with what is at present existing, by the all-sustaining energy.

Our whole nature, then, extending from the first to the last, is, so to say, one image of Him Who Is.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Making of Man, 16, 1,2,16-18 (slightly adapted).

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