Athanasius of Alexandria: One God who is above all things and through all things and in all things Sunday, May 22 2016 

AthanasiusWe acknowledge the Trinity, holy and perfect, to consist of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

In this Trinity there is no intrusion of any alien element or of anything from outside, nor is the Trinity a blend of creative and created being.

It is a wholly creative and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit; and in this way the unity of the Holy Trinity is preserved.

Accordingly in the Church one God is preached, one God who is above all things and through all things and in all things.

God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word; and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit.

Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father.

Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word.

This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him. For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.

Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the communion of the Spirit himself.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Letter 1.28-30 (PG 26:594-595, 599); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Trinity Sunday, Year 1.

John Chrysostom: “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk” Friday, May 20 2016 

Chrysostom3On John 5:6-8.

Great is the profit of the divine Scriptures, and all-sufficient is the aid which comes from them.

And Paul declared this when he said, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written aforetime for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” ( Rom. 15:4, 1 Cor. 10:11).

For the divine oracles are a treasury of all manner of medicines, so that whether it be needful to quench pride, to lull desire to sleep, to tread under foot the love of money, to despise pain, to inspire confidence, to gain patience, from them one may find abundant resource.

For what man of those who struggle with long poverty or who are nailed to a grievous disease, will not, when he reads the passage before us, receive much comfort?

Since this man who had been paralytic for thirty and eight years, and who saw each year others delivered, and himself bound by his disease, not even so fell back and despaired, though in truth not merely despondency for the past, but also hopelessness for the future, was sufficient to overwhelm him.

Hear now what he says, and learn the greatness of his tragedy. For when Christ had said, “Wilt thou be made whole?” “Yea, Lord,” he says, “but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool.” What can be more pitiable than these words? What more sad than these circumstances?

Do you see a heart crushed through long sickness? Do you see all violence subdued? He uttered no blasphemous word, nor such as we hear the many use in reverses, he cursed not his day, he was not angry at the question, nor did he say, “Are You come to make a mock and a jest of us, that You ask whether I desire to be made whole?”

But he replied gently, and with great mildness, “Yea, Lord”; yet he knew not who it was that asked him, nor that He would heal him, but still he mildly relates all the circumstances and asks nothing further, as though he were speaking to a physician, and desired merely to tell the story of his sufferings.

Perhaps he hoped that Christ might be so far useful to him as to put him into the water, and desired to attract Him by these words. What then does Jesus say? “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk”

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on St John’s Gospel, 37 (on John 5:6-8); [slightly adapted].

Augustine of Hippo: When the Lord rose from the dead, he put off the mortality of the flesh Wednesday, May 18 2016 

St Augustine of AfricaI speak to you who have just been reborn in baptism, my little children in Christ.

[…] It is the words of the Apostle that I address to you: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh and its desires, so that you may be clothed with the life of him whom you have put on in this sacrament.

You have all been clothed with Christ by your baptism in him. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor freeman; there is neither male nor female; you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Such is the power of this sacrament: it is a sacrament of new life which begins here and now with the forgiveness of all past sins, and will be brought to completion in the resurrection of the dead.

You have been buried with Christ by baptism into death in order that, as Christ has risen from the dead, you also may walk in newness of life.

You are walking now by faith, still on pilgrimage in a mortal body away from the Lord; but he to whom your steps are directed is himself the sure and certain way for you: Jesus Christ, who for our sake became man.

For all who fear him he has stored up abundant happiness, which he will reveal to those who hope in him, bringing it to completion when we have attained the reality which even now we possess in hope.

This is the octave day of your new birth. Today is fulfilled in you the sign of faith that was prefigured in the Old Testament by the circumcision of the flesh on the eighth day after birth.

When the Lord rose from the dead, he put off the mortality of the flesh; his risen body was still the same body, but it was no longer subject to death. By his resurrection he consecrated Sunday, or the Lord’s day.

Though the third after his passion, this day is the eighth after the Sabbath, and thus also the first day of the week. And so your own hope of resurrection, though not yet realised, is sure and certain, because you have received the sacrament or sign of this reality, and have been given the pledge of the Spirit.

If, then, you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your hearts on heavenly things, not the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, appears, then you too will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon 8 in the Octave of Easter, Office of Readings for Sunday in the second week of Easter @ Universalis.

Ælfric of Eynsham: There came a great light, and an awful sound, and blowing trumpets Sunday, May 15 2016 

All_SS_of_BritainGod commanded Moses in Egypt, that he and all the people of Israel should offer, for every household, a lamb of one year to God, and mark with the blood the sign of the cross on their door-posts and lintels, as on that night God’s angel went and slew in every house of the Egyptian folk the firstborn child and the dearest.

And the people of Israel went on the same night from the nation, and God led them over the Red sea with dry feet.

Pharaoh then hastened after them with a great army. When he came into the middle of the sea, the people of God were gone up, and God then sank Pharaoh and all his host.

God then commanded Moses and the people that they should keep that tide with great reverence in the circuit of every year. The tide was then appointed to the people for Easter-tide, because God had saved them from their foes, and destroyed their persecutors.

Then fifty days after this God appointed a law for the people, and the glory of God was seen on a hill which is called Sinai. There came a great light, and an awful sound, and blowing trumpets. Then God called Moses to him, and he was with God forty days, and wrote down the old law by God’s direction. Then was the day called Pentecost in the Old Testament.

The offered lamb betokened the slaying of Christ, who innocent was offered to his Father for our redemption. Now is his passion and his resurrection our Easter-tide, because he redeemed us from the thraldom of the devil, and our persecutors are sunk by the holy baptism, as Pharaoh was with his people in the Red sea.

These fifty days from the day of Easter are all hallowed to one celebration, and this present day is our Pentecost, that is, the fiftieth day from Easter-day.

On the old Pentecost God appointed a law to the people of Israel, and on this day the Holy Ghost came in semblance of fire to God’s company; for as the lamb betokened the passion of Christ, so also the old law betokened the preaching of the gospel under the grace of God.

There are three periods in this world: one is that which was without law; the second is that which was under the law; the third is now after the advent of Christ. This period is called ‘under God’s grace.’

We are not without law, nor may we hold bodily the law of Moses, but God’s grace directs us to his will, if we be mindful of Christ’s commandments and of the precepts of the apostles.

Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010): Homily 22 (for the Holy Day of Pentecost), trans. Benjamin Thorpe; icon of All Saints of Britain and Ireland.

Hilary of Poitiers: “God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in the Spirit and in truth” Thursday, May 12 2016 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienThe words of the Gospel, For God is Spirit (John 4:24), need careful examination as to their sense and their purpose.

[…] The Lord was speaking with a woman of Samaria, for He had come to be the Redeemer for all mankind.

After He had discoursed at length of the living water…the woman answered, Lord, I perceive that Thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship (John 4:19-20).

The Lord replied, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.

[…]  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. For God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in the Spirit and in truth, for God is Spirit (John 4:19-24).

We see that the woman, her mind full of inherited tradition, thought that God must be worshipped either on a mountain, as at Samaria, or in a temple, as at Jerusalem.

Samaria in disobedience to the Law had chosen a site upon the mountain for worship, while the Jews regarded the temple founded by Solomon as the home of their religion. The prejudices of both confined the all-embracing and illimitable God to the crest of a hill or the vault of a building.

God is invisible, incomprehensible, immeasurable; the Lord said that the time had come when God should be worshipped neither on mountain nor in temple. For Spirit cannot be cabined or confined; it is omnipresent in space and time, and under all conditions present in its fulness.

Therefore, He said, they are the true worshippers who shall worship in the Spirit and in truth. And these who are to worship God the Spirit in the Spirit shall have the One [i.e. the Holy Spirit] for the means, the Other [i.e. God the Trinity Who is Spirit] for the object, of their reverence. For Each of the Two stands in a different relation to the worshipper.

The words, God is Spirit, do not alter the fact that the Holy Spirit has a Name of His own, and that He is the Gift to us. The woman who confined God to hill or temple was told that God contains all things and is self-contained: that He, the Invisible and Incomprehensible must be worshipped by invisible and incomprehensible means.

The imparted gift and the object of reverence were clearly shewn when Christ taught that God, being Spirit, must be worshipped in the Spirit, and revealed what freedom and knowledge, what boundless scope for adoration, lay in this worship of God, the Spirit, in the Spirit.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 2, 31 [slightly adapted].

Leo the Great: Things which as yet have for the most part not come to pass must be reckoned as accomplished Wednesday, May 11 2016 

Saint_Leo_of_RomeContinued from here….

St. Paul…says “even though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16).

For the Lord’s Resurrection was not the ending, but the changing of the flesh, and His substance was not destroyed by His increase of power.

The quality altered, but the nature did not cease to exist. The body which it had been possible to crucify was made impassible. It was made incorruptible, though it had been possible to wound it.

And properly is Christ’s flesh said not to be known in that state in which it had been known, because nothing remained passible in it, nothing weak, so that it was both the same in essence and not the same in glory.

But what wonder if S. Paul maintains this about Christ’s body, when he says of all spiritual Christians wherefore henceforth we know no one after the flesh.

Henceforth, he says, we begin to experience the resurrection in Christ, since the time when in Him, Who died for all, all our hopes were guaranteed to us.

We do not hesitate in diffidence, we are not under the suspense of uncertainty, but having received an earnest of the promise, we now with the eye of faith see the things which will be, and rejoicing in the uplifting of our nature, we already possess what we believe.

Let us not then be taken up with the appearances of temporal matters, neither let our contemplations be diverted from heavenly to earthly things.

Things which as yet have for the most part not come to pass must be reckoned as accomplished: and the mind intent on what is permanent must fix its desires there, where what is offered is eternal.

For although “by hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24), and still bear about with us a flesh that is corruptible and mortal, yet we are rightly said not to be in the flesh, if the fleshly affections do not dominate us, and are justified in ceasing to be named after that, the will of which we do not follow.

And so, when the Apostle says “make not provision for the flesh in the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14), we understand that those things are not forbidden us, which conduce to health and which human weakness demands.

But because we may not satisfy all our desires nor indulge in all that the flesh lusts after, we recognize that we are warned to exercise such self-restraint as not to permit what is excessive nor refuse what is necessary to the flesh, which is placed under the mind’s control.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 71, 4-5.

Basil the Great: The gospel is a forecast of the life that follows on the resurrection Tuesday, May 10 2016 

St-Basil-the-GreatContinued from here….

We do not…wash ourselves at each defilement, but own the baptism of salvation to be one.

For there the death on behalf of the world is one, and one the resurrection of the dead, whereof baptism is a type.

For this cause the Lord, who is the Dispenser of our life, gave us the covenant of baptism, containing a type of life and death, for the water fulfils the image of death, and the Spirit gives us the earnest of life.

Hence it follows that the answer to our question why the water was associated with the Spirit is clear.

The reason is because in baptism two ends were proposed; on the one hand, the destroying of the body of sin, that it may never bear fruit unto death; on the other hand, our living unto the Spirit, and having our fruit in holiness.

The water receiving the body as in a tomb figures death, while the Spirit pours in the quickening power, renewing our souls from the deadness of sin unto their original life.

This then is what it is to be born again of water and of the Spirit, the being made dead being effected in the water, while our life is wrought in us through the Spirit.

In three immersions, then, and with three invocations, the great mystery of baptism is performed, to the end that the type of death may be fully figured, and that by the handing-over of the divine knowledge the baptized may have their souls enlightened.

It follows that if there is any grace in the water, it is not of the nature of the water, but of the presence of the Spirit. For baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God (1 Peter 3:21).

So, in training us for the life that follows on the resurrection, the Lord sets out all the manner of life required by the Gospel, laying down for us the law of gentleness, of endurance of wrong, of freedom from the defilement that comes of the love of pleasure, and from covetousness, to the end that we may of set purpose win beforehand and achieve all that the life to come of its inherent nature possesses.

If therefore any one in attempting a definition were to describe the gospel as a forecast of the life that follows on the resurrection, he would not seem to me to go beyond what is meet and right.

Basil the Great (330-379): On the Holy Spirit 15, 35 [slightly adapted].

Cyril of Jerusalem: You became ‘christs’ when you received the sign of the Holy Spirit Monday, May 9 2016 

Cyril-of-JerusalemWhen you were baptized into Christ and clothed yourselves in him, you were transformed into the likeness of the Son of God.

Having destined us to be his children by adoption, God gave us a likeness to Christ in his glory, and, living as you do in communion with Christ, you yourselves are rightly called ‘christs’ or anointed ones.

When he said: Do not touch my anointed ones, God was speaking of you.

You became ‘christs’ when you received the sign of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, everything took place in you by means of images, because you yourselves are images of Christ.

Christ bathed in the river Jordan, imparting to its waters the fragrance of his divinity, and when he came up from them the Holy Spirit descended upon him; like resting upon like.

So you also, after coming up from the sacred waters of Baptism, were anointed with chrism, which signifies the Holy Spirit, by whom Christ was anointed and of whom blessed Isaiah prophesied in the name of the Lord:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach good news to the poor.

Christ’s anointing was not by human hands, nor was it with ordinary oil. On the contrary, having destined him to be the Saviour of the whole world, the Father himself anointed him with the Holy Spirit.

The words of Peter bear witness to this: Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit.

And David the prophet proclaimed: Your throne, O God, shall endure forever, your royal sceptre is a sceptre of justice. You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above all your fellows.

The oil of gladness with which Christ was anointed was a spiritual oil; it was in fact the Holy Spirit himself who is called the oil of gladness because he is the source of spiritual joy.

But you also have been anointed with oil, and by this anointing you have entered into fellowship with Christ and have received a share in his life.

Beware of thinking of this chrism as merely ordinary oil. As the eucharistic bread after the invocation of the Holy Spirit is no longer ordinary bread but the body of Christ, so also the oil after the invocation is no longer plain ordinary oil but Christ’s gift which by the presence of his divinity becomes the instrument through which you receive the Holy Spirit.

While symbolically, on your foreheads and organs of sense, your bodies are anointed with this oil that we see; your souls are sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechesis 21, 1-3 (PG 33:1087-1091); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Easter Wednesday, Year 2.

Gregory of Nyssa: Now the mystery of Christ’s death is fulfilled, victory is won, and the Cross, the sign of triumph, is raised on high Saturday, May 7 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaOn Psalm 23 [24].

The Gospel describes the Lord’s life upon earth and his return to heaven.

But the sublime prophet David, as though unencum­bered by the weight of his body, rose above himself to mingle with the heavenly powers and record for us their words as they accompanied the Master when he came down from heaven.

Ordering the angels on earth entrusted with the care of human life to raise the gates, they cried: Lift up your gates, you princes; be lifted up you everlasting doors. Let the King of glory enter.

But because wherever he is, he who contains all things in himself makes himself like those who receive him, not only becoming a man among men, but also when among angels conforming his nature to theirs, the gatekeepers asked: Who is this King of glory?

He is the strong one, they were told, mighty in battle, the one who is to grapple with and overthrow the captor of the human race who has the power of death. When this last enemy has been destroyed, he will restore us to freedom and peace.

Now the mystery of Christ’s death is fulfilled, victory is won, and the Cross, the sign of triumph, is raised on high. He who gives us the noble gifts of life and a kingdom has ascended into heaven, leading captivity captive.

Therefore the same command is repeated. Once more the gates of heaven must open for him. Our guardian angels, who have now become his escorts, order them to be flung wide so that he may enter and regain his former glory.

But he is not recognized in the soiled garments of our life, in clothes reddened by the winepress of human sin. Again the escorting angels are asked: Who is this King of glory?

The answer is no longer, The strong one, mighty in battle, but, The lord of hosts, he who has gained power over the whole universe, who has recapitulated all things in himself who is above all things, who has restored all creation to its former state: He is the King of glory.

You see how much David has added to our joy in this feast and contributed to the gladness of the Church.

Therefore as far as we can let us imitate the prophet by our love for God, by gentleness and by patience with those who hate us. Let the prophet’s teaching help us to live in a way pleasing to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Ascension (Jaeger 9.1.323-327); ); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Eastertide, Year 2.

Justin Popovich: Christ has come to deify the entire man by the resurrection, ensuring thereby victory over death and eternal life Thursday, May 5 2016 

JustinContinued from here….

The New Testament raised the human body to the sublime and divine heights, endowing it with a glory which the Cherubim and Seraphim do not possess.

The Good News of the New Testament concerning the body—the significance and goal of the human body—is that, together with the soul, it achieves and inherits immortal life in Divine eternity.

The Lord Christ has come to deify, to make Christ-like, the entire man, that is, the soul and body, and this by the resurrection, ensuring thereby victory over death and eternal life.

No one ever elevated the human body as did the Lord Christ by His bodily resurrection, the ascension of His body into heaven, and its eternal session at the right hand of God the Father.

In this way, the Resurrected Christ extended the promise of resurrection to the nature of the human body—”having made for all flesh a path to eternal life.”

Thus man now knows that the body is created for eternity through union with the God-Man and that his divine work on earth is to struggle, with the soul, for eternal life;

to struggle, with all those means that convey grace and virtue, to make himself grace-filled, fulfilled by Divine grace, and created anew as the temple of the Holy Spirit, the temple of the Living God.

Bearing in mind that this New Testamental notion of the human body has been achieved and realized in the persons of the Saints, Christians show a pious veneration for the bodies of the Saints, towards holy relics, the temples of the Holy Spirit, Who by God’s grace abides within them.

But Holy Revelation indicates that by God’s immeasurable love for man, the Holy Spirit abides through His grace not only in the bodies of the Saints, but also in their clothing.

So it is that the handkerchiefs of the holy apostle Paul healed the ill and expelled unclean spirits (Acts 19:12).

With his mantle the Prophet Elias struck the water, separating the waters of the Jordan, and along the dry bed of the river crossed the Jordan with his disciple Elisea (IV Kings 2:8).

The prophet Elisea did the very same thing, himself, with the same mantle, after the taking-up of Elias into heaven (IV Kings 2:14).

All this has its verification and source in the Divine power that rested in the garments of the Savior, which encompassed His most pure and Divine body.

Moreover, by His inexpressible love for man, the Divine Lord allows the servants of His Divinity to work miracles not only through their bodies and clothing, but even with the shadow of their bodies, which is evident in an occurrence with the holy apostle Peter: his shadow healed an ill man and expelled unclean spirits (Acts 5:15-16).

Justin Popovich (1894-1979; Orthodox Church): The Place of Holy Relics in the Orthodox Church @ OCIC.

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