Gregory of Nyssa: You see the revolving circle of the glory moving from like to like Sunday, May 24 2015 

Gregory_of_NyssaThe Holy Spirit is, to begin with, because of qualities that are essentially holy, that which the Father – Who is essentially Holy – is.

And such as the Only-begotten is, such is the Holy Spirit.

Then, again, He is so by virtue of life-giving, of imperishability, of unvariableness, of everlastingness, of justice, of wisdom, of rectitude, of sovereignty, of goodness, of power, of capacity to give all good things, and above them all life itself.

He is so by being everywhere, being present in each, filling the earth, residing in the heavens, shed abroad upon supernatural powers, filling all things according to the deserts of each, Himself remaining full, being with all who are worthy, and yet not parted from the Holy Trinity.

He ever “searches the deep things of God,” ever “receives” from the Son, ever is being “sent,” and yet not separated, and being “glorified,” and yet He has always had glory.

It is plain, indeed, that one who gives glory to another must be found himself in the possession of superabundant glory; for how could one devoid of glory glorify another? Unless a thing be itself light, how can it display the gracious gift of light?

So the power to glorify could never be displayed by one who was not himself glory, and honour, and majesty, and greatness. Now the Spirit does glorify the Father and the Son.

Neither does He lie Who saith, “Them that glorify Me I glorify” (cf. 1 Sam. 2:30). And “I have glorified Thee” (John 17:4), is said by our Lord to the Father.

And again He says, “Glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5). The Divine Voice answers, “I have both glorified, and will glorify again” (John 12:28).

You see the revolving circle of the glory moving from Like to Like.

The Son is glorified by the Spirit; the Father is glorified by the Son; again the Son has His glory from the Father; and the Only-begotten thus becomes the glory of the Spirit.

For with what shall the Father be glorified, but with the true glory of the Son. And with what again shall the Son be glorified, but with the majesty of the Spirit?

In like manner, again, Faith completes the circle, and glorifies the Son by means of the Spirit, and the Father by means of the Son.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Holy Spirit.

Justin Popovich: Every holy mystery and holy virtue is a little Pentecost Saturday, May 23 2015 

Justin Popovich[Theanthropic – divine (in Greek theos = God) and human (in Greek anthropos = man); the Theanthropos = the God-Man, i.e. Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.]

Through His life in the flesh on earth, the God-Man founded His theanthropic Body, the Church, and in this way prepared the earthly world for the Holy Spirit’s coming into the world, and His life and activity in the Body of the Church as the Soul of that Body.

On the holy Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven into the theanthropic Body of the Church and remains eternally in it as its life-giving Soul (Acts 2:1-47).

This visible theanthropic Body of the Church was constituted by the holy apostles with their holy faith in the Theanthropos, the Lord Jesus, as the Savior of the world, as perfect God and perfect Man.

The descent and activity of the Holy Spirit in the theanthropic Body of the Church is because of, and for the sake of, the Theanthropos (cf. Jn 16:7-13; 15:26; 14:26). “For His sake the Holy Spirit entered into the world.”

[…] All His [the Spirit’s] activity is of one essence with the theanthropic ascesis of the salvation of the world by the Lord Christ.

Pentecost is, with all the immortal gifts of the Triune Godhead, of the Holy Spirit Himself, intended for the holy apostles; the holy apostolic Faith and Tradition, the hierarchy and everything that is apostolic and theanthropic.

The Day of the Holy Spirit, which began on the Day of Pentecost, is ever present in the Church in the inexpressible fullness of all the divine gifts and the life-giving powers (Acts 10:44-48; 11:15-16; 15:8-9; 19:6).

Everything in the Church comes about through the Holy Spirit, from the least to the greatest. When the priest blesses the censer before censing, he prays to the Lord Christ to “send down the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

The clearest testimony that the entire life of the Church comes from the Holy Spirit is at the consecration of a bishop, when God’s indescribable miracle, holy Pentecost, is repeated and the fullness of grace is given.

There is no doubt that the Lord Christ is in the Church through the Holy Spirit, and that the Church is in the Lord Christ through the Holy Spirit. The Lord Christ is the Head and Body of the Church; the Holy Spirit is its Soul (cf. I Cor. 12:1-28).

From the very beginning of the theanthropic dispensation of salvation, the Holy Spirit has made Himself a part of the foundation of the Church, the foundation of the Body of Christ, by “bringing about the incarnation of the Logos in the Virgin.”

In fact, every holy mystery and holy virtue is a little Pentecost; in them, the Holy Spirit descends upon us, into us. He descends in His essence, He, “the richness of the Godhead,” “the grace of the open seas,” “from Him come grace and life for every creature.”

Justin Popovich (1894-1979; Orthodox Church): from The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism @ Ora at Labora.

John Paul II: Life in the Spirit transcends even death Friday, May 22 2015 

jp2“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

In these words from the Gospel of John, the gift of “eternal life” represents the ultimate purpose of the Father’s loving plan.

This gift gives us access through grace to the ineffable communion of love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:

“This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3).

The “eternal life” that flows from the Father is communicated to us in its fullness by Jesus in his paschal mystery through the Holy Spirit.

By receiving it we share in the risen Jesus’ definitive victory over death. “Death and life”, we proclaim in the liturgy, “have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal” (Sequence for Easter Sunday).

In this decisive event of salvation, Jesus gives human beings “eternal life” in the Holy Spirit.

In the “fullness of time” Christ thus fulfils, beyond all expectation, that promise of “eternal life” which the Father has inscribed in the creation of man in his image and likeness since the beginning of the world (cf. Gn 1:26).

As we sing in Psalm 104, man experiences that life in the cosmos and, particularly, his own life have their beginning in the “breath” communicated by the Spirit of the Lord:

“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth” (vv. 29-30).

Communion with God, the gift of his Spirit, more and more becomes for the chosen people the pledge of a life that is not limited to earthly existence but mysteriously transcends and prolongs it forever.

[…] Jesus links belief in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn 11:25).

In him, through the mystery of his Death and Resurrection, the divine promise of the gift of “eternal life” is fulfilled.

This life implies total victory over death: “The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear the voice [of the Son] and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life …” (Jn 5:28-29).

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:40).

John Paul II (1920-2005): General Audience, October 28th, 1998.

 

Hilary of Poitiers: Thy Holy Spirit searches and knows Thy deep things, and as Intercessor for me speaks to Thee words I could not utter Wednesday, May 20 2015 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassien[Hilary is addressing God the Father]

I cannot be content…to deny that my Lord and my God, Thy Only-begotten, Jesus Christ, is a creature.

I must also deny that this name of ‘creature’ belongs to Thy Holy Spirit, seeing that He proceeds from Thee and is sent through Him, so great is my reverence for everything that is Thine.

Nor, because I know that Thou alone art unborn and that the Only-begotten is born of Thee, will I refuse to say that the Holy Spirit was begotten, or assert that He was ever created.

[…] Thy Holy Spirit, as the Apostle says, searches and knows Thy deep things, and as Intercessor for me speaks to Thee words I could not utter.

And shall I express or rather dishonour, by the title ‘creature,’ the power of His nature, which subsists eternally, derived from Thee through Thine Only-begotten?

Nothing, except what belongs to Thee, penetrates into Thee; nor can the agency of a power foreign and strange to Thee measure the depth of Thy boundless majesty.

To Thee belongs whatever enters into Thee; nor is anything strange to Thee, which dwells in Thee through its searching power.

But I cannot describe Him, Whose pleas for me I cannot describe.

As in the revelation that Thy Only-begotten was born of Thee before times eternal, when we cease to struggle with ambiguities of language and difficulties of thought the one certainty of His birth remains.

So I hold fast in my consciousness the truth that Thy Holy Spirit is from Thee and through Him, although I cannot by my intellect comprehend it.

For in Thy spiritual things I am dull, as Thy Only-begotten says…: The Spirit breathes where It will, and thou hearest the voice of It; but dost not know whence it comes or whither It goes. So is every one who is born of water and of the Holy Spirit (John 3:7-8).

[…] Since, then, the cause of His coming and going is unknown, though the watcher is conscious of the fact, shall I count the nature of the Spirit among created things, and limit Him by fixing the time of His origin?

Thy servant John says, indeed, that all things were made through the Son, Who as God the Word was in the beginning, O God, with Thee. Again, Paul recounts all things as created in Him, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible (Col. 1:16).

And, while he declared that everything was created in Christ and through Christ, he thought, with respect to the Holy Spirit, that the description was sufficient, when he called Him Thy Spirit.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 12, 55-56.

Cyril of Alexandria: The Saviour gives us the Spirit anew, bringing us again unto that ancient dignity and reforming us unto His own Image Tuesday, May 19 2015 

cyril_alexandriaBut this He said of the Spirit Which they that believe on Him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:39).

There has been given to us the renewing Spirit, that is, the Holy, the occasion of everlasting life after that Christ was glorified, i.e., after the Resurrection.

Having burst the bonds of death and appeared superior to all corruption, He lived again having our whole nature in Himself, in that He was Man and One of us.

And if you investigate the reason why the pouring forth of the Spirit took place not before the resurrection but after it, you will hear in reply, Christ became then the firstfruits of the renewed nature.

Making no account of the bands of death He lived again as we have just now said. How then should those be quickened before the Firstfruit who come after the Firstfruit?

The plant will not shoot up from the earth unless it is surely sprung from its own root (for thence is the beginning of its growth).

So also it was impossible that we, who have as our root unto incorruption our Lord Jesus Christ, should be seen springing up before our root.

But, shewing that the time of the Descent of the Spirit upon us was now come after the revival from the dead, He breathed on His disciples, saying, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. 

For then was the time of the renewal indeed at the doors, yea rather within the doors. And let the searcher after learning again see whether what we say on these things too be not true.

For in the beginning, as the Spirit-clad Moses told us, the Creator of all, taking dust of the ground and having formed man, breathed upon his face the breath of life. 

And what is the breath of life, save surely the Spirit of Christ Who says, I am the Resurrection and the Life? 

But since the Spirit which is able to gather us and to form us unto the Divine Impress fled away from human nature [i.e. after Adam’s sin], the Saviour gives us the Spirit anew, bringing us again unto that ancient dignity and reforming us unto His own Image.

For therefore does Paul too say…, Little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.

[…] In the holy Prophets there was a certain rich shining-upon and torch-illumination from the Spirit, mighty to lead them to the apprehension of things to come and the knowledge of things hidden.

But in those who believe on Christ, we are confident that not merely torch-illumination from the Spirit but the Spirit Himself dwells and has His habitation.

Whence rightly are we called temples too of God, though no one of the holy Prophets was ever called a Divine Temple.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 5 (on John 7:39); slightly adapted.

Seraphim of Sarov: The Spirit of God fills with joy whatever He touches Monday, May 18 2015 

Seraphim_SarovskyWhen the Spirit of God comes down to man and overshadows him with the fullness of His inspiration, then the human soul overflows with unspeakable joy, for the Spirit of God fills with joy whatever He touches.

This is that joy of which the Lord speaks in His Gospel: A woman when she is in travail has sorrow, because her hour is come; but when she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

In the world you will be sorrowful; but when I see you again, your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you (Jn. 16:21-22).

Yet however comforting may be this joy which you now feel in your heart, it is nothing in comparison with that of which the Lord Himself by the mouth of His Apostle said that that joy eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for them that love Him (I Cor. 2:9).

Foretastes of that joy are given to us now, and if they fill our souls with such sweetness, well-being and happiness, what shall we say of that joy which has been prepared in heaven for those who weep here on earth? And you, my son, have wept enough in your life on earth; yet see with what joy the Lord consoles you even in this life!

Now it is up to us, my son, to add labours to labours in order to go from strength to strength (Ps. 83:7), and to come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13), so that the words of the Lord may be fulfilled in us: 

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall grow wings like eagles; and they shall run and not be weary (Is. 40:31); they will go from strength to strength, and the God of gods will appear to them in the Sion (Ps. 83:8) of realization and heavenly visions.

Only then will our present joy (which now visits us little and briefly) appear in all its fullness, and no one will take it from us, for we shall be filled to overflowing with inexplicable heavenly delights.

Seraphim of Sarov (Orthodox Church; 1759-1833): On the Acquisition of the Holy Spirit.

Ambrose of Milan: As the love of the Father and the Son is one, so this love of God is shed abroad by the Holy Spirit Sunday, May 17 2015 

ambrose_of_milanWhat is the love of the Son, but that He offered Himself for us, and redeemed us with His own blood (Eph. 5:2).

But the same love is in the Father, for it is written: “God so loved the world, that He gave His Only-begotten Son” ( John 3:16).

So, then, the Father gave the Son, and the Son gave Himself.

Love is preserved and due affection is not wronged, for affection is not wronged where there is no distress in the giving up.

He gave one Who was willing, He gave One Who offered Himself, the Father did not give the Son to punishment but to grace.

If you enquire into the merit of the deed, enquire into the description of the affection.

The vessel of election shows plainly the unity of this divine love, because both the Father gave the Son and the Son gave Himself.

The Father gave, Who “spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32).

And of the Son he [St Paul] also says: “Who gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

“Gave Himself,” he says. If it be of grace, what do I find fault with. If it be that He suffered wrong, I owe the more.

But learn that in like manner as the Father gave the Son, and the Son gave Himself, so, too, the Holy Spirit gave Him. For it is written: “Then was Jesus led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1).

So, too, the loving Spirit gave the Son of God.

For as the love of the Father and the Son is one, so, too, we have shown that this love of God is shed abroad by the Holy Spirit, and is the fruit of the Holy Spirit, because “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience” (Gal. 5:22).

And that there is communion between the Father and the Son is plain, for it is written: “And our communion is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).

And in another place: “The communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14).

If, then, the peace of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one, the grace one, the love one, and the communion one, the working is certainly one, and where the working is one, certainly the power cannot be divided nor the substance separated.

For, if so, how could the grace of the same working agree?

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397):  On the Holy Spirit, Book 1, 12, 128-131.

Romanos the Melodist: I am not parting from you. I am with you and there is no one against you Saturday, May 16 2015 

Romanos the Melodist1

Abandoning on earth the things of earth,
Leaving to the dust the things of ash,
Come, let us come to our senses and let us raise on high our eyes and minds.
Mortals, let us make our sight together with our senses
Fly to heaven’s gates.
Let us imagine we are standing on the mount of Olives
And that we bend our gaze on the Redeemer
As he rides upon a cloud.
For from where the Lord has hastened back to heaven
There too the One who loves to give has distributed his gifts
To his Apostles, cherishing them as a father and crying out to them,
‘I am not parting from you. I am with you and there is no one against you.’

2

The One who came down to earth, as he alone knows how,
As he ascended from it, again as he knows how,
Took those he loved and led those he had gathered to a high mountain,
That, having mind and senses aimed on high,
They might then abandon all that seeks the ground.
And so, having climbed the hill of Olives,
They surrounded the Benefactor,
As Luke, the initiate, recounts,
While the Lord, raising his hands like wings,
Sheltered them, as an eagle the nest which it was warming,
And says to the nestlings, ‘I have sheltered you from all evils.
As I have cherished you, do you love me.
‘I am not parting from you. I am with you and there is no one against you.’

3

High over you, my Disciples,
As God and Maker of the whole world
I stretch out my palms, which the lawless stretched out, bound and nailed.
And so, as you bow your heads beneath my hands,
Understand, know, my friends, what I command.
For as though baptising I lay my hands upon you now,
And having blessed you send you out
Enlightened, and made wise.
Upon your heads praise and majesty,
Upon your souls illumination, as it is written,
For I shall pour out upon you of my Spirit, and you will accepted by me,
Taught and chosen, faithful and my own.
‘I am not parting from you. I am with you and there is no one against you.’

Romanos the Melodist (c.490-c.556): Kontakion on the Assumption, 1-3, trans. Archimandrite Ephrem Lash @ Anastasis.

Cyril of Jerusalem: From heaven He descended to Bethlehem, but to heaven He ascended from the Mount of Olives Friday, May 15 2015 

Cyril-of-JerusalemTo this day stands Mount Olivet, still to the eyes of the faithful all but displaying Him Who ascended on a cloud, and the heavenly gate of His ascension.

For from heaven He descended to Bethlehem, but to heaven He ascended from the Mount of Olives.

At the former place He began His conflicts among men, and in the latter, He was crowned after them.

You have, therefore, many witnesses. You have this very place of the Resurrection.

You have also the place of the Ascension towards the east.

You have also for witnesses the Angels which there bore testimony; and the cloud on which He went up, and the disciples who came down from that place.

[…]  Remember what is distinctly written in the Psalms, God is gone up with a shout  (Ps.46/47:5). Remember that the divine powers also said to one another, Lift up your gates, ye Princes (Ps. 23/24:7),  and the rest.

Remember also the Psalm which says, He ascended on high, He led captivity captive (Ps. 67/68:18). Remember the Prophet who said, Who buildeth His ascension unto heaven (Amos 9:6).

When they speak against the ascension of the Saviour, as being impossible, remember the account of the carrying away of Habakkuk….

For if Habakkuk was transported by an Angel, being carried by the hair of his head (Bel and the Dragon 5:33), much rather was the Lord of both Prophets and Angels able by His own power to make His ascent into the Heavens on a cloud from the Mount of Olives.

Wonders like this you may call to mind, but reserve the preeminence for the Lord, the Worker of wonders. For the others were borne up, but He bears up all things.

Remember that Enoch was translated (Heb. 11:5), but Jesus ascended. Remember what was said yesterday concerning Elias, that Elias was taken up in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11), but that the chariots of Christ are ten thousand-fold even thousands upon thousands  (Ps. 67/68:17).

Remember that Elias was taken up, towards the east of Jordan, but that Christ ascended at the east of the brook Cedron;  and that Elias went as into heaven, but Jesus into heaven.

And remember that Elias said that a double portion in the Holy Spirit should be given to his holy disciple, but that Christ granted to His own disciples so great enjoyment of the grace of the Holy Ghost as not only to have It in themselves, but also, by the laying on of their hands, to impart the fellowship of It to them who believed.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 14, 23-25.

Innocent of Alaska: Death is no longer an irreversible tragedy but a passage to the world of bright and joyous life Wednesday, May 13 2015 

innocentalaskaIf Adam had not sinned, he would have remained forever blessed, and all his descendants would have enjoyed blessedness.

It was for this very purpose that God had created man.

But Adam, having succumbed to the tempter-devil, transgressed against the law of the Maker and took pleasure in the taste of the forbidden fruit.

When God appeared to Adam right after he had sinned, Adam, instead of repenting and promising obedience henceforth, began to justify himself and to blame his wife.

Eve in turn blamed the serpent for everything.

And so it was that sin became a part of human nature, deeply injuring it because of the lack of repentance of Adam and Eve.

The existing communion with the Maker was cut and the blessedness lost.

Having lost Paradise within himself, Adam became unworthy of the external Paradise and was therefore banished from it.

[…] No man, even the most talented and powerful, nor all of mankind in unison, could ever restore what Adam lost when he sinned in Eden.

What would have happened to us and to all of mankind if Jesus Christ in His mercy had not come to redeem us?

But we should all thank our Heavenly Father for taking pity on us. He loves us far more than we are capable of loving ourselves.

And because of His infinite love, He has sent His only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to rid us from our sins and from the snare of the devil and to lead us into the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.

Through His teachings Jesus Christ scattered the darkness of ignorance and all possible error and enlightened the world with the light of the true faith.

Now anyone who desires it can come to know the will of God and attain eternal life.

By His way of life Christ showed us how to live to attain salvation. And He also assists us constantly in everything good.

By His most precious blood Jesus washed away our sins and made of us children of God, who were slaves of passions and the devil. Those torments we, as transgressors of the will of God, would have had to suffer, He bore for us.

By His death He crushed the power of the devil, destroyed the power of hell, and delivered us from death.

By His resurrection He gave us life and opened the gates of Paradise to all.

Therefore, death is no longer an irreversible tragedy but a passage from this temporary world of vanity and sorrows to the world of bright and joyous life.

By His ascension into heaven Christ glorified our nature, enabling us to share eternal bliss with the angels and all the heavenly creatures.

Innocent of Alaska (1797-1879; Russian Orthodox): The Way into the Kingdom of Heaven.

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