Nicholas Cabasilas: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” Wednesday, Apr 6 2016 

nicholas_cabasilasWith a blessed tongue, an unperturbed soul, and thoughts full of tranquillity she said: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

These were the words that she said, and they were fulfilled at once: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

And, after giving her reply to God, she received the Spirit that created from her that flesh which was one with God.

Her voice was a “mighty voice,” as David puts it (Psalm 67:34 [LXX]) and the Word of the Father isformed by the word of a mother, and the Creator is created by the voice of a creature.

And just as when God said, “Let there be light,” “at once there was light” (Genesis 1:3), so, as soon as the Virgin spoke, the true Light dawned; and He Who “lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9) was joined to the flesh and carried in the womb.

O sacred voice! O words of great power! O blessed tongue, which restored the entire inhabited earth in one fell swoop! O treasury of a heart which, by a few words, poured out upon us an abundance of good things!

These words made the earth Heaven, emptied Hades of its prisoners, caused Heaven to be inhabited by men, joined Angels with men, and formed the Heavenly and earthly races into a single chorus around Him who is both, being God but becoming man.

What gratitude could we express to you for these words? What should we call you, of whom nothing human is worthy? Our words derive from existing things, whereas you surpass the whole world beyond every sublimity.

If words are to be offered to you, this, I ween, is a task for Angels, for a Cherubic mind, for a fiery tongue. Hence, having mentioned, as far as we are able, those things which redound to your praise, and having chanted hymns to you, our salvation, to the best of our ability, we ask next for an Angelic voice.

We will conclude with the salutation of Gabriel, adorning the sum of our oration with this additament: “Rejoice, thou who art full of Grace, the Lord is with thee” (Luke 1:28).

May you prepare us to make a habitation for Him within ourselves, for this is conducive to His glory and to the laudation of you who gave birth to Him, when we not only talk about it, but also put it into practice, for unto Him belongs glory unto the ages. Amen.

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): On the Occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation, 9-10, Translated from the Greek text in “Homélies Mariales Byzantines (II),” ed. M. Jugie, in Patrologia Orientalis, Vol. XIX, pp. 484-495@ Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece.

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Nicholas Cabasilas: He created mankind with this end in view, that, when He needed to be born, He might take from it a Mother Friday, Jan 1 2016 

nicholas_cabasilasSince God remained silent and did not foretell to her anything that was going to happen, He clearly showed that He did not know anything more beautiful or greater than that which He perceived in the Virgin;

from this fact it is evident that He did not choose for His Mother the best of all those in existence, but her who was absolutely the best;

nor did He choose her who was more suitable for Him than anyone else in the human race, but her who so totally suited Him, that it was fitting that she become His Mother.

Indeed, it was absolutely necessary for human nature at some time to make itself fit for the task for which it was created at the beginning, that is, to bring forth someone capable of worthily serving the purpose of the Creator.

For God did not create humanity with one purpose in mind, only to decide later on to use it for a different purpose, in the way that we take tools designed for one pursuit and misuse them for another, so that there is no need for them always to be congruent with their original function.

Rather, He created mankind with this end in view, that, when He needed to be born, He might take from it a Mother.

Having first established this need as a kind of standard, He then fashioned man in accordance with it.

For, neither should we posit any other end for the creation of man than that which is the most excellent of all and which brings the greatest honor and glory to the Artificer, nor is it conceivable that God should in any way fail in creating the things that He creates.

[…] What, therefore, was there to prevent human nature from being in conformity, and in every way in agreement and harmony, with the purpose for which it was created?

For it is God Who governs His Œconomy, and this Œconomy is the greatest work of God and par excellence the work of His hands; and He did not entrust the matter to the ministry of any human being or Angel, but reserved it for Himself.

Therefore, whom, if not God, does it behoove, when producing anything whatsoever, to observe the requisite standards? And in the case of what else than the most beautiful of His works? On what else, of all things, if not on Himself, would God confer what is appropriate?

After all, Paul required that a Bishop “rule well himself and his own house” before caring for the common good.

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): On the Occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation, 8, Translated from the Greek text in “Homélies Mariales Byzantines (II),” ed. M. Jugie, in Patrologia Orientalis, Vol. XIX, pp. 484-495 @ Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece.

Nicholas Cabasilas: The cataclysm of evil was yet completely powerless against the blessed Virgin Tuesday, Dec 8 2015 

nicholas_cabasilasThe cataclysm of evil…was yet completely powerless against the blessed Virgin.

Although evil had dominion over the entire inhabited earth and had everywhere wrought confusion, commotion, and havoc, it was defeated by a single thought and a single soul, and it yielded not only to her, but also, on account of her, to the entire human race.

[…] Since that time had now come and the Angelic messenger was at hand, she believed, gave her consent, and undertook her ministry. These things were indispensable and in every way necessary for our salvation; without them, there would have been no hope for humanity.

For, neither would it have been possible, had the Blessed Virgin not prepared herself, as I said, for God to look kindly on mankind and to desire to descend to earth, that is, had there not been someone to receive Him, someone capable of serving Him in the œconomy of salvation; nor would it have been possible, had she not believed and given her consent, for God’s will for us to have been realized.

This is evident from the fact that Gabriel, in addressing the Virgin and calling her “Full of Grace,” expressed everything pertaining to the mystery. God did not descend until the Virgin sought to learn the manner of her conceiving. But when He saw that she was persuaded and that she accepted the invitation, the deed was accomplished straightway; and God clothed Himself in humanity and the Virgin became the Mother of her Creator.

In the case of Adam, God neither foretold nor persuaded him concerning the rib from which Eve was to be fashioned, but put him to sleep, and in this way deprived him of the member in question; in the case of the Virgin, however, He first instructed her and awaited her assurance before proceeding to the deed.

Regarding the creation of Adam, He conversed with His Only-Begotten Son, saying: “Let Us make man” (Gen. 1:26). But when, as Paul says, He was going to bring this wonderful Counselor (Isa. 9:6), the First-Begotten, into the world (Heb. 1:6), and to form the second Adam, He made the Virgin a participant in his decision. And this great counsel, about which Isaiah speaks, God proclaimed and the Virgin ratified.

The Incarnation of the Word was the work not only of the Father, Whose good pleasure it was, and of His Power (1 Cor. 1:24), Who overshadowed, and of His Spirit, Who descended, but also of the will and faith of the Virgin. For, just as, without those Three, it would have been impossible for this decision to be implemented, so also, if the All-Pure One had not offered her will and faith, this design could not possibly have been brought to fruition.

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): On the Occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation, 3-4, Translated from the Greek text in “Homélies Mariales Byzantines (II),” ed. M. Jugie, in Patrologia Orientalis, Vol. XIX, pp. 484-495@ Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece.

Nicholas Cabasilas: The words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary Tuesday, Mar 25 2014 

nicholas_cabasilasEven if she had been a Cherub or a Seraph, or some other creature much purer than these Angelic beings, how could she [the Virgin Mary] have endured these words?

How could she have supposed that she would be able to fulfill these promises? How could she have furnished strength that would be commensurate with the magnitude of the work?

John, “a greater” than whom, according to the judgment of the Savior Himself, “there hath not risen”(Matthew 11:11), did not consider himself worthy even to touch His shoes, and that, when the Lord was leading a life of poverty.

The All-Blameless Virgin was bold enough to carry in her womb the Word Himself, the very Hypostasis of God.

“Who am I, and what is the house of my father?” (2 Kings 7:18). “Even in me, O Lord, shalt Thou save Israel?” (cf. Judges 6:36). Such things are to be heard from righteous men who were called to perform deeds accomplished by many persons and at many times.

But the Blessed Virgin was induced to undertake something unwonted and in no way congruent with human nature, something surpassing all rational understanding—for what else was she doing than elevating the earth to Heaven and through herself changing and transforming all things?—; and she was not shaken in her mind, nor did she perceive her soul to be inferior to this task.

But, just as we are not at all bothered if someone tells us that light is going to strike our eyes, and it is not strange for someone to state that when the sun rises it brings day, so also the Virgin, on learning that she would be capable of conceiving and bearing God Himself, Who is not contained in any place, was not at all surprised.

And she did not leave the words addressed to her unexamined, nor did she experience any light-mindedness, nor was she carried away by the great loftiness of the Angelic laudation, but she restrained herself and focused her attention on the salutation; she inquired into the manner of her conceiving and sought to learn about other matters related to this.

She did not go on to ask whether she was adequate and suited to the great magnitude of this ministry, or whether she had properly purified her body and her soul; rather, concerning what pertained to nature, she was puzzled, whereas she passed over what pertained to the readiness of her soul.

She requested an explanation of the former from Gabriel, but the latter she knew from herself. She had confidence and boldness before God from within, as John says, since her heart was an advocate for her (cf. 1 John 3:21).

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): On the Occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation, 5, Translated from the Greek text in “Homélies Mariales Byzantines (II),” ed. M. Jugie, in Patrologia Orientalis, Vol. XIX, pp. 484-495@ Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece.

Nicholas Cabasilas: Mary constructed a dwelling-place for Him who is able to save and fashioned a beautiful house for God Monday, Apr 8 2013 

nicholas_cabasilasThe “middle wall and barrier of enmity” (Ephesians 2:14) were of no account to her; indeed, everything that divided the human race from God was abolished as far as she was concerned.

Even before the common reconciliation, she alone had made peace with God; or rather, she was never in any need of reconciliation, since from the very beginning she stood foremost in the choir of the friends of God.

However, such a reconciliation was made for the rest of mankind. And she was, before the Comforter, “an advocate for us before God” (Cf. Romans 8:34), as Paul puts it, not lifting up her hands to Him on behalf of mankind, but holding out her life as an olive branch.

The virtue of a single soul was sufficient to put a stop to all of the evil committed by men from the beginning of time.

And, just as the Ark, which saved man during the general shipwreck of the inhabited earth, was not itself subject to the calamities that befell the entire world, and just as it preserved for the human race the resources for its continuation, so also did it happen in the case of the Virgin.

And, as if no man had dared to commit even one single sin, but all had abided by the Divine commandments and were still occupying their ancient habitation, thus did she ever keep her mind inviolate; and she had no awareness of the wickedness that had, so to speak, been diffused in every direction.

The cataclysm of evil, which held all things in its grip, closed Heaven and opened up Hades, started a war between God and men, drove the Good One from the earth and introduced the Evil One in His stead, was yet completely powerless against the blessed Virgin.

Although evil had dominion over the entire inhabited earth and had everywhere wrought confusion, commotion, and havoc, it was defeated by a single thought and a single soul, and it yielded not only to her, but also, on account of her, to the entire human race.

This was the contribution that the Virgin made to the common salvation of mankind, even before that day arrived on which God was to bow the Heavens and descend.

As soon as she was born, she constructed a dwelling-place for Him Who is able to save and fashioned a beautiful house for God—and one that would be worthy of Him.

The King could not find any fault with His palace; and indeed, not only did she provide a dwelling fit for His royal majesty, but she also prepared from herself His purple robe and cincture, and the majesty, strength, and the Kingdom itself.

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): On the Occasion of the Feast of the Annunciation, 3, Translated from the Greek text in “Homélies Mariales Byzantines (II),” ed. M. Jugie, in Patrologia Orientalis, Vol. XIX, pp. 484-495@ Old Calendar Orthodox Church of Greece.

Nicholas Cabasilas: Asking for God’s mercy Friday, Jul 6 2012 

There is no other name by which we must be saved.

That we may be able always to pay attention to Christ, and be zealous in this at all times, let us call on him who is the subject of our thoughts at every moment.

And of course those who call upon him need no special preparation or special place for prayer, nor a loud voice.

For he is present everywhere, and is always with us; he is even nearer to those who seek him than their very heart.

It is fitting, then, that we should firmly believe that our prayers will be answered.

We should never hesitate on account of our evil ways, but take courage because he on whom we call is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

In fact he is so far from ignoring the entreaties of the servants who have offended him, that before they had called on him or even thought of him, he had already called them himself by his coming to earth – for he said “I came to call sinners”.

Then if that was the way he sought those who did not even want him, how will he treat those who call on him?

And if he loved us when we hated him, how will he reject us when we love him?

It is just this that Paul’s words make clear: “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, how much more, when we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life”.

Again, let us think about the kind of supplication we make.

We do not pray for the things that friends are likely to ask for and receive, but rather for such things as are specifically prescribed for…servants who have offended their master.

For we do not call upon the Lord in order that he may reward us, or grant us any other favour of that kind, but that he may have mercy on us.

Who, then, are likely to ask for mercy, forgive­ness, remission of sins and things of that sort from God who loves humanity, and not go away empty-handed?

Those who are called to account, if indeed those who are well have no need of a physician.

For if human beings are at all in the habit of calling upon God for mercy, it is those who are worthy of mercy, in other words sinners.

So let us call on God with our voice and in mind and thought, so that we may apply the only saving remedy to everything through which we sin, for in the words of Peter: “there is no other name by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): The Life in Christ, 6, 13 (PG 150, 681-683), in A Word in Season, Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours, Augustinian Press 1999; @ Dom Donald’s Blog.

Nicholas Cabasilas: Through Jesus we are made sharers in the Holy Spirit and are led to the Father Saturday, May 12 2012 

The purpose of Chrismation is to enable us to share in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This anointing brings the Lord Jesus ­himself to dwell in us, our only salvation and hope.

Through ­him we are made sharers in the Holy Spirit and are led to the Fa­ther.

Unfailingly it procures for Christians those gifts that are needed in every age, gifts such as faith, reverence for God, prayer, love, and purity.

It does so even though many are un­aware of having received such gifts.

Many do not know the power of this Sacrament or even that there is a Holy Spirit, as it says in the Book of Acts, because they were anointed before reaching the age of reason and afterward they blinded their ­souls by sin.

Nevertheless, the Spirit does in truth give the newly initiated his gifts, distributing them to each one as he wills; and our Lord, who promised to be with us always, never ceases ­to shower blessings on us.

Chrismation cannot be superfluous. We obtain the remis­sion of our sins in Baptism and we receive the body of Christ at the Altar. These Sacraments will remain until the unveiled appearance of their author.

It cannot be doubted, then, that Christians also enjoy the benefits that belong to this holy anointing and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

How could some Sacraments be fruitful and this one without effect? How can we be­lieve that Saint Paul’s words: He who promised is faithful, apply to some Sacraments but not to this one?

If we discount the value of any Sacrament we must discount the value of all, since it is the same power that acts in each of them, it is the immolation of the same Lamb, it is the same death and the same blood that gives each of them its efficacy.

The Holy Spirit is given to some, as St Paul says, to enable them to do good to others and to edify the Church by prophesying, teaching revealed truth, or healing the sick by a mere word.

The Spirit is given to others for their own sanctification, imparting to them a shining faith and reverence for God, or making them outstanding in purity, charity, or humility.

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): The Life in Christ, 3 (PG 150:574-575); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the Fifth Week of Eastertide, Year 2

Nicholas Cabasilas: “It is no longer I who live: it is Christ who lives In me” Saturday, May 5 2012 

We approach the Holy Table, the consummation of our life in Christ, which leaves no further happiness to be desired.

Now it is no longer a question of sharing in Christ’s death or burial or in a higher kind of life, but of welcoming the risen Lord himself.

It is no longer the gifts of the Spirit that we receive, insofar as we are able, but our benefactor himself, the very temple that enshrines all gifts.

Christ…leads communicants to his Table and gives them his body to eat he completely transforms them, raising them to his own level.

This is the last Sacrament we receive because it is impossible to go beyond it or to add to it anything whatever.

We remain imperfect even after Baptism has produced in us its full effect because we have not yet received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are given in Chrismation.

[…] Yet even among those who had been filled with the Spirit and who prophesied, spoke in tongues and displayed other such gifts, there were some in the time of the Apostles who were so far from being divine and spiritual as to be guilty of envy, rivalry, contention, and other similar vices.

This is what Paul referred to when he wrote to them: You are still unspiritual and are living on a purely human plane.

They were indeed spiritual by reason of the graces they had received, but these graces did not suffice to free them from all sinfulness.

With the Eucharist, however, it is different.

No such charge can be brought against those in whom the Bread of Life, which has saved them from death, has had its full effect and who have not brought to this feast any wrongful dispositions.

If this Sacrament is fully effective it is quite impossible for it to allow the slightest imperfection to remain in those who receive it.

If you would know the reason for this, it is because through communion, in fulfilment of his promise, Christ dwells in us and we in him.

He lives in me, he said, and I in him.

When Christ lives in us, what can we lack? When we live in Christ, what more can we desire?

We at once become spiritual in body and soul and in all our faculties because our soul is united to his soul, our body to his body, our blood to his blood.

The consequence is that the higher prevails over the lower, the divine over the human.

As Paul says, referring to the Resurrection: What is mortal is swallowed up by life.

And elsewhere he writes: It is no longer I who live: it is Christ who lives in me.

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): The Life in Christ, 4 (PG 150:582-583); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Eastertide, Year 2