Cyprian of Carthage: Waiting and patience are needful, that we may fulfil that which we have begun to be Friday, Sep 16 2016 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthagePatience is the wholesome precept of our Lord and Master:

“He that endureth,” saith He, “unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 10:22);

and again, “If ye continue,” saith He, “in my word, ye shall be truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

We must endure and persevere, beloved brethren, in order that, being admitted to the hope of truth and liberty, we may attain to the truth and liberty itself; for that very fact that we are Christians is the substance of faith and hope.

But that hope and faith may attain to their result, there is need of patience. For we are not following after present glory, but future, according to what Paul the apostle also warns us, and says,

“We are saved by hope; but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we by patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:24-25).

Therefore, waiting and patience are needful, that we may fulfil that which we have begun to be, and may receive that which we believe and hope for, according to God’s own showing.

Moreover, in another place, the same apostle instructs the righteous and the doers of good works, and them who lay up for themselves treasures in heaven with the increase of the divine usury, that they also should be patient; and teaches them, saying,

“Therefore, while we have time, let us labour in that which is good unto all men, but especially to them who are of the household of faith. But let us not faint in well-doing, for in its season we shall reap” (Gal. 6:10-9).

He admonishes that no man should impatiently faint in his labour, that none should be either called off or overcome by temptations and desist in the midst of the praise and in the way of glory…; as it is written,  “Hold that which thou hast, that another take not thy crown” (Rev. 3:11).

Which word exhorts us to persevere with patience and courage, so that he who strives towards the crown with the praise now near at hand, may be crowned by the continuance of patience.

But patience, beloved brethren, not only keeps watch over what is good, but it also repels what is evil.  In harmony with the Holy Spirit, and associated with what is heavenly and divine, it struggles with the defence of its strength against the deeds of the flesh and the body, wherewith the soul is assaulted and taken.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On the Advantage of Patience, 13-14.

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Cyprian of Carthage: “If ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses” Monday, Dec 7 2015 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageContinued from here….

Christ still more urgently sets forth in His precepts with yet greater power of His rebuke.

“When ye stand praying,” says He, “forgive if ye have aught against any, that your Father which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

“But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).

There remains no ground of excuse in the day of judgment, when you will be judged according to your own sentence; and whatever you have done, that you also will suffer.

For God commands us to be peacemakers, and in agreement, and of one mind in His house.

And such as He makes us by a second birth, such He wishes us when new-born to continue, that we who have begun to be sons of God may abide in God’s peace, and that, having one spirit, we should also have one heart and one mind.

Thus God does not receive the sacrifice of a person who is in disagreement, but commands him to go back from the altar and first be reconciled to his brother, that so God also may be appeased by the prayers of a peace-maker.

Our peace and brotherly agreement is the greater sacrifice to God—and a people united in one in the unity of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

For even in the sacrifices which Abel and Cain first offered, God looked not at their gifts, but at their hearts, so that he was acceptable in his gift who was acceptable in his heart.

Abel, peaceable and righteous in sacrificing in innocence to God, taught others also, when they bring their gift to the altar, thus to come with the fear of God, with a simple heart, with the law of righteousness, with the peace of concord.

With reason did he [Abel], who was such in respect of God’s sacrifice, become subsequently himself a sacrifice to God; so that he who first set forth martyrdom, and initiated the Lord’s passion by the glory of his blood, had both the Lord’s righteousness and His peace.

Finally, such as are crowned by the Lord, such will be avenged with the Lord in the day of judgment; but the quarrelsome and disunited, and he who has not peace with his brethren, in accordance with what the blessed apostle and the Holy Scripture testifies…, shall not be able to escape the crime of fraternal dissension.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 23-24.

Cyprian of Carthage: “And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors” Wednesday, Sep 16 2015 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageAnd forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12).

After the supply of food, pardon of sin is also asked for, that he who is fed by God may live in God, and that not only the present and temporal life may be provided for, but the eternal also, to which we may come if our sins are forgiven.

And these the Lord calls debts, as He says in His Gospel, “I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me” (Matt. 18:32).

And how necessarily, how providently and salutarily, are we admonished that we are sinners, since we are compelled to entreat for our sins, and while pardon is asked for from God, the soul recalls its own consciousness of sin!

Lest anyone should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself should more deeply perish, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden to entreat daily for his sins.

Thus, moreover, John also in his epistle warns us, and says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:8).

In his epistle he has combined both, that we should entreat for our sins, and that we should obtain pardon when we ask. Therefore he said that the Lord was faithful to forgive sins, keeping the faith of His promise; because He who taught us to pray for our debts and sins, has promised that His fatherly mercy and pardon shall follow.

He has clearly joined herewith and added the law, and has bound us by a certain condition and engagement, that we should ask that our debts be forgiven us in such a manner as we ourselves forgive our debtors, knowing that that which we seek for our sins cannot be obtained unless we ourselves have acted in a similar way in respect of our debtors.

Therefore also He says in another place, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2). And the servant who, after having had all his debt forgiven him by his master, would not forgive his fellow-servant, is cast back into prison; because he would not forgive his fellow-servant, he lost the indulgence that had been shown to himself by his lord.

And these things Christ still more urgently sets forth in His precepts with yet greater power of His rebuke. “When ye stand praying,” says He, “forgive if ye have aught against any, that your Father which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 22-23.

Cyprian of Carthage: “Give us this day our daily bread” Wednesday, Sep 2 2015 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageAs the prayer goes forward, we ask and say, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

And this may be understood both spiritually and literally, because either way of understanding it is rich in divine usefulness to our salvation.

For Christ is the bread of life; and this bread does not belong to all men, but it is ours.

And according as we say, “Our Father,” because He is the Father of those who understand and believe; so also we call it “our bread,” because Christ is the bread of those who are in union with His body.

And we ask that this bread should be given to us daily, that we who are in Christ, and daily receive the Eucharist for the food of salvation, may not, by the interposition of some heinous sin, by being prevented, as withheld and not communicating, from partaking of the heavenly bread, be separated from Christ’s body.

As He Himself predicts, and warns, “I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. If any man eat of my bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6:58).

When, therefore, He says, that whoever shall eat of His bread shall live forever; as it is manifest that those who partake of His body and receive the Eucharist by the right of communion are living, so, on the other hand, we must fear and pray lest anyone who, being withheld from communion, is separate from Christ’s body should remain at a distance from salvation.

As He Himself threatens, and says, “Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you” (John 6:53).

And therefore we ask that our bread—that is, Christ—may be given to us daily, that we who abide and live in Christ may not depart from His sanctification and body.

But it may also be thus understood, that we who have renounced the world, and have cast away its riches and pomps in the faith of spiritual grace, should only ask for ourselves food and support…. The Lord instructs us, and says, “Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

But he who has begun to be Christ’s disciple, renouncing all things according to the word of his Master, ought to ask for his daily food, and not to extend the desires of his petition to a long period, as the Lord again prescribes, and says, “Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow itself shall take thought for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34).

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 18-19.

Cyprian of Carthage: “They All Continued with One Accord in Prayer” Tuesday, Dec 10 2013 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageBefore all things, the Teacher of peace and the Master of unity would not have prayer to be made singly and individually, as for one who prays to pray for himself alone.

For we say not “My Father, which art in heaven,” nor “Give me this day my daily bread.”

Nor does each one ask that only his own debt should be forgiven him; nor does he request for himself alone that he may not be led into temptation, and delivered from evil.

Our prayer is public and common; and when we pray, we pray not for one, but for the whole people, because we the whole people are one.

The God of peace and the Teacher of concord, who taught unity, willed that one should thus pray for all, even as He Himself bore us all in one.

This law of prayer the three children observed when they were shut up in the fiery furnace, speaking together in prayer, and being of one heart in the agreement of the spirit.

And this the faith of the sacred Scripture assures us, and in telling us how such as these prayed, gives an example which we ought to follow in our prayers, in order that we may be such as they were:

“Then these three,” it says, “as if from one mouth sang an hymn, and blessed the Lord” (Song of the Three Children 28).

They spoke as if from one mouth, although Christ had not yet taught them how to pray. And therefore, as they prayed, their speech was availing and effectual, because a peaceful, and sincere, and spiritual prayer deserved well of the Lord.

Thus also we find that the apostles, with the disciples, prayed after the Lord’s ascension: “They all,” says the Scripture, “continued with one accord in prayer, with the women, and Mary who was the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren” (Acts 1:14).

They continued with one accord in prayer, declaring both by the urgency and by the agreement of their praying, that God, “who maketh men to dwell of one mind in a house” (Ps. 68:6), only admits into the divine and eternal home those among whom prayer is unanimous.

What matters of deep moment are contained in the Lord’s prayer! How many and how great, briefly collected in the words, but spiritually abundant in virtue! so that there is absolutely nothing passed over that is not comprehended in these our prayers and petitions, as in a compendium of heavenly doctrine.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 8-9.

Cyprian of Carthage: We Ask that the Will of God may be Done both in Heaven and in Earth Wednesday, Nov 6 2013 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageContinued from here

We ask that the will of God may be done both in heaven and in earth, each of which things pertains to the fulfilment of our safety and salvation.

For since we possess the body from the earth and the spirit from heaven, we ourselves are earth and heaven; and in both—that is, both in body and spirit—we pray that God’s will may be done.

For between the flesh and spirit there is a struggle; and there is a daily strife as they disagree one with the other, so that we cannot do those very things that we would, in that the spirit seeks heavenly and divine things, while the flesh lusts after earthly and temporal things.

Therefore we ask that, by the help and assistance of God, agreement may be made between these two natures, so that while the will of God is done both in the spirit and in the flesh, the soul which is new-born by Him may be preserved.

[…] And therefore we make it our prayer in daily, yea, in continual supplications, that the will of God concerning us should be done both in heaven and in earth.

Because this is the will of God, that earthly things should give place to heavenly, and that spiritual and divine things should prevail.

[…] The Lord commands and admonishes us even to love our enemies, and to pray even for those who persecute us.

Accordingly, we should ask for those who are still earth, and have not yet begun to be heavenly, that even in respect of these God’s will should be done, which Christ accomplished in preserving and renewing humanity.

The disciples are now called by Him not earth, but the salt of the earth, and the apostle designates the first man as being from the dust of the earth, but the second from heaven.

So it is reasonable that we, who ought to be like God our Father, who makes His sun to rise upon the good and bad and sends rain upon the just and the unjust, should so pray and ask by the admonition of Christ as to make our prayer for the salvation of all men:

that “as in heaven”—that is, in us by our faith—the will of God has been done so that we might be of heaven; so also “in earth”—that is, in those who believe not—God’s will may be done, that they who as yet are by their first birth of earth, may, being born of water and of the Spirit, begin to be of heaven.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 16-17.

Cyprian of Carthage: “Thy Will Be Done on Earth As It Is in Heaven” Friday, May 4 2012 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageThy will be done, as in heaven so in earth means not that God should do what He wills, but that we may be able to do what God wills….

Since we are hindered by the devil from obeying with our thought and deed God’s will in all things, we pray and ask that God’s will may be done in us.

And that it may be done in us we have need of God’s good will, that is, of His help and protection, since no one is strong in his own strength, but he is safe by the grace and mercy of God.

And further, the Lord, setting forth the infirmity of the humanity which He bore, says, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; and affording an example to His disciples that they should do not their own will, but God’s, He went on to say, Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt.

And in another place He says, I came down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me. 

Now if the Son was obedient to do His Father’s will, how much more should the servant be obedient to do his Master’s will!

Thus in his epistle John also exhorts and instructs us to do the will of God, saying,

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.

If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him….

But he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever, even as God also abideth for ever.”

We who desire to abide for ever should do the will of God, who is everlasting.

Now that is the will of God which Christ both did and taught.

Humility in conversation; stedfastness in faith; modesty in words;

justice in deeds; mercifulness in works; discipline in morals;

to be unable to do a wrong, and to be able to bear a wrong when done;

to keep peace with the brethren; to love God with all one’s heart;

to love Him in that He is a Father; to fear Him in that He is God;

to prefer nothing whatever to Christ, because He did not prefer anything to us;

to adhere inseparably to His love;

to stand by His cross bravely and faithfully;

when there is any contest on behalf of His name and honour, to exhibit in discourse that constancy wherewith we make confession;

in torture, that confidence wherewith we do battle; in death, that patience whereby we are crowned;

—this is to desire to be fellow-heirs with Christ;

—this is to do the commandment of God;

—this is to fulfil the will of the Father.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 14-15.

Cyprian of Carthage: Christ’s Saving Patience Monday, Apr 2 2012 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageHe received the spittings of insulters, who with His spittle had a little before made eyes for a blind man.

And He in whose name the devil and his angels is now scourged by His servants, Himself suffered scourgings!

He was crowned with thorns, who crowns martyrs with eternal flowers.

He was smitten on the face with palms, who gives the true palms to those who overcome.

He was despoiled of His earthly garment, who clothes others in the vesture of immortality.

He was fed with gall, who gave heavenly food.

He was given to drink of vinegar, who appointed the cup of salvation.

That guiltless, that just One—nay, He who is innocency itself and justice itself—is counted among transgressors, and truth is oppressed with false witnesses.

He who shall judge is judged; and the Word of God is led silently to the slaughter.

And when at the cross, of the Lord the stars are confounded, the elements are disturbed, the earth quakes, night shuts out the day, the sun…He speaks not, nor is moved, nor declares His majesty even in His very passion itself.

Even to the end, all things are borne perseveringly and constantly, in order that in Christ a full and perfect patience may be consummated.

And after all these things, He still receives His murderers, if they will be converted and come to Him.

And with a saving patience, He who is benignant to preserve, closes His Church to none.

Those adversaries…, if they repent of their sin, if they acknowledge the crime committed, He receives, not only to the pardon of their sin, but to the reward of the heavenly kingdom.

What can be said more patient, what more merciful? Even he is made alive by Christ’s blood who has shed Christ’s blood.

Such and so great is the patience of Christ; and had it not been such and so great, the Church would never have possessed Paul as an apostle.

But if we also, beloved brethren, are in Christ; if we put Him on, if He is the way of our salvation, who follow Christ in the footsteps of salvation, let us walk by the example of Christ, as the Apostle John instructs us, saying He who saith he abideth in Christ, ought himself also to walk even as He walked.

Peter also, upon whom by the Lord’s condescension the Church was founded, lays it down in his epistle, and says:

Christ suffered for us, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps, who did no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not, but gave Himself up to him that judged Him unjustly.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On Patience, 7-9.

Cyprian of Carthage: Hallowed Be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom Come Tuesday, Mar 8 2011 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageAfter this we say Hallowed be Thy name – not that we wish for God that He may be hallowed by our prayers, but that we beseech of Him that His name may be hallowed in us.

But by whom is God sanctified, since He Himself sanctifies?

Well, because He says Be ye holy, even as I am holy (Lev. 20:7), we ask and entreat, that we who were sanctified in baptism may continue in that which we have begun to be.

And this we daily pray for; for we have need of daily sanctification, that we who daily fall away may wash out our sins by continual sanctification.

And what the sanctification is which is conferred upon us by the condescension of God, the apostle declares, when he says:

Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor deceivers, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And such indeed were you; but ye are washed; but ye are justified; but ye are sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:9).

He says that we are sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.

We pray that this sanctification may abide in us…that the sanctification and quickening which is received from the grace of God may be preserved by His protection.

There follows in the prayer Thy kingdom come.

We ask that the kingdom of God may be set forth to us, even as we also ask that His name may be sanctified in us.

For when does God not reign, or when does that begin with Him which both always has been, and never ceases to be?

We pray that our kingdom, which has been promised us by God, may come, which was acquired by the blood and passion of Christ;

that we who first are His subjects in the world, may hereafter reign with Christ when He reigns, as He Himself promises and says:

Come, ye blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the beginning of the world (Matt. 25:34).

Christ Himself, dearest brethren, however, may be the kingdom of God, whom we day by day desire to come, whose advent we crave to be quickly manifested to us.

For since He is Himself the Resurrection since in Him we rise again, so also the kingdom of God may be understood to be Himself, since in Him we shall reign.

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 12-13.

 

Cyprian of Carthage: Let Him Who Dwells Within in Our Breast Himself Dwell in Our Voice Wednesday, Feb 16 2011 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageJesus had foretold that the hour was coming “when the true worshippers should worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).

And He fulfilled what He previously promised so that we who by His sanctification have received the Spirit and truth, may also by His teaching worship truly and spiritually.

For what can be a more spiritual prayer than that which was given to us by Christ, by whom also the Holy Spirit was given to us?

What praying to the Father can be more truthful than that which was delivered to us by the Son who is the Truth, out of His own mouth?

[…] Let us therefore, brethren beloved, pray as God our Teacher has taught us.

It is a loving and friendly prayer to beseech God with His own word, to come up to His ears in the prayer of Christ.

Let the Father acknowledge the words of His Son when we make our prayer, and let Him also who dwells within in our breast Himself dwell in our voice.

And since we have Him as an Advocate with the Father for our sins, let us, when as sinners we petition on behalf of our sins, put forward the words of our Advocate.

For since He says, that “whatsoever we shall ask of the Father in His name, He will give us” (John 16:23), how much more effectually do we obtain what we ask in Christ’s name, if we ask for it in His own prayer!

[…] Moreover, in His teaching the Lord has bidden us to pray in secret – in hidden and remote places, in our very bed-chambers.

This is best suited to faith, that we may know that God is everywhere present, and hears and sees all, and in the plenitude of His majesty penetrates even into hidden and secret places.

[…] And when we meet together with the brethren in one place, and celebrate divine sacrifices with God’s priest, we ought to be mindful of modesty and discipline.

We are not to throw abroad our prayers indiscriminately, with unsubdued voices, nor to cast to God with tumultuous wordiness a petition that ought to be commended to God by modesty.

For God is the hearer, not of the voice, but of the heart.

Nor need He be clamorously reminded, since He sees men’s thoughts, as the Lord proves to us when He says “Why think ye evil in your hearts?” (Matt. 9:4).

And in another place: “And all the churches shall know that I am He that searcheth the hearts and reins” (Apoc. 2:23).

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 2-4.

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