Cyril of Jerusalem: A treasure of life has now been committed to you Saturday, Nov 5 2016 

Cyril-of-JerusalemIn learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to thee by the Church, and which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures.

For since all cannot read the Scriptures, some being hindered as to the knowledge of them by want of learning, and others by a want of leisure, in order that the soul may not perish from ignorance, we comprise the whole doctrine of the Faith in a few lines.

This summary I wish you both to commit to memory when I recite it, and to rehearse it with all diligence among yourselves, not writing it out on paper, but engraving it by the memory upon your heart.

[…] I wish you also to keep this as a provision through the whole course of your life, and beside this to receive no other, neither if we ourselves should change and contradict our present teaching, nor if an adverse angel, transformed into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) should wish to lead you astray.

For though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be to you anathema (Gal. 1:8-9).

So for the present listen while I simply say the Creed, and commit it to memory; but at the proper season expect the confirmation out of Holy Scripture of each part of the contents.

For the articles of the Faith were not composed as seemed good to men; but the most important points collected out of all the Scripture make up one complete teaching of the Faith.

And just as the mustard seed in one small grain contains many branches, so also this Faith has embraced in few words all the knowledge of godliness in the Old and New Testaments.

Take heed then, brethren, and hold fast the traditions which ye now receive, and write them an the table of your heart (Prov. 7:3).

Guard them with reverence, lest per chance the enemy despoil any who have grown slack; or lest some heretic pervert any of the truths delivered to you.

For faith is like putting money into the bank, even as we have now done; but from you God requires the accounts of the deposit.

I charge you, as the Apostle says, before God, who quickens all things, and Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed the good confession, that ye keep this faith which is committed to you, without spot, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 5:21; 6:13-14).

A treasure of life has now been committed to you, and the Master demands the deposit at His appearing, which in His own times He shall shew.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 5, 12-13.

Cyril of Jerusalem: The water that I shall give them will become in them a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life Saturday, Jun 18 2016 

Cyril-of-JerusalemThe water that I shall give them will become in them a fountain of living water, welling up into eternal life.

This is a new kind of water, a living, leaping water, welling up for those who are worthy.

But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water.

Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation.

It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it.

In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each person as he wills.

Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit.

Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of his action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvellous.

The Spirit makes some teachers of divine truth, inspires others to prophesy, gives others the power of casting out devils, enables others to interpret holy Scripture.

The Spirit strengthens the self-control of some, shows others how to help the poor, teaches others to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes others oblivious to the needs of the body, trains others for martyrdom.

His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each man, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.

The coming of the Spirit is gentle, his presence fragrant, his weight very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches.

The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console.

The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then through that person the minds of others as well.

As light strikes the eyes of those who come out of darkness into the sunshine and enables them to see clearly things they could not discern before, so does light flood the souls of those counted worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit and enables them to see things beyond the range of human vision of which they had previously been ignorant.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechesis 16, 11-12, 16; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Easter Friday, Year 2.

Cyril of Jerusalem: Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers in the divine nature Saturday, May 28 2016 

Cyril-of-JerusalemOn the night he was betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said: ‘Take, eat: this is my body.’

He took the cup, gave thanks and said: ‘Take, drink: this is my blood.’

Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt?

Since he himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question it and say that it is not his blood?

Therefore it is with complete assurance that we receive the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ.

His body is given to us under the symbol of bread, and his blood is given to us under the symbol of wine, in order to make us by receiving them one body and one blood with him.

Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers, as Saint Peter says, in the divine nature.

Once when speaking to the Jews Christ said: Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall have no life in you. This so horrified them that they left him. Not understanding his words in a spiritual way, they thought the Saviour wished them to practise cannibalism.

Under the old covenant there was showbread, but it came an end with the old dispensation to which it belonged.

Under the new covenant there is bread from heaven and the cup of salvation. These sanctify both soul and body, the bread being adapted to the sanctification of the body, the Word to the sanctification of the soul.

Do not, then, regard the Eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine: they are in fact the body and blood of the Lord, as he himself has declared. Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.

You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ.

You know also how David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread strengthens the heart and makes the face glow with the oil of gladness.

Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.

May purity of conscience remove the veil from the face of your soul so that by contemplating the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, you may be transformed from glory to glory in Christ Jesus our Lord. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechesis 22, 1, 3-6 (PG 33:1087-1091); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Easter Friday, Year 2.

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.

Cyril of Jerusalem: “I fear your power no longer, for Christ has overthrown it” Friday, Mar 18 2016 

Cyril-of-JerusalemOn that evening of your baptism you entered into the outer hall of the Baptistry, and there facing toward the west you heard the command to stretch forth your hand, and as in the presence of Satan, you renounced him.

This figure is found in ancient history. For when Pharaoh, that most cruel and ruthless tyrant, oppressed the free and royal people of the Hebrews, God sent Moses to bring them out of the evil grip of the Egyptians.

Then the doorposts were anointed with the blood of the lamb that the destroyer might flee from the houses which had the sign of the blood. And the Hebrew people were marvellously delivered.

The enemy, however, after their rescue, pursued them, and saw the sea wondrously parted for them. Nevertheless he went on, following in their footsteps and was all at once overwhelmed and engulfed in the Red Sea.

Now turn from the ancient to the recent, from the figure to the reality. There, we have Moses sent from God to Egypt; here, Christ sent by his Father into the world.

There, that Moses might lead forth an oppressed people out of Egypt; here, that Christ might rescue mankind who is over­whelmed with sins.

There, the blood of a lamb was the spell against the destroyer; here, the blood of the unblemished Lamb Jesus Christ is made the charm to scare evil spirits.

There, the tyrant pursued even to the sea that ancient people; and in like manner this daring and shameless spirit, the author of evil, followed you, even to the very streams of sal­vation. The tyrant of old was drowned in the sea; and this present one disappears in the saving water.

What then did each of you standing up say? “I renounce Satan”, meaning “I fear your power no longer, for Christ has overthrown it, having partaken with me of flesh and blood, that through these he might by death destroy death that I might not for ever be subject to bondage.

“I renounce you, you crafty and most subtle serpent. I renounce you, plotter as you are, who under the guise of friendship brought about disobe­dience and the apostasy of our first parents. I renounce you, Satan, the source of all wickedness.”

When you renounced Satan, utterly breaking all covenants with him, that ancient connection with hell, there is opened to you the paradise of God, which he planted toward the east, where for his transgression our first father was exiled.

Symbolic of this was your turning from the west to the east, the place of light. Then you were told to say: I believe in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit, and in one baptism ­of repentance.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechesis 19, On the Mysteries 1:1-4.9; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday of the Second Week in Lent, Year 2.

Cyril of Jerusalem: Enlightened by faith, the soul has visions of God, and as far as is possible beholds God Saturday, Nov 28 2015 

Cyril-of-JerusalemThere is one kind of faith, the dogmatic, involving an assent of the soul on some particular point.

And it is profitable to the soul, as the Lord says:

He that heareth My words, and believeth Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and cometh not into judgment (John 5:24).

And again, He that believeth in the Son is not judged, but hath passed from death unto life (John 3:18; 5:24).

Oh the great loving-kindness of God!

For the righteous were many years in pleasing Him, but what they succeeded in gaining by many years of well-pleasing this Jesus now bestows on you in a single hour.

For if you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved, and will be transported into Paradise by Him who brought in thither the robber.

And doubt not whether it is possible; for He who on this sacred Golgotha saved the robber after one single hour of belief shall save you also because of your believing (Luke 23:43).

But there is a second kind of faith, which is bestowed by Christ as a gift of grace.

For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit:  to another faith, by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing (1 Cor. 12:8-9).

This faith, which is given of grace from the Spirit, is not merely doctrinal, but also works things above man’s power. For whosoever has this faith shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove (Mark 11:23).

Whenever anyone says this in faith, believing that it will come to pass, and does not doubt in his heart, then he will receive the grace.

And of this faith it is said, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed (Matt 17:20).

The grain of mustard seed is small in size, but fiery in its operation, and though sown in a small space has a circle of great branches, and when grown up is able even to shelter the fowls (Matt. 13:32).

Likewise, faith in the swiftest moment works the greatest effects in the soul.

For, enlightened by faith, the soul has visions of God, and as far as is possible beholds God, and ranges round the bounds of the universe, and before the end of this world already beholds the Judgment, and the payment of the promised rewards.

Have, therefore, that faith in Him which comes from your own self, that you may also receive from Him that faith which works things above man.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 5, 10-11 [slightly adapted].

Cyril of Jerusalem: The swift relenting of a merciful God Tuesday, Oct 27 2015 

Cyril-of-JerusalemGreat as he was, David fell.

After his sleep, walking in the eventide on the housetop, he cast a careless look, and felt a human passion.

His sin was completed, but there died not with it his candour concerning the confession of his fault.

Nathan the Prophet came, a swift accuser, and a healer of the wound.

The Lord is wroth, he says, and thou hast sinned (2 Sam. 12). So spake the subject to the reigning king.

But David the king was not indignant, for he regarded not the speaker, but God who had sent him.

He was not puffed up by the array of soldiers standing round,  for he had seen in thought the angel-host of the Lord, and he trembled as seeing Him who is invisible (Heb. 11:27).

And to the messenger, or rather by him in answer to God who sent him, he said, I have sinned against the Lord (2 Sam. 12:13).

[…] Because he candidly confessed, he received a most speedy cure.  For Nathan the Prophet who had uttered the threat, said immediately, The Lord also hath put away thy sin.

Thou seest the swift relenting of a merciful God.

He says, however, Thou hast greatly provoked the enemies of the Lord.

Though thou hadst many enemies because of thy righteousness, thy self-control protected thee; but now that thou hast surrendered thy strongest armour, thine enemies are risen up, and stand ready against thee.

Thus then did the Prophet comfort him, but the blessed David, for all he heard it said the Lord hath put away thy sin, did not cease from repentance, king though he was, but put on sackcloth instead of purple, and instead of a golden throne, he sat, a king, in ashes on the ground.

He not only sat in ashes, but also had ashes for his food, even as he saith himself, I have eaten ashes as it were bread (Ps. 101:10).

His lustful eye he wasted away with tears saying, Every night will I wash my couch, and water my bed with my tears (Ps. 7:7).  When his officers besought him to eat bread he would not listen.  He prolonged his fast unto seven whole days.

[…] Again, after Absalom’s insurrection, though there were many roads for him to escape, David chose to flee by the Mount of Olives, in thought, as it were, invoking the Redeemer who was to go up thence into the heavens  (2 Sam. 16:10-11).

And when Shimei cursed him bitterly, he said, Let him alone, for he knew that “to him that forgiveth it shall be forgiven.”

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 2, 11-12.

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.

Cyril of Jerusalem: “I will hold Him, and will not let Him go” Tuesday, Apr 28 2015 

Cyril-of-JerusalemBefore He entered through the closed doors, the Bridegroom and Suitor of souls was sought by those noble and brave women.

[…] Mary [Magdalen] came seeking Him, according to the Gospel, and found Him not.

And presently she heard from the Angels, and afterwards saw the Christ.

Are then these things also written?  He says in the Song of Songs, On my bed I sought Him whom my soul loved.

At what season?  By night on my bed I sought Him Whom my soul loved.

Mary, it says, came while it was yet dark.  On my bed I sought Him by night, I sought Him, and I found Him not (Cant. 3:1; John 20:1).

And in the Gospels Mary says, They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him (John 20:13).

But the Angels being then present cure their want of knowledge; for they said, Why seek ye the living among the dead?  (Luke 24:5). He not only rose, but had also the dead with Him when He rose (Matt. 27:52).

But she knew not, and in her person the Song of Songs said to the Angels, Saw ye Him Whom my soul loved? It was but a little that I passed from them (that is, from the two Angels), until I found Him Whom my soul loved.  I held Him, and would not let Him go (Cant. 3:3,4). 13.

For after the vision of the Angels, Jesus came as His own Herald; and the Gospel says, And behold Jesus met them, saying, All hail! and they came and took hold of His feet (Matt. 27:9). They took hold of Him, that it might be fulfilled, I will hold Him, and will not let Him go.

Though the woman was weak in body, her spirit was manful.  Many waters quench not love, neither do rivers drown it (Cant. 8:7); He whom they sought was dead, yet the hope of the Resurrection was not quenched.

And the Angel says to them again, Fear not ye; I say not to the soldiers, fear not, but to you (Matt. 28:5); as for them, let them be afraid, that, taught by experience, they may bear witness and say, Truly this was the Son of God (Matt. 27:54); but you ought not to be afraid, for perfect love casteth out fear (1 John 4:18).

Go, tell His disciples that He is risen (Matt. 28:7); and the rest.  And they depart with joy, yet full of fear. Is this also written?

Yes, the second Psalm, which relates the Passion of Christ, says, Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling (Ps. 2:11);—rejoice, because of the risen Lord; but with trembling, because of the earthquake, and the Angel who appeared as lightning.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 14, 12-13.

Cyril of Jerusalem: “The winter is past, the rain is past and gone” Saturday, Apr 18 2015 

Cyril-of-JerusalemAt what season does the Saviour rise?  Is it the season of summer, or some other?

In the same Canticles immediately before the words quoted He says:

The winter is past, the rain is past and gone (Cant. 2:11); the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the pruning is come (Cant. 2:12).

Is not then the earth full of flowers now, and are they not pruning the vines?

You see how he said also that the winter is now past.  For when this month Xanthicus is come, it is already spring.

And this is the season, the first month with the Hebrews, in which occurs the festival of the Passover, the typical formerly, but now the true.

This is the season of the creation of the world:  for then God said, Let the earth bring forth herbage of grass, yielding seed after his kind and after his likeness (Gen. 1:11). And now, as you see, already every herb is yielding seed.

And as at that time God made the sun and moon and gave them courses of equal day (and night), so also a few days since was the season of the equinox.

At that time God said, let us make man after our image and after our likeness (Gen. 1:26). And the image he received, but the likeness through his disobedience he obscured.

At the same season then in which he lost this the restoration also took place.  At the same season as the created man through disobedience was cast out of Paradise, he who believed was through obedience brought in.

Our Salvation then took place at the same season as our fall: when the flowers appeared, and the pruning was come.

A garden was the place of His Burial, and a vine that which was planted there:  and He hath said, I am the vine (John 15:1). He was planted therefore in the earth in order that the curse which came because of Adam might be rooted out.

The earth was condemned to thorns and thistles: the true Vine sprang up out of the earth, that the saying might be fulfilled, Truth sprang up out of the earth, and righteousness looked down from (Ps. 84:11).

And what will He that is buried in the garden say?  I have gathered My myrrh with My spices:  and again, Myrrh and aloes, with all chief spices (Cant. 5:1; 4:14).

Now these are the symbols of the burying; and in the Gospels it is said, The women came unto the sepulchre bringing the spices which they had prepared (Luke 24:1);  Nicodemus also bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes (John 19:39).

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 14, 10-11.

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