Fulgentius of Ruspe: People who Love their Enemies will be Children of God Friday, Sep 27 2013 

Church FathersPeople who love their ene­mies and do good to those who hate them will be children of God! The blessed Apostle reveals the reward these children of God are to receive:

The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God. But if we are children then we are heirs as well: heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.

Pay heed, then, Christians; pay heed, children of God; pay heed, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ: If you wish to receive your patrimony, love not only your friends but also your enemies.

Deny no one the love which all the righteous have as a common possession. Let everyone have it at once, and so that you may have it more fully, bestow it upon good and bad alike.

Such a sharing of good things in common is by no means an earthly virtue: it is heavenly. There is therefore nothing in it to restrict those who share in it.

Love increases as cupidity decreases; moreover, love never fails to free those whom worldly desires do not hold captive.

Love is a gift of God. As the Apostle says: God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Avarice is a snare of the devil, and not only a snare but a sword: by means of it he captures poor wretches and puts them to death.

Love is the root of all good; avarice is the root of all evil. Avarice brings ceaseless torment because it is never satisfied with its booty. Love, on the other hand, brings joy because the more it increases the more generously it gives.

Consequently, while their acquisitions impoverish those who desire evil, chari­table givers are enriched by their gifts. The greedy are troubled, seeking revenge for injuries inflicted on them; the charitable are at peace, delighting to forgive any harm done to them.

The avaricious avoid practising the works of mercy, while the chari­table perform them cheerfully The object of the avaricious is to injure their neighbours; the charitable do them no harm. By self-exaltation the greedy sink down into hell; by humbling themselves the charitable ascend to heaven.

But when shall I ever be able fittingly to sing the praises of love, which is not solitary in heaven or bereft on earth? For on earth it is fed by the words of God; in heaven it is filled by the words of God.

On earth it has the company of friends, in heaven the fellowship of angels. It toils in the world; it finds rest in heaven.

Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/467—527/533): Sermon 5.5-6 (CCL 91A:922-923); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 1.

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Fulgentius of Ruspe: The Love that Brought Christ from Heaven to Earth Raised Stephen from Earth to Heaven Wednesday, Dec 26 2012 

Church FathersYesterday our king, clothed in his robe of flesh, left his place in the virgin’s womb and graciously visited the world.

Today his soldier leaves the tabernacle of his body and goes triumphantly to heaven.

Our king, despite his exalted majesty, came in humility for our sake; yet he did not come empty-handed.

He brought his soldiers a great gift that not only enriched them but also made them unconquerable in battle, for it was the gift of love, which was to bring men to share in his divinity.

[…] And so the love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier.

Love was Stephen’s weapon by which he gained every battle, and so won the crown signified by his name.

His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbor made him pray for those who were stoning him.

Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment.

Strengthened by the power of his love, he overcame the raging cruelty of Saul and won his persecutor on earth as his companion in heaven.

In his holy and tireless love he longed to gain by prayer those whom he could not convert by admonition.

Now at last, Paul rejoices with Stephen, with Stephen he delights in the glory of Christ, with Stephen he exalts, with Stephen he reigns.

Stephen went first, slain by the stones thrown by Paul, but Paul followed after, helped by the prayer of Stephen.

This, surely, is the true life, my brothers, a life in which Paul feels no shame because of Stephen’s death, and Stephen delights in Paul’s companionship, for love fills them both with joy.

It was Stephen’s love that prevailed over the cruelty of the mob, and it was Paul’s love that covered the multitude of his sins; it was love that won for both of them the kingdom of heaven.

Love, indeed, is the source of all good things; it is an impregnable defense,- and the way that leads to heaven.

He who walks in love can neither go astray nor be afraid: love guides him, protects him, and brings him to his journey’s end.

My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven.

Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress in it, make your ascent together.

Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/467—527/533):Sermon 3, 1-3, 5-6 (CCL 91A, 905-909) from the Office of Readings for the Feast of St Stephen, December 26th@ Crossroads Initiative.

Fulgentius of Ruspe: Mortify your Base Desires, Mend your Ways, and you shall Set Free your Mind and Heart Saturday, Oct 27 2012 

Church FathersTurn your thoughts to yourself, to your own state, mortal man.

Look for the accusation against you yourself: then for the defence; and then, what about the judgement itself?

For now, you alone are accuser, defender, and judge.

Enter the secret recesses of your mind and heart, where the eyes of the Lord alone can see you.

Accuse yourself there, that you may be defended of the charge.

Try your­self there, that you may carry off the victory.

Condemn yourself there, in your own mind, that you may merit absolution.

Do not treat yourself as a special case when criticising your own conduct.

Instead, take apart and analyse your misdeeds with rigour; be strict in condemning the sins you acknowledge as yours; and in con­demning them as your own, do them to death as well.

Do them to death: that means, not to yield in the slightest, ever after, to sinful urges.

Not being one who commits sin, you will then be one who has killed it off.

And if you are a sound judge of your own sin you will go free of God’s just judgement.

But that you may rejoice in a just judgement delivered on yourself, take note of St Paul’s counsel, teaching what actions of ours we need to mortify so as to arrive at the true life.

For he says this: Mortify your own bodies as they walk the earth; as for fornication and all impurity, evil desires and prurience, avarice and slavery to the idols of materialism, all these call down the wrath of God on the children of disbelief.

That tells us, then, what is objectionable in ourselves, what we should condemn there, what needs mortifying.

Make the judgement on yourself – and you will not be judged.

So condemn – and you will not be condemned.

Mortify yourself – and you will not be finally mortified, with the death of the soul.

Here and now be the strictest judge, a veritable butcher in cutting out defects in the flesh.

Take careful thought and be abject in mortification.

For if you have properly weighed your sins you have made the judgement; then by casting them off, you have killed them.

To defend yourself, then, self-accusation has to come first; to secure your pardon, judgement and self-criticism; so as to conduct your cause victoriously, exami­nation of conscience.

Acknowledge your iniquity, mortify your base desires, mend your ways – and so by judging aright you shall set free your mind and heart, your very soul.

Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/467—527/533): Sermon 10.2-3 (CCL 91A:938-939); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Friday of the 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2.

Fulgentius of Ruspe: Through Christ We Offer Our Sacrifice of Praise to God Thursday, Jan 19 2012 

Church FathersThrough the mystery of the Incarnation, Jesus Christ became man, the mediator of God and man.

He is a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech.

By shedding his own blood he entered once and for all into the Holy Places.

He did not enter a place made by human hands, a mere type of the true one.

Rather, he entered heaven itself, where he is at God’s right hand interceding for us.

Quite correctly, the Church continues to reflect this mystery in her prayer.

This mystery of Jesus Christ the high priest is reflected in the apostle Paul’s statement:

Through him, then, let us always offer the sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that profess belief in his name.

We were once enemies of the Father, but have been reconciled through the death of Christ.

Through him then we offer our sacrifice of praise, our prayer to God.

He became our offering to the Father, and through him our offering is now acceptable.

It is for this reason that Peter the apostle urges us to be built up as living stones into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.

This then is the reason why we offer prayer to God our Father, but through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When we speak of Christ’s priesthood, what else do we mean than the incarnation?

Through this mystery, the Son of God, though himself ever remaining God, became a priest. To him along with the Father, we offer our sacrifice.

Yet, through him the sacrifice we now offer is holy, living and pleasing to God.

Indeed, if Christ had not sacrificed himself for us, we could not offer any sacrifice.

For it is in him that our human nature becomes a redemptive offering.

When we offer our prayers through him, our priest, we confess that Christ truly possesses the flesh of our race.

Clearly the Apostle refers to this when he says: Every high priest is taken from among men.

He is appointed to act on behalf of these same men in their relationship to God; he is to offer gifts and sacrifices to God.

We do not, however, only say “your Son” when we conclude our prayer.

We also say, “who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit”.

In this way we commemorate the natural unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is clear, then, that the Christ who exercises a priestly role on our behalf is the same Christ who enjoys a natural unity and equality with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/467—527/533): Epist. 14, 36-37 (CCL 92, 429-431) from the Office of Readings for Thursday in the 2nd week of Ordinary Time @ Crossroads Initiative.

Fulgentius of Ruspe: God’s Love has been Poured into Our Hearts by the Holy Spirit Tuesday, May 3 2011 

Church FathersThe spiritual building up of the body of Christ is achieved through love.

As Saint Peter says: Like living stones you are built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

And there can be no more effective way to pray for this spiritual growth than for the Church, itself Christ’s body, to make the offering of his body and blood in the sacramental form of bread and wine.

For the cup we drink is a participation [Greek koinonia; Latin communio] in the blood of Christ, and the bread we break is a participation in the body of Christ.

Because there is one loaf, we who are many are one body, since we all share the same bread.

And so we pray that, by the same grace which made the Church Christ’s body, all its members may remain firm in the unity of that body through the enduring bond of love.

We are right to pray that this may be brought about in us through the gift of the one Spirit of the Father and the Son.

The holy Trinity, the one true God, is of its nature unity, equality and love, and by one divine activity sanctifies its adopted sons.

That is why Scripture says that God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit he has given us.

The Holy Spirit, who is the one Spirit of the Father and the Son, produces in those to whom he gives the grace of divine adoption the same effect as he produced among those whom the Acts of the Apostles describes as having received the Holy Spirit.

We are told that the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, because the one Spirit of the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is one God, had created a single heart and soul in all those who believed.

[…] God makes the Church itself a sacrifice pleasing in his sight by preserving within it the love which his Holy Spirit has poured out.

Thus the grace of that spiritual love is always available to us, enabling us continually to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to him forever.

Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/467—527/533): To Monimus (Lib. 2, 11-12: CCL 91, 46-48) @ Crossroads Initiative.

Fulgentius of Ruspe: Christ Offered Himself for Us to God as a Fragrant Offering and Sacrifice Thursday, Apr 7 2011 

Church FathersThe sacrifices of animal victims which were imposed on our forefathers by the Holy Trinity itself, the one God of the Old and New Testaments, foreshadowed the most acceptable gift of all.

This was the offering which in his compassion the only Son of God would make of himself in his human nature for our sake.

The Apostle teaches that Christ offered himself for us to God as a fragrant offering and sacrifice.

He is the true God and the true High Priest who for our sake entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, taking with him not the blood of bulls and goats but his own blood.

This was foreshadowed by the High Priest of old when each year he took blood and entered the Holy of Holies.

Christ is therefore the one who in himself alone embodied all that he knew to be necessary to achieve our redemption.

He is at once priest and sacrifice, God and temple.

He is the priest through whom we have been reconciled, the sacrifice by which we have been reconciled, the temple in which we have been reconciled, the God with whom we have been reconciled.

He alone is priest, sacrifice, and temple because he is all these things as God in the form of a servant.

But he is not alone as God, for he shares the divine nature with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Hold fast to this and never doubt it: the only-begotten Son, God the Word, becoming man offered himself for us to God as a fragrant offering and sacrifice.

[…] In those ancient victims the body and blood of Christ were prefigured: the body which the sinless one would offer as propi­tiation for our sins, and the blood which he would pour out for our forgiveness.

The Church’s sacrifice, on the other hand, is an act of thanksgiving and a memorial of the body Christ has offered for us and the blood he has shed for us.

[…] Those sacrifices of old pointed in sign to what was to be given to us. In this sacrifice we see plainly what has already been given to us.

Those sacrifices foretold the death of the Son of God for sinners. Here he is proclaimed as already slain for sinners, as the Apostle testifies:

Christ died for the wicked at a time when we were still powerless, and when we were enemies we were reconciled with God through the death of his Son.

Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/467—527/533): On Faith, To Peter 22.62 (CCL 91A:726,750-751); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent, Year I.

Fulgentius of Ruspe: Spiritual Resurrection and Justification; Bodily Resurrection and Glorification Tuesday, Nov 16 2010 

Church FathersIn a moment, in the twinkling of an eye as the final trumpet sounds, for the trumpet shall indeed sound, the dead shall rise incorruptible and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:52).

In saying “we”, Paul is indicating that the gift of that future change will also be given to those who during their time on earth are united to him and his companions by upright lives within the communion of the Church.

He hints at the nature of the change when he says: This corruptible body must put on incorruptibility, this mortal body immortality.

In order, then, that men may obtain the transformation which is the reward of the just, they must first undergo here on earth a change which is God’s free gift.

Those who in this life have been changed from evil to good are promised that future change as a reward.

Through justification and the spiritual resurrection, grace now effects in them an initial change that is God’s gift.

Later on, through the bodily resurrection, the transformation of the just will be brought to completion, and they will experience a perfect, abiding, unchangeable glorification.

The purpose of this change wrought in them by the gifts of both justification and glorification is that they may abide in an eternal, changeless state of joy.

Here on earth they are changed by the first resurrection, in which they are enlightened and converted, thus passing from death to life, sinfulness to holiness, unbelief to faith, and evil actions to holy life.

For this reason the second death has no power over them. It is of such men that the Book of Revelation says: Happy the man who shares in the first resurrection; over such as he the second death has no power.

Elsewhere the same book says: He who overcomes shall not be harmed by the second death. As the first resurrection consists of the conversion of the heart, the second death consists of unending torment.

Let everyone, therefore, who does not wish to be condemned to the endless punishment of the second death now hasten to share in the first resurrection.

For if any during this life are changed out of fear of God and pass from an evil life to a good one, they pass from death to life and later they shall be transformed from a shameful state to a glorious one.

Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/467—527/533): On the Forgiveness of Sins, book 2 (CCL 92A, 693-695), taken from the Office of Readings for Monday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time @ Crossroads Initiative.

Fulgentius of Ruspe: “The Love of God is Poured into our Hearts by the Holy Spirit” Tuesday, Oct 12 2010 

Church FathersThe eucharistic sacrifice is offered to proclaim the death of the Lord and to be a commemoration of him who laid down his life for us.

He himself has said: A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.

So, since Christ died for us, out of love, it follows that, when we offer the sacrifice in commemoration of his death, we are asking for love to be given us by the coming of the Holy Spirit.

We beg and we pray that just as through love Christ deigned to be crucified for us, so we may receive the grace of the Holy Spirit.

And we ask that by that grace the world should be a dead thing in our eyes and we should be dead to the world, crucified and dead.

We pray that we should imitate the death of our Lord. Christ, when he died, died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God.

We pray, therefore, that in imitating the death of our Lord we should walk in newness of life, dead to sin and living for God.

The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been sent to us.

When we share in the Lord’s body and blood, when we eat his bread and drink his cup, this truly means that we die to the world and have our hidden life with Christ in God, crucifying our flesh and its weaknesses and its desires.

Thus it is that all the faithful who love God and their neighbour drink the cup of the Lord’s love even if they do not drink the cup of bodily suffering.

Soaked through with that drink, they mortify the flesh in which they walk this earth. Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ like a cloak, their desires are no longer those of the body.

They do not contemplate what can be seen but what is invisible to the eyes.

This is how the cup of the Lord is drunk when divine love is present. But, without that love, you may even give your body to be burned and still it will do you no good.

What the gift of love gives us is the chance to become in truth what we celebrate as a mystery in the sacrifice.

Fulgentius of Ruspe (462/467—527/533): Against Fabian, from the Office of Readings for Monday in the 28th week in Ordinary Time @ Crossroads Initiative.