Gregory of Nyssa: Now the mystery of Christ’s death is fulfilled, victory is won, and the Cross, the sign of triumph, is raised on high Saturday, May 7 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaOn Psalm 23 [24].

The Gospel describes the Lord’s life upon earth and his return to heaven.

But the sublime prophet David, as though unencum­bered by the weight of his body, rose above himself to mingle with the heavenly powers and record for us their words as they accompanied the Master when he came down from heaven.

Ordering the angels on earth entrusted with the care of human life to raise the gates, they cried: Lift up your gates, you princes; be lifted up you everlasting doors. Let the King of glory enter.

But because wherever he is, he who contains all things in himself makes himself like those who receive him, not only becoming a man among men, but also when among angels conforming his nature to theirs, the gatekeepers asked: Who is this King of glory?

He is the strong one, they were told, mighty in battle, the one who is to grapple with and overthrow the captor of the human race who has the power of death. When this last enemy has been destroyed, he will restore us to freedom and peace.

Now the mystery of Christ’s death is fulfilled, victory is won, and the Cross, the sign of triumph, is raised on high. He who gives us the noble gifts of life and a kingdom has ascended into heaven, leading captivity captive.

Therefore the same command is repeated. Once more the gates of heaven must open for him. Our guardian angels, who have now become his escorts, order them to be flung wide so that he may enter and regain his former glory.

But he is not recognized in the soiled garments of our life, in clothes reddened by the winepress of human sin. Again the escorting angels are asked: Who is this King of glory?

The answer is no longer, The strong one, mighty in battle, but, The lord of hosts, he who has gained power over the whole universe, who has recapitulated all things in himself who is above all things, who has restored all creation to its former state: He is the King of glory.

You see how much David has added to our joy in this feast and contributed to the gladness of the Church.

Therefore as far as we can let us imitate the prophet by our love for God, by gentleness and by patience with those who hate us. Let the prophet’s teaching help us to live in a way pleasing to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Ascension (Jaeger 9.1.323-327); ); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Eastertide, Year 2.

Gregory of Nyssa: Death will be no more, and everything will be completely changed into life. Sunday, Apr 10 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaContinued from here….

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Christ eternally builds himself up by those who join themselves to him in faith.

It is clear that when this is accomplished, Christ receives in himself all who are joined to him through the fellowship of his body.

Christ makes everyone as limbs of his own body – even if there are many such limbs, the body is one.

Therefore, by uniting us to himself, Christ is our unity; and having become one body with us through all things, he looks after us all.

Subjection to God is our chief good when all creation resounds as one voice, when everything in heaven, on earth and under the earth bends the knee to him, and when every tongue will confess that has become one body and is joined in Christ through obedience to one another, he will bring into subjection his own body to the Father.

Let not what is said here sound strange to anyone, for we ascribe to the soul a certain means of expression taken from the body.

That which is read as pertaining to the fruitfulness of the land may also be applied to one’s own soul: “Eat, drink, and be merry” (Lk 11.19). This sentence may be referred to the fullness of the soul.

Thus, the subjection of the Church’s body is brought to him who dwells in the soul. Since everything is explained through subjection as the book of Psalms suggests. As a result, we learn that faith means not being apart from those who are saved.

This we learn from the Apostle Paul. Paul signifies, by the Son’s subjection, the destruction of death. Therefore, these two elements concur, that is, when death will be no more, and everything will be completely changed into life.

The Lord is life. According to the apostle, Christ will have access to the Father with his entire body when he will hand over the kingdom to our God and Father. Christ’s body, as it is often said, consists of human nature in its entirety to which he has been united.

Because of this, Christ is named Lord by Paul, as mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2.5). He who is in the Father and has lived with men accomplishes intercession.

Christ unites all mankind to himself, and to the Father through himself, as the Lord says in the Gospel, “As you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, that they may be one in us” (Jn 17.21).

This clearly shows that having united himself to us, he who is in the Father effects our union (sunapheia) with this very same Father.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): A Treatise on 1 Corinthians 15:28.

Gregory of Nyssa: The truth of reality is truly a holy thing, a holy of holies Wednesday, Mar 16 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaWhat then is that tabernacle not made with hands which was shown to Moses on the mountain and to which he was commanded to look as to an archetype so that he might reproduce it in a handmade structure?

God said, See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

Of what things not made with hands are these an imitation? And what benefit does the material imitation of those things Moses saw there convey to those who look at it?

Taking a hint from what has been said by Paul, who partially uncovered the mystery of these things, we say that Moses was earlier instructed by a type in the in mystery of the tabernacle which encompasses the universe.

This tabernacle would be Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God, who in his own nature was not made with hands, yet capable of being made when it became necessary for this tabernacle to be erected among us.

Thus, the same tabernacle is in a way both unfashioned and fashioned, uncreated in pre-existence but created in having received this material composition.

This one is the Only Begotten God, who encompasses everything in himself but who also pitched his own tabernacle among us.

Whenever the prophet looks to the tabernacle above, he sees the heavenly realities through these symbols. But if one should look at the tabernacle below, since in many places the Church also is called Christ by Paul, he would see the Church.

In this tabernacle both the sacrifice of praise and the incense of prayer are seen offered continually at morning and evening. The great David allows us to perceive these things when he directs the incense of his prayer in an odour of sweetness to God, performing his sacrifice through the lifting up of his hands.  

The skin dyed red and the coverings made of hair, which add to the decoration of the tabernacle, are per­ceived respectively as the mortification of the sinful flesh and the ascetic way of life. By these the tabernacle of the church is especially beautified.

[…] If the interior, which is called the Holy of Holies, is not accessible to the multitude, let us not think that this is at variance with the sequence of what has been perceived. For the truth of reality is truly a holy thing, a holy of holies, and is incomprehensible and inaccessible to the multitude.

Since it is set in the secret and ineffable areas of the tabernacle of mystery, the apprehension of the realities above comprehension should not be meddled with; one should rather believe that they do exist and that they remain in the secret and ineffable areas of the intelligence.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): The Life of Moses 170, 173-175, 184-188; CWS (1978) tr. Malherbe & Ferguson; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Friday of the Third Week in Lent, Year 2.

Gregory of Nyssa: Moses entered into the darkness and there he saw God Thursday, Mar 3 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaMoses entered into the darkness and there he saw God.

What does this signify? This present account seems in a way to con­tradict that of the first theophany.

Then God appeared in light, but now he appears in darkness.

Yet we must not imagine this to be at variance with our normal experience of spiritual contemplation.

By this statement the text teaches us that religious knowledge is first experienced as light.

All that is seen to be opposed to religion is darkness, and darkness vanishes when we receive the light.

But the more the mind advances and by ever increasing and more perfect application attains an intellec­tual comprehension of realities and approaches contemplation, the more clearly it sees that the divine nature is invisible.

Having left behind all appearances, not only those perceived by the senses but also those the intellect seems to see, it plunges ever deeper within itself, until by spiritual effort it penetrates to the invisible and the unknowable, and there it sees God.

This is the true knowledge of what is sought; this is the seeing that consists in not seeing, because that which is sought transcends all knowledge, being separated on all sides by incomprehensibility as by a kind of darkness.

This is why John the contemplative, who had penetrated this luminous darkness, said that no one had ever seen God, declaring by this negation that the divine essence is beyond the reach not only of men but of every rational nature as well.

And so, when Moses had advanced in knowledge he declared that he saw God in the darkness, or in other words that he recog­nized that the Divinity is essentially that which transcends all knowledge and which no mind can apprehend.

The text says: Moses entered into the darkness where God was.

What God? He who has made the darkness his covering, as David declared, who had himself been initiated into the divine mysteries in that same sanctuary.

When Moses arrived there, he was taught by word what he had formerly learned from darkness, so that, I think, the doctrine on this matter may be made more firm for us by the witness of the divine voice.

The divine word at the beginning forbade that the Divine be likened to any of the things known by men, since every concept which comes from some comprehensible image constitutes an idol of God and does not proclaim God.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): The Life of Moses, 2.162-66 (SC 1, 80-82); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Friday of the Second Week in Lent, Year 2.

Gregory of Nyssa: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” Tuesday, Feb 16 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaThe forgiveness of debts is a unique and special prerogative of God.

It was said: “No one can forgive sins but God alone” (Mk 2:7).

[…] A person obtains confidence in prayer by willingly imitating every conceivable attribute of God who is both kind and gentle, the source of all blessings and the dispenser of mercies to all.

It is not becoming that an evil person should enjoy intimacy with a good person, nor that a person who wallows in impure thoughts should have communion with one who is pure and undefiled.

In like manner, hardness of heart separates the supplicant from the love of God.

Whoever holds someone else in bitter bondage because of outstanding debts has by his own conduct excluded himself from divine love.

What communion can there be between love and cruelty, kindness and harshness, or any attribute and its opposite that is evil? Mutual opposition keeps them separated. For whoever is possessed by any particular attribute is necessarily estranged from its opposite.

Just as one who dies no longer lives, and the one who lives is estranged from death, so also he who approaches the love of God must necessarily be removed from every disposition of callousness.

Whoever is free of all those dispositions understood as being evil, he becomes in some way god by reason of his condition having achieved in himself what reason understands to be attributes of God.

Do you see to what greatness the Lord exalts those who hear Him through the words of the prayer? He transforms human nature in some way to be closer to the divine. He decrees that those who approach God should become gods.

Why do you come to God, He says, in a slavish manner, trembling in fear and plagued by your own conscience? Why do you exclude yourself from the confidence which coexists with the freedom of the soul from the beginning and which is intrinsic to the essence of your nature?

Why do you use flattery with Him who cannot be flattered? Why do you direct fawning and flattering words to the One who looks at deeds?

Every blessing that comes from God is permissible to you. You can possess it with a free spirit. Be your own judge. Cast the saving vote for yourself. Do you ask God to forgive your debts? Forgive the debts of others and God will cast his favorable ballot.

You yourself are the lord of judgment concerning your neighbor. This judgment, whatever it maybe, will bring an equal decision upon you. For whatever you decide to do, will be ratified by the divine judgment in your case, too.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): Fifth Homily on The Lord’s Prayer.

Gregory of Nyssa: Christ eternally builds himself up by those who join themselves to him in faith Sunday, Jan 24 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaWhen all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Paul plainly speaks of the nonexistence (anuparktos) of evil by stating that God is in all things and present to each one of them.

It is clear that God will truly be in all things when no evil will be found.

It is not proper for God to be present in evil; thus, he will not be in everything as long as some evil remains.

If it compels us to truly believe that God is in everything, then evil cannot be seen as existing along with faith; for God cannot be present in evil.

However, for God to be present in all things, Paul shows that he, the hope of our life, is simple and uniform. No longer can our new existence be now compared to the many and varied examples of this present life.

Paul shows, by the words quoted above, that God becomes all things for us. He appears as the necessities of our present life, or as examples for partaking in the divinity.

Thus, for God to be our food, it is proper to understand him as being eaten; the same applies to drink, clothing, shelter, air, location, wealth, enjoyment, beauty, health, strength, prudence, glory, blessedness and anything else judged good which our human nature needs.

Words such as these signify what is proper to God. We therefore learn by the examples mentioned above that the person in God has everything which God himself has.

To have God means nothing else than to be united with him. Unity then means to be one body with him as Paul states, for all who are joined to the one body of Christ by participation are one body with him.

When the good pervades everything, then the entirety of Christ’s body will be subjected to God’s vivifying power. Thus, the subjection of this body will be said to be the subjection of Church.

Regarding this point, Paul says to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church of which I became a minister according to his dispensation” (Col. 1:24).

[…] To the Ephesians Paul more clearly puts this teaching when saying, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:15-16).

Christ eternally builds himself up by those who join themselves to him in faith.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): A Treatise on 1 Corinthians 15:28.

Gregory of Nyssa: Christ is baptized by John that He might He might bring the Spirit from above, and exalt man to heaven Thursday, Jan 7 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaThe time, then, has come, and bears in its course the remembrance of holy mysteries, purifying man,

—mysteries which purge out from soul and body even that sin which is hard to cleanse away, and which bring us back to that fairness of our first estate which God, the best of artificers, impressed upon us.

Therefore it is that you, the initiated people, are gathered together; and you bring also that people who have not made trial of them, leading, like good fathers, by careful guidance, the uninitiated to the perfect reception of the faith.

I for my part rejoice over both;—over you that are initiated, because you are enriched with a great gift: over you that are uninitiated, because you have a fair expectation of hope

—remission of what is to be accounted for, release from bondage, close relation to God, free boldness of speech, and in place of servile subjection equality with the angels.

For these things, and all that follow from them, the grace of Baptism secures and conveys to us.

[…] Christ, then, was born as it were a few days ago—He Whose generation was before all things, sensible and intellectual.

Today He is baptized by John that He might cleanse him who was defiled, that He might bring the Spirit from above, and exalt man to heaven, that he who had fallen might be raised up and he who had cast him down might be put to shame.

And marvel not if God showed so great earnestness in our cause: for it was with care on the part of him who did us wrong that the plot was laid against us; it is with forethought on the part of our Maker that we are saved.

And he, that evil charmer, framing his new device of sin against our race, drew along his serpent train, a disguise worthy of his own intent, entering in his impurity into what was like himself,—dwelling, earthly and mundane as he was in will, in that creeping thing.

But Christ, the repairer of his evil-doing, assumes manhood in its fulness, and saves man, and becomes the type and figure of us all, to sanctify the first-fruits of every action, and leave to His servants no doubt in their zeal for the tradition.

Baptism, then, is a purification from sins, a remission of trespasses, a cause of renovation and regeneration. […] And this gift it is not the water that bestows (for in that case it were a thing more exalted than all creation), but the command of God, and the visitation of the Spirit that comes sacramentally to set us free.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): A Sermon for the Day of the Lights.

Gregory of Nyssa: He crosses over into human life, not by boat or by chariot, but through the incorruption of a Virgin Tuesday, Dec 29 2015 

Gregory_of_Nyssa“Sound the trumpet at the new moon,” says David, “even in the notable day of your feast” (Psalm 80:3).

The commandments of Divinely-inspired teaching are assuredly a law for those who hear them.

Therefore, since the notable day of our feast is at hand, let us, too, fulfill the law and become heralds of the solemnity.

The trumpet of the law, as the Apostle bids us understand, is the word.

[…] So let us produce a clear and audible sound, brethren, one that is no less noble than that of the trumpet.

For the Law, prefiguring the truth in the shadowy types, enjoined the sounding of the trumpet at the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. Leviticus 23:24).

Now, the theme of the present Feast is the mystery of the true Tabernacle.

For on this day did He Who vested Himself with humanity for our sake pitch His human tabernacle; on this day our tabernacles, which had disintegrated through death, are reconstituted by Him Who constructed our habitation from the very beginning.

Let us utter the words of the Psalm, joining in chorus with the loud-voiced David: “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 117:26).

How does He come? He crosses over into human life, not by boat or by chariot, but through the incorruption of a Virgin.

This is our God, this is our Lord, Who appeared to us to ordain a Feast with thick branches, even unto the horns of the altar (Psalm 117:27).

We are assuredly not unaware, brethren, of the mystery contained in these words: that all of creation is a single temple of the Master of creation.

But since, when sin intervened, the mouths of those overcome by evil were stopped, the voice of rejoicing fell silent and the harmony of those who keep festival was interrupted, as human creation no longer celebrated with celestial Angel-kind, for this reason there came the trumpets of the Prophets and the Apostles, whom the Law calls horns, because they are formed from the true Unicorn (cf. Numbers 23:22).

By the power of the Spirit they made the word of truth resound with piercing clarity, so that the ears of those who had been made deaf by sin might be opened up and so that there might be one harmonious celebration, echoing in unison through the thick covering of the tabernacle of the lower creation with the sublime and preëminent Hosts that stand around the Heavenly Altar.

For the horns of the noetic Altar are the sublime and preëminent Powers of the noetic nature, the Principalities, Authorities, Thrones, and Dominions, to which human nature is joined by participation in the Feast through its resurrected tabernacle, which is “thickly covered” by the renewal of our bodies.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): Homily on the Nativity of Christ (translation at HSIR from Patrologia Græca, Vol. XLVI, cols. 1128A-1149C).

Gregory of Nyssa: The goal of our hope is that nothing contrary to the good is left, but the divine life permeates everything Saturday, Dec 12 2015 

Gregory_of_NyssaWhen all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

What therefore does Paul teach us? It consists in saying that evil will come to nought and will be completely destroyed.

The divine, pure goodness will contain in itself every nature endowed with reason.

Nothing made by God is excluded from his kingdom once everything mixed with some elements of base material has been consumed by refinement in fire.

[…] Paul says…that the pure and undefiled divinity of the Only-Begotten Son assumed man’s mortal and perishable nature.

However, from the entirety of human nature to which the divinity is mixed, the man constituted according to Christ is a kind of first fruits of the common dough.

It is through this (divinized) man that all mankind is joined to the divinity.

Since every evil was obliterated in Christ – for he did not make sin – the prophet says, “No deceit was found in his mouth” (Is 53.9).

Evil was destroyed along with sin, as well as the death which resulted; for death is simply the result of sin.

Christ assumed from death both the beginning of evil’s destruction and the dissolution of death.

[…] After the man in Christ, who became the first fruits of our human nature, received in himself the divinity, He became the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep and the first horn from the dead once the pangs of death have been loosened.

So then, after this person has completely separated himself from sin and has utterly denied in himself the power of death and destroyed its lordship and authority and might…if anyone like Paul may be found who became a mighty imitator of Christ in his rejection of evil…such a person will fall in behind the first fruits at Christ’s coming (parousia).

[…] The goal of our hope is that nothing contrary to the good is left, but the divine life permeates everything. It completely destroys death, having earlier removed sin which, as it is said, held dominion over all mankind.

Therefore, every wicked authority and domination has been destroyed in us. No longer do any of our passions rule our (human) nature, since it is necessary that none of them dominate – all are subjected to the one who rules over all.

Subjection to God is complete alienation from evil. When we are removed from evil in imitation of the first fruits (Christ), our entire nature is mixed with this selfsame fruits.

One body has been formed with the good as predominant; our body’s entire nature is united to the divine, pure nature.

This is what we mean by the Son’s subjection – when, in his body, Christ rightly has the subjection – when, in his body, Christ rightly has the subjection brought to him, and he effects in us the grace of subjection.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): A Treatise on 1 Corinthians 15:28.

Gregory of Nyssa: Paradise will be restored, that tree will be restored which is in truth the tree of life Tuesday, Nov 24 2015 

Gregory_of_NyssaWickedness, however, is not so strong as to prevail over the power of good; nor is the folly of our nature more powerful and more abiding than the wisdom of God.

For it is impossible that that which is always mutable and variable should be more firm and more abiding than that which always remains the same and is firmly fixed in goodness.

But it is absolutely certain that the Divine counsel possesses immutability, while the changeableness of our nature does not remain settled even in evil.

Now that which is always in motion, if its progress be to good, will never cease moving onwards to what lies before it, by reason of the infinity of the course to be traversed.

For it will not find any limit of its object such that when it has apprehended it, it will at last cease its motion.

But if its bias be in the opposite direction, when it has finished the course of wickedness and reached the extreme limit of evil, then that which is ever moving, finding no halting point for its impulse natural to itself when it has run through the lengths that can be run in wickedness, of necessity turns its motion towards good.

For as evil does not extend to infinity, but is comprehended by necessary limits, it would appear that good once more follows in succession upon the limit of evil.

And thus, as we have said, the ever-moving character of our nature comes to run its course at the last once more back towards good, being taught the lesson of prudence by the memory of its former misfortunes, to the end that it may never again be in like case.

Our course, then, will once more lie in what is good, by reason of the fact that the nature of evil is bounded by necessary limits.

[…] I think that we ought to understand about ourselves, that on passing the limit of wickedness we shall again have our conversation in light, as the nature of good, when compared with the measure of wickedness, is incalculably superabundant.

Paradise therefore will be restored, that tree will be restored which is in truth the tree of life—there will be restored the grace of the image, and the dignity of rule.

It does not seem to me that our hope is one for those things which are now subjected by God to man for the necessary uses of life, but one for another kingdom, of a description that belongs to unspeakable mysteries.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Making of Man, 21 (slightly adapted).

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