Hilary of Poitiers: “God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in the Spirit and in truth” Thursday, May 12 2016 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienThe words of the Gospel, For God is Spirit (John 4:24), need careful examination as to their sense and their purpose.

[…] The Lord was speaking with a woman of Samaria, for He had come to be the Redeemer for all mankind.

After He had discoursed at length of the living water…the woman answered, Lord, I perceive that Thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship (John 4:19-20).

The Lord replied, Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.

[…]  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. For God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in the Spirit and in truth, for God is Spirit (John 4:19-24).

We see that the woman, her mind full of inherited tradition, thought that God must be worshipped either on a mountain, as at Samaria, or in a temple, as at Jerusalem.

Samaria in disobedience to the Law had chosen a site upon the mountain for worship, while the Jews regarded the temple founded by Solomon as the home of their religion. The prejudices of both confined the all-embracing and illimitable God to the crest of a hill or the vault of a building.

God is invisible, incomprehensible, immeasurable; the Lord said that the time had come when God should be worshipped neither on mountain nor in temple. For Spirit cannot be cabined or confined; it is omnipresent in space and time, and under all conditions present in its fulness.

Therefore, He said, they are the true worshippers who shall worship in the Spirit and in truth. And these who are to worship God the Spirit in the Spirit shall have the One [i.e. the Holy Spirit] for the means, the Other [i.e. God the Trinity Who is Spirit] for the object, of their reverence. For Each of the Two stands in a different relation to the worshipper.

The words, God is Spirit, do not alter the fact that the Holy Spirit has a Name of His own, and that He is the Gift to us. The woman who confined God to hill or temple was told that God contains all things and is self-contained: that He, the Invisible and Incomprehensible must be worshipped by invisible and incomprehensible means.

The imparted gift and the object of reverence were clearly shewn when Christ taught that God, being Spirit, must be worshipped in the Spirit, and revealed what freedom and knowledge, what boundless scope for adoration, lay in this worship of God, the Spirit, in the Spirit.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 2, 31 [slightly adapted].

Hilary of Poitiers: “And he shall be like a tree planted beside the rills of water” Wednesday, Jan 13 2016 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienAnd he shall be like a tree planted beside the rills of water, which shall yield its fruit in its own season, whose leaf also shall not fall off (Psalm 1:3).

In the book of Genesis (Gen. 2:9), where the lawgiver depicts the paradise planted by God, we are shewn that every tree is fair to look upon and good for food;

it is also stated that there stands in the midst of the garden a tree of Life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil; next that the garden is watered by a stream that afterwards divides into four heads.

The Prophet Solomon teaches us what this tree of Life is in his exhortation concerning Wisdom: She is a tree of life to all them that lay hold upon her, and lean upon her (Prov. 3:18).

This tree then is living; and not only living, but, furthermore, guided by reason; guided by reason, that is, in so far as to yield fruit, and that not casually nor unseasonably, but in its own season.

And this tree is planted beside the rills of water in the domain of the Kingdom of God, that is, of course, in Paradise, and in the place where the stream as it issues forth is divided into four heads.

For he does not say, Behind the rills of water, but, Beside the rills of water, at the place where first the heads receive each their flow of waters.

This tree is planted in that place whither the Lord, Who is Wisdom, leads the thief who confessed Him to be the Lord, saying: Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43).

And now that we have shewn upon prophetic warrant that Wisdom, which is Christ, is called the tree of Life in accordance with the mystery of the coming Incarnation and Passion, we must go on to find support for the strict truth of this interpretation from the Gospels.

The Lord with His own lips compared Himself to a tree when the Jews said that He cast out devils in Beelzebub: Either make the tree good, said He, and its fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit (Matt. 12:33); because although to cast out devils is an excellent fruit, they said He was Beelzebab, whose fruits are abominable.

Nor yet did He hesitate to teach that the power that makes the tree happy resided in His Person, when on the way to the Cross He said: For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? (Luke 23:31). Declaring by this image of the green tree that there was nothing in Him that was subject to the dryness of death.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Psalms, Psalm 1, 14.

Hilary of Poitiers: We achieve the perfection of happiness by unbroken and unwearied meditation in the Law Friday, Jun 26 2015 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienBlessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence. But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night (Psalm 1:1-2).

The Prophet, in portraying in the likeness of God the man that is perfect—one who may serve as a noble example of eternal happiness—points to the exercise by him of no commonplace virtues, and to the words, But his will hath been in the Law of the Lord, for the attainment of perfect happiness.

To refrain from what has gone before is useless unless his mind be set on what follows, But his will hath been in the Law of the Lord. The Prophet does not look for fear.

The majority of men are kept within the bounds of Law by fear; the few are brought under the Law by will: for it is the mark of fear not to dare to omit what it is afraid of, but of perfect piety to be ready to obey commands.

This is why that man is happy whose will, not whose fear, is in the Law of God. But then sometimes the will needs supplementing; and the mere desire for perfect happiness does not win it, unless performance wait upon intention.

The Psalm, you remember, goes on: And in His Law will he meditate day and night. The man achieves the perfection of happiness by unbroken and unwearied meditation in the Law.

Now it may be objected that this is impossible owing to the conditions of human infirmity, which require time for repose, for sleep, for food: so that our bodily circumstances preclude us from the hope of attaining happiness, inasmuch as we are distracted by the interruption of our bodily needs from our meditation by day and night.

Parallel to this passage are the words of the Apostle, Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). As though we were bound to set at naught our bodily requirements and to continue praying without any interruption!

Meditation in the Law, therefore, does not lie in reading its words, but in pious performance of its injunctions; not in a mere perusal of the books and writings, but in a practical meditation and exercise in their respective contents, and in a fulfilment of the Law by the works we do by night and day, as the Apostle says: Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

The way to secure uninterrupted prayer is for every devout man to make his life one long prayer by works acceptable to God and always done to His glory: thus a life lived according to the Law by night and day will in itself become a nightly and daily meditation in the Law.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Psalms, Psalm 1, 11-12.

Hilary of Poitiers: “One God the Father, from Whom are all things, and one Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom are all things” Monday, Jun 8 2015 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienSince, therefore, the words of the Apostle, One God the Father, from Whom are all things, and one Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom are all things (1 Cor. 8:6), form an accurate and complete confession concerning God, let us see what Moses has to say of the beginning of the world.

His words are, And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let it divide the water from the water. And it was so, and God made the firmament and God divided the water through the midst (Gen. 1:6,7).

Here, then, you have the God from Whom, and the God through Whom.

If you deny it, you must tell us through whom it was that God’s work in creation was done, or else point for your explanation to an obedience in things yet uncreated, which, when God said Let there be a firmament, impelled the firmament to establish itself.

Such suggestions are inconsistent with the clear sense of Scripture. For all things, as the Prophet says (2 Macc. 7:28), were made out of nothing; it was no transformation of existing things, but the creation into a perfect form of the non-existent.

Through whom? Hear the Evangelist: All things were made through Him. If you ask Who this is, the same Evangelist will tell you: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him (John 1:1-3).

If you are minded to combat the view that it was the Father Who said, Let there be a firmament, the prophet will answer you: He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created (Psalm 148:5). The recorded words, Let there be a firmament, reveal to us that the Father spoke.

But in the words which follow, And it was so, in the statement that God did this thing, we must recognise the Person of the Agent. He spake, and they were made; the Scripture does not say that He willed it, and did it. He commanded, and they were created; you observe that it does not say they came into existence because it was His pleasure.

In that case there would be no office for a Mediator between God and the world which was awaiting its creation. God, from Whom are all things, gives the order for creation which God, through Whom are all things, executes. Under one and the same Name we confess Him Who gave and Him Who fulfilled the command.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 4, 16.

Hilary of Poitiers: Thy Holy Spirit searches and knows Thy deep things, and as Intercessor for me speaks to Thee words I could not utter Wednesday, May 20 2015 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassien[Hilary is addressing God the Father]

I cannot be content…to deny that my Lord and my God, Thy Only-begotten, Jesus Christ, is a creature.

I must also deny that this name of ‘creature’ belongs to Thy Holy Spirit, seeing that He proceeds from Thee and is sent through Him, so great is my reverence for everything that is Thine.

Nor, because I know that Thou alone art unborn and that the Only-begotten is born of Thee, will I refuse to say that the Holy Spirit was begotten, or assert that He was ever created.

[…] Thy Holy Spirit, as the Apostle says, searches and knows Thy deep things, and as Intercessor for me speaks to Thee words I could not utter.

And shall I express or rather dishonour, by the title ‘creature,’ the power of His nature, which subsists eternally, derived from Thee through Thine Only-begotten?

Nothing, except what belongs to Thee, penetrates into Thee; nor can the agency of a power foreign and strange to Thee measure the depth of Thy boundless majesty.

To Thee belongs whatever enters into Thee; nor is anything strange to Thee, which dwells in Thee through its searching power.

But I cannot describe Him, Whose pleas for me I cannot describe.

As in the revelation that Thy Only-begotten was born of Thee before times eternal, when we cease to struggle with ambiguities of language and difficulties of thought the one certainty of His birth remains.

So I hold fast in my consciousness the truth that Thy Holy Spirit is from Thee and through Him, although I cannot by my intellect comprehend it.

For in Thy spiritual things I am dull, as Thy Only-begotten says…: The Spirit breathes where It will, and thou hearest the voice of It; but dost not know whence it comes or whither It goes. So is every one who is born of water and of the Holy Spirit (John 3:7-8).

[…] Since, then, the cause of His coming and going is unknown, though the watcher is conscious of the fact, shall I count the nature of the Spirit among created things, and limit Him by fixing the time of His origin?

Thy servant John says, indeed, that all things were made through the Son, Who as God the Word was in the beginning, O God, with Thee. Again, Paul recounts all things as created in Him, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible (Col. 1:16).

And, while he declared that everything was created in Christ and through Christ, he thought, with respect to the Holy Spirit, that the description was sufficient, when he called Him Thy Spirit.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 12, 55-56.

Hilary of Poitiers: We are subjected to the glory of His body, that we may share that splendour with which He reigns in the body Tuesday, Apr 7 2015 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienBut we must not forget what follows the subjection, namely, Last of all is death conquered by Him (1 Cor. 15:26).

This victory over death is nothing else than the resurrection from the dead.

For when the corruption of death is stayed, the quickened and now heavenly nature is made eternal, as it is written,

For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

But when this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in strife. O death, where is thy sting? O death, where is thy strife (1 Cor. 53-55).

In the subjection of His enemies death is conquered; and, death conquered, life immortal follows.

The Apostle tells us also of the special reward attained by this subjection which is made perfect by the subjection of belief:

Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the works of His power, whereby He is able to subject all things to Himself (Phil. 3:21).

There is then another subjection, which consists in a transition from one nature to another, for our nature ceases, so far as its present character is concerned, and is subjected to Him, into Whose form it passes.

But by ‘ceasing’ is implied not an end of being, but a promotion into something higher. Thus our nature by being merged into the image of the other nature which it receives, becomes subjected through the imposition of a new form.

Hence the Apostle, to make his explanation of this Mystery complete, after saying that death is the last enemy to be conquered, adds:

But when He saith, All things are put in subjection except Him, Who did subject all things to Him, then must He be subjected to Him, that did subject all things to Him, that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:27,28).

The first step of the Mystery is that all things are subjected to Him: then He is subjected to Him, Who subjects all things to Himself.

As we are subjected to the glory of the rule of His body, so He also, reigning in the glory of His body, is by the same Mystery in turn subjected to Him, Who subjects all things to Himself.

And we are subjected to the glory of His body, that we may share that splendour with which He reigns in the body, since we shall be conformed to His body.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 11, 35-36.

Hilary of Poitiers: “The Glory Which Thou Hast Given Me I Have Given Unto Them” Wednesday, May 14 2014 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienThe promotion of unity is set forth by a pattern of unity when Jesus says as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us.

Accordingly, as the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father, so through the pattern of this unity all might be one in the Father and the Son.

[…] That the world may believe that Thou didst send Me (John 17:21).

Thus the world is to believe that the Son has been sent by the Father because all who shall believe in Him will be one in the Father and the Son.

And how they will be so we are soon told: And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them (John  17:22).

Now I ask whether glory is identical with will, since will is an emotion of the mind while glory is an ornament or embellishment of nature.

So then it is the glory received from the Father that the Son hath given to all who shall believe in Him, and certainly not will.

Had this been given, faith would carry with it no reward, for a necessity of will attached to us would also impose faith upon us.

However He has shewn what is effected by the bestowal of the glory received, That they may be one, even as We are one (John 17:22)It is then with this object that the received glory was bestowed, that all might be one.

So now all are one in glory, because the glory given is none other than that which was received: nor has it been given for any other cause than that all should be one.

And since all are one through the glory given to the Son and by the Son bestowed upon believers, I ask how can the Son be of a different glory from the Father’s, since the glory of the Son brings all that believe into the unity of the Father’s glory.

Now it may be that the utterance of human hope in this case may be somewhat immoderate, yet it will not be contrary to faith; for though to hope for this were presumptuous, yet not to have believed it is sinful, for we have one and the same Author both of our hope and of our faith.

We will treat of this matter more clearly and at greater length in its own place, as is fitting. Yet in the meantime it is easily seen from our present argument that this hope of ours is neither vain nor presumptuous. So then through the glory received and given all are one.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 8, 11-12.

Hilary of Poitiers: Exalted unto the Glory of God and Born Again Son of God after Becoming Son of Man Monday, Jan 13 2014 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienJanuary 13th is the feast of St Hilary of Poitiers.

He shall reward evil unto mine enemies: cut them off in thy truth. I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good. (Psalm 53[54]:5-6).

Continued from here….

Then He  [Jesus] gives thanks to God the Father for the accomplishment of all these acts:

I will give thanks unto Thy name, O Lord, for it is good, for Thou hast delivered Me out of all affliction.

He has assigned to each clause its strict fulfilment. Thus at the beginning He had said: Save Me, O God, by Thy name.

After the prayers had been heard it was right that there should follow a corresponding ascription of thanks.

This was in order that confession might be made to His name by Whose name He had prayed to be saved.

Moreover, inasmuch as He had asked for help against the strangers that rose up against Him, He wished to set on record that He had received it in the burst of joy expressed in the words: Thou hast delivered Me out of all affliction.

Then in respect of the fact that the violent in seeking after His soul did not set God before their eyes, He has declared His eternal possession of unchangeable divinity in the words: And Mine eye hath looked down upon Mine enemies.

For the Only-begotten Son of God was not cut off by death. It is true that in order to take the whole of our nature upon Him He submitted to death.

That is, He submitted to the apparent severance of soul and body, and made His way even to the realms below – paying the debt [i.e. to death] which man must manifestly pay.

But He rose again and abides forever and looks down with an eye that death cannot dim upon His enemies.

He has been exalted unto the glory of God and born once more Son of God after becoming Son of Man – just as He had been Son of God when He first became Son of Man – by the glory of His resurrection.

He looks down upon His enemies to whom He once said: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it up (John 2:19).

And so, now that this temple of His body has been built again, He surveys from His throne on high those who sought after His soul.

And, set far beyond the power of human death, He looks down from heaven upon those who wrought His death, He who suffered death, yet could not die, the God-Man, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): Homily on Psalm 53 [54], 14.

Benedict XVI: St Hilary of Poitiers – “God Knows Not How To Be Anything Other Than Love” Monday, Jan 13 2014 

Pope_Benedictus_XVIJanuary 13th is the feast of St Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368).

In De Trinitate, Hilary writes: Jesus “has commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt 28:19), that is, in the confession of the Author, of the Only-Begotten One and of the Gift.

The Author of all things is one alone, for one alone is God the Father, from whom all things proceed. And one alone is Our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things exist (cf. 1 Cor 8:6), and one alone is the Spirit (cf. Eph 4:4), a gift in all….

In nothing can be found to be lacking so great a fullness, in which the immensity in the Eternal One, the revelation in the Image, joy in the Gift, converge in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit”.

God the Father, being wholly love, is able to communicate his divinity to his Son in its fullness. I find particularly beautiful the following formula of St Hilary:

“God knows not how to be anything other than love, he knows not how to be anyone other than the Father. Those who love are not envious and the one who is the Father is so in his totality. This name admits no compromise, as if God were father in some aspects and not in others”.

For this reason the Son is fully God without any gaps or diminishment. “The One who comes from the perfect is perfect because he has all, he has given all” (ibid., 2, 8).

Humanity finds salvation in Christ alone, Son of God and Son of man. In assuming our human nature, he has united himself with every man, “he has become the flesh of us all”; “he took on himself the nature of all flesh and through it became true life, he has in himself the root of every vine shoot”.

For this very reason the way to Christ is open to all – because he has drawn all into his being as a man – even if personal conversion is always required:

“Through the relationship with his flesh, access to Christ is open to all, on condition that they divest themselves of their former self (cf. Eph 4: 22), nailing it to the Cross (cf. Col 2: 14); provided we give up our former way of life and convert in order to be buried with him in his baptism, in view of life (cf. Col 1: 12; Rom 6: 4)”.

Fidelity to God is a gift of his grace. Therefore, St Hilary asks, at the end of his Treatise on the Trinity, to be able to remain ever faithful to the baptismal faith. It is a feature of this book: reflection is transformed into prayer and prayer returns to reflection. The whole book is a dialogue with God.

Benedict XVI (b. 1927): St Hilary of Poitiers (General Audience, 10th October 2007.

Hilary of Poitiers: The Incarnation and the Creation of the New Man Sunday, Dec 22 2013 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienThat blessed and true birth of the flesh conceived within the Virgin the Apostle Paul has named both a creating and a making, for then there was born both the nature and form of our created being.

And without doubt in his view this name belongs to Christ’s true birth as a man, since Paul says:

But when the fulness of the time came, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, in order that He might redeem those who are under the law, that we might obtain the adoption of sons (Gal. 4:4, 5).

And so He is God’s own Son, Who is made in human form and of human origin; nor is He only made but also created, as it is said:

Even as the truth is in Jesus, that ye put away according to your former manner of life, that old man, which becomes corrupt according to the lusts of deceit.

However, be ye renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put ye on that new man, which is created according to God (Eph. 4:21–24).

So the new man is to be put on Who has been created according to God. For He Who was Son of God was born also Son of Man.

This was not the birth of the divinity, but the creating of the flesh; the new Man taking the title of the race, and being created according to God Who was born before the ages.

And how the new man was created according to God, he explains in what follows, adding, in righteousness, and in holiness, and in truth (Eph. 4:24).

For there was no guile in Him; and He has been made unto us righteousness and sanctification, and is Himself the Truth.

This, then, is the Christ, created a new man according to God, Whom we put on.

Wisdom…while saying that it was created, taught that it was established before the ages, lest we should suppose that the mystery of that created form, so variously and frequently assumed, involved some change in its nature.

For although the firmness with which it was established would not allow of any disturbance that could overthrow it, yet, lest the establishment might seem to mean something less than birth, Wisdom declared itself to be begotten before all things.

If this is so, why is the term ‘creation’ now applied to the birth of that which was both begotten before all things, and also established before the ages?

Because that which was established before the ages was created anew from the commencement of the ages for the beginning of the ways of God and for His works.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 12, 48-49.

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