John Damascene: Let all nature keep the feast of the Assumption of the Theotokos Monday, Aug 15 2016 

John-of-Damascus_01Behold the Virgin, the daughter of Adam and Mother of God; through Adam she gives her body to the earth, her soul to her Son above in the heavenly courts.

Let the holy city be sanctified, and rejoice in eternal praise. Let angels precede the divine tabernacle on its passage, and prepare the tomb.

Let the radiance of the spirit adorn it. Let sweet ointment be made ready and poured over the pure and undefiled body. Let a clear stream of grace flow from grace in its source.

Let the earth be sanctified by contact with that body. Let the air rejoice at the Assumption. Let gentle breezes waft grace. Let all nature keep the feast of the Mother of God’s Assumption.

[…] Let us draw round that most sacred bed and sing the sweet words, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

“Hail, predestined Mother of God. Hail, thou chosen one in the design of God from all eternity, most sacred hope of earth, resting-place of divine fire, holiest delight of the Spirit, fountain of living water, paradise of the tree of life, divine vine-branch, bringing forth soul-sustaining nectar and ambrosia.

“Full river of spiritual graces, fertile land of the  divine pastures, rose of purity, with the sweet fragrance of grace, lily of the royal robe, pure Mother of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, token of our redemption, handmaid and Mother, surpassing angelic powers.”

Come, let us stand round that pure tomb and draw grace to our hearts. Let us raise the ever-virginal body with spiritual arms, and go with her into the grave to die with her.

Let us renounce our passions, and live with her in purity, listening to the divine canticles of angels in the heavenly courts.

Let us go in adoring, and learn the wondrous mystery by which she is assumed to heaven, to be with her Son, higher than all the angelic choirs.

[…] This, O Mother of God, is my third sermon on thy departure…. Accept, then, my good-will, which is greater than my capacity, and give us salvation.

Heal our passions, cure our diseases, help us out of our difficulties, make our lives peaceful, send us the illumination of the Spirit.

Inflame us with the desire of thy Son. Render us pleasing to Him, so that we may enjoy happiness with Him, seeing thee resplendent with thy Son’s glory, rejoicing for ever, keeping feast in the Church with those who worthily celebrate Him who worked our salvation through thee, Christ the Son of God, and our God.

To Him be glory and majesty, with the uncreated Father and the all-holy and life-giving Spirit, now and for ever, through the endless ages of eternity. Amen.

John Damascene (c.675-749): Homily 3 on the Dormition of the Theotokos @ Medieval Sourcebook.

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John Damascene: Hail! O Christ, the Word and Wisdom and Power of God, and God omnipotent! Friday, Jun 3 2016 

John-of-Damascus_01Continued from here….

The worship of demons then has ceased;

creation has been sanctified by the divine blood;

altars and temples of idols have been overthrown;

the knowledge of God has been implanted in men’s minds;

the co-essential Trinity, the uncreate divinity, one true God, Creator and Lord of all receives men’s service;

virtues are cultivated, the hope of resurrection has been granted through the resurrection of Christ;

the demons shudder at those men who of old were under their subjection.

And the marvel, indeed, is that all this has been successfully brought about through His Cross and passion and death.

Throughout all the earth the Gospel of the knowledge of God has been preached; no wars or weapons or armies being used to rout the enemy, but only a few, naked, poor, illiterate, persecuted and tormented men.

With their lives in their hands, they preached Him Who was crucified in the flesh and died, and who became victors over the wise and powerful.

For the omnipotent power of the Cross accompanied them.

Death itself, which once was man’s chiefest terror, has been overthrown, and now that which was once the object of hate and loathing is preferred to life.

These are the achievements of Christ’s presence: these are the tokens of His power.

For it was not one people that He saved, as when through Moses He divided the sea and delivered Israel out of Egypt and the bondage of Pharaoh (Ex. 14:16);

nay, rather He rescued all mankind from the corruption of death and the bitter tyranny of sin: not leading them by force to virtue, not overwhelming them with earth or burning them with fire, or ordering the sinners to be stoned, but persuading men by gentleness and long-suffering to choose virtue and vie with one another, and find pleasure in the struggle to attain it.

For, formerly, it was sinners who were persecuted, and yet they clung all the closer to sin, and sin was looked upon by them as their God. But now for the sake of piety and virtue men choose persecutions and crucifixions and death.

Hail! O Christ, the Word and Wisdom and Power of God, and God omnipotent! What can we helpless ones give Thee in return for all these good gifts?

For all are Thine, and Thou askest naught from us save our salvation, Thou Who Thyself art the Giver of this, and yet art grateful to those who receive it, through Thy unspeakable goodness.

Thanks be to Thee Who gave us life, and granted us the grace of a happy life, and restored us to that, when we had gone astray, through Thy unspeakable condescension.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 4,4 [slightly adapted].

John Damascene: After He had placed man in communion with Himself, He led him up through communion with Himself to incorruption Wednesday, Apr 20 2016 

John-of-Damascus_01The Father is Father and not Son.

The Son is Son and not Father.

The Holy Spirit is Spirit and not Father or Son.

For the individuality is unchangeable. How, indeed, could individuality continue to exist at all if it were ever changing and altering?

Wherefore the Son of God became Son of Man in order that His individuality might endure.

For since He was the Son of God, He became Son of Man, being made flesh of the holy Virgin and not losing the individuality of Sonship.

Further, the Son of God became man in order that He might again bestow on man that favour for the sake of which He created him.

For He created him after His own image, endowed with intellect and free-will, and after His own likeness, that is to say, perfect in all virtue so far as it is possible for man’s nature to attain perfection.

For the following properties are, so to speak, marks of the divine nature: viz. absence of care and distraction and guile, goodness, wisdom, justice, freedom from all vice.

He placed man in communion with Himself – for having made him for incorruption (Wisd. 2:23), He led him up through communion with Himself to incorruption.

Through the transgression of the command we confused and obliterated the marks of the divine image, and, having become evil, we were stripped of our communion with God – for what communion hath light with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14)?

And, having been shut out from life we became subject to the corruption of death.

After all this, since He gave us to share in the better part, and we did not keep it secure, He shares in the inferior part, I mean our own nature.

He does this in order that – through Himself and in Himself – He might renew that which was made after His image and likeness;

and that He might teach us, too, the conduct of a virtuous life, making through Himself the way thither easy for us;

and that He might by the communication of life deliver us from corruption, becoming Himself the firstfruits of our resurrection;

that He might renovate the useless and worn vessel calling us to the knowledge of God;

and that He might redeem us from the tyranny of the devil, and might strengthen and teach us how to overthrow the tyrant through patience and humility.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 4,4 [slightly adapted].

John Damascene: His soul when it was deified descended into Hades so that He might bring light to those who sit under the earth in darkness and shadow of death Saturday, Mar 26 2016 

John-of-Damascus_01Our Lord Jesus Christ…committed no sin, He Who took away the sin of the world, nor was there any deceit found in His mouth (Is. 53:9; John 1:29).

He was not subject to death, since death came into the world through sin (Rom. 5:12).

He dies, therefore, because He took on Himself death on our behalf, and He makes Himself an offering to the Father for our sakes.

[…] Death approaches, and swallowing up the body as a bait is transfixed on the hook of divinity, and after tasting of a sinless and life-giving body, perishes, and brings up again all whom of old he swallowed up.

For just as darkness disappears on the introduction of light, so is death repulsed before the assault of life, and brings life to all, but death to the destroyer.

Although He died as man and His Holy Spirit was severed from His immaculate body, yet His divinity remained inseparable from both, I mean, from His soul and His body, and so even thus His one hypostasis was not divided into two hypostases.

For body and soul received simultaneously in the beginning their being in the hypostasis of the Word, and although they were severed from one another by death, yet they continued, each of them, having the one subsistence of the Word.

The one subsistence of the Word is alike the subsistence of the Word, and of soul and body. For at no time had either soul or body a separate hypostasis of their own, different from that of the Word, and the subsistence of the Word is forever one, and at no time two.

Accordingly the subsistence of Christ is always one. Although the soul was separated from the body topically, yet hypostatically they were united through the Word.

[…] The soul when it was deified descended into Hades, in order that, just as the Sun of Righteousness (Mal. 4:2) rose for those upon the earth, so likewise He might bring light to those who sit under the earth in darkness and shadow of death (Is. 9:2).

Previously He brought the message of peace to those upon the earth, and of release to the prisoners, and of sight to the blind (Is. 61:1; St. Luke 4:19), and became to those who believed the Author of everlasting salvation and to those who did not believe a reproach of their unbelief.

Now He become the same to those in Hades: that every knee should bow to Him, of things in heaven, and things in earth and things under the earth (Phil. 2:10).

And thus after He had freed those who had been bound for ages, straightway He rose again from the dead, showing us the way of resurrection.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 3,27 & 3,29 [slightly adapted].

John Damascene: Being by nature perfect God, He naturally became likewise perfect Man Saturday, Dec 19 2015 

John-of-Damascus_01The angel of the Lord was sent to the holy Virgin, who was descended from David’s line (Luke 1:27).

For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah, of which tribe no one turned his attention to the altar (Hebrews 7:14), as the divine apostle said….

And bearing glad tidings to her, he said, Hail thou highly favoured one, the Lord is with thee (Luke 1:28).

And she was troubled at his word, and the angel said to her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favour with God, and shalt bring forth a Son and shalt call His name Jesus (Luke 1:3-31).

For He shall save His people from their sins (Matt 1:21). Hence it comes that Jesus has the interpretation Saviour.

And when she asked in her perplexity, How can this be, seeing I know not a man? (Luke 1:34), the angel again answered her,

The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).

And she said to him, Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to Thy word (Luke 1:38).

So then, after the assent of the holy Virgin, the Holy Spirit descended on her, according to the word of the Lord which the angel spoke, purifying her (Luke 1:27-28), and granting her power to receive the divinity of the Word, and likewise power to bring forth.

And then was she overshadowed by the enhypostatic Wisdom and Power of the most high God, the Son of God Who is of like essence with the Father as of Divine seed.

And from her holy and most pure blood He formed flesh animated with the spirit of reason and thought, the first-fruits of our compound nature – not by procreation but by creation through the Holy Spirit.

[…] Being by nature perfect God, He naturally became likewise perfect Man. He did not change His nature nor make the dispensation an empty show.

He became, without confusion or change or division, one in hypostasis with the flesh, which was conceived of the holy Virgin, and animated with reason and thought, and had found existence in Him.

He did not change the nature of His divinity into the essence of flesh, nor the essence of flesh into the nature of His divinity, and did not make one compound nature out of His divine nature and the human nature He had assumed.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 3,2 [slightly adapted].

John Damascene: We believe also in one Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life Friday, Dec 4 2015 

John-of-Damascus_01Feast of St John Damascene (December 4th).

We believe also in one Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life;

Who proceedeth from the Father and resteth in the Son;

the object of equal adoration and glorification with the Father and Son, since He is co-essential and co-eternal;

the Spirit of God, direct, authoritative, the fountain of wisdom, and life, and holiness;

God existing and addressed along with Father and Son;

uncreate, full, creative, all-ruling, all-effecting, all-powerful, of infinite power, Lord of all creation and not under any lord;

deifying, not deified; filling, not filled;

shared in, not sharing in; sanctifying, not sanctified;

the intercessor, receiving the supplications of all

in all things like to the Father and Son;

proceeding from the Father and communicated through the Son, and participated in by all creation;

through Himself creating, and investing with essence and sanctifying, and maintaining the universe;

having subsistence, existing in its own proper and peculiar subsistence, inseparable and indivisible from Father and Son, and possessing all the qualities that the Father and Son possess, save that of not being begotten or born.

For the Father is without cause and unborn, for He is derived from nothing, but derives from Himself His being, nor does He derive a single quality from another.

Rather He is Himself the beginning and cause of the existence of all things in a definite and natural manner.

But the Son is derived from the Father after the manner of generation, and the Holy Spirit likewise is derived from the Father, yet not after the manner of generation, but after that of procession.

And we have learned that there is a difference between generation and procession, but the nature of that difference we in no wise understand.

Further, the generation of the Son from the Father and the procession of the Holy Spirit are simultaneous.

All then that the Son and the Spirit have is from the Father, even their very being; and unless the Father is, neither the Son nor the Spirit is.

And unless the Father possesses a certain attribute, neither the Son nor the Spirit possesses it;

and through the Father, that is, because of the Father’s existence, the Son and the Spirit exist;

and through the Father, that is, because of the Father having the qualities, the Son and the Spirit have all their qualities, those of being unbegotten, and of birth and of procession being excepted.

For in these hypostatic or personal properties alone do the three holy hypostases differ from each other, being indivisibly divided not by essence but by the distinguishing mark of their proper and peculiar hypostasis.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 1,8.

John Damascene: We ought to be filled with wonder at all the works of Providence Saturday, Sep 5 2015 

John-of-Damascus_01We ought to be filled with wonder at all the works of Providence, and praise them all, and accept them all without enquiry, even though they are in the eyes of many unjust.

For the Providence of God is beyond our ken and comprehension, while our reasonings and actions and the future are revealed to His eyes alone.

And by “all” I mean those that are not in our hands: for those that are in our power are outside the sphere of Providence and within that of our Free-will.

Now the works of Providence are partly according to the good-will [κατ᾽ εὐδοκίαν] of God and partly according to permission [κατὰ συγχώρησιν].

Works of good-will include all those that are undeniably good, while there are many forms of concession.

For Providence often permits the just man to encounter misfortune in order that he may reveal to others the virtue that lies concealed within him, as was the case with Job (Job 1:11).

At other times it allows something strange to be done in order that something great and marvellous might be accomplished through the seemingly-strange act, as when the salvation of men was brought about through the Cross.

In another way it allows the pious man to suffer sore trials in order that he may not depart from a right conscience nor lapse into pride on account of the power and grace granted to him, as was the case with Paul (2 Cor. 2:7).

One man is forsaken for a season with a view to another’s restoration, in order that others when they see his state may be taught a lesson, as in the case of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19). For it belongs to our nature to be cast down when we see persons in distress.

Another is deserted by Providence in order that another may be glorified, and not for his own sin or that of his parents, just as the man who was blind from his birth ministered to the glory of the Son of Man (John 9:1).

Again another is permitted to suffer in order to stir up emulation in the breasts of others, so that others by magnifying the glory of the sufferer may resolutely welcome suffering in the hope of future glory and the desire for future blessings, as in the case of the martyrs.

Another is allowed to fall at times into some act of baseness in order that another worse fault may be thus corrected, as for instance when God allows a man who takes pride in his virtue and righteousness to fall away into fornication in order that he may be brought through this fall into the perception of his own weakness and be humbled and approach and make confession to the Lord.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 2, 29.

John Damascene: Today the heavenly table, she, who contained the bread of life, the fire of the Godhead, was assumed from earth to heaven Saturday, Aug 15 2015 

John-of-Damascus_01Today the living ladder, through whom the Most High descended and was seen on earth, and conversed with men, was assumed into heaven by death.

Today the heavenly table, she, who contained the bread of life, the fire of the Godhead, without knowing man, was assumed from earth to heaven, and the gates of heaven opened wide to receive the gate of God from the East.

Today the living city of God is transferred from the earthly to the heavenly Jerusalem, and she, who, conceived her first-born and only Son, the first-born of all creation, the only begotten of the Father, rests in the Church of the first-born: the true and living Ark of the Lord is taken to the peace of her Son.

The gates of heaven are opened to receive the receptacle of God, who, bringing forth the tree of life, destroyed Eve’s disobedience and Adam’s penalty of death.

And Christ, the cause of all life, receives the chosen mirror, the mountain from which the stone without hands filled the whole earth.

She, who brought about the Word’s divine Incarnation, rests in her glorious tomb as in a bridal-chamber, whence she goes to the heavenly bridals, to share in the kingdom of her Son and God, leaving her tomb as a place of rest for those on earth.

Is her tomb indeed a resting-place? Yes, more famous than any other, not shining with gold, or silver, or precious stones, nor covered with silken, golden, or purple adornments, but with the divine radiance of the Holy Spirit.

The angelic state is not for lovers of this world, but the wondrous life of the blessed is for the servants of the Spirit, and passing to God is better and sweeter than any other life.

This tomb is fairer than Eden…. This grave gave up the mortal body it contained to the heavenly country. Eve became the mother of the human family, and is not man, made after the divine image, convicted by her condemnation: “earth thou art, and unto earth thou shalt return”?

This tomb is more precious than the tabernacle of old, receiving the real and life-giving receptacle of the Lord, the heavenly table, not the loaves of proposition, but of heaven, not material fire, but her who contained the pure fire of the Godhead.

This tomb is holier than the ark of Moses, blessed not with types and shadows, but the truth itself.  It showed forth the pure and golden urn, containing the heavenly manna, the living tablet, receiving the Incarnate Word of God from the impress of the Holy Spirit, the golden censer of the supersubstantial word. It showed forth her who conceived the divine fire embalming all creation.

John Damascene (c.675-749): Homily 3 on the Dormition of the Theotokos @ Medieval Sourcebook.

John Damascene: We are changed and—to complete the mystery—become deified by merely inclining ourselves towards God Tuesday, Jul 7 2015 

John-of-Damascus_01God brought into existence mental [noetic] essence [τὴν νοητὴν οὐσίαν], by which I mean, angels and all the heavenly orders.

For these clearly have a mental and incorporeal nature.

[…] But further He created in the same way sensible essence [την αἰσθητήν], that is, heaven and earth and the intermediate region.

And so He created both the kind of being that is of His own nature (for the nature that has to do with reason is related to God, and apprehensible by mind alone), and the kind which, inasmuch as it clearly falls under the province of the senses, is separated from Him by the greatest interval.

And it was also fit that there should be a mixture of both kinds of being, as a token of still greater wisdom and of the opulence of the Divine expenditure as regards natures…to be a sort of connecting link between the visible and invisible natures.

[…] Now this being the case, He creates with His own hands man of a visible nature and an invisible, after His own image and likeness: on the one hand man’s body He formed of earth, and on the other his reasoning and thinking soul [Ψυχὴν λογικήν] He bestowed upon him by His own inbreathing, and this is what we mean by “after His image.”

For the phrase “after His image” clearly refers to the side of his nature which consists of mind and free will, whereas “after His likeness” means likeness in virtue so far as that is possible.

[…]  God then made man without evil, upright, virtuous, free from pain and care, glorified with every virtue, adorned with all that is good, like a sort of second microcosm within the great world, another angel capable of worship, compound, surveying the visible creation and initiated into the mysteries of the realm of thought.

God made him king over the things of earth, but subject to a higher king, of the earth and of the heaven, temporal and eternal, belonging to the realm of sight and to the realm of thought, midway between greatness and lowliness, spirit and flesh.

For he [man] is spirit by grace, but flesh by overweening pride: spirit that he may abide and glorify his Benefactor, and flesh that he may suffer, and suffering may be admonished and disciplined when he prides himself in his greatness.

Here, that is, in the present life, his life is ordered as an animal’s, but elsewhere, that is, in the age to come, he is changed and—to complete the mystery—becomes deified by merely inclining himself towards God; becoming deified, in the way of participating in the divine glory and not in that of a change into the divine being.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 2, 12 (slightly adapted).

John Damascene: As God made all that He made by the Energy of the Holy Spirit, so the Energy of the Spirit performs those things that are supernatural Thursday, Jun 4 2015 

John-of-Damascus_01

If the Word of God is quick and energising, and the Lord did all that He willed…can He not then make the bread His body and the wine and water His blood?

He said in the beginning, Let the earth bring forth grass, and even until this present day, when the rain comes it brings forth its proper fruits, urged on and strengthened by the divine command.

God said, This is My body, and This is My blood, and this do ye in remembrance of Me.

And so it is at His omnipotent command until He come…, and the overshadowing power of the Holy Spirit becomes through the invocation the rain to this new tillage.

For just as God made all that He made by the Energy of the Holy Spirit, so also now the Energy of the Spirit performs those things that are supernatural and which it is not possible to comprehend unless by faith alone.

How shall this be, said the holy Virgin, seeing I know not a man? And the archangel Gabriel answered her: The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.

And now you ask, how the bread became Christ’s body and the wine and water Christ’s blood. And I say unto thee, “The Holy Spirit is present and does those things which surpass reason and thought.”

[…] The body which is born of the holy Virgin is in truth body united with divinity, not that the body which was received up into the heavens descends, but that the bread itself and the wine are changed into God’s body and blood.

But if you enquire how this happens, it is enough for you to learn that it was through the Holy Spirit, just as the Lord took on Himself flesh that subsisted in Him and was born of the holy Mother of God through the Spirit.

And we know nothing further save that the Word of God is true and energises and is omnipotent, but the manner of this cannot be searched out.

But one can put it well thus, that just as in nature the bread by the eating and the wine and the water by the drinking are changed into the body and blood of the eater and drinker, and do not become a different body from the former one, so the bread of the table and the wine and water are supernaturally changed by the invocation and presence of the Holy Spirit into the body and blood of Christ, and are not two but one and the same.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 4, 13.

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