Theodore the Studite: Let us do all that we have been commanded Sunday, Feb 21 2016 

Theodore_the_StuditeIf…it frequently happens that the soul grows slack and is defiled by unseemly thoughts – for who will boast that they have a pure heart? – let it be quickly made clean again and brought back to its former condition, lest by delaying in evil it gives birth to death.

And let no one ever say that they cannot be made clean again, stained as they are by many sins, when they listen to the One who said, “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them white as snow. Though they are like crimson, I will make them white as wool” (Isaias 1:18).

Do you see God’s ineffable love for humankind? Not only has he promised to purify, but to bring the one who repents to the pinnacle of loveliness.

And examples are manifest. David was a prophet and, when he fell into the crime of adultery and murder, he did not give up, but after he had swiftly had recourse to repentance, he received the grace of prophecy once again.

[…] The prince of the Apostles, after his denial, by the medicine of tears took up again the burden of the apostolate. Mary of Egypt, to pass over the numberless others, had reached the uttermost limit of debauchery, but once she had come to a remarkable repentance, she attained the highest degree of virtue.

[…] We hear the words, “Why would you die, house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:31), and why do we choose everlasting death rather than immortal life that is set before us? Our good Master cries out each day, “Come to me all you that toil and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). And we are unwilling to get rid of the heavy load of our sins.

The same Master cries, “I am the light of the world. One who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). But we turn to the opposite, proclaiming by our actions, “We do not want to know your ways” (Job 2:14).

All that remains is for us to hear, “Walk by the light of your fire and the flame you have kindled” (Isaias 50:11). And Scripture says, “Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).

But God forbid that such things should be said of us. “For you are may friends, says the Lord, if you do all that I command you” (John 15:14). So then, let us do all that we have been commanded, that we may be worthy to be called friends, to inherit the kingdom of heaven, in Christ our Lord.

Theodore the Studite: (759-826): Catechesis 20 trans. Archimandrite Ephrem Lash @ Anastasis.

Theodore the Studite: “Lord, by your will you granted power to my beauty” Thursday, Nov 12 2015 

Theodore_the_StuditeSince we have been counted worthy to celebrate the forefeast of the divine Transfiguration, from this then let us compose an instruction, discharging our duty in a few words.

On the one hand, all the feasts of the Lord expound the mysteries of his sojourn in the flesh, such as that he was born, that he was baptized, that he was crucified, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, that he was taken up in glory; while the mystery of the Transfiguration hints at the restoration in the age to come.

For in the same way that ‘his face blazed like the sun, while his garments became white as light’ (Matt. 17:2), in the same way he will come from heaven like lightning, with power and great glory to judge the universe.

And as Peter, James and John were with him on the holy mountain, so the elect will be with him in the kingdom of heaven, enjoying his ineffable manifestation as God and inexpressible joy.

And who is adequate for all this? Who is worthy to attain that joy? Who else but one whose way of life is pure and undefiled? For since our God is pure, or rather the highest light, he comes to the pure, and as he has placed a pure soul in us, he will also ask it from us pure.

For since it has been made according to God’s image and likeness, that is to say as a figure of the divine beauty, it has also shared in that beauty.

And knowing this the poet speaks thus, ‘Lord, by your will you granted power to my beauty’ (Psalm 29:8), that is to say to the beauty of the soul, lest, having turned away towards the ugly passions of sin and become disfigured, it fall from God and his divine rewards.

Since therefore it is agreed that our soul should be like this, lovely and beautiful, and that we should give it back to God like a pledge on the last day, the day of resurrection, I beg and urge that we love this beauty and carefully guard this loveliness, not turning back to the fair things of the present age or to the beauties of flesh and blood.

They are not beauties, but idols of beauty; they are rather corruption and change. And this we can learn from the end of things, for one who today is outstandingly beautiful and fair of face is tomorrow cast into a tomb, stinking and abhorrent. So there is nothing fair and loveable but exemplary virtue, which should be our chief pursuit, my brothers.

Theodore the Studite: (759-826): Catechesis 20 trans. Archimandrite Ephrem Lash @ Anastasis.

Theodore the Studite: If we do not commune frequently, it is impossible for us not to become subject to the passions Wednesday, Jun 24 2015 

Theodore_the_StuditeTears and contrition have great power.

But the Communion of the sanctified Gifts, above all, has especially great power and benefit.

And, seeing that you are so indifferent towards it and do not frequently receive it, I am in wonder and great amazement.

[…] I say these things to you, not because I wish for you simply to commune haphazardly, without preparation.

(For it is written: “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the Bread, and drink of the Cup.

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body and blood” [1 Cor. 11:28-29]).

No, I am not saying this. God forbid! I say that we should, out of our desire for Communion, purify ourselves as much as possible and make ourselves worthy of the Gift.

For the Bread which came down from heaven is participation in life: “If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (Jn. 6:51).

Again He says: “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him” (Jn. 6:58).

Do you see the ineffable gift? He not only died for us, but He also gives Himself to us as food. What could show more love than this? What is more salvific to the soul?

Moreover, no one fails to partake every day of the food and drink of the common table. And, if it happens that someone does not eat, he becomes greatly dismayed.

And we are not speaking here about ordinary bread, but about the Bread of life; not about an ordinary cup, but about the Cup of immortality.

And do we consider Communion an indifferent matter, entirely unnecessary? How is this thought not irrational and foolish?

If this is how it has been up until now, my children, I ask that we henceforth take heed to ourselves, and, knowing the power of the Gift, let us purify ourselves as much as possible and partake of the sanctified Things.

And if it happens that we are occupied with a handicraft, as soon as we hear the sounding-board calling us to Church, let us put our work aside and go partake of the Gift with great desire.

And this (that is, frequent Communion) will certainly benefit us, for we keep ourselves pure through our preparation for Communion.

If we do not commune frequently, it is impossible for us not to become subject to the passions. Frequent Communion will become for us a companion unto eternal life.

Theodore the Studite: (759-826): Small Catechesis 107 (Mikra Katechesis [Thessaloniki: Orthodoxos Kypsele, 1984], 271-272), quoted in Concerning Frequent Communion by St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite @ OCIC.

Theodore the Studite: We shall be a Holy Temple to God, Beautified with Gifts upon Gifts Friday, Mar 14 2014 

Theodore_the_StuditeContinued from here….

And since we should become yet more humble and obedient by the study of the inspired Scriptures, let us beware lest we be puffed up in the vanity of our mind, so as to make our knowledge an occasion of evil, and like-wise also our power in speech and argument, our experience, our skill, our correctness in framing and uttering our words; our good reading, or maybe our subtlety, our skill of hand, our psalmody, our learning, our skill in music, our culture, and the like.

But let the gift of these things be to us rather a cause of fear and of self-abasement before God who has given them. For thus we shall find God merciful, — or rather bountiful, and ready to give us yet more, that we may be filled with good things. And we shall be a holy temple to God, beautified with gifts upon gifts.

But if we shall become presumptuous towards God, and seek to lord it over our brethren, stretching up, as it were, the neck of our souls, and raising our eyebrows and hoisting our shoulders and walking boastfully, seeking this or that, judging others in our pride and foolishness: — asking ever “why are not things otherwise?” or “why have not I the charge of this matter?” or “why should this man have the management of that business?” if we act thus, we are indeed vain and foolish, and are like those in the proverb who pour water into leaky vessels.

Not so, my brethren, not so. Let us not make our opportunities a cause of destruction or the day of work a day of loss; nor, when we may mount the walls of virtue, slip down into vice. Our opportunity is great, our days are delightful. For they are spent in following the commandments of God, in attaining everlasting wealth, in purchasing the kingdom of Heaven. Let us run, let us hasten.

I exhort you, I beseech you. I would kneel before you and implore you as my inmost life and all my joy, my boasting and my crown, my glory and praise. Those who have affirmed and those who have denied; those who have followed the way for long and those who are new to it; those from distant folds and those bred among us; all now of one herd and one flock, of one fold and one charge, nurslings of one shepherd ! Let us think no more of evil that might come. May you live thus and strive thus and be perfected thus in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be the glory and the power with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and for ever. Amen.

Theodore the Studite (759-826): Great Catechesis, Discourse 61 in Alice Gardner, Theodore of Studium: His Life and Times (1905), pp. 90-91.

Theodore the Studite: From Glory to Glory, from Knowledge to Knowledge, from Our Citizenship to a Citizenship Meet for God Thursday, Feb 27 2014 

Theodore_the_StuditeThe abundant cornfield delights the heart of the husbandman on his approach.

Much more is the ruler of souls gladdened by the spiritual fruitfulness of those under his charge.

Thus do you bring joy to me, my children, you who are the field of my labours and a plantation of God, by the increase, and as it were the blossoming forth of your virtues.

And I rejoice to see the zeal of each one about his business, the industry and care of each in working out his salvation:

the gentleness of one; the laborious industry, even beyond measure, of another; the reverence and caution of a third;

the skill of a fourth in replying to the attacks of adversaries, without cessation or weariness;

the peaceable character of a fifth, unmoved by passions — result of peace and calm within, not of outward forcing;

in another, confidence in me, for all my unworthiness, and the disposition to regard me as better than I am;

in yet another, a disposition untouched by earthly longings or any love of the world.

In a word, I delight to see the growth and fruitfulness in the spirit as shown by all of you in all divers ways.

Are we not thus all walking together and knit together by our heavenly impulse, and by the holy prayers of my father.

I wonder not a little, and surely this is worthy of wonder. Yet I tremble above measure every day.

For what if God, seeing how idle and unprofitable is my service, and waxing wroth against my sins, were to withdraw His favourable hand from the midst of us?

For then there might come upon us what to speak were unfitting, or even to think, such a thing as discord, or slackness of soul, or a falling away, whether secret or manifest.

To the end, therefore, that you may confirm me — unworthy as I am — and yourselves, in the lot of the saints and the inheritance of the righteous, and in all good repute,

keep to these same things, my children, or rather press on further still, in discipline and in zeal, from glory to glory,

from knowledge to knowledge, from our citizenship to a citizenship meet for God;

swerving not from what you have resolved and agreed upon in the presence of God and of the angels, and of my humble self.

Let us not become slack, nor lose heart if the time seems long — though in truth it is not long — for our life is but a dream and a shadow.

Theodore the Studite (759-826): Great Catechesis, Discourse 61 in Alice Gardner, Theodore of Studium: His Life and Times (1905), pp. 89-90.

Theodore the Studite: Fasting Renews the Soul and Makes Us Habitations of God Sunday, Feb 17 2013 

Theodore_the_StuditeThe present days of the holy fast are, among the other periods of the year, a calm haven to which all gather and find spiritual serenity –

not only monastics, but laymen as well…., for this period is beneficial and salvific for every country and age of mankind.

At this time every disruption and disorder comes to a halt, and doxology and hymnody are multiplied, charities and prayer by means of which our good God is moved to compassion and is pleased to grant peace to our souls and forgiveness of sins –

if only we shall sincerely turn to Him with all our heart, falling down before Him with fear and trembling, and promising to cease from every bad habit which we might have.

[…] Brethren, fasting is the renewal of the soul, for the Apostle says insofar as the body weakens and withers from the ascetic labor of fasting, then so much is the soul renewed day by day and is made beauteous and shines in the beauty which God originally bestowed upon it.

And when it is purified and adorned with fasting and repentance, then God loves it and will live in it as the Lord has said: “I and the Father will come and make Our abode with him” (John 14.23).

Thus if there is such value and grace in fasting that it makes us into habitations of God, then ought we to greet it with great rejoicing and gladness.

[…] If we desire that the fast be for us a true one and acceptable unto God, then together with abstaining from food, let us restrain ourselves from every sin of soul and body, as the sticheron instructs us in which it is said,

“Let us keep the Fast not only by refraining from food, but by becoming strangers to all sinful passions”.

[…] Let us guard against ill temper and self-assertion, that is, let us not appropriate things for ourselves and indulge our self-will.

For nothing is so loved of the devil as to find a person who has not forgiven another and has not taken advice from those able to instruct him in virtue; then the enemy easily deludes the self-assertive and traps him in all that he does and reckons as good.

Let us vigilantly attend to ourselves, especially in regard to the desires of the flesh; for it is just now, when we fast, that the chameleon serpent-devil fights us with bad thoughts.

Theodore the Studite: (759-826): Catechetical Homilies, 47 @ Orthodox Christian Information Center.

Theodore the Studite: Resting in Spirit through the Grace-Filled Breath of the Holy Spirit Monday, Nov 12 2012 

Continued from here…

Below, on the earth, the Holy Spirit comforts us in many ways.

[…] Having such a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Invincible Power, Great Defender—God and Co-fighter, we shall not be afraid of the enemy and shall not be frightened by opposing powers.

Rather, we shall courageously and steadfastly hasten to the struggle and fight, experiencing them day after day, not being deluded by the deceptions of the snake, and not growing weary from his ceaseless attacks.

Sinful desire is not pleasure and joy, and a dangerous and fearsome sickness is not sweetness, but rather delirium and wicked darkening of the mind.

They know this, who have tamed the fury of the flesh, cleansed its defilement, and cleaved with all their hearts to the One God.

This manner of life is the most pleasant and happy; for in it, although a man be in the flesh in the world, in spirit he abides in the unseen, resting in spirit through the grace-filled breath of the Holy Spirit.

Why do we allow love of pleasure to conquer us, to so debase us, and by such deviations to cause us who, brought low to the earth, to flesh and blood, to be completely alienated from our Most Good God?

Let us flee, brothers, from all the passions. Let us flee love of money, which is the root of all evil.

Let us flee every other passion that enslaves our soul—anger, envy, hatred, vanity, self-will; so that death may not find us unprepared and distance us from God.

Alienation from God is alienation also from the Kingdom of Heaven. Condemnation and punishment will come to those who do not do works pleasing to God.

There is no flesh that can endure this condemnation, for the mere thought of it, even before consignment to torments, is already a torment.

In order that we might escape the wrath of God, which comes upon the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6), let us do good works, that the Lord may rejoice in His works (Ps. 103:33).

Let us begin unfailingly to please God, to purify ourselves, and renew our souls. Take courage: The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon Him, to all that call on Him in truth (Ps. 144:19).

Let us repent daily, and God will forgive us our sins, comfort us, and grant us Life Eternal—which may we receive in Christ the Lord Himself; to Him is due glory and sovereignty, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

Theodore the Studite: (759-826) @ Pravoslavie.

Theodore the Studite: By the Cross Death was Slain and Adam was Restored to Life Friday, Apr 20 2012 

How precious the gift of the Cross, how splendid to contemplate!

In the Cross there is no mingling of good and evil, as in the tree of paradise: it is wholly beautiful to behold and good to taste.

The fruit of this tree is not death but life, not darkness but light.

This tree does not cast us out of paradise, but opens the way for our return.

This was the tree on which Christ, like a king on a chariot, destroyed the devil, the Lord of death, and freed the human race from his tyranny.

This was the tree upon which the Lord, like a brave warrior wounded in his hands, feet and side, healed the wounds of sin that the evil serpent had inflicted on our nature.

A tree once caused our death, but now a tree brings life.

Once deceived by a tree, we have now repelled the cunning serpent by a tree.

What an astonishing transformation! That death should become life, that decay should become immortality, that shame should become glory!

Well might the holy Apostle exclaim: Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!

The supreme wisdom that flowered on the Cross has shown the folly of worldly wisdom’s pride.

The knowledge of all good, which is the fruit of the Cross, has cut away the shoots of wickedness.

The wonders accomplished through this tree were foreshadowed clearly even by the mere types and figures that existed in the past. Meditate on these, if you are eager to learn.

Was it not the wood of a tree that enabled Noah, at God’s command, to escape the destruction of the flood together with his sons, his wife, his sons’ wives and every kind of animal?

And surely the rod of Moses prefigured the Cross when it…divided the sea at one stroke and then restored the waters to their normal course, drowning the enemy and saving God’s own people?

Aaron’s rod, which blossomed in one day in proof of his true priesthood, was another figure of the Cross.

And did not Abraham foreshadow the Cross when he bound his son Isaac and placed him on the pile of wood?

By the Cross death was slain and Adam was restored to life.

The Cross is the glory of all the apostles, the crown of the martyrs, the sanctification of the saints.

By the Cross we put on Christ and cast aside our former self.

By the Cross we, the sheep of Christ, have been gathered into one flock, destined for the sheepfolds of heaven.

Theodore the Studite: (759-826), from the Office of Readings for Friday in the Second Week of Eastertide @ Crossroads Initiative.

Theodore the Studite: The Holy Spirit Comforts, Encouraging the Troubled Mind Tuesday, Jun 14 2011 

By the grace of the Most Holy Spirit, we have been vouchsafed to celebrate Holy Pentecost—the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ said of this descent: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (that is, the Holy Spirit), will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. (Jn. 16:7, 13).

This, His promise and benefit, is so great that we cannot even comprehend it: for the Lord promised to send not an Angel, not a man, but the Holy Spirit Himself.

Thus, having fulfilled the will of His Father, the Only Begotten Son ascends to heaven, and the Holy Spirit descends: not another God (never!), but another Comforter, as it is written.

O, the unutterable love for mankind! God Himself has become our Comforter.

Thus, He Himself comforts those who are weighed down by misfortune, prevents them from becoming exhausted in spirit, as the Holy Apostle testifies, saying:

Our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us (2 Cor. 7:5–6).

He comforts the heart frightened by demonic fear, raising it up to invincible courage through bold hope, as the Prophet David testifies: For Thou, O Lord, hast holpen me and comforted me (Ps. 85:17).

He comforts, encouraging the troubled mind, as it has been given a feast with God and rest, as the Apostle testifies, saying:

as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20); that is, have peace, with God.

Do you see the unsearchable condescension? Do you see the incomparable gift?

On high, in the Heavens, the Only Begotten Son intercedes for us before the Father, as it is written: Who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8:34).

Below, on the earth, the Holy Spirit comforts us in many ways.

What shall I render unto the Lord, for all that He has rendered unto me? (Ps. 115:4).

Is it not true, what the psalm says: All my bones shall say, Lord, O Lord, who is like unto Thee?

Delivering the beggar from the hand of them that are stronger than he, yea, poor man and pauper from them that despoil him (Ps. 34:11).

And again, My help cometh from the Lord, Who hath made heaven and the earth (Ps. 120:2).

Unless the Lord had brought me up, my soul had well nigh sojourned in hades (Ps. 93:17).

The Lord is my helper, and I shall not fear what man shall do unto me (Ps. 117:6).

Theodore the Studite: (759-826) @ Pravoslavie.