Macarius the Egyptian: The fire of the love of Christ Thursday, Oct 29 2015 

Macarius3God’s grace in man, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is vouchsafed to a faithful soul, proceeds with much contention, with much endurance and longsuffering, and temptations and trials, the man’s free will being tried by all manner of afflictions.

And when it does not grieve the Spirit in anything, but is agreeable to grace through all commandments, then it is permitted to obtain freedom from passions, and receives the fulfilment of the Spirit’s adoption, spoken of in a mystery, and of the spiritual riches, and of the intelligence which is not of this world, whereof true Christians are made partakers.

For this reason they are for all purposes superior to all the men of prudence, intelligence, and wisdom, who have the spirit of the world. For such an one judgeth all men (1 Cor. 2:15)…..

He knows each man, from whence he speaks, and where he stands, and what measures he is in; but not a man of those that have the spirit of the world is able to know and judge him, but only he that has the like heavenly Spirit of the Godhead knows his like, as the apostle says:

Comparing spiritual things with spiritual; but the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, for they are foolishness unto him: but he that is spiritual judgeth all men, yet he himself is judged by none (1 Cor. 2:13ff).

Such an one looks upon all things that the world holds glorious, its riches, its luxury, and all its enjoyments yea, and even its knowledge and all things belonging to this age, as loathsome and hateful.

As one that is possessed and burning with a fever loathes and rejects the sweetest food or drink that you offer him, because he burns with the fever and is vehemently exercised by it, so those who burn with the heavenly, sacred, solemn longing of the Spirit, and are smitten in soul with love of the love of God, and are vehemently exercised by the divine and heavenly fire which the Lord came to send upon the earth, and desire that it should speedily be kindled (Luke 12:49), and are aflame with the heavenly longing for Christ, these, as we said before, consider all the glorious and precious things of this age contemptible and hateful by reason of the fire of the love of Christ.

The love of Christ holds them fast and inflames them and burns them with a Godward disposition and with the heavenly good things of love; from which love nothing of all that are in heaven and earth and under the earth shall be able to separate them, as the apostle Paul testified, saying, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom. 8:35).

Macarius the Egyptian (c. 300-391) [attributed]: Spiritual Homily 9, 7-9, trans. by A.J. Mason  [slightly adapted].

Baldwin of Forde: The Two Resurrections Friday, May 20 2011 

Our Lord’s glorious resurrection teaches us that the fruit of obedience is resurrection and life.

These were the fruit of the obedience practised by Christ, who is the resurrection and the life personified.

However, Christ died only once, and rose again once only. A single resurrection answered to a single death.

But for us who have been dragged down to the depths by the burden of a twofold mortality, one resurrection cannot suffice.

Because we have fallen so low, a single resurrection is not enough to bring us to the blessed life of heaven. We need two.

Nevertheless the resurrection of Christ is the cause and exemplar, the model and the effective sign of both our resurrec­tions, first and second alike.

It is by our faith in and our sacramental imitation of the resurrection of Christ that we are recreated, justified, sanctified, and raised from death.

This is our first resurrection, the resurrection of our soul, through which we are now dead to sin and live for holiness, walking in newness of life as we wait for that redemption of our bodies which will mean that we have at last fully realized our adoption as God’s sons.

That will take place at the second resurrection, when Christ will refashion these wretched bodies of ours and make them resemble his own glorious body.

Our first resurrection begins when we first show obedience to God, and is brought to completion by our perseverance in doing his will.

Our second resurrection begins with our glorification and endures for all eternity.

If we continue in obedience till the end of our lives, then we shall also abide in a glory that knows no end.

The first resurrection has a glory of its own, something in which both body and soul can rejoice.

On this subject we may consult the Apostle Paul.

Where bodily glory here below is concerned he has this to say: Far be it from me to glory in anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As for the glory enjoyed by the soul, he explains that, our glory is in the hope of our adoption as God’s sons.

But the glory belonging to the second resurrection will be the glory of the soul that sees God in the glory of his divinity, and the glory of the body in its state of incorruptibility, when this perishable nature of ours puts on imperishability and this mortal nature puts on immortality.

Baldwin of Forde (1125-1190): Tract. 4 (PL 204:429-431.441-442); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Eastertide, Year 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Paul II: It is Love which Grants Participation in the Very Life of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit Sunday, May 1 2011 

The cross on Calvary, the cross upon which Christ conducts His final dialogue with the Father, emerges from the very heart of the love that man, created in the image and likeness of God, has been given as a gift, according to God’s eternal plan.

[…] He is also Father: He is linked to man…by a bond still more intimate than that of creation. It is love which…grants participation in the very life of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

[…] The cross of Christ on Calvary stands beside the path of that…wonderful self-communication of God to man, which also includes the call to man to share in the divine life by giving himself, and with himself the whole visible world, to God, and like an adopted son to become a sharer in the truth and love which is in God and proceeds from God.

It is precisely beside the path of man’s eternal election to the dignity of being an adopted child of God that there stands in history the cross of Christ, the only-begotten Son, who, as “light from light, true God from true God”, came to give the final witness to the wonderful covenant of God with humanity, of God with man.

This covenant, as old as man – it goes back to the very mystery of creation – and afterwards many times renewed with one single chosen people, is equally the new and definitive covenant, which was established there on Calvary, and is not limited to a single people, to Israel, but is open to each and every individual.

[…] And yet this is not yet the word of the God of the covenant: that will be pronounced at the dawn when first the women and then the Apostles come to the tomb of the crucified Christ, see the tomb empty and for the first time hear the message: “He is risen”.

[…] Yet, even in this glorification of the Son of God, the cross remains, that cross which-through all the messianic testimony of the Man the Son, who suffered death upon it – speaks and never ceases to speak of God the Father, who is absolutely faithful to His eternal love for man.

[…] Believing in the crucified Son means “seeing the Father”, means believing that love is present in the world and that this love is more powerful than any kind of evil in which individuals, humanity, or the world are involved.

Believing in this love means believing in mercy. For mercy is an indispensable dimension of love; it is as it were love’s second name.

John Paul II (1920-2005): Dives et Misericordia, 5,7.

Irenaeus of Lyons: Through the Adoption of Sons God Enabled Man to Love Him with His Whole Heart Tuesday, Mar 22 2011 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonIsrael’s fathers [i.e. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob] were righteous: they had the power of the Decalogue implanted in their hearts and in their souls.

[…] For this reason they did not need to be admonished by written rebukes: they had the righteousness of the law in their hearts.

When this righteousness and love for God had passed into oblivion and had been extinguished in Egypt, God had necessarily to reveal himself through his own voice, out of his great love for men.

He led the people out of Egypt in power, so that man might once again become God’s disciple and follower.

He made them afraid as they listened, to warn them not to hold their Creator in contempt.

He fed them with manna, that they might receive spiritual food…. He commanded them to love himself and trained them to practise righteousness toward their neighbour, so that man might not be unrighteous or unworthy of God.

Through the Decalogue he prepared man for friendship with himself and for harmony with his neighbour. This was to man’s advantage, though God needed nothing from man.

This raised man to glory, for it gave him what he did not have, friendship with God. But it brought no advantage to God, for God did not need man’s love.

Man did not possess the glory of God, nor could he attain it by any other means than through obedience to God.

This is why Moses said to the people: Choose life, that you may live and your descendants too; love the Lord your God, hear his voice and hold fast to him, for this is life for you and length of days.

This was the life that the Lord was preparing man to receive when he spoke in person and gave the words of the Decalogue for all alike to hear.

These words remain with us as well; they were extended and amplified through his coming in the flesh, but not annulled.

God gave to the people separately through Moses the commandments that enslave: these were precepts suited to their instruction or their condemnation.

As Moses said: The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you precepts of righteousness and of judgement.

The precepts that were given them to enslave and to serve as a warning have been cancelled by the new covenant of freedom.

The precepts that belong to man’s nature and to freedom and to all alike have been enlarged and broadened.

Through the adoption of sons God had enabled man so generously and bountifully to know him as Father, to love him with his whole heart, and to follow his Word unfailingly.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202):Adversus Haereses 4.16.2-5:, from the Office of Readings for Friday in the 2nd Week of Lent @ Crossroads Initiative.

Peter Damian: Each Person, through the Mystery of the Sacrament, is Believed to be the Church in its Fullness Monday, Feb 21 2011 

The Church of Christ is united by a bond of mutual love so strong that not only is it a single entity subsisting in many mem­bers, but in each member it is also mysteriously present in its plenitude.

So it is that the entire universal Church is rightly said to be the one and only bride of Christ, and each person, through the mystery of the Sacrament, is believed to be the Church in its fullness.

One in all and entire in each, holy Church is single in the plurality of its members thanks to the unity of faith, and manifold in each of them thanks to the bond of charity and the diversity of charisms, for they all come from One.

Although holy Church is thus diversified by the multiplicity of its members, it is nevertheless entirely fused into one by the fire of the Holy Spirit.

[…] This Spirit, therefore, is undoubtedly both one and multiple, one in majestic essence, multiple in diverse gifts; he fills the Church, and causes it to be both one in its universal extension, and whole in each of its parts.

[…] If those who believe in Christ are one, then through the mystery of the Sacrament the entire Body is present where bodily eyes see but a single member.

Solitude prevents no one from speaking in the plural; nor is it inappropriate for the multitude of believers to speak in the singular, for through the power of the Holy Spirit, who is present in each and fills all, it is clear that the solitude is full of people and the multitude forms a unity.

Our holy Fathers regarded this intimate relationship and com­munion of believers in Christ as so certain that they included it in the creed stating the Catholic faith, and commanded us frequently to call it to mind along with the other basic elements of Christian belief.

For immediately after we say: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Church” we add: “the communion of saints”.

Thus in the very act by which we bear witness to the God in whom we believe, we also affirm the communion that marks the Church which is one with him.

For this communion of saints in the unity of faith is such that, because they believe in one God, are reborn in one Baptism, and are strengthened by the one Holy Spirit, they are admitted, through the grace of adoption, into the one everlasting life.

Peter Damian (c.1007-1072): Liber Dominus Vobiscum, 5-6, 10 (PL 145:235-6, 239); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time, Year 1.

John Chrysostom: “You have Received the Spirit of Sonship so that You Cry Out, ‘Abba, Father!’” Thursday, Jan 27 2011 

All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

The Spirit you have received does not enslave you and make you afraid.

No; you have received the Spirit of sonship so that you cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’

The baptized know the power of this word, for they are rightly instructed to use it for the first time when they say the Lord’s prayer after their Baptism.

[…]Our Father is the first word we speak after our marvellous rebirth in Baptism.

We have been taught that as the Spirit gives the wisdom that enlightens the foolish, the power by which weak human beings have raised the dead and cast out devils, the gifts of healing, of prophecy and of tongues, so also the Spirit makes us sons of God.

[…] We recognize the Spirit’s gift that makes us God’s sons from the fact that he inspires whoever receives it to call God ‘Father’.

In his desire to make us realize that we really are sons of God, Paul made use of a Hebrew word.

He said not only ‘Father’, but ‘Abba, Father’, which is the word used in addressing a father by one who is in actual fact his son.

Then, after speaking of what we gain from our new way of life with its gift of grace and freedom, St Paul shows in still another way the dignity of divine adoption.

He says: The Spirit of God joins with our spirit to declare that we are sons of God.

But if we are sons we are also heirs, heirs of God.

And we are not only heirs but something even greater: we are coheirs with Christ.

[…] If it is an inexpressible grace to be a son of God, think what it means to be also an heir!

And if this is something great, how much greater it is to be a coheir with God’s only Son!

Then, to show that grace is not the only factor upon which this gift depends and at the same time to make his words more credible, he continues: provided we suffer with Christ, in order that we may also be glorified with him.

In other words, if we share with him in what is painful, much more shall we share in what is blissful.

Since God bestowed such great blessings upon those who had no good deeds to their credit, when he sees that they have endured trials and much suffering he can hardly fail to repay them with even greater blessings.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on Romans 14.3 ;  from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time, Year I.

Gregory Palamas: We shall be Children of God, Seeing and Experiencing God’s Radiance Wednesday, Jan 19 2011 

We shall be children of God, seeing and experiencing God’s radiance, with the rays of Christ’s glory shining around us and shining ourselves, as Moses and Elijah proved to us when they appeared with Him in glory on Mount Tabor (Matt. 17:3; Lk. 9:30).

“The righteous”, it says, “shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt. 13:43).

We receive power for this purpose now through the grace of divine baptism.

[…] A person born again in the Spirit through Christian baptism has received power to become a son and heir of God, a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17), and in the age to come he will, with all certainty, receive the divine and immortal adoption as a son, which will not be taken from him, unless he has forfeited this by spiritual death.

Sin is spiritual death, and whereas physical death is annulled when the future age arrives, spiritual death is confirmed for those who bring it with them from here.

Everyone who has been baptized, if he is to obtain the eternal blessedness and salvation for which he hopes, should live free from all sin.

[…] Paul said of Christ, “In that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he lives, he lives unto God”, (Rom. 6:10-11), whereas Peter wrote, “Forasmuch as Christ has died for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: that you no longer should live the rest of your time by the lusts of men, but by the will of God” (1 Pet. 4:1-2).

But, O Christ our King, who can worthily extol the greatness of Your love for mankind?

What was unnecessary for Him and what He did not do, namely, repentance (for He never needed to repent, being sinless, cf. Heb. 4:15), He granted to us a mediator for when we sin even after receiving grace.

Repentance means returning once again to Him and to a life according to His will out of remorse.

Even if someone commits a deadly sin, if he turns away from it with all his soul, abstains from it and turns back to the Lord in deed and truth, he should take courage and be of good hope, for he shall not lose eternal life and salvation.

[…] Someone born of Christ, even though he fall into deadly sins, if he turns again and runs to the Father who raises the dead, is made alive once more, obtains divine adoption, and is not cast out from the company of the just.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): extracted from On the Saints of the Old Testament (from the translation at Pravoslavie.ru).

 

Catherine of Siena: From Fear to Love, from Weakness to Strength, from Servitude to Adoption Friday, May 28 2010 

When the Holy Spirit was come, He illumined the Apostles with truth, so that they saw the secret of the immeasurable love of the Word, with the will of the Father, who willed naught but our sanctification.

This has been shown us by the Blood of that sweet and enamoured Word, who was restored to His disciples, when the plenitude of the Holy Spirit came.

He came with the power of the Father, the wisdom of the Son, the mercy and clemency of the Holy Spirit, so the truth of Christ is fulfilled which He spake to His disciples: “I shall go and shall return to you”.

Then did He return, because the Holy Spirit could not come without the Son and the Father, because He was one thing with them.

Thus He came, as I said, with the power that is assigned to the Father, and the wisdom that is assigned to the Son, and the benevolence and love that is assigned to the Holy Spirit.

Well did the Apostles show it, for suddenly through love they lost their fear.

So in true wisdom they knew the truth, and went with great power against the infidels; they threw idols to the ground and drove out devils.

[…] As I have said, by remaining in fear alone, one would not escape hell; but would do like the thief, who does not steal, because he is afraid of the gallows; but he would not abstain from stealing if he did not expect to be punished.

It is just such a case when one loves God for the sweetness of it; that is, one would not be strong and perfect, but weak and imperfect

[…] The soul uplifts itself with deepest devotion, to love what God loves and to hate what He hates.

And it directs all its works in God, and does everything to the glory and praise of His Name.

This is the continual prayer of which Paul says “Pray without ceasing”.

Now this is the way to rise from being only a servant and a friend – that is, from servile fear and from tender love of one’s own consolation – and to arrive at being a true servant, true friend, true son.

For when one is truly made a son, he does not therefore lose being a servant and true friend; but is a servant and friend in truth, without any regard to himself, or to anything except pleasing God alone.

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380): Letter to Brother Matteo di Francesco Tolomei, OP.

Ambrose of Milan: Suffering With Christ, Glorified With Christ Wednesday, Feb 10 2010 

There is also that other great testimony to the fact that we are sons of God: we are heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ.

A co-heir of Christ is one who is glorified along with Christ. The one who is glorified along with him is one who, by suffering for him, suffers along with him.

To encourage us in suffering, Paul adds that all our sufferings are small in comparison with the wonderful reward that will be revealed in us; our labours do not deserve the blessings that are to come.

We shall be restored to the likeness of God, and counted worthy of seeing him face to face.

He enhances the greatness of the revelation that is to come by adding that creation also looks forward to this revealing of the sons of God. Creation, he says, is at present condemned to frustration, not of its own choice, but it lives in hope.

Its hope is in Christ, as it awaits the grace of his ministry; or it hopes that it will share in the glorious freedom of the sons of God and be freed from its bondage to corruption, so that there will be one freedom, shared by creation and by the sons of God when their glory will be revealed.

At present, however, while this revealing is delayed, all creation groans as it looks forward to the glory of adoption and redemption; it is already in labour with that spirit of salvation, and is anxious to be freed from its subjection to frustration.

The meaning is clear: those who have the first fruits of the Spirit are groaning in the expectation of the adoption of sons.

This adoption of sons is that of the whole body of creation, when it will be as it were a son of God and see the divine, eternal goodness face to face.

The adoption of sons is present in the Church of the Lord when the Spirit calls out: Abba, Father, as you read in the letter to the Galatians.

But it will be perfect when all who are worthy of seeing the face of God rise in incorruption, in honour and in glory.

Then our humanity will know that it has been truly redeemed. So Paul glories in saying: We are saved by hope.

Hope saves, just as faith does, for of faith it is said: “Your faith has saved you”.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): from Letter 35 taken from Office of Readings for Wednesday of the Week 5 of Ordinary Time, at Crossroads Initiative).


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