Ælfric of Eynsham: We are children of God, and Christ is our brother, if we will duly obey the Father, and with all our mind worship him Monday, Mar 7 2016 

All_SS_of_BritainGod, the Father Almighty, has one Son naturally, and many adoptively.

Christ is the Son of God, seeing that the Father begot him of himself without any mother.

The Father has no body, nor begot he his Son in that wise which men do: but his Wisdom, with which he wrought all creatures, is his Son, who is ever of the Father and with the Father, God of God, as mighty as the Father.

We men are children of God, because he made us; and afterwards, when we were undone, he sent his own Son for our redemption.

Now are we children of God, and Christ is our brother, if we will duly obey the Father, and with all our mind worship him.

Christ is our head, and we are his limbs: he is invested with our humanity, and he has our body, which he received of the holy maiden Mary;

therefore may we manifestly cry to him, as to our brother, if we so observe our brotherhood as he has taught us; that is, that we should not allow the devil with any evil practices to seduce us from the brotherhood of Christ.

[…] The man who makes himself acceptable to God is a child of God, not naturally, but by creation and by good deserts, as Christ said in his gospel, “He who doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and my mother, and my sister.”

[…] We say, “Pater noster qui es in cœlis,” that is, “Our Father which art in heaven;” for God the Father is in heaven, and he is everywhere, as he himself said, “I fill with myself heaven and earth.”

And again, the holy gospel says thus concerning him, “Heaven is his throne, and earth is his footstool.”

We turn eastward when we pray, because from thence the heaven rises; not as though his dwelling be particularly in the east part, and that he forsakes the west or other parts, who is everywhere present, not through the space of the place, but by the presence of his majesty.

When we turn our face to the east part, where the heaven rises, which rises over all bodily things, then should our mind be thereby admonished that it turn to the highest and first nature, that is, God.

We should also know that the sinful is called earth, and the righteous is called heaven; for in righteous men is a dwelling-place of God, and the good man is a temple of the Holy Ghost.

Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010): Homily 19 (On the Lord’s Prayer), trans. Benjamin Thorpe; icon of All Saints of Britain and Ireland.

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Irenaeus of Lyons: These blessings made man glorious, giving him what he lacked – friendship with God Friday, Feb 26 2016 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonIn Deuteronomy Moses says to the people, The Lord Your God made a covenant with you in Horeb, not with your fathers did the Lord make this covenant but with you.

Why did the Lord not make the covenant with your fathers? Because The Law is not laid down for the just.

Your fathers lived just lives because they had the meaning of the decalogue implanted in their hearts and minds – ­that is, they loved God, who made them, and they did their neighbour no injury.

So they did not need to be warned by written prohibitions; for they had the righteous­ness of the Law in their hearts.

When, however, in Egypt this righteousness and this love towards God were forgotten and became extinct, God was compelled by his deep love towards men to reveal himself by a voice.

With power he led his people out of Egypt, so that man again might become the disciple of God and follow him. So that they might not despise their creator, he punished those who were disobedient. He fed them with manna so that they might have spiritual food.

[…] He taught them to love God, and instilled in them that righteousness which is towards their neighbour. By the Decalogue he instructed men to be friends with himself and in harmony with their neighbour.

Man is greatly helped by these things. God, however, stands in need of nothing from man.These blessings made man glorious, giving him what he lacked: friendship with God. They bestowed nothing on God, for God did not stand in need of man’s love.

Man did not have the glory of God. The only way that man could receive this glory was by obeying God. There­fore Moses said, Choose life that you and your descend­ants may live, loving the Lord your God and obeying his voice and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days.

To prepare man for this life, God himself spoke the words of the Decalogue, to all men alike. And so these words remain with us too.

[…] By the new covenant of liberty God cancelled those provisions which he had given to his people to enslave them and serve the purpose of a sign. At the same time the laws, which are natural and appropriate to free men and are applicable to all without distinction, were amplified and widened.

Out of the abundance of his love, without grudging, God adopted men as his sons, and granted that they might know God as Father and love him with all their heart, and follow his Word without turning aside.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 4.16.2-5); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Saturday after Ash Wednesday, Year 1.

Gregory the Great: The sick are to be admonished that they feel themselves to be sons of God Thursday, Dec 3 2015 

St-Gregory-the-DialogistThe sick are to be admonished that they feel themselves to be sons of God in that the scourge of discipline chastises them.

For, unless He purposed to give them an inheritance after correction, He would not have a care to educate them by afflictions.

For hence the Lord says to John by the angel, Whom I love I rebuke and chasten (Rev. 3:19; Prov. 3:11).

Hence again it is written, My son despise not thou the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him.  For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth (Heb. 12:5, 6).

Hence the Psalmist says, Many are the tribulations of the righteous, and out of all these hath the Lord delivered them (Ps. 32:20).

[…] The sick are to be told that, if they believe the heavenly country to be their own, they must needs endure labours in this as in a strange land.

For hence it was that the stones were hammered outside, that they might be laid without sound of hammer in the building of the temple of the Lord.

Bbecause, that is, we are now hammered with scourges without, that we may be afterwards set in our places within, without stroke of discipline, in the temple of God; to the end that strokes may now cut away whatever is superfluous in us, and then the concord of charity alone bind us together in the building.

The sick are to be admonished to consider what severe scourges of discipline chastise our sons after the flesh for attaining earthly inheritances.

What pain, then, of divine correction is hard upon us, by which both a never-to-be-lost inheritance is attained, and punishments which shall endure for ever are avoided?

For hence Paul says, We have had fathers of our flesh as our educators, and we gave them reverence:  shall we not much more be in subjection unto the Father of spirits and live?  And they indeed for a few days educated us after their own will; but He for our profit in the receiving of His sanctification (Heb. 12:9, 10).

The sick are to be admonished to consider how great health of the heart is in bodily affliction, which recalls the mind to knowledge of itself, and renews the memory of infirmity which health for the most part casts away, so that the spirit, which is carried out of itself into elation, may be reminded by the smitten flesh from which it suffers to what condition it is subject.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Pastoral Rule, 3, 12.

John Paul II: The Holy Spirit Descends Into Our Hearts and Reproduces the Image of the Son Saturday, Jun 7 2014 

jp2In the Letter to the Galatians Paul speaks of the eternal design conceived by God in the depth of his trinitarian life.

It was accomplished in the “fullness of time” with the coming of the Son in the Incarnation to make us his adopted sons:

“God sent forth his Son, born of a woman…so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).

According to the Apostle, the mission of the Holy Spirit is closely connected with the Son’s “mission” (missio) in the trinitarian economy.

He adds: “And because we are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal 4:6).

Here we touch the goal of the mystery expressed in Pentecost: the Holy Spirit descends “into our hearts” as the Spirit of the Son.

Precisely because he is the Spirit of the Son, he enables us to cry out to God together with Christ: “Abba, Father.”

This cry expresses the fact that not only are we called to be sons of God, “but we are so indeed,” as the Apostle John emphasizes in his First Letter (3:1).

Because of this gift, we truly share in the sonship proper to the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This is the supernatural truth of our relationship with Christ, a truth that can be known only by those who “have known the Father” (cf. 1 Jn 2:13).

This knowledge is possible only by virtue of the Holy Spirit, through the witness which he gives from within to the human spirit. There, he is present as the principle of truth and life.

The Apostle Paul tells us: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:16-17).

“You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship whereby we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom 8:15).

The Spirit reproduces in man the image of the Son, thus establishing the intimate fraternal bond with Christ which leads us to “cry out with him, ‘Abba! Father!’”

Hence the Apostle writes that “all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom 8:14).

The Holy Spirit “breathes” in the hearts of believers as the Spirit of the Son, establishing in man the divine sonship in the likeness of Christ and in union with Christ.

The Holy Spirit forms the human spirit from within according to the divine exemplar which is Christ.

Thus, through the Spirit, the Christ known in the pages of the Gospel becomes the “life of the soul.”

In thinking, loving, judging, acting and even in feeling, man is conformed to Christ, and becomes “Christlike.”

John Paul II (1920-2005): General Audience, July 26th, 1989.

Georges Florovsky: St Athanasius on the Incarnation of the Logos Friday, May 2 2014 

FlorovskySt. Athanasius writes that the Logos [Word] became man, similar to us in all respects.

[…]  By virtue of its union with the Logos, “because of the Logos, which was in a body,” the body was freed from its weakness and subjection to decay.

[…] The Logos was not bound by the body but freed the body from its limitedness and its inclination to sin.

By the strength of the unchanging Logos, the mutable human nature in Christ became immutably good, and all delusions were powerless over it.

“The works proper to the Logos were achieved through the body.” The flesh was deified by serving the works of God, and the humanity in Christ was without sin.

The Lord “became our brother through the likeness of the body,” and his flesh “was saved and liberated before the others.”

Since we “share in his body,” we also are saved, and our life is renewed “because our flesh is no longer earthly but has been made identical with the Logos by the Divine Logos himself, who became flesh for our sakes.”

[…] St. Athanasius clearly emphasizes both the unity of Christ the God-Man and his unmerging two natures. Christ has a divine nature by, which he is consubstantial with the Father and also a human nature by, which he is similar and related to us.

For this reason he is the Saviour, the Logos, and the Second Adam all at once. The Logos became man so that we could “become divine,” “in order to deify us in himself.”

Deification is adoption by God, and “human sons have become the sons of God.” We are “received by the Logos and are deified through his flesh” by virtue of the Incarnation.

Born from the Virgin, the Logos was not united with only one man, but with the whole of human nature. Therefore, everything that was achieved in the human nature of Christ is immediately extended to all men because they have a body in common with him.

There is no coercion involved here. Men are more than similar to Christ — they are truly participants in the human nature of the Logos.

Christ is a vine and we are the branches, “united with him by our humanity.” In the same way that the tendrils, which grow from a grapevine are consubstantial with it, so are our bodies consubstantial with the body of the Lord, and we receive what he has accomplished.

His body is the “root of our resurrection and salvation.” Everyone is renewed, anointed, healed, and exalted in Christ, for “he has taken everyone on himself.”

Georges Florovsky (1893-1979; Eastern Orthodox): “St Athanasius” in The Byzantine Fathers of the Fifth Century.

Isaac the Syrian: Trials and temptations Wednesday, Apr 2 2014 

Isaac the Syrian 3Hardships for the sake of the good are loved as the good itself.

Nobody can acquire real renunciation save him that is determined in his mind to bear troubles with pleasure.

Nobody can bear trouble save him that believes that there is something more excellent than bodily consolation which he shall acquire in reward for trouble.

Everyone that has devoted himself to renunciation, will first perceive the love of trouble stir within himself; thereupon the thought of renouncing all worldly things will take shape in him.

Everyone who comes near unto trouble will at first be confirmed in faith; then he will come near unto trouble.

He that renounces worldly things without renouncing the senses, sight and hearing, he prepares twofold trouble for himself and he will find tribulation in a twofold measure.

Or rather: while he refrains from the use of things, he delights in them through the senses; and by the affections which they cause he experiences the same from them that he had to endure in reality before; because the recollection of their customs is not effaced from the mind.

If then imaginary representations existing in the mind alone can torture man, apart from the things corresponding to them in reality, what shall we say when the real things are close at hand?

[…] The hard temptations into which God brings the soul are in accordance with the greatness of His gifts.

If there is a weak soul which is not able to bear a very hard temptation and God deals meekly with it, then know with certainty that, as it is not capable of bearing a hard temptation, so it is not worthy of a large gift.

As great temptations have been withdrawn from it, so large gifts are also withdrawn from it. God never gives a large gift and small temptations.So temptations are to be classed in accordance with gifts.

Thus from the hardships to which you have been subjected you may understand the measure of the greatness which your soul has reached. In accordance with affection is consolation.

What then? Temptation, then gifts ; or gifts and afterwards temptation? Temptation does not come if the soul has not received secretly greatness above its previous rank, as well as the spirit of adoption as sons.

We have a proof of it in the temptation of our Lord and of the Apostles; for they were not allowed to be tempted before they had received the Comforter. Those who partake of good have also to bear temptations.

Isaac the Syrian (c. 630-c. 700): Mystic Treatises, 39, in Mystical Treatises of Isaac of Nineveh, trans. A.J. Wensinck (slightly adapted).

Cyril of Jerusalem: “Wash Yourselves, Make Yourselves Clean, Put Away Your Iniquities From Before My Eyes” Tuesday, Mar 18 2014 

Cyril-of-JerusalemMarch 18th is the feast of St Cyril of Jerusalem….

Disciples of the New Testament and partakers of the mysteries of Christ, as yet by calling only, but ere long by grace also, make you a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 18:31), that there may be gladness among the inhabitants of heaven.

For if over one sinner that repenteth there is joy, according to the Gospel (Luke 15:7), how much more shall the salvation of so many souls move the inhabitants of heaven to gladness.

As ye have entered upon a good and most glorious path, run with reverence the race of godliness.

For the Only-begotten Son of God is present here most ready to redeem you, saying, Come unto Me all that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28).

Ye that are clothed with the rough garment of your offences, who are holden with the cords of your own sins, hear the voice of the Prophet saying, Wash you, make you clean, put away your iniquities from before Mine eyes (Isaiah 1:16):  that the choir of Angels may chant over you, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered (Ps. 32:1).

Ye who have just lighted the torches of faith, guard them carefully in your hands unquenched; that He, who erewhile on this all-holy Golgotha opened Paradise to the robber on account of his faith, may grant to you to sing the bridal song.

If any here is a slave of sin, let him promptly prepare himself through faith for the new birth into freedom and adoption; and having put off the miserable bondage of his sins, and taken on him the most blessed bondage of the Lord, so may he be counted worthy to inherit the kingdom of heaven.

Put off, by confession, the old man, which waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit, that ye may put on the new man, which is renewed according to knowledge of Him that created him (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:10).

Get you the earnest of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22) through faith, that ye may be able to be received into the everlasting habitations (Luke 16:9).

Come for the mystical Seal, that ye may be easily recognised by the Master; be ye numbered among the holy and spiritual flock of Christ, to be set apart on His right hand, and inherit the life prepared for you.

For they to whom the rough garment of their sins still clings are found on the left hand, because they came not to the grace of God which is given through Christ at the new birth of Baptism:  new birth I mean not of bodies, but the spiritual new birth of the soul.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 1, 1-2.

Peter of Damascus: “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom” Monday, Mar 3 2014 

peter_of_damascusAs David says, ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’.

[…] Our Lord Himself began His teaching by speaking of fear: He says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’, that is, those who quail with fear of God and are inexpressibly contrite in soul.

For the Lord has established this as the fundamental commandment, since He knows that, without this, even living in heaven would be without benefit to us, because we would still be possessed of the same madness through which the devil, Adam, and many others have fallen.

If, then, we wish to observe the first commandment – that is, to possess fear of the Lord – we should think very carefully about the contingencies of life already described and upon God’s immeasurable and unfathomable blessings.

We should consider how much He has done and continues to do for our sake through things visible and invisible, through commandments and dogmas, threats and promises;

how He guards, nourishes and provides for us, giving us life and saving us from seen and unseen enemies;

how through the prayers and intercessions of His saints, He cures the diseases caused by our own indiscipline;

how He is always long-suffering as regards our sins, our irreverence, our delinquency, all those things we have done, are doing, and will do, from which His grace has saved us;

how we have angered Him with our actions, words and thoughts; and how He not only bears with us, but even bestows greater blessings on us, either He Himself, or acting through the angels, the Scriptures, through righteous men and prophets, apostles and martyrs, teachers and holy fathers.

Moreover, we should not only recall the sufferings and struggles of the saints and martyrs, but should also reflect with wonder on the self-abasement of our Lord Jesus Christ:

how He lived in the world, His spotless Passion, the Cross, His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, the advent of the Holy Spirit, His ineffable miracles which are always occurring, every day, paradise, the crowns, the adoption that He has accorded us, and all the things contained in Holy Scripture and so much else.

If we bring all this to mind, we will be overwhelmed at God’s compassion, and with trembling will marvel at His forbearance and patience.

We will grieve because of what our nature has lost – the dispassion of the angels, paradise and all the blessings which we have forfeited – and because of the evils into which we have fallen: demons, passions and sins.

In this way our soul will be filled with contrition, realizing all the evils which have been caused by our wickedness and the cunning of the demons.

Peter of Damascus (?12th Century): A Treasury of Divine Knowledge  @ Pemptousia.

Aphrahat the Persian: Christ Perfected Love in Himself and by His Great Love He Saved Us Friday, Feb 28 2014 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatContinued from here….

And it was thus that our Saviour taught us diligently to manifest love. For first He perfected it in Himself, and then He taught those who heard Him.

And He reconciled our enmity with His Father because He loved us, and He yielded up His innocence in the stead of the debtors, and the Good in place of the evil ones was put to shame.

And the Rich in our behalf was made poor, and the Living died in behalf of the dead, and by His death made alive our death.

And the Son of the Lord of all took for our sake the form of a servant, and He to whom all things were subject subjected Himself that He might release us from the subjection of sin.

And by His great love He gave a blessing to the poor in spirit, and He promised the peace makers they should be called His brothers and sons of God.

And He promised the humble that they should inherit the land of life; and He promised the mourners that by their supplications they would be comforted.

And He promised to the hungry fulness in His kingdom; and to those who weep that they should rejoice in His promise; and He promised to the merciful that they should be shown mercy.

And He promised to these who are pure in heart He said that they should see God; and again He promised to those who are persecuted on account of righteousness that they should go into the kingdom of heaven; and to those who are persecuted on account of His Name He promised a blessing and rest in His kingdom.

And He changed our nature of dust and made us the salt of truth, and He delivered us from being the prey of the serpent, and He called us the light of the world; and He delivered us from the power of death.

And He made us good instead of evil, and pleasing instead of hateful; and He appointed for us mercy instead of hatred; and He imparted to us the perfect man.

And He brought forth good things from His treasures, and delivered us from him who brought forth evil things from the superfluities of his heart.

And because of His overflowing love He healed the plagues of the sick; He healed also the son of the centurion because of his faith; and He silenced the waves of the sea by His power; and because of His favor He drove from us the evil spirits who were legion.

And by His mercy He restored to life the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue; and again He cleansed the woman from the pollution of blood.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 2 – On Love (19; 20). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

Nil Sorsky: Love and Forgiveness Saturday, Feb 22 2014 

Nil_SorskyIf we’re troubled by anger and it urges us to consider an injury and to return with interest the damage that someone has inflicted on us, then we should think upon the words of the Lord, Who said:

“For unless you forgive people their trespasses, Your Father will not forgive you yours” (Matth. 6, 15).

It follows, therefore, that people who want their sins to be forgiven are obliged first and foremost to forgive others with all their heart.

Because this is how God has taught us to seek forgiveness for our own transgressions. And if we don’t forgive, it’s obvious that our sins won’t be forgiven.

[…] This is why we should never become angry, nor do any harm to our fellow human beings, not only with words and deeds, but even by changing the way we look at them. Because we can disdain others merely by a look, according to the Fathers.

The perfect victory over thoughts of anger is to pray for the person who has provoked them, as Abba Dorotheos advises when he says:

“God, help my brother, and through his prayers have mercy upon me, sinner that I am. Because to pray for other people means love and affection, and to ask for their prayers means humility”.

We should even do them good, as far as we can, because then we’ll be carrying out the commandment of God that says: “Love your enemies… do well to those who hate you and pray for those who trouble you and persecute you” (Matth. 5, 44).

To those who live by this, the Lord has promised not only the Kingdom of Heaven, some sort of rest or a gift such as those we have in the present, but the very inheritance of adoption, because He says: “Thus you will become children of your father who is in heaven” (Matth. 5, 45).

And our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who instituted this commandment and promised this great recompense, carried out everything He taught, giving us Himself as an example, so that we might imitate Him, insofar as we can.

How many punishments did He endure from the Jews for us sinners, and not only did He refrain from anger, but prayed for them to His heavenly Father saying: “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke, 23, 24).

In the same way, all the saints walked this path and acquired divine grace, returning good to their persecutors instead of evil. They also prayed for them and covered the sins they saw them committing and taught them with sincerity and affection.

Nil Sorsky (Russian Orthodox; c. 1433–1508): The Passions of Avarice, Anger, Sorrow and Sloth @ Pemptousia.

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