Ambrose of Milan: “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from Thy face?” Wednesday, Oct 5 2016 

ambrose_of_milanHe [the Holy Spirit] does not have a limited and circumscribed power because He is always in all things and everywhere, which assuredly is the property of Divinity and Lordship, for: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” (Ps. 83:1).

And so, when the Lord appointed His servants the apostles, that we might recognize that the creature was one thing and the grace of the Spirit another, He appointed them to different places, because all could not be everywhere at once.

But He gave the Holy Spirit to all, to shed upon the apostles – though separated – the gift of indivisible grace.

The persons, then, were different, but the accomplishment of the working was in all one, because the Holy Spirit is one of Whom it is said: “Ye shall receive power, even the Holy Spirit coming upon you, and ye shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The Holy Spirit, then, is uncircumscribed and infinite, Who infused Himself into the minds of the disciples throughout the separate divisions of distant regions, and the remote bounds of the whole world, Whom nothing is able to escape or to deceive.

And therefore holy David says: “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from Thy face” (Ps. 138:7). Of what angel does the Scripture say this? Of what dominion? Of what power? Of what angel do we find the power diffused over many? For angels were sent to few, but the Holy Spirit was poured upon whole peoples.

Who, then, can doubt that that is divine which is shed upon many at once and is not seen; but that that is corporeal which is seen and held by individuals? But in like manner as the Spirit in sanctifying the apostles is not a partaker of human nature; so, too, in  sanctifying angels, dominions, and powers, He has no partnership with creatures.

[…] Since angels come down to men to assist them, it must be understood that the nature of angels is higher as it receives more of the grace of the Spirit, and that the favour awarded to us and to them comes from the same author.

But how great is that grace which makes even the lower nature of the lot of men equal to the gifts received by angels, as the Lord Himself promised, saying: “Ye shall be as the angels in heaven.” Nor is it difficult, for He Who made those angels in the Spirit will by the same grace make men also equal to the angels.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): On the Holy Spirit, book 1, chapters 81-84.

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Irenaeus of Lyons: So fair and good was this Paradise that the Word of God continually resorted thither Friday, Nov 13 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonGod formed Man with His own hands, taking from the earth that which was purest and finest, and mingling in measure His own power with the earth.

For He traced His own form on the formation, that that which should be seen should be of divine form.

For as the image of God was man formed and set on the earth.

And that he might become living, He breathed on his face the breath of life; that both for the breath and for the formation man should be like unto God.

Moreover he was free and self-controlled, being made by God for this end, that he might rule all those things that were upon the earth.

And this great created world, prepared by God before the formation of man, was given to man as his place, containing all things within itself.

And there were in this place also with their tasks the servants of that God who formed all things; and the steward, who was set over all his fellow-servants received this place.

Now the servants were angels, and the steward was the archangel.

Now, having made man lord of the earth and all things in it, He secretly appointed him lord also of those who were servants in it.

They however were in their perfection; but the lord, that is, man, was but small; for he was a child; and it was necessary that he should grow, and so come to his perfection.

And, that he might have his nourishment and growth with festive and dainty meats, He prepared him a place better than this world, excelling in air, beauty, light, food, plants, fruit, water, and all other necessaries of life: and its name is Paradise.

And so fair and good was this Paradise, that the Word of God continually resorted thither, and walked and talked with the man, figuring beforehand the things that should be in the future, namely that He should dwell with him and talk with him, and should be with men, teaching them righteousness.

But man was a child, not yet having his understanding perfected; wherefore also he was easily led astray by the deceiver.

[…] And Adam and Eve – for that is the name of the woman – were naked, and were not ashamed; for there was in them an innocent and childlike mind, and it was not possible for them to conceive and understand anything of that which by wickedness through lusts and shameful desires is born in the soul.

For they were at that time entire, preserving their own nature; since they had the breath of life which was breathed on their creation. And, while this breath remains in its place and power, it has no comprehension and understanding of things that are base.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 11, 12, 14.

Basil the Great: “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the Spirit of His mouth” Friday, Sep 18 2015 

St-Basil-the-Great[Following on from here….]

‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth’ (Psalm 32:6).

Where are those who set at naught the Spirit? Where are those who separate It from the creative power?

Where are those who dissever It from union with the Father and Son?

Let them hear the psalm which says: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth’.

The term ‘Word’ will not be considered as this common form of diction which consists of names and expressions, nor will the Spirit be considered as vapor poured out in the air;

but as the Word, which was in the beginning with God (John 1:1), and as the Holy Spirit, which has obtained this appellation as Its own.

As, then, the Creator, the Word, firmly established the heavens, so the Spirit which is from God, which proceeds from the Father, that is, which is from His mouth (that you may not judge that It is some external object or some creature, but may glorify It as having Its substance from God) brings with It all the powers in Him.

Therefore, all the heavenly power was established by the Spirit; that is, it has from the assistance of the Spirit the solidity and firmness and constancy in holiness and in every virtue that is becoming to the sacred powers.

In this place, therefore, the Spirit was described as from His mouth; we shall find elsewhere that the Word also was said to be from His mouth, in order that it may be understood that the Savior and His Holy Spirit are from the Father.

Since, then, the Savior is the Word of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit from His mouth, both joined with Him in the creation of the heavens and the powers in them, and for this reason the statement was made: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth’.

For, nothing is made holy, except by the presence of the Spirit. The Word, the Master Craftsman and Creator of the universe, gave entrance into existence to the angels; the Holy Spirit added holiness to them.

The angels were not created infants, then perfected by gradual exercise and thus made worthy of the reception of the Spirit; but, in their initial formation and in the material, as it were, of their substance they had holiness laid as a foundation.

Wherefore, they are turned toward evil with difficulty, for they were immediately steeled by sanctity, as by some tempering, and possessed steadfastness in virtue by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 15 (on Psalm 32[33]), 4,  from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 234-235.

Irenaeus of Lyons: God is glorified by His Word who is His Son continually, and by the Holy Spirit who is the Wisdom of the Father of all Friday, Jul 17 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonBy the Spirit the Father is called Most High and Almighty and Lord of hosts; that we may learn concerning God that He it is who is creator of heaven and earth and all the world, and maker of angels and men, and Lord of all, through whom all things exist and by whom all things are sustained; merciful, compassionate and very tender, good, just.

[…] Now this world is encompassed by seven heavens, in which dwell powers and angels and archangels, doing service to God, the Almighty and Maker of all things: not as though He was in need, but that they may not be idle and unprofitable and ineffectual.

Wherefore also the Spirit of God is manifold in (His) indwelling, and in seven forms of service is He reckoned by the prophet Isaiah, as resting on the Son of God, that is the Word, in His coming as man.

The Spirit of God, he says, shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, (the Spirit of knowledge) and of godliness; the Spirit of the fear of God shall fill him (Isaiah 11:2f).

Now the heaven which is first from above, and encompasses the rest, is (that of) wisdom; and the second from it, of understanding; and the third, of counsel; and the fourth, reckoned from above, (is that) of might; and the fifth, of knowledge; and the sixth, of godliness; and the seventh, this firmament of ours, is full of the fear of that Spirit which gives light to the heavens.

For, as the pattern (of this), Moses received the seven-branched candlestick, that shined continually in the holy place; for as a pattern of the heavens he received this service, according to that which the Word spake unto him: Thou shalt make (it) according to all the pattern of the things which thou hast seen in the mount (Exodus 25:40).

Now this God is glorified by His Word who is His Son continually, and by the Holy Spirit who is the Wisdom of the Father of all: and the power(s) of these, (namely) of the Word and Wisdom, which are called Cherubim and Seraphim, with unceasing voices glorify God; and every created thing that is in the heavens offers glory to God the Father of all (cf. Rev. 5:13).

He by His Word has created the whole world, and in the world are the angels; and to all the world He has given laws wherein each several thing should abide, and according to that which is determined by God should not pass their bounds, each fulfilling his appointed task.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 8-10.

Adomnán of Iona: St Columba and the angels Tuesday, Jun 9 2015 

St-Columba_Aidan-HartJune 9th is the feast of St Columba.

While the holy man sat in his little cell engaged in writing, on a sudden his countenance changed, and he poured forth this cry from his pure breast, saying, “Help! Help!”

Two of the brothers who stood at the door, namely, Colga, son of Cellach, and Lugne Mocublai, asked the cause of such a sudden cry.

The venerable man answered, saying, “I ordered the angel of the Lord who was just now standing among you to go quickly to the relief of one of the brothers who is falling from the highest point of a large house which is now being built in the Oakwood Plain (Derry).”

And the saint added afterwards these words, saying, “How wonderful and almost unspeakable is the swiftness of angelic motion, like, as I imagine, to the rapidity of lightning.

“For the heavenly spirit who just now flew away from us when that man began to fall, arrived there to support him, as it were, in the twinkling of an eye, before his body reached the ground; nor was the man who fell able to feel any fracture or bruise.

“How wonderful, I say, is that most swift and timely help which could be given so very quickly, even though such an extent of land and sea lay between!”

[…] While the blessed man was living in the Iouan island (Hy, now Iona), he made this known to the assembled brethren with very great earnestness, saying, “Today I wish to go alone to the western plain of this island; let none of you therefore follow me.”

They obeyed, and he went alone, as he desired. But a brother, who was cunning, and of a prying disposition, proceeded by another road, and secretly placed himself on the summit of a certain little hill which overlooked the plain, because he was very anxious to learn the blessed man’s motive for going out alone.

While the spy on the top of the hill was looking upon him as he stood on a mound in the plain, with arms extended upwards, and eyes raised to heaven in prayer, then, strange to tell, behold a wonderful scene presented itself, which that brother, as I think not without the leave of God, witnessed with his own eyes from his place on the neighbouring hill, that the saint’s name and the reverence due to him might afterwards, even against his wishes, be more widely diffused among the people, through the vision thus vouchsafed.

For holy angels, the citizens of the heavenly country, clad in white robes and flying with wonderful speed, began to stand around the saint whilst he prayed; and after a short converse with the blessed man, that heavenly host, as if feeling itself detected, flew speedily back again to the highest heavens.

Adomnán of Iona (628-704): Life of St. Columba, Book 3, 16 & 17; from Life of Saint Columba, Founder of Hy, Written by Adamnan, Ninth Abbot of that Monastery, ed. William Reeves, (Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas, 1874) @ Internet Medieval Source Book; icon of St Columba by Aidan Hart.

John Maximovitch: Seeing the Light of the Risen Christ with the Eyes of the Heart Wednesday, Apr 23 2014 

Saint John Maximovich Tobolsk editedLet us cleanse our senses and see through the gleaming, unapproachable light of Christ’s Resurrection.

Now is everything filled-full with light — the heavens, the earth, and the underworld.

All is presently bathed in light: Christ is risen from the dead.

The heavens make merry, the earth rejoiceth, the underworld exulteth.

The Angels in Heaven hymn Thy Resurrection, O Christ-Saviour. Do Thou make us, on earth, also worthy to glorify Thee with a pure heart.

The Angelic Choir, horrified at seeing Its Creator and Master dead, doth now, in joyous song, glorify Him resurrected.

Today doth Adam exult, and Eve rejoiceth; and with them do the Prophets and Patriarchs sing worthy songs to the Creator of all and to our Deliverer, Who did descend into the underworld for our sake.

The Giver of Life doth lead men out of hell this day, and up-lifteth them to Heaven; He layeth low the powers of the enemy and breaketh down the gates of hell by the Divine power of His authority.

On earth, the Angels announce the gladsome tidings to men and declare Christ’s Resurrection. Attired in gleaming white robes, the Angels ask the Myrrh-bearing Women:

“Why seek ye the Living One amongst the dead? He is risen; He is not here! Come, see the place where the Lord did lie.”

The Myrrh-bearing women rush to the Apostles, bearing to them the joyous news. And through the Apostles and the Gospel is Christ’s Resurrection preached unto all the world today.

Not all the Apostles immediately saw the risen Christ through spiritual eyes. Two disciples travelling to Emmaus did see Jesus walking with them, but did not recognize Him till such time as He had warmed their saddened hearts; and then were their spiritual eyes opened.

Mary Magdalene conversed with Christ in the garden, but neither recognized Him nor was cognizant of the mystery of the Resurrection, until the voice of her beloved Teacher touched her heart and illumined her soul, which had been given to thinking in worldly fashion.

It was the beloved disciple John, whose heart was pure and undimmed by, timidity, who before all others descried the light of the risen Christ through spiritual eyes; and with his bodily eyes did he behold the manifested Lord.

Scattering and dispersing the dark and gloomy tempest of sin, Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shone forth, gleaming not in the hearts and souls of the Apostles only, but in those of all who draw near to Him with faith, salvation seeking.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” Christ sayeth; “blessed are those who have perceived Me not with bodily eyes, but with the eyes of the heart.”

John Maximovitch (John of Shanghai and san Francisco; Orthodox Church; 1896-1966): A Paschal Epistle of Archbishop John to the Western European and East Asian Flock and to All His Spiritual Children, 1956, Paris, Translated into English by G. Spruksts, “Orthodox Rus”, No. 7, 1996, p.5.

Athanasius of Alexandria: Preparing to Eat the Passover Saturday, Apr 5 2014 

AthanasiusWho then will lead us to such a company of angels as this?

[…] ‘Who shall ascend to the hill of the Lord?’

‘Who shall stand in His holy place, but he that hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not devoted his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbour.’

‘For he,’ as the Psalmist adds, when he goes up, ‘shall receive a blessing from the Lord’ (Ps. 24:3).

Now this clearly also refers to what the Lord gives to them at the right hand, saying, ‘Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you’ (Matt. 25:34).

But the deceitful, and he that is not pure of heart, and possesses nothing that is pure…shall assuredly, being a stranger, and of a different race from the saints, be accounted unworthy to eat the Passover, for ‘a foreigner shall not eat of it’ (Exod. 12:43).

[…] Wherefore let us not celebrate the feast after an earthly manner, but as keeping festival in heaven with the angels.

Let us glorify the Lord, by chastity, by righteousness, and other virtues. And let us rejoice, not in ourselves, but in the Lord, that we may be inheritors with the saints.

Let us keep the feast then, as Moses. Let us watch like David who rose seven times, and in the middle of the night gave thanks for the righteous judgments of God.

Let us be early, as he said, ‘In the morning I will stand before Thee, and Thou wilt look upon me: in the morning Thou wilt hear my voice’ (Ps. 5:3).

Let us fast like Daniel; let us pray without ceasing, as Paul commanded; all of us recognising the season of prayer…, so that having borne witness to these things, and thus having kept the feast, we may be able to enter into the joy of Christ in the kingdom of heaven.

Israel, when going up to Jerusalem, was first purified in the wilderness, being trained to forget the customs of Egypt, the Word by this typifying to us the holy fast of forty days.

So also let us first be purified and freed from defilement, so that when we depart hence, having been careful of fasting, we may be able to ascend to the upper chamber (cf. Luke 14:15) with the Lord, to sup with Him; and may be partakers of the joy which is in heaven.

In no other manner is it possible to go up to Jerusalem, and to eat the Passover, except by observing the fast of forty days.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Sixth Festal Letter, 11-12.

Anastasius of Sinai: “Forgive Us Our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors” Wednesday, Mar 26 2014 

Anastasios-of-SinaiForgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (St. Matthew 6:12).

What are you saying, O man? …

You remember wrongs which you brother has done to you, while you sharpen a knife to use against him, devise mischief against him, and bear malicious poison in your heart, and yet you cry out to God: Forgive me my debts, even as I, too, have forgiven my debtor?

Have you come to…receive Grace, or to draw down His wrath upon yourself? To gain forgiveness of sins, or to add to your sins? To obtain salvation or punishment?

Do you not see that we give each other the kiss of peace at that fearful hour precisely in order that, having rejected every bond of iniquity (Isaiah 58:6) and hard-heartedness, we might draw near to the Master with a pure heart? What are you doing, O man?

The six-winged Angels are ministering and covering the mystical Table, the Cherubim are standing around and exclaiming the Thrice-Holy Hymn with clear voices, the Seraphim are bowing their heads with reverence, the Hierarch is propitiating God on your behalf—all of them concentrating on the proceedings with fear and trembling.

The Lamb of God is being sacrificed, the Holy Spirit is descending from on high, the Angels are running about all the people unseen as they note down and register the souls of the Faithful.

Do you not shudder at the disdain that you show and at the kiss of Judas that you give to your brother, concealing in your heart the recollection of wrongs committed many years ago and the pernicious venom of the serpent against your brother?

How can you not shudder and fall down when you say to Him Who knows the secrets of the heart: Forgive me, even as I, too, have forgiven my brother?

In what way does such a prayer differ from a curse? Why, in saying this, you contradict yourself: If I pardon, pardon me; if I forgive, forgive me; if I show sympathy, show sympathy to me;

if I harbor a grudge against my fellow-servant, harbor one against me; if I am angry, be angry with me; with what measure I measure, let it be measured to me; if I forgive with hypocrisy, may I be shown mercy with hypocrisy.

I shall pronounce the verdict against myself, O Master. For I have heard Thy fearful voice, which says: For with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again (St. Matthew 7:2); and: If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you (St. Matthew 6:15).

Convinced by the assertion of these unerring words of Thine, I have pardoned and forgiven those who have sinned against me. Therefore, O Master, pardon me, just as I, too, have pardoned my fellow-servants.

Anastasius of Sinai (7th Century): A Homily on the Holy Eucharist and on Not Judging Others or Remembering Wrongs, PG 89, 825A-849C @ OCIC.

Bede the Venerable: St Cuthbert and the Hermitage of Farne Thursday, Mar 20 2014 

icon_bede-March 20th is the feast of St Cuthbert….

When Cuthbert had remained some years in the monastery, he was rejoiced to be able at length, with the blessing of the abbot and brethren accompanying him, to retire to the secrecy of solitude which he had so long coveted.

He rejoiced that from the long conversation with the world he was now thought worthy to be promoted to retirement and Divine contemplation: he rejoiced that he now could reach to the condition of those of whom it is sung by the Psalmist: “The holy shall walk from virtue to virtue; the God of Gods shall be seen in Zion.”

At his first entrance upon the solitary life, he sought out the most retired spot in the outskirts of the monastery. But when he had for some time contended with the invisible adversary with prayer and fasting in this solitude, he then, aiming at higher things, sought out a more distant field for conflict, and more remote from the eyes of men.

There is a certain island called Farne, in the middle of the sea, not made an island, like Lindisfarne, by the flow of the tide…, and then restored to the mainland at its ebb, but lying off several miles to the East, and, consequently, surrounded on all sides by the deep and boundless ocean.

No one, before God’s servant Cuthbert, had ever dared to inhabit this island alone, on account of the evil spirits which reside there: but when this servant of Christ came, armed with the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, all the fiery darts of the wicked were extinguished, and that wicked enemy, with all his followers, were put to flight.

Christ’s soldier, therefore, having thus, by the expulsion of the tyrants, become the lawful monarch of the land, built a city fit for his empire, and houses therein suitable to his city.

The building is almost of a round form, from wall to wall about four or five poles in extent: the wall on the outside is higher than a man, but within, by excavating the rock, he made it much deeper, to prevent the eyes and the thoughts from wandering, that the mind might be wholly bent on heavenly things, and the pious inhabitant might behold nothing from his residence but the heavens above him.

The wall was constructed, not of hewn stones or of brick and mortar, but of rough stones and turf, which had been taken out from the ground within. Some of them were so large that four men could hardly have lifted them, but Cuthbert himself, with angels helping him, had raised them up and placed them on the wall.

The Venerable Bede (672/4-735): Life of St Cuthbert, 17 @ Mediaeval Sourcebook.

Nektarios the Wonderworker: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride! Wednesday, Jan 15 2014 

St NektariosRefrain: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!

O Virgin pure, immaculate / O Lady Theotokos
O Virgin Mother, Queen of all / and fleece which is all dewy
More radiant than the rays of sun / and higher than the heavens
Delight of virgin choruses / superior to Angels.
Much brighter than the firmament / and purer than the sun’s light
More holy than the multitude / of all the heav’nly armies.

Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!

O Ever Virgin Mary/ of all the world, the Lady
O bride all pure, immaculate/ O Lady Panagia
O Mary bride and Queen of all/ our cause of jubilation
Majestic maiden, Queen of all/ O our most holy Mother
More hon’rable than Cherubim/ beyond compare more glorious
than immaterial Seraphim / and greater than angelic thrones.

Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!

Rejoice, O song of Cherubim / Rejoice, O hymn of angels
Rejoice, O ode of Seraphim / the joy of the archangels
Rejoice, O peace and happiness / the harbor of salvation
O sacred chamber of the Word / flow’r of incorruption
Rejoice, delightful paradise / of blessed life eternal
Rejoice, O wood and tree of life / the fount of immortality.

Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!

I supplicate you, Lady/ now do I call upon you
And I beseech you, Queen of all / I beg of you your favor
Majestic maiden, spotless one / O Lady Panagia
I call upon you fervently / O sacred, hallowed temple
Assist me and deliver me / protect me from the enemy
And make me an inheritor/ of blessed life eternal.

Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!

Nektarios of Aegina (Orthodox Church; 1846-1920): Source and translation: Holy Nativity Convent, Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.) @ http://www.serfes.org

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