Leo the Great: I have become Son of Man that you might have power to be sons of God Friday, Jun 17 2016 

Saint_Leo_of_RomeThe Lord Jesus does, indeed, say to His disciples, as was read in the Gospel lection, if you loved Me, you would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

But those ears, which have often heard the words, I and the Father are One, and He that sees Me, sees the Father also, accept the saying without supposing a difference of Godhead or understanding it of that Essence which they know to be co-eternal and of the same nature with the Father.

Man’s uplifting, therefore, in the Incarnation of the Word, is commended to the holy Apostles also.

And they, who were distressed at the announcement of the Lord’s departure from them, are incited to eternal joy over the increase in their dignity; If you loved Me, He says, you would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father.

That is, if, with complete knowledge you saw what glory is bestowed on you by the fact that, being begotten of God the Father, I have been born of a human mother also, that being invisible I have made Myself visible, that being eternal in the form of God I accepted the form of a slave, you would rejoice because I go to the Father.

For to you is offered this ascension, and your humility is in Me raised to a place above all heavens at the Father’s right hand.

But I, Who am with the Father that which the Father is, abide undivided with My Father, and in coming from Him to you I do not leave Him, even as in returning to Him from you I do not forsake you.

Rejoice, therefore, because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. For I have united you with Myself, and have become Son of Man that you might have power to be sons of God.

And hence, though I am One in both forms, yet in that whereby I am conformed to you I am less than the Father, whereas in that whereby I am not divided from the Father I am greater even than Myself.

And so let the Nature, which is less than the Father, go to the Father, that the Flesh may be where the Word always is, and that the one faith of the Catholic Church may believe that He Whom as Man it does not deny to be less, is equal as God with the Father.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 77, 5.

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Ælfric of Eynsham: Now today that same nature went incorruptible into the kingdom of heaven Wednesday, Jun 8 2016 

All_SS_of_BritainJesus taught the holy lore to his disciples before his passion, and after his resurrection he was continuing among them these forty days, from the holy Eastertide until this present day, and in many ways reproved and tried his disciples, and repeated that which he had before taught, for the perfection of doctrine and right faith.

He ate and drank after his resurrection, not because he then had need of earthly food, but because he would manifest his true body. He ate through power, not for need. As fire consumes drops of water, so did the divine power of Christ consume the received meat.

Verily after the universal resurrection our bodies will require no strengthening of earthly meats, for Jesus will supply all our needs with heavenly things, and we shall be enriched with glory, and mighty to execute whatsoever is pleasing to us, and we shall be full swift to go through all the immensities of the kingdom of God.

He promised to his disciples then and frequently that he would send to them the Holy Ghost, and thus said, “When he comes he will stimulate and direct you to all the things which I have said unto you.”

Then came the Holy Ghost in semblance of fire to the holy company on the eleventh day after Christ’s ascension, and inflamed them all with innoxious fire, and they were filled with heavenly lore, and knew all worldly tongues, and fearlessly preached faith and baptism to the powerful and cruel.

[…] All creatures serve their Creator. When Christ was born, heaven sent forth a new star, which announced the birth of God. Again, when he ascended to heaven, the heavenly cloud bowed down towards him, and received him: not that the cloud bare him, for he holds the throne of heaven, but he passed with the cloud from the sight of men.

There were seen two angels in white garments. In like manner at his birth angels were seen; but the holy gospel has not explained how they were adorned; for God came to us very humble.

At his ascension were seen angels adorned with white garments. Joy is betokened by white garments, for Christ departed hence with great joy and with great majesty. At his birth it seemed as though the Godhead were humbled, and at his ascension humanity was exalted and magnified. With his ascension is annulled the writ of our condemnation, and the sentence of our destruction is abrogated.

When Adam had sinned, the Almighty Ruler said to him, “Thou art earth, and thou shalt to earth return. Thou art dust, and thou shalt return to dust.” Now today that same nature went incorruptible into the kingdom of heaven.

Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010): Homily 21 (for the Ascension), trans. Benjamin Thorpe; icon of All Saints of Britain and Ireland.

Gregory of Nyssa: Now the mystery of Christ’s death is fulfilled, victory is won, and the Cross, the sign of triumph, is raised on high Saturday, May 7 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaOn Psalm 23 [24].

The Gospel describes the Lord’s life upon earth and his return to heaven.

But the sublime prophet David, as though unencum­bered by the weight of his body, rose above himself to mingle with the heavenly powers and record for us their words as they accompanied the Master when he came down from heaven.

Ordering the angels on earth entrusted with the care of human life to raise the gates, they cried: Lift up your gates, you princes; be lifted up you everlasting doors. Let the King of glory enter.

But because wherever he is, he who contains all things in himself makes himself like those who receive him, not only becoming a man among men, but also when among angels conforming his nature to theirs, the gatekeepers asked: Who is this King of glory?

He is the strong one, they were told, mighty in battle, the one who is to grapple with and overthrow the captor of the human race who has the power of death. When this last enemy has been destroyed, he will restore us to freedom and peace.

Now the mystery of Christ’s death is fulfilled, victory is won, and the Cross, the sign of triumph, is raised on high. He who gives us the noble gifts of life and a kingdom has ascended into heaven, leading captivity captive.

Therefore the same command is repeated. Once more the gates of heaven must open for him. Our guardian angels, who have now become his escorts, order them to be flung wide so that he may enter and regain his former glory.

But he is not recognized in the soiled garments of our life, in clothes reddened by the winepress of human sin. Again the escorting angels are asked: Who is this King of glory?

The answer is no longer, The strong one, mighty in battle, but, The lord of hosts, he who has gained power over the whole universe, who has recapitulated all things in himself who is above all things, who has restored all creation to its former state: He is the King of glory.

You see how much David has added to our joy in this feast and contributed to the gladness of the Church.

Therefore as far as we can let us imitate the prophet by our love for God, by gentleness and by patience with those who hate us. Let the prophet’s teaching help us to live in a way pleasing to God in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On the Ascension (Jaeger 9.1.323-327); ); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Eastertide, Year 2.

Romanos the Melodist: I am not parting from you. I am with you and there is no one against you Saturday, May 16 2015 

Romanos the Melodist1

Abandoning on earth the things of earth,
Leaving to the dust the things of ash,
Come, let us come to our senses and let us raise on high our eyes and minds.
Mortals, let us make our sight together with our senses
Fly to heaven’s gates.
Let us imagine we are standing on the mount of Olives
And that we bend our gaze on the Redeemer
As he rides upon a cloud.
For from where the Lord has hastened back to heaven
There too the One who loves to give has distributed his gifts
To his Apostles, cherishing them as a father and crying out to them,
‘I am not parting from you. I am with you and there is no one against you.’

2

The One who came down to earth, as he alone knows how,
As he ascended from it, again as he knows how,
Took those he loved and led those he had gathered to a high mountain,
That, having mind and senses aimed on high,
They might then abandon all that seeks the ground.
And so, having climbed the hill of Olives,
They surrounded the Benefactor,
As Luke, the initiate, recounts,
While the Lord, raising his hands like wings,
Sheltered them, as an eagle the nest which it was warming,
And says to the nestlings, ‘I have sheltered you from all evils.
As I have cherished you, do you love me.
‘I am not parting from you. I am with you and there is no one against you.’

3

High over you, my Disciples,
As God and Maker of the whole world
I stretch out my palms, which the lawless stretched out, bound and nailed.
And so, as you bow your heads beneath my hands,
Understand, know, my friends, what I command.
For as though baptising I lay my hands upon you now,
And having blessed you send you out
Enlightened, and made wise.
Upon your heads praise and majesty,
Upon your souls illumination, as it is written,
For I shall pour out upon you of my Spirit, and you will accepted by me,
Taught and chosen, faithful and my own.
‘I am not parting from you. I am with you and there is no one against you.’

Romanos the Melodist (c.490-c.556): Kontakion on the Assumption, 1-3, trans. Archimandrite Ephrem Lash @ Anastasis.

Cyril of Jerusalem: From heaven He descended to Bethlehem, but to heaven He ascended from the Mount of Olives Friday, May 15 2015 

Cyril-of-JerusalemTo this day stands Mount Olivet, still to the eyes of the faithful all but displaying Him Who ascended on a cloud, and the heavenly gate of His ascension.

For from heaven He descended to Bethlehem, but to heaven He ascended from the Mount of Olives.

At the former place He began His conflicts among men, and in the latter, He was crowned after them.

You have, therefore, many witnesses. You have this very place of the Resurrection.

You have also the place of the Ascension towards the east.

You have also for witnesses the Angels which there bore testimony; and the cloud on which He went up, and the disciples who came down from that place.

[…]  Remember what is distinctly written in the Psalms, God is gone up with a shout  (Ps.46/47:5). Remember that the divine powers also said to one another, Lift up your gates, ye Princes (Ps. 23/24:7),  and the rest.

Remember also the Psalm which says, He ascended on high, He led captivity captive (Ps. 67/68:18). Remember the Prophet who said, Who buildeth His ascension unto heaven (Amos 9:6).

When they speak against the ascension of the Saviour, as being impossible, remember the account of the carrying away of Habakkuk….

For if Habakkuk was transported by an Angel, being carried by the hair of his head (Bel and the Dragon 5:33), much rather was the Lord of both Prophets and Angels able by His own power to make His ascent into the Heavens on a cloud from the Mount of Olives.

Wonders like this you may call to mind, but reserve the preeminence for the Lord, the Worker of wonders. For the others were borne up, but He bears up all things.

Remember that Enoch was translated (Heb. 11:5), but Jesus ascended. Remember what was said yesterday concerning Elias, that Elias was taken up in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11), but that the chariots of Christ are ten thousand-fold even thousands upon thousands  (Ps. 67/68:17).

Remember that Elias was taken up, towards the east of Jordan, but that Christ ascended at the east of the brook Cedron;  and that Elias went as into heaven, but Jesus into heaven.

And remember that Elias said that a double portion in the Holy Spirit should be given to his holy disciple, but that Christ granted to His own disciples so great enjoyment of the grace of the Holy Ghost as not only to have It in themselves, but also, by the laying on of their hands, to impart the fellowship of It to them who believed.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 14, 23-25.

Nikolai Velimirovich: Thus Did The One Ascend To Heaven Who Held Heaven Within Himself Friday, May 30 2014 

Nikolai VelimirovichThus did the One ascend to Heaven Who held heaven within Himself.

He who carries hell within himself will end up in hell, but he who bears heaven within his soul will ascend to heaven.

And truly, no one can ascend to heaven other than those who have heaven within; and no one can end up in hell besides those who have hell within.

The familiar is drawn to what is familiar and unites with the familiar; but it rejects what is not familiar.

Matter submits to the spirit to the extent that the human soul is filled with the Divine Spirit; and the laws of nature are obedient to moral laws, which govern the world.

Because the Lord Jesus Christ is the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the perfection of moral law, to Him is subject all matter—the entire physical world, with all the laws of nature.

Any person, as a spirit, can be victorious in his life over a certain law of nature, with the help of another law of nature—that is, he can overcome it with his own spirit.

Christ, as the God-Man, could subject the laws of nature to Himself through the law of the Spirit, which is the supreme law of the created world.

However, this concept, just as any other spiritual concept, can be but partially explained by ordinary earthly conceptualizations and reasoning—and that only by examples and comparisons.

Spiritual things only become clear beyond a doubt when the spirit sees them and perceives them.

In order to see and feel the manifestations of the spiritual world, long and exhausting spiritual practice is needed, after which, by God’s grace, spiritual vision may be opened in a person; this vision allows him to see what seems unbelievable and impossible to ordinary mortals.

Nevertheless, a person must first believe those who have seen the unbelievable, and strengthen their faith from day to day, striving to see what is inaccessible to the common gaze.

Not in vain does the Lord say, Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (Jn. 20:29).

[…]  But the day will come—and that day is not far off—when all the righteous mean and women who firmly believed in Him throughout their lives will see Him.

And around Him in the heavens will gather all those who were baptized on earth in His name—not only with water, but also with the Spirit and Fire.

And they will enter into His joy, which the Heavenly Father has prepared for all His chosen, and will inherit a joy that they have never known before.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): The Ascension of the Lord @ Pravoslavie.

Cyril of Jerusalem: “He Ascended into Heaven and Sitteth on the Right Hand of the Father” Thursday, May 29 2014 

Cyril-of-JerusalemLet us not curiously pry into what is properly meant by the throne; for it is incomprehensible.

But neither let us endure those who falsely say, that it was after His Cross and Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, that the Son began to sit on the right hand of the Father.

For the Son gained not His throne by advancement; but throughout His being (and His being is by an eternal generation) He also sitteth together with the Father.

And this throne the Prophet Esaias having beheld before the incarnate coming of the Saviour, says, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up  (Is. 6:1), and the rest.

For the Father no man hath seen at any time (John 1:18), and He who then appeared to the Prophet was the Son.

The Psalmist also says, Thy throne is prepared of old; Thou art from everlasting (Ps. 93:2).

[…] But now I must remind you of a few things out of many which are spoken concerning the Son’s sitting at the right hand of the Father.

For the hundred and ninth Psalm says plainly, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool (Ps. 110:1).

And the Saviour, confirming this saying in the Gospels, says that David spoke not these things of himself, but from the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, saying, How then doth David in the Spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand (Matt. 22:3)?

And in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter on the day of Pentecost standing with the Eleven (Acts 2:34), and discoursing to the Israelites, has in very words cited this testimony from the hundred and ninth Psalm.

[…] Now may He Himself, the God of all, who is Father of the Christ, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who came down, and ascended, and sitteth together with the Father, watch over your souls.

May He keep unshaken and unchanged your hope in Him who rose again; raise you together with Him from your dead sins unto His heavenly gift; count you worthy to be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17).

[…] Think not that because He is now absent in the flesh, He is therefore absent also in the Spirit.  He is here present in the midst of us, listening to what is said of Him, and beholding thine inward thoughts, and trying the reins and hearts (Ps. 7:9).

And He is also now ready to present those who are coming to baptism, and all of you, in the Holy Ghost to the Father, and to say,Behold, I and the children whom God hath given Me (Isa. 8:18; Heb. 2:13).

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 14, 27, 28, 30.

Gregory of Nyssa: Mary Magdalen’s Faith in the Resurrection Reverses the Disaster of Eve’s Disobedience Wednesday, Jul 24 2013 

Gregory_of_NyssaTouch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God (John 20:17).

Having by purity brought into closest relationship with the Father of our nature that new man which is created after God, in Whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, He drew with Him into the same grace all the nature that partakes of His body and is akin to Him.

And these glad tidings He proclaims through the woman [Mary Magdalen], not to those disciples only, but also to all who up to the present day become disciples of the Word.

[…] He from Whom we were formerly alienated by our revolt has become our Father and our God. Accordingly in the passage cited above the Lord brings the glad tidings of this benefit.

And the words are not a proof of the degradation of the Son, but the glad tidings of our reconciliation to God. For that which has taken place in Christ’s Humanity is a common boon bestowed on mankind generally.

When we see in Him the weight of the body, which naturally gravitates to earth, ascending through the air into the heavens, we believe according to the words of the Apostle, that we also “shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:16).

So also, when we hear that the true God and Father has become the God and Father of our First-fruits, we no longer doubt that the same God has become our God and Father too, inasmuch as we have learned that we shall come to the same place whither Christ has entered for us as our forerunner (cf. Heb. 6:20).

And the fact too that this grace was revealed by means of a woman [Mary Magdalen] itself agrees with the interpretation which we have given.

As the Apostle tells us, “the woman [Eve], being deceived, was in the transgression” (1 Tim. 2:14), and was by her disobedience foremost in the revolt from God.

For this reason she [Mary Magdalen] is the first witness of the resurrection, that she might retrieve by her faith in the resurrection the overthrow caused by her [Eve’s] disobedience.

By making herself at the beginning a minister and advocate to her husband of the counsels of the serpent, she [Eve] brought into human life the beginning of evil, and its train of consequences.

So also, by ministering to His disciples the words of Him Who slew the rebel dragon, she [Mary Magdalen] became to men the guide to faith, whereby with good reason the first proclamation of death is annulled.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): Against Eunomius, 12,1.

Nikolai Velimirovich: Christ has Done Ninety-Nine Percent of All that is Needed for Your Salvation Friday, Jul 5 2013 

Nikolai Velimirovich“O that I had wings like a dove; for then would I flee away and be at rest” (Psalm 54 [55]:6), the Psalmist cried in distress before Christʼs coming….

“My heart is disquieted within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and an horrible dread hath overwhelmed me”(vv. 4–5).

Such a terrible sense of deathly fear and of the horror of existence in the wastes of this life must, like a heavy nightmare, have weighed on the whole rational, honest world before Christ.

[…] But whither will you fly, O sinful human soul? … Lo, sin has clipped your wings…and has forced you firmly down to the ground.

Someone is needed, first to free you from the weight of sin, to wash you and make you stand erect.

And then someone is needed to implant and nourish new wings in you, so that you can fly.

Then you need someone, someone very strong, for whom the Cherubim with flaming swords will stand aside, to let you through to your glorious homeland.

Lastly, you need someone who will find mercy for you from your grieved Creator, so that He will receive you once more into the lands of His immortal country.

This “someone”…revealed Himself as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.

From love for you, He bowed down from Heaven to earth and came down on earth, clothed Himself in flesh, became a prisoner for the sake of you prisoners, suffered sweat and frost, endured hunger and thirst, gave His face to spitting and His body to be nailed to the Cross, lay in the tomb as a corpse, went down to Hades to destroy a prison worse than this life, that was intended for you after your parting from the body

—and all this in order to save you from the mire of sin, and set you on your feet.

He then rose from the dead, by this means to give you wings for flight to Heaven, and finally ascended into Heaven to open the way to you and bring you into the Angelsʼ abode.

You do not now have to sigh in fear, trembling and horror as King David did, nor to desire wings like a dove, for the Eagle has appeared, and has shown and cloven a road through.

You have only to nurture the spiritual wings that you were given at your Baptism in His name, and to desire with all your strength to climb up there where He ascended.

He has done ninety-nine percent of all that is needed for your salvation. Will you not strive to do that one remaining percentage point…?

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): from Homily 27: The Ascension of the Lord in Homilies (Birmingham: Lazarica Press, 1996, Vol. I, pp. 296-299; full text @ Kandylaki.

Nikolai Velimirovich: The Ascent of the Swallow Thursday, Jun 13 2013 

Nikolai VelimirovichWhen swallows run short of food and the cold weather is coming, they set off to warm climes, where there is plenty of sun and food.

One swallow flies ahead, testing the air and showing the way, while the rest of the flock follows after.

When our souls run short of food in the material world, and when the cold of death draws near—ah, is there a swallow like that one, to take us to a warm place, where there is plenty of spiritual warmth and food?

Is there such a place? Is there, oh, is there such a swallow? […] The Church…has seen that part of Paradise for which our souls yearn in the frozen twilight of this earthly existence.

It has also seen this blessed swallow, the first to fly to that yearned-for place, dispersing the darkness and cutting through the heavy atmosphere between earth and Heaven with its powerful wings, opening the way to the flock behind it.

Apart from this, the Church on earth can tell one of innumerable flocks of swallows that have followed the first Swallow and flown off with it to that blessed land, a land abounding with all good things—the land of eternal Spring.

You will see from this that, by this saving Swallow, I am thinking of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Has He not said of Himself that He is the Way?

Did He not Himself say to His Apostles: “I go to prepare a place for you…and if I go…I will receive you unto Myself”(St. John 14:2–3)?

And did He not say to them before this: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” (St. John 12:32)?

This that He Himself said began to be fulfilled a few weeks later, and has continued to be fulfilled right down to our own day, and shall be to the end of time.

That is, being the beginning of the first creation of the world, He became also the beginning of the second creation, or the blessed renewing of the old.

Sin clipped Adamʼs wings and those of all his descendants, and they all fell away from God, went off, and were blinded with the dust from which their bodies were created.

Christ, as the New Adam, the first Man, the Firstborn among men, was the first to rise up to Heaven on spiritual wings, to the throne of Eternal Glory and power, thus cleaving the way to Heaven and opening all Heavenʼs gates to His followers, with their spiritual wings—as an eagle cleaves the way for its eaglets ,as the swallow which goes ahead, showing the flock the way and breaking the airʼs heavy resistance.

Nikolai Velimirovich (1880-1956; Orthodox Church): from Homily 27: The Ascension of the Lord in Homilies (Birmingham: Lazarica Press, 1996, Vol. I, pp. 296-299; full text @ Kandylaki.

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