Cyril of Jerusalem: Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers in the divine nature Saturday, May 28 2016 

Cyril-of-JerusalemOn the night he was betrayed our Lord Jesus Christ took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said: ‘Take, eat: this is my body.’

He took the cup, gave thanks and said: ‘Take, drink: this is my blood.’

Since Christ himself has declared the bread to be his body, who can have any further doubt?

Since he himself has said quite categorically, This is my blood, who would dare to question it and say that it is not his blood?

Therefore it is with complete assurance that we receive the bread and wine as the body and blood of Christ.

His body is given to us under the symbol of bread, and his blood is given to us under the symbol of wine, in order to make us by receiving them one body and one blood with him.

Having his body and blood in our members, we become bearers of Christ and sharers, as Saint Peter says, in the divine nature.

Once when speaking to the Jews Christ said: Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you shall have no life in you. This so horrified them that they left him. Not understanding his words in a spiritual way, they thought the Saviour wished them to practise cannibalism.

Under the old covenant there was showbread, but it came an end with the old dispensation to which it belonged.

Under the new covenant there is bread from heaven and the cup of salvation. These sanctify both soul and body, the bread being adapted to the sanctification of the body, the Word to the sanctification of the soul.

Do not, then, regard the Eucharistic elements as ordinary bread and wine: they are in fact the body and blood of the Lord, as he himself has declared. Whatever your senses may tell you, be strong in faith.

You have been taught and you are firmly convinced that what looks and tastes like bread and wine is not bread and wine but the body and the blood of Christ.

You know also how David referred to this long ago when he sang: Bread strengthens the heart and makes the face glow with the oil of gladness.

Strengthen your heart, then, by receiving this bread as spiritual bread, and bring joy to the face of your soul.

May purity of conscience remove the veil from the face of your soul so that by contemplating the glory of the Lord, as in a mirror, you may be transformed from glory to glory in Christ Jesus our Lord. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechesis 22, 1, 3-6 (PG 33:1087-1091); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Easter Friday, Year 2.

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Cyril of Alexandria: The Healing of the Man Born Blind Sunday, Mar 30 2014 

cyril_alexandria“When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and with the clay thereof anointed his eyes, and said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, which means ‘Sent’…. He went away therefore, and washed, and came seeing” (John 9:6-7).

Why, although able to set all things right easily by a word, does He mix up clay from the spittle, and anoint the eyes of the sufferer, and seem to prescribe a sort of operation; for He says, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam? 

Surely I deem that some deep meaning is buried beneath these words, for the Saviour accomplishes nothing without a purpose.

[…] It was not otherwise possible for the Gentiles to thrust off the blindness which affected them, and to behold the Divine and holy light, that is, to receive the knowledge of the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity, except by being made partakers of His Holy Body, and washing away their gloom-producing sin, and renouncing the authority of the devil, namely in Holy Baptism.

And when the Saviour stamped on the blind man the typical mark which was anticipative of the mystery, He meanwhile fully exhibited the power of such participation by the anointing with His spittle.

And as an image of Holy Baptism He commands the man to run and wash in Siloam, a name whose interpretation, the Evangelist, being very wise and Divinely-inspired, felt it necessary to give.

For we conclude that the One Sent is no other than God the Only-Begotten, visiting us and sent from above, even from the Father, to destroy sin and the rapacity of the devil.

And, recognising Him as floating invisibly on the waters of the sacred pool, we by faith are washed, not for the putting away of the filth of the flesh, as it is written, but as it were washing away a sort of defilement and uncleanness of the eyes of the understanding, in order that for the future, being purified, we may be able in pureness to behold the Divine beauty.

As therefore we believe the Body of Christ to be life-giving, since it is the temple and abode of the Word of the Living God, possessing all His energy, so we declare it to be also a Patron of light; for it is the Body of Him Who is by nature the True Light.

And as, when He raised from death the only son of the widow, He was not satisfied with merely commanding and saying: Young man, I say unto thee, Arise; although accustomed to accomplish all things, whatsoever He wished, by a word; but also touched the bier with His hand, showing that even His Body possesses a life-giving power.

So in this case, also, He anoints with His spittle, teaching that His Body is also a Patron of light, even by so slight a touch. For it is the Body of the True Light, as we said above.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, book 6 [on John 9].

 

Anastasius of Sinai: The Church of God is a Surgery Thursday, Feb 6 2014 

Anastasios-of-SinaiDo you not know that the Church of God is a surgery and a harbor?

Now, if you remain in a surgery ailing and unhealed, when, henceforth, will you be cured?

And if you are tempest-tossed in a harbor, where, hereafter, will you find rest?

Stand with reverence, I implore you.

Stand with awe at the fearful hour of the Anaphora; for with whatever attitude and thoughts each of you attends at that hour, such also is the frame of mind in which he offers worship to the Master.

The oblation is called the Anaphora because it is offered up to God. Therefore, stand before God in silence and compunction.

Confess your sins to God through the Priests. Condemn your actions and do not be ashamed; for, there is a shame that bringeth sin, and there is a shame which is glory and grace (Ecclesiasticus 4:2 1).

Condemn yourself before men, so that the Judge may justify you before Angels and the whole world.

Seek mercy, seek forgiveness, seek remission of past sins and deliverance from future sins, so that you may approach the Mysteries worthily, so that you may partake of the Body and Blood with a pure conscience, and so that it may be for you unto purification and not unto condemnation.

Hear what the Divine Paul says: Let each man examine himself, and so let him eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s Body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (I Corinthians 11:27-30).

Do you notice that illness and death result, for the most part, from approaching the Divine Mysteries unworthily? But perhaps you will say: And who is worthy? I, too, am aware of this.

However, you will become worthy, if only you desire it. Recognize that you are a sinner. Cut yourself off from sin. Desist from sin, wickedness, and anger. Display the works of repentance; endue yourself with prudence, meekness, and forbearance.

Show compassion from the fruits of righteousness for those in need, and you will have become worthy. Beseech God with a contrite heart, and He will fulfill your petitions; for, if you do not do this, you will be wasting the time that you spend in church.

[…] And why, someone will object, because I have evil deeds, should I not pray? Why should I not spend time in the Church of God?

This is not what I am saying, nor do I even countenance it. But I beseech you to pray as you ought, so that when we draw near to God in our prayers, we may stand before Him in a way that befits Him

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

Justin Popovich: The Lives of the Saints are the Life of the God-Man Christ which is Poured out into His Followers Friday, Nov 1 2013 

Justin PopovichChristians are Christ-bearers…. The Saints are the most perfect Christians, for they have been sanctified to the highest degree with the podvigs (i.e.ascetic struggles) of holy faith in the risen and eternally-living Lord Christ and no death has power over them.

Their life is entirely from the Lord Christ, and for this reason it is entirely Christ’s life; and their thought is entirely Christ’s thought; and their perception is Christ’s perception.

All that they have is first Christ’s and then theirs. If the soul, it is first Christ’s and then theirs: if life, it is first Christ’s and then theirs.

In them is nothing of themselves but rather wholly and in everything the Lord Christ. Therefore, the Lives of the Saints are nothing else but the life of the Lord Christ, repeated in every saint to a greater or lesser degree in this or that form.

More precisely it is the life of the Lord Christ continued through the Saints, the life of the incarnate God the Logos, the God-man Jesus Christ who became man.

This was so that as man He could give and transmit to us His divine life; so that as God by His life he could sanctify and make immortal and eternal our human life on earth. “For both he who sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one” (Heb. 2:11).

[…] Having become man but having remained God, the God-man led a holy, sinless, Divine-human life on earth, and by this life, death, and Resurrection, annihilated the devil and his dominion of death and by this act gave and constantly gives His grace-filled energies to those who believe in Him, so that they may annihilate the devil and every death and every temptation.

[…] The lives of the saints are in fact the life of the Godman Christ, which is poured out into His followers and is experienced by them in His Church. For the smallest part of this life is always directly from Him because He is life, infinite and boundless and eternal life, which by His Divine power vanquished all deaths and resurrects from all deaths.

According to the all-true and good tidings of the All-True One: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The miraculous Lord who is completely “resurrection and life” is in His Church in His whole being as Divine-human reality, and consequently there is no end to the duration of this reality.

His life is continued through all ages; every Christian is of the same body with Christ, and he is a Christian because he lives the Divine-human life of this Body of Christ as Its organic cell.

Justin Popovich (1894-1979; Orthodox Church): Introduction to the Lives of the Saints.

Irenaeus of Lyons: The Eucharist – Life, Immortality, Incorruption, Resurrection to the Glory of God Wednesday, Oct 23 2013 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonThe mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist becomes the body of Christ, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported.

So how can anyone affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which flesh is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him?

St Paul declares, “we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Eph. 5:30). He does not speak these words of some spiritual and invisible man, for a spirit has not bones nor flesh (Luke 24:39).

Rather, he refers to that dispensation by which the Lord became an actual man, consisting of flesh, and nerves, and bones—that flesh which is nourished by the cup which is His blood, and receives increase from the bread which is His body.

A cutting from the vine planted in the ground fructifies in its season; a corn of wheat falling into the earth and becoming decomposed, rises with manifold increase by the Spirit of God, who contains all things.

Then, through the wisdom of God, it serves for the use of men, and having received the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ.

So also our bodies, being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth, and suffering decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time, the Word of God granting them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely gives to this mortal immortality, and to this corruptible incorruption (1 Cor. 15:53).

For the strength of God is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:3), in order that we may never become puffed up, as if we had life from ourselves, and exalted against God, our minds becoming ungrateful;

that, learning by experience, we might possess eternal duration from the excelling power of this Being, not from our own nature;

that we may neither undervalue that glory which surrounds God as He is, nor be ignorant of our own nature;

that we may know what God can effect, and what benefits man receives, and thus never wander from the true comprehension of things as they are, that is, both with regard to God and with regard to man.

And might it not be the case, perhaps, as I have already observed, that for this purpose God permitted our resolution into the common dust of mortality, that we, being instructed by every mode, may be accurate in all things for the future, being ignorant neither of God nor of ourselves?

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses, 5, 2, 3.

Elder Sophrony: Every Divine Liturgy is a Theophany Saturday, Sep 21 2013 

SophronyWe Orthodox live Christ within the Divine Liturgy, or rather Christ lives within us during the Divine Liturgy.

The Divine Liturgy is a work of God. We say: “Time is a creation of the Lord”. Among other things it means now is the time for God to act.

Christ liturgizes, we live with Christ. The Divine Liturgy is the way we know God and the way God becomes known to us.

Christ celebrated the Divine Liturgy once and this passed into eternity.

His divinized human nature came to the Divine Liturgy. We know Christ specifically in the Divine Liturgy.

The Divine Liturgy we celebrate is the same Divine Liturgy which was done by Christ on Great Thursday in the Mystical Supper. The 14th through the 16th chapters of the Gospel according to John is one Divine Liturgy.

So in the Divine Liturgy we understand Holy Scripture. The early Church lived without a New Testament, but not without the Divine Liturgy. The first records, the written hymns, exist in the Divine Liturgy.

In the Divine Liturgy we live Christ and understand His word.

As Christ cleansed His Disciples with his word and said to them: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3) and He washed the feet of His Disciples with water, during the Sacred Washing, so also in the first section of the Divine Liturgy He cleanses us that we might attend later His Table of love.

The purpose of the Divine Liturgy is to convey Christ to us. The Divine Liturgy teaches us an ethos, the ethos of humility. As Christ sacrificed Himself, so also should we sacrifice ourselves. The type of the Divine Liturgy is the type of impoverishment for us.

In the Divine Liturgy we try to be humbled, because we have the sense that there is the humble God. Every Divine Liturgy is a Theophany.

The Body of Christ appears. Every member of the Church is an icon of the Kingdom of God. After the Divine Liturgy we must continue to iconify the Kingdom of God, keeping His commandments.

The glory of Christ is to bear fruit in every member His fruit. This explains His word: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (John 15:8).

Elder Sophrony (1896-1993; Orthodox): Translation by John Sanidopoulos @ Mystagogy from I Knew A Man In Christ: The Life and Times of Elder Sophrony, the Hesychast and Theologian (Οίδα άνθρωπον εν Χριστώ: Βίος και πολιτεία του Γέροντος Σωφρονίου του ησυχαστού και θεολόγου) by Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou.

Irenaeus of Lyons: Christ Graciously Poured Himself Out, that He Might Gather Us Into the Bosom of the Father Tuesday, Sep 10 2013 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonNor did Christ truly redeem us by His own blood except by really becoming man, restoring to His own handiwork what was said of it in the beginning—that man was made after the image and likeness of God.

He did not not snatch away by stratagem the property of another, but took possession of His own in a righteous and gracious manner.

As far as concerned the apostasy, indeed, He redeems us righteously from it by His own blood; but as regards us who have been redeemed, He does this graciously.

For we have given nothing to Him previously, nor does He desire anything from us, as if He stood in need of it; but we do stand in need of fellowship with Him.

And for this reason it was that He graciously poured Himself out, that He might gather us into the bosom of the Father.

But vain in every respect are they who despise the entire dispensation of God, and disallow the salvation of the flesh, and treat with contempt its regeneration, maintaining that it is not capable of incorruption.

But if this indeed do not attain salvation, then neither did the Lord redeem us with His blood, nor is the cup of the Eucharist the communion of His blood, nor the bread which we break the communion of His body (1 Cor. 10:16).

For blood can only come from veins and flesh, and whatsoever else makes up the substance of man, such as the Word of God was actually made. By His own blood he redeemed us, as also His apostle declares, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins” (Col. 1:14).

And as we are His members, we are also nourished by means of the creation (and He Himself grants the creation to us, for He causes His sun to rise, and sends rain when He wills (Matt. 5:45).

He has acknowledged the cup (which is a part of the creation) as His own blood, from which He bedews our blood; and the bread (also a part of the creation) He has established as His own body, from which He gives increase to our bodies.

The mingled cup and the manufactured bread receives the Word of God, and the Eucharist becomes the body of Christ, from which things the substance of our flesh is increased and supported.

So how can anyone affirm that the flesh is incapable of receiving the gift of God, which is life eternal, which flesh is nourished from the body and blood of the Lord, and is a member of Him? As St Paul declares…:“we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Eph. 5:30).

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses, 5, 2, 1-3.

Augustine of Hippo: Christ and the Church – Head and Body, Bridegroom and Bride Sunday, Aug 25 2013 

St Augustine of AfricaSometimes in the Scriptures Christ is presented as the Word equal to the Father.

Sometimes he is presented as the Mediator, since the Word became flesh to dwell amongst us, taking the form of a servant and becoming obedient unto death, even death on the cross.

Sometimes, however, he is presented in such a way that you are to understand the head and the body together, as when the Apostle expounds what was said about husband and wife in Genesis: they shall be two in one flesh.

Notice his exposition, for I don’t want to give the impression of saying something I made up myself: for they shall be two in one flesh. And he adds, this is a great sacrament.

Now just in case anyone should still think this is about a husband and wife according to the natural joining of the sexes and their bodily coming together, he goes on, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.

And just as with bridegroom and bride, so also head and body, because the head of the woman is the man. So, whether I say head and body, or whether I say bridegroom and bride, you must understand the same thing.

And that’s why the same Apostle, while he was still Saul, heard the words, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?; because the body is joined to the head.

So present yourselves to such a head as a body worthy of him, to such a bridegroom as a worthy bride. To present himself, it says, with a glorious Church, without stain or wrinkle or any such thing.

This is the bride of Christ, without stain or wrinkle. Do you wish to have no stain? Do what is written, wash yourselves, be clean, remove the wicked schemes from your heart.

Do you wish to have no wrinkle? Stretch yourself on the cross. You see, you don’t only need to be washed, but also to be stretched, in order to be without stain or wrinkle; because by the washing sins are removed, while by the stretching a desire is created for the future life, which is what Christ was crucified for.

Listen to Paul himself, once he was washed: he has saved us by the washing of rebirth; and listen to him as he is stretched: forgetting what lies behind, and stretching forward to what lies ahead I press on towards the goal for the prize of God’s calling from above in Christ Jesus.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon 341, 12-13; from The Works of Saint Augustine, a Translation for the 21st Century: Sermons 341-400 (III/10) (on the Liturgical Seasons), translated by Edmund Hill, O.P. and the Monastic Office of Vigils, Wednesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1.

Augustine of Hippo: Solomon’s Temple was a Type and Figure of the Future Church and of the Lord’s Body Sunday, Jul 28 2013 

St Augustine of AfricaSolomon had built a Temple for the Lord that was a type and figure of the future Church and of the Lord’s body.

That is why the Lord says in the Gospel: Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Since Solomon had built that Temple, Jesus Christ, the true Solomon, the true man of peace, also built a Temple for himself.

The name ‘Solomon’ means ‘man of peace’; but the true man of peace is he of whom the Apostle says: He is our peace, who made the two one.  

He is the true man of peace who united in himself as their cornerstone the two walls coming from different directions – the believers coming from the Jews and the believers coming from the Gentiles.

Out of these two peoples he made a single Church with himself as its cornerstone; that is why he is the true man of peace.

Since, then, he is the true Solomon and since the earlier Solo­mon, David’s son by Bathsheba and King of Israel, simply prefig­ured this true man of peace when he built a Temple, do not think that Solomon was the real builder of God’s house, for Scripture shows you a different Solomon at the beginning of the psalm: unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.

It is the Lord, then, who builds the house; the Lord Jesus Christ builds his own house. Many labour to build it, but if he does not build it, its builders labour in vain.

Who are the labourers engaged on the building? All those in the Church who preach the word of God, and all the ministers of God’s Sacraments.

We all run, we all toil, we are all building in our own day; and before us others have run and toiled and built. But unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labour in vain.

We speak to the outer ear: he builds within. We notice whether you are listening, but only he who sees your thoughts knows what you are thinking. He builds, he teaches, he frightens; he opens your minds and draws your thoughts toward faith.

The house of God is also a city. For the house of God is God’s people; and because they are God’s house, they are his Temple. What does the Apostle say? The Temple of God is holy, and you are that Temple.

[…] All ­the holy believers who are to be taken from mankind to be the ­equals and companions of God’s angels, who are not pilgrims now but await us when we return from our pilgrimage – all these together form a single house of God and a single city.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Commentary on Psalm 126, 2-3 (CSEL 40:1857-8); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Wednesday of the 16th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1.

Augustine of Hippo: You Are the Body of Christ and Its Members Saturday, Jul 20 2013 

St Augustine of AfricaWhat you can see on the altar, you also saw last night; but what it was, what it meant, of what great reality it contained the Sacrament, you had not yet heard.

So what you can see, then, is bread and a cup; that’s what even your eyes tell you; but as for what your faith asks to be instructed about: the bread is the body of Christ, the cup the blood of Christ.

It took no time to say that, and, perhaps, that may be enough for faith; but faith desires instruction.

The Prophet says, you see, Unless you believe, you shall not understand. I mean, you can now say to me, “You’ve bidden us believe; now explain, so that we may understand.”

Some such thought as this, after all, may cross somebody’s mind…: “Our Lord Jesus Christ…rose again on the third day, on the day he wished ascended into heaven.

“That’s where he lifted his body up to; that’s where he’s going to come from to judge the living and the dead; that’s where he is now, seated on the Father’s right.

“How can bread be his body? And the cup, or what the cup contains, how can it be his blood?”

The reason these things, brethren, are called Sacraments is that in them one thing is seen, another is to be understood. What can be seen has a bodily appearance, what is to be understood provides spiritual fruit.

So if you want to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle telling the faithful: You are the body of Christ and its members.

So if it’s you that are the body of Christ and its members, it’s the mystery meaning you that has been placed on the table of the Lord; what you receive is the mystery that means you.

It is to what you are that you reply Amen, and by so replying you express your assent.

What you hear, then, is The body of Christ, and you answer, Amen. So be a member of the body of Christ, in order to make that Amen true.

[…] When you were baptised it’s as though you were mixed into dough. When you received the fire of the Holy Spirit, it’s as though you were baked. Be what you can see, and receive what you are.

[…] It’s the same with the wine. Just remind yourselves, brethren, what wine is made from; many grapes hang in the bunch, but the juice of the grapes is poured together in one vessel.

That too is how the Lord Christ signified us, how he wished us to belong to him, how he consecrated the Sacrament of our peace and unity on his table.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon 272 – On the Day of Pentecost; from The Works of Saint Augustine, a Translation for the 21st Century: Sermons 230-272B (III/7) (on the Liturgical Seasons), translated by Edmund Hill, O.P. and the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1.

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