Ambrose of Milan: Jonah and Christ Monday, Sep 12 2016 

ambrose_of_milanJust as Jonah was plunged into a deep sleep within the ship, without a thought of being woken up, so did our Lord Jesus Christ, who in the mystery of his death provided the antitype of that Old Testament figure, sleep soundly during his lifetime, as the gospel tells us, in a boat.

And just as Jonah passed three days and nights in the belly of a whale, so did the Son of Man spend three days in the heart of the earth after his death. But after he had raised himself from the dead and roused his body from its sleep for the salvation of all, he visited his disciples.

Christ, then, is the true Jonah, who gave his life for our redemp­tion. For this reason he was taken up on deck and cast overboard into the sea in order to be swallowed up by the whale.

Job had this to say about the whale: He holds in captivity a huge sea monster. And what kind of beast is this meant to be? You will know when you read that our Lord Jesus Christ took captivity captive. Once our adversary and bitter enemy had been subdued, we, who had been under his dominion, began to enjoy our liberty, thanks to Christ.

The prayer itself of holy Jonah throws some light upon the mystery of the Lord’s passion, for he said, I have cried out to the Lord in my affliction, and my voice has reached him from the depths of Sheol – not, you will notice, from the depths of the whale’s belly. For it was into Hades that the Lord went down, not in any whale, so that he might loose those who were detained there from their everlasting bonds.

Now, who was it that offered to the Lord God his sacrifice with praise and thanksgiving if not our great High Priest himself, who made his vows and paid them on behalf of all of us? For he alone could make his sacrifice effective.

Just as Jonah, by being cast into the sea, was able to allay its fury, so did our Lord Jesus Christ, by coming into the world, win it for himself, and through his blood he established it everywhere – in heaven and on earth.

By his coming he redeemed all men and women, and by his deeds he brought them all to love and worship God; he raised the dead and healed the sick, implanting in people’s souls a reverence for God. He it was who offered to the Father a sacrifice of atonement on our behalf, presenting God with an oblation capable of justifying us. He it was who slept and woke again.

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): On Psalm 43, 83-85 (PL 14:1183-1184, 1129-1139);  from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Year 2.

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Gregory of Sinai: Everyone baptized into Christ should pass progressively through all the stages of Christ’s own life Tuesday, Apr 19 2016 

Gregory of SinaiEveryone baptized into Christ should pass progressively through all the stages of Christ’s own life,

for in baptism he receives the power so to progress, and through the commandments he can discover and learn how to accomplish such progression.

To Christ’s conception corresponds the foretaste of the gift of the Holy Spirit,

to His nativity the actual experience of joyousness,

to His baptism the cleansing force of the fire of the Spirit,

to His transfiguration the contemplation of divine light,

to His crucifixion the dying to all things,

to His burial the indwelling of divine love in the heart,

to His resurrection the soul’s life-quickening resurrection,

and to His ascension divine ecstasy and  the transport of the intellect into God.

He who fails to pass consciously through these stages is still callow in body and spirit, even though he may be regarded by all as mature and accomplished in the practice of virtue.

Christ’s Passion is a life-quickening death to those who have experienced all its phases, for by experiencing what He experienced we are glorified as He is (cf Rom. 8:17).

But indulgence in sensual passions induces a truly lethal death.

Willingly to experience what Christ experienced is to crucify cracifixion and to put death to death.

To suffer for Christ’s sake is patiently to endure whatever happens to us.

For the envy which the innocent provoke is for their benefit, while the Lord’s schooling tests us so as to bring about our conversion, since it opens our ears when we are guilty.

That is why the Lord has promised an eternal crown to those who endure in this manner (cf. Jas. 1:12).

Glory to Thee, our God; glory to Thee, Holy Trinity; glory to Thee for all things.

Gregory of Sinai (1260s–1346): Further Texts 1-3, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 4 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979ff), pp. 253.

John Chrysostom: The body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness Wednesday, Mar 30 2016 

Chrysostom3And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness (Romans 8:10).

Anyone who has the Spirit not only is called Christ’s, but even has Christ Himself.

For it cannot but be that where the Spirit is, there Christ is also.

For wheresoever one Person of the Trinity is, there the whole Trinity is present.

For It is undivided in Itself, and has a most entire Oneness.

What then, it may be said, will happen, if Christ be in us?

The body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

You see the great evils that come of not having the Holy Spirit; death, enmity against God, inability to satisfy His laws, not being Christ’s as we should be, the want of His indwelling.

Consider now also what great blessings come of having the Spirit: being Christ’s, having Christ himself, vying with the angels (for this is what mortifying the flesh is), and living an immortal life, holding henceforward the earnests of the Resurrection, running with ease the race of virtue.

For he does not say so little as that the body is henceforward inactive for sin, but that it is even dead, so magnifying the ease of the race. For such a one without troubles and labours gains the crown.

Then afterward for this reason he adds also, “[dead] to sin”, that you may see that it is the viciousness, not the essence of the body, that He has abolished at once.

For if the latter had been done, many things even of a kind to be beneficial to the soul would have been abolished also. This however is not what he says, but while it is yet alive and abiding, he contends, it is dead.

For this is the sign of our having the Son, of the Spirit being in us, that our bodies should be in no respect different from those that lie on the bier with respect to the working of sin.

But be not affrighted at hearing of mortifying. For in it you have what is really life, with no death to succeed it: and such is that of the Spirit.

It yields not to death any more, but wears out death and consumes it, and that which it receives, it keeps it immortal.

And this is why after saying the body is dead, he does not say, but the Spirit “lives”, but, “is life”, to point out that He (the Spirit) had the power of giving this to others also.

Then again to brace up his hearer, he tells him the cause of the Life, and the proof of it. Now this is righteousness; for where there is no sin, death is not to be seen either; but where death is not to be seen, life is indissoluble.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, 13 (on Romans 8:10); [slightly adapted].

Leo the Great: No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the Cross Thursday, Mar 10 2016 

leo1No one, however weak, is denied a share in the victory of the Cross, nor is anyone beyond the help of the prayer of Christ.

Even his many tormentors received the benefit of Christ’s prayer; all the more powerfully will it avail those who turn to him in repentance.

Ignorance has been dispelled, ill-will restrained, and the flaming sword barring the way to the land of the living extinguished by the sacred blood of Christ.

The dark night of the past has yielded to the true light of day.

Christian people are now invited to enjoy the treasures of Paradise, and the way to their lost fatherland is open once more to all who have been reborn.

Provided they do not close off for themselves that way which could be opened by the faith of a thief.

As we celebrate the wonderful mystery of this Paschal Feast, dearly beloved, we must not allow the affairs of this present life to consume us with anxiety or pride, and so prevent us from striving with our whole heart to be like our Redeemer and to follow his example, since the sole aim of everything he did and suffered was our salvation, and the communication to his members of the power that belongs to him as Head.

Was anyone, from the very first, excluded from the mercy shown to the human race when God assumed our nature, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us? None but the unbeliever. Who, accepting Christ as the incarnate Word, does not share a common nature with him and is not born again of the same Spirit by which Christ himself was conceived?

Again, is there anyone whose own weakness is not recognizable in Christ’s? Surely in one who needed food and sleep, who was troubled and sorrowful and could be moved to tears, we can see the condition of our own servitude.

Because that nature of ours cried for the healing of its age-old wounds and the cleansing of its sinful stains, God’s only Son became the Son of Man, lacking neither the full reality of our humanity nor the plenitude of his Godhead.

The body that lay lifeless in the tomb was ours; the body that rose again on the third day was ours; the body that ascended above the heavens to the right hand of the Father’s majesty was ours.

If, then, we walk in the way of Christ’s commandments and are not ashamed to confess the price he paid for our salvation in bodily humiliation, we too shall be brought into the company of his glory.

Then all creation will see his promise fulfilled: Everyone who acknowledges me in the presence of men will be acknowledged by me in the presence of my heavenly Father.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 66, 3-4; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Tuesday of the Third Week in Lent, Year 1.

Augustine of Hippo: He came to infirm minds, to wounded hearts, to the gaze of dim-eyed souls Wednesday, Dec 9 2015 

St Augustine of AfricaHe was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:8-9).

Wherefore then did he [St John the Baptist] come? “But that he might bear witness concerning the light.”

Why so? “That all might believe through him.” And concerning what light was he to bear witness? “That was the true light.”

Wherefore is it added true? Because an enlightened man is also called a light; but the true light is that which enlightens.

For even our eyes are called lights; and nevertheless, unless either during the night a lamp is lighted, or during the day the sun goes forth, these lights are open in vain.

Thus, therefore, John was a light, but not the true light; because, if not enlightened, he would have been darkness; but, by enlightenment, he became a light.

For unless he had been enlightened he would have been darkness, as all those once impious men, to whom, as believers, the apostle said, “Ye were sometimes darkness.”

But now, because they had believed, what?—“but now are ye light,” he says, “in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8).

[…]  And thus “he was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of the light.” But where is that light? “He was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

If every man that cometh, then also John. The true light, therefore, enlightened him by whom He desired Himself to be pointed out.

Understand, beloved, for He came to infirm minds, to wounded hearts, to the gaze of dim-eyed souls. For this purpose had He come.

And whence was the soul able to see that which perfectly is? Even as it commonly happens, that by means of some illuminated body, the sun, which we cannot see with the eyes, is known to have arisen.

Because even those who have wounded eyes are able to see a wall illuminated and enlightened by the sun, or a mountain, or a tree, or anything of that sort; and, by means of another body illuminated, that arising is shown to those who are not as yet able to gaze on it.

Thus, therefore all those to whom Christ came were not fit to see Him: upon John He shed the beams of His light; and by means of him confessing himself to have been irradiated and enlightened, not claiming to be one who irradiates and enlightens, He is known who enlightens, He is known who illuminates, He is known who fills.

And who is it? “He who lighteth every man,” he says, “who cometh into the world.” For if man had not receded from that light, he would not have required to be illuminated; but for this reason has he to be illuminated here, because he departed from that light by which man might always have been illuminated.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Homilies on St John’s Gospel, Tractate 2, 6-7.

Albert the Great: “Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you” Thursday, Nov 19 2015 

Albertus_Magnus_Painting_by_Joos_van_GentThere, in the presence of Jesus Christ, with everything, in general and individually, excluded and wiped out, the mind alone turns in security confidently to the Lord its God with its desire.

In this way it pours itself forth into him in full sincerity with its whole heart and the yearning of its love, in the most inward part of all its faculties, and is plunged, enlarged, set on fire and dissolved into him.

Certainly, anyone who desires and aims to arrive at and remain in such a state must needs above all have eyes and senses closed and not be inwardly involved or worried about anything.

He should not be  concerned or occupied with anything, but should completely reject all such things as irrelevant, harmful and dangerous.

Then he should withdraw himself totally within himself and not pay any attention to any object entering the mind except Jesus Christ, the wounded one, alone.

And so he should turn his attention with care and determination through him into him – that is, through the man into God, through the wounds of his humanity into the inmost reality of his divinity.

Here he can commit himself and all that he has, individually and as a whole, promptly, securely and without discussion, to God’s unwearying providence, in accordance with the words of Peter, cast all your care upon him (1 Peter 5.7), who can do everything.

And again, In nothing be anxious (Philippians 4.6), or what is more, Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you (Psalm 55.22).

[…]  The bride too in the Song of Songs says, I have found him whom my soul loves, (Canticle 3.4) and again, All good things came to me along with her (Wisdom 7.11).

This, after all, is the hidden heavenly treasure, none other than the pearl of great price, which must be sought with resolution, esteeming it in humble faithfulness, eager diligence, and calm silence before all things, and preferring it even above physical comfort, or honour and renown.

For what good does it do a religious if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his soul? Or what is the benefit of his state of life, the holiness of his profession, the virtue of his habit and tonsure, or the outer circumstances of his way of life if he is without a life of spiritual humility and truth in which Christ abides through a faith created by love.

This is what Luke means by, the Kingdom of God (that is, Jesus Christ) is within you (Luke 17.21).

Albert the Great (1193/1206–1280) [attributed]: On Cleaving to God, 1 & 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gregory Nazianzen: These are the titles of the Son – walk through them that you may become a god, ascending from below Monday, Aug 24 2015 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenContinued from here….

These names are still common to Him Who is above us, and to Him Who came for our sake.

But others are peculiarly our own, and belong to that nature which He assumed.

So He is called Man—

—not only that through His Body He may be apprehended by embodied creatures, whereas otherwise this would be impossible because of His incomprehensible nature;

—but also that by Himself He may sanctify humanity, and be as it were a leaven to the whole lump;

—and by uniting to Himself that which was condemned may release it from all condemnation, becoming for all men all things that we are, except sin;

—body, soul, mind and all through which death reaches,

—and thus He became Man, who is the combination of all these;

—God in visible form, because He retained that which is perceived by mind alone.

He is Son of Man, both on account of Adam, and of the Virgin from Whom He came;

—from the one as a forefather, from the other as His Mother, both in accordance with the law of generation, and apart from it.

He is Christ, because of His Godhead;

—for this is the Anointing of His Manhood, and does not, as is the case with all other Anointed Ones, sanctify by its action, but by the Presence in His Fulness of the Anointing One;

—the effect of which is that That which anoints is called Man, and makes that which is anointed God.

He is The Way, because He leads us through Himself.

He is the Door, as letting us in.

He is the Shepherd, as making us dwell in a place of green pastures (Psalm 22[23]:2),

—and bringing us up by waters of rest, and leading us there, and protecting us from wild beasts, converting the erring,

—bringing back that which was lost, binding up that which was broken, guarding the strong, and bringing them together in the fold beyond, with words of pastoral knowledge.

He is he Sheep, as the Victim.

He is the Lamb, as being perfect.

He is the High Priest, as the Offerer;

—Melchisedec, as without mother in that Nature which is above us, and without father in ours;

—and without genealogy above (for who, it says, shall declare His generation?);

—and moreover, as King of Salem, which means Peace, and King of Righteousness, and as receiving tithes from Patriarchs, when they prevail over powers of evil.

They are the titles of the Son.

Walk through them, those that are lofty in a godlike manner;

—those that belong to the body in a manner suitable to them;

—or rather, altogether in a godlike manner, that you may become a god, ascending from below, for His sake Who came down from on high for ours.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 21 (slightly adapted).

Cyril of Alexandria: “When He had called the twelve Apostles, He gave them power and authority over all the devils, and to heal sicknesses” Tuesday, Aug 4 2015 

cyril_alexandriaAnd when He had called the twelve Apostles, He gave them power and authority over all the devils, and to heal sicknesses (Luke 9:1).

Behold the Apostles, highly distinguished, and crowned with more than human glory, by this fresh gift bestowed by Christ.

“For He gave them,” it says, “power and authority over all the devils, and to heal sicknesses.”

Observe again, I pray, that the Incarnate Word of God exceeds the measure of humanity, and is radiant with the dignities of the Godhead.

For it transcends the limits of human nature, to give authority over unclean spirits to whomsoever He will: as does also the enabling them to deliver from sicknesses such as were afflicted with them.

For God, indeed, bestows on whom He will powers of this kind; and on His decree alone it depends that any are able, according to His good pleasure, to work divine miracles, and act as ministers of the grace that is from above: but to impart to others the gift bestowed on them, is altogether an impossibility.

For the majesty and glory of the supreme nature is found existing essentially in nothing that has being, except in Itself, and It only.

Be it, therefore, angel or archangel, that any one mentions, or thrones and dominions, or the seraphim, which again are higher in dignity, let him wisely understand this: that they indeed possess pre-eminent authority by the powers given them from above, such as language cannot describe, nor nature bestow; but reason altogether forbids the supposition of their imparting these powers to others.

But Christ bestows them, as being God therefore, and as out of His own fulness: for He is Himself the Lord of glory and of powers.

The grace then bestowed upon the holy Apostles is worthy of all admiration; but the bountifulness of the Giver surpasses all praise and admiration: for He gives them, as I said, His own glory.

Man receives authority over the evil spirits, and reduces unto nothingness the pride that was so high exalted, and arrogant, even that of the devil: his wickedness he renders ineffectual, and, by the might and efficacy of the Holy Ghost, burning him as with fire, he makes him come forth with groans and weeping from those whom he had possessed.

And yet in old time he [the devil] had said: “I will hold the whole world in my hand as a nest, and will take it as eggs that are left: and there is no one that shall escape from me, or speak against me.”

He missed, then, the truth, and fell from his hope, proud and audacious though he was, and vaunting himself over the infirmity of mankind. For the Lord of powers marshalled against him the ministers of the sacred proclamations.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on Luke, Sermon 47 (on Luke9:1ff).

Athanasius of Alexandria: The Psalms reveal the pattern of Christ’s life and teaching Sunday, Jul 5 2015 

AthanasiusContinued from here….

Every other Psalm is spoken and composed by the Spirit in the selfsame way:

just as in a mirror, the movements of our own souls are reflected in them and the words are indeed our very own, given us to serve both as a reminder of our changes of condition and as a pattern and model for the amendment of our lives.

This is the further kindness of the Saviour that, having become man for our sake, He not only offered His own body to death on our behalf, that He might redeem all from death, but also, desiring to display to us His own heavenly and perfect way of living, He expressed this in His very self.

It was as knowing how easily the devil might deceive us, that He gave us, for our peace of mind, the pledge of His own victory that He had won on our behalf. But He did not stop there: He went still further, and His own self performed the things He had enjoined on us.

Every man therefore may both hear Him speaking and at the same time see in His behaviour the pattern for his own, even as He himself has bidden, saying, Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart (Mt 11:29).

Nowhere is more perfect teaching of virtue to be found than in the Lord’s own life. Forbearance, love of men, goodness, courage, mercy, righteousness, all are found in Him; and in the same way no virtue will be lacking to him who fully contemplates this human life of Christ.

It was as knowing this that Saint Paul said, Be ye imitators of me, even as I myself am of Christ (1 Cor 11:1). The Greek legislators had indeed a great command of language; but the Lord, the true Lord of all, Who cares for all His works, did not only lay down precepts but also gave Himself as model of how they should be carried out, for all who would to know and imitate.

And therefore, before He came among us, He sketched the likeness of this perfect life for us in words, in this same book of Psalms; in order that, just as He revealed Himself in flesh to be the perfect, heavenly Man, so in the Psalms also men of good-will might see the pattern life portrayed, and find therein the healing and correction of their own.

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): Letter to Marcellinus in Athanasius: The Life Of Antony And The Letter To Marcellinus, translated by Robert C. Gregg; Paulist Press, New York; pp. 101-129; 1980 @ Athanasius.com

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