Gregory of Nyssa: The truth of reality is truly a holy thing, a holy of holies Wednesday, Mar 16 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaWhat then is that tabernacle not made with hands which was shown to Moses on the mountain and to which he was commanded to look as to an archetype so that he might reproduce it in a handmade structure?

God said, See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

Of what things not made with hands are these an imitation? And what benefit does the material imitation of those things Moses saw there convey to those who look at it?

Taking a hint from what has been said by Paul, who partially uncovered the mystery of these things, we say that Moses was earlier instructed by a type in the in mystery of the tabernacle which encompasses the universe.

This tabernacle would be Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God, who in his own nature was not made with hands, yet capable of being made when it became necessary for this tabernacle to be erected among us.

Thus, the same tabernacle is in a way both unfashioned and fashioned, uncreated in pre-existence but created in having received this material composition.

This one is the Only Begotten God, who encompasses everything in himself but who also pitched his own tabernacle among us.

Whenever the prophet looks to the tabernacle above, he sees the heavenly realities through these symbols. But if one should look at the tabernacle below, since in many places the Church also is called Christ by Paul, he would see the Church.

In this tabernacle both the sacrifice of praise and the incense of prayer are seen offered continually at morning and evening. The great David allows us to perceive these things when he directs the incense of his prayer in an odour of sweetness to God, performing his sacrifice through the lifting up of his hands.  

The skin dyed red and the coverings made of hair, which add to the decoration of the tabernacle, are per­ceived respectively as the mortification of the sinful flesh and the ascetic way of life. By these the tabernacle of the church is especially beautified.

[…] If the interior, which is called the Holy of Holies, is not accessible to the multitude, let us not think that this is at variance with the sequence of what has been perceived. For the truth of reality is truly a holy thing, a holy of holies, and is incomprehensible and inaccessible to the multitude.

Since it is set in the secret and ineffable areas of the tabernacle of mystery, the apprehension of the realities above comprehension should not be meddled with; one should rather believe that they do exist and that they remain in the secret and ineffable areas of the intelligence.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): The Life of Moses 170, 173-175, 184-188; CWS (1978) tr. Malherbe & Ferguson; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Friday of the Third Week in Lent, Year 2.

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Augustine of Hippo: “And I will give peace in this place” Wednesday, Nov 25 2015 

St Augustine of AfricaThe glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts (Haggai 2:9).

This house of God is more glorious than that first one which was constructed of wood and stone, metals and other precious things.

Therefore the prophecy of Haggai was not fulfilled in the rebuilding of that temple.

For it can never be shown to have had so much glory after it was rebuilt as it had in the time of Solomon;

yea, rather, the glory of that house is shown to have been diminished, first by the ceasing of prophecy, and then by the nation itself suffering so great calamities, even to the final destruction made by the Romans, as the things above-mentioned prove.

But this house which pertains to the new testament is just as much more glorious as the living stones – believing, renewed men – of which it is constructed are better.

But it was typified by the rebuilding of that temple for this reason, because the very renovation of that edifice typifies in the prophetic oracle another testament which is called the new.

When, therefore, God said by the prophet just named “And I will give peace in this place” (Hag. 2:9), He is to be understood who is typified by that typical place.

For since by that rebuilt place is typified the Church which was to be built by Christ, nothing else can be accepted as the meaning of the saying, “I will give peace in this place,” except “I will give peace in the place which that place signifies”.

For all typical things seem in some way to personate those whom they typify, as it is said by the apostle “That Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4; Ex. 17:6).

Therefore the glory of this new testament house is greater than the glory of the old testament house; and it will show itself as greater when it shall be dedicated.

For then “shall come the desired of all nations” (Hag. 2:7), as we read in the Hebrew.  For before His advent He had not yet been desired by all nations.  For they knew not Him whom they ought to desire, in whom they had not believed.

Then, also, according to the Septuagint interpretation (for it also is a prophetic meaning), “shall come those who are elected of the Lord out of all nations.”

For then indeed there shall come only those who are elected, whereof the apostle saith “according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): City of God, 18, 48.

Basil the Great: “The streams of the river make the city of God joyful” Tuesday, Jun 23 2015 

St-Basil-the-Great‘The streams of the river make the city of God joyful’ (Psalm 45:5).

The briny seawaters, being exceedingly disturbed by the winds, roar and are troubled, but the streams of the river, proceeding noiselessly and flowing in silence to those worthy of receiving them, make the city of God joyful.

And now the just man drinks the living water and later will drink more plentifully, when he has been enrolled as a citizen in the city of God.

Now he drinks through a mirror and in an obscure manner (1 Cor. 13:12) because of his gradual perception of the divine objects of contemplation; but then he will welcome at once the flooded river, which is able to overwhelm all the city of God with joy.

Who could be the river of God except the Holy Spirit, who comes into those worthy because of the faith of the believers in Christ?

‘He who believes in me, as the Scripture says, “From within him there shall flow rivers”’ (John 7:38). And again, ‘If anyone drinks of the water which I give, it will become in him a fountain of water, springing up unto life everlasting’ (John 4:13-14).

This river, accordingly, makes all the city of God at once joyful, that is to say surely, the Church of those who hold to a heavenly manner of life. Or, every creature endowed with intelligence, from celestial powers even to human souls, must be understood as the city made joyful by the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

Some give the definition that a city is an established community, administered according to law. And, the definition that has been handed down of the city is in harmony with the celestial city, Jerusalem above.

For, there it is a community of the first-born who have been enrolled in heaven (cf Heb. 12:23), and this is established because of the unchanging manner of life of the saints, and it is administered according to the heavenly law.

Therefore, it is not the privilege of human nature to learn the arrangement of that city and all its adornment. Those are the things ‘Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him’ (1 Cor. 2:9),  but there are myriads of angels there, and an assembly of saints, and a Church of the first-born that are enrolled in heaven.

[…] Therefore, having raised the eyes of your soul, seek, in a manner worthy of things above, what pertains to the city of God…which the river of God makes joyful.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 18 (on Psalm 45[46]), 4,  from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 302-303.

Justin Popovich: Every holy mystery and holy virtue is a little Pentecost Saturday, May 23 2015 

Justin[Theanthropic – divine (in Greek theos = God) and human (in Greek anthropos = man); the Theanthropos = the God-Man, i.e. Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God.]

Through His life in the flesh on earth, the God-Man founded His theanthropic Body, the Church, and in this way prepared the earthly world for the Holy Spirit’s coming into the world, and His life and activity in the Body of the Church as the Soul of that Body.

On the holy Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven into the theanthropic Body of the Church and remains eternally in it as its life-giving Soul (Acts 2:1-47).

This visible theanthropic Body of the Church was constituted by the holy apostles with their holy faith in the Theanthropos, the Lord Jesus, as the Savior of the world, as perfect God and perfect Man.

The descent and activity of the Holy Spirit in the theanthropic Body of the Church is because of, and for the sake of, the Theanthropos (cf. Jn 16:7-13; 15:26; 14:26). “For His sake the Holy Spirit entered into the world.”

[…] All His [the Spirit’s] activity is of one essence with the theanthropic ascesis of the salvation of the world by the Lord Christ.

Pentecost is, with all the immortal gifts of the Triune Godhead, of the Holy Spirit Himself, intended for the holy apostles; the holy apostolic Faith and Tradition, the hierarchy and everything that is apostolic and theanthropic.

The Day of the Holy Spirit, which began on the Day of Pentecost, is ever present in the Church in the inexpressible fullness of all the divine gifts and the life-giving powers (Acts 10:44-48; 11:15-16; 15:8-9; 19:6).

Everything in the Church comes about through the Holy Spirit, from the least to the greatest. When the priest blesses the censer before censing, he prays to the Lord Christ to “send down the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

The clearest testimony that the entire life of the Church comes from the Holy Spirit is at the consecration of a bishop, when God’s indescribable miracle, holy Pentecost, is repeated and the fullness of grace is given.

There is no doubt that the Lord Christ is in the Church through the Holy Spirit, and that the Church is in the Lord Christ through the Holy Spirit. The Lord Christ is the Head and Body of the Church; the Holy Spirit is its Soul (cf. I Cor. 12:1-28).

From the very beginning of the theanthropic dispensation of salvation, the Holy Spirit has made Himself a part of the foundation of the Church, the foundation of the Body of Christ, by “bringing about the incarnation of the Logos in the Virgin.”

In fact, every holy mystery and holy virtue is a little Pentecost; in them, the Holy Spirit descends upon us, into us. He descends in His essence, He, “the richness of the Godhead,” “the grace of the open seas,” “from Him come grace and life for every creature.”

Justin Popovich (1894-1979; Orthodox Church): from The Orthodox Church and Ecumenism @ Ora at Labora.

Basil the Great: Early on the morning of the Resurrection God gained the victory through death Sunday, Apr 19 2015 

St-Basil-the-Great(On Psalm 45/46). ‘The most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle’ (Psalm 45:5).

Perhaps he is saying that the God-bearing flesh is sanctified through the union with God.

From this you will understand that the tabernacle of the most High is the manifestation of God through the flesh.

‘God is in the midst thereof, it shall not be moved: God will help it in the morning early’ (Psalm 45:6).

Since God is in the midst of the city, He will give it stability, providing assistance for it at the first break of dawn.

Therefore, the word, ‘of the city’ will fit either Jerusalem above or the Church below, ‘The most High hath sanctified his own tabernacle’ in it.

And through this tabernacle, in which God dwelt, He was in the midst of it, giving it stability.

Moreover, God is in the midst of the city, sending out equal rays of His providence from all sides to the limits of the world.

Thus, the justice of God is preserved, as He apportions the same measure of goodness to all.

‘God will help it in the morning early’.

Now, the perceptible sun produces among us the early morning when it rises above the horizon opposite us, and the Sun of justice (cf. Malachi 4:2) produces the early morning in our soul by the rising of the spiritual light, making day in him who admits it.

‘At night’ means we men are in this time of ignorance. Therefore, having opened wide our mind, let us receive ‘the brightness of his glory’ and let us be brightly illumined by the everlasting Light.

When we have become children of light, and ‘the night is far advanced for us, and the day is at hand’ (Romans 13:12) then we shall become worthy of the help of God.

Therefore, God helps the city, producing in it early morning by His own rising and coming. ‘Behold a man’ it is said, ‘the Orient is his name’ (Zech. 6:12).

For those upon whom the spiritual light will rise, when the darkness which comes from ignorance and wickedness is destroyed, early morning will be at hand.

Since, then, light has come into the world in order that he who walks about in it may not stumble, His help is able to cause the early morning.

Or perhaps, since the Resurrection was in the dim morning twilight, God will help the city in the morning early, who on the third day, early on the morning of the Resurrection gained the victory through death.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 17 (on Psalm 45[46]), 4-5,  from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 303-304.

Irenaeus of Lyons: The Spirit Accomplished the Father’s Will in Men who had Grown Old in Sin Friday, Jun 13 2014 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonWhen the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God.

He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy.

So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation.

The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ.

Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant.

So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first-fruits of all the nations.

This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God.

Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of broad, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven.

And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above.

Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.

The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.

If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well.

And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds…, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 3,17,1-3 @ Crossroads Initiative.

 

Jean Daniélou: The Realities of the Old Testament are Figures of Those of the New Wednesday, May 7 2014 

JeanDanielouSJThat the realities of the Old Testament are figures of those of the New is one of the principles of  biblical theology.

This science of the similitudes between the two Testaments is called typology.

And here we would do well to remind ourselves of its foundation, for this is to be found in the Old Testament itself.

At the time of the Captivity, the prophets announced to the people of Israel that in the future God would perform for their benefit deeds analogous to, and even greater than those He had performed in the past.

So there would be a new Deluge, in which the sinful world would be annihilated, and a few men, a “remnant,” would be preserved to inaugurate a new humanity;

there would be a new Exodus in which, by His power, God would set mankind free from its bondage to idols; there would be a new Paradise into which God would introduce the people He had redeemed.

These prophecies constitute a primary typology that might be called eschatological, for the prophets saw these future events as happening at the end of time.

The New Testament, therefore, did not invent typology, but simply showed that it was fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. With Jesus, in fact, these events of the end, of the fullness of time, are now accomplished.

He is the New Adam with whom the time of the Paradise of the future has begun. In Him is already realized that destruction of the sinful world of which the Flood was the figure. In Him is accomplished the true Exodus which delivers the people of God from the tyranny of the demon.

Typology was used in the preaching of the apostles as an argument to establish the truth of their message, by showing that Christ continues and goes beyond the Old Testament: “Now all these things happened to them as a type and, they were written for our correction” (I Cor. 10, 11). This is what St. Paul calls the consolatio Scripturarum (Rom. 15, 4).

But these eschatological times are not only those of the life of Jesus, but of the Church as well. Consequently, the eschatological typology of the Old Testament is accomplished not only in the person of Christ, but also in the Church.

Besides Christological typology, therefore, there exists a sacramental typology, and we find it in the New Testament. The Gospel of St. John shows us that the manna was a figure of the Eucharist; the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians that the crossing of the Red Sea was a figure of Baptism; the first Epistle of St. Peter that the Flood was also a figure of Baptism.

Jean Daniélou, S.J. (1905 – 1974):  The Bible and the Liturgy, Liturgical Studies, 3 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1956), pp. 1-2.

Hilarion Troitsky: In the New Humanity, Built upon the Foundation of the Incarnation, the Unity of Our Human Nature is Restored Sunday, Feb 9 2014 

Hilarion_TroitskyThe Sunday nearest February 9th (Julian calendar) is the feast (Russian Orthodox Church) of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia, one of whom was St Hilarion Troitsky.

Continued from here….

St. Irenaeus of Lyons…points out that the purpose and the essence of Christ’s coming is not in a new teaching.

He writes: “…What new thing then did the Lord bring to us by His advent? Know ye that He brought all [possible] novelty, by bringing Himself Who had been announced.

“For this very thing was proclaimed beforehand, that a novelty should come to renew and quicken mankind.”

The renewal of humanity is therefore the fruit of the very advent, the very Incarnation of the Son of God.

St. Irenaeus expressed this idea especially clearly in his recently discovered work, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching:

“Others do not ascribe any significance to the descent of the Son of God and the dispensation of His Incarnation, which the Apostles proclaimed and the prophets foretold, that by it must be accomplished the perfection of our humanity.… And such men should be counted among those who are lacking in faith.”

Thus the perfection of our humanity, according to the teaching of St. Irenaeus, must be brought to pass by the dispensation of the Incarnation of the Son of God, not by any kind of doctrine, not by the writing of any book.

By taking flesh and becoming man, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, made men partakers of the Divine nature. 

Assuming human nature in the unity of His Hypostasis, the Son of God by taking flesh became the New Adam, the Progenitor of the new humanity.

“Beholding him that was in God’s image and likeness fallen through the transgression, Jesus bowed the heavens and came down, and without changing He took up His dwelling in a Virgin womb: that thereby He might fashion corrupt Adam anew.”

St. Irenaeus says that the Son of the Most High became the Son of man in order to make man a son of God.

In the new humanity, built upon the foundation of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the unity of our human nature, broken by sin, is restored. Christ Himself named this new humanity the Church.

[…] We read how the Apostle Peter on behalf of all the Apostles confessed the truth of the Incarnation of the Only-begotten Son of God. And Christ responded to him: Upon this rock (upon the Incarnation, upon the fact that He is the Son of the Living God) I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matt. 16:16–18).

When Christ parted with and said farewell to His disciples, He promised to send them another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, Who would instruct them, would guide them into all truth, and Who would abide with them forever (cf. John 14:16–17; 15:26; 16:13).

Hilarion Troitsky (1886-1929; Russian Orthodox): Holy Scripture and the Church (1914), translated by Igor Radev in The Orthodox Word № 264-265 @ Pravoslavie.

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.

Silouan the Athonite: Lord will give you His Grace, and you will know Him through the Holy Spirit Tuesday, Feb 4 2014 

Silouan the AthoniteThe Lord is love; and He commanded us to love one another and to love our enemies.

And the Holy Spirit teaches us this love.

The soul that has not come to know the Holy Spirit does not understand how it is possible to love one’s enemies, and will not receive this commandment.

But in the Lord is pity for all men, and he who would be with the Lord must love his enemies.

How may we know whether the Lord loves us or no?

Here are tokens: If you battle firmly against sin the Lord loves you.

If you love your enemies you are even more beloved of God.

And if you lay down your life for others you are greatly beloved of the Lord, who Himself laid down His life for us.

The man who has known the Lord through the Holy Spirit becomes like unto the Lord, as St John the Divine said: ‘We shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.’ And we shall behold his glory.

Many numbers of people, you say, are suffering every kind of adversity and from evil men.

But I entreat you: Humble yourself beneath the strong hand of God, and grace will be your teacher and you yourself will long to suffer for the sake of the love of the Lord.

That is what the Holy Spirit, whom we have come to know in the Church, will teach you.

But the man who cries out against evil men, who does not pray for them will never know the grace of God.

If you would know of the Lord’s love for us, hate sin and wrong thoughts, and day and night pray fervently.

The Lord will then give you His grace, and you will know Him through the Holy Spirit, and after death, when you enter into paradise, there too you will know the Lord through the Holy Spirit, as you knew Him on earth.

We do not need riches or learning in order to know the Lord: we must simply be obedient and sober, have a humble spirit and love our fellow-men.

The Lord will love a soul that does this, and of His own accord make Himself manifest to her and instruct her In love and humility, and give her all things necessary for her to find rest in God.

Silouan the Athonite (1866-1938; Eastern Orthodox): from St. Silouan, Wisdom From Mount Athos – The Writings of Staretz Silouan 1866-1938, by Sofronii (Archimandrite), trans. Rosemary Edmonds, (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY 1974) pp. 19-23 @ Kandylaki.

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