Peter Damian: Then God Bends Down, Cradles the Fallen Figure and Whispers Words of Consolation Thursday, Feb 21 2013 

PeterDamianYou asked me to write you some words of consolation, my brother. Embittered by so many tribulations, you are seeking some comfort for your soul.

[…] Consolation is already within your reach, if your good sense has not been dulled. My son, come to the service of God. Stand in justice and fear. Prepare your soul; it is about to be tested.

These words of Scripture show that you are a son of God and, as such, should take possession of your inheritance.

What could be clearer than this exhortation? Where there is justice as well as fear, adversity will surely test the spirit.

But it is not the torment of a slave. Rather it is the discipline of a child by its parent.

Even in the midst of his many sufferings, the holy man Job could say: Whip me, crush me, cut me in slices! And he would always add: This at least would bring me relief, yet my persecutor does not spare me.

But for God’s chosen ones there is great comfort; the torment lasts but a short time. Then God bends down, cradles the fallen figure, whispers words of consolation.

With hope in his heart, man picks himself up and walks again toward the glory of happiness in heaven.

Craftsmen exemplify this same practice. By hammering gold, the smith beats down the dross. The sculptor files metal to reveal a shining vein underneath. The potter’s furnace puts vessels to the test. And the fire of suffering tests the mettle of just men.

The apostle James echoes this thought: Think it a great joy, dear brothers and sisters, when you stumble onto the many kinds of trials and tribulations.

When men suffer pain for the evil they have perpetrated in life, they should take some reassurance. They also know that for their good deeds undying rewards await them in the life to come.

[…] Do not be depressed. Do not let your weakness make you impatient. Instead, let the serenity of your spirit shine through your face.

Let the joy of your mind burst forth. Let words of thanks break from your lips. The way that God deals with men can only be praised.

[…] He pins people down now; at a later time he will raise them up. He cuts them before healing; he throws them down to raise them anew.

The Scriptures reassure us: let your understanding strengthen your patience. In serenity look forward to the joy that follows sadness.

Hope leads you to that joy and love enkindles your zeal. The well-prepared mind forgets the suffering inflicted from without and glides eagerly to what it has contemplated within itself.

Peter Damian (c.1007-1072): Sermons, bk.8,6, @ Universalis.

John Ruusbroec: By Gentleness and Kindness, Charity is Kept Quick and Fruitful Monday, Nov 26 2012 

From the renunciation of self-will springs patience.

[…] Patience is a peaceful endurance of all things that may befall a man either from God or from the creatures.

Nothing can trouble the patient man; neither the loss of earthly goods, of friends and kinsmen, nor sickness, nor disgrace, nor life, nor death, nor purgatory, nor devil, nor hell.

For he has abandoned himself in perfect charity to the will of God, and…everything that God imposes on him, in time and in eternity, is light to him.

By this patience a man is also adorned and armed against peevishness and sudden wrath, and impatience in suffering which often stir a man from within and from without, and lay him open to many temptations.

From this patience there spring meekness and kindliness, for none can be meek in adversity save the patient man.

Meekness gives a man peace and rest in all things.

For the meek man can bear provoking words and ways…and every kind of injustice towards himself and his friends, and yet in all things remain in peace; for meekness is peaceful endurance.

By meekness the irascible…power remains unmoved, in quietude; the desirous power is uplifted toward virtue; the rational power, perceiving this, rejoices.

And the conscience, tasting it, rests in peace; for the second mortal sin – anger, fury, or wrath – has been cast out.

For the Spirit of God dwells in the humble and the meek; and Christ says: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth – that is, their own nature and all earthly things…, and after that the Country of Life in Eternity.

Out of the same source wherein meekness takes its rise springs kindliness, for none can be kind save the meek man.

This kindness makes a man show a friendly face, and give a cordial response, and do compassionate deeds, to those who are quarrelsome, when he hopes that they will come to know themselves and mend their ways.

By gentleness and kindness, charity is kept quick and fruitful in man, for a heart full of kindness is like a lamp full of precious oil,

For the oil of mercy enlightens the erring sinner with good example, and with words and works of comfort it anoints and heals those whose hearts are wounded or grieved or perplexed.

And it is a fire and a light for those who dwell in the virtues, in the fire of charity; and neither jealousy nor envy can perturb it.

John Ruusbroec (1293-1381): The Spiritual Espousals, 1, 15-17.

Theodore the Studite: The Holy Spirit Comforts, Encouraging the Troubled Mind Tuesday, Jun 14 2011 

By the grace of the Most Holy Spirit, we have been vouchsafed to celebrate Holy Pentecost—the descent of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ said of this descent: Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter (that is, the Holy Spirit), will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth. (Jn. 16:7, 13).

This, His promise and benefit, is so great that we cannot even comprehend it: for the Lord promised to send not an Angel, not a man, but the Holy Spirit Himself.

Thus, having fulfilled the will of His Father, the Only Begotten Son ascends to heaven, and the Holy Spirit descends: not another God (never!), but another Comforter, as it is written.

O, the unutterable love for mankind! God Himself has become our Comforter.

Thus, He Himself comforts those who are weighed down by misfortune, prevents them from becoming exhausted in spirit, as the Holy Apostle testifies, saying:

Our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us (2 Cor. 7:5–6).

He comforts the heart frightened by demonic fear, raising it up to invincible courage through bold hope, as the Prophet David testifies: For Thou, O Lord, hast holpen me and comforted me (Ps. 85:17).

He comforts, encouraging the troubled mind, as it has been given a feast with God and rest, as the Apostle testifies, saying:

as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20); that is, have peace, with God.

Do you see the unsearchable condescension? Do you see the incomparable gift?

On high, in the Heavens, the Only Begotten Son intercedes for us before the Father, as it is written: Who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8:34).

Below, on the earth, the Holy Spirit comforts us in many ways.

What shall I render unto the Lord, for all that He has rendered unto me? (Ps. 115:4).

Is it not true, what the psalm says: All my bones shall say, Lord, O Lord, who is like unto Thee?

Delivering the beggar from the hand of them that are stronger than he, yea, poor man and pauper from them that despoil him (Ps. 34:11).

And again, My help cometh from the Lord, Who hath made heaven and the earth (Ps. 120:2).

Unless the Lord had brought me up, my soul had well nigh sojourned in hades (Ps. 93:17).

The Lord is my helper, and I shall not fear what man shall do unto me (Ps. 117:6).

Theodore the Studite: (759-826) @ Pravoslavie.

Julian of Norwich: It Is God’s Will That We Hold Us In Comfort With All Our Might Wednesday, Jan 27 2010 

And after this He shewed a sovereign ghostly pleasance in my soul. I was fulfilled with the everlasting sureness, mightily sustained without any painful dread.

This feeling was so glad and so ghostly that I was in all peace and in rest, that there was nothing in earth that should have grieved me.

This lasted but a while, and I was turned and left to myself in heaviness, and weariness of my life, and irksomeness of myself, that scarcely I could have patience to live.

There was no comfort nor none ease to me but faith, hope, and charity; and these I had in truth, but little in feeling.

And anon after this our blessed Lord gave me again the comfort and the rest in soul, in satisfying and sureness so blissful and so mighty that no dread, no sorrow, no pain bodily that might be suffered should have distressed me.

And then the pain shewed again to my feeling, and then the joy and the pleasing, and now that one, and now that other, divers times – I suppose about twenty times.

And in the time of joy I might have said with Saint Paul: Nothing shall separate me from the charity of Christ; and in the pain I might have said with Peter: Lord, save me: I perish!

This Vision was shewed me, according to mine understanding, for that it is speedful to some souls to feel on this wise: sometime to be in comfort, and sometime to fail and to be left to themselves.

God willeth that we know that He keepeth us even alike secure in woe and in weal.

And for profit of man’s soul, a man is sometime left to himself; although sin is not always the cause: for in this time I sinned not wherefore I should be left to myself – for it was so sudden.

Also I deserved not to have this blessed feeling. But freely our Lord giveth when He will; and suffereth us to be in woe sometime. And both is one love.

For it is God’s will that we hold us in comfort with all our might: for bliss is lasting without end, and pain is passing and shall be brought to nought for them that shall be saved.

And therefore it is not God’s will that we follow the feelings of pain in sorrow and mourning for them, but that we suddenly pass over, and hold us in endless enjoyment. Julian of Norwich (1342-1416): Showings, ch. 15.