Irenaeus of Lyons: The Word of God was made flesh by the dispensation of the Virgin, to abolish death and make man live Saturday, Jul 9 2016 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonHe fulfilled the promise made to Abraham, which God had promised him, to make his seed as the stars of heaven.

For this Christ did, who was born of the Virgin who was of Abraham’s seed, and constituted those who have faith in Him lights in the world, and by the same faith with Abraham justified the Gentiles.

[…] And He fulfilled the promise to David; for to him God had promised that of the fruit of his body He would raise up an eternal King, whose kingdom should have no end.

[…] Thus then He gloriously achieved our redemption, and fulfilled the promise of the fathers, and abolished the old disobedience.

The Son of God became Son of David and Son of Abraham; perfecting and summing up this in Himself, that He might make us to possess life.

The Word of God was made flesh by the dispensation of the Virgin, to abolish death and make man live. For we were imprisoned by sin, being born in sinfulness and living under death.

But God the Father was very merciful: He sent His creative Word, who in coming to deliver us came to the very place and spot in which we had lost life, and brake the bonds of our fetters.

And His light appeared and made the darkness of the prison disappear, and hallowed our birth and destroyed death, loosing those same fetters in which we were enchained.

And He manifested |the resurrection Himself becoming the first-begotten of the dead (Rev. 1:5), and in Himself raising up man that was fallen, lifting him up far above the heaven to the right hand of the glory of the Father: even as God promised by the prophet, saying: And I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen (Amos 9:2); that is, the flesh that was from David.

And this our Lord Jesus Christ truly fulfilled, when He gloriously achieved our redemption, that He might truly raise us up, setting us free unto the Father.

And if any man will not receive His birth from a virgin, how shall he receive His resurrection from the dead? For it is nothing wonderful and astonishing and extraordinary, if one who was not born rose from the dead: nay indeed we cannot speak of a resurrection of him who came unto being without birth.

For one who is unborn and immortal, and has not undergone birth, will also not undergo death. For he who took not the beginning of man, how could he receive his end?

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 35-38.

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John Chrysostom: Let us not be sad that we are mortal, but rather let us be grateful Sunday, Jun 26 2016 

Chrysostom3Not seven days have passed since we celebrated the holy feast of Pentecost and again we are overtaken by a chorus of martyrs, or better, serried ranks of martyrs, which are in no way lesser than the ranks of the angels seen by the Patriarch Jacob but equal to and of the same worth as them.

Because martyrs and angels differ only as regards the name, whereas in their works they’re united. Angels reside in the heavens, but so, too, do the martyrs. The former are eternal and immortal; the martyrs will become so.

But have the latter assumed a bodiless form? What does it matter? Because the martyrs, even though they have a body, are still immortal, or rather, before immortality, the death of Christ adorns their bodies even more greatly than immortality.

The sky, be it adorned with ever so many stars, is not so bright as the bodies of the martyrs, which are made beautiful by the blood of their wounds. So, because they died for Him, they are, in fact, superior and have been decorated before achieving immortality, since they were crowned from the moment death.

‘You have made them a little lower than the angels, with glory and honour you have crowned them’, said David, regarding the nature of the whole of the human race. But when Christ came, He completed this small amount, because He condemned death by His own death.

That is not what I am saying though. What I mean is that this defect of death became an advantage. If they had not been mortal, they would not have become martyrs. So, had there been no death, there would not have been any crown. Had there been no death, there would not be martyrdom.

Had there been no death, Saint Paul would not have been able to say ‘I affirm by the pride in you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord: I die every day’. Had there been no death and corruption, the same Apostle would not have been able to say, ‘Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions’.

Therefore let us not be sad that we are mortal, but rather let us be grateful, since the arena of martyrdom has been opened to us by death and, by corruption, we have been given the chance of winning the prize. From now on, we have a reason to strive.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Encomium on All Saints @ Pemptousia [slightly adapted].

Athanasius of Alexandria: We know that when we die we are not destroyed, but actually begin to live, and become incorruptible through the Resurrection Monday, May 2 2016 

AthanasiusThere is no small proof that death is destroyed, and that the Cross is become the victory over it, and that it has no more power but is verily dead.

Rather there is an evident warrant – that it is despised by all Christ’s disciples, and that they all take an aggressive stance against it and no longer fear it.

Instead, by the sign of the Cross and by faith in Christ, they tread it down as dead.

For of old, before the divine sojourn of the Saviour took place, death was terrible even to the saints, and all wept for the dead as though they perished.

But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible; for all who believe in Christ tread him under as nought, and choose rather to die than to deny their faith in Christ.

For they verily know that when they die they are not destroyed, but actually begin to live, and become incorruptible through the Resurrection.

And they know that the devil, that once maliciously exulted in death, now that its pains were loosed, remained the only one truly dead.

And a proof of this is: that, before men believe in Christ, they see in death an object of terror, and play the coward before him.

But, when they are gone over to Christ’s faith and teaching, their contempt for death is so great that they even eagerly rush upon it, and become witnesses for the Resurrection the Saviour has accomplished against it.

For while still tender in years they make haste to die, and not only men, but women also, exercise themselves by bodily discipline against it. So weak has death become, that even women who were formerly deceived by him, now mock at him as dead and paralyzed.

When a tyrant has been defeated by a real king, and bound hand and foot, then all that pass by laugh him to scorn, buffeting and reviling him, no longer fearing his fury and barbarity, because of the king who has conquered him.

So also, death having been conquered and exposed by the Saviour on the Cross, and bound hand and foot, all they who are in Christ, as they pass by, trample on him, and witnessing to Christ scoff at death, jesting at him, and saying what has been written against him of old:

“O death, where is thy victory? O grave, where is thy sting?”

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 27 [slightly adapted].

Cyril of Alexandria: By the newness of the sepulchre is meant the untrodden and strange pathway whereby we return from death unto life Saturday, Apr 30 2016 

cyril_alexandria“So they took the Body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb, wherein was never man yet laid” (John 19:40-41).

Christ was numbered among the dead, Who for our sake became dead, according to the Flesh, but Whom we conceive to be, and Who is, in fact, Life, of Himself, and through His Father.

And, that He might fulfil all righteousness, that is, all that was appropriate to the form of man, He of His own Will subjected the Temple of His Body not merely to death, but also to what follows after death, that is, burial and being laid in the tomb.

The writer of the Gospel says that this sepulchre in the garden was a new one; this fact signifying to us, as it were, by a type and figure, that Christ’s death is the harbinger and pioneer of our entry into Paradise.

For He entered as a Forerunner for us. What other signification than this can be intended by the carrying over of the Body of Jesus in the garden?

And by the newness of the sepulchre is meant the untrodden and strange pathway whereby we return from death unto life, and the renewing of our souls, that Christ has invented for us, whereby we baffle corruption.

For henceforth, by the death of Christ, death for us has been transformed, in a manner, into sleep, with like power and functions. For we are alive unto God, and shall live for evermore, according to the Scriptures.

Therefore, also, the blessed Paul, in a variety of places, calls those asleep who have died in Christ. For in the times of old the dread presence of death held human nature in awe.

For death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression; and we bore the image of the earthy in his likeness, and underwent the death that was inflicted by the Divine curse.

The Second Adam appeared among us, the Divine Man from heaven, and, contending for the salvation of the world, purchased by His death the life of all men, and, destroying the power of corruption, rose again to life.

Then we were transformed into His Image, and we undergo, as it were, a different kind of death, that does not dissolve us in eternal corruption, but casts upon us a slumber which is laden with fair hope, after the Likeness of Him Who has made this new path for us, that is, Christ.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 12 (on John 19:40-41) [slightly adapted].

Gregory Nazianzen: Guided through the disorder of the things which are seen and shaken to the things which stand firm and are not moved Friday, Nov 6 2015 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenAnd what in these short days will be our gain, save that after it has been ours to see, or suffer, or perchance even to do, more ill, we must discharge the common and inexorable tribute to the law of nature, by following some, preceding others, to the tomb.

[…] Such, my brethren, is our existence, who live this transient life, such our pastime upon earth:  we come into existence out of non-existence, and after existing are dissolved.

We are unsubstantial dreams, impalpable visions (Job 20:8), like the flight of a passing bird, like a ship leaving no track upon the sea (Wisd. 5:10), a speck of dust, a vapour, an early dew, a flower that quickly blooms, and quickly fades.

As for man his days are as grass, as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth (Ps. C102/103:15).  Well hath inspired David discoursed of our frailty, and again in these words, “Let me know the shortness of my days;” and he defines the days of man as “of a span long” (Ps. 38/39:5).

[…]  I have seen all things (Eccles. 1:14), says the preacher, I have reviewed in thought all human things, wealth, pleasure, power, unstable glory, wisdom which evades us rather than is won; then pleasure again, wisdom again, often revolving the same objects, the pleasures of appetite, orchards, numbers of slaves, store of wealth, serving men and serving maids, singing men and singing women, arms, spearmen, subject nations, collected tributes, the pride of kings, all the necessaries and superfluities of life, in which I surpassed all the kings that were before me.

And what does he say after all these things?  Vanity of vanities (Eccles. 12:8), all is vanity and vexation of spirit, possibly meaning some unreasoning longing of the soul, and distraction of man condemned to this from the original fall. But hear, he says, the conclusion of the whole matter: “Fear God” (Eccles. 12:13).

This is his stay in his perplexity, and this is thy only gain from life here below, to be guided through the disorder of the things which are seen (2 Cor. 4:18), and shaken, to the things which stand firm and are not moved (Heb. 12:27).

Let us not then mourn Cæsarius but ourselves, knowing what evils he has escaped to which we are left behind, and what treasure we shall lay up, unless, earnestly cleaving unto God and outstripping transitory things, we press towards the life above, deserting the earth while we are still upon the earth, and earnestly following the spirit which bears us upward.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 7, 17-19 (Panegyric on His Brother S. Cæsarius).

John Chrysostom: “For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven” Monday, Nov 2 2015 

John_Chrysostom[On 2 Corinthians 5:1-2).

For we know, that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1).

One ought not to wonder that we suffer affliction; nor to be confounded, for we even reap many gains thereby.

And some of these St Paul mentioned before; for instance, that we “bear about the dying of Jesus,” and present the greatest proof of His power.

For…we exhibit a clear proof of the Resurrection, says Paul, “that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

Along with these things he says that our inward man is thus made better also; for “though our outward man is decaying…yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

Showing that this being scourged and persecuted is proportionately useful, he adds that, when this is done thoroughly, then countless blessings will spring up for those who have endured these things.

For lest, when you hear that your outward man perishes, you should grieve, he says that when this is completely effected, then most of all will you rejoice and will come unto a better inheritance.

Thus not only ought one not to grieve at its perishing now in part, but we should earnestly to seek for the completion of that destruction, for this most conducts us to immortality.

Wherefore he adds “for we know that, if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

[…] “For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2).

What habitation? The incorruptible body. And why do we groan now? Because that is far better. And he calls it “from heaven” because of its incorruptibleness.

For it is not the case that a body will come down to us from above. Rather, by this expression he signifies the grace which is sent from thence.

So far then ought we to be from grieving at these trials which are in part that we should seek even for their fulness, as if he had said: Do you groan because you are persecuted, because this thy man is decaying? Groan rather that this is not done unto excess and that it perishes not entirely.

Do you see how Paul has turned round what was said unto the contrary? He proves that they ought to groan that those things were not done fully for which they groaned because they were done partially.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Commentary on 2 Corinthians, Homily 10, 1-2, [slightly adapted].

Irenaeus of Lyons: The breath of life rendered man an animated being, and the vivifying Spirit caused him to become spiritual Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonAs the flesh is capable of corruption, so is it also of incorruption; and as it is of death, so is it also of life.

These two do mutually give way to each other; and both cannot remain in the same place.

One is driven out by the other, and the presence of the one destroys that of the other.

When death takes possession of a man, it drives life away from him, and proves him to be dead.

Much more, then, does life, when it has obtained power over the man, drive out death, and restore him as living unto God.

For if death brings mortality, why should not life, when it comes, vivify man?

Just as Isaiah the prophet says, “Death devoured when it had prevailed” (Isaiah 25:8 LXX). And again, “God has wiped away every tear from every face.”

Thus that former life is expelled, because it was not given by the Spirit, but by the breath.

For the breath of life, which also rendered man an animated being, is one thing, and the vivifying Spirit another, which also caused him to become spiritual.

And for this reason Isaiah said, “Thus saith the Lord, who made heaven and established it, who founded the earth and the things therein, and gave breath to the people upon it, and Spirit to those walking upon it” (Isaiah 42:5).

Isaiah tells us that breath is indeed given in common to all people upon earth, but that the Spirit is theirs alone who tread down earthly desires.

And therefore Isaiah himself, distinguishing the things already mentioned, again exclaims, “For the Spirit shall go forth from Me, and I have made every breath” (Isaiah 57:16).

Thus does he attribute the Spirit as peculiar to God which in the last times He pours forth upon the human race by the adoption of sons; but he shows that breath was common throughout the creation, and points it out as something created.

Now what has been made is a different thing from him who makes it. The breath, then, is temporal, but the Spirit eternal.

The breath, too, increases in strength for a short period, and continues for a certain time; after that it takes its departure, leaving its former abode destitute of breath. But when the Spirit pervades the man within and without, inasmuch as it continues there, it never leaves him.

“But that is not first which is spiritual,” says the apostle, speaking this as if with reference to us human beings; “but that is first which is animal, afterwards that which is spiritual” (1 Cor. 15:46).

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 5,12,1-2 (slightly adapted).

John Paul II: Life in the Spirit transcends even death Friday, May 22 2015 

jp2“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

In these words from the Gospel of John, the gift of “eternal life” represents the ultimate purpose of the Father’s loving plan.

This gift gives us access through grace to the ineffable communion of love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:

“This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3).

The “eternal life” that flows from the Father is communicated to us in its fullness by Jesus in his paschal mystery through the Holy Spirit.

By receiving it we share in the risen Jesus’ definitive victory over death. “Death and life”, we proclaim in the liturgy, “have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal” (Sequence for Easter Sunday).

In this decisive event of salvation, Jesus gives human beings “eternal life” in the Holy Spirit.

In the “fullness of time” Christ thus fulfils, beyond all expectation, that promise of “eternal life” which the Father has inscribed in the creation of man in his image and likeness since the beginning of the world (cf. Gn 1:26).

As we sing in Psalm 104, man experiences that life in the cosmos and, particularly, his own life have their beginning in the “breath” communicated by the Spirit of the Lord:

“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth” (vv. 29-30).

Communion with God, the gift of his Spirit, more and more becomes for the chosen people the pledge of a life that is not limited to earthly existence but mysteriously transcends and prolongs it forever.

[…] Jesus links belief in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn 11:25).

In him, through the mystery of his Death and Resurrection, the divine promise of the gift of “eternal life” is fulfilled.

This life implies total victory over death: “The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear the voice [of the Son] and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life …” (Jn 5:28-29).

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:40).

John Paul II (1920-2005): General Audience, October 28th, 1998.

 

Innocent of Alaska: Death is no longer an irreversible tragedy but a passage to the world of bright and joyous life Wednesday, May 13 2015 

innocentalaskaIf Adam had not sinned, he would have remained forever blessed, and all his descendants would have enjoyed blessedness.

It was for this very purpose that God had created man.

But Adam, having succumbed to the tempter-devil, transgressed against the law of the Maker and took pleasure in the taste of the forbidden fruit.

When God appeared to Adam right after he had sinned, Adam, instead of repenting and promising obedience henceforth, began to justify himself and to blame his wife.

Eve in turn blamed the serpent for everything.

And so it was that sin became a part of human nature, deeply injuring it because of the lack of repentance of Adam and Eve.

The existing communion with the Maker was cut and the blessedness lost.

Having lost Paradise within himself, Adam became unworthy of the external Paradise and was therefore banished from it.

[…] No man, even the most talented and powerful, nor all of mankind in unison, could ever restore what Adam lost when he sinned in Eden.

What would have happened to us and to all of mankind if Jesus Christ in His mercy had not come to redeem us?

But we should all thank our Heavenly Father for taking pity on us. He loves us far more than we are capable of loving ourselves.

And because of His infinite love, He has sent His only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to rid us from our sins and from the snare of the devil and to lead us into the eternal Kingdom of Heaven.

Through His teachings Jesus Christ scattered the darkness of ignorance and all possible error and enlightened the world with the light of the true faith.

Now anyone who desires it can come to know the will of God and attain eternal life.

By His way of life Christ showed us how to live to attain salvation. And He also assists us constantly in everything good.

By His most precious blood Jesus washed away our sins and made of us children of God, who were slaves of passions and the devil. Those torments we, as transgressors of the will of God, would have had to suffer, He bore for us.

By His death He crushed the power of the devil, destroyed the power of hell, and delivered us from death.

By His resurrection He gave us life and opened the gates of Paradise to all.

Therefore, death is no longer an irreversible tragedy but a passage from this temporary world of vanity and sorrows to the world of bright and joyous life.

By His ascension into heaven Christ glorified our nature, enabling us to share eternal bliss with the angels and all the heavenly creatures.

Innocent of Alaska (1797-1879; Russian Orthodox): The Way into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Gregory of Nyssa: It is necessary for us to rehearse beforehand in the water the grace of the resurrection Thursday, May 7 2015 

Gregory_of_NyssaContinued from here….

As regards those who follow this Leader [Christ], their nature does not admit of an exact and entire imitation [in baptism].

Rather, it receives now as much as it is capable of receiving, while it reserves the remainder for the time that comes after.

In what, then, does this imitation consist?

It consists in the effecting the suppression of that admixture of sin, in the figure of mortification that is given by the water:

not certainly a complete effacement, but a kind of break in the continuity of the evil, two things concurring to this removal of sin—the penitence of the transgressor and his imitation of the death.

By these two things the man is in a measure freed from his congenital tendency to evil; by his penitence he advances to a hatred of and averseness from sin, and by his death he works out the suppression of the evil.

But had it been possible for him in his imitation to undergo a complete dying, the result would be not imitation but identity; and the evil of our nature would so entirely vanish that, as the Apostle says, “he would die unto sin once for all” (cf. Rom. 6:10).

[…] We only so far imitate the transcendent Power as the poverty of our nature is capable of, by having the water thrice poured on us and ascending again up from the water, we enact that saving burial and resurrection which took place on the third day, with this thought in our mind, that as we have power over the water both to be in it and arise out of it.

So also, He, Who has the universe at His sovereign disposal, immersed Himself in death, as we in the water, to return to His own blessedness.

If, therefore, one looks to that which is in reason, and judges of the results according to the power inherent in either party, one will discover no disproportion in these results, each in proportion to the measure of his natural power working out the effects that are within his reach.

For, as it is in the power of man, if he is so disposed, to touch the water and yet be safe, with infinitely greater ease may death be handled by the Divine Power so as to be in it and yet not to be changed by it injuriously.

Observe, then, that it is necessary for us to rehearse beforehand in the water the grace of the resurrection, to the intent that we may understand that, as far as facility goes, it is the same thing for us to be baptized with water and to rise again from death.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): The Great Catechism, 35 (slightly adapted).

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