Gregory Palamas: Christ now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father Sunday, Jun 19 2016 

Gregory_PalamasA short while ago, with the strong eyes of faith, we beheld Christ ascending, no less clearly than those accounted worthy to be eye-witnesses.

Nor are we less favoured than they. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”, says the Lord (John 20:29), referring to those who have found assurance through hearing, and see by faith.

Recently we saw Christ lifted up from the ground bodily (Acts 1:9). Now, through the Holy Spirit sent by Him to His disciples, we see how far Christ ascended and to what dignity He carried up the nature He assumed from us.

Clearly He went up as high as the place from which the Spirit sent by Him descended. He who spoke through the prophet Joel showed us whence the Spirit comes, saying, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh” (Joel 2:28), and to Him David addressed the words, “Thou wilt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created; and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth” (Ps. 103:32).

It follows that at His ascension Christ went up to the Father on high, as far as His Fatherly bosom, from which comes the Spirit. Having been shown, even in His human form, to share the Father’s glory, Christ now sent forth the Spirit Who comes from the Father and is sent by Him from heaven.

But when we hear that the Spirit was sent by the Father and the Son, this does not mean that the Spirit has no part in their greatness, for He is not just sent, but also Himself sends and consents to be sent.

This is clearly shown by Christ’s words spoken through the prophet, “Mine hand hath laid the foundation of the earth and stretched out the heavens, and now the Lord God, and His Spirit, hath sent Me” (cf. Isa. 48:13-16). Again, speaking through the same prophet He says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek” (Isa. 61:1).

The Holy Spirit is not just sent, but Himself sends the Son, Who is sent by the Father. He is therefore shown to be the same as the Father and the Son in nature, power, operation and honour.

By the good pleasure of the Father and the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, the only-begotten Son of God, on account of the boundless ocean of divine love for mankind, bowed the heavens and came down (Ps. 17:9). He appeared on earth after our fashion, lived among us, and did and taught great, wonderful and sublime things truly worthy of God, which led those who obeyed Him towards deification and salvation.

Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): Homily 24, on Pentecost, 1-2. From Saint Gregory Palamas: The Homilies (Mount Thabor Publishing, 2009), full version online here.

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Leo the Great: I have become Son of Man that you might have power to be sons of God Friday, Jun 17 2016 

Saint_Leo_of_RomeThe Lord Jesus does, indeed, say to His disciples, as was read in the Gospel lection, if you loved Me, you would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

But those ears, which have often heard the words, I and the Father are One, and He that sees Me, sees the Father also, accept the saying without supposing a difference of Godhead or understanding it of that Essence which they know to be co-eternal and of the same nature with the Father.

Man’s uplifting, therefore, in the Incarnation of the Word, is commended to the holy Apostles also.

And they, who were distressed at the announcement of the Lord’s departure from them, are incited to eternal joy over the increase in their dignity; If you loved Me, He says, you would assuredly rejoice, because I go to the Father.

That is, if, with complete knowledge you saw what glory is bestowed on you by the fact that, being begotten of God the Father, I have been born of a human mother also, that being invisible I have made Myself visible, that being eternal in the form of God I accepted the form of a slave, you would rejoice because I go to the Father.

For to you is offered this ascension, and your humility is in Me raised to a place above all heavens at the Father’s right hand.

But I, Who am with the Father that which the Father is, abide undivided with My Father, and in coming from Him to you I do not leave Him, even as in returning to Him from you I do not forsake you.

Rejoice, therefore, because I go to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. For I have united you with Myself, and have become Son of Man that you might have power to be sons of God.

And hence, though I am One in both forms, yet in that whereby I am conformed to you I am less than the Father, whereas in that whereby I am not divided from the Father I am greater even than Myself.

And so let the Nature, which is less than the Father, go to the Father, that the Flesh may be where the Word always is, and that the one faith of the Catholic Church may believe that He Whom as Man it does not deny to be less, is equal as God with the Father.

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 77, 5.

Cyril of Alexandria: The rectification of our condition is the function of the whole sacred and consubstantial Trinity Wednesday, Jun 1 2016 

cyril_alexandriaContinued from here….

I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman (John 15:1).

And when He calls the Father Husbandman, why does He give Him this title?

For the Father is not idle or inert in His dealings with us, and while the Son nourishes us and sustains us in a perfect state by the Holy Spirit, the rectification of our condition is as it were the function of the whole sacred and consubstantial Trinity, and the will and power to do all the actions done by It pervades the whole Divine Nature. 

Therefore It is glorified by us in its entirety, and in one single aspect. For we call God a Saviour, not gaining the graces which are compassionately bestowed upon us partly from the Father, and partly from the Son Himself or the Holy Spirit, but calling our salvation the work of One Divinity.

And if we must apportion the gifts which are bestowed upon us, or those activities which They display about creation, to each person of the Trinity separately, none the less do we believe that everything proceeds from the Father by the Son in the Spirit.

You will think then quite rightly that the Father nourishes us in piety by the Son in the Spirit. He husbands us, that is He watches over us, and cares for us, and deems us worthy of His sustaining providence by the Son in the Spirit.

[…]  For it is the function of the vine to nourish the branches, and of the tiller of the soil to tend them. And if we think aright, we shall believe that neither the one function, if performed apart from the Father, nor the other apart from the Son or the Holy Ghost, could sustain the whole. For all proceeds from the Father by the Son in the Spirit, as we have said.

Very appropriately now the Saviour called the Father a Husbandman, and it is not at all difficult to assign the cause. For it was to the intent that no one might think that the Only-Begotten merely exercised care over us that He represents God the Father as co-operating with Him, calling Himself the Vine that quickens His own branches with life and productive power, and the Father a Husbandman, and for this reason teaching us that providential care over us is a sort of distinct activity of the Divine Substance.

For we were bound to know that God did not only make us partakers of His nature, conceived of as belonging to the Holy and consubstantial Trinity, but also He watches over us with, the most diligent care, which is illustrated to us very appropriately on this occasion by the figure of husbandry.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 10 (on John 15:1ff).

Cyril of Jerusalem: You became ‘christs’ when you received the sign of the Holy Spirit Monday, May 9 2016 

Cyril-of-JerusalemWhen you were baptized into Christ and clothed yourselves in him, you were transformed into the likeness of the Son of God.

Having destined us to be his children by adoption, God gave us a likeness to Christ in his glory, and, living as you do in communion with Christ, you yourselves are rightly called ‘christs’ or anointed ones.

When he said: Do not touch my anointed ones, God was speaking of you.

You became ‘christs’ when you received the sign of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, everything took place in you by means of images, because you yourselves are images of Christ.

Christ bathed in the river Jordan, imparting to its waters the fragrance of his divinity, and when he came up from them the Holy Spirit descended upon him; like resting upon like.

So you also, after coming up from the sacred waters of Baptism, were anointed with chrism, which signifies the Holy Spirit, by whom Christ was anointed and of whom blessed Isaiah prophesied in the name of the Lord:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach good news to the poor.

Christ’s anointing was not by human hands, nor was it with ordinary oil. On the contrary, having destined him to be the Saviour of the whole world, the Father himself anointed him with the Holy Spirit.

The words of Peter bear witness to this: Jesus of Nazareth, whom God anointed with the Holy Spirit.

And David the prophet proclaimed: Your throne, O God, shall endure forever, your royal sceptre is a sceptre of justice. You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above all your fellows.

The oil of gladness with which Christ was anointed was a spiritual oil; it was in fact the Holy Spirit himself who is called the oil of gladness because he is the source of spiritual joy.

But you also have been anointed with oil, and by this anointing you have entered into fellowship with Christ and have received a share in his life.

Beware of thinking of this chrism as merely ordinary oil. As the eucharistic bread after the invocation of the Holy Spirit is no longer ordinary bread but the body of Christ, so also the oil after the invocation is no longer plain ordinary oil but Christ’s gift which by the presence of his divinity becomes the instrument through which you receive the Holy Spirit.

While symbolically, on your foreheads and organs of sense, your bodies are anointed with this oil that we see; your souls are sanctified by the holy and life-giving Spirit.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechesis 21, 1-3 (PG 33:1087-1091); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Easter Wednesday, Year 2.

Justin Popovich: Christ has come to deify the entire man by the resurrection, ensuring thereby victory over death and eternal life Thursday, May 5 2016 

JustinContinued from here….

The New Testament raised the human body to the sublime and divine heights, endowing it with a glory which the Cherubim and Seraphim do not possess.

The Good News of the New Testament concerning the body—the significance and goal of the human body—is that, together with the soul, it achieves and inherits immortal life in Divine eternity.

The Lord Christ has come to deify, to make Christ-like, the entire man, that is, the soul and body, and this by the resurrection, ensuring thereby victory over death and eternal life.

No one ever elevated the human body as did the Lord Christ by His bodily resurrection, the ascension of His body into heaven, and its eternal session at the right hand of God the Father.

In this way, the Resurrected Christ extended the promise of resurrection to the nature of the human body—”having made for all flesh a path to eternal life.”

Thus man now knows that the body is created for eternity through union with the God-Man and that his divine work on earth is to struggle, with the soul, for eternal life;

to struggle, with all those means that convey grace and virtue, to make himself grace-filled, fulfilled by Divine grace, and created anew as the temple of the Holy Spirit, the temple of the Living God.

Bearing in mind that this New Testamental notion of the human body has been achieved and realized in the persons of the Saints, Christians show a pious veneration for the bodies of the Saints, towards holy relics, the temples of the Holy Spirit, Who by God’s grace abides within them.

But Holy Revelation indicates that by God’s immeasurable love for man, the Holy Spirit abides through His grace not only in the bodies of the Saints, but also in their clothing.

So it is that the handkerchiefs of the holy apostle Paul healed the ill and expelled unclean spirits (Acts 19:12).

With his mantle the Prophet Elias struck the water, separating the waters of the Jordan, and along the dry bed of the river crossed the Jordan with his disciple Elisea (IV Kings 2:8).

The prophet Elisea did the very same thing, himself, with the same mantle, after the taking-up of Elias into heaven (IV Kings 2:14).

All this has its verification and source in the Divine power that rested in the garments of the Savior, which encompassed His most pure and Divine body.

Moreover, by His inexpressible love for man, the Divine Lord allows the servants of His Divinity to work miracles not only through their bodies and clothing, but even with the shadow of their bodies, which is evident in an occurrence with the holy apostle Peter: his shadow healed an ill man and expelled unclean spirits (Acts 5:15-16).

Justin Popovich (1894-1979; Orthodox Church): The Place of Holy Relics in the Orthodox Church @ OCIC.

John Damascene: After He had placed man in communion with Himself, He led him up through communion with Himself to incorruption Wednesday, Apr 20 2016 

John-of-Damascus_01The Father is Father and not Son.

The Son is Son and not Father.

The Holy Spirit is Spirit and not Father or Son.

For the individuality is unchangeable. How, indeed, could individuality continue to exist at all if it were ever changing and altering?

Wherefore the Son of God became Son of Man in order that His individuality might endure.

For since He was the Son of God, He became Son of Man, being made flesh of the holy Virgin and not losing the individuality of Sonship.

Further, the Son of God became man in order that He might again bestow on man that favour for the sake of which He created him.

For He created him after His own image, endowed with intellect and free-will, and after His own likeness, that is to say, perfect in all virtue so far as it is possible for man’s nature to attain perfection.

For the following properties are, so to speak, marks of the divine nature: viz. absence of care and distraction and guile, goodness, wisdom, justice, freedom from all vice.

He placed man in communion with Himself – for having made him for incorruption (Wisd. 2:23), He led him up through communion with Himself to incorruption.

Through the transgression of the command we confused and obliterated the marks of the divine image, and, having become evil, we were stripped of our communion with God – for what communion hath light with darkness (2 Cor. 6:14)?

And, having been shut out from life we became subject to the corruption of death.

After all this, since He gave us to share in the better part, and we did not keep it secure, He shares in the inferior part, I mean our own nature.

He does this in order that – through Himself and in Himself – He might renew that which was made after His image and likeness;

and that He might teach us, too, the conduct of a virtuous life, making through Himself the way thither easy for us;

and that He might by the communication of life deliver us from corruption, becoming Himself the firstfruits of our resurrection;

that He might renovate the useless and worn vessel calling us to the knowledge of God;

and that He might redeem us from the tyranny of the devil, and might strengthen and teach us how to overthrow the tyrant through patience and humility.

John Damascene (c.675-749): De Fide Orthodoxa 4,4 [slightly adapted].

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.

Cyril of Alexandria: When God’s life-giving Word came to dwell in human flesh, he remade it for its good, that is, for its life Saturday, Apr 16 2016 

cyril_alexandria“I am dying”, said the Lord, “for all men, so that through me all may have life.

“By my flesh I have redeemed the flesh of all men.

“For in my death, death will die, and fallen human nature will rise again with me.

“In this way l have become, like you, a man descended from Abraham, so that I may be made like my brethren in every respect.”

Saint Paul understood this well when he said:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

There was never any other way to destroy the one who had the power of death, and therefore death itself.

Christ had to give himself up for us; the one had to be the ransom for all, for he was the head of all.

Accordingly, he said in another place, namely in the psalms, when he offered himself to God his Father as a spotless sacrifice on your behalf:

You wanted no sacrifice or oblation, but you prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin. Then I said, “Here I am.”

He was crucified on behalf of us all and for the sake of us all, so that, when one had died instead of all, we all might live in him.

For it was impossible that he should be defeated by death or that one who is life by its very nature should yield to corruption.

Indeed, Christ’s own words prove to us that he offered his flesh for the life of the world:  Holy Father, keep them. And again: For their sake I make myself holy.

He said, I make myself holy, meaning “I consecrate and offer myself as a spotless sacrifice with a sweet savour.”

For what was offered on the altar was made holy or called holy according to the Law. Therefore Christ gave his body or the life of all, and through his body planted life among us again.

How this came about I shall explain as best I can. When God’s life-giving Word came to dwell in human flesh, he remade it for its good, that is, for its life.

Being linked with flesh in this unique form of union, he made it a source of life, just as he is by his own nature, a source of life.

Thus the body of Christ gives life to those who share with him. By being among those who are liable to death, his body drives death out; by bringing forth in itself a principle capable of utterly destroying corruption, his body expels corruption.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St John’s Gospel 4, 2; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the Fourth Week in Eastertide, Year 1.

Justin Popovich: By unceasing enactment of the ascetic efforts set forth in the Gospels, Saints gradually fill themselves with the Holy Spirit Wednesday, Apr 13 2016 

JustinThe holiness of the Saints—both the holiness of their souls and of their bodies—derives from their zealous grace-and-virtue-bestowing lives in the Body of the Church of Christ, of the God-Man.

In this sense, holiness completely envelopes the human person—the entire soul and body and all that enters into the mystical composition of the human body.

The holiness of the Saints does not hold forth only in their souls, but it necessarily extends to their bodies; so it is that both the body and the soul of a saint are sanctified.

Thus we, in piously venerating the Saints, also venerate the entire person, in this manner not separating the holy soul from the holy body.

Our pious veneration of the Saints’ relics is a natural part of our pious respect for and prayerful entreaty to the Saints. All of this constitutes one indivisible ascetic act, just as the soul and body constitute the single, indivisible person of the Saint.

Clearly, during his life on the earth, the Saint, by a continuous and singular grace-and virtue-bestowing synergy of soul and body, attains to the sanctification of his person, filling both the soul and body with the grace of the Holy Spirit and so transforming them into vessels of the holy mysteries and holy virtues.

It is completely natural, again, to show pious reverence both to the former and to the latter, both to soul and body, both of them holy vessels of God’s grace.

When the charismatic power of Christ issues forth, it makes Grace-filled all the constituent parts of the human person and the person in his entirety.

By unceasing enactment of the ascetic efforts set forth in the Gospels, Saints gradually fill themselves with the Holy Spirit, so that their sacred bodies, according to the word of the holy Apostle, become temples of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19; 3:17), Christ dwelling by faith in their hearts (Ephesians 3:17) and by fruitful love also fulfilling the commandments of God the Father.

Establishing themselves in the Holy Spirit through grace-bestowing ascetic labors, the Saints participate in the life of the Trinity, becoming sons of the Holy Trinity, temples of the Living God (II Corinthians 6:16); their whole lives thus flow from the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

By piously venerating the holy relics of the Saints, the Church reveres them as temples of the Holy Spirit, temples of the Living God, in which God dwells by Grace even after the earthly death of the Saints.

And by His most wise and good Will, God creates miracles in and through these relics. Moreover, the miracles which derive from the holy relics witness also to the fact that their pious veneration by the people is pleasing to God.

Justin Popovich (1894-1979): The Place of Holy Relics in the Orthodox Church @ OCIC.

Gregory of Nyssa: Death will be no more, and everything will be completely changed into life. Sunday, Apr 10 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaContinued from here….

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Christ eternally builds himself up by those who join themselves to him in faith.

It is clear that when this is accomplished, Christ receives in himself all who are joined to him through the fellowship of his body.

Christ makes everyone as limbs of his own body – even if there are many such limbs, the body is one.

Therefore, by uniting us to himself, Christ is our unity; and having become one body with us through all things, he looks after us all.

Subjection to God is our chief good when all creation resounds as one voice, when everything in heaven, on earth and under the earth bends the knee to him, and when every tongue will confess that has become one body and is joined in Christ through obedience to one another, he will bring into subjection his own body to the Father.

Let not what is said here sound strange to anyone, for we ascribe to the soul a certain means of expression taken from the body.

That which is read as pertaining to the fruitfulness of the land may also be applied to one’s own soul: “Eat, drink, and be merry” (Lk 11.19). This sentence may be referred to the fullness of the soul.

Thus, the subjection of the Church’s body is brought to him who dwells in the soul. Since everything is explained through subjection as the book of Psalms suggests. As a result, we learn that faith means not being apart from those who are saved.

This we learn from the Apostle Paul. Paul signifies, by the Son’s subjection, the destruction of death. Therefore, these two elements concur, that is, when death will be no more, and everything will be completely changed into life.

The Lord is life. According to the apostle, Christ will have access to the Father with his entire body when he will hand over the kingdom to our God and Father. Christ’s body, as it is often said, consists of human nature in its entirety to which he has been united.

Because of this, Christ is named Lord by Paul, as mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2.5). He who is in the Father and has lived with men accomplishes intercession.

Christ unites all mankind to himself, and to the Father through himself, as the Lord says in the Gospel, “As you, Father, are in me, and I am in you, that they may be one in us” (Jn 17.21).

This clearly shows that having united himself to us, he who is in the Father effects our union (sunapheia) with this very same Father.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): A Treatise on 1 Corinthians 15:28.

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