Basil the Great: “Let all the earth fear the Lord, and let all the inhabitants of the world be in awe of Him” Wednesday, Oct 14 2015 

St-Basil-the-Great“Gathering together the waters of the sea, as a vessel; laying up the depths in storehouses” (Psalm 32:7).

If you seek to know…why there are shipwrecks, earthquakes, droughts, heavy rains, why things destructive of men are created, consider that the judgments of God are the depths and, because they are enclosed in the divine storehouses, are not easily grasped by those encountering them.

To him who believes, a promise is given by God: ‘I will give thee hidden treasures, unseen ones’ (Isaiah 45:3).

When we have been deemed worthy of knowledge face to face, we shall see also the depths in the storehouses of God.

If you will gather together the sayings in Scripture about vessels, you will better comprehend the prophetic meaning.

Those, then, who are renewed day by day and who take new wine from the true vine, are said in the Gospel to be new vessels.

But, they who have not yet put off the old man are old vessels, unable to be trusted for the reception of new wine.

For, no one puts new wine into old wineskins, lest the wine be spilt, and those skins be entirely ruined, inasmuch as they are considered worthy of no excuse hereafter, if they spill the good new wine.

New wine must be poured into fresh skins (cf. Matt. 9:17).

The new and spiritual wine and that which is glowing with the Holy Spirit, the perception of truth which never becomes old, must be put in the new man, who, because ‘he always bears about in his body the dying of Jesus’ (cf. 2 Cor. 4:10), might justly be said to be a new vessel.

‘Let all the earth fear the Lord, and let all the inhabitants of the world be in awe of Him (Psalm 32:8).

Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, let those who are earthly minded be taught through fear.

In fact, fear is necessarily employed as introductory to true religion, but love, now taking over, brings to perfection those who have been prepared by a fear that is capable of knowledge.

To the whole earth, therefore, Scripture advises fear. ‘Let all the inhabitants of the world’ it says, ‘be in awe of him.’

Let them make every movement, as it were, whether effected by the mind or by bodily action, according to the will of God. At least I understand the words, ‘Let them be in awe of him’ in this way.

For example, let neither the eye be moved without God, nor the hand be put in motion without God, nor the heart think on things not well pleasing to God.

In short, let them be in awe of no one else, and let nothing move them except the fear of God.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 15 (on Psalm 32[33]), 5-6,  from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 236-238.

Peter of Damascus: “The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom” Monday, Mar 3 2014 

peter_of_damascusAs David says, ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’.

[…] Our Lord Himself began His teaching by speaking of fear: He says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’, that is, those who quail with fear of God and are inexpressibly contrite in soul.

For the Lord has established this as the fundamental commandment, since He knows that, without this, even living in heaven would be without benefit to us, because we would still be possessed of the same madness through which the devil, Adam, and many others have fallen.

If, then, we wish to observe the first commandment – that is, to possess fear of the Lord – we should think very carefully about the contingencies of life already described and upon God’s immeasurable and unfathomable blessings.

We should consider how much He has done and continues to do for our sake through things visible and invisible, through commandments and dogmas, threats and promises;

how He guards, nourishes and provides for us, giving us life and saving us from seen and unseen enemies;

how through the prayers and intercessions of His saints, He cures the diseases caused by our own indiscipline;

how He is always long-suffering as regards our sins, our irreverence, our delinquency, all those things we have done, are doing, and will do, from which His grace has saved us;

how we have angered Him with our actions, words and thoughts; and how He not only bears with us, but even bestows greater blessings on us, either He Himself, or acting through the angels, the Scriptures, through righteous men and prophets, apostles and martyrs, teachers and holy fathers.

Moreover, we should not only recall the sufferings and struggles of the saints and martyrs, but should also reflect with wonder on the self-abasement of our Lord Jesus Christ:

how He lived in the world, His spotless Passion, the Cross, His death, burial, resurrection and ascension, the advent of the Holy Spirit, His ineffable miracles which are always occurring, every day, paradise, the crowns, the adoption that He has accorded us, and all the things contained in Holy Scripture and so much else.

If we bring all this to mind, we will be overwhelmed at God’s compassion, and with trembling will marvel at His forbearance and patience.

We will grieve because of what our nature has lost – the dispassion of the angels, paradise and all the blessings which we have forfeited – and because of the evils into which we have fallen: demons, passions and sins.

In this way our soul will be filled with contrition, realizing all the evils which have been caused by our wickedness and the cunning of the demons.

Peter of Damascus (?12th Century): A Treasury of Divine Knowledge  @ Pemptousia.

Silouan the Athonite: In the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering Wednesday, Jan 15 2014 

Silouan the AthoniteThe Father so loved us that He gave us His Son; but such was the will of the Son too, and He became incarnate and lived with us on earth.

And the holy Apostles and a multitude of people beheld the Lord in the flesh, but not all knew Him as the Lord;

yet it has been given to me, a poor sinner, through the Holy Spirit to know that Jesus Christ is God.

The Lord loves man and reveals Himself to man.

And when the soul beholds the Lord she humbly rejoices in the Master’s compassion, and from that hour her love for her Creator is greater than her any other love:

though she may see all things and love all men, yet will she love the Lord above all.

The soul suddenly sees the Lord and knows that it is He. Who shall describe this joy, this gladness?

The Lord is made known in the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit pervades the entire man – soul, mind and body. After this wise is God known in heaven and on earth.

The Lord in His boundless mercy granted this grace to me, a sinner, that others might come to know God and turn to Him. I write out of the grace of God. Yea, this is truth. The Lord Himself is my Witness.

The Merciful Lord gave the Holy Spirit on earth, and by the Holy Spirit was the Holy Church established.

The Holy Spirit unfolded to us not only the things of the earth but those too which are of heaven.

The Prophets, the beloved of the Lord, rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, wherefore the words that they spake were mighty and pleasant, for every soul would hear the word of the Lord.

Filled with love the holy Apostles went into all the world, preaching salvation to mankind and fearing nothing, for the Spirit of God was their strength.

When St Andrew was threatened with death upon the cross if he did not stay his preaching he answered: ‘If I feared the cross I should not be preaching the Cross.’

In this manner all the other Apostles, and after them the martyrs and holy men who wrestled against evil, went forward with joy to meet pain and suffering.

For the Holy Spirit, sweet and gracious, draws the soul to love the Lord, and in the sweetness of the Holy Spirit the soul loses her fear of suffering.

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.

Charles Wesley: Stupendous Height of Heavenly Love Thursday, Dec 26 2013 

Charles_wesleyStupendous height of heavenly love,
Of pitying tenderness divine!
It brought the Saviour from above,
It caused the springing day to shine;
The Sun of righteousness to appear,
And gild our gloomy hemisphere.

God did in Christ himself reveal,
To chase our darkness by his light,
Our sin and ignorance dispel,
Direct our wandering feet aright,
And bring our souls, with pardon blest,
To realms of everlasting rest.

Come then, O Lord, thy light impart,
The faith that bids our terrors cease,
Into thy love direct our heart,
Into thy way of perfect peace;
And cheer the souls of death afraid,
And guide them through the dreadful shade.

Answer thy mercy’s whole design,
My God incarnated for me;
My spirit make thy radiant shrine,
My light and full salvation be,
And through the shades of death unknown
Conduct me to thy dazzling throne.

Charles Wesley (1701-1778; Church of England): Hymns, 686.

John Cassian: An incomprehensible and all-devouring flame… Thursday, Nov 7 2013 

Sf-IoanCasianSupplication is an imploring or petition concerning sins, in which one who is sorry for his present or past deeds asks for pardon….

Prayers are those by which we offer or vow something to God….

Intercessions we offer up for others….

Thanksgivings the mind in ineffable transports offers up to God.

[…] Supplication seems to belong more especially to beginners, who are still troubled by the stings and recollection of their sins.

Prayers belong to those who have already attained some loftiness of mind in their spiritual progress and the quest of virtue.

Intercessions belong to those who fulfil the completion of their vows by their works, and are so stimulated to intercede for others also through the consideration of their weakness, and the earnestness of their love.

Thanksgivings belong to those who have already torn from their hearts the guilty thorns of conscience.

Being now free from care, they can contemplate with a pure mind the beneficence of God and His compassions, which He has either granted in the past, or is giving in the present, or preparing for the future.

Thus they are borne onward with fervent hearts to that ardent prayer which cannot be embraced or expressed by the mouth of men.

Sometimes however the mind which is advancing to that perfect state of purity and which is already beginning to be established in it, will take in all these at one and the same time.

Like some incomprehensible and all-devouring flame, it will dart through them all and offer up to God inexpressible prayers of the purest force.

The Spirit Itself, intervening with groanings that cannot be uttered, while we ourselves understand not, pours forth these prayers to God, grasping at that hour and ineffably pouring forth in its supplications things so great that they cannot be uttered with the mouth nor even at any other time be recollected by the mind.

And thence it comes that in whatever degree any one stands, he is found sometimes to offer up pure and devout prayers.

Even in that first and lowly station which has to do with the recollection of future judgment, he who still remains under the punishment of terror and the fear of judgment is so smitten with sorrow for the time being that he is filled with no less keenness of spirit from the richness of his supplications than he who through the purity of his heart gazes on and considers the blessings of God and is overcome with ineffable joy and delight.

For, as the Lord Himself says, he begins to love the more, who knows that he has been forgiven the more.

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 9, 11-15.

Leo the Great: “This Is My Beloved Son, In Whom I Am Well Pleased; Hear Ye Him” Monday, Aug 5 2013 

leo1On Matthew 17:1-9 (the mystery of the Transfiguration)

A bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.”

[…]  “This is My Son,” Who sought not by grasping, and seized not in greediness, that equality with Me which He has, but remaining in the form of My glory, that He might carry out Our common plan for the restoration of mankind, He lowered the unchangeable Godhead even to the form of a slave.

“Hear ye Him,” therefore, unhesitatingly, in Whom I am throughout well pleased, and by Whose preaching I am manifested, by Whose humiliation I am glorified; because He is “the Truth and the Life,” He is My “Power and Wisdom.”

“Hear ye Him,” Whom the mysteries of the Law have foretold, Whom the mouths of prophets have sung.

“Hear ye Him,” Who redeems the world by His blood, Who binds the devil, and carries off his chattels, Who destroys the bond of sin, and the compact of the transgression.

Hear ye Him, Who opens the way to heaven, and by the punishment of the Cross prepares for you the steps of ascent to the Kingdom?

Why tremble ye at being redeemed? Why fear ye to be healed of your wounds?  Let that happen which Christ wills and I will.  Cast away all fleshly fear, and arm yourselves with faithful constancy; for it is unworthy that ye should fear in the Saviour’s Passion what by His good gift ye shall not have to fear even at your own end.

These things, dearly-beloved, were said not for their profit only, who heard them with their own ears, but in these three Apostles the whole Church has learnt all that their eyes saw and their ears heard.

Let all men’s faith then be established, according to the preaching of the most holy Gospel, and let no one be ashamed of Christ’s Cross, through which the world was redeemed.

And let not any one fear to suffer for righteousness’ sake, or doubt of the fulfilment of the promises, for this reason, that through toil we pass to rest and through death to life.

For all the weakness of our humility was assumed by Him, in Whom, if we abide in the acknowledgment and love of Him, we conquer as He conquered, and receive what he promised, because, whether to the performance of His commands or to the endurance of adversities, the Father’s fore-announcing voice should always be sounding in our ears, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.”

Leo the Great (c.400-461): Sermon 51, 6-8.

John Climacus: When the Whole Man is Commingled with the Love of God… Wednesday, May 22 2013 

ClimacusIf the face of a loved one clearly and completely changes us, and makes us cheerful, happy and carefree, what will the Face of the Lord not do when He makes His Presence felt invisibly in a pure soul?

Fear when it is an inner conviction of the soul destroys and devours impurity, for it is said: Nail down my flesh with the fear of Thee (Psalm 118:120).

And holy love consumes some, according to him who said: Thou hast ravished our heart, Thou hast ravished our heart (Song of Songs 4:9).

But sometimes it makes others bright and joyful, for it is said: My heart trusted in Him and I have been helped; even my flesh has revived (Psalm 27:7); and: When the heart is happy the face is cheerful (Proverbs 15:13).

So when the whole man is in a manner commingled with the love of God, then even his outward appearance in the body, as in a kind of mirror, shows the splendour of his soul.

That is how Moses who had looked upon God was glorified (cf. Exodus 34; 2 Corinthians 3:14).

Those who have reached such an angelic state often forget about bodily food. I think that often they do not even feel any desire for it. And no wonder, for frequently a contrary desire knocks out the thought of food.

I think that the body of those incorruptible men is not even subject to sickness any longer, because it has been rendered incorruptible; for they have purified the inflammable flesh in the flame of purity.

I think that even the food that is set before them they accept without any pleasure. For there is an underground stream that nourishes the root of a plant, and their souls too are sustained by a celestial fire.

The growth of fear is the beginning of love, but a complete state of purity is the foundation of theology.

He who has perfectly united his feeling to God is mystically led by Him to an understanding of His words. But without this union it is difficult to speak about God.

The engrafted Word (cf. James 1:21) perfects purity, and slays death by His presence; and after the slaying of death, the disciple of divine knowledge is illumined.

The Word of the Lord which is from God the Father is pure, and remains so eternally. But he who has not come to know God merely speculates.

Purity makes its disciple a theologian, who of himself grasps the dogmas of the Trinity.

John Climacus (c.575-c.650): The Ladder of Divine Ascent, step 30, 16-24, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Harper & Brothers, 1959) @ Prudence True.

Catherine of Siena: Because of Your Confidence in the Blood of the Crucified Christ, Never Fear Anything Whatsoever Monday, Apr 29 2013 

Catherine_of_SienaMy dearest children in Christ, the sweet Jesus!

I, Catherine…, desire to see you as sons who are obedient unto death, learning from the immaculate Lamb who was obedient to the Father even to an ignominious death on the cross.

Pay close attention for he is the way and the rule that you and all creatures ought to follow. I wish you to place him before your mind’s eye.

Look at how obedient that Word is! He himself does not refuse to carry the burden which he received from the Father, but on the contrary runs to it with the greatest desire.

He made this clear at the Last Supper when he said: I have greatly desired to eat this Passover with you before I die.

To eat the Passover means to fulfill at the same time the will of the Father and the desire of the Son.

Seeing that he had hardly any time left and that at his life’s end he was to be offered as a sacrifice to the Father on our behalf, he rejoices and exults and says with joy: I have greatly desired.

And this was the Passover of which he spoke, namely, to give himself as food and to immolate the sacrifice of his body in obedience to the Father.

[…] He was commanded to give us his blood that the will of God might be fulfilled in us and that we might be sanctified by that very blood.

Therefore I beseech you, my sweet children in Christ, the sweet Jesus, because of your confidence in the blood of the crucified Christ, never fear anything whatsoever.

Do not separate yourselves from him by temptations and errors. You cannot persevere out of fear, nor can you endure obedience…out of dread. I desire, then, that you never fear.

May all servile fear be removed from you. Along with the sweet and loving Paul say:

“Be strong today, my soul. Through the crucified Christ I can do everything, for he who comforts me dwells in me by desire and love.” Love, love, love!

[…] Have confidence! You shall find the source of charity in the side of the crucified Christ. I wish you to establish yourselves there and make a dwelling there for yourselves.

Rise up then with great and burning desire. Approach, enter and remain in this sweet dwelling.

No demon or any other creature can take this grace from you or hinder you from reaching your end, namely, that you should come to see and taste God.

I say no more. Abide in the holy and sweet love of God. Love, love one another.

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380): Letter to the novices of the Order at Santa Maria de Monte Oliveto, from the Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours for the Order of Preachers, feast of St Catherine of Siena, April 29th.

John Climacus: Love is a Resemblance to God Sunday, Apr 14 2013 

ClimacusHe who wishes to speak about divine love undertakes to speak about God. But it is precarious to expatiate on God, and may even be dangerous for the unwary.

The angels know how to speak about love, and even they can only do this according to the degree of their enlightenment.

God is love. So he who wishes to define this, tries with bleary eyes to measure the sand in the ocean.

Love, by reason of its nature, is a resemblance to God, as far as that is possible for mortals; in its activity it is inebriation of the soul; and by its distinctive property it is a fountain of faith, an abyss of patience, a sea of humility.

Love is essentially the banishment of every kind of contrary thought for love thinks no evil.

Love, dispassion and adoption are distinguished as sons from one another by name, and name only.

Just as light, fire and flame combine to form one power, it is the same with love, dispassion and adoption.

As love wanes, fear appears; because he who has no fear is either filled with love or dead in soul.

There is nothing wrong in representing desire, and fear, and care and zeal and service and love for God in images borrowed from human life.

Blessed is he who has obtained such love and yearning for God as an enraptured lover has for his beloved.

Blessed is he who fears the Lord as much as men under trial fear the judge. Blessed is he who is as zealous with true zeal as a well-disposed slave towards his master.

Blessed is he who has become as jealous of the virtues as husbands who remain in unsleeping watch over their wives out of jealousy.

Blessed is he who stands in prayer before the Lord as servants stand before a king. Blessed is he who unceasingly strives to please the Lord as others try to please men.

Even a mother does not so cling to the babe at her breast as a son of love clings to the Lord at all times.

He who truly loves ever keeps in his imagination the face of his beloved, and there embraces it tenderly.

Such a man can get no relief from his strong desire even in sleep, even then he holds converse with his loved one. So it is with our bodily nature; and so it is in spirit.

One who was wounded with love said of himself (I wonder at it): I sleep because nature requires this, but my heart is awake in the abundance of my love.

John Climacus (c.575-c.650): The Ladder of Divine Ascent, step 30, 4-13, translated by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore (Harper & Brothers, 1959) @ Prudence True.

Jerome: “Our Soul is Escaped as a Bird out of the Snare of the Fowlers” Thursday, Feb 14 2013 

St.-Jerome-of-StridoniumWhen the hosts of the enemy distress you, when your frame is fevered and your passions roused, when you say in your heart, “What shall I do?”

Elisha’s words shall give you your answer, “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

He shall pray, “Lord, open the eyes of thine handmaid that she may see.”

And then when your eyes have been opened you shall see a fiery chariot like Elijah’s waiting to carry you to heaven, and shall joyfully sing:

“Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken and we are escaped.”

So long as we are held down by this frail body, so long as we have our treasure in earthen vessels; so long as the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, there can be no sure victory.

“Our adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” “Thou makest darkness,” David says, “and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey and seek their meat from God.”

The devil looks not for unbelievers, for those who are without, whose flesh the Assyrian king roasted in the furnace. It is the church of Christ that he “makes haste to spoil.”

According to Habakkuk, “His food is of the choicest.” Job is the victim of his machinations, and after devouring Judas he seeks power to sift the other apostles.

The Saviour came not to send peace upon the earth but a sword.

Lucifer fell, Lucifer who used to rise at dawn; and he who was bred up in a paradise of delight had the well-earned sentence passed upon him, “Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.”

For he had said in his heart, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God,” and “I will be like the Most High.”

Wherefore God says every day to the angels, as they descend the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream, “I have said ye are Gods and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men and fall like one of the princes.”

The devil fell first, and since “God standeth in the congregation of the Gods and judgeth among the Gods,” the apostle writes to those who are ceasing to be Gods—“Whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal and walk as men?”

Jerome (347-420): Letter 22 (to Eustochium), 3-4.

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