Cyril of Alexandria: Christ was carried into the temple… Friday, Feb 3 2017 

cyril_alexandriaChrist was carried into the temple, being yet a little child at the breast.

And the blessed Symeon being endowed with the grace of prophecy, takes Him in his arms, and filled with the highest joy, blessed God, and said:

“Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy Word, for mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation, Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all the nations, the Gentiles’ light for revelation, and a glory of Thy people Israel.”

For the mystery of Christ had been prepared even before the very foundation of the world, but was manifested in the last ages of time, and became a light for those who in darkness and error had fallen under the devil’s hand.

These were they “who serve the creation instead of the Creator,” worshipping moreover the dragon, the author of evil, and the impure throng of devils, to whom they attach the honour due unto God: yet were they called by God the Father to the acknowledgment of the Son Who is the true light.

Of them in sooth He said by the voice of Isaiah, “I will make signs unto them, and receive them, because I will ransom them, and they shall be multiplied, as they were many: and I will sow them among the nations, and they who are afar off shall remember Me.”

For very many were they that were astray, but were called through Christ: and again they are many as they were before; for they have been received and ransomed, having obtained as the token of peace from God the Father, the adoption into His family and the grace that is by faith in Jesus Christ.

And the divine disciples were sown widely among the nations: and what is the consequence? Those who in disposition were far from God, have been made near. To whom also the divine Paul sends an epistle, saying, “Now ye who some time were afar off have been made near in the blood of Christ.”

And having been brought near, they make Christ their glorying: for again, God the Father has said of them, “And I will strengthen them in the Lord their God, and in His Name shall they glory, saith the Lord.”

This also the blessed Psalmist teaches, speaking as it were unto Christ the Saviour of all, and saying, “Lord, they shall walk in the light of Thy countenance, and in Thy Name shall they exult all the day, and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted: for Thou art the glorying of their strength.”

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, Sermon 4 (on Luke 2:25-35).

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Cyril of Alexandria: Little by little, we advance toward the ideal we see in Christ Thursday, Mar 17 2016 

cyril_alexandriaThe glory of Christ filled the true Tabernacle, which is the Church, from the very moment it was set up on earth.

This, surely, is what is signified by the cloud that covered the first Tabernacle.

Christ has filled the Church with his glory, and now like a fire, he shines forth to give light to those who live in the darkness of ignorance and error.

He shades and protects those already enlightened by the dawn of his day in their hearts.

He refreshes them with the heavenly dew of his consolations sent down from above through the Spirit.

This is what we should understand by the saying that by night he appeared in the form of fire, and by day in the form of cloud.

Those who were as yet uninstructed in the teaching of Christ required spiritual enlighten­ment to bring them to a knowledge of God;

but the more advanced, whose minds had been illumined by faith, were in need of protection from the scorching heat of the day, and of courage to bear the burdens of this present life.

[…] Whenever the cloud moved forward, the Tabernacle went with it; when the cloud settled, the Tabernacle came to rest with it and the Israelites broke their journey.

Now the meaning of this for us is that wherever Christ leads, the Church, the holy multi­tude of believers, follows him. The faithful are never separated from the Saviour who calls them to himself.

We may not be able to find any special meaning in the constant halts and new depar­tures throughout our spiritual journey under Christ’s guidance. It is the whole journey, following the cloud whether it moves forward or settles, that symbolizes our desire to be with God.

Nevertheless, if we would have a more subtle interpretation, we could perhaps say that our first departure is from unbelief to faith, from ignorance to knowledge, and from having no percep­tion of the true God to clear recognition of the Creator and Lord of the universe.

The second stage, and an essential one, is conversion from sin and licentiousness to a desire for amend­ment both in thought and deed.

But the best and most glorious is the third part of the journey, because in it we leave behind what is deficient and move onward toward what is perfect both in our actions and in our belief.

So, little by little, we advance toward the ideal we see in Christ, to become the perfect man, sharing in the perfection of Christ himself.

This surely is what Saint Paul means by saying: Forgetting what lies behind me and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the goal, the heavenly reward to which God calls me in Christ Jesus.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): The Adoration and Worship of God in Spirit and in Truth, 5 (PG 68:393-396); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent, Year 2.

Ambrose of Milan: “Let your face shine on your servant, and teach me your precepts” Monday, Mar 14 2016 

ambrose_of_milanLet your face shine on your servant, and teach me your precepts.

The Lord enlightens his saints and makes his light shine in the hearts of the just….

When you see wisdom in anyone you can be sure that the glory of God has come down and flooded that person’s mind with the light of understanding and knowledge of divine truth.

With Moses, however, it was different: God’s glory affected his body also, causing his face to shine.

[…] Now the face of Moses represents the splendour of the Law; yet this splendour is not to be found in the written letter but in the Law’s spiritual interpretation.

As long as Moses lived, he wore a veil over his face whenever he spoke to the Jewish people. But after his death Jesus, or Joshua, the son of Nun, spoke to the elders and the people without a veil…. Joshua’s glory, however, would be seen in his deeds rather than in his face.

By this the Holy Spirit signified that when Jesus, the true Joshua, came, he would lift the veil from the heart of anyone who turned to him in willingness to listen, and that person would then see his true Saviour with unveiled face.

[…] Through the coming of his Son, God the almighty Father made his light shine into the hearts of the Gentiles, bringing them to see his glory in the face of Christ Jesus.

[St Paul says]: The God who commanded light to shine out of darkness has made his light shine in our hearts, to enlighten us with the knowledge of God’s glory shining in the face of Christ Jesus.

And so when David says to the Lord Jesus: Let your face shine upon your servant, he is expressing his longing to see the face of Christ, so that his mind may be capable of enlightenment.

These words can be taken as referring to the incarnation, for as the Lord himself declared: Many prophets and righteous men have desired to have this vision.

David was not asking for what had been denied to Moses, namely that he might see the face of the incorporeal God with his bodily eyes…. (If Moses…could ask for this direct, unmediated vision, it was because it is inherent in our human nature for our desire to reach out beyond us.)

There was nothing wrong, therefore, in David’s desire to see the face of the Virgin’s Son who was to come; he desired it in order that God’s light might shine in his heart, as it shone in the hearts of the disciples who said: Were not our hearts burning within us when he opened up the Scriptures to us?

Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): On Psalm 118 17:26-29 (CSEL 62:390-392); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Wednesday of the Third Week in Lent, Year 2.

Irenaeus of Lyons: “Gladly therefore shall I rather glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” Tuesday, Oct 13 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonWe learn by experience that we possess eternal duration from the excelling power of this Being, not from our own nature.

This is so that we may neither undervalue that glory which surrounds God as He is, nor be ignorant of our own nature, but that we may know what God can effect, and what benefits man receives.

Thus we should never wander from the true comprehension of things as they are, that is, both with regard to God and with regard to man.

[…] The Apostle Paul has…in the most lucid manner, pointed out that man has been delivered over to his own infirmity, lest, being uplifted, he might fall away from the truth.

Thus he says in the second Epistle to the Corinthians: And lest I should be lifted up by the sublimity of the revelations, there was given unto me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me.

And upon this I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me. But he said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for strength is made perfect in weakness”.

Gladly therefore shall I rather glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me (2 Cor. 12:7–9).

[…] Did the Lord wish, in that case, that His apostles should thus undergo buffeting, and that he should endure such infirmity?

Even so it was; the word says it. For strength is made perfect in weakness, rendering him a better man who by means of his infirmity becomes acquainted with the power of God.

For how could a man have learned that he is himself an infirm being, and mortal by nature, but that God is immortal and powerful, unless he had learned by experience what is in both?

For there is nothing evil in learning one’s infirmities by endurance; yea, rather, it has even the beneficial effect of preventing him from forming an undue opinion of his own nature.

But [man’s] being lifted up against God, and taking His glory to one’s self, rendering man ungrateful, has brought much evil upon him.

And thus, I say, man must learn both things by experience, that he may not be destitute of truth and love either towards himself or his Creator.

But the experience of both confers upon him the true knowledge as to God and man, and increases his love towards God. Now, where there exists an increase of love, there a greater glory is wrought out by the power of God for those who love Him.

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 5,2,3 & 5,3,1 [slightly adapted].

Symeon the New Theologian: The revelation of His divinity becomes a judgment for those to whom it is revealed Saturday, Aug 1 2015 

SYMEON-iconIt is not called Day of the Lord as being the last of these present days, nor because it is on this day that He is going to come again in the same way that we say for feast days of the present time.

[…] Neither is it called Day of Judgment because it is on this day that judgment is going to take place, since the day when this occurs is not other than the Lord who will come on it, but it is called this because He Himself, the God and Master of all, will at that time shine with the glory of His own divinity.

[…] And He alone will be at once “Day” and God. He Who is now invisible to all and dwells in light will then be revealed to all as He is, and will fill all things with His light, and will be without evening, without end, a day of everlasting joy, but absolutely unapproachable and unseen for those who, like me, are lazy and sinners.

Because this did not happen while they yet lived, because they lacked zeal to see the light of His glory and, through purification, to have Him completely indwelling in themselves, He will also naturally be unapproachable for them in the future.

[…] The revelation of His divinity becomes in fact a judgment for those to whom it is revealed. No flesh could have endured the glory of His divinity as manifested naked of its joining and inexpressible union with the God-man. All creation would instead have been utterly destroyed both in body and soul, since at that time all were possessed by unbelief.

For the divinity, which is to say the grace of the all-Holy Spirit, has never appeared to anyone who is without faith; and, if it were to appear by some paradox among men, it would show itself as fearful and dreadful, as not illumining but burning, not as giving life but as punishing dreadfully.

And this is clear from the things which the blessed Paul, the vessel of election suffered. In the encounter with the radiance of the unapproachable light which flashed around him like lightning, his vision was wounded, and rather than being illumined he was darkened. He could not see, and lost even his natural faculty of sight.

These things happened to him who would later become the great teacher of Christ’s Church! That man who was so great, the same man who later said: ‘The God Who said “Let light shine out of darkness” has shone in our hearts,’ and a little later: ‘We have this treasure’ — i.e., of illumination — ‘in our hearts’ could not at that time see even the least glimmer of the light.

Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022 AD): Tenth Ethical Discourse @ Eclectic Orthodoxy.

Hilary of Poitiers: “The Glory Which Thou Hast Given Me I Have Given Unto Them” Wednesday, May 14 2014 

St_Hilary_of_Poitiers_cassienThe promotion of unity is set forth by a pattern of unity when Jesus says as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us.

Accordingly, as the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father, so through the pattern of this unity all might be one in the Father and the Son.

[…] That the world may believe that Thou didst send Me (John 17:21).

Thus the world is to believe that the Son has been sent by the Father because all who shall believe in Him will be one in the Father and the Son.

And how they will be so we are soon told: And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given unto them (John  17:22).

Now I ask whether glory is identical with will, since will is an emotion of the mind while glory is an ornament or embellishment of nature.

So then it is the glory received from the Father that the Son hath given to all who shall believe in Him, and certainly not will.

Had this been given, faith would carry with it no reward, for a necessity of will attached to us would also impose faith upon us.

However He has shewn what is effected by the bestowal of the glory received, That they may be one, even as We are one (John 17:22)It is then with this object that the received glory was bestowed, that all might be one.

So now all are one in glory, because the glory given is none other than that which was received: nor has it been given for any other cause than that all should be one.

And since all are one through the glory given to the Son and by the Son bestowed upon believers, I ask how can the Son be of a different glory from the Father’s, since the glory of the Son brings all that believe into the unity of the Father’s glory.

Now it may be that the utterance of human hope in this case may be somewhat immoderate, yet it will not be contrary to faith; for though to hope for this were presumptuous, yet not to have believed it is sinful, for we have one and the same Author both of our hope and of our faith.

We will treat of this matter more clearly and at greater length in its own place, as is fitting. Yet in the meantime it is easily seen from our present argument that this hope of ours is neither vain nor presumptuous. So then through the glory received and given all are one.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): On the Trinity, 8, 11-12.

Anastasius of Antioch: Cross, Resurrection and Glorification Thursday, Apr 24 2014 

Anastasius_SinaiChrist, who has shown by his words and actions that he was truly God and Lord of the universe, said to his disciples as he was about to go up to Jerusalem:

We are going up to Jerusalem now, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the Gentiles and the chief priests and scribes to be scourged and mocked and crucified.

These words bore out the predictions of the prophets, who had foretold the death he was to die in Jerusalem.

From the beginning holy Scripture had foretold Christ’s death, the sufferings that would precede it, and what would happen to his body afterward.

Scripture also affirmed that these things were going to happen to one who was immortal and incapable of suffering because he was God.

Only by reflecting upon the meaning of the incarnation can we see how it is possible to say with perfect truth both that Christ suffered and that he was incapable of suffering, came to suffer.

In fact, man could have been saved in no other way, as Christ alone knew and those to whom he revealed it. For he knows all the secrets of the Father, even as the Spirit penetrates the depths of all mysteries.

It was necessary for Christ to suffer: his passion was absolutely unavoidable. He said so himself when he called his companions dull and slow to believe because they failed to recognise that he had to suffer and so enter into his glory.

Leaving behind him the glory that had been his with the Father before the world was made, he had gone forth to save his people. This salvation, however, could be achieved only by the suffering of the author of our life, as Paul taught when he said that the author of life himself was made perfect through suffering.

Because of us he was deprived of his glory for a little while, the glory that was his as the Father’s only-begotten Son. But through the cross this glory is seen to have been restored to him in a certain way in the body that he had assumed.

Explaining what water the Saviour referred to when he said: He that has faith in me shall have rivers of living water flowing from within him, John says in his gospel that he was speaking of the Holy Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive.

For the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified. The glorification he meant was his death upon the cross for which the Lord prayed to the Father before undergoing his passion, asking his Father to give him the glory that he had in his presence before the world began.

Anastasius of Sinai (7th Century): Homily 4:1-2, PG 89. 1347-1349 @ Crossroads Initiative.

Aphrahat the Persian: The Overflowing Love of Christ Saturday, Mar 29 2014 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatBecause of His overflowing love…He opened the eyes of two blind men who had come to Him; and also He gave to the Twelve power and authority over all disease and infirmity, and also to us by their hands.

And He prohibited us from the way of the Gentiles and of the Samaritans. And He gave power to us by His mercy that we might not fear when they brought us before the rulers of the world.

And He set a division in the earth because of His great peace. And He forgave the many sins to the woman who was a sinner because of His mercies.

[…]  And He cast out from us unclean spirits, and He made us a lodging place of His divinity, and sowed in us a good seed which should give fruit a hundredfold, and sixtyfold and thirtyfold.

And He was placed in the midst of the world in the likeness of a treasure which is put in a field. And He manifested the power of His greatness when He was cast down from on high to the depth and was not harmed.

And He satisfied the hungry who had grown faint with five loaves and two fishes, five thousand men besides woman and children, and manifested the greatness of His glory.

And on account of His abundant love He heard the Canaanitish woman and raised up her daughter from her infirmity.

And by the power of Him who sent Him He loosed the tongue of the man who was dumb, and who was also deaf; and the blind saw His light, and by means of Him they glorified Him who had sent Him.

And when He went up into the mountain to pray the rays of the sun were overcome by His light. And He made His power known in the case of that boy upon whom a spirit had come, and at His word the demon went away.

And He gave us an example and a pattern that we should become as children and enter the kingdom of heaven.

[…] And again He showed His healing perfectly in the case of that man who was infirm thirty-eight years, and He magnified His mercy towards him and healed him.

[…] And He hired us as laborers that we should work in His vineyard, which is the vineyard of truth.

All these things our Saviour did unto us because of His great love. And we also, beloved, should be partakers of the love of Christ, while we love one another and fulfil these two commandments, on which hang all the law and the prophets.

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 2 – On Love (19; 20). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat). 

Thomas Aquinas: “Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb” Tuesday, Mar 25 2014 

Thomas_Aquinas_in_Stained_GlassEve sought the fruit of the tree (of good and evil), but she did not find in it that which she sought. Everything Eve desired, however, was given to the Blessed Virgin.

Eve sought that which the devil falsely promised her, namely, that she and Adam would be as gods, knowing good and evil. “You shall be,” says this liar, “as gods” (Gen 3:5). But he lied, because “he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44).

Eve was not made like God after having eaten of the fruit, but rather she was unlike God in that by her sin she withdrew from God and was driven out of paradise.

The Blessed Virgin, however, and all Christians found in the Fruit of her womb Him whereby we are all united to God and are made like to Him: “When He shall appear, we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn 3:2).

Eve looked for pleasure in the fruit of the tree because it was good to eat. But she did not find this pleasure in it, and, on the contrary, she at once discovered she was naked and was stricken with sorrow. In the Fruit of the Blessed Virgin we find sweetness and salvation: “He who eats My flesh… has eternal life” (Jn 6:55).

The fruit which Eve desired was beautiful to look upon, but that Fruit of the Blessed Virgin is far more beautiful, for the Angels desire to look upon Him: “You are beautiful above the sons of men” (Ps 44:3). He is the splendor of the glory of the Father.

Eve, therefore, looked in vain for that which she sought in the fruit of the tree, just as the sinner is disappointed in his sins. We must seek in the Fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary whatsoever we desire.

This is He who is the Fruit blessed by God, who has filled Him with every grace, which in turn is poured out upon us who adore Him: “Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with spiritual blessings in Christ” (Eph 1:3).

He, too, is revered by the Angels: “Benediction and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength, to our God” (Rev 7:12). And He is glorified by men: “Every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).

The Blessed Virgin is indeed blessed, but far more blessed is the Fruit of her womb: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” (Ps 117:26).

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): On the Angelic Salutation.

John Chrysostom: “Reflecting the Lord’s Glory, We are Refashioned to His Likeness” Sunday, Mar 16 2014 

John_ChrysostomWhat does it mean, to say (as Saint Paul does) that: Reflecting the Lord’s glory, we are refashioned transformed to his likeness (2 Corinthians 3;18)?

This was clearer in evidence when the grace of miracles was actively at work; but it is not hard to see even now, for anyone with the eyes of faith.

For on receiving baptism the soul shines brighter than the sun, being purified by the Holy Spirit; and not only do we behold God’s glory, but from it we receive a certain gleam ourselves.

Just as bright silver, when struck by beams of light, can send out beams in its turn, not simply of its own nature but from the sun’s brilliance, so also the soul, once purified and become brighter than silver, receives a beam from the glory of the Holy Spirit and sends that on.

That is why he says, Reflecting, we are refashioned he same pattern from – or of, or by – his glory, that of the Holy Spirit, into a glory, our own, which is contingent, modelled on the Spirit of the Lord.

See how he calls the Spirit “Lord,” or “Master.” He it is who transforms us, who does not permit us to conform to this world, the maker and first cause of creation as he is. As he says: You have been established in Christ Jesus.

This can be explained in more concrete terms from the apostles. We think of St. Paul, whose very clothes were activated; of St. Peter, whose very shadow had power.

That could never have been, if they had not borne the king’s likeness; if they had not had something of his unapproachable brightness – so much, it appears, that their clothes and their shadows worked wonders.

See how that brightness shines through their bodies! Gazing on the face of Stephen, he says, they seemed to see the face of an angel.

But that was nothing to the glory shining like lightning within. What Moses bore on his face, they carried in their souls, but to a much higher degree.

The mark on Moses was more tangible; but this was incorporeal. Dimly glowing bodies catch fire from brighter ones close by and pass on to others their own incandescence.

All that resembles what happens to the faithful. In this way they detach themselves from the world and have their converse only in the things of heaven.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407):  From a Homily by Saint John Chrysostom on 2 Corinthians 3 @ Dom Donald’s Blog.

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