Tikhon of Zadonsk: This healing plaster of the Gospel is applied to your wounded souls Thursday, Oct 27 2016 

Tikhon_of_ZadonskTo whom is the Gospel preached?

Christ answers us, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for Whose sake He hath anointed Me to preach to the poor, He hath sent Me to heal the broken hearted” (Lk.4:18).

In other words, to those people who, acknowledging their sins, see their poverty, misfortune, and wretchedness, and have a contrite heart with fear of God’s judgement and sorrow, to them the Gospel is rightly preached as a healing plaster is applied to a wounded body.

Hear, you sorrowful and contrite souls, hear the most sweet voice of the Gospel! “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost!”

This healing plaster of the Gospel most sweet is applied to your wounded souls. By this saving medicine heal your broken hearts. “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.”

He seeks you and saves you, because you are one of those that He came to seek. Accept and confess yourselves to be sinners before God. Your sins are also forgiven for Christ’s name’s sake.

Repent of your sins and lament for God, for salvation is prepared for you, too, by God. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the chief” (1 Tim. 1:15).

The Holy Spirit speaks to you through His servant, “The sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit, a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise” (LXX-Ps. 50:19 [KJV-Ps. 51:17]).

This sacrifice is offered to God from a repentant and contrite heart and is more acceptable to Him than any other offering. God looks mercifully upon such a sacrifice and sends His grace down upon it.

And so you see, O Christian, that the Gospel is not intended for those Christians who…do not recognize their sins, poverty and misfortune, and do not have a contrite heart. For of what use is oil to a rock? A plaster is applied to a wound, and healing is given to him who recognizes and admits his weakness.

To such people is it said, “Repent, be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy into heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up” (Jas. 4:9-10).

[…] Sinners! Let us fear the judgement of God and endeavor to have a contrite and humble heart, that we also may draw from the Gospel as from a saving font of living water of refreshment and consolation, and that we may water our souls and so receive everlasting life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tikhon of Zadonsk (1724-1783; Russian Orthodox): extract @ Kandylaki from Journey to Heaven: Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian by Our Father Among the Saints, Tikhon of Zadonsk, Bishop of Voronezh and Elets (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2004).

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Tikhon of Zadonsk: “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost” Wednesday, May 25 2016 

Tikhon_of_Zadonsk“The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). This is the exceedingly sweet voice of the Gospel.

[…] But let us see what the Gospel is, and what it requires of us, and to whom it is rightly preached.

From its very name the Gospel is the gladdest of tidings. To all the world it preaches Christ the Saviour of the world Who came to seek out and to save the lost.

Listen all you lost sinners, listen to that exceedingly sweet voice of the Gospel! It cries out to us all, “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which is lost.”

It is a fearful thing for us to be found in sin before God. The Gospel preaches that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s name’s sake and that Christ is our justification before God.

In Thee, my Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, am I justified. Thou art my truth and enlightenment.

It is a fearful thing for us to be found at enmity with God. The Gospel preaches that Christ has reconciled us to God, and having come He preached peace to all near and far.

A fearful thing for us is the curse of the Law, for we are all sinners; it subjects the sinner to both temporal and eternal punishment. The Gospel preaches that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become the curse for us.

A fearful thing for us is death. The Gospel preaches that Christ is our resurrection and life.

A fearful thing for us are Gehenna and hell. The Gospel preaches that Christ delivered us from hell and all its calamities.

It is a fearful thing for us to be separated from God. The Gospel preaches that we shall be with the Lord always in His eternal Kingdom.

This, blessed Christians, is the most sweet voice of the Gospel, “Taste,” then, “and see that the Lord is good” (LXX Psalm 33:9 [KJV Psalm 34:8]).

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned” (John 3:16-18).

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn salvation for us in the house of His servant David” (Luke 1:68-69).

Tikhon of Zadonsk (1724-1783; Russian Orthodox): extract @ Kandylaki from Journey to Heaven: Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian by Our Father Among the Saints, Tikhon of Zadonsk, Bishop of Voronezh and Elets (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2004) .

Basil the Great: The gospel is a forecast of the life that follows on the resurrection Tuesday, May 10 2016 

St-Basil-the-GreatContinued from here….

We do not…wash ourselves at each defilement, but own the baptism of salvation to be one.

For there the death on behalf of the world is one, and one the resurrection of the dead, whereof baptism is a type.

For this cause the Lord, who is the Dispenser of our life, gave us the covenant of baptism, containing a type of life and death, for the water fulfils the image of death, and the Spirit gives us the earnest of life.

Hence it follows that the answer to our question why the water was associated with the Spirit is clear.

The reason is because in baptism two ends were proposed; on the one hand, the destroying of the body of sin, that it may never bear fruit unto death; on the other hand, our living unto the Spirit, and having our fruit in holiness.

The water receiving the body as in a tomb figures death, while the Spirit pours in the quickening power, renewing our souls from the deadness of sin unto their original life.

This then is what it is to be born again of water and of the Spirit, the being made dead being effected in the water, while our life is wrought in us through the Spirit.

In three immersions, then, and with three invocations, the great mystery of baptism is performed, to the end that the type of death may be fully figured, and that by the handing-over of the divine knowledge the baptized may have their souls enlightened.

It follows that if there is any grace in the water, it is not of the nature of the water, but of the presence of the Spirit. For baptism is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God (1 Peter 3:21).

So, in training us for the life that follows on the resurrection, the Lord sets out all the manner of life required by the Gospel, laying down for us the law of gentleness, of endurance of wrong, of freedom from the defilement that comes of the love of pleasure, and from covetousness, to the end that we may of set purpose win beforehand and achieve all that the life to come of its inherent nature possesses.

If therefore any one in attempting a definition were to describe the gospel as a forecast of the life that follows on the resurrection, he would not seem to me to go beyond what is meet and right.

Basil the Great (330-379): On the Holy Spirit 15, 35 [slightly adapted].

Symeon the New Theologian: We receive the Word and the Spirit in our hearts Saturday, Jun 14 2014 

SYMEON-iconEveryone of us believes in him who is the Son of God and son of Mary, ever-virgin and mother of God.

And as believers we faithfully welcome his gospel into our hearts, confessing in words our belief, and repenting with all our soul of our past sins.

Then immediately, just as God the Word of the Father entered the Virgin’s womb, so also in ourselves the word which we receive in learning right belief appears like a seed.

You should be amazed when you hear of such an awe-inspiring mystery, and because the word is reliable you should receive it with full conviction and faith.

In fact we receive him not bodily, as the Virgin and Mother of God received him, but both spiritually and substantially.

And the very one whom the chaste Virgin also received, we hold in our own hearts, as Saint Paul says: It is God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shown in our hearts to reveal the knowledge of his Son. 

In other words: he has become wholly substantial in us. And that he actually meant this, he made clear in the next verse: But we contain this treasure in earthenware pots, calling the Holy Spirit a treasure.

But elsewhere he also calls the Lord Spirit: The Lord is the Spirit, he says. And he tells us this so that if you hear the words the Son of God, you should think of and hear the words the Spirit at the same time.

Again, if you hear the Spirit mentioned you should join the Father to the Spirit in thought, because con­cerning the Father too it is said: God is Spirit. 

You are constantly taught that the Holy Trinity is inseparable and of the same substance, and that where the Son is the Father is also, and where the Father is the Spirit is also, and where the Holy Spirit is the whole of the deity in three persons is, the one God and Father with Son and Spirit of the same substance, “who is praised for ever. Amen.”

So if we wholeheartedly believe and ardently repent, we receive the Word of God in our hearts, as has been said, like the Virgin, if of course we bring with us our own souls chaste and pure.

And just as the fire of the deity did not consume the Virgin since she was supremely pure, so neither does it consume us if we bring with us chaste and pure hearts; on the contrary it becomes in us the dew from heaven, a spring of water, and a stream of immortal life.

Symeon the New Theologian (949–1022 AD): Traites Theologiques et Ethiques J, 10: se 122, 252-254 @ Dom Donald’s Blog.

Ignatius Brianchaninov: The work of accepting salvation, given to us by God free and complete, the work of repentance Tuesday, Jan 28 2014 

Ignatius_Brianchaninov“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).

St. Simeon the New Theologian, who acquired his knowledge of truth through his holy experience…said: “The careful fulfillment of the commandments of Christ teaches a man his own infirmities.”

Exactly! As soon as one who believes in Christ begins to fulfill the all-holy commandments of the Gospel, or also, to perform the works of renewed nature, his fallen nature is instantly revealed to him, which had been hidden from sight until then, and it enters into a sustained battle with the Gospel.

The life of one who struggles for Christ is filled with unseen falls. He involuntarily confesses with the Apostle: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am!” (Rom. 7: 22-24).

From such an observation of oneself, blessed poverty of spirit is engendered within a Christian, rational, spiritual mourning appears, and a broken and humble heart is established, which God will not destroy (Ps. 50: 20).

In living according to the Gospel, there appears in a man, as if naturally, the repentance commanded by the Gospel. Therefore, repentance is necessary not only in order to believe in Christ; it is necessary in order to have a living faith in Christ. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

There remains to be explained: why is there such a close connection between the words of the Lord calling us to repent, and the announcing of the nearness of the Kingdom of heaven? Why is there not presented between them a kind of intermediate struggle, an intermediate condition?

The reason is that our Lord Jesus Christ is “the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)—He has accomplished everything for our salvation. He has reconciled us with God; He has prepared and acquired for us the Heavenly Kingdom.

We, mankind, have been presented with one work in the matter of our salvation: the work of accepting salvation, given to us by God free and complete, the work of repentance. The Heavenly Kingdom and the Heavenly King are ineffably close to us—incomparably closer than we imagine.

“Behold, I stand at the door” of the heart of man, exclaims this King, and I knock at it with My all-holy and almighty Word: “if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me (Rev. 3:20). The opening of the doors of the heart to the Heavenly King is accomplished—with repentance. “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807–1867; Russian Orthodox): Homily for the Sunday after Theophany translated by Bishop George (Schaefer) @ Pravoslavie.

John Chrysostom: St Paul – Apostle and Evangelist Saturday, Jan 25 2014 

John_ChrysostomJanuary 25th is the feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.”

Why did God change his name, and call him Paul who was Saul?

It was, that he might not even in this respect come short of the Apostles, but that that preëminence which the chief of the Disciples had, he might also acquire (Mark 3:16); and have whereon to ground a closer union with them.

[…] “Called an Apostle.”

He styles himself “called” in all his Epistles, so showing his own candor, and that it was not of his own seeking that he found, but that when called he came near and obeyed.

And the faithful, he styles, “called to be saints,” but while they had been called so far as to be believers, he had besides a different thing committed to his hands, namely, the Apostleship, a thing full of countless blessings, and at once greater than and comprehensive of, all the gifts.

[…] What more need one say of Apostleship, than that whatsoever Christ was doing when present, this he committed to their hands when He departed.

Which also Paul cries aloud, speaking thereof and magnifying the dignity of the Apostles’ office; “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech by us;” i.e. in Christ’s stead.

[…] “To the Gospel of God.”

Not Matthew then alone is an Evangelist, nor Mark, as neither was this man alone an Apostle, but they also; even if he be said prëeminently to be this, and they that.

And he calls it the Gospel, not for those good things only which have been brought to pass, but also for those which are to come.

And how comes he to say, that the Gospel “of God” is preached by himself? for he says, “separated to the Gospel of God”—for the Father was manifest, even before the Gospels.

Yet even if He were manifest, it was to the Jews only, and not even to all of these as were fitting. For neither did they know Him to be a Father, and many things did they conceive unworthily of Him.

Wherefore also Christ says, “The true worshippers” shall come, and that “the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:23).

But it was afterwards that He Himself with the Son was unveiled to the whole world, which Christ also spoke of beforehand, and said, “that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent” (John 17:3).

But he calls it the “Gospel” of God, to cheer the hearer at the outset.

For he came not with tidings to make the countenance sad, as did the prophets with their accusations, and charges, and reproofs, but with glad tidings, even the “Gospel of God;” countless treasures of abiding and unchangeable blessings.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homily 1 on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.

John Chrysostom: St John – the Son of Thunder, the Beloved of Christ, Who Holds the Keys of Heaven, Who Drank the Cup of Christ Friday, Dec 27 2013 

John_ChrysostomDecember 27th is the Feast of St John the Evangelist.

For the son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world,

who holds the keys of heaven, who drank the cup of Christ, and was baptized with His baptism,

who lay upon his Master’s bosom with much confidence,

this man comes forward to us now;

not as an actor of a play, not hiding his head with a mask…,

nor mounting a platform, nor striking the stage with his foot, nor dressed out with apparel of gold, but he enters wearing a robe of inconceivable beauty.

For he will appear before us having “put on Christ” (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27), having his beautiful “feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace” ( Eph. vi. 15 );

wearing a girdle not about his waist, but about his loins, not made of scarlet leather nor daubed outside with gold, but woven and composed of truth itself.

Seeing then it is no longer the fisherman the son of Zebedee, but He who knoweth “the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10), the Holy Spirit I mean, that striketh this lyre, let us hearken accordingly.

For he will say nothing to us as a man, but what he saith, he will say from the depths of the Spirit, from those secret things which before they came to pass the very Angels knew not; since they too have learned by the voice of John with us, and by us, the things which we know.

And this hath another Apostle declared, saying, “To the intent that unto the principalities and powers might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).

If then principalities, and powers, and Cherubim, and Seraphim, learned these things by the Church, it is very clear that they were exceedingly earnest in listening to this teaching; and even in this we have been not a little honored, that the Angels learned with us things which before they knew not.

[…] If we long to know what is going on in the palace, what, for instance, the king has said, what he has done, what counsel he is taking concerning his subjects, though in truth these things are for the most part nothing to us; much more is it desirable to hear what God hath said, especially when all concerns us.

And all this will this man tell us exactly, as being a friend of the King Himself, or rather, as having Him speaking within himself, and from Him hearing all things which He heareth from the Father.

“I have called you friends,” He saith, “for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you” (John 15:15).

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on St John’s Gospel, Homily1, Preface, 2-3.

Justin Popovich: When God Became Man, Divine Life Became Human Life – Everything Which Is God’s Became Man’s Monday, Nov 11 2013 

Justin PopovichWho is a Christian? A Christian is a man who lives by Christ and in Christ.

The commandment of the Holy Gospel of God is divine: “live worthily of God” (Col. 1:10).

God, Who became incarnate and Who as the Godman has in entirety remained in His Church, which lives eternally by Him.

And one lives “worthily of God” when one lives according to the Gospel of Christ.

Therefore, this Divine commandment of the Holy Gospel is also natural: “Live worthily of the Gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).

Life according to the Gospel, holy life, Divine life, that is the natural and normal life for Christians.

For Christians, according to their vocation, are holy: That good tiding and commandment resounds throughout the whole Gospel of the New Testament.

To become completely holy, both in soul and in body, that is our vocation. This is not a miracle, but rather the norm, the rule of faith.

The commandment of the Holy Gospel is clear and most clear: as the Holy One who has called you is Holy, so be ye holy in all manner of life (1 Peter 1:15).

And that means that according to Christ the Holy One, Who, having been incarnate and become man, showed forth in Himself a completely holy life, and as such commands men: “be ye holy, for I am Holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

He has the right to command this, for having become man He gives men as Himself, the Holy One, all the Divine energies which are necessary for a holy and pious life in this world.

Having united themselves spiritually and by Grace to the Holy One—the Lord Christ—with the help of faith, Christians themselves receive from Him the holy energies that they may lead a holy life.

Living by Christ, the saints can do the works of Christ, for by Him they become not only powerful but all-powerful: “I can do all things in Christ Jesus who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

And in them is clearly realized the truth of the All-True One, that those who believe in Him will do His works and will do greater things than these: “Verily, verily I say unto you: he that believeth in me, the works that I do he shall do also and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12).

And truly: the shadow of the Apostle Peter healed; by a word St. Mark the Ascetic moved and stopped a mountain…

When God became man, then Divine life became human life, Divine power became human power, Divine truth became human truth, and Divine righteousness became human righteousness: everything which is God’s became man’s.

Justin Popovich (1894-1979; Orthodox Church): Introduction to the Lives of the Saints.

Basil the Great: In Proportion to the Size of the Heart, the Spirit Writes in Hearts More or Less Tuesday, Sep 17 2013 

St-Basil-the-GreatMy tongue is the pen of a scrivener that writeth swiftly (Psalm 44[45]:2).

As the pen is an instrument for writing when the hand of an experienced person moves it to record what is being written, so also the tongue of the just man, when the Holy Spirit moves it, writes the words of eternal life in the hearts of the faithful, dipped ‘not in ink, but in the Spirit of the living God (2 Cor. 3:3).

The scrivener, therefore, is the Holy Spirit, because He is wise and an apt teacher of all; and swiftly writing, because the movement of His mind is swift.

The Spirit writes thoughts in us, ‘Not on tablets of stone but on fleshy tablets of the heart (2 Cor. 3:3).

In proportion to the size of the heart, the Spirit writes in hearts more or less, either things evident to all or things more obscure, according to its previous preparation of purity.

Because of the speed with which the writings have been finished all the world now is filled with the Gospel.

[…] Thou art ripe in beauty, above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in thy lips (Ps. 44:3).

[…] David calls the Lord ripe in beauty when he fixes his gaze on His divinity. He does not celebrate the beauty of the flesh.  ‘And we have seen him, and he had no sightliness, nor beauty, but his appearance was without honor and lacking above the sons of men’ (Isa. 53:2, 3, LXX).

It is evident, then, that the prophet, looking upon His brilliancy and being filled with the splendor there, his soul smitten with this beauty, was moved to a divine love of the spiritual beauty, and when this appeared in the human soul all things hitherto loved seemed shameful and abominable.

Therefore, even Paul, when he saw His ripe beauty ‘counted all things as dung that he might gain Christ’ (Phil. 3:8).

Those outside the word of truth, despising the simplicity of expression in the Scriptures, call the preaching of the Gospel folly; but we, who glory in the cross of Christ, ‘to whom the gifts bestowed on us by God were manifested through the Spirit, not in words taught by human wisdom’ (Cf. 1 Cor. 2.12, 13) know that the grace poured out by God in the teachings concerning Christ is rich.

Therefore, in a short time the teaching passed through almost the whole world, since grace, rich and plentiful, was poured out upon the preachers of the Gospel, whom Scripture called even the lips of Christ.

Moreover, the message of the Gospel in its insignificant little words possesses great guidance and attraction toward salvation. And every soul is overcome by the unalterable doctrines, being strengthened by grace to an unshaken faith in Christ.

Basil the Great (330-379): Homily 17 (on Psalm 44[45]), 3-4,  from Saint Basil: Exegetic Homilies, translated by Agnes Clare Way, Catholic University of America Press (The Fathers of the Church, vol. 46), pp. 281-283.

Aphrahat the Persian: “Lo! On This Stone Will I Open Seven Eyes” Sunday, Sep 1 2013 

ephrem-isaac-aphrahatDaniel also spoke concerning this stone which is Christ.  For he said:—The stone was cut out from the mountain, not by hands, and it smote the image, and the whole earth was filled with it (Dan. 2:34, 35).

This he showed beforehand with regard to Christ that the whole earth shall be filled with Him.

For lo! by the faith of Christ are all the ends of the earth filled, as David said:—The sound of the Gospel of Christ has gone forth into all the earth (Ps. 19:4).

And again when He sent forth His apostles He spake thus to them:—Go forth, make disciples of all nations and they will believe on Me (Matt. 28:19).

And again the Prophet Zechariah also prophesied about that stone which is Christ.  For he said:—I saw a chief stone of equality and of love (Zech. 4:2).

And why did he say “chief”?  Surely because from the beginning [the words for chief and for beginning are almost identical in the Syriac] He was with His Father.

And again that he spoke of love, it was because when He came into the world, He said thus to His disciples:—This is My commandment, that ye love one another (John 15:12).

And again He said:—I have called you My friends (lovers)  (John 15:15).  And the blessed Apostle said thus:—God loved us in the love of His Son (cf Eph. 2:4, 5). Of a truth Christ loved us and gave Himself for us (cf. Eph. 5:2).

And definitely did He show concerning this stone:—Lo! on this stone will I open seven eyes (Zech. 3:9).  And what then are the seven eyes that were opened on the stone?

Clearly the Spirit of God that abode on Christ with seven operations, as Isaiah the Prophet said:—The Spirit of God shall rest and dwell upon Him, (a spirit) of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and of courage, of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord (Is. 11:1, 2).

These were the seven eyes that were opened upon the Stone, and these are the seven eyes of the Lord which look upon all the earth (Zech. 4:10).

Aphrahat the Persian (c.270-c.345): Demonstrations, 1 – On Faith (8-9). (The icon accompanying this extract depicts Ephrem the Syrian, Isaac the Syrian, and Aphrahat).

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