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.

Guerric of Igny: If Anyone is Nailed to the Cross with Christ He is Altogether Wise, Righteous, Holy and Free Tuesday, Mar 26 2013 

GuerricIt seems to me that during these days when we are solemnly observing the annual commemoration of our Lord’s passion and crucifixion, I cannot speak to you on a more appropriate subject than that of Jesus Christ himself, and him crucified.

Even at another season of the year it would be hard to find a worthier theme. Could you hear anything more salutary or occupy your minds with anything more profitable?

Surely nothing can so sweetly stir the hearts of the faithful or exert so wholesome an influence on their lives; nothing has such power to cut off their sins, root out their vices, nourish and strengthen their virtues, as the remembrance of Jesus crucified.

To those who have reached maturity Saint Paul may preach about the hidden wisdom of God; but to me, whose shortcomings are visible to all, let him speak of the crucified Christ, who indeed seems mere foolishness to those who are on the road to perdition, but is the power and the wisdom of God to those who are on the way to salvation.

For me this is the highest and noblest philosophy, in the light of which all worldly and human wisdom is of no account.

How perfect I might think myself, how advanced in wisdom, if only I could qualify as a true disciple of Jesus crucified, for God has made him not only our wisdom but also our righteousness, our holiness and our freedom!

If anyone is nailed to the Cross with Christ he is altogether wise, righteous, holy and free.

Wise, because he has been raised with Christ above the earth, and now seeks and understands the things of heaven;

righteous, because sin has been put to death in him and he is no longer enslaved to it;

holy, because he has offered himself to God as a living sacrifice, consecrated and acceptable to him;

free, because the Son of God has redeemed him, and in freedom of spirit he can now boldly repeat the Son’s confident words: The prince of this world is on his way, but he has no claim on me.

Truly there is mercy and fullness of redemption with our crucified Lord. So completely has he redeemed Israel from all its iniquity that it is now acquitted of any accusation that the prince of this world could make against it.

The Lord has redeemed his people from the land of the foe and gathered them from far-off lands. Let them be of one mind with their teacher, Saint Paul, in declaring: God forbid that 1 should boast of anything but the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Guerric of Igny (c.1070/80-1157): Sermon 2, On the Palm Branches, 1 (PL 185:130-131); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Wednesday in Holy Week, Year 1.

Cyril of Jerusalem: That Prayer which the Saviour Delivered to His Own Disciples (1) Sunday, Jul 15 2012 

Then, after these things, we say that Prayer which the Saviour delivered to His own disciples, with a pure conscience entitling God our Father, and saying, Our Father, which art in heaven.

O most surpassing loving-kindness of God!  On them who revolted from Him and were in the very extreme of misery has He bestowed such a complete forgiveness of evil deeds, and so great participation of grace, as that they should even call Him Father.

Our Father, which art in heaven; and they also are a heaven who bear the image of the heavenly, in whom is God, dwelling and walking in them.

Hallowed be Thy Name.  The Name of God is in its nature holy, whether we say so or not.

However, it is sometimes profaned among sinners, according to the words, Through you My Name is continually blasphemed among the Gentiles.

Therefore we pray that in us God’s Name may be hallowed – not that it comes to be holy from not being holy, but because it becomes holy in us, when we are made holy, and do things worthy of holiness.

Thy kingdom come.  A pure soul can say with boldness, Thy kingdom come; for he who has heard Paul saying let not therefore sin reign in your mortal body, and has cleansed himself in deed, and thought, and word, will say to God, Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth.  God’s divine and blessed Angels do the will of God, as David said in the Psalm, Bless the Lord, all ye Angels of His, mighty in strength, that do His pleasure.

So then in effect thou meanest this by thy prayer, “as in the Angels Thy will is done, so likewise be it done on earth in me, O Lord.”

Give us this day our substantial bread.  This common bread is not substantial bread, but this Holy Bread is substantial, that is, appointed for the substance of the soul.

For this Bread goeth not into the belly and is cast out into the draught, but is distributed into thy whole system for the benefit of body and soul.

But by this day, he means, “each day,” as also Paul said, While it is called to-day.

Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): Catechetical Lectures 23, 11-15.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus: To Know Him as He Knows Himself, and to Become Ourselves Divine Tuesday, Jun 26 2012 

St.-ThereseYou are right – life is often burdensome and bitter.

It is painful to begin a day of toil, especially when Jesus hides Himself from our love.

What is this sweet Friend about?

Does He not see our anguish and the burden that weighs us down?

Why does He not come and comfort us?

Be not afraid…. He is here at hand. He is watching, and it is He who begs from us this pain, these tears….

He needs them for souls, for our souls, and He longs to give us a magnificent reward.

I assure you that it costs Him dear to fill us with bitterness, but He knows that it is the only means of preparing us to know Him as He knows Himself, and to become ourselves Divine!

Our soul is indeed great and our destiny glorious. Let us lift ourselves above all things that pass, and hold ourselves far from the earth!

Up above, the air is so pure … Jesus may hide Himself, but we know that He is there.

My dearest sister, do not let your weakness make you unhappy.

When, in the morning, we feel no courage or strength for the practice of virtue, it is really a grace: it is the time to “lay the axe to the root of the tree” (Matt. 3:10), relying upon Jesus alone.

If we fall, an act of love will set all right, and Jesus smiles.

He helps us without seeming to do so; and the tears which sinners cause Him to shed are wiped away by our poor weak love.

Love can do all things. The most impossible tasks seem to it easy and sweet.

You know well that Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them.

What, then, have we to fear? You wish to become a Saint, and you ask me if this is not attempting too much.

Céline, I will not tell you to aim at the seraphic holiness of the most privileged souls, but rather to be “perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Apoc. 21:4).

You see that your dream – that our dreams and our desires – are not fancies, since Jesus Himself has laid their realisation upon us as a commandment.

Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897): Letters of Saint Thérèse to Her Sister Celine, 1 & 2.

Bede the Venerable: Let Us Prepare Our Hearts so that He Himself may Dwell in them and Enlighten them by His Presence Wednesday, Jun 20 2012 

icon_bede-Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah and rebuild the house of the Lord.

A great faith shines out in these words of King Cyrus, and a great love.

He understood that the people of Israel, above all other nations, was the people of God, and he gave leave to all without exception who wished to return to their native land to do so as free men.

He acknowledged that the Lord God who dwelt in heaven dwelt also in Jerusalem and could go up with each one of those returning from Babylon to Jerusalem.

Is it not clearer than daylight that he believed this God to be non-corporeal, unrestricted by place, a spirit, present everywhere;

whom he acknowledged dwelt in Jerusalem and its Temple yet without doubting that he held sway simultaneously in the kingdom of heaven;

whom he believed reigned in heaven yet was with his faithful on earth, guiding their hands and hearts to accomplish what was good and salutary?

For the rest, all the words of this text are full of spiritual significance.

For who does not easily recognise that it is only those whom God is with who can pass from sinfulness to sanctity – from captivity in Babylon to freedom in Jerusalem?

Without me, Christ says, you can do nothing. Can anyone fail to see here a reference to the spiritual ascent, the ‘going-up’ to Jerusalem?

Those who really desire to please God must necessarily lift up their hands to higher things, long for what is divine and transcend the display of this world and its attractions through their love of eternal reality.

We are reminded that Jerusalem is in Judah, so that we who through disregard of God were once held captive by the Chaldeans and thereafter freed from malign spirits, may return to the vision of peace and light by our recognition of God’s love.

And there let us build a house to the Lord God of Israel – in the unity of Catholic peace, in the acknowledgment of our sinfulness and God’s loving-­kindness and grace.

Let us prepare our hearts so that he himself may deign to dwell in them and enlighten them by his presence.

But let us also take care to set the hearts of our neighbours alight, so that they too may praise their Creator and engage in the works of love.

Indeed, either way we build a house to the Lord: whether we commit ourselves to the pursuit of holiness or, by our words and example, inspire those whom we can to walk in the way of holi­ness.

The Venerable Bede (672/4-735): Commentary on Ezra and Nehemiah (PL 91:812-813); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday of the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2.

Basil the Great: The Gospel as a Forecast of the Life that Follows on the Resurrection Sunday, Apr 22 2012 

St-Basil-the-GreatContinued from here…

On this account 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 receives 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 tradition 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.”

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.

John of Kronstadt: How honored and magnified is mankind through the Holy Virgin Mother of God Friday, Sep 9 2011 

john_kronstadtWe solemnly celebrate, dear brothers and sisters, the Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary from her barren parents, pious Joachim and Anna.

The Holy Church established this feast during the first centuries of the Christian Faith.

The event that we celebrate—the birth of the God-Chosen maiden—brought joy to all the world, for the God-man, Jesus Christ, Who shone forth from Her, destroyed God’s curse which weighed heavily upon the transgressing and accursed human race, and brought God’s blessing upon it; having trampled down inherent death, He gave people eternal life.

[…] What joy does the Nativity of the Mother of God bring us? Let us explain in more detail the Church hymn which explains the meaning of this feast’s joy.

Through the birth of the Ever-Virgin, through Her only-begotten Son and God, cursed and outcast mankind makes peace with God Who is immeasurably offended by man’s sins, for Christ became the mediator of this peace (cf. Rom. 5:10-11).

Man is freed from the curse and eternal death, made worthy of the blessing of the Heavenly Father.

He is united and co-mingled with the Divine nature; he is raised to his first inheritance by this co-mingling, according to the Church hymn.

Mankind, once an outcast, has been made worthy of sonship to the Heavenly Father, received the promise of the glorious resurrection and eternal life in the heavens together with the angels.

This has all been and is being wrought by the Son of God incarnate from the Most Pure Virgin from the Holy Spirit, and by the intercession of His Most Pure Mother.

How honored and magnified is mankind through the Holy Virgin Mother of God, for it has been made worthy of renewal and sonship by God.

She Herself was made worthy by Her immeasurable humility and exceedingly great purity and holiness to be the Mother of the God-man!

She is ever the most powerful Intercessor for the Christian race before Her Son and God!

She is our Hope unashamed. She turns away from us the dark cloud of God’s righteous wrath, opens to us the ancient paradise by Her powerful intercessions.

She upholds the thrones of kings, and preserves them unshakeable to the ages.

[…] She is the Surety of Sinners for salvation. To Her do Christians direct their numberless prayers, requests, and praises, doxologies and thanksgiving.

She has worked and continues to work miracles without number in the Church, to the ends of the world.

Let us brightly celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the Most Pure Virgin Mary, adorning ourselves with all the Christian virtues.

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): Homily on the Day of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God @ Pravoslavie.

Hilary of Poitiers: “You are the Temple of God, and the Spirit of God Dwells Within You” Wednesday, Aug 17 2011 

God chose Sion for his abode and his dwelling-place. But Sion came to be destroyed.

Where, then, is now the everlasting throne of the Lord, where his eternal resting-place, where the Temple in which he can reside?

You, says the Apostle, are the Temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells within you.

This is the house and this the Temple of God, filled with divine knowledge and virtue, made fit for God’s indwelling by holiness of heart; to which the prophet bore witness: Holy is your Temple, wonderful in justice.

It is the holiness, the justice, the purity of man that is a Temple for the Lord.

This Temple must be built by God. Raised by man’s en­deavour, it will never last; founded on worldly wisdom, it will never hold together; kept by our foolish exertions and care, it will never be preserved.

On no shifting sand is it to be founded, but set firm on the foundation of the prophets and the Apostles; with living stones must it take shape, held fast by the Corner-Stone.

With its materials securely joined together it must grow unto the perfect man, unto the stature of the body of Christ, and its adorning must lie in the beauty and splendour of spiritual gifts.

Israel is now in captivity, but when the full host of Gentiles is come then it will pursue the building of this house.

By the multifarious labours of the faithful it will grow into as many houses, will become a great and beautiful city.

For long now, has the Lord kept faithful watch over his city: guarding Abra­ham on his pilgrimage, preserving Isaac from immolation, re­warding Jacob for his years of service, giving power to Joseph. a slave in Egypt.

He strengthens Moses in his conflict with Pharaoh, makes Joshua a leader in battle, rescues David from every danger, confers on Solomon the gift of wisdom.

He is there among his prophets, taking up Elijah, choosing Elisha, feeding Daniel, bringing refreshment to the children in the fiery furnace.

Joseph he tells by an angel of his virgin birth, Mary he reassures, John he sends before him.

He chooses the Apostles and prays to his Father: Holy Father, keep them safe … while I was with them I kept them in thy name.

And after his passion he promises that he himself will have an everlasting care of us: Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the world.

Such is the everlasting protection of this blessed and holy city which, made up of many come together in one, and found in each one of us, forms indeed the city of God.

Hilary of Poitiers (c.300-368): Treatise on Psalm 126, 7-9; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Wednesday of the 20th Week in Ordinary Time Year 1.

Gregory of Nyssa: The Name of Christ Shares in Our Soul, Words and Life’s Activities so that Holiness may be Constantly Kept Thursday, Aug 11 2011 

A Christian has three characteristics: deed, word and thought. First among these is thought.

Reason is the beginning of every thought; next comes speech which reveals one’s mind by words. Action is third in order after thought and word, bringing thought to realization.

[…] It does us well to be carefully attentive so that our thoughts, words and deeds may participate in Christ’s lofty names.

Paul says that everything not proceeding from faith is sin (Rom 14.23); as a result, he clearly states that every word, deed or thought which does not look to Christ is contrary to him; whatever does not partake of light nor life shares in darkness or death.

If any word or thought according to Christ is contrary to the good, that which is manifested through these three elements becomes clear: whoever separates himself from Christ does not belong to him, whether in thought, deed or in speech.

[…] How, then, should the person worthy of Christ’s great name behave? What can he do except to always discern his thoughts, words and deeds, and to see whether or not they are of Christ or are alien to him?

Much skill is needed here for discernment. Anything effected, thought or said through passion has no association with Christ but bears the adversary’s mark; smearing the soul’s pearl with passion as if with mud, it corrupts the precious stone’s brightness.

But a state free from every passion looks to the author of detachment, Christ.

He who draws to himself thoughts as from a pure, incorruptible fountain will resemble the prototype as water drawn into a jar resembles water gushing from a fountain.

[…] In my judgment this is the perfection of the Christian life: the name of Christ…shares in our soul, words and life’s activities so that the holiness praised by Paul (1Thess 5.23) may be constantly kept in the entire body, mind and spirit with no admixture of evil.

If anyone says that the good is difficult to attain…, my response is that a person who does not lawfully strive in a contest cannot be crowned (1Tim 2.5)….

Without an opponent there is no crown, for victory against oneself is lacking if there is no weakness.

Hence, let us struggle against our nature’s mutability as though against an adversary; wrestling with our reason makes us victors not by casting it down but by not consenting to the fall.

[…] No one should lament his mutable nature; rather, by always being changed to what is better and by being transformed from glory to glory (2 Cor 3.18), let him so be changed.

[…] Perfection consists in never stopping our growth towards the good nor in circumscribing perfection.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): On Perfection, translation originally published in The Greek Orthodox Theological Review, vol. 29, 4 (Brookline, Mass., 1984), pp.349-79.

Elizabeth of the Trinity: Living in the Image of the Trinity Sunday, Jun 19 2011 

The Holy Trinity created us in its image, according to the eternal design that is possessed in its bosom before the world was created.

[…] God wills that, freed from ourselves, we should stretch out our arms towards our exemplar and possess it, rising above all things towards our model.

This contemplation opens the soul to unexpected horizons.

In a certain manner it possesses the crown towards which it aspires; “the immense riches that God possesses by nature, we may possess by virtue of love, by His dwelling in us and by our dwelling in Him.

It is by virtue of this immense love that we are drawn into the depths of the intimate sanctuary where God imprints in us a true image of His majesty.

[…] “Be holy for I am holy.”  It is the Lord who speaks.

Whatever may be our way of life or the clothing we wear, each of us must be the holy one of God.

Who then is “the most holy?”  The one who is most loving, who gazes longest on God and who most fully satisfies the desires of His gaze.

How do we satisfy the desires of God’s gaze but by remaining simply and lovingly turned towards Him so that He may reflect His own image as the sun is reflected though a pure crystal.

“Let us make man in our own image and likeness.” Such was the great desire in the Heart of our God.

[…] When God sees that we are prepared to receive His grace, His generous goodness is ready to give us the gift that will give us His likeness.

Our aptitude for receiving His grace depends on the inner integrity with which we move towards Him

And then God, “bringing us His gifts,” can give Himself, imprint on us His likeness, forgive and free us.

[…]  The image of God imprinted in the soul is formed by reason, memory, and will.

[…] Now, this is not fully realized unless the intellect is completely enlightened by knowledge of God, the will captivated by the love of the supreme good, and the memory fully absorbed in contemplation and enjoyment of eternal happiness.

And as the glory of the blessed is nothing else than the perfect possession of this state, it is obvious that the initial possession of thee blessings constitutes perfection in this life.

To realize this ideal we must keep recollected within ourselves, remain silently in God’s presence, while the soul immerse itself, expands, becomes enkindled and melts in Him, with an unlimited fullness.

Elizabeth of the Trinity (1880-1906); Heaven In Faith, 22-25, from Complete Works,  Volume I, ICS Publications, quoted on Praise of Glory.

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