John Cassian: There are three things which enable men to control their faults Saturday, Oct 8 2016 

Sf-IoanCasianThen the blessed Chæremon spoke:

There are, said he, three things which enable men to control their faults;

viz., either the fear of hell or of laws even now imposed;

or the hope and desire of the kingdom of heaven;

or a liking for goodness itself and the love of virtue.

For then we read that the fear of evil loathes contamination: “The fear of the Lord hateth evil” (Prov. 9:13).

Hope also shuts out the assaults of all faults: for “all who hope in Him shall not fail” (Ps. 33:23).

Love also fears no destruction from sins, for “love never faileth” (1 Cor. 13), and again “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).

And therefore the blessed Apostle confines the whole sum of salvation in the attainment of those three virtues, saying “Now abideth faith, hope, love, these three” (1 Cor. 13:13).

For faith is what makes us shun the stains of sin from fear of future judgment and punishment;

hope is what withdraws our mind from present things, and despises all bodily pleasures from its expectation of heavenly rewards;

love is what inflames us with keenness of heart for the love of Christ and the fruit of spiritual goodness, and makes us hate with a perfect hatred whatever is opposed to these.

And these three things although they all seem to aim at one and the same end (for they incite us to abstain from things unlawful) yet they differ from each other greatly in the degrees of their excellence.

For the two former belong properly to those men who in their aim at goodness have not yet acquired the love of virtue, and the third belongs specially to God and to those who have received into themselves the image and likeness of God.

For He alone does the things that are good, with no fear and no thanks or reward to stir Him up, but simply from the love of goodness. For, as Solomon says, “The Lord hath made all things for Himself” (Prov. 16:4).

For under cover of His own goodness He bestows all the fulness of good things on the worthy and the unworthy because He cannot be wearied by wrongs, nor be moved by passions at the sins of men, as He ever remains perfect goodness and unchangeable in His nature.

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 11, 6.

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Nektarios the Wonderworker: Blessed are they who hope in the Lord Monday, Nov 9 2015 

St NektariosContinued from here….

Those who hope in the Lord enjoy extreme peace; serenity reigns in their heart and their soul is governed by tranquillity.

When they have God as their helper, what shall they fear? What shall make them quake?

Should war arise against them, they will not founder, for they hope in the Lord.

If they are persecuted by evil-doers, they will not fear, for they know that all things are under the control of the Lord.

They do not hope in their bow nor their quiver, nor does their salvation depend on the sword, but on their Lord and God, Who is able to wrest them from the hands of those who war against them, from the trap of the sinner and from the tempest.

They are convinced of the power of the Lord and of “His high right arm” and the Lord will save them.

Those who hope in the Lord walk calmly in the struggle of life and stride along the path with no concern for tribulations.

They toil unceasingly for the good, the pleasing and the perfect, and God blesses their works. They sow with a blessing and reap the rich rewards of their efforts.  They have boldness before the Lord and are not diverted by the temptations which surround them.

Before the trials of life they do retreat, but hope, because when things seem at their most dire, that is when God shows the way through.

Through their faith, they also await the hope of righteousness. Those who hope in the Lord do not hope in riches, nor in the extent of their power, but are content with the assistance that the Lord will provide.

Those who hope in the Lord are full of faith and love towards God, they live with confidence in their pure conscience, they appear with the boldness of one of His children before their heavenly Father and call upon Him to send His kingdom to earth and ensure that His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

Those who hope in the Lord are absolutely devoted to Him and raise their hearts to the good and immortal God. They ask of Him the supreme good, and immortality in the kingdom of Heaven. And God hears them.

Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Nektarios of Aegina (Orthodox Church; 1846-1920): Το γνώθι σαυτόν [To know yourself], Athos publications, pp.101-4 @ Pemptousia.

Maximus the Confessor: Nothing is more truly Godlike than divine love, nothing more apt to raise up human beings to deification Monday, Oct 26 2015 

Maximus_ConfessorNothing is more truly Godlike than divine love, nothing more mysterious, nothing more apt to raise up human beings to deification.

For it has gathered together in itself all good things that are recounted by the logos of truth in the form of virtue, and it has absolutely no relation to anything that has the form of wickedness, since it is the fulfilment of the law and the prophets.

For they were succeeded by the mystery of love, which out of human beings makes us gods, and reduces the individual commandments to a universal meaning [logos].

Everything is circumscribed by love according to God’s good pleasure in a single form, and love is dispensed in many forms in accordance with God’s economy.

For what form of good things does love not possess?

Neither faith, the first premiss in matters concerning true religion, assuring the one who possesses it of the existence of God and of divine matters, and that much more surely than the eye by attending to the appearances of sensible things furnishes an opinion concerning them for those who see;

nor hope, which establishes the truly subsisting good, and that much more effectively than the hand does to even the most solid of material things that fall beneath its touch.

For does not love grant enjoyment of those things believed in and hoped for, by itself making present the things to come?

[…] Faith is the foundation of everything that comes after it, I mean hope and love, and firmly establishes what is true. Hope is the strength of the extremes, I mean faith and love, for it appears as faithful by itself and loved by both, and teaches through itself to make it to the end of the course.

Love is the fulfilment of these, wholly embraced as the final last desire, and furnishes them rest from their movement. For love gives faith the reality of what it believes and hope the presence of what it hopes for, and the enjoyment of what is present.

Love alone, properly speaking, proves that the human person is in the image of the Creator, by making his self-determination submit to reason, not bending reason under it, and persuading the inclination to follow nature and not in any way to be at variance with the logos of nature.

In this way we are all, as it were, one nature, so that we are able to have one inclination and one will with God and with one another, not having any discord with God or one another, whenever by the law of grace, through which by our inclination the law of nature is renewed, we choose what is ultimate.

Maximus the Confessor (580-662): Letter 2: On Love in Andrew Louth: Maximus the Confessor (Routledge, 1996), pp. 82-84.

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.

Nektarios the Wonderworker: The image of those who hope in the God who saves Tuesday, May 13 2014 

St NektariosHow wonderful, how pleasing, how charming is the image of those who hope in the God Who saves

— in God the compassionate, the God of mercy, the good God Who loves mankind.

People who hope in God are truly blessed.

God is their constant helper and they fear no evil, even if others provoke them.

They hope in God and do good.

They have set their every hope on Him and they confess to Him with all their heart.

He is their boast, their God and they call upon Him day and night.

Their mouths direct praise to God; their lips are sweeter than honey and wax when they open them to sing to God; their tongue, full of grace, is moved to glorify God.

Their heart is eager to call upon Him, their mind ready to be elevated towards Him, their soul is committed to God and “His right hand has upheld them”.

“Their souls will boast in the Lord”. They ask and receive from God whatever their heart desires.

They ask and find whatever they seek. They knock and the gates of mercy are opened.

People who hope in God rest upon untroubled waters. And God grants them His rich mercy.

The right hand of God directs their paths and the finger of the Lord guides them on their way.

Those who hope in the Lord do not fail. Their hope never dies. God is their expectation, the furthermost desire of their hearts.

Their hearts sigh before Him all the day long: “Lord, do not delay, arise, hasten, come and remove my soul from every necessity, bring my soul out of prison.

“I will glorify you with my whole heart, Lord. Every word which proceeds from my mouth will be directed to you”.

Those who hope in the Lord bless the Most High, His Redeemer and also sanctify “His holy name”.

They hope, and cry to God from the depths of their hearts: “Lord, when shall I come and appear before Your face”.

Those who hope in the Lord will call upon the Lord and enter into His holy place, in order to see and rejoice in His wonders.

And the Lord will hear the voice of their supplication.

Nektarios of Aegina (Orthodox Church; 1846-1920): from Το γνώθι σαυτόν [To know yourself], Athos publications, pp.101-4 @ Pemptousia.

Gregory of Nyssa: Our Conversation with God in Thanksgiving and Prayer Saturday, Nov 16 2013 

Gregory_of_NyssaIn return for all that we have received, we have but one gift to exchange with the Benefactor – prayer and thanksgiving.

I can envision the possibility that we could extend our conversation with God in thanksgiving and prayer for the whole duration of life.

Nevertheless, we would still fall so short in adequate exchanged value, as if we had never even begun to think about a return gift to the Benefactor.

For example, the Lord’s generosity is received in all dimensions of time measured in three parts the past, the present, and the future.

If you think of the present, it is in Him that you live. If the future, it is He who is the hope of your expectations. If the past, you did not even exist before you were created by Him.

You benefited by receiving your very existence from Him. Once born, you benefited by living and moving in Him (Acts 17:28), as the Apostle says.

Your future hopes are dependent on the same divine energy. 21 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ʻFor we are also His offspring.ʼ

Only the present is at your disposal, but even if you never cease giving thanks to God, you will barely render satisfaction for the gift of the present.

Neither for the future, nor for the past, can you conceive some way to give back sufficient thanks to God for all the things you owe Him.

Yet we are so lacking in thanksgiving that we do not show gratitude even in what is possible:

[…]  Who has laid out the earth beneath my feet? Who has given me reason to make the seas passable? Who has established heaven for my sake? Who lights up the sun before my eyes? Who “makes springs gush forth in valleys” (Ps 104:10)?

[…] Who has made me, lifeless dust that I am, to share in both life and reason? Who has formed this clay according to the image of the divine seal? Who has restored again in me that ancient beauty of the divine image which had been darkened by sin?

Having been exiled from paradise and deprived of the tree of life, who draws me back to the original bliss from being engulfed in the pit of material life? Scripture says, “There is no one who has understanding” (Rom 3:11).

If we contemplated these things, we would offer endless thanksgiving without ceasing throughout our entire life. But now nearly all human beings are quick to pursue only material things.

[…]  But no word whatever is said about God’s true blessings, whether those visible or those promised.

Gregory of Nyssa (c 335 – after 394): First Homily on The Lord’s Prayer.

Augustine of Hippo: “Be Ye Enlarged” Friday, Nov 15 2013 

St Augustine of AfricaGod’s gifts are very great, but we are small and straitened in our capacity of receiving.

Wherefore it is said to us: “Be ye enlarged, not bearing the yoke along with unbelievers.”

For, in proportion to the simplicity of our faith, the firmness of our hope, and the ardour of our desire, will we more largely receive of that which is immensely great;

which “eye hath not seen,” for it is not colour; which “the ear hath not heard,” for it is not sound; and which hath not ascended into the heart of man, for the heart of man must ascend to it.

When we cherish uninterrupted desire along with the exercise of faith and hope and charity, we “pray always.”

But at certain stated hours and seasons we also use words in prayer to God:

that by these signs of things we may admonish ourselves,

and may acquaint ourselves with the measure of progress which we have made in this desire,

and may more warmly excite ourselves to obtain an increase of its strength.

For the effect following upon prayer will be excellent in proportion to the fervour of the desire which precedes its utterance.

And therefore, what else is intended by the words of the apostle: “pray without ceasing” than “desire without intermission, from Him who alone can give it, a happy life, which no life can be but that which is eternal”?

This, therefore, let us desire continually from the Lord our God; and thus let us pray continually.

But at certain hours we recall our minds from other cares and business, in which desire itself somehow is cooled down, to the business of prayer.

We admonish ourselves by the words of our prayer to fix attention upon that which we desire, lest what had begun to lose heat become altogether cold, and be finally extinguished, if the flame be not more frequently fanned.

When the same apostle says “let your requests be made known unto God,” this is not to be understood as if thereby they become known to God, who certainly knew them before they were uttered.

Rather, it should be understood in this sense: that they are to be made known to ourselves in the presence of God by patient waiting upon Him, not in the presence of men by ostentatious worship.

Or perhaps our requests may be made known also to the angels that are in the presence of God, that these beings may in some way present them to God, and consult Him concerning them.

Perhaps they bring to us, either manifestly or secretly, that which, hearkening to His commandment, they may have learned to be His will, and which must be fulfilled by them.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Letter to Proba, VIII,17 – IX, 18 @ Crossroads Initiative.

Gregory Nazianzen: I Await the Transformation of the Heavens, the Transfiguration of the Earth, the Renovation of the Universe Saturday, Nov 9 2013 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenI believe the words of the wise.

I believe that every fair and God-beloved soul, when it has been set free from the bonds of the body, departs hence, and at once enjoys a sense and perception of the blessings which await it.

It enjoys this inasmuch as that which darkened it has been purged away, or laid aside—I know not how else to term it.

And it feels a wondrous pleasure and exultation, and goes rejoicing to meet its Lord.

For it has escaped, as it were, from the grievous poison of life here, and has shaken off the fetters which bound it and held down the wings of the mind.

And so it enters on the enjoyment of the bliss laid up for it, of which it has even now some conception.

Then, a little later, it receives its kindred flesh, which once shared in its pursuits of things above, from the earth which both gave and had been entrusted with it.

And, in some way known to God, who knit them together and dissolved them, the soul enters with the flesh upon the inheritance of the glory there.

And, as it shared, through their close union, in its hardships, so also it bestows upon it a portion of its joys, gathering it up entirely into itself, and becoming with it one in spirit and in mind and in God, the mortal and mutable being swallowed up of life.

Hear at least how the inspired Ezekiel discourses of the knitting together of bones and sinews (Ezek. 37:3).

Hear how after him Saint Paul speaks of the earthly tabernacle, and the house not made with hands, the one to be dissolved, the other laid up in heave.

Hear how Paul alleges absence from the body to be presence with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1, 6; Phil. 1:23), and bewailing his life in it as an exile, and therefore longing for and hastening to his release.

Why am I faint-hearted in my hopes?  Why behave like a mere creature of a day?

I await the voice of the Archangel (1 Thess. 4:16), the last trumpet (1 Cor. 15:52), the transformation of the heavens, the transfiguration of the earth, the liberation of the elements, the renovation of the universe (2 Pet. 3:10).

Then shall I see Cæsarius himself, no longer in exile, no longer laid upon a bier, no longer the object of mourning and pity, but brilliant, glorious, heavenly.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 7, 21 (Panegyric on His Brother S. Cæsarius).

John Chrysostom: “If We be Dead with Him, We shall also Live with Him; If We Suffer, We shall also Reign with Him” Sunday, Oct 13 2013 

John_Chrysostom“It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:11–12).

Many of the weaker sort of men give up the effort of faith, and do not endure the deferring of their hope. They seek things present, and form from these their judgment of the future.

When therefore their lot here was death, torments, and chains, and yet he says “they shall come to eternal life,” they would not have believed, but would have said,

“What are you promising? When I live, I die; and when I die, I live? You promise nothing on earth. Will you give it in heaven? You do not bestow little things. Do you offer great things?”

That none therefore may argue thus, he places beyond doubt the proof of these things, laying it down beforehand already, and giving certain signs.

For, “remember,” he says, “that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead”; that is, rose again after death.

And now showing the same thing he says, “It is a faithful saying,” that he who has attained a heavenly life, will attain eternal life also.

Whence is it “faithful”? Because, he says, “If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him.” For say, shall we partake with Him in things laborious and painful; and shall we not in things beneficial?

But not even a man would act thus, nor, if one had chosen to suffer affliction and death with him, would he refuse to him a share in his rest, if he had attained it.

But how are we “dead with Him”? He means both the death that takes place in the  baptismal laver, and that which consists in sufferings.

For he says, “Bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:10); and, “We are buried with Him by baptism into death” (Rom. 6:4); and, “Our old man is crucified with Him”; and, “We have been planted together in the likeness of His death(Rom. 6:5, 6).

But he also speaks here of death by trials: and that more especially, for he was also suffering trials when he wrote it.

He says, If we have suffered death on His account, shall we not live on His account? This is not to be doubted. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.”

He does not say “we shall reign” absolutely, but “if we suffer,” showing that it is not enough to die once (the blessed man himself died daily). but that there was need of much patient endurance; and especially Timothy had need of it.

For tell me not, he says, of your first sufferings, but that you continue to suffer.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homily 5 on St Paul’s Second Epistle to the Timothy.

Cyril of Alexandria: Christ will Crown Those who Believe in Him with Everlasting Glory Saturday, Sep 28 2013 

cyril_alexandriaIsrael was not completely destroyed: in fulfilment of the Prophet’s words a remnant was saved, for no small number came to believe in Christ.

Of these the company of the holy Apostles formed the original group: they were so to speak the first-fruits. Thus Scripture says: On that day the Lord will be a crown of hope, a garland of glory for the remnant of my people.

It is the Lord of Hosts himself who will crown those who have believed with hope and glory: with hope for the blessings to come, and with the glory in which they will reign with him; and when they have attained their heavenly reward they will be the envy and admiration of all the world.

For those who hope, what could equal the glory of being crowned in Christ’s kingdom?

Elsewhere Isaiah tells them: You will be a beautiful crown, a royal diadem, in the hand of your God. For Christ will crown those who believe in him with everlasting glory, while he refreshes them now with the most magnificent hopes.

There will be a share in these things for the remnant of my people, says the Prophet, that is, the remnant of the Jews, as well as those belonging to another people, namely the Gentiles, who are likewise devoted to Christ and pray to God their heavenly Father crying out: Lord, you surround us with favour as with a shield.

It pleased God the Father that Christ should become for us an unbreakable shield. Placing himself between us and the darts of the devil, he saved his people from being wounded or harmed in any way by his malice.

Some such meaning is im­plied, I think, in the words spoken about the people he had won for himself, that is, those justified by faith. They will be preserved by a spirit of justice for him who sits in judgement, and of courage for those who thrust back the attacker.

For once, long ago, Satan almost destroyed the sons of earth when he flung them into the pit of sin. There was no one who did right, not a single one; they had all left the right path, they were depraved, everyone, as the Psalmist says. But when the only-be­gotten Son, the Word of God, became man, he judged our case, deciding between us and the tyrant Satan.

The latter he con­demned to destruction, and removed him as the destroyer of earth-dwellers and a murderer, so saving us who were lost. This is his teaching when he says: Now is the hour of judgement for this world; now shall the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, shall draw the whole world to myself.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on Isaiah (PG 70:617-619); 22-923);  from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Friday of the 25th Week of Ordinary Time, Year 1.

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