Athanasius of Alexandria: We know that when we die we are not destroyed, but actually begin to live, and become incorruptible through the Resurrection Monday, May 2 2016 

AthanasiusThere is no small proof that death is destroyed, and that the Cross is become the victory over it, and that it has no more power but is verily dead.

Rather there is an evident warrant – that it is despised by all Christ’s disciples, and that they all take an aggressive stance against it and no longer fear it.

Instead, by the sign of the Cross and by faith in Christ, they tread it down as dead.

For of old, before the divine sojourn of the Saviour took place, death was terrible even to the saints, and all wept for the dead as though they perished.

But now that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer terrible; for all who believe in Christ tread him under as nought, and choose rather to die than to deny their faith in Christ.

For they verily know that when they die they are not destroyed, but actually begin to live, and become incorruptible through the Resurrection.

And they know that the devil, that once maliciously exulted in death, now that its pains were loosed, remained the only one truly dead.

And a proof of this is: that, before men believe in Christ, they see in death an object of terror, and play the coward before him.

But, when they are gone over to Christ’s faith and teaching, their contempt for death is so great that they even eagerly rush upon it, and become witnesses for the Resurrection the Saviour has accomplished against it.

For while still tender in years they make haste to die, and not only men, but women also, exercise themselves by bodily discipline against it. So weak has death become, that even women who were formerly deceived by him, now mock at him as dead and paralyzed.

When a tyrant has been defeated by a real king, and bound hand and foot, then all that pass by laugh him to scorn, buffeting and reviling him, no longer fearing his fury and barbarity, because of the king who has conquered him.

So also, death having been conquered and exposed by the Saviour on the Cross, and bound hand and foot, all they who are in Christ, as they pass by, trample on him, and witnessing to Christ scoff at death, jesting at him, and saying what has been written against him of old:

“O death, where is thy victory? O grave, where is thy sting?”

Athanasius of Alexandria (c.293-373): On the Incarnation of the Word, 27 [slightly adapted].

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Cyril of Alexandria: By the newness of the sepulchre is meant the untrodden and strange pathway whereby we return from death unto life Saturday, Apr 30 2016 

cyril_alexandria“So they took the Body of Jesus, and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb, wherein was never man yet laid” (John 19:40-41).

Christ was numbered among the dead, Who for our sake became dead, according to the Flesh, but Whom we conceive to be, and Who is, in fact, Life, of Himself, and through His Father.

And, that He might fulfil all righteousness, that is, all that was appropriate to the form of man, He of His own Will subjected the Temple of His Body not merely to death, but also to what follows after death, that is, burial and being laid in the tomb.

The writer of the Gospel says that this sepulchre in the garden was a new one; this fact signifying to us, as it were, by a type and figure, that Christ’s death is the harbinger and pioneer of our entry into Paradise.

For He entered as a Forerunner for us. What other signification than this can be intended by the carrying over of the Body of Jesus in the garden?

And by the newness of the sepulchre is meant the untrodden and strange pathway whereby we return from death unto life, and the renewing of our souls, that Christ has invented for us, whereby we baffle corruption.

For henceforth, by the death of Christ, death for us has been transformed, in a manner, into sleep, with like power and functions. For we are alive unto God, and shall live for evermore, according to the Scriptures.

Therefore, also, the blessed Paul, in a variety of places, calls those asleep who have died in Christ. For in the times of old the dread presence of death held human nature in awe.

For death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression; and we bore the image of the earthy in his likeness, and underwent the death that was inflicted by the Divine curse.

The Second Adam appeared among us, the Divine Man from heaven, and, contending for the salvation of the world, purchased by His death the life of all men, and, destroying the power of corruption, rose again to life.

Then we were transformed into His Image, and we undergo, as it were, a different kind of death, that does not dissolve us in eternal corruption, but casts upon us a slumber which is laden with fair hope, after the Likeness of Him Who has made this new path for us, that is, Christ.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on John, Book 12 (on John 19:40-41) [slightly adapted].

Cyril of Alexandria: When God’s life-giving Word came to dwell in human flesh, he remade it for its good, that is, for its life Saturday, Apr 16 2016 

cyril_alexandria“I am dying”, said the Lord, “for all men, so that through me all may have life.

“By my flesh I have redeemed the flesh of all men.

“For in my death, death will die, and fallen human nature will rise again with me.

“In this way l have become, like you, a man descended from Abraham, so that I may be made like my brethren in every respect.”

Saint Paul understood this well when he said:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

There was never any other way to destroy the one who had the power of death, and therefore death itself.

Christ had to give himself up for us; the one had to be the ransom for all, for he was the head of all.

Accordingly, he said in another place, namely in the psalms, when he offered himself to God his Father as a spotless sacrifice on your behalf:

You wanted no sacrifice or oblation, but you prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin. Then I said, “Here I am.”

He was crucified on behalf of us all and for the sake of us all, so that, when one had died instead of all, we all might live in him.

For it was impossible that he should be defeated by death or that one who is life by its very nature should yield to corruption.

Indeed, Christ’s own words prove to us that he offered his flesh for the life of the world:  Holy Father, keep them. And again: For their sake I make myself holy.

He said, I make myself holy, meaning “I consecrate and offer myself as a spotless sacrifice with a sweet savour.”

For what was offered on the altar was made holy or called holy according to the Law. Therefore Christ gave his body or the life of all, and through his body planted life among us again.

How this came about I shall explain as best I can. When God’s life-giving Word came to dwell in human flesh, he remade it for its good, that is, for its life.

Being linked with flesh in this unique form of union, he made it a source of life, just as he is by his own nature, a source of life.

Thus the body of Christ gives life to those who share with him. By being among those who are liable to death, his body drives death out; by bringing forth in itself a principle capable of utterly destroying corruption, his body expels corruption.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St John’s Gospel 4, 2; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Thursday of the Fourth Week in Eastertide, Year 1.

John Chrysostom: “For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven” Monday, Nov 2 2015 

John_Chrysostom[On 2 Corinthians 5:1-2).

For we know, that if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1).

One ought not to wonder that we suffer affliction; nor to be confounded, for we even reap many gains thereby.

And some of these St Paul mentioned before; for instance, that we “bear about the dying of Jesus,” and present the greatest proof of His power.

For…we exhibit a clear proof of the Resurrection, says Paul, “that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

Along with these things he says that our inward man is thus made better also; for “though our outward man is decaying…yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

Showing that this being scourged and persecuted is proportionately useful, he adds that, when this is done thoroughly, then countless blessings will spring up for those who have endured these things.

For lest, when you hear that your outward man perishes, you should grieve, he says that when this is completely effected, then most of all will you rejoice and will come unto a better inheritance.

Thus not only ought one not to grieve at its perishing now in part, but we should earnestly to seek for the completion of that destruction, for this most conducts us to immortality.

Wherefore he adds “for we know that, if the earthly house of our tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

[…] “For verily in this we groan, longing to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven” (2 Cor. 5:2).

What habitation? The incorruptible body. And why do we groan now? Because that is far better. And he calls it “from heaven” because of its incorruptibleness.

For it is not the case that a body will come down to us from above. Rather, by this expression he signifies the grace which is sent from thence.

So far then ought we to be from grieving at these trials which are in part that we should seek even for their fulness, as if he had said: Do you groan because you are persecuted, because this thy man is decaying? Groan rather that this is not done unto excess and that it perishes not entirely.

Do you see how Paul has turned round what was said unto the contrary? He proves that they ought to groan that those things were not done fully for which they groaned because they were done partially.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Commentary on 2 Corinthians, Homily 10, 1-2, [slightly adapted].

John of Kronstadt: Jesus Christ is the consolation, the joy, the life, the peace and the breadth of our hearts Monday, Oct 19 2015 

john_kronstadtObserve the difference between the presence of the life-giving spirit and the presence of the spirit that deadens and destroys your soul.

When there are good thoughts in your soul you feel happy and at ease;

when peace and joy are in your heart, then the spirit of good, the Holy Ghost, is within you;

whilst when evil thoughts or evil motions of the heart arise within you, you feel ill at ease and oppressed;

when you are inwardly troubled, then the spirit of evil, the crafty spirit, is within you.

When the spirit of evil is in us, then, together with oppression of heart and disturbance, we generally feel a difficulty in drawing near to God in our heart, because the evil spirit binds our soul, and will not let it raise itself to God.

The evil spirit is a spirit of doubt, unbelief–of passions, oppression, grief and disturbance; whilst the spirit of good is one of undoubting faith, of virtue, of spiritual freedom and breadth–a spirit of peace and joy.

Know by these tokens when the Spirit of God is within you, and when the spirit of evil, and, as often as possible, raise your grateful heart to the most Holy Spirit that gives you life and light, and flee with all your power from doubt, unbelief, and the passions through which the evil serpent, the thief and destroyer of our souls, creeps in.

Sometimes in the lives of pious Christians there are hours when God seems to have entirely abandoned them–hours of the power of darkness; and then the man from the depths of his heart cries unto God:

“Why hast Thou turned Thy face from me, Thou everlasting Light? For a strange darkness has covered me…. Turn me, O Saviour, to the light of Thy commandments and make straight my spiritual way, I fervently pray Thee.”

If you do not yourself experience the action of the wiles of the evil spirit, you will not know, and will not appreciate and value as you ought, the benefits bestowed upon you by the Holy Spirit: not knowing the spirit that destroys, you will not know the Spirit that gives life.

Only by means of direct contrasts of good and evil, of life and death, can we clearly know the one and the other: if you are not subjected to distresses and dangers of bodily or spiritual death, you will not truly know the Saviour, the Life-Giver, who delivers us from these distresses and from spiritual death.

Jesus Christ is the consolation, the joy, the life, the peace and the breadth of our hearts!

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ, part 1, pp.37-38.

Irenaeus of Lyons: The breath of life rendered man an animated being, and the vivifying Spirit caused him to become spiritual Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

st-irenaeus-of-lyonAs the flesh is capable of corruption, so is it also of incorruption; and as it is of death, so is it also of life.

These two do mutually give way to each other; and both cannot remain in the same place.

One is driven out by the other, and the presence of the one destroys that of the other.

When death takes possession of a man, it drives life away from him, and proves him to be dead.

Much more, then, does life, when it has obtained power over the man, drive out death, and restore him as living unto God.

For if death brings mortality, why should not life, when it comes, vivify man?

Just as Isaiah the prophet says, “Death devoured when it had prevailed” (Isaiah 25:8 LXX). And again, “God has wiped away every tear from every face.”

Thus that former life is expelled, because it was not given by the Spirit, but by the breath.

For the breath of life, which also rendered man an animated being, is one thing, and the vivifying Spirit another, which also caused him to become spiritual.

And for this reason Isaiah said, “Thus saith the Lord, who made heaven and established it, who founded the earth and the things therein, and gave breath to the people upon it, and Spirit to those walking upon it” (Isaiah 42:5).

Isaiah tells us that breath is indeed given in common to all people upon earth, but that the Spirit is theirs alone who tread down earthly desires.

And therefore Isaiah himself, distinguishing the things already mentioned, again exclaims, “For the Spirit shall go forth from Me, and I have made every breath” (Isaiah 57:16).

Thus does he attribute the Spirit as peculiar to God which in the last times He pours forth upon the human race by the adoption of sons; but he shows that breath was common throughout the creation, and points it out as something created.

Now what has been made is a different thing from him who makes it. The breath, then, is temporal, but the Spirit eternal.

The breath, too, increases in strength for a short period, and continues for a certain time; after that it takes its departure, leaving its former abode destitute of breath. But when the Spirit pervades the man within and without, inasmuch as it continues there, it never leaves him.

“But that is not first which is spiritual,” says the apostle, speaking this as if with reference to us human beings; “but that is first which is animal, afterwards that which is spiritual” (1 Cor. 15:46).

Irenaeus of Lyons (2nd century AD – c. 202): Adversus Haereses 5,12,1-2 (slightly adapted).

John Paul II: Life in the Spirit transcends even death Friday, May 22 2015 

jp2“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

In these words from the Gospel of John, the gift of “eternal life” represents the ultimate purpose of the Father’s loving plan.

This gift gives us access through grace to the ineffable communion of love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:

“This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3).

The “eternal life” that flows from the Father is communicated to us in its fullness by Jesus in his paschal mystery through the Holy Spirit.

By receiving it we share in the risen Jesus’ definitive victory over death. “Death and life”, we proclaim in the liturgy, “have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal” (Sequence for Easter Sunday).

In this decisive event of salvation, Jesus gives human beings “eternal life” in the Holy Spirit.

In the “fullness of time” Christ thus fulfils, beyond all expectation, that promise of “eternal life” which the Father has inscribed in the creation of man in his image and likeness since the beginning of the world (cf. Gn 1:26).

As we sing in Psalm 104, man experiences that life in the cosmos and, particularly, his own life have their beginning in the “breath” communicated by the Spirit of the Lord:

“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth” (vv. 29-30).

Communion with God, the gift of his Spirit, more and more becomes for the chosen people the pledge of a life that is not limited to earthly existence but mysteriously transcends and prolongs it forever.

[…] Jesus links belief in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (Jn 11:25).

In him, through the mystery of his Death and Resurrection, the divine promise of the gift of “eternal life” is fulfilled.

This life implies total victory over death: “The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear the voice [of the Son] and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life …” (Jn 5:28-29).

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:40).

John Paul II (1920-2005): General Audience, October 28th, 1998.

 

Hilarion Troitsky: The sting of death has been blunted. Corruption is conquered, for the antidote for the illness of corruption is given Thursday, Apr 30 2015 

Hilarion_TroitskyPascha of incorruption… The ancient inheritance is returned…

[…] Man fell away from God, and his spiritual and physical corruption began.

Self-rule in spiritual life led to slavery to sin and passions. Man began to decay in seductive passions.

[…] Our soul is not healthy, it is sick. Corruption reigns in our soul, and our body is quite obviously subject to corruption.

Many do not notice their spiritual sickness; they stifle the inner groaning and cry of the soul with the noise of life.

But death and bodily decay are irrefutable, and all life’s vivid color pales before this decay.

[…]  Humanity has always seen the inner corruption of its spiritual nature, and has always beheld with its own eyes the destruction of the temple of its body.

To admit that you are spiritually rotting and to know that your body is the inheritance of worms—that is the lot of sinful man!

Where is the joy? What can we hope for in the future? Sin is essentially linked with unhappiness and suffering. Sinful awareness paints the future in dark, joyless colors.

The Hebrew Sheol, the kingdom of shadows in the murky Hades of the Hellenes and Romans—both depict a disconsolate future.

Salvation is healing. Salvation is freedom from corruption. Salvation is a return to the original goodness of incorruption; for man was created in incorruption.

Needed was the restoration to health of human nature. This restoration is given in the incarnation of the Son of God.

“We could not have become incorrupt and immortal, had not the Incorrupt and Immortal One not been first made what we are.”

The Incorrupt and Immortal One, in His unity of persons, has assumed “the corruption and death of my stolen nature.”

The nature of corruption received the inoculation of incorruption, and the process of creation’s renewal, the process of man’s deification, has begun, as has also begun the creation of god-humanity.

The sting of death has been blunted. Corruption is conquered, for the antidote for the illness of corruption is given.

All those born of earth have inevitably come to those gates of death and hid behind them, trembling with horror. But now, Christ is resurrected!

What does this mean? This means that salvation is truly wrought. For, human nature has joined with Divine nature in the person of Christ, “unmingled, unchanged, undivided, and inseparable.”

[…] Together with Christ, our human nature has passed through the mysterious gates of death. Death reigns, but not forever!

Death was terrible to the human race before Christ’s death, but after Christ’s resurrection, man became terrible to death, for One of us has conquered death; He did not remain in the tomb, and did not see corruption.

Hilarion Troitsky (1886-1929; Russian Orthodox): From his three-volume work, published by Sretensky Monastery [in Russian]Translated by Nun Cornelia (Rees) @ Pravoslavie.

See also  Hilarion Troitsky: My sinful illness is curable—the Resurrection of Christ convinces me of this

Ephrem the Syrian: At the last, worship also shall be gathered in completely to its Lord Wednesday, Apr 29 2015 

Mor_Ephrem_iconGod was sent from the Godhead, to come and convict the graven images that they were no gods.

And when He took away from them the name of God which decked them out, then appeared the blemishes of their persons.

And their blemishes were these;—They have eyes and see not, and ears and hear not (Ps. 114/115:5-6).

Thy preaching persuaded their many worshippers to change their many gods for the One.

For in that Thou didst take away the name of godhead from the idols, worship also along with the name was withdrawn; that, namely, which is bound up with the name; for worship also attends on the Name of God.

Because, then, worship also was rendered to the Name, by all the Gentiles, at the last the worshipful Name shall be gathered in entirely to its Lord.

Therefore, at the last, worship also shall be gathered in completely to its Lord, that it may be fulfilled that all things shall be subjected to Him.

Then, He in His turn shall be subjected to Him Who subjected all things to Him (1 Cor. 15:27-28). So that that Name, rising from degree to degree, shall be bound up with its root.

For when all creatures shall be bound by their love to the Son through Whom they were created, and the Son shall be bound by the love of that Father by Whom He was begotten, all creatures shall give thanks at the last to the Son, through Whom they received all blessings.

And in Him and with Him they shall give thanks also to His Father, from Whose treasure He distributes all riches to us.

Glory be to Thee Who didst clothe Thyself in the body of mortal Adam, and didst make it a fountain of life for all mortals.

Thou art He that livest, for Thy slayers were as husbandmen to Thy life, for that they sowed it as wheat in the depth of the earth, that it may rise and raise up many with it.

Come, let us make our love the great censer of the community, and offer on it as incense our hymns and our prayers to Him Who made His Cross a censer for the Godhead, and offered from it on behalf of us all.

He that was above stooped down to those who were beneath, to distribute His treasures to them.  Accordingly, though the needy drew near to His manhood, yet they used to receive the gift from His Godhead.

Therefore He made the body which He put on the treasurer of His riches, that He, O Lord, might bring them out of Thy storehouse, and distribute them to the needy, the sons of His kindred.

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Homily on Our Lord, 8-9.

John Chrysostom: “Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more” Friday, Apr 17 2015 

John_Chrysostom“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed” (Romans 6:6).

St Paul does not refer the name “body of sin” to this body of ours, but to all iniquity.

For as he calls the whole sum of wickedness the old man, thus again he calls the wickedness which is made up of the different parts of iniquity the body of that man.

[…] After saying “that the body of sin might be destroyed,” he adds, “that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

I would not have the “body of sin” dead in the sense that you are destroyed and die, but in the sense that you do not sin.

And as he goes on he makes this still clearer. “For he that is dead,” he says, “is freed (Gr. justified) from sin” (Rom. 6:7).

St Paul says of every man that, as he that is dead, he is henceforth freed from sinning, lying as a dead body.

In the same way he that has come up from baptism, since he has died there once for all, remains ever dead to sin.

If you have died in baptism, remain dead, for any one that dies can sin no more. But if you sin, you mar God’s gift.

After requiring of us then heroism of this degree, Paul presently brings in the crown also, in these words: “now if we be dead with Christ” (Rom. 6:8).

And indeed even before the crown, this is in itself the greater crown, the partaking with our Master.

But, he says, I give even another reward. Of what kind is it? It is life eternal. For “we believe,” he says, “that we shall also live with Him.”

And whence is this clear? “That Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more” (Rom. 6:9). And notice again his undauntedness, and how he makes the thing good from opposite grounds.

Since then it was likely that some would feel perplexed at the Cross and the Death, he shows that this very thing is a ground for feeling confident henceforward.

For suppose not, he says, because He once died, that He is mortal, for this is the very reason of His being immortal.

For His death has been the death of death, and because He did die, He therefore does not die. For even that death “He died unto sin” (Rom. 6:10).

What does “unto sin” mean? It means that He was not subject even to sin. But He dies for our sin, that He might destroy it, and cut away its sinews and all its power.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homily 11 on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (slightly adapted).

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