Ælfric of Eynsham: We are children of God, and Christ is our brother, if we will duly obey the Father, and with all our mind worship him Monday, Mar 7 2016 

All_SS_of_BritainGod, the Father Almighty, has one Son naturally, and many adoptively.

Christ is the Son of God, seeing that the Father begot him of himself without any mother.

The Father has no body, nor begot he his Son in that wise which men do: but his Wisdom, with which he wrought all creatures, is his Son, who is ever of the Father and with the Father, God of God, as mighty as the Father.

We men are children of God, because he made us; and afterwards, when we were undone, he sent his own Son for our redemption.

Now are we children of God, and Christ is our brother, if we will duly obey the Father, and with all our mind worship him.

Christ is our head, and we are his limbs: he is invested with our humanity, and he has our body, which he received of the holy maiden Mary;

therefore may we manifestly cry to him, as to our brother, if we so observe our brotherhood as he has taught us; that is, that we should not allow the devil with any evil practices to seduce us from the brotherhood of Christ.

[…] The man who makes himself acceptable to God is a child of God, not naturally, but by creation and by good deserts, as Christ said in his gospel, “He who doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and my mother, and my sister.”

[…] We say, “Pater noster qui es in cœlis,” that is, “Our Father which art in heaven;” for God the Father is in heaven, and he is everywhere, as he himself said, “I fill with myself heaven and earth.”

And again, the holy gospel says thus concerning him, “Heaven is his throne, and earth is his footstool.”

We turn eastward when we pray, because from thence the heaven rises; not as though his dwelling be particularly in the east part, and that he forsakes the west or other parts, who is everywhere present, not through the space of the place, but by the presence of his majesty.

When we turn our face to the east part, where the heaven rises, which rises over all bodily things, then should our mind be thereby admonished that it turn to the highest and first nature, that is, God.

We should also know that the sinful is called earth, and the righteous is called heaven; for in righteous men is a dwelling-place of God, and the good man is a temple of the Holy Ghost.

Ælfric of Eynsham (c. 955 – c. 1010): Homily 19 (On the Lord’s Prayer), trans. Benjamin Thorpe; icon of All Saints of Britain and Ireland.

Nicodemus the Hagiorite: “And lead us not into temptation” Thursday, Feb 25 2016 

Nikodemos 1Our Lord directs us to ask our God and Father not to lead us into temptation.

The Prophet Isaiah, as representing God, says, “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil” (Is. 45:7).

And the Prophet Amos says similarly, “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” (Am. 3:6).

Based on these words, many unlearned and insecure people fall into various thoughts concerning God: that God supposedly throws us into temptations.

For this reason, the Apostle James solved the problem for us, saying:

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (Jas. 1:13-14).

[…] Temptations come to man in two kinds. One is the pleasurable kind, and therefore occurs with both our own will and the collaboration of the demons.

The other is the sorrowful and painful kind, which appears bitter to us, for it occurs without our will. The devil works on his own to bring about this kind.

Both of these kinds of temptations came upon the Hebrews. For because they willfully chose pleasurable temptation, using wealth, glory, and freedom for evil, they fell into idolatry.

For this reason God allowed the complete opposite to come upon them, namely, poverty, dishonor, exile, and the rest. With these evils He frightened them, in order that they might turn and repent.

The Prophets call the various forms of the chastisement of God wrongs and evil…, though in reality they are not evil, and this is because those things which bring pain and hardship to man are customarily called evil by him, since this is how he perceives them.

These things happen, not according to the original will of God, but according to the ensuing (that is, secondary) will of God, for the correction and good of man.

Our Lord, joining the first kind of temptation (that is, the pleasurable kind) with the second kind (that is, the bitter and oppressive kind) calls both of them by one name, “temptation,” because the free will of man is tempted and tested by them.

[…] The devil first attacks us with pleasurable temptation, for he knows that we fall into it easily. And if he finds our will obedient to his, he draws us away from the grace of God which protects us.

[…] If he does not find our will compliant, that is, if we do not fall to the pleasurable temptation, he still brings the second kind of temptation, hoping that through many sorrows he will be able to force us to carry out his evil intent.

Nicodemus the Hagiorite (1749-1809): Explanation of the Lord’s Prayer.

Gregory of Nyssa: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” Tuesday, Feb 16 2016 

Gregory_of_NyssaThe forgiveness of debts is a unique and special prerogative of God.

It was said: “No one can forgive sins but God alone” (Mk 2:7).

[…] A person obtains confidence in prayer by willingly imitating every conceivable attribute of God who is both kind and gentle, the source of all blessings and the dispenser of mercies to all.

It is not becoming that an evil person should enjoy intimacy with a good person, nor that a person who wallows in impure thoughts should have communion with one who is pure and undefiled.

In like manner, hardness of heart separates the supplicant from the love of God.

Whoever holds someone else in bitter bondage because of outstanding debts has by his own conduct excluded himself from divine love.

What communion can there be between love and cruelty, kindness and harshness, or any attribute and its opposite that is evil? Mutual opposition keeps them separated. For whoever is possessed by any particular attribute is necessarily estranged from its opposite.

Just as one who dies no longer lives, and the one who lives is estranged from death, so also he who approaches the love of God must necessarily be removed from every disposition of callousness.

Whoever is free of all those dispositions understood as being evil, he becomes in some way god by reason of his condition having achieved in himself what reason understands to be attributes of God.

Do you see to what greatness the Lord exalts those who hear Him through the words of the prayer? He transforms human nature in some way to be closer to the divine. He decrees that those who approach God should become gods.

Why do you come to God, He says, in a slavish manner, trembling in fear and plagued by your own conscience? Why do you exclude yourself from the confidence which coexists with the freedom of the soul from the beginning and which is intrinsic to the essence of your nature?

Why do you use flattery with Him who cannot be flattered? Why do you direct fawning and flattering words to the One who looks at deeds?

Every blessing that comes from God is permissible to you. You can possess it with a free spirit. Be your own judge. Cast the saving vote for yourself. Do you ask God to forgive your debts? Forgive the debts of others and God will cast his favorable ballot.

You yourself are the lord of judgment concerning your neighbor. This judgment, whatever it maybe, will bring an equal decision upon you. For whatever you decide to do, will be ratified by the divine judgment in your case, too.

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

John Cassian: “And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors” Friday, Feb 12 2016 

Sf-IoanCasian“And forgive us our debts as we also forgive our debtors.”

O unspeakable mercy of God,

which has given us a form of prayer

and taught us a system of life acceptable to Him,

and by the requirements of the form given, in which He charged us always to pray,

has torn up the roots of both anger and sorrow,

and also gives to those who pray an opportunity and reveals to them a way

by which they may move a merciful and kindly judgment of God to be pronounced over them

and which somehow gives us a power by which we can moderate the sentence of our Judge,

drawing Him to forgive our offences by the example of our forgiveness:

when we say to Him: “Forgive us as we also forgive.”

And so without anxiety and in confidence from this prayer a man may ask for pardon of his own offences, if he has been forgiving towards his own debtors, and not towards those of his Lord.

For some of us, which is very bad, are inclined to show ourselves calm and most merciful in regard to those things which are done to God’s detriment, however great the crimes may be,

but to be found most hard and inexorable exactors of debts to ourselves even in the case of the most trifling wrongs.

Whoever then does not from his heart forgive his brother who has offended him, by this prayer calls down upon himself not forgiveness but condemnation,

and by his own profession asks that he himself may be judged more severely, saying: Forgive me as I also have forgiven.

And if he is repaid according to his own request, what else will follow but that he will be punished after his own example with implacable wrath and a sentence that cannot be remitted?

And so if we want to be judged mercifully, we ought also to be merciful towards those who have sinned against us.

For only so much will be remitted to us, as we have remitted to those who have injured us however spitefully.

[…] For as He does not wish to be found harsh and inexorable towards them, He has marked out the manner of His judgment, that just as we desire to be judged by Him,

so we should also judge our brethren, if they have wronged us in anything, for “he shall have judgment without mercy who hath shown no mercy” (James 2:13).

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 9, 22 [slightly adapted].

John Cassian: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…” Friday, Nov 20 2015 

Sf-IoanCasianContinued from here….

The second petition of the pure heart desires that the kingdom of its Father may come at once.

This can refer to that kingdom whereby Christ reigns day by day in the saints.

This comes to pass when the devil’s rule is cast out of our hearts by the destruction of foul sins, and God begins to hold sway over us by the sweet odour of virtues, and, fornication being overcome, charity reigns in our hearts together with tranquillity, when rage is conquered; and humility, when pride is trampled underfoot.

Or it can refer to that kingdom which is promised in due time to all who are perfect, and to all the sons of God, when it will be said to them by Christ: “Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34), as the heart with fixed and steadfast gaze, so to speak, yearns and longs for it and says to Him “Thy kingdom come.” For it knows by the witness of its own conscience that when He shall appear, it will presently share His lot.

[…] The third petition is that of sons: “Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth.”

There can now be no grander prayer than to wish that earthly things may be made equal with things heavenly: for what else is it to say “Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth,” than to ask that men may be like angels and that as God’s will is ever fulfilled by them in heaven, so also all those who are on earth may do not their own but His will?

This too no one could say from the heart but only one who believed that God disposes for our good all things which are seen, whether fortunate or unfortunate, and that He is more careful and provident for our good and salvation than we ourselves are for ourselves.

Or at any rate it may be taken in this way: The will of God is the salvation of all men, according to these words of the blessed Paul: “Who willeth all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). Of this will also the prophet Isaiah says in the Person of God the Father: “And all Thy will shall be done” (Is. 46:10).

When we say then “Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth,” we pray in other words for this: that as those who are in heaven, so also may all those who dwell on earth be saved, O Father, by the knowledge of Thee.

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 9, 19 & 20 [slightly adapted].

John Cassian: The mind, transporting and flinging itself into love for Him, addresses God most familiarly as its own Father Wednesday, Oct 28 2015 

Sf-IoanCasianContinued from here….

There follows after these different kinds of supplication a still more sublime and exalted condition.

This is brought about by the contemplation of God alone and by fervent love, by which the mind, transporting and flinging itself into love for Him, addresses God most familiarly as its own Father with a piety of its own.

And, that we ought earnestly to seek after this condition, the formula of the Lord’s prayer teaches us, saying “Our Father.”

When then we confess with our own mouths that the God and Lord of the universe is our Father, we profess forthwith that we have been called from our condition as slaves to the adoption of sons.

Next we add “Which art in heaven,” so that, by shunning with the utmost horror all lingering in the present life which we pass upon this earth as a pilgrimage and all that separates us by a great distance from our Father, we may the rather hasten with all eagerness to that country where we confess that our Father dwells.

[…] When we have advanced to this state and condition of sonship, we shall forthwith be inflamed with the piety which belongs to good sons, so that we shall bend all our energies to the advance not of our own profit, but of our Father’s glory.

Saying to Him: “Hallowed be Thy name,” we testify that our desire and our joy is His glory, and become imitators of Him who said: “He who speaks of himself seeks his own glory. But He who seeks the glory of Him who sent Him, the same is true and there is no unrighteousness in Him” (John 7:18)….

Being filled with this feeling, St Paul wished that he could be anathema from Christ (cf. Rom. 9:3), if only the people belonging to Him might be increased and multiplied, and the salvation of the whole nation of Israel accrue to the glory of His Father.

For with all assurance could he wish to die for Christ as he knew that no one perished for life. And again he says: “We rejoice when we are weak but ye are strong” (2 Cor. 13:9).

[…] But where it is said “Hallowed be Thy name,” it may also be very fairly taken in this way: “The hallowing of God is our perfection.”

And so when we say to Him “Hallowed be Thy name” we say in other words, make us, O Father, such that we may be able both to understand and take in what the hallowing of Thee is, or at any rate that Thou mayest be seen to be hallowed in our spiritual converse.

And this is effectually fulfilled in our case when “men see our good works, and glorify our Father Which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 9, 18 [slightly adapted].

Cyprian of Carthage: “And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors” Wednesday, Sep 16 2015 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageAnd forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12).

After the supply of food, pardon of sin is also asked for, that he who is fed by God may live in God, and that not only the present and temporal life may be provided for, but the eternal also, to which we may come if our sins are forgiven.

And these the Lord calls debts, as He says in His Gospel, “I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me” (Matt. 18:32).

And how necessarily, how providently and salutarily, are we admonished that we are sinners, since we are compelled to entreat for our sins, and while pardon is asked for from God, the soul recalls its own consciousness of sin!

Lest anyone should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself should more deeply perish, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden to entreat daily for his sins.

Thus, moreover, John also in his epistle warns us, and says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us; but if we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:8).

In his epistle he has combined both, that we should entreat for our sins, and that we should obtain pardon when we ask. Therefore he said that the Lord was faithful to forgive sins, keeping the faith of His promise; because He who taught us to pray for our debts and sins, has promised that His fatherly mercy and pardon shall follow.

He has clearly joined herewith and added the law, and has bound us by a certain condition and engagement, that we should ask that our debts be forgiven us in such a manner as we ourselves forgive our debtors, knowing that that which we seek for our sins cannot be obtained unless we ourselves have acted in a similar way in respect of our debtors.

Therefore also He says in another place, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matt. 7:2). And the servant who, after having had all his debt forgiven him by his master, would not forgive his fellow-servant, is cast back into prison; because he would not forgive his fellow-servant, he lost the indulgence that had been shown to himself by his lord.

And these things Christ still more urgently sets forth in His precepts with yet greater power of His rebuke. “When ye stand praying,” says He, “forgive if ye have aught against any, that your Father which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 22-23.

Cyprian of Carthage: “Give us this day our daily bread” Wednesday, Sep 2 2015 

Saint-Cyprian-of-CarthageAs the prayer goes forward, we ask and say, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

And this may be understood both spiritually and literally, because either way of understanding it is rich in divine usefulness to our salvation.

For Christ is the bread of life; and this bread does not belong to all men, but it is ours.

And according as we say, “Our Father,” because He is the Father of those who understand and believe; so also we call it “our bread,” because Christ is the bread of those who are in union with His body.

And we ask that this bread should be given to us daily, that we who are in Christ, and daily receive the Eucharist for the food of salvation, may not, by the interposition of some heinous sin, by being prevented, as withheld and not communicating, from partaking of the heavenly bread, be separated from Christ’s body.

As He Himself predicts, and warns, “I am the bread of life which came down from heaven. If any man eat of my bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6:58).

When, therefore, He says, that whoever shall eat of His bread shall live forever; as it is manifest that those who partake of His body and receive the Eucharist by the right of communion are living, so, on the other hand, we must fear and pray lest anyone who, being withheld from communion, is separate from Christ’s body should remain at a distance from salvation.

As He Himself threatens, and says, “Unless ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you” (John 6:53).

And therefore we ask that our bread—that is, Christ—may be given to us daily, that we who abide and live in Christ may not depart from His sanctification and body.

But it may also be thus understood, that we who have renounced the world, and have cast away its riches and pomps in the faith of spiritual grace, should only ask for ourselves food and support…. The Lord instructs us, and says, “Whosoever forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

But he who has begun to be Christ’s disciple, renouncing all things according to the word of his Master, ought to ask for his daily food, and not to extend the desires of his petition to a long period, as the Lord again prescribes, and says, “Take no thought for the morrow, for the morrow itself shall take thought for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof” (Matt. 6:34).

Cyprian of Carthage (d.258): On The Lord’s Prayer, 18-19.

Augustine of Hippo: All Authentic Prayer is Contained in the Lord’s Prayer Friday, Feb 14 2014 

St Augustine of AfricaContinued from here….

For whatever other words we may say – whether the desire of the person praying go before the words, and employ them in order to give definite form to its requests, or come after them, and concentrate attention upon them, that it may increase in fervour – if we pray rightly, and as becomes our wants, we say nothing but what is already contained in the Lord’s Prayer.

And whoever says in prayer anything which cannot find its place in that gospel prayer, is praying in a way which, if it be not unlawful, is at least not spiritual; and I know not how carnal prayers can be lawful, since it becomes those who are born again by the Spirit to pray in no other way than spiritually.

For example, when one prays: “Be Thou glorified among all nations as Thou art glorified among us,” and “Let Thy prophets be found faithful,” what else does he ask than, “Hallowed be Thy name”?

When one says: “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved,” what else is he saying than, “Let Thy kingdom come”?

When one says: “Order my steps in Thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me,” what else is he saying than, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?

When one says: “Give me  neither poverty nor riches,” what else is this than, Give us this day our daily bread “?

When one says: “Lord, remember David, and all his compassion,” or, “O Lord, if I have done this, if there be iniquity in my hands, if I have rewarded evil to them that did evil to me,” what else is this than, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”?

When one says: “Take away from me the lusts of the appetite, and let not sensual desire take hold on me,” what else is this than, “Lead us not into temptation”?

When one says: “Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God; defend me from them that rise up against me,” what else is this than, “Deliver us from evil”?

And if you go over all the words of holy prayers, you will, I believe, find nothing which cannot be comprised and summed up in the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.

Wherefore, in praying, we are free to use different words to any extent, but we must ask the same things; in this we have no choice.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Letter to Proba, XII, 22 @ Crossroads Initiative.

Augustine of Hippo: Praying in Words Tuesday, Jan 14 2014 

St Augustine of AfricaIn most cases prayer consists more in groaning than in speaking, in tears rather than in words.

But…words are necessary, that by them we may be assisted in considering and observing what we ask, not as means by which we expect that God is to be either informed or moved to compliance.

When, therefore, we say: “Hallowed be Thy name,” we admonish ourselves to desire that His name, which is always holy, may be also among men esteemed holy, that is to say, not despised; which is an advantage not to God, but to men.

When we say: “Thy kingdom come,” which shall certainly come whether we wish it or not, we do by these words stir up our own desires for that kingdom, that it may come to us, and that we may be found worthy to reign in it.

When we say: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we pray for ourselves that He would give us the grace of obedience, that His will may be done by us in the same way as it is done in heavenly places by His angels.

When we say: “Give us this day our daily bread,” the word “this day” signifies for the present time, in which we ask either for that competency of temporal blessings which I have spoken of before (“bread” being used to designate the whole of those blessings, because of its constituting so important a part of them),

or the sacrament of believers, which is in this present time necessary, but necessary in order to obtain the felicity not of the present time, but of eternity.

When we say: “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” we remind ourselves both what we should ask, and what we should do in order that we may be worthy to receive what we ask.

When we say: “Lead us not into temptation,” we admonish ourselves to seek that we may not, through being deprived of God’s help, be either ensnared to consent or compelled to yield to temptation.

When we say: “Deliver us from evil,” we admonish ourselves to consider that we are not yet enjoying that good estate in which we shall experience no evil.

And this petition, which stands last in the Lord’s Prayer, is so comprehensive that a Christian, in whatsoever affliction he be placed, may in using it give utterance to his groans and find vent for his tears – may begin with this petition, go on with it, and with it conclude his prayer.

For it was necessary that by the use of these words the things which they signify should be kept before our memory.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Letter to Proba, X, 20 – XI, 21 @ Crossroads Initiative.

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