Bernard of Clairvaux: Thy Name is Music to the Heart, Inflaming It with Love Saturday, Jan 4 2014 

Heiligenkreuz_Bernard_of_ClervauxJanuary 3rd was the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest Name,
O Savior of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize will be;
Jesus be Thou our glory now,
And through eternity.

O Jesus, King most wonderful
Thou Conqueror renowned,
Thou sweetness most ineffable
In Whom all joys are found!

When once Thou visitest the heart,
Then truth begins to shine,
Then earthly vanities depart,
Then kindles love divine.

O Jesus, light of all below,
Thou fount of living fire,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
And all we can desire.

Jesus, may all confess Thy Name,
Thy wondrous love adore,
And, seeking Thee, themselves inflame
To seek Thee more and more.

Thee, Jesus, may our voices bless,
Thee may we love alone,
And ever in our lives express
The image of Thine own.

O Jesus, Thou the beauty art
Of angel worlds above;
Thy Name is music to the heart,
Inflaming it with love.

Celestial Sweetness unalloyed,
Who eat Thee hunger still;
Who drink of Thee still feel a void
Which only Thou canst fill.

O most sweet Jesus, hear the sighs
Which unto Thee we send;
To Thee our inmost spirit cries;
To Thee our prayers ascend.

Abide with us, and let Thy light
Shine, Lord, on every heart;
Dispel the darkness of our night;
And joy to all impart.

Jesus, our love and joy to Thee,
The virgin’s holy Son,
All might and praise and glory be,
While endless ages run.

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): translated by Edward Caswall (1814-1878) @ CyberHymnal.

Cyril of Alexandria: Prayer – Conversing with God as Sons with a Father Sunday, Oct 20 2013 

cyril_alexandriaOn Luke 18:1-8

For it is, I affirm, the duty of those who set apart their lives for His service, not to be sluggish in their prayers, nor again to consider it as a hard and laborious duty: but rather to rejoice, because of the freedom of access granted them by God; for He would have us converse with Him as sons with a father.

Is not this then a privilege worthy of being valued by us most highly? For suppose that some one of those possessed of great earthly power were easy of access to us, and were to permit us to converse with him with full license, should we not consider it as a reason for extraordinary rejoicing?

What possible doubt can there be of this? When therefore God permits us each one to offer our addresses unto Him for whatever we wish, and has set before those who fear Him an honour so truly great and worthy of their gaining, let all slothfulness cease that would lead men to an injurious silence therein;

and rather let us draw near with praises, and rejoicing that we have been commanded to converse with the Lord and God of all, having Christ as our Mediator, who with God the Father grants us the accomplishment of our supplications.

For the blessed Paul somewhere writes, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ.” And He somewhere Himself said to the holy apostles, “Hitherto you have asked nothing in My Name: ask, and it shall be given unto you.”

For He is our Mediator, our Expiation, our Comforter, and the Bestower of every request, and it is our duty therefore to “pray without ceasing,” according to the words of the blessed Paul, as well knowing, and being thoroughly assured, that He Whom we supplicate is able to accomplish all things.

“For let a man, it says, ask in faith, in nothing divided. For he who is divided is like a wave of the sea, troubled and blown about by the wind. Such a man should not think that he will receive anything of the Lord.”

For he that is divided is really guilty of mockery: for if you do not believe that He will incline unto you, and gladden you, and fulfil your request, do not draw near to Him at all, lest you be found an accuser of the Almighty, in that you foolishly art divided. We must avoid therefore so base a malady.

Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444): Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel, Sermon 119.

Tikhon of Zadonsk: The True Lover of Christ Cleaves to Him in His Heart and Uncomplainingly Endures the Cross with Him Tuesday, Oct 15 2013 

Tikhon_of_ZadonskThe true lover of God keeps God ever in mind, and His love toward us and His benefactions. We see this even in human love, for we often remember the one we love.

So whoever loves God remembers Him, thinks of Him, and finds consolation in Him, and is enrapt in Him.

For wherever his treasure is, there his heart is also (Mt. 6:21). To him the priceless and most beloved treasury is God.

Therefore his heart also holds itself inseparably before Him. Whence it is that he also remembers His holy name often and with love.

For the heart filled with the love of God reveals outward signs of love. From this we see that those who forget God do not love Him, for forgetfulness is a manifest sign of no love for God.

The lover can never forget his beloved. One who loves, desires never to be separated from the one he loves.

Many Christians desire to be with Christ the Lord when He is glorified, but they do not wish to be with Him in dishonor and reproach, nor to carry their cross.

They entreat Him that they may come into His Kingdom, but they do not wish to suffer in the world, and thereby they show that their heart is not right and that they do not truly love Christ.

And to tell the truth, they love themselves more than Christ. For this reason the Lord says, “He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me” (Mt. 10:38). A true friend is known in misfortune.

He is our true friend and one who loves us who does not forsake us in misfortune.

Likewise the true lover of Christ is he who abides with Christ in this world, and cleaves to Him in his heart, and uncomplainingly endures the cross with Him, and desires to be with Him inseparably in the age to come.

Such a one says unto Christ, “It is good for me to cleave unto God” (LXX Ps. 72:28).

A sign of the love of God is love for neighbor. He who truly loves God also loves his neighbor. He who loves the lover loves what is loved by him. The source of love for neighbor is love for God, but the love of God is known from love for neighbor.

[...] These are the signs of love for God hidden in the heart of a man. Dear Christians, let us repent and turn away from the vanity of the world, and cleanse our hearts with repentance and contrition, that the love of God may abide in us.

“God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 Jn. 4:16).
Tikhon of Zadonsk (1724-1783; Russian Orthodox): extract @ Kandylaki  from Journey to Heaven: Counsels On the Particular Duties of Every Christian by Our Father Among the Saints, Tikhon of Zadonsk, Bishop of Voronezh and Elets (Jordanville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2004) .

John Henry Newman: David and Goliath Wednesday, Sep 25 2013 

John_Henry_Newman_by_Sir_John_Everett_MillaisContinued from here…

And now, let us inquire who is our Goliath?

[...] The devil is our Goliath: we have to fight Satan, who…would to a certainty destroy us were not God with us; but praised be His Name, He is with us. “Greater is He that is with us, than he that is in the world.”

[...] When…Satan comes against you, recollect you are already dedicated, made over, to God; you are God’s property, you have no part with Satan and his works, you are servants to another, you are espoused to Christ.

When Satan comes against you, fear not, waver not; but pray to God, and He will help you.

Say to Satan with David, “Thou comest against me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts.”

Thou comest to me with temptation; thou wouldest allure me with the pleasures of sin for a season; thou wouldest kill me, nay, thou wouldest make me kill myself with sinful thoughts, words, and deeds…; but I know thee; thou art Satan, and I come unto thee in the name of the Living God, in the Name of Jesus Christ my Saviour.

That is a powerful name, which can put to flight many foes: Jesus is a name at which devils tremble. To speak it, is to scare away many a bad thought. I come against thee in His All-powerful, All-conquering Name.

David came on with a staff; my staff is the Cross—the Holy Cross on which Christ suffered, in which I glory, which is my salvation.

David chose five smooth stones out of the brook, and with them he smote the giant. We, too, have armour, not of this world, but of God; weapons which the world despises, but which are powerful in God.

David took not sword, spear, or shield; but he slew Goliath with a sling and a stone. Our weapons are as simple, as powerful. The Lord’s Prayer is one such weapon; when we are tempted to sin, let us turn away, kneel down seriously and solemnly, and say to God that prayer which the Lord taught us.

The Creed is another weapon, equally powerful, through God’s grace, equally contemptible in the eyes of the world. One or two holy texts, such as our Saviour used when He was tempted by the devil, is another weapon for our need.

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is another such, and greater; holy, mysterious, life-giving, but equally simple. What is so simple as a little bread and a little wine? but, in the hands of the Spirit of God, it is the power of God unto salvation.

John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890): Parochial and Plain Sermons vol. 8, 4: The Call of David.

Gregory of Sinai: Calling on the Name of Jesus Friday, Aug 30 2013 

Gregory of SinaiNo one can master the intellect [nous]** unless he himself is mastered by the Spirit.

For the intellect is uncontrollable, not because it is by nature ever-active, but because through our continual remissness it has been given over to distraction and has become used to that.

When we violated the commandments of Him who in baptism regenerates us we separated ourselves from God and lost our conscious awareness of Him and our union with Him.

Sundered from that union and estranged from God, the intellect is led captive everywhere; and it cannot regain its stability unless it submits to God and is stilled by Him, joyfully uniting with Him through unceasing and diligent prayer and through noetically confessing all our lapses to Him each day.

God immediately forgives everything to those who ask forgiveness in a spirit of humility and contrition and who ceaselessly invoke His holy name. As the Psalmist says, “Confess to the Lord and call upon His holy name” (Psalms 105:1).

Holding the breath also helps to stabilize the intellect, but only temporarily, for after a little it lapses into distraction again. But when prayer is activated, then it really does keep the intellect in its presence, and it gladdens it and frees it from captivity.

But it may sometimes happen that the intellect, rooted in the heart, is praying, yet the mind wanders and gives its attention to other things; for the mind is brought under control only in those who have been made perfect by the Holy Spirit and who have attained a state of total concentration upon Christ Jesus.

In the case of a beginner in the art of spiritual warfare, God alone can expel thoughts, for it is only those strong in such warfare who are in a position to wrestle with them and banish them. Yet even they do not achieve this by themselves, but they fight against them with God’s assistance, clothed in the armor of His grace.

So when thoughts invade you, in place of weapons call on the Lord Jesus frequently and persistently and then they will retreat; for they cannot bear the warmth produced in the heart by prayer and they flee as if scorched by fire.

St. John Climacus tells us, “Lash your enemies with the name of Jesus,” because God is a fire that cauterizes wickedness (Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 12:29). The Lord is prompt to help, and will speedily come to the defense of those who wholeheartedly call on Him day and night (Luke 18:7).

Gregory of Sinai (1260s–1346): On Prayer, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. 4 (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979ff), pp. 276-278.

**The translators of the Philokalia say the following about the word “intellect” as used in this passage from Gregory and by other Greek authors: INTELLECT (nous): the highest faculty in man, through which – provided it is purified – he knows God or the inner essences or principles of created things by means of direct apprehension or spiritual perception. Unlike the dianoia or reason, from which it must be carefully distinguished, the intellect does not function by formulating abstract concepts and then arguing on this basis to a conclusion reached through deductive reasoning, but it understands divine truth by means of immediate experience, intuition or ‘simple cognition’ (the term used by St Isaac the Syrian). The intellect dwells in the ‘depths of the soul’; it constitutes the innermost aspect of the heart (St Diadochos). The intellect is the organ of contemplation, the ‘eye of the heart’ (Macarian Homilies).

Charles Wesley: While Dead in Trespasses I Lie, Thy Quickening Spirit Give Sunday, Jul 7 2013 

Charles_wesleyJesu, if still thou art to-day
As yesterday the same,
Present to heal, in me display
The virtue of thy name.

If still thou goest about to do
Thy needy creatures good
On me, that I thy praise may show,
Be all thy wonders showed.

Now, Lord, to whom for help I call,
Thy miracles repeat;
With pitying eyes behold me fall
A leper at thy feet.

Loathsome, and vile, and self-abhorred
I sink beneath my sin;
But, if thou wilt, a gracious word
Of thine can make me clean.

Thou seest me deaf to thy command,
Open, O Lord, my ear;
Bid me stretch out my withered hand,
And lift it up in prayer.

Silent, (alas! thou know’st how long)
My voice I cannot raise;
But O! when thou shalt loose my tongue,
The dumb shall sing thy praise.

Lame at the pool I still am found;
Give, and my strength employ;
Light as a hart I then shall bound,
The lame shall leap for joy.

Blind from my birth to guilt and thee,
And dark I am within;
The love of God I cannot see,
The sinfulness of sin.

But thou, they say, art passing by;
O let me find thee near!
Jesu, in mercy hear my cry,
Thou Son of David, hear!

Behold me waiting in the way
For thee, the heavenly light;
Command me to be brought, and say
“Sinner, receive thy sight!”

While dead in trespasses I lie,
Thy quickening Spirit give;
Call me, thou Son of God, that I
May hear thy voice and live.

While, full of anguish and disease
My weak distempered soul
Thy love compassionately sees,
O let it make me whole!

Cast out thy foes, and let them still
To Jesu’s name submit;
Clothe with thy righteousness, and heal
And place me at thy feet.

To Jesu’s name if all things now
A trembling homage pay,
O let my stubborn spirit bow,
My stiff-necked will obey!

Impotent, dumb, and deaf, and blind,
And sick, and poor I am,
But sure a remedy to find
For all in Jesu’s name.

I know in thee all fulness dwells,
And all for wretched man;
Fill every want my spirit feels,
And break off every chain.

If thou impart thyself to me,
No other good I need;
If thou, the Son, shalt make me free,
I shall be free indeed.

I cannot rest till in thy blood
I full redemption have;
But thou, through whom I come to God,
Canst to the utmost save.

From sin, the guilt, the power, the pain,
Thou wilt redeem my soul;
Lord, I believe, and not in vain,
My faith shall make me whole.

I too with thee shall walk in white,
With all thy saints shall prove
What is the length, and breadth, and height,
And depth of perfect love.

Charles Wesley (1701-1778; Church of England): Hymns, 135-6.

Hesychios the Priest: The Name of Jesus, Repeated Over and Over in the Heart as Flashes of Lightning… Tuesday, Nov 13 2012 

When in fear, trembling and unworthiness we are yet permitted to receive the divine, undefiled Mysteries of Christ, our King and our God, we should then display even greater watchfulness, strictness and guard over our hearts, so that the divine fire, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, may consume our sins and stains, great and small.

For when that fire enters into us, it at once drives the evil spirits from our heart and remits the sins we have previously committed, leaving the intellect free from the turbulence of wicked thoughts.

And if after this, standing at the entrance to our heart, we keep strict watch over the intellect, when we ace again permitted to receive those Mysteries the divine body will illumine our intellect still more and make it shine like a star.

Forgetfulness can extinguish our guard over our intellect as water extinguishes fire; but the continuous repetition of the Jesus Prayer combined with strict watchfulness uproots it from our heart.

The Jesus Prayer requires watchfulness as a lantern requires a candle.

We should strive to preserve the precious gifts which preserve us from all evil, whether on the plane of the senses or on that of the intellect.

These gifts are the guarding of the intellect with the invocation of Jesus Christ, continuous insight into the heart’s depths, stillness of mind unbroken even by thoughts which appear to be good, and the capacity to be empty of all thought.

In this way the demons will not steal in undetected; and if we suffer pain through remaining centered in the heart, consolation is at hand.

The heart which is constantly guarded, and is not allowed to receive the forms, images and fantasies of the dark and evil spirits, is conditioned by nature to give birth from within itself to thoughts filled with light.

For just as coal engenders a flame, or a flame lights a candle, so will God, who from our baptism dwells in our heart, kindle our mind to contemplation when He finds it free from the winds of evil and protected by the guarding of the intellect.

The name of Jesus should be repeated over and over in the heart as flashes of lightning are repeated over and over in the sky before rain.

Hesychios the Priest (?6th-9th century): On Watchfulness and Holiness chs 101-105, Text from G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware (trans. and eds.) The Philokalia: The Complete Text, vol. I (Faber & Faber, London & Boston: 1979), pp. 179-180.

Bernard of Clairvaux: This Name of Jesus – Salutary Remedy Against Spiritual Illness Friday, Nov 2 2012 

Hidden as in a vase, in this name of Jesus, you, my soul, possess a salutary remedy against which no spiritual illness will be proof.

Carry it always close to your heart, always in your hand, and so ensure that all your affections, all your actions, are directed to Jesus.

You are even invited to do this: “Set me as a seal,” he says, “upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm.”

[...] For the moment you have this ready medicine for heart and hand.

The name of Jesus furnishes the power to correct your evil actions; to supply what is wanting to imperfect ones.

In this name your affections find a guard against corruption, or if corrupted, a power that will make them whole again.

Judea too has had her Jesus – Messiahs in whose empty names she glories: For they give neither light nor food nor medicine.

[...] They were sent on in advance, like the staff preceding the Prophet to where the child lay  dead, but they could not see a meaning in their own names because no meaning was there.

The staff was laid upon the corpse but produced neither voice nor movement since it was a mere staff.

Then he who sent the staff came down and quickly saved his people from their sins, proving that men spoke truly of him when they said: “Who is this man that he even forgives sins?”

He is no other than the one who says: “I am the salvation of my people.”

Now the Word is heard, now it is experienced, and it is clear that, unlike the others, he bears no empty name.

As men feel the infusion of spiritual health they refuse to conceal their good fortune. The inward experience finds outward expression.

Stricken with remorse I speak out his praise, and praise is a sign of life: “For from the dead, as from one who does not exist, praise has ceased.”

But see! I am conscious, I am alive! I am perfectly restored, my resurrection is complete. What else is the death of the body than to be deprived of life and feeling?

Sin – which is the death of the soul – took from me the feeling of compunction, hushed my prayers of praise. I was dead.

Then he who forgives sin came down, restored my senses again and said: “I am your deliverer.”

Why wonder that death should yield when he who is life comes down?

“For a man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.”

Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153): Sermons on the Song of Songs, 15, 7-8.

Nicholas Cabasilas: Asking for God’s Mercy Friday, Jul 6 2012 

There is no other name by which we must be saved.

That we may be able always to pay attention to Christ, and be zealous in this at all times, let us call on him who is the subject of our thoughts at every moment.

And of course those who call upon him need no special preparation or special place for prayer, nor a loud voice.

For he is present everywhere, and is always with us; he is even nearer to those who seek him than their very heart.

It is fitting, then, that we should firmly believe that our prayers will be answered.

We should never hesitate on account of our evil ways, but take courage because he on whom we call is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

In fact he is so far from ignoring the entreaties of the servants who have offended him, that before they had called on him or even thought of him, he had already called them himself by his coming to earth – for he said “I came to call sinners”.

Then if that was the way he sought those who did not even want him, how will he treat those who call on him?

And if he loved us when we hated him, how will he reject us when we love him?

It is just this that Paul’s words make clear: “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, how much more, when we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life”.

Again, let us think about the kind of supplication we make.

We do not pray for the things that friends are likely to ask for and receive, but rather for such things as are specifically prescribed for…servants who have offended their master.

For we do not call upon the Lord in order that he may reward us, or grant us any other favour of that kind, but that he may have mercy on us.

Who, then, are likely to ask for mercy, forgive­ness, remission of sins and things of that sort from God who loves humanity, and not go away empty-handed?

Those who are called to account, if indeed those who are well have no need of a physician.

For if human beings are at all in the habit of calling upon God for mercy, it is those who are worthy of mercy, in other words sinners.

So let us call on God with our voice and in mind and thought, so that we may apply the only saving remedy to everything through which we sin, for in the words of Peter: “there is no other name by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Nicholas Cabasilas (1319/1323–after 1391): The Life in Christ, 6, 13 (PG 150, 681-683), in A Word in Season, Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours, Augustinian Press 1999; @ Dom Donald’s Blog.

John of Kronstadt: God Expands the Heart and Gives It True Freedom Saturday, Jun 16 2012 

The problem of our life is union with God, and sin completely prevents this….

Let us therefore understand our destination; let us always remember that our common Master calls us to union with Himself.

It is especially necessary for Christians to have a pure heart, so that they may be able to see God with the eyes of the heart, as He is, with His love to us and with all His perfections,

– as well as to be able to contemplate the beauty of the angels, all the glory of the Holy Virgin, the beauty of Her soul and Her greatness, as the Mother of God, and the beauty of the souls of God’s saints, and their love to us.

We must see them as they are in themselves, we must contemplate the truths of the Christian faith, with all its sacraments, and feel their greatness; we must see the state of our own souls, and especially our sins.

An impure heart – that is, a heart occupied with earthly passions – feeds itself on the carnal desires of the eyes and worldly pride; it cannot see any of the things we have indicated.

Prayer is the lifting up of the mind and heart to God.

From this it is evident that it is quite impossible for anyone to pray whose mind and heart are attached to anything carnal – for instance, to money or to honours – or who has in his heart passions such as hatred or envy for others.

Because passions usually contract the heart, in the same way as God expands it and gives it true freedom.

It is incomprehensible how Jesus Christ is united with the sign of the Cross, and gives it the wonderful power of driving away passions, demons, and to calm the troubled soul.

It is likewise incomprehensible how the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ is united with the bread and wine, transforming them into His own Flesh and Blood, and manifestly cleansing our soul from sins, bringing into it heavenly peace and tranquillity and making it good, gentle, humble, and full of hearty faith and hope.

[...] In order that the unbelieving heart should not think that both the sign of the Cross and the name of Christ act miraculously by themselves, apart from and independently of Christ Himself, this same Cross and name of Christ do not perform any miracles, until I see Jesus Christ with the eyes of my heart, or by faith, and until I believe with my whole heart all that which He has accomplished for our salvation.

“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

John of Kronstadt (1829-1908; Russian Orthodox): My Life in Christ

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